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Joel

Joel Szerlip

NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

117
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 67 reviews
  • 110 ratings
  • 444 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015
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  • Steelheart: Reckoners, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10840)
    Performance
    (9954)
    Story
    (9993)

    Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father.

    D says: "He got the idea from a near traffic accident"
    "I'm a Fan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've never read a book about super heroes. In a lot of ways I missed the entire comic book world and am only a fan from a distance. I enjoy the lore, the enthusiasm of the fans, and even enjoy when they bring those comic book characters to life in movies. But something about the book Steelheart from Brandon Sanderson drew me in. Not sure if it was the high praise many have given Sanderson on his recent novels, or the amazing cover for the book, but one thing is for sure I'm so glad I read Steelheart.

    Steelheart is a book that flips the script on other super hero tales. Instead of the good guys being super heroes, its all the bad people in the world who are given powers while the rest of the world is left to fend for themselves. Steelheart is considered a young adult novel which is both its greatest strength and weakness. Strength because it makes for a lighter easier read that is instantly entertaining, and weakness because it does have Sanderson shying away from the grittier details of life under these super heroes rule. We get tastes but you get the sense that he is giving it to you in small bit size portions.

    All in all though Steelheart is one of the most entertaining listens I've had in a long time and I cannot wait for the next one. Count me in Sanderson I've officially boarded the reckoners train.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mightier than the Sword

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Archer
    • Narrated By Alex Jennings
    Overall
    (546)
    Performance
    (472)
    Story
    (466)

    Harry Clifton is more successful than ever as a novelist, and has just been elected president of PEN Britain. He learns of a writer in Russia whose memoir of life inside Stalin's palace has landed the writer in prison for life, his book taken off shelves and destroyed. Harry becomes obsessed with freeing the writer and telling his story. His wife Emma, meanwhile is the chair of Barringtons Shipping, having escaped a plot to destroy their company by bombing one of their luxury liners, and now the company is thriving.

    Ruth M. Penson says: "Better then the last one!"
    "Better Then the Last Two"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm so conflicted on Mightier Than the Sword. After loving the first two novels in the Clifton Chronicles I felt there was a major drop off in books three and four. To keep things as simple as possible I didn't understand why this was such a long series. Harry and Emma have always been the draw for me into these novels and as the cast expanded and contracted I just began to lose interest. However since I'm already four books invested I felt like I had to continue my trek into this series.

    The good news is, Mightier Than the Sword is a much better novel then books three and four and yet it still isn't anywhere near the drama of the first two. The big issue I have had with this book and the last two are the conflicts. They feel forced. Characters in The Clifton Chronicles are far either good or evil. There's no room for nuance. No grey areas. You have characters you're told to like and others that are the epitome of evil. This makes the story feel a little too clean.

    I've also gotten to the point where I wonder if Harry and Emma are just too good for their own good? There's a scene where Harry follows his conscious to help another and I kept wondering what person would ever do this? And yet for all of its faults, and there are many, I still really enjoyed Mightier Than the Sword. The pacing was much better in this one then the previous two. More happens and what happens seems at least slightly more plausible then the last two books.

    I will continue down the windy road that is The Clifton Chronicles. Although I think reading all this Jeffrey Archer makes me excited for what he writes after this series as its starting to get long in the tooth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Off to Be the Wizard

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Scott Meyer
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4376)
    Performance
    (4028)
    Story
    (4036)

    It's a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble. Oh, and boy meets girl at some point.

    Charles says: "Fantastic"
    "A Little Corny But Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm going to have a really hard time reviewing Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer. Not that its a very complicated of stories. Really what it comes down to is that I have such mixed feelings about it. On one hand Off to Be the Wizard is a really clever book, but on the other I couldn't help but find parts of the book a bit corny.

    Off to Be the Wizard follows Martin Banks a young guy in his 20's who finds a computer program that allows him to edit the world. He manages to change his bank account and starts spending money with no abandon. Two days later the feds are at his door ready to arrest him for banking fraud. Martin uses this found computer program to time travel back to medieval England to where he thinks he can use this program to become a wizard. Little does he know that he is far from the only person that found the computer program.

    The tone of Off to Be the Wizard is very satirical. It's for anyone that grew up in the 80's-90's who love science fiction, fantasy, and video games. There are so many references to that sort of culture that if you don't enjoy it you won't want to read this book. For me it was something I really enjoyed but at times found it to be a little too much. Needless to say though I enjoyed myself enough throughout to make me at least contemplate continuing on with the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Legion: Skin Deep

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2194)
    Performance
    (1978)
    Story
    (1984)

    As the new story begins, Leeds and his "aspects" are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there's a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous.

    B. says: "A Pleasure"
    "Paper Thin Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading Legion by Brandon Sanderson a couple months back I knew right away I would jump into the second book in the series Skin Deep. The idea is fascinating. Stephen Leeds a guy who has 40+ aspects (visions/imaginary people) with him at any time who is a billionaire that now helps solve crimes. Sort of a great premise. The first book ended with an awesome discovery that I thought would make its way into the second book but outside of a brief mention is completely glossed over.

    Its too bad too because that invention could have made for a far more interesting read then what Skin Deep ends up being. Unlike Legion which was more of an edge of your seat read this is a meandering mystery that follows familiar tropes we've seen before. For me Skin Deep doesn't have the level of sophistication in its telling that most Brandon Sanderson stories do. For me it fell completely flat.

    Even though I still find the premise interesting, and the possibilities endless I'm not sure I want to continue with the Legion series. It feels like a thought exercise more then a complete story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Firefight: Reckoners, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7594)
    Performance
    (6697)
    Story
    (6674)

    Newcago is free. They told David it was impossible, that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart - invincible, immortal, unconquerable - is dead. And he died by David's hand.Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers.Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though.

    G. House Sr. says: "Fabulous -- A Must Read Sequal"
    "Feel Like a Kid Again"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What a wonderful book. I honestly feel like a kid reading this book. It's just so much fun. I loved Brandon Sanderson's first novel in the Reckoners series, Steelheart, and somehow Firefight continues the charm of the first. What I love about Firefight is that Sanderson is able to capture just the right ton for this series about normal people fighting super heroes.

    I laughed more in this book then in any other I've read in a long time. Sure the bad metaphors (or similes) is a joke device that might be used to often. But it fits. The characters have this incredibly smooth way of working together to fit a cohesive unit. Just like any good popcorn summer movie it has a great pacing of comedy and intrigue to keep the story going. I continue to fall more and more in love with the main character David. He's got a lot of depth for a book about super heroes. We get to learn so much more about the world that Sanderson has built and the Epics (the bad super heroes).

    I couldn't get enough of Firefight. I texted my sister multiple times while reading it (since she read it before me) with texts of horror and delight at some of the books twists and turns. I absolutely loved Firefight. It brought the inner-child in me that wanted to throw back on my Superman cape and fly away. Truly wonderful book and I cannot wait for the next one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tower Lord: Raven's Shadow, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Anthony Ryan
    • Narrated By Steven Brand
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2790)
    Performance
    (2591)
    Story
    (2597)

    Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, called Darkblade, called Hope Killer. The greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus' vision of a Greater Unified Realm drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, he comes home, determined to kill no more. Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus's grateful heir, he can perhaps find peace in a colder, more remote land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm.

    Jack says: "The Great Swampy Middle!"
    "Tower Snore"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Over the last couple of years I've started to really dive into the fantasy genre. One of the books I particularly loved was Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. I went into Tower Lord (the follow-up to Blood Song) with extremely high hopes. Unfortunately it didn't live up to any of the starting blocks of the first book.

    I struggled to get through Tower Lord. The book takes place directly after the events of the incredible first novel. Unlike Blood Song which got off to a very fast start, Tower Lord is a slow trot that turns to a meandering pace. I'd go as far as to say Tower Lord becomes boring at times. There are too many stories, too many characters, and a complete lack of a cohesive story. If you by chance forgot anything from the first book don't plan on having any reminders, this book assumes you memorized the lore.

    For me the characters of Tower Lord are what really fall flat. The second book of any series has the opportunity to really build the world and its characters and Tower Lord does none of that. Even the books main character Vaelin Al Sorna just comes across as a prototypical brute with no personality or complexity. As you can probably tell I was extremely disappointed with Tower Lord. So much so that I think I'm done with the series.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Legion

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4632)
    Performance
    (4185)
    Story
    (4253)

    Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his 'aspects' are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

    Joshua says: "The only flaw..."
    "Can Easily Finish in One Sitting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read a lot of Brandon Sanderson in 2014 (3 of my 26 books) and enjoyed all of them. On a recent Audible sale I picked up both Legion and Legion: Skin Deep without even reading the description of the book. After listening to the very short Legion I can say that its a very different Sanderson then I've ever read. Instead of his normal hardcore fantasy writing with complex magic systems, Legion is a relatively tame mystery.

    The story follows Stephen Leeds who you meet at the beginning of this novel in his mansion where he introduces the reader to his many imaginary friends. Yes that's right he has a bunch of imaginary personas. These persona's are used to increase his intellect and solve a slue of mysteries. The first we're introduced to is a camera that can take pictures of the past. As long as its pointing at something it can take a picture of that spot throughout history. When the camera goes missing he boards a flight to Israel where the cameras inventor is trying to either prove or disprove Christianity.

    Its a really great short story and one that I finished in a day. I cannot wait to read the next novel and see where the story goes. I hope it continues with this historical camera because it could have some major ramifications on both the world and Stephen Leeds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Elie Wiesel
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2590)
    Performance
    (1306)
    Story
    (1323)

    Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel offers an unforgettable account of Hitler's horrific reign of terror in Night. This definitive edition features a new translation from the original French by Wiesel's wife and frequent translator, Marion Wiesel.

    Jacobus says: "A quality production of a gripping tradegy"
    "A Must Re-Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read Night when I was in High School and absolutely loved it. It's one of the few books from my youth that I remember. That was over ten years ago and I was excited to start off 2015 re-reading Night. There is really nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. Hearing about Elie and his family, and his town willingly board these trains to the concentration camps even with a rabbi telling them about the Nazi's atrocities is one of the toughest things to read.

    As you continue to hear about Elie and his fathers journey at Auschwitz it brings to life the horror of their experience in the concentration camp. I don't think any re-telling of these experiences hits as hard as Elie's re-telling of his time in his novel Night. There were times when I was listening to the audiobook that I would pause it or just turn it off. The novel hits hard and hits often. Just trying to imagine how you would survive something like a Nazi concentration camp made any stress that was going on in my life seem negligible. If you haven't read Night before or its been a while it would be a great idea to read it now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2.5

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Patrick Rothfuss
    • Narrated By Patrick Rothfuss
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1700)
    Performance
    (1560)
    Story
    (1565)

    Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows.... In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

    Josh says: "But No...."
    "A Slow But Interesting Tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely love both The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Its probably my favorite fantasy series of all time. So I knew going into The Slow Regard of Silent Things that this was going to be a major departure from those two. I guess I wasn't fully prepared for how different this would end up being.

    The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a tale about Auri a side character in the first two novels who crosses paths with the novels main protagonist quite often. We always knew there was more to Auri then let on and this was Rothfuss chance to illuminate her as a character. In some ways it works and in others it doesn't. I found it enchanting that Rothfuss who reads the audiobook gives you a number of reasons not to purchase the book and then closes the short story telling everyone why he wrote it. It's a really odd tale and different then anything I've ever read before.

    Its a very nicely weaved story that isn't what you would call plot heavy. There were times where I drifted off and others where I wanted to know more. Heck at the end of the day I still feel like I still only slightly understand Auri. She's still full of mystery and in a lot of ways I feel like I know less about her now then I did before. If you're a giant fan of the first two books then its worth a read, otherwise you probably want to stay clear of this one.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • World of Trouble: The Last Policeman, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Ben H. Winters
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (98)

    With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force. But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank's safety is only relative, and his only relative - his sister Nico - isn't safe.

    Big jim Picotto says: "I love this trilogy...I really do"
    "Its the End of the World As We Know It"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm so conflicted on the entire Last Policeman trilogy. I purchased each of the three books in the hopes that it would build to a climatic conclusion. On paper these books are right up my alley. The world is coming to an end, and Detective Hank Palace is trying to figure out what to do with the remaining months of his life. The first two novels (The Last Policeman & Countdown City) were both good entertaining short reads. Nice appetizers in between some of my more meaty reads this year.

    Out of the three books World of Trouble is probably my least favorite. Its not a bad book but I just found Hank's motives and mindset to be completely unbelievable. The fact that Hank is continuing to be a detective until the very last moments of humans existence doesn't even make sense. He has this vendetta to find a sister that throughout the novels never seems to really want to spend the remaining time alive with him. I also never got the feeling that Hank was a real person. He always felt like an ideal of a detective at the end of the world.

    There were some interesting moments but I was kind of left without any emotion. I'm just not sure the idea of a detective at the end of the world made for the best story. I think it could have but this wasn't it. Still its a entertaining short read and a journey that although not exciting was worth the journey nonetheless.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Revival: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By David Morse
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3429)
    Performance
    (3105)
    Story
    (3125)

    In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs - including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession.

    Thug4life says: "Not fit for a King"
    "Completely Misses Its Landing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In a lot of ways Revival by Stephen King is everything I both love and dislike about reading a Stephen King novel. There's no denying that King is a master story-teller. He's written some of my favorite novels of all-time (11-22-63 & The Stand) and even novels that weren't my cup of tea I still enjoyed because of how well he can spin a story together.

    Revival is a novel that shows off yet again why Stephen King is the prolific author he is. Revival is about Jamie Morton who we get to see from age 6 all the way to his early 60's. His tale is intertwined with the minister Charles Jacobs and throughout his life you see the changes in both characters quite a bit. This is what Stephen King does really well. He develops characters to a point where you can connect with them even if you aren't necessarily enjoying the core story.

    Revival's biggest issue is its ending. I can't really dive into it without spoiling the entire novel but I will just say that it completely botches the landing. The entire novel is building to this climatic conclusion and yet I was left scratching my head wondering how King thought this was a good way to end a novel. I don't need a happy ending. I just need one that makes sense. I enjoyed the ride of Revival but to be honest the journey wasn't as smooth as many of his recent novels.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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