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  • One Second After

  • By: William R. Forstchen
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,414
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,405
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,430

Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon - the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Realistic Worst Nightmare

  • By Kurt Schwoppe on 03-02-17

America goes back to Dark Ages

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

Reviewed: 11-30-18

One Second After acts as a warning to America about what our future could be. As a country our 'just in time' distribution of goods and resources makes us particularly vulnerable to any type of disruption and when an EMP instantly disables all of our electronic devices it shows how completely unprepared we are for what happens next. This terrifying look at life in a small North Carolina town after the United States suffers an EMP attack has been cited in Congress and discussed in the Pentagon and it makes for an interesting read. I for one found the realism of the scenario far scarier to consider than the more typical approach to the end of the world that is usually filled with zombies or aliens.

The book follows John Matherson, a retired Army Colonel, as he tries to protect himself, his family, and his community in a nightmare scenario. Like everyone in the story, John must weigh doing what is right for the community verses doing what he needs to do to ensure the survival of his own family. One of his daughters is diabetic and when he finally realizes that the power will be out for the foreseeable future he knows that without a constant supply of insulin, and the required refrigeration, she will die.

And that is just scratching the surface of the magnitude of the problems everyone will face. Modern vehicles don't work which means no sanitation, no new medical supplies, and of course, no new food arriving for this small community. The local government finds itself unprepared for the hard choices it now needs to make about the rationing of food, controlling the spread of disease, and even forming a militia to provide protection against those who would take what little they have.

I found this to be a good read and it certainly makes one think about how prepared you actually are for your way of life to be disrupted. It is one of the more realistic apocalypse genre books and has you considering what you would do if you ever found yourself in this scenario.

Joe Barrett does a decent job on the narration and his performance brings an appropriate sense of urgency to what is happening.

  • Hell Divers IV: Wolves

  • The Hell Divers Series, Book 4
  • By: Nicholas Sansbury Smith
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,548
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,409
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,404

The Sea Wolf sets out to search for the Metal Islands. Leading the expedition is legendary Hell Diver Xavier Rodriguez. After enduring a decade on the poisoned surface, his survival skills will be put to the test on the dangerous open seas. But storms, sea monsters, and the cannibalistic Cazadores aren't the only threat to X and his small crew. Their mission will uncover hard truths about the history of the war that left humankind stranded in the air for centuries. The fate of those still living on the airships might very well rest on this perilous journey to find a new home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best Yet!!!

  • By Natalie @ ABookLoversLife on 11-06-18

More post-apocalyptic action

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

Reviewed: 11-17-18

This book picks up shortly after the end of Deliverance with X and Magnolia aboard the Sea Wolf looking for the Metal Islands as a potential home on the surface. Of course finding that new home is really just an excuse that X used to justify this mission and his real agenda is to kill the leader of the cannibalistic Cazadores who live in the Metal Islands. X quickly finds out that the sea is just as dangerous as the land and the mission goes south quickly as all manner of unexpected obstacles need to be overcome. The action sequences come one after another and let up just long enough for the story arc to move forward as the true cause of the war that devastated the planet is finally discovered.

While things remain dangerous for X and Magnolia on the sea, up in the sky circumstances have gotten much better. Captain DaVita has two airships at her disposal and the quality of life for the inhabitants has greatly improved, although a settled life in the air isn't for everyone. X may have an ulterior motive for seeking the Metal Islands but Captain DaVita actually wants that new home down on the surface and she will do whatever it takes to make that happen, even risking that new found stability.

This book jumps from one action sequence to another and just when it was starting to feel like it might be mostly filler the story arc progresses just enough and the ending leaves you wanting more. I have grown to care about the characters and I can't wait for the next installment to see how it plays out. R. C. Bray has established himself as one of the best narrators around and he delivers another excellent performance here. His performance as X is spot on.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Children of Time

  • By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Narrated by: Mel Hudson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17,658
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,457
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,431

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed stand-alone novel Children of Time is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet. Who will inherit this new Earth? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating Premise Within an Excellent Story

  • By Kurt Schwoppe on 07-30-17

A unique story of accelerated evolution

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

Reviewed: 11-14-18

Children of Time won the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel and it is easy to see why. The story is rather unique despite the fact that the sci-fi concepts within are familiar ones: accelerated evolution, humanity seeking a new home after destroying Earth, cryostasis for long space journeys, and uploading one's persona into a computer, to name just a few. The story takes place in two main locales - a planet that has been terraformed by humanity for the sole purpose of running an accelerated evolution experiment and an ark ship that contains 500,000 humans in cryostasis looking for a new home. It is the evolutionary side of the story that is very unique and that makes things all the more interesting when the two threads finally converge.

The very beginning of the story sets the stage as we learn about the experiment to be conducted by Dr. Kurn and her engineered nanovirus that causes accelerated evolution to take place. Dr Kurn and her like-minded associates view this as a step forward for humanity as life from Earth is spread to other worlds and evolution is initiated in the manner of gods. Of course humanity is not united in this perspective and there are those among the population who oppose such arrogance and are willing to fight to the death to stop it from happening. These two points of view clash in a somewhat contrived start to the story that results in the unplanned outcome which is what makes this story so unique.

Suffice it to say that I quickly got over the contrived start and became very interested in how things progressed on Kurn's world. The manner in which Tchaikovsky reveals the evolution taking place is very well done. Although this book is far from perfect it was refreshing to experience such a unique story with an ending that did not disappoint. I definitely recommend it and understand why it won the award it did.

Mel Hudson also does an excellent job on the narration and makes it easy to keep track of all the different characters.

  • The Raven Boys

  • By: Maggie Stiefvater
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,055
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,743
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,746

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them - not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stiefvater does it again!

  • By C. ALLINGER on 09-20-12

An interesting modern day fantasy

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

Reviewed: 11-04-18

The Raven Boys is a modern fantasy targeted at young adults, which leaves me way out of the target demographic, and yet it still managed to keep me interested from beginning to end. Set in the fictitious town of Henrietta, Virginia the story quickly introduces us to Blue Sargent, a young girl who lives with her psychic mother and her mother's psychic friends. Blue is the only non-seer in her house but she has an innate ability to make psychic phenomena louder so her presence is often coveted by her housemates. For each of the last ten years on St Mark's Eve Blue has accompanied her mother to an abandoned churchyard believed to be located on a ley line where the soon-to-be-dead will walk past. This year Blue accompanies her half-aunt Neeve to the churchyard instead thus allowing her gift of amplification to make it easier for Neeve to see which locals are going to die within the next year. Blue expects it to be just another evening spent out in the cold, as she never sees anything when she goes, but this year turns out to be different...

Living in a house full of psychics has many drawbacks and of course one of them is that you are told things that you might not want to know. In Blue's case she has always been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her one true love he will die. So when Blue sees a teenage boy on St. Mark'e Eve she has to wonder why and things get more complicated when her half aunt Neeve explains: 'There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve, either you're his true love . . . or you killed him.' This is the event that sets things in motion for Blue and the three raven boys, who will all be brought together by fate in the near future.

Maggie Stiefvater craftily mixes Welch folklore, the paranormal, and life in the southeastern United States to kick off the series in an interesting way. So if you are in the mood for something a little different in the fantasy genre you might consider giving this a try. WIll Patton does a fine job as the narrator and he creates the right mood for the material.

  • Points of Impact

  • Frontlines, Book 6
  • By: Marko Kloos
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,462
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,312
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,306

Earth's armed forces have stopped the Lanky advance and chased their ships out of the solar system, but for CDC officer Andrew Grayson, the war feels anything but won. On Mars, the grinding duty of flushing out the twenty-meter-tall alien invaders from their burrows underground is wearing down troops and equipment at an alarming rate. And for the remaining extrasolar colonies, the threat of a Lanky attack is ever present.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Boring

  • By Allen on 01-19-18

Mostly filler but I still enjoyed it.

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

Reviewed: 10-20-18

This book starts a few years after the last one and despite the jump forward in time the planet Mars remains a stalemate between the human and Lanky forces. Humanity has established control of the skies above Mars but no matter how many Lankies are killed there always seems to be more of them. The human forces on Mars are wearing down every day as both ships and personnel are succumbing to battle fatigue and Andrew Grayson knows that humanity will not win this war of attrition. We continually rush new recruits into service aboard ships that are well past their prime but eventually the Lankies will get reinforcements and the house of cards will come tumbling down. This is unless we find a way to change the game...

So far we have been fighting the Lankies in ships designed to fight other human ships and killing them with weapons designed to kill other humans but that is finally going to change. A new class of ship designed specifically for taking out Lanky siege ships is on the horizon and it may finally be time for us to go on the offensive. Of course the lack of veteran soldiers to man any new ship is still an issue but beggars can't be choosers. Andrew and Haley have both earned the right to be at the forefront of this new endeavor but they are also both carrying a lot of mental baggage that threatens to push them over the edge.

I think if I was binge reading this series I would be disappointed in what Marko Kloos is offering up here but since it has been a while for me since I read the last book I enjoyed getting to spend more time with the main characters. Even so I will admit it just doesn't advance the main storyline enough to be considered one of the better books in the series. So if you are a fan of the series and it has been a while for you as well then pick this one up; however, if you just finished the prior book then I would hold off on this one. Just wait until the next book comes out and then start back up with this one and I bet you will be happier that you did. According to Marko there will be three more books in the series after this and I am still excited to see how it all ends.

Luke Daniels is back at the mic and his excellent narration instantly pulls you right back into the battle just like you never left.

  • Fallen Dragon

  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 26 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,462
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,357
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,355

In the distant future, corporations have become sustainable communities with their own militaries, and corporate goals have essentially replaced political ideology. On a youthful, rebellious impulse, Lawrence joined the military of a corporation that he now recognizes to be ruthless and exploitative. His only hope for escape is to earn enough money to buy his place in a better corporation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another awesome book.

  • By Brian M. Jeffries on 11-13-16

A unique take on human expansion to other planets.

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

Reviewed: 10-16-18

Peter F. Hamilton offers up a different perspective on human colonization of space this time around and instead of unbridled success humanity quickly finds the concept to be financially non-viable after the first wave of colony planets are established. With the companies behind the initial expansion going heavily into debt a new form of corporate terrorism begins to arise. Financially failing colonies are purchased by investors on Earth who then send military forces there to conduct "asset realization" missions where they take by force anything that will have value back on Earth. This is a completely legal thing to do from an Earth based perspective but the colony inhabitants don't take too kindly to these "invading" forces and it is one such asset realization mission that acts as the main backdrop for the story of Fallen Dragon.

The story is told from 3 main point of view characters all with very different backgrounds and perspectives. One being a teenage boy growing up on a colony world who dreams of space exploration in an era where the concept is dying quickly, a second being a clone that hold a key role in one of the asset realization military forces, and the third being a colony inhabitant that is part of a resistance cell fighting back against the asset realization forces. Eventually circumstances lead all 3 of these individuals to the crux of the story when it builds to a resolution in typical Hamilton fashion. I don't want to spoil the plot but the real story doesn't actually surface until you understand why the book is titled Fallen Dragon and by that point it is quickly driving to a conclusion.

This is a typical Hamilton novel with a story that explores what it means to be human as the story traverses multiple detailed worlds with lots of interesting future technologies. If you are a fan of his work then you should not hesitate to pick this one up. As is typical for Hamilton's sci-fi audiobooks, John Lee is the narrator and he does his usual excellent job bringing all the characters to life, making this a worthy listen all around.

  • The Diamond Age

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Wiltsie
  • Length: 18 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,777
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,606
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,625

Neal Stephenson, "the hottest science fiction writer in America", takes science fiction to dazzling new levels. The Diamond Age is a stunning tale; set in 21st-century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens what a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life, and the entire future of humanity, is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The rock could use a bit more polishing

  • By Tango on 05-19-13

A weird sci-fi fairy tale

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

Reviewed: 10-11-18

As he did in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson once again constructs a bizarre dystopian world composed of an eclectic combination of future technologies and ancient traditions and uses it as the backdrop to tell a unique story. At its core this is a coming of age tale about a young girl named Nell who comes to possess a very special book known as the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. This book is an engineering marvel that is fully interactive and capable of customizing itself to match its reader in order to prepare them for the challenges they will face on their journey to adulthood. In Nell's case the book ultimately winds up raising her in place of her parents and it enables her to survive amid the chaos that eventually comes her way from the unpredictable society around her.

Despite the wondrous technologies present in this future, like matter compilers capable of creating almost anything and cities with their own nanite based immune systems in the air, it is the Primer that takes center stage in the story.  Stephenson uses it to explore the role that technology could play in raising children in the future and the potential impact that would have on society.  You should know going in that this book ends abruptly and one is left to draw their own conclusions as to the ultimate impact on society caused by the Primer. if you want a nice ending where all the loose ends are tied up then this book is not for you. However, if you like the weird technological societies that come from the mind of Neal Stephenson then I would suggest you pick this one up and draw your own conclusions about the meaning of the ending.

Jennifer Wiltsie does a decent job as the narrator and her voice is an excellent fit for the young female protagonist Nell.

  • Paradise

  • Expeditionary Force, Book 3
  • By: Craig Alanson
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 15 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 25,674
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 24,071
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,978

While the crew of the starship Flying Dutchman have been trying to assure people that hostile aliens do not have access to Earth, the UN Expeditionary Force has been stranded on the planet they nicknamed "Paradise". The Flying Dutchman is headed back out on another mission, and the UN wants the ship to find out the status of the humans on Paradise.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • running out of ideas...

  • By Amazon Customer on 06-08-17

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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

Reviewed: 08-10-18

If you are considering picking up book 3 of the Expeditionary Force series then you already know what to expect as the formula doesn't change at all. Facing an impossible situation Colonel Joe will come up with a clever idea that somehow eluded Skippy's vast intellect and then the crew of the Flying Dutchman will execute the plan, which in turn will lead to the next impossible situation. (Lather. Rinse. Repeat.) Of course the entire sequence of events is always laden with the typical banter between Skippy and Joe so the only real hope of this book being something unique is the progression of the larger story arc but is that enough to make it worthy of your time?

I must admit that it was the title of the book, and my desire to know the fate of the Expeditionary Force soldiers who were stranded on the planet Paradise, that convinced me to continue with the series because the repetitive nature of the story telling was fully evident in book 2. Conditions on Paradise are pretty bleak for the humans stranded there who are nothing more than refugees with nowhere to go. As two alien races fight for control of the planet the humans stranded there also fight over which side they want to ally with, and no outcome seems favorable. That is until the Flying Dutchman secretly implements one of Joe's plans to help encourage a more positive outcome for UNEF.

Unfortunately the overall story arc moved forward so little in this book that ultimately I do not feel it was worth it. As always there were some funny moments along the way, but the perfect balance of sci-fi and humor that made this series enjoyable now feels crushed under the weight of the repetitive nature of the story telling. So I would advise you to only pick this one up if you know that the Skippy-Joe interactions will be enough to keep you entertained. I enjoyed my time with this series but as of now do not plan to continue. 

R.C. Bray once again does a great job with the narration and I look forward to hearing him more in the future.

  • SpecOps

  • Expeditionary Force, Book 2
  • By: Craig Alanson
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 15 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,743
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 19,693
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,628

Colonel Joe Bishop made a promise, and he's going to keep it: taking the captured alien starship Flying Dutchman back out. He doesn't agree when the UN decides to send almost 70 elite Special Operations troops, hotshot pilots, and scientists with him; the mission is a fool's errand he doesn't expect to ever return from. At least this time, the Earth is safe, right? Not so much.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Repetitive and watered-down

  • By Daniel on 04-26-17

More of the same, perhaps too much...

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

Reviewed: 07-30-18

If you enjoyed book one of the Expeditionary Force series and wanted more of the same kind of humor then Craig Alanson has you covered here; however, if you were starting to get tired of hearing "stupid monkey" insults being hurled at the human crew of the Flying Dutchman, then you should definitely steer clear of this one. The story heads back into space when Joe Bishop and an elite crew of special forces and scientists attempt to help Skippy find the Elders who created him. A mission that must be carried out in secrecy because if anyone figures out that humanity has a ship capable of traveling through wormholes then Earth will become a target once again. But there is no need to worry because nothing will go wrong with Joe Bishop and Skippy working together to lead the mission, right? lol

The Elders transcended physical form long ago and left behind traces of their vast civilization, but at this point they are more legend than anything else. Is it even possible to make contact with them?  Joe and Skippy do make a great team but their combined intellect may not be enough to solve this mystery, and doing it in a stolen ship may not be possible at all.  Of course, no matter how much sci-fi is served up as the story progresses, the insult laden, military style humor keeps things light even when things get dire. The universe makes for a formidable adversary and no plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Alanson's nice mix of military sci-fi and humor made Columbus Day a real standout in the genre and I appreciate that he didn't want to mess with his formula too much, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. By the time this one was over, I had grown tired of the sameness of both the problem solving and the humorous character interactions.  I was thinking that might be enough for me to walk away from the series; however, the title of the next book is "Paradise" and since I definitely want to find out what happened to the UNEF forces trapped on that planet, I have decided to go for at least one more book in this series. No matter how it turns out, I am glad I got to spend a lot of time with Joe and Skippy and appreciate that they have renewed my interest in the humorous sub genre of Sci-Fi.

R.C. Bray once again knocks it out of the park as the narrator and he makes listening to this series a pleasure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Columbus Day

  • Expeditionary Force, Book 1
  • By: Craig Alanson
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 16 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27,227
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 25,907
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,851

The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon came ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There went the good old days, when humans got killed only by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits. When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sci Fi I didn't know I wanted

  • By Gary Glenn on 06-27-17

Laugh out loud funny.

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

Reviewed: 07-18-18

I have a pretty poor track record when it comes to humorous Sci-Fi books. It is not uncommon for me to get my hopes up by reading reviews that claim a book is hilarious only to be disappointed when I discover that the humor just doesn't resonate with me. In fact, I have been disappointed enough times to usually steer clear of this sub genre, so I am glad that I took a chance and decided to give Columbus Day a try.  Perhaps my past experiences kept my expectations low, but this book managed to not only keep me interested but it also had me laughing out loud at times.  Kudos to Craig Alanson for finding a nice balance between serious sci-fi topics and irreverent humor that kept me interested in the story for more than just the laughs.

This one starts the way many a sci-fi book does, with an attack on Earth out of nowhere by an alien race with vastly superior technology. Of course, those aliens may have power armor and advanced weaponry but are they really ready for the likes of Army Specialist Joe Bishop? Probably not and that is where the fun starts. Bishop always finds himself in the right place at the wrong time and it seems the universe always has a way of ensuring that something bizarre is in store for him. Right from the beginning Bishop's sense of humor endeared him to me as a main character and I happily went along for the wild ride that was in store for him the rest of the way.

At times, the story is deeper than one would expect for a book with this kind of humor and that is both a blessing and a curse that keeps you on your toes. Just when you think things have gotten pretty serious and you are starting to consider what it actually means to be human, a new character gets introduced that dials up the nonsense to 11. This is likely the make or break point for every reader and you will either find it funny enough to continue or walk away in disgust for having wasted your time. I did not bounce off this one at all  and I enjoyed it enough to continue on with the series.

As far as the narrator goes, R. C. Bray just knocks this one out of the park. Having listened to other books by Bray I would not have pegged him for having the ability to handle the range required to pull this off but I could not have been more wrong in my thinking. His performance is perfect and I am certain he makes the experience much better than just reading.