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Jim N

Chicago, IL
  • 114
  • reviews
  • 647
  • helpful votes
  • 409
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  • Blackwater: The Complete Saga

  • By: Michael McDowell
  • Narrated by: Matt Godfrey
  • Length: 30 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,606
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,427
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,423

Blackwater is the saga of a small town, Perdido, Alabama, and Elinor Dammert, the stranger who arrives there under mysterious circumstances on Easter Sunday, 1919. On the surface, Elinor is gracious, charming, anxious to belong in Perdido, and eager to marry Oscar Caskey, the eldest son of Perdido's first family. But her beautiful exterior hides a shocking secret. Beneath the waters of the Perdido River, she turns into something terrifying, a creature whispered about in stories that have chilled the residents of Perdido for generations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A 6 Star Worthy Epic!

  • By jksullycats on 10-29-17

Epic and Memorable

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

Reviewed: 09-20-18

An epic family saga with supernatural overtones, Blackwater is complex, memorable, full of vividly realized characters and some very creepy moments. The story's supernatural elements play a significant role but it's primary focus is on the characters and dynamics of the Caskey family and the town of Perdido. It takes place over decades and it's steeped in the language and culture of the American south.

The audiobook is superb, with an excellent narrative performance by Matt Godfrey.

Highly recommended!

  • The Last Child

  • By: John Hart
  • Narrated by: Scott Sowers
  • Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,946
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,254
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,243

his most powerful and intricately-plotted novel yet. Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: happy parents and a twin sister that meant the world to him. But Alyssa went missing a year ago, stolen off the side of a lonely street with only one witness to the crime. His family shattered, his sister presumed dead, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown in a last, desperate search.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Stick With It!

  • By Christine on 10-19-09

A Compelling Listen

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

Reviewed: 08-15-18

The Last Child was a pleasant surprise. I stumbled across it in an Audible sale and decided to take a chance on it. I'm glad I did! It's a well-written, compelling listen from start to finish, with superbly drawn characters, intense drama and a captivating mystery. Scott Sowers' narration is outstanding. This is the best mystery I've read or listened to in a long time. Highly recommended!

  • A Season for Slaughter

  • The War Against the Chtorr, Book 4
  • By: David Gerrold
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 21 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51

The story of humanity's courageous struggle for survival against the greatest threat Earth has ever known. As the tenacious invaders remake Earth's violated surface, transforming its flora and fauna into a replica of their own terrifying home world, a handful of scientists, soldiers, and citizens prepare to fight back - hoping it isn't already too late. In Mexico, a dead Chtorr leads to a stunning discovery about the aliens.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Always been my favorite of the series

  • By Gregory on 09-15-15

The Invasion Grows More Intense

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

A Season for Slaughter is the fourth and, thus far, final book in the unfinished War Against the Chtorr series. I've been waiting decades for more and supposedly, substantial portions of the fifth and six books are coming one of these days. Meanwhile, even incomplete, this remains a series worth reading.

This entry contains some of the most memorable scenes in the series. We're given much more insight into the Chtorran ecology and how it interacts with both terrestrial lifeforms and other Chtorran life. This is great stuff and throughout the books, whenever Gerrold delves into the nature of the alien invasion, he really delivers. Unfortunately, I think he overplays his hand a bit with some of the character interaction in this novel, going back to the well of protagonist Jim McCarthy's hair trigger temper and difficulty with relationships a little too often. There's also a relatively long and somewhat heavy-handed lull in the middle of the novel focusing on McCarthy's romantic relationship with "Lizard" Tirelli. It's not the she isn't an interesting character or that the relationship hasn't been developed over the previous 3 books. It's just a little too much of everything and consequently, doesn't quite work. However, the book bounces back from that lull with a vengeance and the final third of the novel contains some of the most disturbing and spectacular scenes to be found in the whole series. Definitely recommended.

  • A Rage for Revenge

  • The War Against the Chtorr, Book 3
  • By: David Gerrold
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 19 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 48

Still reeling from the alien plagues that killed two-thirds of the planet's population, humanity now confronts the most deadly enemy Earth has ever known - the giant man-eating Chtorr. Lieutenant James McCarthy has grown to manhood under the shadow of the terrifying invasion of the Chtorr. As a student, he learned all he could to understand their alien behavior. As a Special Forces commando, he made violent first contact. Now this battle-hardened warrior faces a profound challenge.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Unsettling and Memorable

  • By Jim N on 08-12-18

Unsettling and Memorable

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

David Gerrold warns the reader right up front that this novel is didactic and he's not kidding. There's a great deal of moralizing but it's done with purpose. This isn't the strongest book in the series but it may be the most memorable and I think it's the entry in which the series' key themes are most prominent. One of the most interesting aspects of the War Against the Chtorr novels is they're not simply a rip-roarin' military science fiction yarn about humans battling huge, purple alien worms. The series is also about humanity, about change and adaptation. Before it even begins, a substantial portion of the human race has been wiped out by a series of plagues. Everyone remaining is deeply scarred by those events. Faced with an ecological invasion that seems almost unstoppable, humanity's psychological response becomes as important as any scientific or military reaction to the Chtorran threat and that response is varied. We experience it in this series primarily through the protagonist, Jim McCarthy, who is young, thoroughly messed up and often angry, frustrated and confused. His psychological state is well-established in the first two books, as is his vulnerability, and that's crucial to understanding his behavior in this one.

In A Rage for Revenge, Jim finds himself captured, manipulated and indoctrinated into a cult. The cult represents one of the aforementioned adaptations to the alien Chtorran presence. It's an effort to live in harmony with the Chtorran ecology. Gerrold handles this quite well and the chapters involving the cult are both believable and unsettling. The section that follows is unnerving too and the book deals with difficult and uncomfortable themes (including pedophilia) in ways that some readers will find hard to handle. However, when viewed within the larger psychological context described above, I think it works. In other words, we're supposed to feel uncomfortable.

Much of the aforementioned didacticism involves chapters describing the Mode training, another (and controversial) human response to the invasion, designed to help humanity successfully hold itself together and find a winning strategy.

None of these books are for the timid or easily offended. In addition to the controversial themes mentioned above, this one features dirty limericks at the beginning of every chapter (for reasons explained in the book).

I've read this novel 3 times now and although I don't think it's one of the best books I've ever read, it's certainly among the most memorable. As good as it is in some places, it's didactic nature wears a little and there's an aspect of the story near the end that doesn't quite ring true to me. Nevertheless, I recommend it.

John Pruden's performance is excellent.

  • A Day for Damnation

  • The War Against the Chtorr, Book 2
  • By: David Gerrold
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 15 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60

McCarthy was drafted from his college biology studies and became a member of the Special Forces. Then he is given the opportunity to contact the Chtorr, but when a helicopter crash leaves him and his companions stranded in enemy territory, he must decide whether to communicate with the Chtorr--or kill them!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Sequel that's Superb

  • By Jim N on 08-06-18

A Sequel that's Superb

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

A Day for Damnation is my favorite book in David Gerrold's excellent-but-unfinished War Against the Chtorr series. Gerrold ramps up the story in this second book, delving more deeply into the nature and diversity of the alien ecology that's invading the planet and into the impact living in a post-apocalypse world is having on the human race. The book features an extended sequence in which the main characters are trapped in something akin to an alien "blizzard" that is among the most memorable sequences I've encountered in decades of reading and listening to science fiction.

John Pruden's narration is excellent. Highly recommended.

  • A Matter for Men

  • The War Against the Chtorr, Book 1
  • By: David Gerrold
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 16 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 138
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 133
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 131

With the human population ravaged by a series of devastating plagues, the alien Chtorr arrive to begin the final phase of their invasion. Even as many on Earth deny their existence, the giant wormlike carnivores prepare the world for the ultimate violation--the enslavement of humanity for food!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 20 years and no book 5, be warned

  • By Shane on 09-18-14

A Great Beginning!

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

Reviewed: 07-29-18

I've read A Matter for Men 3 times before listening to this version so obviously, I'm a fan. This book and the rest of the still unfinished War Against the Chtorr series owe a debt to the work of Robert Heinlein (and Starship Troopers in particular) but Gerrold's take on alien invasion is fresh and original (even though this novel first appeared decades ago). The great twist of these novels is that the very nature of the invasion itself is a mystery. There are no massive spaceships hovering over cities. There's no advanced weaponry wielded by a hi-tech alien civilization, no contact or negotiation with an intelligent, technologically advanced alien race. Instead, Earth is being invaded by an alien ecology that slowly reveals itself and grows more complex. It's source is unknown but it is voracious and dangerous.

Much of the groundwork for subsequent entries in the series is laid in this first novel but A Matter for Men tells a satisfying story on it's own too. The main character, Jim, goes through an emotional and psychological grinder almost from the very beginning and is well-developed. Some of the more philosophical and political aspects of the book may put a few readers off but they're an important part of the character development and they help explain the form humanity's response to the invasion takes. There's even a nod to a memorable scene in King Kong!

The audio version is well-narrated by John Pruden.

I can't recommend this series enough. It remains unfinished to this day but Mr. Gerrold is still working on the rest of the series. Hopefully, those books will see print soon but even if they don't, The War Against the Chtorr is worth your time.

  • Watch the Girls

  • By: Jennifer Wolfe
  • Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
  • Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 49

Former teen star Liv Hendricks quit acting after her younger sister disappeared following a Hollywood party gone wrong. Liv barely escaped with her life. But all this time, someone's been waiting patiently to finish what was started.... Now 15 years later, Liv is forced to return to the spotlight. She crowdfunds a webseries in which she'll pose as a real-life detective - a nod to the show she starred on as a teen. When a mysterious donor challenges her to look into a series of disappearances outside a town made famous by the horror movies filmed there, Liv has no choice but to accept.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A Unfortunate Misfire

  • By Jim N on 07-24-18

A Unfortunate Misfire

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

Reviewed: 07-24-18

Watch the Girls has a great premise and I found the first third of the book compelling but the intriguing mystery at the center of the story gave way pretty quickly to predictable reveals, painfully written sex scenes and a "startling" ending that felt both preposterous and unsatisfactory. I wish I had liked this more but it just wasn't for me.

Khristine Hvam gives her usual outstanding performance.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Time I Lied

  • A Novel
  • By: Riley Sager
  • Narrated by: Nicol Zanzarella
  • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 674
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 629
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 624

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she - or anyone - saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips. Now a rising star in the NYC art scene, Emma's paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of the very same Camp Nightingale.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Couldn't finish it...

  • By Carol on 07-15-18

I was riveted.

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

Reviewed: 07-22-18

This is a perfect summer listen, reminiscent of a good mystery/thriller at the movies. I ripped through it in just a few days and found myself lingering at times to listen to just one more chapter.

The narration by Nicol Zanzarella is excellent.

  • Behind Her Eyes

  • A Novel
  • By: Sarah Pinborough
  • Narrated by: Anna Bentinck, Josie Dunn, Bea Holland, and others
  • Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,540
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,580
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11,584

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar, and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she's thrilled she finally connected with someone. When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar...who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can't keep his eyes off Louise.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • What the heck...

  • By Allyssa R. on 06-16-17

A Compelling Psychological Thriller

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

Reviewed: 07-06-18

The less said about the details of this carefully crafted novel, the better. Pinborough's story of a love triangle in which everyone's motives are questionable is an excellent listen. The story is told using a first person narrative that alternates between two of the main characters, a young, divorced mother named Louise and a beautiful woman named Adele. Adele's husband, David, completes the triangle but this isn't simply a book about an affair and it's consequences. It goes to dark and unexpected places and the psychological portrait Pinborough paints of these characters is very compelling. The book builds to quite a finish but I'm not about to spoil any of it for you. However, I do recommend it!

The narration is excellent.

  • The Handyman

  • By: Bentley Little
  • Narrated by: Chris Andrew Ciulla
  • Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 930
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 871
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 871

Daniel Martin has never forgotten his childhood encounters with Frank Watkins, the man who built his family a summer home out of cardboard and plywood. Frank's gaze was oddly confusing, as if he was attempting to discern the proper way to behave because he didn't know how to respond in a human manner. Since Frank obviously wasn't an alien, young Daniel thought maybe the man was crazy. In the end, Daniel would learn the terrifying truth about Frank Watkins. And as an adult, Daniel is about to discover there are more of them out there.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Little is back!

  • By JuniorLo on 02-08-18

A Good Summer Listen!

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

This creepy, if oddly structured, horror novel was my first exposure to Little's work and I found it quite entertaining. The premise is original, the characters relatable and the suspense and weirdness build nicely. The narration by Chris Andrew Ciulla is excellent.

Recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful