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Charles

TULSA, OK, United States

ratings
38
REVIEWS
21
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
13
HELPFUL VOTES
229

  • Red Rising

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Pierce Brown
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (631)
    Performance
    (586)
    Story
    (592)

    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.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Magicians: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Lev Grossman
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2760)
    Performance
    (2019)
    Story
    (2031)

    Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

    Ki says: "Not an average book"
    "Surprising"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you had an imagination as a child, longed for magic to be real, or for quests to other worlds to be possible, you might love this book. If you had an awkward and painful youth that seemed as if you would never find happiness, you might love this book. If you are still quietly looking in the hidden depths of your soul for magic to be real, you might love this book.

    If you're looking for "Harry Potter for Adults" you're going to hate this book. What a crude and misinformed/misinterpreted description that is. If you're going to have a fit about references to other works of fantasy (which exist in the universe of this book as well), you're going to hate this book.

    This book is satire and realism poured onto the concepts of magic and being a teenager/early twenties. It is rough, muddy, painful, and beautiful- just like growing up. Grossman managed to capture the malaise of youth, the desires and hopes for the future. It is a meditation on happiness and the transition from childhood to adulthood and the dreams we had growing up that, if they were possible, might end up being quite different than we had imagined.

    The performance by Bramhall was brilliant.

    Finally, if you can't see some parts of yourself reflected back at you in these characters... I don't know what to say. They were immensely relatable, as were their actions.

    A brilliant book, highest marks, and I am starting part two immediately.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Bellwether

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Connie Willis
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (651)
    Performance
    (373)
    Story
    (377)

    Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennett O'Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But a series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions - with the unintended help of the errant, forgetful, and careless office assistant Flip.

    Charles says: "The Lone Naysayer..."
    "The Lone Naysayer..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Apparently I am nearly alone in my dislike of this book. I found the protagonist preachy and superior. It droned on and on about how wonderful it was to dodge the sheeple mentality... I guess I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. It was hardly the quality of satire that Office Space attained- in fact it was barely recognizable as satire at all.

    I recognize the irony of me going against the crowd on this one, I promise.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5)

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Minnie Goode
    Overall
    (1309)
    Performance
    (1195)
    Story
    (1195)

    This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

    Charles says: "Unique"
    "Unique"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I just finished this listen about 5 minutes ago. There will not be spoilers in this review- I like to give that heads up from the start.

    Howey manages to write an extremely unique version of the dystopian future genre. The 'Omnibus' edition is made up of 5 parts, each one cumulative but distinct. A believable story with complex characters tackling massive concepts.

    I think Minnie did a very decent job with the narration. There are parts when I felt she went a bit overboard with her characterizations of certain voices (Juliet sometimes [not always] making me cringe just a bit). However, her general narration tone was extremely balanced and pleasant to listen to.

    Unexpected plot points and twists. I was surprised at the depth of character development achieved- genuinely cared about the outcome and fates of those in the story. Even the not so great morally.

    I enjoyed this book a great deal overall, but it took me a long time to finish it; this is relatively unusual for me. I'm one of those listeners who can blow through a book in a couple of days if it really grabs me. Definitely worth your time if you are a fan of this genre- far more so than *many* of the offerings out there. I will be listening to the rest of the series.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mountain Man

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Keith C. Blackmore
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    Overall
    (265)
    Performance
    (252)
    Story
    (252)

    Boomstick. Samurai bat. Motorcycle leather. And the will to live among the unliving. Augustus Berry lives a day-to-day existence comprised of waking up, getting drunk, and preparing for the inevitable day when "they" will come up the side of his mountain and penetrate his fortress. Living on the outskirts of a city and scavenging for whatever supplies remain after civilization died two years ago, Gus knows that every time he goes down into undead suburbia could be his last.

    Thomas says: "If you like the Walking Dead this book is for you!"
    "Boring"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a fan of zombie fiction. I'm a fan of post apocalyptic. I wanted to be a fan of this book. But it's boring and predictable. Poorly written. The narration was good, but honestly I fell asleep while listening, twice. Gave up after 2 hours... I wish I could return those two hours to my life. I'll have to settle for returning the Book.

    Avoid if you have a brain in your head.

    8 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Those Across the River

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher Buehlman
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (113)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (104)

    Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate - the Savoyard Plantation - and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

    Barbara says: "Recording glitches, but a great gruesome tale"
    "Major Sound Issues"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I *think* this book was well written? I'm just not sure it was because of all the sound jumps... At least 15 times in the first half of the book there were major gaps in the audio. I would be listening along and suddenly it would be as if I had hit the button to the next chapter. This would, in turn, prompt me to scroll back to make sure I hadn't done that or spaced out. I finally gave up about 2/3 of the way through.

    I'm not going to comment on the strength of the story or anything else really, because poor sound quality makes any appraisal unfair. It's being returned.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Troop

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Nick Cutter
    • Narrated By Corey Brill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (365)
    Performance
    (345)
    Story
    (346)

    Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip - a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfre. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well-liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there - which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier.

    Kim Venatries says: "Seriously Messed Up Gruesome Horror"
    "Engrossing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not really sure where, or how, to begin with my review of this book. After reading the other reviews, I was actually a bit afraid to buy it and start listening. When King says something "scared the hell out of [him]", it makes me pause and think long and hard whether or not I want to do that to my psyche. I did, clearly, choose to press play.

    I can say one thing, for certain- this is a supremely well written story. It will *clearly* not be everyone's cup of tea. However the detail and carefully placed word selections helped make this a throughly captivating listen. Cutter uses classic rhymes and tropes, familiar to anyone who has spent time in Scouts or camping, with rhythmic and pulsating effect. The suspense of the book is twisted notch by painful notch, from the first page to the last.

    In turning to the focus of so many of the other reviews: yes, this book is not for the squeamish. Yes, there are brief scenes of harm to animals. Yes, it has imagery that may be exceptionally disturbing to some.

    I actually was not that disturbed by much of the book. To expose a bias, or potential desensitization, I am a criminal defense attorney and was trained as an EMT. As a general rule, dealing with psychopathy or sociopathy (which are explored in depth within this book) does not shock or surprise me. The "gross out" factor didn't hit me that hard either. I will say that I didn't eat, eat, eat... anything while I was listening, lol. The only thing that actually gave me pause was the short chapter on the psychopath character and an animal. That was... disturbing.

    However, hiding beneath the surface of the gore and horror is a story which is more emotional and cutting- Cutter takes the standard characters of youth and exposes them to his nightmare. The expected becomes the unexpected, but from the perspective of a 14 year old boy. Speaking as someone who was once a 14 year old boy, and one who was very much like Newton, Cutter hit the nail on the head. He plumbs the reservoirs of strength and perseverance in the face of abject horror as well as the psychological horrors we inflict on ourselves. He explores the concepts of youth and maturity, the nature of adulthood and childhood, as well as when that line is crossed.

    It is not an uplifting book. It is not a light listen. I will likely give many people nightmares. It is, however, an extremely well written examination of the human psyche when faced with the literal and allegorical monsters which lurk in all of us to one degree or another. Highest marks and recommendation, but let the listener beware.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Spell or High Water: Magic 2.0

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Scott Meyer
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    Overall
    (372)
    Performance
    (350)
    Story
    (353)

    A month has passed since Martin helped to defeat the evil programmer Jimmy, and things couldn't be going better. Except for his love life, that is. Feeling distant and lost, Gwen has journeyed to Atlantis, a tolerant and benevolent kingdom governed by the Sorceresses, and a place known to be a safe haven to all female time-travelers.

    Charles says: "Fantastic: 2.0"
    "Fantastic: 2.0"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I get nervous when I really love the first book in a series. Second installments run the risk of being boring, overly repetitive, or losing the thesis begun in the first work. My anxiety was, thankfully, unfounded. Martin, Gwen, and Phillip have returned, accompanied by a slew of new characters.

    This installment flows incredibly well from book one. It does pick up almost exactly where the first left off, which was very well done. Old secondary characters are woven into the fabric, with new ones taking on the major plot lines. The whole thing is rather seamless, actually.

    As expected, the book is full of pop culture and geek references- not quite as many as book one, but a number of spots made me rather happy. I repeat my inherent bias stated in my review of Book One: I am very much in Meyer's intended demographic with this book. If you aren't a member of the geeky/techie/1970s-1990s set, you probably won't dig this all that much. Who knows though.

    I am rather surprised at some of the negative reviews, one in particular. I didn't think that the romantic parts were embarrassing or sophomoric in the least- I think they were actually pretty spot on for the characters. Certainly not as if a 12 year old girl wrote it. Unless, of course, as a 30 year old man I have the romantic maturity of a 12 year old girl- which I am certainly not discounting.

    Luke Daniels did a great job with the narration once more. I laughed out loud a number of times and couldn't stop smiling. The only complaint I have was the book was over too fast for my taste, 12 hours isn't long enough to spend with Martin, Phillip, and Gwen.

    I can't wait for book three. Hurry up, Scott.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Annihilation: Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Jeff VanderMeer
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (222)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (208)

    Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

    Charles says: "I Feel Like I'm Coming Down From Peyote"
    "I Feel Like I'm Coming Down From Peyote"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I want to be very clear about something: VanderMeer is a beautiful writer. I was transported to Area X and remained there for the duration of the story. The imagery and psychological development and devolvement... just beautifully done.

    That being said: This book is really, really weird. I just finished the book about 20 minutes ago and am still on edge. It is very much a bizarre dreamscape- one that verges into a nightmarescape more than once. In fact most of the book could be classified as slowly being wound tighter and tighter into the surreal. There honestly wasn't anything I would find particularly terrifying or graphic... but I am left feeling disturbed nonetheless.

    If you are looking for a classic "beginning/middle/end"... don't listen to this book. If you are looking for a satisfying resolution after listening... don't listen to this book. If you are looking for "Lost" on drugs... this is the book for you.

    There are gaps in the story (intentional I am positive), gaps which may be filled in the following two books of the trilogy. I agree with other reviewers thoughts that this could be a stand alone book- in fact I am really intrigued what on earth the other two books are going to be about.

    I was not particularly impressed by the narration- quite frankly she put me to sleep a few times with the monotone reading. But, the story carried it through where I might have tossed this into the return queue otherwise.

    In closing, that's just about all I can say without doing the unthinkable and putting spoilers in the review (something that continually stuns me when reviewers do on this site).

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Director

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Ignatius
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (145)

    In David Ignatius' gripping new novel, spies don' t bother to steal information...they change it, permanently and invisibly. Graham Weber has been director of the CIA for less than a week when a Swiss kid in a dirty T-shirt walks into the American consulate in Hamburg and says the agency has been hacked, and he has a list of agents' names to prove it. This is the moment a CIA director most dreads. Weber isn' t sure where to turn until he meets a charismatic (and unstable) young man named James Morris who runs the Internet Operations Center.

    Charles says: "Well Done."
    "Well Done."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to it rather quickly- this is always a good sign on my end. I love Guidall as a narrator in general, so that may be a bias as far as my feelings on the book.

    This book is a meditation on the modern challenges of an ever evolving technological world and their implications for intelligence gathering. Ignatius sets the "walk in" that kicks off the book in Germany- if there was ever a nail on the head for "this was the past, lets look at the future", this would be it. At some points, this mantra gets a little heavy handed, honestly. But it is extremely engaging and entertaining.

    Like any good spy thriller, you are never quite sure who is to be trusted, nor who is truly the 'bad guy'. I imagine that is the reality of life in intelligence. Human allegiances will never be black and white and what may motivate one person may completely alienate another. The main characters reflect this concept quite nicely.

    I am not one of those reviewers who will tell you huge portions of the book, thus why I am being intentionally vague. However, it is well worth your time if you like conspiracies, espionage, and paranoia. I imagine it would be a great beach listen.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Regarding Ducks and Universes

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Neve Maslakovic
    • Narrated By Alexander Cendese
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    At 11:46:01, California time, on a foggy Monday in January 1986, the universe - suddenly, inexplicably, without warning - bifurcated. Fast-forward to 35 years later: Felix Sayers is a culinary writer living in San Francisco of Universe A who spends his days lunching at Coconut Café and dreaming of a successful career penning Agatha Christie-style mysteries. But everything changes when his Aunt Henrietta dies, leaving Felix a photograph of his father and himself - dated 10 days before Felix was born. It can only mean one thing: Felix has an "alter" in Universe B.

    Charles says: "Great concept, poor delivery."
    "Great concept, poor delivery."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really loved the set up to this book. It was setting out to be a genre bending take on multiverses from the perspective of an engaging and likable protagonist. The narration was good. The beginnings of the secondary characters were great. But...

    It just lost it about a third of the way into the book. It took a sharp left turn that didn't really fit with what had been established up until that point- more like the Author got bored and said "Let's try this now!".

    From there the plot gaps and inconsistencies abounded. The basic underlying "law of physics" for the book didn't make logical sense in a uniform way. It accelerated to the point of nonsensical hyperventilation. Unfortunate. As always, this is entirely subjective and your mileage may vary.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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