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Richard S. Swol

Lindstrom, MN USA
  • 180
  • reviews
  • 126
  • helpful votes
  • 180
  • ratings
  • Lullaby

  • By: Jonathan Maberry
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,014
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,707
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3,699

A young couple buys a beautiful house by a picturesque lake in the Catskills, looking to escape the bustle of the city to raise their newborn baby. It is a perfect place for a fresh start. Except that nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. As autumn nights close in around their home, they learn that darkness takes many forms. And sometimes that darkness is hungry. New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry delivers an unsettling Audible Original that will give listeners the Halloween creeps all year round.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • bleh.

  • By Michael on 10-07-18

A short and dark little ghost story

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

Reviewed: 10-15-18

This is a good listen around Halloween or if you are in the mood for a dark ghost story. Little can be said of the plot without giving spoilers.

The general premise is this; Young couple purchases a home in the Catskills for a price that is too good to be true.

I can't say that this was up my alley. I prefer my stories a bit more upbeat. If you don't mind dark, then you may enjoy this. Me, less so.

  • Dracula [Audible Edition]

  • By: Bram Stoker
  • Narrated by: Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, and others
  • Length: 15 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,667
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,755
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,764

The modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well Read, Throughly Enjoyable!

  • By WickedGoodYarn on 03-11-12

The seminal work defining the lore of the vampire

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

Reviewed: 10-14-18

Much has been said and written of this book. It truly does define the lore of the vampire going on for over a century now.

You all are, no doubt, familiar with the basic story from the countless films. But none of them quite grasp the mood and presentation of this product of the Victorian Age. There is here a unique combination of British propriety, scientific discourse, gothic horror, adventure and nobility.

To be honest, I found the format of the story, told entirely through journal entries, to be distracting and, frankly, somewhat annoying. But as the story progressed, and the action escalated, that annoyance disappeared entirely. In fact, I am hard pressed to provide another format that would have worked as well.

The story is, as I stated, a seminal work, and therefore practically required reading. However, you need to understand that it moves at a Victorian pace and takes some time to get really moving. Your patience will be rewarded. If, on the other hand, you cannot abide the style and age of storytelling style, then I recommend you try Salem's Lot by Stephen King. In many ways King retells and reinvigorates the same general story for modern sensibilities.

This book is definitely one that every horror story affectionado must read.

  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring

  • By: John Bellairs
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 41

Rose Rita wishes she could go to camp like her best friend, Lewis. She's sure that boys get to have all the fun - until Mrs. Zimmermann offers her an adventure of her own. Mrs. Zimmermann's cousin Oley has left her his farm as well as a ring that he thinks is magic. But when the two arrive at the deserted farm, the ring has mysteriously vanished. What power does it have? And will the person who took it use the ring to do evil? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A swell tale wonderfully told by George Guidall

  • By D. Sheff on 04-15-18

The Lewis Barnavelt series takes a detour

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

Reviewed: 10-08-18

This book is the third in the Lewis Barnavelt series and the author makes the interesting choice of essentially removing Lewis from the story. Instead, we focus on Rosarita, Lewis' best friend and her adventures with Mrs Zimmerman while Lewis is away at scout camp.

And quite the adventure it is too. Ancient artifacts, witchcraft, curses, Rosarita trying to decide if she wants to be a typical girl, and a 13 driving a car. Not a long story, but one with a lot going on. If anything, Rosarita makes a better protagonist than Lewis does, in that she is more prone to action rather than sitting and worrying about all the bad things that can happen.

As I understand it, this was the final book completed by John Bellairs before his passing. The rest of the series was completed by another writer based, largely on Mr Bellairs' notes. I plan on checking those out, but this book made me realize just how good this writer was. You have to wonder"what might have been".

I recommend this book.

  • The Night Crossing

  • By: Robert Masello
  • Narrated by: Gary Furlong
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

Bram Stoker kept secret a tale even more terrifying than Dracula. It begins among the Carpathian peaks, when an intrepid explorer discovers a mysterious golden box. She brings it back with her to the foggy streets of Victorian London, unaware of its dangerous power…or that an evil beyond imagining has already taken root in the city. Stoker, a successful theater manager but frustrated writer, is drawn into a deadly web spun by the wealthy founders of a mission house for the poor. Far from a safe haven, the mission harbors a dark and terrifying secret.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Change can be a bad thing!

  • By Bret Viola on 09-21-18

Brahm Stoker and the origins of Dracula

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

Reviewed: 10-05-18

A clever and inventive story of the origin of Stoker's Dracula novel. With the author's history of supernatural stories, one would assume that involves Stoker versus a vampire. But the author doesn't take that easy path and instead pits him against something somewhat similar but still very different.

The characters are likable or detestable as required, and well drawn. The plot follows along at a good pace and logically for the context. There is even a brief call out to the author's previous book, The Jekyll Revelation, in which Brahm Stoker made a small appearance.

All in all I was very satisfied and enjoyed this book a great deal. I hartily recommend it to fans of the supernatural, curses, vampires, relatively modern history, and the ripping yarns of old.

  • The Figure in the Shadows

  • By: John Bellairs
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 3 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

Lewis is sure that Grandpa Barnavelt's 1859 lucky coin is really a magic talisman in disguise. With its power, he could do anything he wanted - like get back at bully Woody Mingo. But as soon as he begins wearing the coin around his neck, strange things start to happen. Mysterious letters arrive in the dead of night. A strange, shadowy figure seems to be tracking him. And when Lewis finally gets his revenge on Woody, he feels as if someone else is inside his body, urging him to go even further. Has Lewis awakened a force beyond his control?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Love these books.

  • By Donna Bowen on 06-12-18

Lewis Barnavelt returns for another adventure

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

Lewis is back.
Clumsy, overweight, and kind of whimpy, Lewis.
The kid breaks out crying more times than I can recall in this book. He makes poor decisions and is scared of most everything.

And yet, I like him.
All of these things make him more realistic than most characters in other books.
While we may not want to fess up to being the same way when we were kids, the truth is that we all were.

This time Lewis is not trying to save the world, just himself. It's a story about empowerment, fear, obsession, possession, and friendship.

The story is pretty short, but pretty firmly packed. Not a lot of wasted prose.

I recommend this title, but do read The House With A Clock In Its Walls to get the background first. It's a longer read but worth it.

  • The Romanov Cross

  • By: Robert Masello
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 332
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 303
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 301

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, he is offered a job no one else wants - to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon. The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn't come back to life.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Meh

  • By Anne on 01-09-16

A hard to describe story of tragedy and curses

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

Reviewed: 09-30-18

This a story of historical tragedies and some Inuit folklore. An odd mix that does surprisingly work. The story is fairly heavy on speculative history relating to the fall of the Romanoff dynasty and the much theorized survival of Princess Anastasia. Combined with this we have the outbreak of the 1918 Spanish Flu. This is then overlaid with Inuit folklore and a ghost story.

Hard to categorize but makes for an interesting listen.

The author does his usual excellent job of characterization and plotting. I enjoyed the book and recommend it.

  • The Penguin Pool Murder

  • Hildegarde Withers, Book 1
  • By: Stuart Palmer
  • Narrated by: Julie McKay
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 93

Although the Stock Market had crashed recently, it was too early for most people to predict that the Great Depression was about to get underway. For 39-year-old spinster schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers, it’s business as usual. And part of her usual business is taking her class for an outing to the aquarium to see the penguins. Instead, she spots the floating corpse of Wall Street broker Gerald Lester and quickly realizes that Inspector Oscar Piper of NYPD Homicide isn’t up to solving this tricky case.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absolutely delightful!

  • By Kathi on 05-04-13

The start of a series - Hildegard Withers

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

Reviewed: 09-21-18

I decided to give this series a try. I am glad I did. While somewhat dated in spots, the characters shine through. You become invested in their adventure.

This reads a lot like the old 1930's mystery movies. (Which were made of this series in fact.) That is half the fun.

I recommend this book. This is not noir, but more like a cozy. Get this book and find out if you are smarter than a third grade teacher.

  • Sphinx

  • By: T. S. Learner
  • Narrated by: Gavin Osborn
  • Length: 16 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars 4

Alexandria, Egypt, 1977. During a dive to an old shipwreck, archaeologist Isabella Warnock uncovers an artefact unlike anything she has ever seen: an astrarium, a mysterious ancient device rumoured to have shaped the destinies of pharaohs and kings since the beginning of time. But her discovery comes at a terrible price, and it falls to her husband, Oliver, to keep the priceless object safe.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A novel that strives to be more than it is

  • By Richard S. Swol on 09-18-18

A novel that strives to be more than it is

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

Reviewed: 09-18-18

To be fair, I purchased this book thinking it was something it is not. The description mentioned ancient Egypt, a discovered ancient yet high tech artifact, deadly antagonists who will stop at nothing to get that device. Sounds a lot like a lot of modern techno-thrillers in the vein of Andy McDermott, Clive Cussler, and the like. Sounded like it to me anyway.

Not quite.

What we ended up with here was a ghost story, set in late 1970's Egypt, and one man's struggle with a heart breaking death with the backdrop of the political unrest in Egypt at that time. There are many supernaturally tinged scenes that you are left to analyze and question. There is a mysterious device that should not exist, and that can do, for lack of a better word, magical things. We don't get into how it can do that or its true origins. There is a cult worshipping ancient Egyptian gods, and the obligatory political anarchist group.

Yet with all that, the author veers away from thriller territory and tries to make this"great literature". In doing so, they muted the action and played up the protagonists personal emotional journey. If that is what you want to read, then this is for you. If you want something with more action than introspection, maybe this is not for you.

The writing was fine. The story was fine. Just not what I was expecting or hoping to listen to.

As such I can only give this a 3 out of 5 rating. The book is not bad, but it seems to want to be something it is not...at least in my opinion.

  • Goldfinger

  • James Bond, Book 7
  • By: Ian Fleming
  • Narrated by: Hugh Bonneville
  • Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 247
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 246

A game of canasta turns out crooked, and a golden girl ends up dead. It seems that Auric Goldfinger is a bad loser when it comes to cards. He's also the world's most ruthless and successful gold smuggler. As James Bond follows his trail, he discovers that Goldfinger's real game is the heist of fifteen billion dollars of US government bullion. The final hand is played at Fort Knox, in a spectacular display of deception and intrigue.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Book 7, Film 3

  • By Darwin8u on 02-24-18

James Bond in his most famous adventure

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

Reviewed: 09-05-18

James Bond returns in his 7th novel and well in super spy territory. Bond takes on the bigger than life super villan, Auric Goldfinger. A devilish super crime is planned and only our hero can stop it. Similar yet different from the film, the story holds up quite well. Very enjoyable and recommended.

Note: There are some rather dated views on homosexuality in the story. If you are sensitive to this line of thinking, then please treat accordingly. This is simply another case of the writing being "of its time".

  • The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent

  • By: Larry Correia
  • Narrated by: Adam Baldwin
  • Length: 2 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,977
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,375
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,362

Have you ever seen a planet invaded by rampaging space mutants from another dimension or Nazi dinosaurs from the future? Don't let this happen to you! Rifts happen, so you should be ready when universes collide. A policy with Stranger & Stranger can cover all of your interdimensional insurance needs. Rated "Number One in Customer Satisfaction" for three years running, no claim is too big or too weird for Tom Stranger to handle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Someone owes me a new keyboard

  • By Aimee M on 05-24-16

One very silly short story

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

Reviewed: 08-28-18

Silly. That's only word I can come up with for this presentation. The author writes himself in for multiple parts. Adam Baldwin not only narrates the book, but is also a character in the story.

If you enjoy Monty Python, you will probably enjoy this. There were several points when I wondered I had gotten myself into with this book, only to be followed a minute later by something laugh out loud crazy.

If you have a couple hours and want to listen to something funny, you could do much worse.

I enjoyed this book. I think you might feel the same way.