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Richard S. Swol

Lindstrom, MN USA
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  • The Spider #2, November 1933

  • The Wheel of Death
  • By: R.T.M. Scott
  • Narrated by: Nick Santa Maria
  • Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

Mysterious death, suicide, and madness took uncanny toll of New York's most prominent citizens. Only the Spider sensed the presence of the criminal genius whose tentacles were strangling the city - and the Spider was next on the crime monster's death list! Here is the second and final Spider novel penned by the mysterious R.T.M. Scott, the author of a series of hardcover novels featuring sophisticated detective Aurelius Smith and his Hindu aide, Langa Doonh.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • The Spider returns

  • By Richard S. Swol on 12-14-18

The Spider returns

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

Reviewed: 12-14-18

The Spider does indeed return in this tale of murder, blackmail and revenge. But to be honest, The Spider is not all that interesting here and some distance from the more stylized character that made him popular. With the next volume we start on the characters best known author.

I will see how much things change. This volume, I can only recommend to the completist affectionado. It was okay, but not much more in my opinion.

  • After the End of the World

  • By: Jonathan L. Howard
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
  • Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 827
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 776
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 773

The Unfolded World is a bitter and unfriendly place for Daniel Carter and Emily Lovecraft. In this world the Cold War never happened because the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1941. In this world the Nazi Großdeutschland is the premier superpower and is not merely tolerated but indulged because, in this world, the Holocaust happened behind the ruins of the Iron Curtain and consumed only Bolsheviks, Communists, and others the West was glad to see gone. In this world there are monsters, and not all of them are human.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic fun, eldritch horrors, and a cliffhanger

  • By S. Yates on 11-17-17

When Is H.P. Lovecraft not really H.P. Lovecraft?

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

Reviewed: 12-13-18

This is the first sequel to Carter & Lovecraft. The tale continues in what been named The Unfolded World. That is to say, the world that Lovecraft wrote about but managed to "Fold" into the world we know. But now it's back and only our protagonists know it. Things apparently went very differently in the Unfolded World... the biggest thing being that the Nazis won the war and are now a generally accepted super power.

In this volume our heroes try to figure out how to put it all back the way it was. Lovecraft's weirdness ensues.

To be perfectly honest, I liked this sequel better than the original book. I recommend this for fans of Lovecraft, X-Files, alternate dimensions, detective stories, spy stories, and independent women who are not gonna accept the idea that Nazis being around is in any way acceptable.

waiting for volume 3.

  • Carter & Lovecraft

  • By: Jonathan L. Howard
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,599
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,503
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,503

Daniel Carter used to be a homicide detective, but his last case - the hunt for a serial killer - went wrong in strange ways and soured the job for him. Now he's a private investigator trying to live a quiet life. Strangeness, however, has not finished with him. First, he inherits a bookstore in Providence from someone he's never heard of, along with an indignant bookseller who doesn't want a new boss.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A mistakes that worked out in my favor.

  • By Frae on 03-06-17

Layer of unreality exposed

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

Reviewed: 12-10-18

What if all of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft really happened? What if that author and his friend Randolph Carter managed to change reality enough, so that world was only cosidered a mediocre writers prose? What if, decades later, the decendants of those two, were forced to confront a threat to change it all back. Back to a reality that they thought only a fiction?

This is the premise of this book. Does it seem mind bendingly convoluted? Yeah, it kind of is. But still, it does make for a good listen. The situation is definitely bizarre but the characters are relatable.

If you enjoy tales of the supernatural, tales of H.P. Lovecraft, tales of alternate world's, or simply tales that challenge you to fully understand them, then this book is for you. Very original.

My only disappointment here was that this was not a self-contained story, but spans at least two books (so far). it

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

  • James Bond, Book 10
  • By: Ian Fleming
  • Narrated by: Rosamund Pike
  • Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 186
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 177
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 177

When 007 turns up at a sleepy American backwoods motel, it doesn't take him long to realize that Vivienne Michel is in a tight spot, and that Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morant are hardened killers bent on destruction. Escaping from a past she doesn't want to relive, Viv turns to James Bond to save her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 007 from the prospective of a"Bond Girl" .

  • By Glenn Parris on 08-21-15

A very different James Bond story

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

Reviewed: 12-08-18

This is an unusual book. It is James Bond to be sure, but it's almost as if it took place between his real adventures. There is a very definite reference to the previous book, Thunderball. But most of what happens here could be from any crime thriller.

The first several chapters go on about a young Canadian woman and her adventures in what she hopes is love. It doesn't go well. Through a series of random occurrences, she ends up being held captive by a couple killers. Enter James Bond because of a flat tire. Not a pretext, he honestly gets a flat and stumbles into this woman's dilemma. violence ensures.

The book is also narrated from the woman's perspective. A bold choice that elevates the story a bit.

As you can tell from my description, this story bares virtually no resemblance to the film of the same name. Perhaps due to that disconnect, I am not able to give this particularly high ratings. A matter of expectations I guess. I would recommend this only to Bond enthusiasts.

  • Private Demons

  • By: Robert Masello
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 13 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

Everyone hides a secret from the past...but Lucien's secret is inescapable. A living thing that has followed him across the world, from the horrors of Southeast Asia to the penthouse suites of the rich and famous. Everyone craves money, power, and sex...but Lucien can satisfy his every urge, every decadent impulse, every erotic whim - for a price. Everyone has private demons...but Lucien's demon is all too real. All too powerful. All too hungry...for human souls.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Early Masello

  • By Richard S. Swol on 12-07-18

Early Masello

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

Reviewed: 12-07-18

Robert Masello is a very good writer. He improves with each book. That said, this is an older book. It lacks some of the slickness and smooth writing style that has become his trademark style.

The story is interesting as it travels some rarely seen territory. In this case, demons from the Thai pantheon. Definitely creepy stuff. There is an under current of corruption versus redemption at the story's core. While not quite as slick as his later books, this is still very good and I recommend it to his fans.

caveat: Probably not his younger fans due to the imagery and one pretty graphic scene regarding a perverse sex/fetish show. Let's just say that you would not want to play this part at work without headphones.

  • The Autobiography of Santa Claus

  • By: Jeff Guinn
  • Narrated by: John H. Mayer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 468
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 357
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 359

Jump on Santa's sleigh for a journey through 17 centuries of Christmas magic!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • History and Christmas

  • By Mara on 12-14-08

History through the eyes of Santa Claus

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

Reviewed: 12-04-18

I thought that this might be a good, fun little story for the Christmas season. What I found was an absolutely delightful rendition of the last two thousand years. All seen through the eyes of the one person who sees the best in people.

The origin of Santa Claus is told without undue magic and the like. Magic and miracles only appear when absolutely required. His helpers were not who you expect them to be and are comprised of some surprising folks.

This book cannot be recommended enough. It's for lovers of Christmas, history, magic, and miracles. It keeps relevant to the religious history of the character without preaching to the reader. I think this is probably appropriate for ages, perhaps 12 and up, simply because younger kids might not have the attention span to appreciate it. I am 59 and still thought it was great.

  • Spider #1 October 1933 (The Spider)

  • By: R.T.M. Scott, RadioArchives.com
  • Narrated by: Nick Santa Maria
  • Length: 5 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9

The Spider, but who was otherwise a faceless phantom. The big mystery of the origins of The Spider magazine is that they were not one, but two, writers named R. T. M. Scott. The first was the father to the second. Reginald Thomas Maitland Scott was one of the most famous writers of the 1920s. His son, Robert Thomas Maitland Scott, was new to the writing world.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • The first Spider story - and yet somehow lacking

  • By Richard S. Swol on 12-04-18

The first Spider story - and yet somehow lacking

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

Reviewed: 12-04-18

I picked up this book in the hopes that it would act as an introduction to the pulp character, The Spider. To a small degree it did so. But this is not The Spider as he would eventually become, a compatriot to the likes of The Shadow or Doc Savage. This is his original incarnation as a rather murderous criminologist. His only nods to his later tales is a seal which he places on the forheads of the people he has killed and a rapier cane. I understand that this was very early in the days of the pulls, and larger than life characters were not as common. But this still left me disappointed. Had their been at least some attempt at providing an origin for the character, I would have been satisfied. But nothing on that here. Richard Wentworth comes across as less a hero as he does a serial killer with an agenda. Think along the lines of the recent TV series Dexter.

I will give a couple following volumes a try to see how the character evolves, so I haven't given up on this character yet. I just wish this had been better. Recommended only for those interested in the early years of the pulps.

  • Thunderball

  • James Bond, Book 9
  • By: Ian Fleming
  • Narrated by: Jason Isaacs
  • Length: 7 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 197
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 182
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 180

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, leader of the terrorist organization SPECTRE, has hijacked an American plane loaded with atomic weapons. Unless his demands are met, he will destroy one of the world's major cities. With only one week to locate the missing bombs, James Bond goes to the Bahamas, where he encounters Blofeld's right-hand man, Emilio Largo, and his mistress, Domino. With time running out, Bond learns that sharks are not the only killers in the Caribbean Sea.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb

  • By renee on 02-27-16

Enter: SPECTER

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

Reviewed: 11-29-18

James Bond further cements his status as a super spy by taking on the evil organization of SPECTER.

The book has been adapted to film a couple times, but here we see the true, less gimmicky, version of the story. While less high tech, it is no less an exciting tale.

Be aware that this falls under the category of "of its time". It does, therefore, include comments, language and behavior that would, today, be considered sexist and racist.

If you can get beyond that, you will be treated to the very first Bond versus SPECTER story... the basis of most of the early Bond films. A conditional recommendation.

  • A Kidnapped Santa Claus

  • By: L. Frank Baum
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller
  • Length: 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 8

"A Kidnapped Santa Claus" is a short story by L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz stories. In it, The Daemons of the caves, resentful of Santa Claus, who rebuffs their attempts to subvert him by temptation, capture him in his sleigh on Christmas Eve and imprison him in their caves. Santa's helpers: a fairy, pixie, knook, and ryl, finish his deliveries with a few comical mishaps. Assembling a magical army of good beings, the queen of the fairies leads an attempt to rescue Santa Claus from the clutches of the evil Daemons.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A short story based on the earlier book

  • By Richard S. Swol on 11-28-18

A short story based on the earlier book

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

Reviewed: 11-28-18

This is a follow-up short story to The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus. It is, in fact a revisiting of a portion of that book. Originally, demons kidnapped Santa Claus and it led to a full on war between the demons and the fairy folk. A somewhat dark section of the book. Here, that section is retold through a much gentler prism.

This update, for I believe that is what it was meant to be, is much more fitting for younger and more sensitive children. I recommend this story as appropriate for youngsters as a sweet little bedtime story.

  • It's Superman!

  • By: Tom De Haven
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 16 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 919
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 749
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 754

Opening with the young Clark Kent on a date, this novel takes an entirely fresh approach to the emergence of his superpowers and the start of his newspaper career, following him from rural 1930s Kansas across America to Hollywood in its golden age and then to New York City. He meets a worldly Lois Lane and conniving political boss Lex Luthor, and begins his battles against criminal masterminds, mad scientists, and super villains inspired by fascists.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • It's Superman!

  • By G. Bledsoe on 12-24-06

A retelling of the origin of Superman

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

Reviewed: 11-27-18

We've all heard the story, but never quite like this. Here we witness the origin of the hero through the lens of a noir novel. It's a decidedly darker tone than we usually see here. And yet, it fits the time period and America at that time.

The characterization of Lex Luthor is particularly good and original. He comes across as a truly frightening opponent.

I am not a big fan of noir. That is why I am only giving this 4 stars and not 5. This is a well written and engrossing story and well worth your time. Recommended