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Chantilly, VA, United States | Member Since 2004

  • 13 reviews
  • 22 ratings
  • 439 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015

  • Way of the Wolf: The Vampire Earth, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By E. E. Knight
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel, E. E. Knight
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Louisiana, 2065. A lot has changed in the 43rd year of the Kurian Order. Possessed of an unnatural and legendary hunger, the bloodthirsty Reapers have come to Earth to establish a New Order built on the harvesting of enslaved human souls. They rule the planet. They thrive on the scent of fear. And if it is night, as sure as darkness, they will come.

    On this pitiless world, the indomitable spirit of mankind still breathes in Lieutenant David Valentine.

    Kevin says: "Its what you expect, and thats not a bad thing."
    "Formulaic but Entertaining"

    The book has a nifty sci-fi/vampire premise, and the author is good enough at describing action sequences to keep you wanting more. The characters are about as cardboard cut-out as you can get and character development approaches zero, but the inventive descriptions of the post-apocalyptic Earth are enough to keep it going. I liked it enough to give the second one a try; I'm hoping the author is capable of more character-building as the series continues.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • NOS4A2: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Joe Hill
    • Narrated By Kate Mulgrew
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

    Jacqueline says: "Finish to Start Excellent is Novel This"
    "Spectacular Reading by Mulgrew"

    This is my first Joe Hill book and I was struck by how tightly plotted the story is and how distinctive the various characters are. His writing reminds me a lot of his father's better work back in the 80s, and that's high praise.

    However, I really wanted to write in praise of Kate Mulgrew's performance. Really fantastic. She is able to develop fairly distinct voices for each of the major characters, and she's not afraid to raise or lower her voice to better depict the mind-set of the speaker. Her narration here puts her at the top of my list of female narrators and I'm looking forward to hearing her in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Abaddon's Gate

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By James S.A. Corey
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays

    The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

    Greg says: "The worst part is waiting for book 4"
    "A Good Maybe Wrap-Up"

    I loved the first book in the series and thought that the second one was... not quite as good. The third is a return to form, concentrating more on the alien technology and less on political squabbles.

    The characterizations are a little better this time around too, and though we don't get anyone as deep or interesting as Miller from the first book the, the supporting cast is pretty good this time around.

    Although the story winds up in a semi-coherent fashion, I'm hoping that the authors decide to revisit the "expanse" universe soon.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Strain

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan
    • Narrated By Ron Perlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.

    Flavius says: "Hokey But Fun"
    "Strong start, weak finish"

    Pearlman as a narrator was fine -- his voices were all mostly the same with a few accents thrown in here and there, but he managed to get the tone down well and he relayed the action pretty cleanly. I expected a little better given all the voice-work he's done over the years, but I wouldn't be scared off of another audiobook if I saw him listed. He'd be great for non-fiction.

    The book itself started out quite well, but went downhill quickly, especially in the last third of the book. I'd wave it off as first-timer's learning, but Del Toro had an experienced co-writer, so you can't even do that.

    The first third of the book describes a Vampire infestation of NYC, and this is pretty good. The pseudo-science seems to stand up, and the actions of both the vampire bad guys and clueless good guys are logical and understandable. Del Toro obviously did a lot of research into various areas (rat infestations, how morgues operate) and this comes through nicely in creating a believable first act. The characters are pretty one-note, and despte an honest effort, they never quite get past the cardboard cut-out stage.

    The second third of the book steadily grows weaker as each of the main characters settles into a pre-ordained "Dracula" role of Van Helsing, Harker, Quincey, etc. The careful "real science" that they cultivate in the first part starts to fall apart a bit as the rules they came up with are bent or broken to serve the plot, and the characters start to do dumb things that fly in the face of their earlier pragmatism.

    The last third of the book is just a mess. The main characters blunder around like buffoons with weapons that Joss Weadon would have rejected from a "Buffy" script as too campy; the once uber-powerful vampires are now dispatched casually; and the super bad-guy alternates between demigod and staggering idiot as the action requires.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Christopher Hitchens
    • Narrated By Christopher Hitchens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris' recent best-seller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.

    ben capozzi says: "...Though Hitchens Is!"

    I saw this guy interviewed on the Daily Show a couple weeks back and I was intrigued by what he said was in the book, so I picked it up. When I saw it was narrated by the author, I was originally put off -- on the Daily Show he was a bit of a slow talker, and generally the authors don't do as good a job as professional narrators. But the editor did a good job chopping out the pauses, and Hitchen's tendency to mumble his hard consonants was not too bad unless there was a lot of noise in the gym.

    The book is... ah, I'm not quite sure how to describe it. A screed against religion, I suppose. Initially it seems to be a long essay on why atheism... or perhaps Atheism... is the proper way to go if we as a planet are to move on. But it often devolves into a series of anecdotal vignettes on why religion and the religious are bad for... well, everything. Many times this is fascinating and sometimes it's a bit unfair (he tends to cherry-pick assumptions and forgive ignorance cases where it helps his cause and lambaste it in places where it does not), but it is always very entertaining.

    I enjoyed the dense allusions to classical literature and puns; pretentious maybe, but if you are reading the book you'll probably like it too.

    34 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • Lisey's Story

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Mare Winningham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband, Scott, two years ago, after a 25-year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Scott was an award-winning, best-selling novelist, and a very complicated man. Early in their relationship, before they married, Lisey had to learn from him about books and blood and "bools". Later, she understood that there was a place Scott went, a place that both terrified and healed him, could eat him alive, or give him the ideas he needed in order to live.

    A. Jack says: "Vintage, Mature SK"
    "Pretty Good, Not Great"

    It's kind of an indulgent book, written as it is about a famous writer's wife and how she deals with the various strange things that happen to him, his descent into near-madness, struggles with alcoholism, fame, and eventual death. Sound semi-autobiographical? Well, it's probably supposed to, and the heroine is supposed to be sort of like King's wife, but not too much.

    The other half of the book is about a magical place where this writer goes and receives his inspiration (both for prose and horror), and there is more symbolism there than any one stick could be shook at. King tries some fancy literary stuff, indulging in multiple-layered flashbacks within flashbacks, and his prose gets a bit more lurid than his typical "everyman" talk, even threatening poetry via his writer alter-ego at one point.

    Still, after "Cell" this is a much tighter and more personal book, which is where I think his power really lies (The Stand, notwithstanding). Moreover, the narration by Mare Winningham is excellent; she'll never make you wonder whether there are actually multiple people narrating, but she imbues her voice with excellent levels of emotion when needed and does a good job with various accents and ways of speaking. Plus she handles King's propensity for (parenthetical) prose quite well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Max Brooks
    • Narrated By Max Brooks, Alan Alda, John Turturro, and others

    The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of 30 million souls, to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet.

    Steve says: "Good but Too Short!"
    "Not what I expected"

    World War Z consists of a number of interviews with survivors from various countries who related stories from different “phases” of the struggle against the living dead. Some of the stories are actual “short stories”, while most are really just set-pieces or vignettes. Most are quite well-written and make a lot of internal sense. The author has definitely given this a lot of thought and much of the technical military jargon is pretty good.

    In particular, I liked the stories by the army grunt who explained why most of the military hardware was inadequate to the task since much of it (like land mines) was built to maim or terrify an enemy rather than to kill them.

    But therein lies my issue with the book as a whole: it tends to concentrate on the “big picture” and how the world governments react to the looming disaster. In the “World War Z” universe, the zombies appear in Asia and it spreads from there. This allows the author to tell some interesting stories, like the Israelis withdrawing behind the “security fence”. This is neat stuff, but it’s not in the true “spirit” of Romero’s universe.

    In Romero’s vision, the dead simply start rising to consume the living all over the place at once, forcing people to cope with it using what you have on hand in your previously quiet, suburban setting. Giving countries or organizations a few weeks or months to prepare lessens the possibility for the traditional zombie story of ordinary people uprooted and thrust into a nightmare without warning.

    Now, Brooks’ universe never purports to be Romero’s and should not be held to the same standards. I would have liked to hear more stories about civilians and less about generals managing supply lines. Those were interesting, but it’s not what I was looking for – less Tom Clancy, more John Steinbeck I suppose.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael B. Oren
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Israel and the West, it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War or, simply, as "the Setback". Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen, and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the intifada, and the rise of Palestinian terror are all part of the outcome of those six days.

    Patrick says: "Great overview of Middle East troubles"
    "Great overview of Middle East troubles"

    Coming into this book, I had only a rudimentary knowledge of the Six Day War, and I probably often got it confused with the Yom Kippur war or the 1958 Sinai incident. The book managed to indoctrinate me into what the author calls the Middle East “Context” and I am finding that I am looking at the current events in the area with new eyes.

    The book is split into four distinct sections. The first deals with an abbreviated history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and provides a summary of the 1948 and 1958 wars, the rise of the dictatorships in the neighboring countries (especially Nassar in Egypt). The second portion deals at length with the events and diplomacy that led up to the war. The third portion deals with the military and political maneuvering that went on during the actual armed conflict. Finally the end of the book provides a “wrap up,” describing how the major players ended up and what the war did to change the political landscape of the area.

    The author manages to dramaticize many of the decisions quite well -- the Liberty incident as narrated in the book is a real nail-biter, as is the initial Israeli first-strike on the Egyptians. Oren reminds me a bit of Shelby Foote ("A Narrative History of the Civil War") in how his writing turns the history into drama in places. The pathos of the historical characters is wonderful as well: Nassar of Egypt is a classic flawed and corrupted ruler, and I liked the idea of Anwar Sadat as Achilles brooding in his tent; Dianne, Rabin, LBJ, Eban and the others play out like characters in a Shakespearian drama in places. Though you know how it all will play out, there is a great deal of pleasure in hearing it play out.

    For me, the book was very revealing. I’d recommend the book for anyone who would like an entertaining “primer” into the history of the modern Middle East and into the historical Israeli outlook in the region.

    28 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Kingdom: The Saxon Chronicles, Book 1

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Jamie Glover

    From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times best-selling author whom the Washington Post calls "perhaps the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today", comes a saga of blood, rage, fidelity, and betrayal. In the 9th and 10th centuries, King Alfred and his heirs fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture by battling the ferocious Vikings, whose invading warriors had already captured and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.

    Stephen says: "Great Historical Fiction!"
    "Vintage Cornwell"

    If you've liked any of Cornwell's stuff in the past, you'll likely enjoy this one as well. It has many things in common with both the Archer's Tale, and the superior Winter King. In the end, many of Cornwell's themes and plots are similar, but it's certainly a page-turner and (as always) his historical details are top-notch.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Thomas L. Friedman
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman

    When scholars write the history of the world 20 years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004", what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing?

    Patrick says: "Facinating, Scary and Repetitive"
    "Facinating, Scary and Repetitive"

    I fully enjoyed the audiobook, but I wonder if I would have liked the abridged version better. The first half of the book gives a number of very interesting anecdotes about the nature of globalization, and the second half provides some chilling statistics of America's potential struggles. All very interesting. However, Friedman simply repeats his main points far, far, far too many times

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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