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Niles Jacobsen

Sumter, SC, United States
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  • The Three-Body Problem

  • By: Cixin Liu
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 13 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,097
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,387
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,391

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • They create a computer using a 30 million man Army

  • By Josh on 12-07-14

Hard Science Fiction with societal implications

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

Reviewed: 09-11-16

The Three Body Problem

by

Cixin Liu


The Three Body Problem is a hard science fiction novel by Chinese author Cixin Liu or Liu Cixin, I have seen it written both ways and I am not familiar with the Chinese protocol for names. It was the winner of the 2015 Hugo Award and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award, so it had to be good – right? Well, maybe at one time, but as of late it seems as if the awards - all awards - have become politicized and not necessarily the best entry is chosen. But that is a discussion for another time. At the very least, I thought The Three Body Problem deserved at least a chance to prove itself. While I do not think the novel was worthy of an award, I did find it had some merit and well worth the read.

The story takes place in China, and the beginning deals with the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. I must admit that I know very little of China’s history, or what life is like in China at all, and I found the history lesson fascinating. I could not see the relevance of these seemingly disjointed segments, but by the time the novel ended everything fell into place. In fact, the main plot line did not become evident until shortly after the halfway point of the novel. But after the slow start, things picked up fairly nicely and became more interesting to me.

The characters, with the exception of the astrophysicist Ye Wenjie and the police detective Shi Qiang, were flat and one-dimensional. The dialog seemed clipped and at times forced, but I am giving the author the benefit of the doubt due to translation restraints. I can sympathize with Ye Wenjie but cannot justify her betrayal. I feel her logic was flawed by equating a stronger civilization with a superior one. I did like the character of Shi Qiang. He was abrasive and somewhat uncouth, but he was very smart among all the scientists and felt real to me.

I thought the narrator did an excellent job, if for nothing else than pronouncing the Chinese names. I can hardly believe how badly I hacked those pronunciations. I don't know where Mr. Daniels learned his Chinese, but it is so much better hearing his pronunciations than it is mine. It gives the story a feel of authenticity.

All things considered, I give this read 4 stars. As someone with a math and science background, I enjoyed the reading the hard science. I can see where it may not appeal to all readers, but I think there are enough other items that will appeal to lovers of the genre. The premise was believable and it was interesting to speculate how humanity would react to another civilization and how the people separated into different camps. I always thought humans would line up to protect their world, but I can see how some people may have become disillusioned with our society. I do not feel this work is worthy of receiving an award, but it still has something to offer sci-fi fans.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • State of the Union

  • By: Brad Thor
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,056
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,687
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,678

The most unlikely terrorist enemy of all now holds a knife against the country’s throat. With both diplomatic and conventional military options swept from the table, the president calls upon Navy SEAL turned Secret Service agent Scot Harvath to disable a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy intended to bring the United States to its knees. Teamed with beautiful Russian Intelligence agent Alexandra Ivanova and a highly trained CIA paramilitary detachment, Harvath embarks on an adrenaline-fueled search that spans the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thrilling!

  • By Loray on 01-31-11

America's Secret Weapon - Scot Harvath

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

Reviewed: 07-25-16

In his third offering of the Scot Harvath saga, Brad Thor finally gets around to placing Harvath in his element: counter-terrorism. In the first offering, "The Lions of Lucerne," the former Navy Seal is featured in his role of Secret Service agent. In "Path of the Assassin," he ties up loose ends from book one and transitions away from Secret Service work and into the field he was so obviously made for. Harvath has to be one of the most highly trained individuals in history, and in "State of the Union," he will need every bit to make it out alive and save millions of innocent lives.

The story really starts in the early 1980's when the Cold War was at its peak. Both the Soviets and Americans had placed sleeper agents with suitcase nukes in position to detonate them in major cities. However, mutually assured destruction (MAD) was keeping both countries at bay. Fast forward 20 years to the present (this book was published in 2004) and we meet General Sergei Stavropol. The General has waited patiently for his plan to come together, and with the completion of the Soviet missile defense system, the concept of mutually assured destruction no longer applies. The first thing Stavropol does is try to eliminate the US sleeper agents with their suitcase nukes. Almost all are killed and Gary Lawlor, formerly of the FBI and currently Scot's boss at the Office of International Investigative Assistance (OIIA), the counter-terrorism branch of the government, has gone missing.

Stavropol, operating from a position of dominance, holds the US president hostage. His ultimatum: either the US retreats from the world stage both financially and militarily and the President announces this during his state of the union address, or his sleeper agents will set off the nearly two dozen suitcase nukes spread around the country in strategic cities. Even one of the nukes could kill millions, and leaving the world stage would be devastating for the US economy. Things look bleak for President Jack Rutledge and Stavropol seems to be holding all of the cards, but Rutledge has an ace in the hole - Scot Harvath. With only one week to work miracles, Harvath sets out to do the improbable. With help from some of the CIA operatives from the previous book, as well as beautiful but deadly Soviet agent Alexandra Ivanova, who's loyalty is in question, Harvath must disable the missile defense system and find the suitcase nukes before it's too late.If one reads enough of these books, the outcome is not in question. The interesting thing is to see how Harvath goes about accomplishing his task. With equal part skill and luck, Harvath doesn't have a moment to spare when we finally reach the climax.

George Guidall is one of my favorite narrators. His tone and inflection reflect upon the plot and gives a sense of being in the mix. His voices are distinct and leaves no doubt which character is speaking. With a good story to tell, Guidall elevates the narrative to a higher level.

This book is full of action and the scenario is definitely plausible. Just like the James Bond books, Scot Harvath has a tendency to get into tight spots, and also an uncanny ability to get out of them. I enjoyed this book more than the previous two, as counter-terrorism is Harvath's niche. I liked his involvement with Meg Cassidy from the last book, but she barely makes an appearance in this one. I guess Scot's career doesn't leave much room for a personal life. Nevertheless, I rate this 5-stars as the action kept the pages turning for me. I am looking forward to book 4 in the series.

  • Vatican Knights

  • By: Rick Jones
  • Narrated by: Russ Offenbach
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 43

While on a visit to the United States, Pope Pius XIII is kidnapped by a terrorist cell calling itself the Soldiers of Islam. If the United States and its allies do not meet their demands, they will execute the pope. FBI Specialist Shari Cohen is called to duty to track down the terrorist cell responsible, and she soon learns that she is not alone.

Deep behind the Vatican walls, a secret order dispatches a clandestine group of elite commandos known as the Vatican Knights. Their mission: bring the pope back alive.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Pope's special forces

  • By Niles Jacobsen on 10-17-15

The Pope's special forces

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

Reviewed: 10-17-15

"Vatican Knights" is a very exciting thriller which will grip the reader almost immediately. Rick Jones presents an all to real scenario that would draw the world into a winner-take-all religious war. In it, he introduces the elite special forces team of the world's smallest country - the Vatican.

The Pope, on a visit to the United States, is kidnapped from the mansion of the Governor of Maryland in Annapolis. The entire protection detail is killed, and two bodies from a terrorist group, The Soldiers of Islam, are discovered. The world is in an uproar and the seeds are sowed for a brutal religious war. Sheri Cohen, a Jew and granddaughter of an Auschwitz survivor, is thought to be the best negotiator in the service of the FBI and is placed in charge by the President. Failure is not an option, but with few clues to work with, agent Cohen has little room to maneuver. She wonders why the commandos did so much to hide their identity, yet left two bodies behind when they had the time to remove them. Sheri is working against the clock as demands have been issued by the terrorists and hostages would soon begin to be executed.

Meanwhile, Kimball Hayden is the leader of the special forces unit known as the Vatican Knights. Their existence is top secret, and the mission he is given is straight-forward: bring back the Pope, alive, at all costs. Again, failure is not an option. Kimball must insert himself into the investigation and get Shari to trust him enough to gain the opportunity to complete his mission. But all is not as it appears. There are powerful people who want the rescue to fail, and they will stop at nothing to accomplish their mission.

The main antagonist is someone known as Team Leader. We get a little back-story on him: he was only nine when his family was killed in a suicide bombing in Ramallah, so we glean some of the motivation for his actions. He is ruthless and cruel, and I liked him less with every turn of the page. His obsessions rule his life and his actions, and there is little change as the story continues. He, too, is more than he seems and his true identity is somewhat surprising.

The protagonists are Shari Cohen and Kindall Hayden, and the story is well under way before we are introduced to them. Kimball is not mentioned until chapter 11, and he is an imperfect hero. Having worked as the very best assassin a secret US government organization ever employed, Kimball disappeared on his last mission and was thought to be dead. However, he simply had an attack of conscience and migrated to the Vatican to atone for his sins. He thought his unique skills may be put to good use for the Pope in an effort to even the balance sheet for his soul.

Shari, although mentioned in the prologue, is not brought into the main story until chapter thirteen. She as well is a flawed character, having marital problems that she is unwilling to address. But, like Kimball, she is honest and committed, and these qualities make it easy to like them both. The feelings they develop for each other threaten to undermine their endeavors, and brings out the human side in them. I could not help myself from rooting for their success despite their shortcomings.

I thought the pacing of the book was excellent, starting with a major event and then slowing down as the sides evaluated their options. It slowly builds to an exciting climax, mixing in betrayals and plot twists that help keep the pages turning. The only negative I could find is that Kimball Hayden may have been TOO good. It seems that most of the action protagonists I read about are "the best" at what they do. Kimball is no different in this respect and I will admit to liking the vulnerable side of him shown by Rick Jones.

The narration was excellent, as is the case with most audible titles I have listened to. Russ Offenbach uses distinct voices for the different characters, making it easy to follow the action. His narration added to my enjoyment of the story.

Another thing I liked was that the descriptions of the killings were fairly mild - not over the top blood and gore. There are bound to be killings in this type of novel, but they were handled very delicately so people averse to graphic details will not be offended. Also, the language was pretty mild for a novel of this genre. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action and suspense, and especially for those who don't appreciate the seedier details.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Tiger Cruise

  • By: Richard Thompson
  • Narrated by: Bill Brooks
  • Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 7

The Tiger Cruise is an audiobook about a Los Angeles Class nuclear attack submarine, the USS Woodbridge, which leaves Norfolk on a routine two day tiger cruise. The tiger cruise is a navy tradition whereby family and friends are invited to sail aboard a naval vessel to get first-hand experience of navy tradition at sea. After the Woodbridge embarks, a large earthquake strikes in the mid-Atlantic and, for the first time in recorded history, large tsunamis strike the East Coast all but destroying the naval base at Norfolk.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A two day cruise turns into a race to save the US

  • By Niles Jacobsen on 10-05-15

A two day cruise turns into a race to save the US

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

Reviewed: 10-05-15

I thought the premise of "The Tiger Cruise" to be a very intriguing one. A tiger cruise is a Navy tradition in which family (and sometimes friends) of a crew member are invited on board a vessel in order that they may see first hand a sailor's life at sea. Nothing much ever happens on a tiger cruise and it is usually just a two day semi-vacation for the crew. The Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine, the USS Woodbridge, is the setting for this cruise, and as submarines are very limited in space, about one-third of the crew was left behind to make space for the civilians. However, in this novel, an outside event makes the Woodbridge essential to the national defense of the country, and the boat must make ready for combat, civilians included.

As a former submariner, the plot interested me and the pacing was well done. Told mainly from the perspectives of the four main players, the reader is given an omnipresent view of the action and this helped keep me engaged. It was laid out in a chronological order, and that allowed the reader to see what the effect of certain character actions had on the other players.

While the plot was well done, the characterizations were, in my opinion, lacking in substance.. They were one-dimensional and flat. For example, it is stated more than once that George Owens was the "best CO" certain crew members had ever served under. While that in itself is not surprising, no other viewpoint of the Woodbridge's Captain is offered. Men do not rise to any position of power without stepping on a few toes, intentional or not, and I found it hard to believe that nobody on the crew had any issues with George. And Knox Jones, the CIA station chief in London, was a similar case. He was also described as the best at what he did, although it is clear that he was not as universally liked as George Owens. And, I admit, he was shown to make a few mistakes, but I just find it extremely coincidental that two of the best men in their respective fields were ready and available when disaster struck the East Coast of the United States and the ensuing national security crisis.

There were also major issues with the accuracy of the details about the submarine itself. Some are minor, such as standing section watches during battle stations. Since everyone has a post during battle stations, there would be no need for section watches. And unless there was a modification to the station bill, no one would be available to spell those at their stations. Some of the inaccuracies were major, such as almost everything about the reactor plant. One that sticks out is the leaking valve at the radioactive waste pumping station. That waste pumping station does not exist on any submarine I have ever heard about. If there were such an animal, where would they pump it to? Space is limited on submarines, therefore if pumped to a tank, how long would it be before needing to be emptied? Additionally, anything radioactive would be secured inside the reactor compartments, which contains a great deal of shielding to protect the crew. Perhaps Mr. Thompson did not wish to divulge US nuclear secrets, and that would be fine with me. However, I did not read any author notes explaining this was the case. If it was, he should have told the readers.

I felt the narration of this novel was in need of revision. My largest complaint of the performance is Bill Brooks' over enunciation of the text. It bothered me for two reasons. First, his speech just did not seem natural. The words were clipped to such a degree that it actually took my attention away from what he was saying. The second reason is that this over enunciation had the effect of slowing down the flow of the story. This did not seem to fit well with an action/suspense thriller. Mr. Brooks did, however, employ a variety of voices for the different characters and thus made it easier to follow who was speaking.

All things considered, in my humble opinion this was an OK read. The plot was good and kept me engaged. The characters were not all that interesting and the technical details were amiss. If you would like to read a well thought out 'fictional' submarine adventure, then I believe you will enjoy this book. If you are looking for an accurate account of the operations of a nuclear sub, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Godfather Multivoice Presentation

  • By: Mario Puzo
  • Narrated by: full cast
  • Length: 14 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,909
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,509
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,507

The Godfather is an extraordinary novel which has become a modern-day classic. Puzo pulls us inside the violent society of the Mafia and its gang wars. The leader, Vito Corleone, is the Godfather. He is a benevolent despot who stops at nothing to gain and hold power.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Movie is Great, Book is Better

  • By Aaron on 10-31-08

Inside an Italian Mafia family

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

Reviewed: 09-10-15

"The Godfather" tells the story of the inner workings of an Italian Mafia family. The main characters are the Corleone family and its patriarch, Don Vito. When the book was written, there was some concern that it would glorify the illegal activity described within. For me, it achieved this as it was hard to dislike the Corleone family. I would liken them to a modern day Robin Hood as Don Vito helped the needy and doled out justice in a seemingly fair manner. Everything they did had a reason, and even murder seemed justified.

The character development was excellent and Puzo gave an in depth back story for many. Don Vito's birth name was Vito Andolini. When his father was killed by the Sicilian mafia, his mother sent him to America to protect Vito from the inevitable attempt to end his life. In America, Vito changed his name to Corleone, which was the city in Sicily he was from. Vito was a soft spoken man and not prone to violence. However, during the great depression money was scarce and he turned to robbery with his neighbors Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio. When the local extortionist, Don Fanucci, demanded a cut from the robbery, Vito made up his mind to kill him, thus beginning his criminal career and sealing his destiny.

Don Vito had three sons, the oldest named Santino but was called Sonny. Sonny Corleone was in line to take over the family business and was being tutored by his father. Sonny had a short and violent temper, which proved to be his fatal flaw. The middle son, Frederico, called Fredo, was an obedient son, never questioning his father or embarrassing him in public. Fredo, however, froze under pressure and could not be counted on to run the family business. The youngest son, Michael, was the black sheep of the family. Michael wanted no part of the family business and went out of his way to avoid it. Going against his father's wishes, he enlisted in the Army during World War II, in which he was wounded. Michael was the intellectual in the family and attended Dartmouth college. Destiny had plans for Michael and circumstances brought him back into the family business.

Despite all the violence and illegal activity, I found myself liking the Corleone family. When the mob war started, I found myself rooting for their success. In the end, revenge was exacted against those who betrayed the family and the Corleones doled out their unique brand of justice.

I found the book to be very interesting and hard to put down. The only negatives I found were that Puzo's back stories were sometimes a bit long and distracted my attention from the main story. Also, the writing was at times too abrupt and didn't appear to flow seamlessly. Other than that, I was caught up in the story and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a Robin Hood type read and the ultimate brand of justice.

The full cast performances were simply superb. Not only were the characters easily recognizable, but also the emotions were excellently portrayed. This was just like watching the movie, only the action took place in my mind. I recommend this book without any reservations. It was awesome!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Son

  • By: Philipp Meyer
  • Narrated by: Will Patton, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Shepherd, and others
  • Length: 17 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,030
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,658
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,666

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries. Eli McCullough is just twelve-years-old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his Texas homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him as a captive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Five Stars for the Lone Star, The Son, & Meyer

  • By Mel on 06-04-13

Texas through the eyes of the McCullough family

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

Reviewed: 09-05-15

In "The Son," Philipp Meyer allows us to follow the triumphs and misfortunes of the McCullough family. It also parallels the the rise of Texas, and thus the McCullough's fate is symbolic of the destiny of the state. Spanning more than 150 years, Meyer takes us from Texas' independence through both World Wars and into modern times.

The book is written through the eyes of three McCullough family members (and near the end a fourth is added): Eli McCullough, the family patriarch; Eli's son Peter; and Jeannie McCullough, Eli's great-granddaughter. Each generation has its own crises to deal with and the history of the times are seamlessly added. The format is consistent with a diary or memoir told by these three characters.

Eli's story was the most interesting to me. His family was attacked by a Comanche raiding party and Eli kidnapped at the tender young age of 13. Initially a slave, Eli would prove his worth and eventually was accepted as a full member of the tribe. He did not have too much difficulty adapting to the new culture, and the Comanche lifestyle seemed to be made just for him. In fact, he had more trouble assimilating to the white man's culture when he returned to it. He joined the Texas Rangers to help himself adapt as it was the closest thing to the Comanche lifestyle that he could find. Blessed with the gift of long life, Eli was over 100 years old when he died. Eli's story started during Texas' independence from Mexico in 1836 and ended during the great depression of the 1930's.

Next was Peter McCullough, Eli's son who was known as the "great disappointment." Peter's story took place in the years around World War I and focused on his philosophical differences with his father and the problems between the whites and the Mexicans in the area surrounding the McCullough ranch in southern Texas. In my opinion, Peter was too compassionate to succeed in the tough Texas landscape and was destined to be the outcast of the McCullough family. It seemed rather ironic that this trait would lead to the downfall of Peter McCullough.

The final point of view followed Jeannie McCullough from the era of the great depression through the time period surrounding the dawning of the 21st century. Living in a man's world, Jeannie suffered the discrimination directed toward women during the time period covered. She learned the skills required to succeed in the cattle business and was better at most things than her brothers, yet she was discouraged from these activities. She was responsible for the transformation of the ranch's main business from cattle to oil, which had been started by Eli before his death.

The performances in this offering were superb. Each of the main characters had a dedicated narrator, thus leaving no doubt as to the identity of the speaker. Also, each narrator was able to convey the emotions associated with the circumstances occurring at the time. I think listening to this was a far more enjoyable experience than simply reading would have been.

I did not really like this book, but also did not dislike it. With the exception of Eli's story, it seemed to lack the substance to grab my attention and interest. Also, I was not able to form a connection with any of the characters. Additionally, I did not care for the inclusion of the Spanish and Comanche languages without corresponding translations into English. Although it was not excessive, there were enough instances to be annoying. For these reasons, I rated this book 3 stars, an average read in my opinion.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Casino Royale

  • By: Ian Fleming
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 4 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,014
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,411
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,418

Introducing James Bond: charming, sophisticated, handsome, chillingly ruthless, and licensed to kill. This, the first of Ian Fleming's tales of secret agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called "Le Chiffre" by ruining him at the Baccarat table, forcing his Soviet spymasters to "retire" him. It seems that lady luck has sided with 007 when Le Chiffre hits a losing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Ouch!

  • By Pork C. Fish on 05-22-12

Introducing James Bond

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

Reviewed: 09-01-15

After having seen all the Bond movies, I decided to try the novels from which they came. To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly, especially considering that the books are almost always better than the movies. I found this book to be lacking in action and very slow paced. The Bond character was portrayed as very cold and distant, stating at one point that all one needed to receive a double-oh number was the willingness to kill someone. This was said in the same casual manner as someone stating they liked sugar in their tea.

Bond did seem to have some skills, although the ease in which he was captured showed his lack of experience in such matters. It was during and after his capture that Bond became a more human, likeable character. This was, however, short lived as the tragedy which befell him dropped him back into the cold operative mode. It was obvious that Bond was deeply hurt emotionally and I did have a certain amount of empathy for him.

The whole premise behind the casino sting also had me scratching my head. Even if they were successful in bringing down Le Chiffre, wouldn't someone else simply fill the void created? I find it puzzling that England would risk one of it's top operatives for the job. Yes, I understand that Bond was lucky and one of the best card players, but luck is fleeting and I question their judgement. Something along the lines of the CIA involvement was more reasonable, but then that would make an even more boring story.

One other thing I would like to bring up is Fleming's use of French. While it is not overdone, it was annoying to me. Yes, I know the story was set in France and it adds to realism, but I do not speak French. To put this in without translation is just wasted space to me. In my mind, this narrows the audience to English readers who also speak French. Fleming was not the first to do this and I'm sure he will not be the last, but it has become one of the little things that detract from my overall enjoyment.

All in all, I found this to be just an average read. Perhaps I am being influenced by unfair expectations, but I was rather disappointed. This was the first in the series, which is why I chose it, and Fleming would have ample time to hone his craft and develop the "Bond" character. Also, as far as movies went, this was one of my least favorites. I only mention this to suggest their is plenty of upside to the series. I will definitely read more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Fold

  • By: Peter Clines
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,665
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,737
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 26,694

The folks in Mike Erikson's small New England town would say he's just your average, everyday guy. And that's exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he's chosen isn't much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he's content with his quiet and peaceful existence. That is, until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Star Trek: Q-Squared

  • By Jim "The Impatient" on 01-09-16

Beam me up, Scotty!!!

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

Reviewed: 09-01-15

In "The Fold," Peter Clines dips his toes in the teleportation waters. Always a fascinating subject for me, I was curious to see how Mr. Clines handled it. I was quite pleased by the explanation he gave about the massive amount of computing power required to re-assemble an object correctly given the current state of our computers. The solution proposed was to "fold" the space between two points, thus enabling a person to travel incredible distances in a single step. (Like we have enough computing power to do that, eh?)

The main character is Leland "Mike" Erikson, a man with an eidetic memory. Anything Mike has read or seen, no matter how long ago, is available to his instant and total recall. Understanding the social ramifications of his superior intellect, Mike strives to be "normal" and not bring attention to his special gift. He is working as a high school English teacher when the story opens. What can be more normal than that?

Reggie Magnus, his old college friend, is the director of special projects for DARPA and has been after Mike for some tie to come and work for him. He makes his pitch once again; a project that Mike will be guaranteed to be interested in, can be done over the summer break from school, and involve a hefty salary. All Mike was required to do was observe and evaluate the project. Something seemed not quite right to Reggie, although he just couldn't put his finger on it.

The project was headed by the preeminent physicist, Dr. Arthur Cross. In honor of Bugs Bunny, Cross had dubbed it "The Albuquerque Door." (For those not familiar, after Bugs ended up in some unusual place, he would always say "I knew I should have turned left at Albuquerque.") The principal of "folding" space was explained to Mike and, as Reggie had predicted, intrigued him. He therefore agreed to be Reggie's front man on the project and flew to San Diego.

After meeting with the relatively small staff, Mike began to have questions himself. Something was not quite right and the staff seemed to be hiding something. Mike watched as some of the staff traveled the quarter mile between the gates in a single step and was awe struck. Still, Dr. Cross said they needed more experiments and study. Why, Mike wondered, did they need more study when everything was working so amazingly well? As Mike digs deeper, he learns the true nature of the fold and becomes increasingly worried with the results.

I thought the book had an excellent premise and was presented in such a way as for science novices to easily understand. The character of Mike was at times annoying, but very much in keeping with someone of his intellect. If you have ever known a genius, they can be rather grating to the everyday person. All was great in the book except the ending, which to me seemed rather over the top. I had several WTF moments in the last 10% to 20% of the book. But hey, this was the author's vision and not mine. Some people may have loved it while others may not have liked any of the book. That's the great things about books: some peoples junk are other people's treasures.

I thought the first part of the book was strong enough to carry the weak (my opinion) ending, and so I still found the overall experience enjoyable. If you decide to read this book, keep an open mind. As in life, things are not always as they appear and mankind needs to be careful when delving into areas they do not understand.

The narration was excellent, as are almost all audible books I have listened to. The characters are easily distinguishable and I felt that Ray Porter added significantly to my enjoyment of this book.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • The Wise Man's Fear

  • Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2
  • By: Patrick Rothfuss
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 42 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 44,634
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 40,500
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 40,558

"My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well worth your time

  • By Robert on 09-08-11

Kvothe Returns!!

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

Reviewed: 08-14-15

Book 2 in the Kingkiller Chronicles, "Wise Man's Fear" is an exceptional journey into a fantasy world both strange and familiar. Patrick Rothfuss is an excellent writer who is masterful with the English language. His main characters are wonderfully composed and the secondary characters play their roles admirably.

Picking up where "Name of the Wind" left off, this begins day 2 of Kvothe's life story, as told to the famous scribe Chronicler. Kvothe is seeking anonymity posing as Kote, humble owner of the Waystone Inn. His apprentice, Bast, is also there as Kvothe relates the details of his younger life - details which would make his name legend. While the past is the main emphasis of the story, there are also goings on at the Inn that play a role in this novel.

As the story begins, Kvothe is still at the University learning the arcane arts, playing his lute in taverns and trying to earn enough money to pay his tuition. In search of a patron to sponsor his musical talent, he is given a promising lead and decides to take some time off of school and travel to a far land to meet a wealthy and powerful man. While there, he is sent out to capture or kill the bandits who have been terrorizing the main road into town. While in the forest looking for the bandits, he has a surreal encounter with the legendary faery of love. Upon leaving the forest, he travels to a new town where he is trained by a society of warriors known for their fighting prowess. He then returns to the University more experienced and wiser. All through his adventures, he pines for the beautiful Denna and continues to hope they might have a future together.

If you read the first book and were looking to have some questions answered, you will be sadly disappointed. In fact, I think this book raises more questions than it answers. But that will just make the third book all the more compelling, and I can hardly wait until 2017.

Nick Podehl does a masterful job reading this story. He captures the essence of the characters wonderfully and brings the beautiful world created by Patrick Rothfuss to life. If I closed my eyes, I could almost feel this magical world around me. I highly recommend this to any lover of fantasy.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • I Am Pilgrim

  • A Thriller
  • By: Terry Hayes
  • Narrated by: Christopher Ragland
  • Length: 22 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,204
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,634
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,634

An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid. A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square. A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard. Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan. A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just finished... Sorry... Could listen to more.

  • By Ted on 12-14-17

Scary real scenario!!

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

Reviewed: 08-12-15

I am Pilgrim" is a superbly crafted first novel by Terry Hayes. It is both a murder mystery and a top notch spy/terrorism novel. The first part of the book seems to drag a little, but the ending more than makes up for that. A seemingly unconnected series of events at the outset is pulled together at the end, and I was not able to put the book down for the last few hundred pages.

A woman is found murdered, face down in a bathtub of acid in a New York city hotel. Her teeth had been removed and the acid had eaten away her fingerprints and face, making identification of the body almost impossible. The room was sprayed with industrial disinfectant and wiped clean of fingerprints, destroying any and all forensic evidence. Enter Scott Murdoch (or Peter Campbell or Brodie Wilson, we never find out what his real name was) who had written a book on investigative procedures under the pen name of Jude Garrett. The crime scene is right out of his book, seemingly the perfect crime.

We get a little back story of Scott. Adopted by a wealthy family and given the best education possible, he did not seem to fit in and was always a loner. Possessed of high intelligence and great intuition, he was recruited by a covert branch of U.S. intelligence known as the Division. He quickly rose in the ranks and became the youngest director of the organization, known as the "Rider of the Blue." When the Division was dismantled, he tried to disappear and lead a "normal" life, but fate was not kind to Scott. All to soon he was brought back to the world he wanted to forget, and eventually the stakes were raised so high that it became an all or nothing proposition.

Meanwhile, half a world away in Saudi Arabia, a young boy watches his father beheaded in a public square for criticizing the royal family.The scene would be burned into his memory forever and set him on a path of retribution. At 16, he joined the muj in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet invaders, where he distinguished himself as a brave and noble fighter. The Saracen, as he would become known, was also extremely intelligent. When the war was over, he bought a fake death certificate and a new passport, taking on a completely different identity. He made his way to Lebanon where he attended and graduated medical school. He was then ready to begin his plan of retribution and devised a plan to devastate the United States and thus leave Israel and Saudi Arabia vulnerable.

The murder investigation becomes entwined with the terrorist plot, and Scott will have to use all of his skills to find the Saracen and stop the deaths of thousands of innocent lives. Thus the two loners are destined to meet. Two of the best for their individual causes, and only one would walk away.

I love how the book made use of everything. The old memories drudged up, the places visited, the murders, etcetera. They all came into play at some point during the events leading up to the climax Time seemed to stop for me as I neared the end of the book and the pages just kept turning. I looked at my clock and it was 4 am, but I still couldn't stop. The book was that good, and plausible too, which made it really scary. I found myself rooting for Scott, code named Pilgrim, as he was a character that it was hard not to like. As was said of him, "his heart was his weight." But I also felt for the Saracen. He was brave and brilliant, and if not for the terrible events of his childhood, he too could have been a great man. But they were destined to face off at the end in an epic game of chicken, and you'll have to read to find out who blinks first. Great book!!!

Christopher Ragland did an excellent job with different voices for each character, so the listener instantly knew who was speaking. He was simply a great narrator and fit this book like a glove. If you have ever been fortunate enough to have a tale told by a great story teller, you will know what I mean. If not, buy this audio book and find out. Fantastic job!!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful