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Michael

ARCADIA, CA, United States
  • 34
  • reviews
  • 215
  • helpful votes
  • 69
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  • Midnight in a Perfect World

  • By: Ambrose Ibsen
  • Narrated by: Joe Hempel
  • Length: 8 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 185
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 172
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 173

A mysterious suicide. Horrific specters walking the streets. A drug that promises to change the world. An apocalyptic cult. Something is stirring in the city of Duluth, Minnesota. Ever since a celebrated researcher announced the creation of a new experimental drug - a drug with the potential to cure the mind of countless ills - people have been disappearing. When a grad student involved with the drug's development unexpectedly commits suicide, a private detective is tasked with unearthing the details of her tumultuous final days. This miracle drug may not be what it seems.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Have to be into it to be into it..

  • By Matthew on 04-29-18

Really Good Ideas

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

Reviewed: 04-23-18

There are really good ideas here, primarily that of a pharmaceutical doorway into an alternate dimension (which is Hell). The book is firmly in the horror genre, with elements of science fiction and detective. The story plays out through the points of view of many characters, each with a vested interest in the drug, either to produce it in order to open the gateway for the "godhead," a gigantic Lovecraftian deity who is building a stairway to our world using the bodies of human beings who have "come to him," or to oppose that plan. Joe Hempel gives an excellent reading, making clear distinctions between characters, and evoking the lush prose without sounding affected. I liked the book for the ideas. There were a couple of surprises, where I thought a thread would lead and it went off in a totally surprising direction. The writing is really good too. You really root for the good guys towards the end, but remember, the book is horror, not fantasy, and no matter how much you want the good guys to win, the overall results are bleak.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Summoner

  • Dominic Grey, Book 1
  • By: Layton Green
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 109
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 98
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 99

A United States diplomat disappears in front of hundreds of onlookers while attending a religious ceremony in the bushveld of Zimbabwe. Dominic Grey, Diplomatic Security special agent, product of a violent childhood and a worn passport, is assigned to investigate. Aiding the investigation is Professor Viktor Radek, religious phenomenologist and expert on cults, and Nya Mashumba, the local government liaison. What Grey uncovers is a terrifying cult older than Western civilization, the harsh underbelly of a country in despair, a priest seemingly able to perform impossibilities, and the identity of the newest target...himself.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Something repulsive about this experience

  • By Thomas More on 08-30-15

Lackluster writing

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

Reviewed: 01-29-17

The background of the Obeah magic was really well researched and authentic. I found the writing to lack depth. I never had the feeling that the book was other than an adapted screenplay, except for the backstories, which were interesting. Hard to maintain interest in the main character. That gets better in the last third. Peter Berkrot's performance is fine, he's a master narrator and he did his best with this book. I just didn't like the writing, I found it dull and inert. The setting and background of the story however, are superb, so it isn't a complete waste of time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • That Which Should Not Be

  • By: Brett J. Talley
  • Narrated by: David Stifel
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 312
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 291
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 287

Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston's professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, the student doesn't hesitate to begin the quest.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An excellent horror novel, now a great audiobook

  • By Stevo on 01-10-17

Superb Cosmic Horror

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

Reviewed: 01-29-17

I didn't know what to expect from this book, I selected it because of the narrator. But I was almost instantly hooked. The book is a frame story with a triptych of shorter narratives within. These brought in elements from history (which were accurate) and spun them in original ways. For example the second story the one that takes place in eastern Europe, the Scholomance figures. I remember reading Dracula, and the Scholomance is mentioned twice in Bram Stoker's book, but I remembered it only from World of Warcraft. There's quite a bit about it on the internet and I was delighted to learn something about the folklore the author borrowed for his story. I love little bits of historical accuracy in period books, and this had plenty. In the third story, the whole history of Danvers State Hospital is detailed. All of it was historically accurate and also fit nicely into the narrative. This doesn't do justice to the little bits of history and literature. Like Dan Brown, the author is a polymath. It's like the Call of Cthulhu meets The DaVinci Code.

The book is a winner. I don't tend to like Lovecraft pastiche because nobody can even hold a candle to the master (except for Robert Bloch, perhaps), but Talley comes close enough for horseshoes. The idiom is antiquated, which is to say, it sounds like it might have been written in the 19th or early 20th Centuries. So it's not the kind of modern language you find in most books. That won't appeal to everyone, but I liked it; it gave a sense of mood and set the action firmly in time.

David Stifel's narration is excellent, his accents have authenticity and his characters are multidimensional. I always understood what the characters were feeling even if it wasn't explicit in the words. He knows the secret of how to make characters live.

The frame story borrows heavily on the classic Call of Cthulhu, and I resisted that for a bit until the author AGAIN put a new spin on it. Impressive writing indeed.

The horror is cosmic and I felt that several times during the book--especially during the Captain's story--being lost in a cosmic sea. This book really cooks and I'm going to listen to it again I'm sure. I'm also going to get the sequel. If you like Lovecraftian horror you will love this book--I think if you're a Lovecraft purist you might not; maybe not right away, but there's a lot here that transcends the Mythos, that draws on threads of ancient world history. It's extremely satisfying.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude

  • By: Gabriel García Márquez, Gregory Rabassa - translator
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,196
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,872
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,880

One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize-winning career. The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Rich and brilliant, it is a chronicle of life, death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the beautiful, ridiculous, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This story is meant to be listened to

  • By Emilia on 04-23-14

In My Top Ten

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

Reviewed: 09-17-16

This audiobook is brilliant, and among my favorites of all time. John Lee gives a stellar performance, full of heart, menace, irony, passion, triumph and wisdom. I've heard a lot of his narrations, and this is his best. The quality of the book helps, of course, and One Hundred Years of Solitude is an eternal classic. This is a recording I will treasure and will listen to again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Snowblind

  • By: Christopher Golden
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 307
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 287
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 288

In Christopher Golden’s first horror novel in more than a decade - a work reminiscent of early Stephen King - Snowblind updates the ghost story for the modern age. The small New England town of Coventry had weathered 1,000 blizzards...but never one like this, where people wandered into the whiteout and vanished. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same. Now, as a new storm approaches 12 years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Overwrought

  • By Cheryl on 03-21-14

Nothing to see here

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

Reviewed: 09-17-16

I don't like to just trash a book, because writers almost always put their hearts into it, but this one is the worst I've heard in a long time. The characters are nondescript and flat. There's no tension or mystery at the heart of the story. There are too many point of view characters, so there's no tension built into the story telling. The story doesn't start until Chapter 9; everything before that is exposition and backstory. There's a kernel of a good idea here, which can be found in the story of the two brothers. The book could have been just about that relationship and it might have been more successful. And if all that isn't enough to prove its mediocrity, there's a deus ex machina in the form of a ghost that talks and behaves just like a living person. This book is a bad first draft.

Peter Berkrot is one of the best narrators in the business and he does a fine job here. But without any compelling reason to listen, I had to speed it up just so I could finish it as quickly as possible.

  • Great & Secret Show

  • By: Clive Barker
  • Narrated by: Chet Williamson
  • Length: 22 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 480
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 446
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 452

In the little town of Palomo Grove, two great armies are amassing; forces shaped from the hearts and souls of America. In this New York Times best-seller, Barker unveils one of the most ambitious imaginative landscapes in modern fiction, creating a new vocabulary for the age-old battle between good and evil. Carrying its readers from the first stirring of consciousness to a vision of the end of the world, The Great and Secret Show is a breathtaking journey in the company of a master storyteller.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Horrific Dark Fantasy

  • By Michael on 09-05-16

Horrific Dark Fantasy

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

Reviewed: 09-05-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. The story is great, the narrator is superb.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the frame story best, the Jaff and his eternal conflict with Fletcher. Of course, the romance is the counterpoint to that, and necessary for the book, but it didn't interest me as much. However, the plot of the book is intricate and extremely complex, and may take multiple readings to get it all.

Which scene was your favorite?

All the scenes that deal with the Art and its background.

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

Yes, I loved the moment in Trinity when [SPOILER OMITTED]

Any additional comments?

I read this book in print when it first was released in 1989. I became a fan of Clive Barker after reading Weaveworld, which is my favorite, and I enjoyed this book when I read it. The final scene in Trinity is well worth the effort. Chet Williamson does a superb job differentiating the characters so you always know who's speaking. His tone is pleasant and his delivery smooth. I enjoyed this book and recommend it. Clive Barker reminds me of Neil Gaiman in idiom and diction. But he's far darker, less precious, and more interesting. Gaiman has a world-class storytelling talent that Barker can't quite match. Clive Barker's world building talent leaves Gaiman in the dust. I like them both but Barker has the edge. All of Clive Barker's books feature byzantine plots which are constructed of layered subplots and because they're so epic sometimes they aren't as satisfying as other books.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Writing Deep Point of View

  • Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft, Book 13)
  • By: Rayne Hall
  • Narrated by: Cat Lookabaugh
  • Length: 2 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

In this book, I'll reveal the powerful techniques employed by best-selling authors, and I'll show you how to apply them to rivet your readers. I'll start with the basics of Point of View - if you're already familiar with the concept, you can treat them as a refresher - and then guide you to advanced strategies for taking your reader deep.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Slipping into someone else's skin

  • By Michael on 09-05-16

Slipping into someone else's skin

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

Reviewed: 09-05-16

Point of View is something that novels/short stories have that other forms of narrative storytelling, particularly visual mediums, do not. Thus it is something writers can use to maintain the relevance of the printed narrative in today's marketplace.

This book provides an in-depth look at what makes point of view "deep," which is what readers and publishers want these days. It is frustrating as an author to be told your work is "too distant" or "not close enough to the experience", or "I don't know what the character wants or is feeling." These are criticisms that come from point of view that is not tied directly to character's perceptions. These are mostly technical problems, and this book provides a wealth of techniques that you can use in your writing to help the reader become immersed in your character's inner and outer world. I found the discussion of third-person deep vs. third-person limited especially interesting.

The narrator, Cat Lookabough, begins a little too chirpy for my taste, but then settles into a strong, grounded, heartfelt performance. I enjoyed this book very much, and found its command of subject matter and usefulness to be excellent. I'm sure I will listen to this book again.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Shock Doctrine

  • The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
  • By: Naomi Klein
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Wiltsie
  • Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,201
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 722
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 721

In her ground-breaking reporting, Naomi Klein introduced the term "disaster capitalism". Whether covering Baghdad after the U.S. occupation, Sri Lanka in the wake of the tsunami, or New Orleans post-Katrina, she witnessed something remarkably similar. People still reeling from catastrophe were being hit again, this time with economic "shock treatment": losing their land and homes to rapid-fire corporate makeovers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING!!!

  • By Joel L Posner on 02-11-09

Fury and Agony

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

Reviewed: 03-03-16

This book is one of the most disturbing I've ever read. I'm almost 60 years old and I lived through all of this, so to hear the history of Chile, Ewan Cameron, Katrina, Iraq, 9/11 reframed in this disaster capitalism theory context is almost too awful to bear. It is a book that I could only listen to in stages because my emotional reactions were so sharp. Jennifer Wiltsie is brilliant, and my new favorite narrator. Her calm delivery is perfect, and the way she'll turn a phrase or emphasize a particular thing demonstrates complete authority over the content. Very impressive. Whether you're a leftie or a conservative, this book will shock your senses. It is an important work of journalism and theory. A stunning repudiation of the trickle-down theory of economics we've been dealing with for the past 40 years.

  • Tesla & Malone

  • Lightning's Call, Book One
  • By: Vincent J LaRosa
  • Narrated by: David Stifel
  • Length: 2 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

It's summer in New York City. All is quiet and peaceful. Or is it? An ancient evil is about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting island populace. Former Civil War cavalry sergeant Denis Malone struggles to live a normal civilian life but the nightmares persist and gain strength. What do these haunting visions mean? Meanwhile - Nikola Tesla, his eight-years-long search for the Cult of Five Stars nearly over, has just arrived in the city from overseas.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • a nice, quick read

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 05-11-16

YA Steampunk Adventure

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

Reviewed: 02-27-16

What did you love best about Tesla & Malone?

The character of Nikola Tesla, and his inventions.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

More dialogue, less description. The characters don't interact enough.

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

Mr. Stifel's narration brought the characters to life and made the description vivid.

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

Yes.

Any additional comments?

This is an excellent read for a young adult reader of about 12-15. I would have loved this book at that age. As an adult, it didn't hold my interest as much. Nikola Tesla and his steampunk inventions were well-conceived and realized. The "cult" aspect seemed cliche and the book could have been improved with a more fully fleshed-out villain; the cultists didn't seem to have enough personality to make them realistic or unique.

  • Neverland

  • By: Douglas Clegg
  • Narrated by: David Stifel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 157
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 147
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 148

For years, the Jackson family has vacationed at Rowena Wandigaux Lee's old Victorian house on Gull Island, a place of superstition and legend off the southern coast of the U.S. One particular summer, young Beau follows his cousin Sumter into a hidden shack in the woods - and christens this new clubhouse "Neverland." The rundown shack in the woods is the key to an age-old mystery, a place forbidden to all. But Neverland becomes the place where children begin to worship a creature of shadows, which Sumter calls "Lucy."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WOW! Creeped out for weeks!!!--New favourite!!!

  • By Sharron on 02-28-14

Southern Gothic

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

Reviewed: 02-16-16

I enjoyed this production. I thought David Stifel's performance was brilliant. His accent work was first rate. The book goes from being lyrical nostalgia to creepy to downright horror. The tone changes throughout the book, and so you need to give it a chance if you want to have an enjoyable experience. The sequence where Beau almost drowns is harrowing, and beautifully read by David Stifel. I've read the Harrow House series by Douglas Clegg. I think he has great ideas. But hands down this is my favorite. It's like To Kill A Mockingbird meets Pet Sematary. I would like to see Goat Dance and other novels of Clegg's made into audio versions.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful