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Joshua

www.newimperium.org

mcleansville, NC, United States | Member Since 2011

323
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 97 reviews
  • 108 ratings
  • 266 titles in library
  • 29 purchased in 2014
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73

  • No Easy Hope: Surviving the Dead, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By James N. Cook
    • Narrated By Guy Williams
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (486)
    Story
    (487)

    Eric Riordan was once a wealthy man leading a comfortable, easy life. Until one day Gabriel, his oldest friend, Marine Corps veteran, and a former mercenary, told him how the world was going to end. He did his best to prepare. He thought he was ready for anything. He was wrong. As the dead rise up to devour the living, one man finds himself struggling to survive in the ruins of a shattered world. Alone, isolated, and facing starvation, his only chance is to flee to the Appalachians and join forces with Gabriel.

    Amanda says: "Not bad, Not unique, but well written!"
    "Great Story, but Doesn't Offer Anything New"
    Overall
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    Story

    I stumbled upon this author through someone's Goodreads review, and recently have been reading a lot of "first published independently" authors. When I discovered the author was a fellow North Carolinian and that the story takes place here in NC, I was fairly excited to try him out!

    The zombie genre is, in a word, overdone these days, but I was hoping for a new twist on the theme. This one is well written, and kept me interested all the way. There were a few minor snags for me, though.

    The prologue started out great. Once we get into chapter 1, however, the story jumps back to the main character's life before the outbreak. Then we get to see the outbreak itself. I don't know about you, but I've seen the zombie "origin story" enough times by now. This one is fairly straightforward, and I could have done without it.

    I kept hoping we would quickly make it back to the timeline in the prologue, featuring the main characters of Eric and Gabriel. Unfortunately, the story gets sidetracked again, and I realized that I wasn't going to like the direction the story was taking. Again, don't get me wrong: the story is pretty good. I just didn't find anything particularly unique about it, nor about the rest of the plot as it unfolds. The book also suffered from a lot of cursing and bad language that I wasn't expecting and frankly could have done without.

    In fact, the entire book itself is backstory, which is a shame, because it is well written and interesting. The problem is, we KNOW that Eric is going to end up with Gabriel, just two of them, holed up in a cabin inside a fence looking out on the world. I wanted to find out what happens AFTER that, and I didn't want to wait until book 2 or 3 to find out.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Dragons of Dorcastle: The Pillars of Reality, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (176)
    Performance
    (170)
    Story
    (170)

    The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of Dematr behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

    Katie says: "Huh....Well there are dragons. Kinda."
    "This is YA. Adjust expectations accordingly."
    Overall
    Performance
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    I'm a fan of Jack Campbell, having listened to or read all of his "Lost Fleet" series, so I was excited to learn that he was trying his hand at fantasy. Some great authors have been writing across genres or even multi-genre, combining sci fi and fantasy. This one is more like a combination of fantasy and steampunk.

    I'm not sure if it's just me missing something, but I didn't realize this was a YA novel going in. However, within a few minutes of listening I could tell that it was. There's nothing wrong with that, just realize that there's a lot of time spent on teens sorting through their feelings and wondering about relationships and talking about relationships. I haven't been out of my teens for so long that I forgot what it was like - and I don't remember worrying about these things as much as these kids seem to. But that could be just from Campbell's first time writing not only YA but a fantasy as well.

    As for the book, I would say that it's a satisfying and somewhat refreshing tale. However it is highly character focused, which Campbell mostly does anyway (the "Lost Fleet" series really just has one viewpoint character, where this one has two). However unlike a lot of fantasy we don't get tons of worldbuilding, and we really don't know anything about this world's history or why there are mages or mechanics and WHY they don't like each other. That is one of the novel's biggest weaknesses.

    So in closing this is definitely not epic fantasy, because I believe one of the definitions of that is a larger scope, as well as a larger amount of viewpoint characters. Still, it's an enjoyable tale in and of itself, with some interestingly original concepts as far as the mages and mechanics go. However I'm not sure if I would continue this series as it just doesn't have the depth and complexity that I've grown used to.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Free: Legion: Skin Deep

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (259)
    Story
    (262)

    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"
    "A Pleasant Surprise"
    Overall
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    Story

    I was pleasantly surprised to get this as a free audiobook from Audible. As usual Sanderson impresses with his concepts, and this is a very cool and interesting character that I could easily see a whole series following. This book reads as though it's a condensed version of a larger novel, though it definitely has enough detail and doesn't feel overly rushed. It might be hard to turn out a larger book with this character without going more in-depth with some of the concepts and hallucinations, but for a novella it's just right. It also has a cool ending, which Sanderson as usual pulls off with style. The main plot's concept was a little wonky, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Reaper's Gale: Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Steven Erikson
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (137)

    All is not well in the Letherii Empire. Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, spirals into madness, surrounded by sycophants and agents of his Machiavellian chancellor, while the Letherii secret police conduct a campaign of terror against their own people. The Errant, once a far-seeing god, is suddenly blind to the future. Conspiracies seethe throughout the palace as the empire edges closer to all-out war with the neighboring kingdoms.

    Patrick says: "This series just keeps getting better!!"
    "There Will Be A Reckoning!"
    Overall
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    Story

    Those words, written across the book's back cover, epitomize the events that transpire in this seventh volume of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Continuing and concluding the storyline begun in Midnight Tides and continued in The Bonehunters, this book brings a climactic conclusion that brings resolution to so many open threads, bringing down justice on so many who deserve it, and generally giving us a satisfying moment of reprieve before the last push to the end.

    I always say this, but the sheer scale of the storyline in this book is almost beyond believe. It puts other "epic" fantasies to shame, as there can really be no serious comparison to this series. The storyline in this novel begins over a hundred thousand years in the past, and despite that unimaginable scale Erikson is able to make you feel like it really has been that much time that has transpired. When I look back at the thousands of pages since the story of the Sengars and the Tiste Edur began, and the betraying of Silchas Ruin by Scabandari Bloodeye, and so many other things, it's awe-inspiring. Certainly this is what epic fantasy really should be. Absolutely unforgettable.

    And there are many reckonings in this book. This is ultra-violent, no-holds-barred storytelling, chock full of political machinations and bloody war. There are several stand-out fights, especially involving Quick Ben, Fiddler and Hedge. And of course, Karsa Orlong continues to kick more ass in this novel, making me beam with pride at who has become probably my favorite character in the series.

    Yet there's a lot of tragedy here, too - which you must surely expect by now. A few key deaths are going to be hard to take; I know they were for me. It's things like that which don't sit very well with me in the end, especially when so many of them could be avoided to the point where you can see the author's hand and it feels a bit contrived. Yet the ending is pure Erikson awesomeness as usual. My only complaint is, as usual, that I didn't get as much "screen time" with the major characters and major players of the book. As typical, Erikson introduces new minor characters and spends a lot of time with them and with the front-line grunts of the army. I don't know if part of this reason is if he didn't feel comfortable or confident enough to write the harder characters, as ancient as many of them are. Certainly we haven't seen Anomander Rake since book 3 and that just baffles me. But at any rate, this book series still deserves to be on any epic fantasy reader's bookshelf.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Visitors: Pathfinder Series, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Emily Rankin, Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (174)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (162)

    Rigg’s journey comes to an epic and explosive conclusion as everything that has been building up finally comes to pass, and Rigg is forced to put his powers to the test in order to save his world and end the war once and for all.

    Joshua says: "Satisfying Conclusion to the Acclaimed Series"
    "Satisfying Conclusion to the Acclaimed Series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was attending Orson Scott Card's Writing Workshop this year when I heard him mentioning how difficult it was for him to wrap up writing this book. He knew he had a real gem on his hands; this is easily his most ambitious series since Ender's Game. Seems that he truly thought this was one of his best, but he had only one, BIG problem: he had no idea how to end the story.

    I was a bit shocked to hear this. The Pathfinder series is easily my favorite of his since the original Ender's Game. Yet as creative as this project was - and he had written a killer beginning and a good middle - he had been working on the project without actually knowing how it was all going to turn out. This process is typically known as free-writing, or letting the story tell itself as you write and lose yourself within it. However, the style has its drawbacks, one of which is that endings can be kind of weak and unsatisfying.

    Then, at the workshop, Scott said that he had recently had an epiphany of sorts and that he finally knew how to end it up. He then proceeded to finish this novel while his students were working on the rough drafts of their assignment stories. This greatly relieved me, who had been waiting for this novel with much anticipation for the last couple of years.

    Ultimately, this novel pulls off the ending that it promised. But boy, does it go in a lot of unexpected directions on the way there! At times, I felt like I could see where Card had struggled. The story itself meanders in places, seeming to get lost within itself. It goes off on tangents and I can't seem to figure out WHY Card even wrote those parts, or left them in the final novel.

    But though there are frustrations at times, but in the end I feel it deserves 4 stars. Let me tell you that this book crams a LOT into its pages. This story goes way, way far away from its humble fantasy novel roots that were begun in "Pathfinder". There are tons of philosophical examples and conversations that are typical Card. There were a couple of story arcs that weren't that interesting to me. But I have to commend Card for being able to pull this one off. I really enjoyed the characters, most of which felt so alive to me that I know I'll remember them for a long time. It's actually kind of sad to see this series end. I could see it continuing on much further from here.

    I would definitely recommend this series to any Card fans, even if you've just read Ender's Game. This remains my favorite series of his right beside the title that gave him his fame.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Oren Klaff
    • Narrated By Oren Klaff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (367)
    Performance
    (332)
    Story
    (327)

    When it comes to delivering a pitch, Oren Klaff has unparalleled credentials. Over the past 13 years, he has used his one-of-a-kind method to raise more than $400 million - and now, for the first time, he describes his formula to help you deliver a winning pitch in any business situation. Whether you’re selling ideas to investors, pitching a client for new business, or even negotiating for a higher salary, Pitch Anything will transform the way you position your ideas. According to Klaff, creating and presenting a great pitch isn’t an art - it’s a simple science.

    Troy S. says: "Awesome"
    "Very Thought Provoking and Motivational"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book pupped up on Audible's sale list at just the right moment for me. I had just had a meeting with an agency where I was pitching my company to them. I just wish I had listened to this book before going! I was really intrigued by the system presented here. Logically it seems like it would really work. I am looking forward to trying some of these techniques next time, although I'm sure it will take LOTS of practice.

    I like the guy's energy and way of doing business. However I don't like the way he tries to take everything back to the theory of evolution. This isn't a time to preach your beliefs on me; you don't have to explain WHY you think that your system works, based on someone's neuroscientific theories. Just tell me that's HOW the brain works and don't distract me with all the supposed background information. That's violating the very methods he's teaching.

    But anyway, I am interested to see how the results of using this technique will turn out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dragons of Autumn Twilight: Dragonlance: Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (630)
    Performance
    (574)
    Story
    (593)

    Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.

    Kitty says: "Dissapointing Narration of a Classic Favorite"
    "Like Watching Someone Play D&D"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Like some other readers have mentioned, I probably should have read these books when I was growing up, because I think I would have enjoyed them a lot more back then. The story would have felt newer, and I could probably have handled the motley cast of characters better. Sadly I missed that chance, and now listening to this story as an adult no longer carries the same kind of feeling it might have.

    Reading this book is much like watching someone else play D&D on pencil and paper. Especially early on you can almost envision the players making their hit rolls or doing a perception check. Plus, you're just kind of dumped into the story with the beginning of a generic quest with a bunch of generic elements instigated by a very generic magical staff. Right from the beginning we're introduced to a whole cast of characters, and it is immediately hard to keep up with who is who. That's a shame, because the story could have been so much better. I think that the Death Gate Cycle by the same authors is hands down better than this in every way, and the fact that this was published around 10 years earlier definitely shows in the writing strength.

    It's too bad, because I really wanted to like this series (I bought all 4 books in paperback already) because there are definitely some interesting characters and world elements here. It's just the execution was weak; the characters mostly feel shallow or one-dimensional, and a lot of the quests and things are far too generic and should have been avoided. I would have liked to see a lot more character development and some rich detailing of the world, rather than dungeon crawling and questing. I understand that this was to help launch a whole new D&D world and campaign setting but all the more reason to create a sophisticated, intelligent story. In short, I was hoping for epic fantasy, and what I got was basically swords and sorcery.

    One interesting thing about this series is the cameo of the old wizard Nezbin, I believe his name is. He bears a striking resemblance to the similarly-named Zifnab in the Death Gate Cycle, and I highly doubt this is coincidence as he has an identical personality. That was kind of a fun touch, linking their worlds like that.

    The narrator of these books was not that great. I never liked his voice and don't think he executed a lot of it very well. Intonation and delivery just felt off and amateurish at times. Sorry to be a harsh critic about that but a really great narrator can make up for a lot in a story. Sadly this one dragged it down a star or so.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Exile: Legend of Drizzt: Dark Elf Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By R. A. Salvatore
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    Overall
    (1067)
    Performance
    (992)
    Story
    (1006)

    Hostile in ways that a surface-dweller could never know, the tunnel-mazes of the Underdark challenge all who tread there. Among these souls are Drizzt Do'Urden and his magical cat, Guenhwyvar. Exiled from his drow homeland, Drizzt must fight for a new home in the boundless labyrinth. Meanwhile, he must watch for signs of pursuit - for the dark elves are not a forgiving race.

    Cyndane says: "Excellent as Always"
    "An Action-Packed Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The second book in this trilogy picks up virtually right where the first one left off. Although 10 years have elapsed in the interim, little has changed except that Drizzt has been surviving on his own and has grown even harder and tougher.

    This book had a good mix of action and character development. While the plot didn't introduce much in the way of new or unexpected ideas, it still kept me listening without getting boring. Personally though, I didn't care too much to hear anymore about the Drow still living back in Drizzt's homeland. Since this series is my introduction to the whole Forgotten Realms world, I wanted to see Drizzt make it on his own in new environments, discovering things along with him. The snaps back to Menzoberranzan were therefore unwanted and jolting. I understand though that most of the books happen on the surface, and that this series was written later specifically to detail Drizzt's former life. To that extent I think it accomplishes its task well, and achieves some nicely satisfying moments as well. It's not epic fantasy or anything, but it's a good diversion of a story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lock In (Narrated by Wil Wheaton)

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1563)
    Performance
    (1457)
    Story
    (1464)

    Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

    Alexis says: "Fun! Things you might want to know:"
    "Felt like I'd seen the movie already"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    The premise of this book felt really familiar as I started listening to it. Then I realized I'd already seen the movie a couple of years ago, only then it was called Surrogates and starred Bruce Willis.

    Seriously though, while I have enjoyed a lot of Scalzi's books, this one just wasn't nearly as exciting to me as most of the others. It was actually almost boring at times, and I think that is because it felt like we're just treading along well-plowed ground. Sure, the instigator of the technology (a virus) was a different twist, but that just made it feel like your average epidemic book, followed by, well, the film Surrogates.

    Scalzi isn't known very much for blazing new trails, but rather refining concepts that are already familiar to us. Old Man's War was much like Starship Troopers or Forever War. Redshirts is essentially a Star Trek parody. Fuzzy Nation was based off of Little Fuzzy, and so on and so forth. Likewise, this novel is similar to Caves of Steel and similar detective stories featuring android/cyborg characters, and it doesn't offer all that much new except for including tons of modern culture into it. The book almost feels like it could happen within then next couple of decades, but stretches the imagination just a bit too far to sell the concept completely.

    This is a solid 3-star book, and isn't Scalzi's best by any stretch of the imagination. It was solidly written in Scalzi's sardonic style, and included some good humorous moments. However, I'll have to give a strong language warning on this one, because there is definitely some filthy speech going on at times.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Into the Black: Odyssey One

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Evan Currie
    • Narrated By Benjamin L. Darcie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1639)
    Performance
    (1513)
    Story
    (1518)

    Captain Eric Weston and his crew encounter horrors, wonders, monsters, and people; all of which will test their resolve, challenge their abilities, and put in sharp relief what is necessary to be a hero. A first-rate military-science-fiction epic that combines old-school space opera and modern storytelling, Into the Black: Odyssey One is a riveting, exhilarating adventure with vivid details, rich mythology, and relentless pacing.

    C. Hartmann says: "Great, Solid Military SciFi / Evolving Space Opera"
    "Just too unrealistic for me..."
    Overall
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    This was another debut military sci-fi novel, this time by Evan C. Currie. However, unlike the "Man of War" series I recently started as well, this one is not only quite clearly a "first novel", it is also clear that it was self-published first. Although it gets better near the end, the first part of the book is amateurish and difficult to continue listening to. It shows why good editors are so important in fiction writing. The author makes a number of choices in the story that simply are too much to possibly believe. Feeling like a kind of cheap Star Trek copy, the novel starts with humanity's first faster-than-light ship's maiden voyage, that then quickly turns into a Jack Campbell-style military sci-fi romp. But the jump is way too sudden, and the situation utterly unbelievable. Almost immediately upon arriving at Alpha Centauri, the ship responds to a distress signal in yet another system, which they blindly follow, after which continues one unlikely decision after another until this fleet is involved in full-scale battles with alien forces. It is simply not believable that such a captain would make decisions like this, not based on our current knowledge of military procedures and extensive and careful prototype testing.

    While the book does get better later on (at least the space battle are well done), it can't make up for the strange and out of place decisions that are made by both the author and characters in the first half. Another seriously unbelievable element is in the type of "aliens" they run into, although I won't spoil that particular point. Ultimately if he wanted to write an exploration novel, then exploration should have dominated the theme of the book and the conflict kept small and realistic. If he wanted to write military space battles, then he should have introduced us to a world in which this was already feasible, not tacking it on to what was essentially an exploration mission. Some people might disagree with me and say that it worked for them. If so, then please continue reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series. I'll be stopping here, thanks.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Rowan: Tower and Hive, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Anne McCaffrey
    • Narrated By Jean Reed Bahle
    Overall
    (363)
    Performance
    (213)
    Story
    (222)

    The kinetically gifted, trained in mind/machine gestalt, are the most valued citizens of the Nine Star League. Using mental powers alone, these few Prime Talents transport ships, cargo, and people between Earth's Moon, Mars' Demos and Jupiter's Callisto.

    James P. Dyer says: "Not a bad start"
    "An Anne McCaffrey Classic"
    Overall
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    Story


    I'm not really a fan of McCaffrey's style or her writing, but I did enjoy this one more than other books of hers. In essence this is a very character-driven tale of self-discovery and a touching story of love and family. We follow the Rowan from the time she is a baby through to motherhood, and everything is rendered very beautiful and real. McCaffrey's style is very visible as there is a lot of focus on character interactions more than the wider world. Still, the aspects of telepathy and telekinesis were cool and the exploration of it in terms of the relationships was very well done.

    I'm not interested to the point of continuing the series (the alien aspect is not too interesting to me), but I think as a standalone it works quite well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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