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Jim In Texas!

Austin, TX, United States
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  • 97
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  • The Taking of K-129

  • How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History
  • By: Josh Dean
  • Narrated by: Neil Hellegers
  • Length: 15 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 387
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 364
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 360

In the early hours of February 25, 1968, a Russian submarine armed with three nuclear ballistic missiles set sail from its base in Siberia on a routine combat patrol to Hawaii. Then it vanished. As the Soviet navy searched in vain for the lost vessel, a small, highly classified American operation using sophisticated deep-sea spy equipment found it - wrecked on the sea floor at a depth of 16,800 feet, far beyond the capabilities of any salvage that existed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the great stories in history

  • By Ben Newman on 11-21-17

A fascinating covert operation

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-17

On a bumper sticker: The Soviet Submarine K-129 sinks in very deep water. The CIA decides to try and recover the sub, enlisting Howard Hughes to provide cover for construction of a huge high tech ship to lower a giant claw down to the sub to grab it and pull it up to the ship.

I'm a student (and former participant) of the Cold War, I enjoyed this book a lot. I knew the outline of the Glomar Explorer story, but few of the details.

This book fills in the details. Over the course of Project Azorian many people were involved, although only a handful had full knowledge of the purpose of the Explorer.

The author goes into detail explaining how the CIA managed to keep this four year program under wraps, despite many security close calls. In retrospect it is amazing that the program was not made public until after the mission was over.

This is a nice long book and one gets to really know the principal players, both human and mechanical.

Neil Hellegers does a good job narrating the book, he does have a kind of cadence of reading a sentence, pausing and the reading another sentence.

I did notice what I think was a production flaw in first few chapters. I think the sound engineer got a little aggressive in his use of compression. When Hellegers pauses, as he often does, the sound level drops to about zero. This gives a kind of stuttering effect. Audio books are supposed to have a 'room tone' during pauses that keep the audio flow nice an smooth. This problem was corrected after the first couple of chapters.

Highly recommended.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

  • Bobiverse, Book 1
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53,214
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 49,959
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49,869

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ignore the Publisher's Summary! This is Amazing!

  • By PW on 04-12-17

The best SciFi book I've read in years!!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-05-17

I rank this book right up, and even a little better, than 'The Martian'. The book is witty, fast moving and original.

The tone and mannerism of the main character(s) are a lot like Mark Watney, but the many flavors of Bob add a lot of pleasant variety.

Multiples Bobs give room for multiple subplots, each of which is fascinating in one way or the other.

My one complaint about the novel is that the first set of Bad Guys are Christians, who set up an American theocracy. Sigh, how hackneyed. There is a religion on earth that actually has set up strict theocracies, but they are not Christians. To be fair, that other religion gets pretty much wiped out latter in the book.

I really got involved with most of the subplots, and consumed this book as fast as I could. The last time I got so caught up in a book series was Patrick O'Brian's 'Master and Commander" series. These are both what I call 'drive way books', because I'll tend to pull into my drive and keep listening for five or ten minutes before I get of the car.

The narration is excellent, not up to Patrick Tull quality, but for this book it's a perfect fix. Porter has a little trouble with foreign accents, but not so bad as to be a real distraction.

Overall an exciting an fun book, and I can't wait for book 2!

  • Sapiens

  • A Brief History of Humankind
  • By: Yuval Noah Harari
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17,012
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,132
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,038

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six human species inhabited the Earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sums it up nicely

  • By Mark on 05-15-15

A good ten hour book crammed into sixteen hours

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-24-17

The first part of the book outlines the evolution of man from the early hominids to modern humans. It covers the evolution of human society from early hunter gatherers to the rise of agriculture and cities.

So far, so good.

The latter half of the book is more of the author's philosophy and judgements. In and of itself that's not bad either, but the author repeats and repeats and repeats himself.

I was able to soldier through all but one chapter near the end (15 I think) that was almost word for word a repeat of earlier chapters.

The narrator made the second half of the book bearable. I'm a fan of the British 'Received Pronunciation', and Derek Perkins has this down to a 'T'. Perkins also keeps the pace of the narration moving right along, thank goodness.

Not a great book, but I didn't ask for a refund.

  • The Fateful Lightning

  • A Novel of the Civil War
  • By: Jeff Shaara
  • Narrated by: Paul Michael
  • Length: 25 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 307
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 285
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283

November 1864: As the Civil War rolls into its fourth bloody year, the tide has turned decidedly in favor of the Union. A grateful Abraham Lincoln responds to Ulysses S. Grant's successes by bringing the general east, promoting Grant to command the entire Union war effort while William Tecumseh Sherman now directs the Federal forces that occupy all of Tennessee.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Excellent End to the Civil War

  • By Jim In Texas! on 11-07-16

An Excellent End to the Civil War

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-07-16

This is presumably the last novel in Jeff Shaara's Civil War novels. And it is the best of the lot.

The story starts with General Sherman, leaving Atlanta and beginning this march across Georgia and up the east coast.

It ends with the surrender of Confederate General Joe Johnston to Sherman in North Carolina.

The story centers around four individuals involved in this campaign, each becomes a distinct and real individual.

The narration and production values of this audio book are excellent.

Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Seoul Man

  • A Memoir of Cars, Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity Inside a Korean Corporate Titan
  • By: Frank Ahrens
  • Narrated by: Frank Ahrens
  • Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 46
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 42

When Frank Ahrens, a middle-aged bachelor and 18-year veteran at the Washington Post, fell in love with a diplomat, his life changed dramatically. Following his new bride to her first appointment in Seoul, South Korea, Frank traded the newsroom for a corporate suite, becoming director of global communications at Hyundai Motors. In a land whose population is 97 percent Korean, he was one of fewer than 10 non-Koreans in a company of 5,000 employees.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Must read for anyone working Korea!

  • By Jim In Texas! on 10-03-16

Must read for anyone working Korea!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-03-16

I was a U.S. Air Force officer, in the early 90s I spent a year serving with the Korean Air Force on a Korean base, far from any U.S. installation.

This book really hit home! I wish I had read it before I went to Korea. Everything Frank says about throwing an 'America Bomb' into a Korean workplace rings 100% true.

I also agree that Korea is hard charging into a better future.

This is a must read for anyone doing business in Asia in general and Korea in particular.

And it's both funny and heartwarming.

Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Falcone Strike

  • Angel in the Whirlwind, Book 2
  • By: Christopher G. Nuttall
  • Narrated by: Lauren Ezzo
  • Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 738
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 686
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 686

Now a celebrated war hero, Captain Kat Falcone is back at the helm of HMS Lightning...and up against near-impossible odds. After an ill-timed outburst almost ends her career, Kat is handed command of a deep-strike mission into enemy space. The objective is to gather intelligence and distract the hostile Theocracy while the Commonwealth prepares its counteroffensive. The chances for success are slim - and for survival even slimmer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic Followup!

  • By sonofsoulreaver on 09-02-16

Pretty good space war story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-01-16

Nutall has really improved his writing since the Ark Royal series, or at least he can afford a real editor now. This writing is a lot tighter and has far less repetition than some of his earlier work. I like that in this series Nutall has at last deployed a military with a sensible rank structure, customs, and courtesies.

Ezzo continues to have a lot of problems voicing male characters, but I guess I'm used to her after the first book in this series. In any case she was less grating this time. Still, I think a British narrator would have been a better choice, given that the good guys are all British.

I liked the story a lot. Captain Falcone first gets into political hot water, but before long she's on the bridge of Lighting, leading a secret dangerous mission, involving a series of hit-and-run raids deep in enemy territory.

I only give the story four stars, because Falcone wins the Final Battle only through a set of totally unbelievable lucky breaks and fantastic coincidences.

This book is well worth a credit for fans of hard military SciFi.

  • The Oncoming Storm

  • Angel in the Whirlwind, Book 1
  • By: Christopher G. Nuttall
  • Narrated by: Lauren Ezzo
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 960
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 872
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 873

In the year 2420, war looms between the galaxy's two most powerful empires: the tyrannical Theocracy and the protectionist Commonwealth. Caught in the middle sits the occupied outpost system Cadiz, where young officer and aristocrat Katherine "Kat" Falcone finds herself prematurely promoted at the behest of her powerful father. Against her own wishes, Kat is sent to command the Commonwealth navy's newest warship, Lightning.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • This is more of an Honor Harrington reboot

  • By Christine on 10-01-15

A Decent Royal Navy Store

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-16

TLDR; I enjoyed this novel, and am going to buy the next in the series.

This story takes place in more or less the same universe as Nutall's Ark Royal stories, and is derivative of the many 'age of sail' novels, notably the Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" novels, as well as Star Trek.

This novel is better edited than the Ark Royal series. At last military ranks make some sense, no more Corporals commanding Captains, or Navy Commanders calling Marine Majors 'sir'. In this version of the RN people have stopped saluting indoors. There is still one verbal quirk that carries over. This RN, like the other's in Nutall's worlds, the good guys always want to 'Give the enemy a bloody nose'. Over and over and over again, with the bloody noses. Geeze, at least once hit the enemy on the side of the head with a shovel, kick him in arse, ruffle his feathers....please Chris, think of some other metaphor!

Like most sea stories, 'Storm' has a large ensemble cast, male and female, from different regions.

Sadly, in common with the 'Ark Royal' recordings, the narrator has real difficulty handling all these different voices. It's hard to tell the characters apart, and worse, the male characters are often voiced as robots or Bart Simpson. At first the narration was so off putting I almost turned the recording back for a refund.

I finally got used Ezzo's voicing, and the story picked up after a slow start.

Our heroine, Kat Falcone, is a near perfect model of the modern super woman. Thanks to family connections she's promoted to Captain way ahead of her Navy peers. I'm OK with this warp speed promotion, because it worked with Captain Kirk in Star Trek.

The good guys of the Commonwealth (British to the core) up against the very evil 'Theocracy', a group of world run by religious zealots who combine the worst excess of Islam, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Aztec Sun God worshipers. They are really bad, bad, bad guys.

It takes a while to free Kat from the byzantine web of family and military politics of her homeworld (earth has been destroyed prior to this book), but once she settles into the Captain's chair the book starts to move along.

The last third of the book has some really well written space battles , the best writing Nutall has done so far.

I'm glad I stuck with the book, and I'm fix'n to buy the next volume in the series.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Seveneves

  • A Novel
  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal, Will Damron
  • Length: 31 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 15,235
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,151
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 14,142

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • So Much Potential

  • By Kurt Schwoppe on 06-08-17

Hard SciFi with embedded textbooks

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-16

I really enjoyed this book, I'm not sure it will be to everyone's taste however.

It's long, really long. The basic story without spoilers is that the earth faces an extinction event caused by a huge incoming meteor swarm.

In an effort to preserve the human race the nations of the world decide to launch about a thousand people into orbit, most living in a 'swarm' of bubble like habitats more or less around a greatly expanded version of the International Space Station.

The book follows the fate of these 'spacers' as they attempt to survive as the surface of the earth below them is destroyed by the disaster.

The first about two thirds of the book take place in present times, with lots of human drama. Mixed in with the drama is a good basic textbook on orbital mechanics.

For example, at one point someone decides that to get more water they need to fly out past the moon's orbit, grab a comet, and bring it back to the ISS. It's a great subplot, and along with a lot of drama one gets a full briefing on the orbital mechanics involved in leaving near earth orbit, changing planes at a Lagrangian point, rendezvous with the comet, going back to the Lagrangian point, changing planes again, and then trying to adjust the orbit to sync back up with the ISS.

As an Engineer I found this lesson to be fascinating, but I would not be surprised if some readers will find these long explanations to be filler.

The same thing happens with genetic engineering, as the Spacers try to ensure humanity can continue with the limited stock of human genes that survive all the calamities that befall the Spacers. I know nothing abut genetics, so this was a pleasant learning experience for me. YMMV.

The second half of the book takes place thousands of years after the calamity. Again there are pages and pages of descriptions of the marvelous mechanical contrivances the human races have developed to survive in space. I really found myself wishing for illustrations, because while it's obvious that the author has a clear mental picture of these fantastic devices, just hearing the words I had trouble following along.

In both the present and the future there is lots of human drama, lots of conflict, ranging from just slight cultural and personal differences to all out war. That's the best part by far.

One technical quibble. A main character in this fictional world is a ham radio operator on the ISS, which is common in our world also. The problem is that she likes morse code, but as the book goes along people start sending morse code by tapping on metal objects.

Morse code cannot be sent by taps, morse is based on long and short tones. You can't tap a long tone with a hammer. There are 'tap codes', which is what these characters should have been using. Also, the author gets ham radio 'Q-codes' wrong. End of quibble.

The audio production uses two narrators, Mary Robinette Kowal for the present day story, and Will Damron for the future story. Both are excellent, as is the overall production values of the audio edition.


I loved this book, and I think every space geek and hard science fiction fan will also.

  • Into the Looking Glass

  • Looking Glass Series, Book 1
  • By: John Ringo
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,029
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 778
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 784

When asubatomic physics experiment causes a massive explosion, interdimensional gateways open in Florida - and aliens pour out. Some intend to bring Earth to its knees. Others seem willing to help, but will annihilate the planet if Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller can't stop the menace from spreading.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Way different...

  • By Trip Williams on 09-23-13

Clever invasion story , with a super hero human

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-16

The general storyline of this book is excellent. Ringo creates a clever and interesting alien invasion scenario.

There are lots of weapons used and analyzed, from pistols to nukes. The National Guard has big role, which I liked, because my son is a Guardsman.

The entire fate of the earth depends on one physicist figuring out a way to close the wormholes through which the aliens are pouring out. Fortunately, in the normal Ringo way, this particular physicist has super powers, so earth has a fighting chance.

It's good hard science military fiction.

  • The Wrong Stuff

  • The Adventures and Misadventures of an 8th Air Force Aviator
  • By: Truman Smith
  • Narrated by: James Killavey
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 919
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 828
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 835

Between April and July 1944, Truman Smith flew 35 bombing missions over France and Germany. He was only 20 years old. Although barely adults, Smith and his peers worried about cramming a lifetime's worth of experience into every free night, each knowing he probably would not survive the next bombing mission. Written with blunt honesty, wry humor, and insight, The Wrong Stuff is Smith's gripping memoir of that time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Action, suspense, and history

  • By Allan on 03-17-15

One of the best WWII Memoirs Ever!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-28-16

This book tells the story of how a kid from Oklahoma joins the AAF and winds up as an Eight Air Force B-17 Aircraft Commander.

There are many memoirs like this, but Mr. Smith's writing is almost unique. He not only tells us what the flying was like, he tells us what life for the crews was like, good and bad, warts and all.

Mr. Smith takes us into his own head as he tries to deal with the probably that he won't finish his tour alive.

Mr. Smith takes us into London during the war, and gives us a real taste of what life was like both for the visiting GIs and the natives.

This book was well edited, the words flows effortlessly from beginning to end. I detect the hand of a real professional editor.

In the course of reading or listening to the book you will want to laugh out loud or start crying. Sometimes at the same time.

The narration is excellent, this is the second book I have purchased read by James Killavey.

Killavey has a kind of rhythm to his reading that took just a bit to get used to, and I don't think many 21 year old kids from Ponca Oklahoma have a New England accent. Those are just quibbles, Killavey has read 82 Audible books because he's good at it.

Overall the reading and the production values of this audio book are excellent.

Note to the production team: There is one repeated sentence in the narration. No big deal.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful