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Jim In Texas!

Austin, TX, United States
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  • Honor Among Enemies

  • Honor Harrington, Book 6
  • By: David Weber
  • Narrated by: Allyson Johnson
  • Length: 19 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,845
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,506
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,516

Despite political foes, professional jealousies, and the scandal which drove her into exile, Capt. Honor Harrington has been offered a chance to reclaim her career as an officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy. But there's a catch. She must assume command of a "squadron" of jury-rigged armed merchantmen with crew drawn from the dregs of her service and somehow stop the pirates who have taken advantage of the Havenite War to plunder the Star Kingdom's commerce.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I like honorable heroes!

  • By Readalot on 04-23-09

A good story with some interesting plot twists

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

Reviewed: 08-24-18

As you can tell from the cover Honor gets called back to active duty in the RMN. It's kind of a step down for her, and partially set up by her enemies who hope this will be a suicide mission.

The story starts slow, in the manner of the old sea stories by CS Forester and Patrick O'Brian. Not surprising since Honor herself reads the old novels, puzzling about the meaning of pounds, feet and miles.

The story is good, with a lot of interaction with the People's Navy. It turns out that the officers of the Peep Navy are not so bad after all.

The Honor story continues with this book, as good as the preceding volumes. The multiple subplots keeps the reader in suspense.

I find the narration to be just fine, no complaints there.

The end of the story is satisfying, except perhaps for the tens of thousands of dead 'red shirts' left behind.

I took off one story star only because I found the huge size of the Starship crews seemed to me to be almost ridiculous. Several thousand on a medium sized warship. Several hundred thousand on a military space station?

One of the subplots would have been ruined if the Star Kingdom has the Disney Magic Band (tm) technology to keep track of where the crew members are located on the ship. The ships internal communications seemed to be about that of a WWI battleship much of the time.

One other observation, not a fault, but something occurred to me. The Honorverse has no robots!!!!! Hyperspeed travel yes? No robots though. Who'd have thunk it?!

  • Zero Hour

  • Expeditionary Force, Book 5
  • By: Craig Alanson
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 17 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 21,716
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20,445
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,346

United Nations Special Operations Command sent an elite expeditionary force of soldiers and pilots out on a simple recon mission, and somehow along the way they sparked an alien civil war. Now the not-at-all-merry band of pirates is in desperate trouble, again. Their stolen alien starship is falling apart, thousands of light years from home. The ancient alien AI they nicknamed Skippy is apparently dead, and even if they can by some miracle revive him, he might never be the same.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Monkeys kick A**, but......

  • By Beachcombers on 02-14-18

Good story, great performance

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

Reviewed: 05-20-18

First, the people complaining that these stories flow in a continuous 'rinse and repeat' cycle are mostly correct.

Then general flow of all the books in this series is very much like 'The Martian' by Andy Weir. Our hero is faced with an insurmountable problem that will almost certainly result in the death of the hero. By a combination of miracle and cleverness death is averted, only to be faced with an even more serious problem caused by the last solution.

This plot flow is used by Craig Alanson, except that the problems our heros face seem to threaten not only the heros themselves, but all of humanity as well!

I liked the story despite of the continuous plot repetition. I found all the main characters to be likeable and entertaining, and the problem de jour were usually pretty interesting.

I liked the detail of the hostile universe created by Craig Alanson, and the interesting capabilities of each species. I especially liked the gambling obsessed beetles.

Best of all was the narration by R.C. Bray. Bray has a huge range of voices, handling aliens of many genus and species, working class enlisted guy from Maine, an AI who speaks in perfect British 'Received Pronunciation', and several credible female voices, all with apparent ease.

I didn't invest a credit in that short story aside book, but having listened now to all five novels I am happy to go on record as fully endorsing this series for any hard sci-fi/space opera fans.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • 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 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 585
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 545
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 538

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 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66,037
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 61,983
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61,855

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 audiobook cover art
  • 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 17,901
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,935
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,842

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 351
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 326
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 323

In the concluding novel of his epic Civil War tetralogy, Jeff Shaara tells the dramatic story of the final eight months of battle from multiple perspectives: the commanders in their tents making plans for total victory, as well as the ordinary foot soldiers and cavalrymen who carried out their orders until the last alarm sounded. The Civil War did not end quietly. It climaxed in a storm of fury that lay waste to everything in its path. The Fateful Lightning brings to life those final brutal, bloody months of fighting with you-are-there immediacy.

  • 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.

4 of 4 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 55
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 50
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 50

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 826
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 767
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 767

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 1,113
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,014
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,016

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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator's voices are terrible, story very good

  • By DH950 on 03-22-16

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 17,304
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,075
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 16,069

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.