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Gregory A. Pless

San Mateo, CA USA | Member Since 2006

  • 11 reviews
  • 102 ratings
  • 474 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015

  • The Traitor

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Stephen Coonts
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The death of a French intelligence agent on an Air France flight to Amman, Jordan, is the trigger that launches Tommy Carmellini's latest adventure. Within the European Union, the national espionage agencies are fiercely competing for supremacy against each other, and against the CIA. When the Americans discover that the director of the French spy agency has secret investments in the Bank of Palestine, alarm bells go off.

    Gregory A. Pless says: "Funny, entertaining, well read"
    "Funny, entertaining, well read"

    I got a kick out of this book. The author has a great sense of humor and the reader read the lead character with bravado and pizazz. The plot is timely and it was nice to get some perspective on European (French) politics and what it's like in Paris.

    It's a fast paced book and read at a fast pace, so things move quickly and it's easy to get a little lost in the plot, but it all comes together in the end.

    The book is what it is, mind candy, so don't expect any real depth or insight into Al-Qaida, just a fun spy novel with likable unidimensional characters, a romance, and plenty of action.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Full Black

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Brad Thor
    • Narrated By Armand Schultz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Born in shadow and kept from heads of state, there are some missions so deadly, so sensitive, that they simply don't exist. so deadly, so sensitive, that they simply don't exist. When one such mission goes horribly wrong, a wave of dramatic terrorist attacks is set in motion. Their goal: the complete and total collapse of the United States. With the CIA's intelligence abilities hobbled, former Navy SEAL Team 6 member turned covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath launches an audacious plan to infiltrate the terrorists' network and prevent one of the biggest threats the U.S. has ever faced.

    Sean says: "More More"
    "Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad.."

    I really can't emphasize enough how bad this novel is. I had to stop listening after just a few chapters (which seem to be randomly split for no apparent reason) even though I was really trying to find some redeeming reason to continue on. The plot is laughable (out loud laughable), with every bad spy novel cliche included. It’s all, good guys this, and bad guys that. The narration is terrible, replete with bad accents and a kind of 50's style commercial read quality. And then, after all that, the author clearly reveals that he has bought, hook, line and sinker, the right wing Dick Cheney screed that torture is justified and the only way that “real men” can extract information (which has been handily disproved by the recent book by Ali Soufan, The Black Banners. BTW) Don’t get me wrong, I love a good simplistic patriotic thriller that gets you riled up about the greatness of our team, but this was so ridiculous and heavy handed that I started thinking that apparently anyone with a laptop and a vague plot can write a book. Not a good book, just a book.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • One Second After

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By William R. Forstchen
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon - the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States.

    Sara says: "A terrifying story"
    "Is he kidding?"

    I was so looking forward to this book based on the ratings and a couple glowing reviews. I enjoy post-apocalyptic scenarios and was hoping this would be a great one. Then... Newt Gingrich gives the foreword trying to compare this author's effort to HG Wells and George Orwell masterpieces. Right. Forstchen, after further research, is a Civil War buff and seems to be stuck on some idyllic notion of what "America" means or should mean, and presents us with a cast of Mayberry types that are absolute comical characterizations of what it means to be a "real man" and "real woman."

    The male characters are sexist, simple minded, shallow and hypocritical. They say things like "This is still America" about a hundred times, and apparently are all ex-smokers, ex-military Scotch drinkers, just waiting for an excuse to start up again. The women are sex objects, with nursing skills of course, and would be "insulted" if they didn't catch a man subtly staring at their chest. The kernel of truth that threads the story together, regarding the break down of a civilization after an EMP burst, is barely enough to keep the iPod running. In fact, I was hoping for one so that it would stop. Andy Griffith, I mean "the Colonel", is the protagonist and prototypical reluctant leader, but ready to "do the right thing" and blow away a miscreant at a moment's notice. OK, OK, I'm just going to stop now. I could go on and on about how bad this book is, but won't bore you any further. Just don't buy the hype, unless you fancy yourself a good ol' boy.

    111 of 183 people found this review helpful
  • Critical Mass

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Whitley Strieber
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer

    In Critical Mass, Whitley Strieber explores this unthinkable but real possibility in a furious story that is almost too terrifying to tell. Nuclear interdiction expert James Deutsch and his Muslim wife, Nabila, struggle to stop an impending nuclear attack on a great American city. Along the way, they delve deep into the hidden world of nuclear terrorism and the experts who strive to contain it, and get a compelling look at the titanic battle within Islam over its own future.

    Gregory A. Pless says: "Well... hmmm"
    "Well... hmmm"

    OK, I wasn't expecting much from Strieber, so I can't say I was disappointed. He is good at conceptualizing stories, but the writing falls short. Sometimes, laugh out loud short. I really wanted to like this book, being a fan of doomsday scenarios, but the action sequences were often poorly put together and implausible. Anyway, I got through it, and it's interesting enough to anticipate the listen.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Extreme Measures: A Thriller

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Vince Flynn
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Mitch Rapp and his protege, Mike Nash, may have met their match. The CIA has detected and intercepted two terrorist cells, but a third is feared to be on the loose. Led by a dangerous mastermind obsessed with becoming the leader of al-Qaeda, this determined and terrifying group is about to descend on America.

    F says: "Kickass Thriller - With Politics!"
    "I'm a Flynn Fan, but this was a disappointment"

    I love the Mitch Rapp series and immediately downloaded Extreme Measures when it was released. His book, Consent to Kill, was great and I really liked the character development and story line. However, as much I tried to like EM, it felt rushed, shallow and preachy. Mr. Flynn was obviously trying to convey the necessity of getting tough with suspected terrorists, and his disdain for bureaucratic and political impediments. That’s all good, but his characters were more like caricatures and too one dimensional to be believable.

    I got very frustrated with the whining of the central male characters. They were overemotional and so introspective that I stopped believing they were battle hardened pros. Rapp and Nash are made out to be a near super human, calculating, professional killers, but in this book they both acted like rebellious teenagers yelling at their parents. It got old.

    Last thing, I got the sense that Flynn cut out a major sub plot at the end regarding a character that had been building up. So, for me, the ending felt a little too unresolved for the book to stand on it’s own.

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Swan Peak: A Dave Robicheaux Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Swan Peak finds Detective Robicheaux far from his New Iberia roots, attempting to relax in the untouched wilderness of rural Montana. He, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcell have retreated to stay at an old friend's ranch, hoping to spend their days fishing and enjoying their distance from the harsh, gritty landscape of Louisiana post-Katrina.

    Deborah says: "Christmas/Birthday in July"
    "Patton's music with Burke's lyrics - perfect!"

    Burke's powerful descriptive prose matched with Patton's effortless and breezy 'sippi drawl makes this one of the best listens in a long long time. The plot line is solid, and the relationships developed and examined are what make Burke's novels so beautifully rendered. They are like philosophical visual poetry carefully pieced together with scenes of good vs evil, enlightenment, damnation and redemption.

    The words and imagery resonate long after the iPod is turned off.


    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Catch-22

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joseph Heller
    • Narrated By Jay O. Sanders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Catch-22 is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever, even if he has to die in the attempt.)

    Phil says: "Phenominal Reading - Story and Damn Funny"
    "Here's the catch..."

    If you are bright, and you don't listen to this book, then you are not too bright. If you are dim and you listen to this book and you like it, then you are probably not that dim. If you are dim and you don't like it, then you are definitely not bright. If you are dim and you don't listen to this book, then you were likely never bright, and you shouldn't listen to this book. In fact, for you, there is no book. This never happened. Go back to sleep.

    An absolute joy to listen too! Clever to the Nth degree, and completely relevant today as it ever was.

    Note: Not for the dim and/or humorless

    35 of 42 people found this review helpful
  • The Echelon Vendetta: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By David Stone
    • Narrated By Firdous Bamji
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When CIA "fixer" Micah Dalton's friend and mentor turns up dead, he's put on a collision course with a killer who has a penchant for intricate knife-work and Native American mysticism, a sadist who is killing ex-CIA agents. The victims are hard-nosed field men whose only link to one another seems to be a global surveillance operation called Echelon. The murders appear to be acts of retribution. But for what?

    Carmela08 says: "Excellent spy tale"
    "Excellent Imagery"

    Both well written and read, this atypical spy thriller brings us peripherally into the Comanche and Apache Indian religious world. Stone's writing is vivid with descriptive details and well thought out, at times so much so you may feel a little queasy in the graphic sections. Some of the more colorful characters' metaphors will force an out loud laugh. The character of Micah is an antihero, and doesn't fit the usual CIA profile, mysterious enough to keep you guessing, competent enough to give you confidence that he will come out on top.

    I look forward to Stone's next ride.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Wild Fire

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Nelson DeMille
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Executive Board of an exclusive men's club meets to talk about 9/11 and finalize a retaliation plan, known by a code name: Wild Fire. That weekend, a member of the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force is found dead. It's up to Detective John Corey and his wife, FBI Agent Kate Mayfield, to unravel a terrifying plot that starts with the Custer Hill Club and ends with American cities locked in the crosshairs of a nuclear device.

    Joseph says: "Good, but the series is getting forced."
    "Exactly what you need"

    Having listened to a couple real disappointments recently, The Ruins and Echo Park, my faith in the action/thriller genre has been restored. Demille's writing style is crisp and tight, even if a little sparse in description, and utlimately engaging. The humor of the main character, John Corey, with his spot on timing and irreverent style matches my own acerbic wit, so I personally found him hilarious at times. And, like anyone trying to quip in every situation, he realistically doesn’t always hit the mark, which to me just enriches the suspension of disbelief.

    All in all, a compelling story line, a little cartoonish in the action sequences but a good ride. Enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Echo Park: Harry Bosch Series, Book 12

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Len Cariou
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1993, Marie Gesto disappeared after walking out of a supermarket. Harry Bosch worked the case but couldn't crack it, and the 22-year-old was never found. Now, more than a decade later, with the Gesto file still on his desk, Bosch gets a call from the district attorney. A man accused of two heinous murders is willing to come clean about several others, including the killing of Marie Gesto.

    Joel says: "Another excellent Connelly novel."
    "Is this all it takes?"

    I don’t enjoy writing bad reviews but I felt compelled to give back some of the time lost on this novel to anyone that might be prevented from reading this. When I was listening to this book, the running commentary in my mind was, “Is this all it takes to get a book out there?” I mean, the characters were two dimensional and unimaginative caricatures of themselves, the plot was mind blowingly simple, most of the twists were just dumb and unbelievable, the dialogue stiff and comic book like, and the whole thing felt ‘cookie cutter.’ The reader was just terrible, monotone and lumpy in his cadence, like he was driving from period to period in stop and go traffic.

    In one way it was kind of encouraging, that if you can get one or two decent books out on the market, you can coast on your laurels for awhile and make a pretty good living by writing a lame series. People seem to like it, so who am I to say it’s lame. Sorry Michael, but enough is enough already.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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