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  • Endymion

  • By: Dan Simmons
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 23 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,653
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,744
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,754

Here, Simmons returns to this richly imagined world of technological achievement, excitement, wonder and fear. Endymion is a story about love and memory, triumph and terror - an instant candidate for the field's highest honors.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A fine Part II of the Hyperion Cantos

  • By David on 09-06-12

One of the most important books I've ever read

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

Reviewed: 10-31-18

This book is epic. It's epic in the sense that The Odyssey is epic. It's epic in the sense that Lord of the Rings is epic. At the end, I felt like I had been on such an amazing journey. I yelled at characters. I rooted for their love. I was (and I still am) amazed at the depth of the universe that Dan Simmons created in Hyperion. I look up at the stars and I dream of the world of Endymion. This book means so much to me. Rise of Endymion is a marvel in its own right, but this one. This gem. This beautiful, endless gem of a story. It has changed the way I see the world and the universe. Thank you Mr. Simmons.

  • The Passage

  • A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy)
  • By: Justin Cronin
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick, Adenrele Ojo, Abby Craden
  • Length: 36 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16,712
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,397
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,379

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • When does anything interesting finally happen?

  • By B. Reid on 01-18-19

I WANTED to love this, but....

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

Reviewed: 10-25-18

I heard such wonderful things about this book and it's a great novel...well, 1/3 of it is great. The first third of the book moves quickly, feels original and familiar at the same time, and sets up a potentially fascinating struggle between man and monster for control of the planet...and then...

**SPOILERS BELOW**

...and then that struggle is completely ignored, all the interesting characters died (or did they...who cares because we never hear from them again) and suddenly we are hundreds (maybe? again...who cares) years in the future and we're now focusing on the most uninteresting member of the last colony of humanity and ALL of his casual conversations or mental thoughts about EVERYTHING. I find myself yelling, "Who cares?!?" at this book over and over and it kills me because the set up was so wonderfully crafted.

I think that's what pains me so much about writing this review. Justin Cronin is a damn fine author. He avoids cliches. He is truly original with his wordplay (he describes the random weeds and flowers that an old woman collects to make her famously nasty tea as "herbaceous flotsam." That's just plain, creative fun with the English language and I love it). His characters feel realistic and lived in, but...he seems to focus on the least interesting things about them. He spends too much time describing the complicated love lives of characters that we don't ever spend any real time with. I just finished listening to a long conversation that the "main" character has with an old relative only to find out at the end that she has alzheimer's, forgot everything that both she and the main character said, and the whole point of the conversation, in relation to the plot, was so that the old woman would drop a not-so-cryptic nod to the actual main character of the book whose story is fascinating and only merely hinted at in fits and starts.

I've read a lot of people's reviews saying that Cronin's non-linear style is not for everyone, but I actually find that aspect refreshing. He lets us wonder about the actual main character's passage through time and describes it as a dream state and the effect is fantastic...but then quickly refocuses back on the tedium and inane interactions of what might be the least interesting final colony of mankind in the history of literature. Things happen...and then they are abandoned or ignored as unimportant while we focus on a drab and tedious detail of history which doesn't contribute much to the overall story. I know Cronin is trying to present the second part of the story as a mystery more than a sci-fi horror, but he lost me when he decided that his protagonist would rather let things happen rather than actually engage in action. What we end up with isn't an against-the-odds primal struggle to learn a reveal a hidden and terrible truth, but rather a "Waiting for Godot" / "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" introspective, whiny retrospective on the disappearance of the protagonist's brother. At this point, Cronin has spent so much time musing over why he died that I know that he isn't actually dead. I know it. Every time the protagonist wistfully remembers a moment when his brother was complicated or they didn't get along...I know the brother isn't dead. I know he's going to come back in some weird, non-human form and it's supposed to make me horrified, but it's just going to make me annoyed. Imagine a magician that didn't use misdirection and constantly redirected your attention back to the fact that he's about to perform a trick...that's what this feels like.

I'm sorry to be so critical. The first portion of this novel is wonderful and was populated by interesting and dynamic characters and relationships...and Cronin ended that with a thud. Maybe the end of the world would actually be boring and tedious. I imagine it would be. I imagine trying to find food in a nuclear waste land would be the height of an extremely serious monotony. Maybe this book will get better, but...I don't think it will. I kinda want everyone to die, but I know they don't. I know that there are two more books and I honestly don't care anymore what happens to Justin Cronin's humanity.

I'm going to give this author another chance, but not with this trilogy.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • The Elementals

  • By: Michael McDowell
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,159
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,952
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,942

After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama's Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Solid Haunted House Book - and that's rare!

  • By Uber Femme on 06-28-18

Absolutely brilliant southern, gothic horror

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

Reviewed: 06-06-18

Now...this is how its done. It's been about 6 months since I finished this book and it has stuck with me. It's one of the most complete suspense/horror books I've ever read. I would put it near Shirley Jackson's "Haunting of Hill House" (which is the top of the mountain for me). I've enjoyed other novels by McDowell, but this...this is a masterpiece. This is a complete, artistic vision and a beautiful love letter to southern, gothic horror. McDowell knows that the southern gothic genre is about big houses, big (sometimes unrealistic) personalities, old secrets, and new lies all percolating in the southern humidity and heat. In a more literary age, this novel would have inspired a renewed interest in gothic and southern gothic themes.

And to top all that off, R.C. Bray's narration is the best I have heard on any audiobook so far.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • A Winter Haunting

  • By: Dan Simmons
  • Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
  • Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,101
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,017
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,018

A once-respected college professor and novelist, Dale Stewart has sabotaged his career and his marriage - and now darkness is closing in on him. In the last hours of Halloween, he has returned to the dying town of Elm Haven, his boyhood home, where he hopes to find peace in isolation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exceptionally Well Done

  • By Jan on 01-05-16

Great...until the end

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

Reviewed: 09-16-17

Any additional comments?

For fans of Dan Simmons "Summer of Night," just a heads up that you might be disappointed if you're expecting a sequel to that book. This book should come with the tagline "Inspired by Summer of Night" because...well, it isn't really a sequel at all. And...there's a huge problem with the book (see below if you want to know what it is). Personally, I was hoping for more continuity. More of a sense that the events of Summer of Night weren't just forgotten and...sadly...that's exactly how Simmons deals with the fact that his protagonist experienced a battle with pure evil as a child...he has simply forgotten it.

I'm a HUGE Dan Simmons fan. I've read or listened to about 9 of his books (the Endymion sequence is epic and rich and fantastic). With all that said, I think Simmons was too committed to an "original" story with this book. It's so original that it burned out a LOT of what was wonderful about Summer of Night. I was hoping for a sequel. I was hoping to go back to Elm Haven and further explore the evil that grew out of Old Central.

I got something else. It certainly was NOT a bad something else. The book is well written and serves as a perfectly suitable, if somewhat clunky, haunted house novel.


Oh and there's a HUGE plot hole that I'm still amazed that Simmons just ignored. See below if you want to know what it is, but don't look if you're planning on reading either of the books.




----Spoilers (for both books) Below----




In Summer of Night, the bike patrol boys actually find the bootleggers cave/hideout at the end of the book. It's not near Dwayne McBride's house. However, in A Winter Haunting, Dale talks about how they never found the bootleggers hideout and one of the tunnels ended up in Dwayne's basement. This is just not what appeared in the prior book. Since the tunnel plays a pretty big role in the second book, it seems like maybe Mr. Simmons willfully forgot his own story. Maybe there are two tunnels...I don't know.

Also...the back-story on the younger co-ed relationship that Dale had before going back to Elm Haven is almost completely useless. It was the first time I felt like Dan Simmons had included filler in one of his novels.

  • The American Revolution

  • By: Allen C. Guelzo, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo
  • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 515
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 470
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 466

Why did 13 colonies believe they could defeat the most powerful nation on the planet? And how did they eventually manage such an impressive feat? Get the real story on the battle for American independence with Professor Guelzo's 24 gripping lectures.With a focus on the war's strategy, military tactics, logistics, and most fascinating people, these lectures are a must own for anyone curious about the origins of the greatest nation in modern history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well worth it, quirky prof

  • By Uferdinand on 08-02-16

Correct Title: The American Revolutionary WAR

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

Reviewed: 08-10-16

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

Probably not. This serious is not about the American Revolution as a whole. If you're looking for a discussion of the politics, the personalities, the legal theories, and the life of the common citizen living through the Revolutionary War, then look elsewhere. These lectures focus on the WAR itself. Battles, military tactics, maneuvers, etc. If that's what you're looking for then holy crap! this is the book for you. If you were inspired by the HBO serious John Adams and came looking for info on the founders and the politics, then this isn't the serious for you.

The speaker is excellent. He gives the information as much excitement as he possibly can and his voice is pleasant and scholarly...but its a losing battle. There's only so much excitement that a person can imbue a lecture about a group of soldiers being dispatched to Harlem Heights...and then being sent elsewhere...and then being sent back...and then being overrun by the British.

I have learned a LOT about the British (for which I am immensely grateful) of that period, but I'm not experiencing the joy of exploration or legal/political discourse (I'm an attorney) that I was hoping to get. This book is improperly titled.

Do you think The American Revolution needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Prof. Guelzo is excellent. If I were in college I would seek him out.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Tokyo Vice

  • An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
  • By: Jake Adelstein
  • Narrated by: Jake Adelstein
  • Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 695
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 503
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 505

At 19, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime reporting at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. For 12 years of 80-hour workweeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Memoir, crime story and travelogue in one package

  • By Steven on 02-07-10

An Amazing Accomplishment! Excellent Read!

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

Reviewed: 05-15-16

Any additional comments?

It's hard to describe this book. It's true crime. It's a memoir. It's a confession by the author who seems to be desperately seeking absolution...or at least just understanding. At first I was put off by Mr. Adelstein's narration. Truth be told, he's a fantastic writer, but not a great narrator, however, near the end of the book, I realized why he had chosen to take on what he had to know would be criticism (he's a writer, not a performer): this book is too personal to be narrated by someone else.

This is a gritty, beautiful, and very, very real look at what will be an alien world to most westerners. I loved it and I thank Mr. Adelstein for taking the risks he has and doing the good work that he has done.