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Charles

Criminal defense attorney. Love audible and I'm kind of obsessed with writing reviews. No plot spoilers please. Seriously.

TULSA, OK, United States

ratings
54
REVIEWS
40
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
61
HELPFUL VOTES
796

  • Red Rising

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Pierce Brown
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2192)
    Performance
    (2013)
    Story
    (2024)

    Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet.

    Charles says: "It Got Better and Left Me Wanting More."
    "It Got Better and Left Me Wanting More."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'll be honest. I wasn't sucked into this book right away- it felt like Brown needed some time to really warm the story up. I also realize this is the foundational work for a saga, or trilogy at least. Once it got moving though... amazingly good. The four stars is just because of my perception of slow starting- other's mileage may vary.

    There will be comparisons drawn to the Hunger Games. Having read those as well, I can say this is a far *far* more complex meditation on those themes in a much more adult way. It is worth the listen. I am left, as with other series I love that are just getting started, wanting more immediately. But, it looks as if we will have to wait some time for book two (Golden Son, Early 2015 release).

    I loved the narration, but it imparted an interesting and almost assuredly unintended subtlety- I thought the Author was Scottish or Irish and making a commentary on English rule and oppression. Turns out the fellow is American and lives in LA. That's what I get for taking things to literally and then drawing subtle conclusions which others may not see, at all. A different narrator would have changed the book dramatically for me. I don't know whether in a good or bad way.

    In the end, Brown drew me into an all encompassing vision of a dystopian future. I was fully invested in the outcomes of the major characters. I cannot wait for Golden Son.

    67 of 73 people found this review helpful
  • The Reader

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Bernhard Schlink
    • Narrated By Campbell Scott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (617)
    Performance
    (226)
    Story
    (230)

    When he falls ill on his way home from school, 15-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover--then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

    Ella says: "Dysfunctional"
    "Exceptional"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have not seen the film adaptation, so I went into this book without any preconceptions. I think that is a good thing after completing this short, but extremely powerful, listen. I'm going to address this review without discussing more than is present in the Audible synopsis above.

    The Reader is, essentially, a parable for the generations following the Holocaust. Michael represents the generation immediately following the perpetrators, as represented by Hanna. I won't go any farther into the plot, though I am not sure how important refusing to present 'spoilers' actually would be in this instance.

    This parable addresses one of the most horrifying questions of the 20th century; how could the perpetrators of the Holocaust (or arguably any genocide) do what they did? And, how do the generations that follow understand or, if possible, come to terms with their actions?

    It also explores the long term damage those who perpetrated or allowed the atrocity did to those who came after the war. Hanna harmed Michael, whether she intended to or not. The generation before harmed the generations that followed.

    I'm not sure those questions will be answered for many of the listeners to this book. At least not in a way that is satisfying; I know for me, I was satisfied. That is not to say that it is an easy read; I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books that follows me for quite a while.

    Schlink is blunt and sparse in his writing. Every word serves a specific purpose and economy of usage is employed extensively. Many authors would have made this into a 10+ hour book; here we have a fully functional story in just 4 hours. I didn't feel as if anything was rushed or too many jumps were made; in fact, I think expanding the story would have detracted considerably from the issues at hand. You can tell a lawyer wrote it though.

    Highest marks.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Sol Stein
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    Overall
    (739)
    Performance
    (380)
    Story
    (363)

    Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether newcomers or accomplished professionals. As Sol Stein, renowned editor, author, and instructor, explains, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions, how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place."

    Jane says: "Excellent advice and examples for better writing."
    "Useless in Audio Format"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think this book would be much, *much* better suited to text. Seeing the examples, being able to tangibly hold onto it... I think my star review would change significantly. I'm not sure I can stomach the generalized arrogance either; the man is clearly good at his job, but that doesn't mean we need a reminder every paragraph or two. Ignoring that, however, there is absolutely worthwhile and important information contained.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Power of Myth: Programs 1-6

    • ORIGINAL (5 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
    • Narrated By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
    Overall
    (787)
    Performance
    (491)
    Story
    (490)

    An exhilarating journey into the mind and spirit of a remarkable man, a legendary teacher, and a masterful storyteller, conducted by TV journalist Bill Moyers for their acclaimed PBS series.

    Lucas says: "A series that changed my life"
    "Eye Opening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While not really a book, this interview series is stunningly good. An unbiased and expansive examination of the human experience, as exemplified through our collective mythos and archetypes.

    Those who have dogmatic approaches to life or morality may have a lot of trouble with the concepts discussed, at length, in this series. However, those enthralled by the concept of cyclical representations of religions and mythologies (a line that is perilously nudged repeatedly) will find a fascinating experience.

    Plus it has Star Wars in it. So, it has to be good.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Windup Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3729)
    Performance
    (2092)
    Story
    (2103)

    Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman.

    Marius says: "Al Gore nightmare meets Blade Runner."
    "I Tried."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the concept for this book; it seemed like it would be right up my alley. But my god, it is slow. Horrifyingly slow. And miserably depressing.

    After reading a number of the reviews (after throwing in the towel), it appears the book may pick up after the second half. Well, that's a very long listen for something that may, or may not, get better 10 or 12 hours into it. I gave up after my personal compulsory 3 hour listen. I feel pretty strongly if there hasn't been a hook after 3 hours, it's not worth my time. And, quite frankly, I feel like that is being generous sometimes.

    I will say this; there are aspects of the book that are very well done. It is descriptive. I felt like I could envision this dystopian Thailand. But there was nothing there to grab me and draw me in. Great, we have this beautifully laid out dystopian vision; now what? Repetitive characterizations and heavy handed symbolism. On the plus side, the narration was really very well done.

    A disappointment overall.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Matthew Quick
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2103)
    Performance
    (1899)
    Story
    (1901)

    During his years in a neural-health facility, Pat Peoples has formulated a theory about silver linings. He believes that his life is a movie produced by God, that his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and that if he succeeds, his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki, and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy.

    Charles says: "Heartbreaking Brilliance"
    "Heartbreaking Brilliance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Quick has managed to capture the essence of something terribly fundamental to at least a portion of humanity; dysfunctional love mixed with mental illness and obsession. To get a bias out of the way immediately, I was born and raised within a half hour of the location of this book; the addresses in Philadelphia mean something to me and I can still smell South Philadelphia when I close my eyes at night, thinking about my home. Quick captures Eagles fever, the feel of Philadelphia, and its suburbs magnificently.

    Another thing to address, right out the gate, is the comparison between the book and the movie. I really dug the movie. I thought Lawrence and Cooper did tremendous jobs. I also understand why the film was scripted the way it was. That being said, as is the case in many instances, the book allows a level of nuance that 2 hours of screen time just can't capture. I think you have to view the movie as the Cliff's Notes to the book. Significant plot changes occurred and, quite frankly, the movie was very watered down.

    This was a difficult listen, emotionally, for me. Mental illness is addressed, at length, as the primary vehicle plot. And it does a spectacular job of it. But Quick's book is so much more than that. It's family dysfunction countered by standing up for the people you love. It's desperately, frantically, obsessively yearning for happiness (in a fairy tale kind of way), but accepting a more reality based version. It's a journey of self discovery and taking charge of your own life's story, of finding love and forgiveness in unexpected places.

    Quick also managed to capture the feeling of desperately trying to 'fix' some past failure or disaster in one's life. Feeling like there is a crushing weight pressing in on all sides while consistently stumbling. The best laid plans...

    In the end, it was a beautiful and delicate listen, even if difficult at times. Highest marks and significantly better than the film.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Golden Son: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Pierce Brown
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    Overall
    (1204)
    Performance
    (1074)
    Story
    (1065)

    Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

    Charles says: "Magnificent"
    "Magnificent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to many books on audible and given five star ratings before. I'm going to have to adjust my grading scale after listening to this book. If this is the level of story a modern book can achieve... my god.

    The best thing I can equate it to, without giving plot spoilers as others are, is Empire Strikes Back. Not in plot or delivery, but in that atmospheric brilliant success that is the example of the second episode not always falling short of the opener. This is such a sweeping and dark installment in a trilogy. While already set in a dystopian or I guess utopian (depending on your personal twisted perspective) world, Brown manages to hit an even more discordant note than Red Rising. Much more. In fact I'm still recovering from this listen.

    The characters from Red Rising return, with some notable additions. The themes and concepts delineated in the first book are explored much, MUCH more deeply. Anyone who compares this to the Hunger Games or any of the scores of YA dystopia would likely compare their child's finger paintings to da Vinci. I weep for your soul.

    Brown plumbs the depths of some of the most fundamental aspects of our humanity. What makes us... us? Is it our choices, our outward form? Is it our origins? Can we truly overcome our pasts or, more importantly, can we decide our futures? More troubling are the ruminations on the nature of evil; is it a static, constant thing, or does a slight switch in perspective change its visage? Each of the characters and the plot as a whole, reflects these questions. Unfortunately an answer is not readily available and we are left, intentionally I am sure, a quivering mass of raw emotion in Brown's wake.

    While it may sound dramatic or grandiose, and is certainly personal opinion, I view this as the best book I have read in a decade. This book is worth a credit and 20 hours of your life. It will change you, carve you, in some measure. Whether for good or bad is to be seen.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Sharp Objects

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Ann Marie Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4552)
    Performance
    (3704)
    Story
    (3728)

    Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker's troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psychiatric hospital, Camille's first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

    Kelley says: "I agree with Stephen King"
    "Not For Me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really loved Dark Places. It was a great book (not uplifting though, to say the least), so I thought I would give her first one a try. I found this to be terribly formulaic and boring... she clearly developed as a writer between her first and second novels.

    Gave up after 2 hours or so. Clearly not with the crowd on this one, but such is life.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • A Better World: The Brilliance Saga, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Marcus Sakey
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (472)
    Performance
    (438)
    Story
    (435)

    The brilliants changed everything.

    Since 1980, 1% of the world has been born with gifts we'd only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person's most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional...and the rest of us.

    Charles says: "Disappointing"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have a rule with books: give it at least 3 hours before making up your mind. I gave this one 6 hours, since I really did enjoy the first in the series. It just didn't grab me, not in the slightest. Terribly disappointing.

    It's not completely surprising though. It was a great one book concept. Clearly 'Brilliance' was enough of a success that Sakey and his publishers felt a 'saga' was warranted. Unfortunately, in this listener's opinion, that is not the case.

    Much of the book felt extremely forced. Emotions were being shoved down my throat rather than enticed out organically. While it's sic-fi/alt. reality/semi-apocalyptic in nature, the plot line didn't seem natural or 'realistic', even within the confines of Sakey's created world. It feels very much like Sakey had to force out a continuation of Book 1, rather than letting the story end at its natural place.

    Daniels did a fine job of narration as always. In fact he's the only thing that saved this from a one star review. That and limited aspects of the Ohio couple's storyline.

    Like I said at the beginning, I only made it through about 60% of this book before giving up, so your own milage may vary and there may be an eventual payoff I am missing. I'm willing to take that chance as there are many other books in my queue.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12542)
    Performance
    (11393)
    Story
    (11420)

    There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

    Magpie says: "Super solid listen!!"
    "Completely Engaging"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I used a credit on this one over a year ago. It sat in my library for a long time- so long in fact that I would have returned it without listening to it if I could have (time limit had passed) since clearly I wasn't going to get to it. I finally decided, hey why not.

    I am so glad I did.

    This was the surprise of the year for me, as far as books were concerned. Utterly engaging and believable. The characters developed well, as did the plot line. No forced culmination- everything fit and made sense based on the build up. That is not to say that the book was predictable- far from it actually.

    It's funny, sci-fi, and horror, mixed into a solve the mystery plot line. Great characters. Just... believable, even with as out there as the plot line is.

    The narration was fantastic. I'd listen to Ray Porter any time. I'm going to have to give Clines' other books a try, even though the ex-superheros series doesn't appeal to me on the surface. If they're as engaging and well written as this was, I can't see not liking them.

    Is it the best book ever written? No. Is it worth a credit and your time? Absolutely.

    Highest marks.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Places: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Rebecca Lowman, Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins, and others
    Overall
    (5952)
    Performance
    (4990)
    Story
    (5014)

    Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in "The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas". As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived, and famously testified that her 15-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who've long forgotten her.

    Charles says: "Dark Places Indeed..."
    "Dark Places Indeed..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I live in the general geographical region this book covers. I practice private criminal defense- not traffic tickets, but murder, rape, and robbery. I spend a lot of time in jails and talking to members of society that are true psychopaths, connecting (as much as one can) with them on a personal level, trying to understand their motivations to defend them. So. Why would I spend 13+ hours listening to a book like this?

    I have no earthly idea.

    Maybe it's because Flynn manages to capture the essence of desperation and poverty in the plains/midwest. The mob mentality of a community which doesn't fully understand the horrors it is presented with. Maybe it's because her characters are so fundamentally flawed that they actually reflect a portion of human nature- a dark, grotesque part for sure, but still a reflection that rings true.

    The characters aren't very likable, but they aren't entirely worthless either. Growth and change occurs over the course of the book... but it's just so accurate. That's what keeps getting me. I think many people would be shocked at how much of society functions well within the parameters and mindsets explored in this story.

    This book is not for everyone. Not much phases me, but I can see how large portions of this novel would shock people. The ending, while not 100% predictable, wasn't surprising.

    The narration was fantastic. I was very leery of trying a multi-narrator book, but it actually worked incredibly well.

    Worth a credit and your time.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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