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Love King, but this is not one of his best

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

Reviewed: 11-17-16

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Unfortunately, no. This book was, frankly, just tedious.

What was most disappointing about Stephen King’s story?

It's an extremely simple "fort under siege" story that drags on forever, moving from one arbitrary, uninteresting cardboard character death to the next with little flair or purpose. 'Desperation,' to which this is (weirdly and pointlessly) attached at the hip, is infinitely better.

Which scene was your favorite?

The opening assault, if only because it's pretty shocking and weird. It's all downhill (slowly) after that.

Could you see The Regulators being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I doubt it. There's just not enough meat here for a movie. And the interiority of much of the narrative would make it really difficult to adapt faithfully.

Any additional comments?

The one unequivocal plus here is reader Frank Muller. He was truly one of the all-time great readers. He performs wonders here even if it's a losing battle with a story that just doesn't work. He's the reason my rating is as high as it is. RIP, Frank.

Incredible and incredibly infuriating

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

Reviewed: 11-12-15

What made the experience of listening to If I Can't Have You: the most enjoyable?

Enjoyable seems a strange word to use in describing a true story like this. Horrifying, sickening, depressing? All of the above. Enjoyable? Hmmm. I will say that it certainly keeps your interest and you won't want to stop listening, even as you know that things aren't going to end well. But this is true crime and that goes with the territory.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Chuck Cox, the father of the (first) victim. He and his wife were the only people who fully understood what they were dealing with right from the start and saw through Josh Powell's mask of sanity. He tried to warn everyone, including (especially) the police, and no one listened until it was too late.

Have you listened to any of Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Never heard anything by Laural Merlington before, but Kevin Pierce is the King of True Crime Audiobooks. I can't tell you how many of them I've listened to but they're all excellent. One of my favorite readers.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Unfortunately, while everyone has a high-level intellectual understanding that psychopaths DO actually exist in this world, the vast majority of people refuse to acknowledge blatant sociopathy and/or psychopathy even when it's staring them in the face and screaming at the top of its lungs. We're all just too invested in the sadly false notion that everyone, deep down, is a genuinely good person. When we're confronted by true irredeemable evil we go into denial and refuse to see it.

Any additional comments?

This is one of the best true crime books I've ever read/listened to but also one of the most infuriating. It goes from tragedy to outrage to horror to silence and sadness and darkness. So, listener beware: This does not end well for anyone.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Not Grant's best, but still decent 'quiet' horror

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

Reviewed: 10-29-13

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Not sure. This tale is a variation on M.R. James' "Casting the Runes," which may or may not be a spoiler depending on your familiarity with the horror genre. Because of this, I could see where the story was headed fairly early in the game although, to be fair, Grant was a good enough writer that a certain predictability isn't the major flaw it might be for a lesser craftsman.

If you’ve listened to books by Charles L. Grant before, how does this one compare?

None of Grant's stuff has been available on audio until very recently (thank you, Crossroads Press!), so this is the first I've heard. That said, I've been a big fan of his stuff since my days as a wee lad in the '80s and will definitely be downloading the others that just came out as well.

What does Kathy Bell Denton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Ms. Denton does an admirable job here. She has a very pleasant voice and does a great job bringing the main character to life.

My only real complaint would be that her voicing of pretty much all of the male characters is a little... odd. She gives them all a strange, slow, almost stoned-sounding monotone that's a little distracting. She just doesn't seem comfortable "acting" the male parts. In cases like this I prefer the reader to simply narrate rather than perform -- much less annoying. Luckily, the story is told from the main (female) character's POV, so it's not that big of a deal.

Was The Bloodwind worth the listening time?

Definitely. Anyone who enjoys "quiet" horror tales that rely on mounting dread and suspense rather than gory monster attacks will appreciate the works of Charles L. Grant. If you haven't read/heard anything by him before, I'd recommend starting with is short stories (the man was an absolute MASTER of the modern short horror story). Here's hoping some industrious soul records some (or all) of those soon.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

A standout recording of a great novel

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

Reviewed: 10-15-13

Would you consider the audio edition of Vampire$ to be better than the print version?

Hard to say. I originally read the book more than 20 years ago and it made a big impression. Enough so that I have been meaning to re-read it ever since but just never got around to it. This was the perfect way to revisit the story. So, take your pick.

Having said that, Tom Weiner does a spectacular job. He has the perfect growling, gravelly voice for the tough-guy characters and really sells some of Steakley's more floridly 'macho' dialogue, which could easily have have sounded ludicrous coming from a less accomplished performer. I can't imagine anyone else doing a better job.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Cherry Cat, because I always identify with the smart-ass in any group.

Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I have also listened to Weiner's renditions of THE TOURIST by Olen Steinhauer and THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH by Philip K. Dick. Both were of the same high calibre. You can't go wrong with Tom Weiner. Dude knows what he's doing.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely. It's a crying shame John Steakley only wrote two novels because both of them are bonafide classics. FYI: The other is ARMOR, perhaps the best military science fiction novel ever written (and, not coincidentally, also performed by Tom Weiner, so I'll be getting that one soonest, as well).

Any additional comments?

One of the great vampire horror novels. No glittering Euro-trash fashion victims mooning over sulky emo jailbait here. The monsters in this sucker are pure black demonic evil with a capital "E", as they should be. The only things they want are domination, degradation and slaughter. This is strong stuff and very well written with absorbing, surprisingly deep and insightful characterizations and a ton of really terrific action and suspense. One of my all-time favorites.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Spectacular!

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

Reviewed: 04-25-13

Where does A Game of Thrones rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Hyperbole aside, this may very well be the most enjoyable audiobook to which I've ever listened.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tyrion Lannister. Of all the players he may be the most disadvantaged but he's also the smartest, wittiest and most enjoyable company. Everyone underestimates him simply because he's a dwarf but he's simply biding his time. I expect great things from him in the following books.

What does Roy Dotrice bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mr. Dotrice truly PERFORMS the story. He doesn't simply read, he plays each character so well and so uniquely that it's almost like a radio drama. This was -- by far and away -- the best job of audiobook narration I've ever heard, bar none. Magnificent!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The novel is so sharply written, with amazing characters, action and political intrigue, that I couldn't wait to get back to it. Normally I only listen to audiobooks during my commute and while I'm running but this one had me so firmly in its grasp that I didn't want to remove my earbuds long enough even to shower or sleep. It's that good.

Any additional comments?

I normally have no patience whatsoever with fantasy novels. All the twee Tolkien-facsimilie 'elves 'n' fairies' balderdash makes me nauseous. This, though... this was COMPLETELY different. It couldn't be further from the sort of Terry Brooks-ish rip-off stupidity that seems to dominate the genre. Martin's world is hard and cynical and very, very adult. There's no ostentatious magic to get characters out of jams, no white knights rescuing virginal maidens from bridge trolls. None of that nonsense. Just white-knuckle storytelling and characters you won't want to leave once it's over. Luckily, you won't have to as there are four more volumes already written and more on the way. I can't wait to get started on Book 2!

Not as good as I remember it being...

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

Reviewed: 02-07-13

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes, I suppose I would recommend it, if only because it is a "classic" and, by and large, the performances are exemplary.

Two caveats, however:

1) I had forgotten just how tedious and repetitive much of the storyline is. Maybe it's simply an unavoidable fault/limitation of the epistolary format but Stoker has his characters making the same points over and over and over again throughout the story, reiterating plot and character points that have already been sufficiently made. There are only a certain number of times we need to be told about (and have demonstrated) Dracula's abilities before it starts to feel like padding. Likewise with much of the later plot, which is really drawn out well past the point of necessity or suspense and then ends with a truly startling abruptness. I was more enthralled by, and more forgiving of, all this when I originally read it as a child.

2) Tim Curry, though normally a fabulous performer, is really off in his portrayal of Van Helsing. He seems narcotized much of the time, with readings that are so languid and careful and sssllllooooooowwww, that I found it maddening to listen. There is no urgency to his portrayal, even during later passages of (supposedly) tense action and suspense. He reads much as you would expect if he were performing for a class of especially dense elementary school children. Thankfully, Van Helsing doesn't have many of his own passages in the book and the other actors portray him (second-hand) with far greater skill and interest.

Would you ever listen to anything by Bram Stoker again?

Sure. DRACULA is still a good story even if a bit drawn-out by modern standards. I've always intended to read/listen to his other horror tales.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Alan Cumming's portrayal of Dr. Seward is fantastic. He was perfect for the part and really brought it to life. I will definitely be seeking out other audiobooks narrated by him.

Do you think Dracula [Audible Edition] needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Uh... note sure. Stoker never wrote a sequel but there have been hundreds of such pastiches over the last century or so. Most of the good ones (see Kim Newman's ANNO DRACULA series) seem already to be available on audiobook.

Any additional comments?

Overall this was quite enjoyable. With the exception of Tim Curry, all the other readers do splendid work. If the story and writing itself are not as good as my memory had misled me to believe, it was still an enjoyable listen.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Hilarious! You will injure yourself laughing...

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

Reviewed: 06-22-12

If you could sum up God, No! in three words, what would they be?

Hilarious, honest, joyous

What other book might you compare God, No! to and why?

The New New Rules (Bill Maher), When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (George Carlin)

What does Penn Jillette bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jillette is a natural monologuist and champion rant-meister. It's the difference between just reading a stand-up set by Carlin (funny) and actually hearing it (gut-bustingly funny). It's all in the delivery.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Quite a few, actually. His tribute to Seigfried and Roy manages to be fall-down funny and really moving at the same time. Ditto the story of Schmoozleshnoo, King of the Ex-Jews. But the book is full of great moments.

Any additional comments?

I guess it should go without saying that anyone who takes religion seriously in any capacity will have no trouble finding offense, but there you are. Likewise anyone who has a problem with raw language and can't separate style from substance. You know who you are. For everyone else, this is seriously seriously funny (and true). One of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.