Monday, August 31, 2009

"My Life" abridged audio version By Bill Clinton

mylife"My Life" abridged audio version
By Bill Clinton
read by author
Produced by Random House Audio
Approx 6 hours

Ever since I heard that President Bill Clinton wrote a book that was just over a thousand pages in length I was curious to find out what all he wrote. Clinton did serve two terms as President pretty much covering the 90s as president.he fought to balance the federal budget, presided over a government shutdown, beat back a conservative cultural backlash, skirmished with an ornery Saddam Hussein, ended a genocidal crisis in Bosnia, accelerated the Mideast peace process until its eventual collapse, and began to deal with the budding threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. But what Clinton is most remembered for are the scandals that plagued his efforts. Beginning with Gennifer Flowers in the 1992 campaign, to Whitewater, Travelgate, the FBI file scandal, Paula Jones and ultimately the Monica Lewinsky affair that led to his historic impeachment, Clinton endured what then First Lady Hillary Clinton termed a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to push him from office. So I'm guessing he may have had a lot to say and maybe a thousand pages could be filled.

I then took the easy way out and listened to the the abridged audio version of the book. Usually I steer away from abridged versions of a book but this time I wanted to know but at the same time the size of the book scared me off a bit. I do wish I had read the full version now and will probably be picking up that book sometime soon. But for now I think I got a good insight.

The book does do a great job of covering the decade of the 90s in politics. Many things that went through the White House affected America culturally. This book would be a nice primer when studying history and wanting to tackle the politics of the 90s. Keep in mind this is from one point of view and many of the issues were hard to look at in a black and white view. It was nice however to get his take on many of the scandals and controversies that surrounded his political career.

The book being read by President Clinton himself, seems like that could be the only way. It is nice to hear the emotion in his voice during the reading. Whenever he would talk about Ken Starr you could tell there was a touch of animosity toward Starr. As a piece of history this is a privilege to have a president speak of his presidency and life.

Speaking of Ken Starr, one of the many insights learned in this book I learned was that there was more to Ken Starr than just investigating the Monica Lewinski matter. Ken Starr was doing constantly trying to find bugs in the Clinton White House, and the Lewinski was the only thing he could find that would smear the President.

So, if you are interested in the book but afraid to tackle the full thousand or so pages give the audio book a try, I'm glad I did.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:30 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"The Demon Spirit - Part 2" The Demon Wars Saga by R.A. Salvatore

"The Demon Spirit - Part 2"
The Demon Wars Saga
by R.A. Salvatore
Multicast production
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx. 5 hours

R.A. Salvatore created a phenom in the Demon Wars Saga, spanning seven books and a role playing game. This saga of high fantasy in the Land of Corona is one of action and adventure equal to that of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy by Tolkien. In the first book, which Graphic Audio produced in audio form in three parts, the listener was introduced to the Heroes; Elbryan the Ranger, Jilesponie the warrior and wizard in training, Avelyn Desbris the Wizard Monk, Bradwarden the Centaur and Juravial the elf. The all went to battle the Demon Dactyl which had awakened and sent it's armies of dwarves/powries, goblins and giants into the Land of Corona to clear the way for the Demon to take command. Avelyn and Bradwarden and many humans lost their lives in destroying the Demon Dactyl and Elbryan and Pony returned to the humans in hopes the evil was gone.

"The Demon Spirit - part 2" continues with Elbryan, Pony and the elf, Juraviel trying their best to rid the land of Corona of Fomorian Giants, Bloody-Cap powrie dwarves and goblins. This time they run into the generals of the powries and giants and decide to destroy those higher ranking officials in hopes that without leaders the powries and giants will leave the lands and the goblins will soon follow suit. The battles ensue and when it looks like a major victory for the humans a problem arises. This problem is from one of its own. A thief turned hero by the name of Roger Lockless is Jealous of Elbryan, otherwise known as the ranger Nightbird.

To Roger it seems as though Nightbird is stealing his thunder and his possibility of being the leader of the rag-tag band of humans wanting to get their towns back from the leftover armies of the destroyed demon dactyl. Nightbird is constantly making plans for skirmishes and for routes the band should take to which Roger thinks Nightbird wants to take control. Roger must be taught the big lesson of humility, if he wants all his townfolk to remain safe, and realize his own pride is getting in the way. Juraviel, Pony and Nightbird are just the teachers for that lesson.

On the other side of the land the Abellican Church led by Father Abbot Markwart have found and are torturing the Centaur Bradwarden. Yes Bradwarden lives! Markwart is out to make the hero Avelin Desbris, who gave his life destroying the demon dactyl, seem as though he joined the dactyl and died deceiving the humans. Master Jojonah knows different and begins to see that the Church is turning into a very dark force. Pony's adopted parents are held captive by Father Markwart in hopes to find the stolen magic stones of Pimaninicut which Avelin had "stolen."

Pony's Ex-Husband, the nobleman Conner Bildeborough, learns of this and seeks out Pony, known to him as Jilly, to warn her of the danger.

Once again GraphicAudio continues the "Movie in your mind" tale in the audio book with great acting and production. This time around I found myself fascinated by the sound effects of the horses. All sound effects of the horses in this production are perfectly placed. When they need to run they run when they stop they stop. During one battle it sounds as though they recorded an actual horse stomping in the skull of an actual giant. Very realistic. Giants don't really exist do they?

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:50 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Snuff" by Chuck Palahniuk

by Chuck Palahniuk
Read by Todd McLaren
Produced by Tantor Media
approx. 5 hours

Whoa! Okay, I knew what I was getting myself into when I picked up the is Chuck Palahniuk audio book...but still, Whoa! "Snuff" is a novel that explores the dark underbelly of the world of porn but also maybe a little dark lesson on life and relationships.

This novel is told through the voices of 4 main characters as the queen of porn, Cassie Wright, brings her porn career to an end by breaking the world record for serial fornication, on camera with six hundred men. Each of the 4 characters have a huge stake in the making of this movie and as the listener jumps from inside head to head of each character to hear their story something dark unfolds. The characters are; Mr. 72, Mr. 137, Mr. 600, and Wright's personal assistant, Sheila.

Mr. 72 is a young man out to save Cassie Wright. Mr. 72 thinks he is the son of Cassie Wright whom she put up for adoption. As the book progresses it is learned that Cassie may have had what is called a "porn-child," a child conceived during filming of one her movies. Mr. 72 reveals his strange childhood with his adopted parents and the eventual discovery and lusting after who could be he mother, Cassie Wright. Very disturbing is the best way to describe the way Mr. 72 discovers who his mom could be and the way he continues to act once that discovery is made.

Mr. 137 is a has been television actor. He once had the biggest show on television in which he was a detective. However it is revealed that once the public became aware of a gay porn movie he made in his youth the studio fires him and his series is cancelled. His appearance in this record-breaking movie could get him more "face-time" and maybe he could make a comeback.

Mr. 600 is legendary porn star Branch Bacardi. Branch is considered to be the father of Cassie's porn-child, but he denies this is possible. Branch is also looking at this film to revitalize his career but his reasoning is that in filming this record breaking feat, Cassie Wright could die from an embolism. So Mr. 600 wants be known as the man who killed Cassie Wright on film.

Finally we get to the wrangler, Sheila. Sheila is Cassie Wright's personal assistant who comes up with the idea to end her career with this film. Sheila also makes it possible for the lost child of Cassie to become very rich by talking her into taking out life insurance payable to the child. Sheila is also the one who decides who is next to be filmed. The "actors" are not filmed in numerical order, but rather randomly so that editing of the film can make the film more interesting. Sheila also has a hidden secret.

This novel is very dark and disturbing but in that darkness is some funny dark humor thrown in. It can't all be tragic, I guess. Some of the funnier moments are the various names for men which Sheila comes up with. Also funny are the names of the films listed in which Cassie has starred. Neither of these will be repeated by me, knowing that some younger folk may read this, but for the movies keep in mind the running joke of porn movies renamed after "normal" movies.

Once again Chuck Palahniuk dives into the dark seedy side of life to bring out a point. Good reading or listening.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:49 PM Comments: 0

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reefer Madness Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser

Reefer Madness Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
by Eric Schlosser
Read by the author
Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio 2003

Okay one more non-fiction book and then I'll get back to some more fiction. I picked up this audio book because I read the author's book on the meat and fast food industry, "Fast Food Nation." For a while after reading that book I would not touch fast food mainly because of the gross out factor caused by Eric Schlosser's expose' of the unsafe practices in those industries. Schlosser also exposed the greed and the lack of concern for the consumer's of those same products and the employees of the companies involved. The one thing that Schlosser excelled in was in following the money.

This book is no exception, in fact that's pretty much the gist of the book, following the money. "Reefer Madness" is a look at the three pillars of the underground economy of the U.S., estimated to be ten percent of American GDP: marijuana, migrant labor, and pornography.

In Reefer Madness, the first section of the book Schlosser argues, based on usage, historical context, and consequences, for the decriminalization of marijuana. This section revolves around Mark Young of Indiana, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his relatively minor role in a marijuana deal. This is one of the examples of marijuana laws being unreal, where in many states marijuana possession can get harsher penalties than committing murder.

In the Strawberry Fields, he explores the exploitation of illegal immigrants as cheap labor, arguing that there should be better living arrangements and humane treatment of the illegal immigrants America is exploiting in the fields of California. This segment seems like either an epilogue or prologue to this previous book "Fast Food Nation." In fast food nation the migrant workers/illegal immigrants are used in meat packing in extremely unsafe conditions and with very little pay. In this segment of the book those workers are trying to squeak by on very little money doing jobs no one wants to do. In one conversation the farm owner says every once in a while some college kids come looking for work but the work is so difficult they don't last half a day.

One thing I always found curious was; Why don't the farmers that employ illegals use machinery to do the harvesting and get rid of the problem of illegals sneaking across borders to do back breaking work? Schlosser explains this, and I'm summing up the explanation here, by saying for farms to do the work with the machinery an initial purchase of said machinery would cost into the millions and right now they only spend thousands paying the migrant workers, also that we Americans like for our fruit and vegetables to not be blemished and the workers can pick with care unlike the machines.

An Empire of the Obscene details the history of pornography in American culture, starting with the eventual business magnate Reuben Sturman, an enigmatic Ohio man who started out selling discarded comic books from the back of his car goes on to buil and control a formidable pornography empire. After beating a string of obscenity charges the government finally catches Sturman in the only way possible, tax evasion. Finally the government can put Sturman behind bars. But after all the court cases against Sturman bringing down religion based obscenity laws the business of pornography becomes a major business now backed by many Fortune 500 companies.

Schlosser unravels an American society that has "become alienated and at odds with itself." Like "Fast Food Nation", this is an eye-opening book with Schlosser doing some serious investigative leg work. Schlosser doesn't really come out in support of the Porn Industry or the legalization of drugs but does point out the hypocrisy that gives a marijuana user life and a murderer 10 years as sentencing and jailing obscenity while major corporations fund it, while that same America promotes indentured servitude (slavery) for the illegal immigrants. "..the price of freedom is often what freedom brings."

Schlosser closes by arguing that such a widespread black market can only undermine the law and is indicative of the discrepancy between accepted mainstream American culture and its true nature.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:14 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories" by Chuck Palahniuk

"Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories"
by Chuck Palahniuk
Published by Anchor Books 2004

After a long run with reading some serious hardcore science fiction and fantasy novels I had to take a break and read some non-fiction. This tells you what genre my next book review will fall under. Anyway, I decided to ease into the Non-fiction by reading this book by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk. Chuck is the author of some pretty strange pieces of fiction, many of you know of "Fight Club" and maybe "Choke" both of which were made into pretty decent film adaptations. The reason I consider this book easing into the non-fiction genre is that,well, to put it bluntly, reality in Chuck Palahniuk's world can be surreal.

This book is a collection of essays, stories, and interviews written for various magazines and newspapers. Some of the pieces had also been previously published on the internet. The stories cover 3 main categories: "People Together", articles about people who find unique ways of achieving togetherness; "Portraits", interviews and short essays mostly about famous individuals; and "Personal", autobiographical pieces. The introduction to the book is Mr. Palahniuk talking about the world of writing and what it takes to be a fiction writer, very interesting, indeed. The book then breaks into the first story, "Testy Festy," which covers the immoral and deviant behavior that happens at the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival in rural Montana. From the opening line of that story I thought, uh oh, what have I gotten myself into? Well he is merely reporting the goings on of this raucous festival and it is definitely "Stranger than Fiction."

There are several stories in this collection that range from the bohemian activities of the Testicle Festival to celebrity interviews with Juliette Lewis and Marilyn Manson to some autobiographical essays in which the reader learns more details behind the murder of his father by the father's girlfriend's psychopathic ex-boyfriend.

Some of the stories are very funny and some are quite poignant. One of the funnier ones is his coverage of the Lind Combine Demolition Derby in Lind, Washington. Rednecks crashing combines seems like it would be fun. One of the stories is "The People Can" where chuck is reporting on the life of the crew on board the submarine USS Louisiana. Being an ex-Navy man myself I found the civilian insight on this story very interesting. One of the saddest stories is when he tells of his life as an assembly-line drivetrain installer by day, hospice volunteer driver by night.

So if you are a Chuck Palahniuk fan you will find this collection of true stories very interesting told from his point of view. If you have yet latched on to the writings of Palahniuk check this one out, it will prepare you for the world that is in Chuck Palahnuik's novels.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:26 PM Comments: 0

Monday, August 17, 2009

"The Atlantis Revelation" by Thomas Greanias

"The Atlantis Revelation"
by Thomas Greanias
Published 2009 by Atria Books

Thomas Greanias has closed out his Atlantis trilogy thriller featuring astro-archaeologist, Conrad Yeats. The first two books in this series not only were great action/thrillers with some puzzle/mystery solving thrown in.

In the first book, "Raising Atlantis" the reader is introduced to Conrad Yeats, an archaeologist that uses the alignment of the stars to find the great mysteries of ancient treasures. Conrad has a strange relationship w/ Sister Serghetti, a nun that is know for helping the unfortunate but with some attitude. I think the best way to describe Sister Serghetti is to take Mother Theresa and throw in a whole lot of "Tomb Raider's" Lara Croft. Serghetti and Yeats could almost become husband and wife or even just lovers if it weren't for the good Sister's marriage to Jesus Christ and the Catholic church getting in the way. This first book led the two to Antarctica to discover under the ice was the lost continent of Atlantis, which boasted great technology leading Conrad's father to take a massive transport to the original universe which seeded the Earth with human DNA.

In Book two "The Atlantis Prophecy" Yeats' father's gravestone provides an elaborate puzzle leading to the actual origin of the United States and its government. All the planning for the government in the new world was brought on by the Catholic Church, the Freemasons, the Knights Templar and many other subjects of conspiracy. This leads Conrad and Sister Serghetti to two globes, a terresterial globe and a celestial globe which when used in conjunction with each other can determine the fate of the New World. The sad part of this book is that Sister Serghetti steals one of the globes from Yeats to give to the Vatican.

Now feeling hate towards Sister Serghetti because of the betrayal, Conrad Yeats moves on. Here In book 3, "The Atlantis Revelation," Yeats begins the story with a hunt for a weapon that proves the Nazis were trying to use Technology developed in early Atlantis. The weapon is the Flammenschwert, translated from German means the flaming sword. This weapon can turn water into fire and with the Earth being over 70% water this could be dangerous in the wrong hands. The problem is that the Flammenschwert is stolen from Yeats before he can surface from the lost Nazi submarine in which it was found. This begins a chase across Europe as Yeats tries to prevent the Flammenschwert from being used to start Armageddon.

This thriller takes as from the Bilderbergers to the Alliance who all want control. All this is action is being conducted by Roman Midas a Russian multi-billionaire seeking world domination. In an adventure that takes us through to the beginning of man's exile from the Garden of Eden, Yeats, with the help of some surprising supporters tries to stop this Final War.

While this book does have some great action and some puzzle/mystery solving, it did not have the oomph of the first two books in the series. Don't get me wrong this book is a very fun, exciting romp through Europe and Ancient History, but the first two had more. Maybe because in the first two the main puzzle to solve was completely unknown, in this book the item (the Flammschwert) and the possible use was known as the thrills happened in the background.

The book does seem to bring a close to the adventures of Conrad Yeats and Sister Serghetti, or maybe just the beginning. It brings the trilogy to a full close but Greanias did leave room for more books following these two and their adventures. Greanias could go either way and I'd be happy but I would like to find more technology based in myth and legend.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:50 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"The Subtle Knife" Book 2 of "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman

"The Subtle Knife"
Book 2 of "His Dark Materials"
by Philip Pullman
Multicast performance
Produced by Listening Library

Continuing in my quest of trying to figure out why some folks are up in arms about the "His Dark Materials" books I gave this audio book a listen. To be honest, I'm still not seeing what the fuss is about. There are some minor mentions of organized religions stifling independent thought, and maybe towards the end of the book something that may be a threat to some religious zealots, but still the series seems to be just a fun adventure. Especially more so in this book as the main characters are travelling to alternater worlds/dimensions.

The story begins with Will Parry killing a man after hiding his OCD mother with a friend and setting off to find his father. The man was searching for information on Will's father. In his efforts to escape the police, he discovers a portal that leads to Cittàgazze, a city in another world. The city looks recently deserted, and Will chooses a house to find food. It is here that he meets Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pantalaimon, who came here after entering the hole in the sky that her father, Lord Asriel, created at the end of "The Golden Compass."

In Will's world Lyra uses her alethiometer to instruct her what to do. She is told to find a scholar in Will's world who is experimenting with dark matter, which is equal to Dust in Lyra's world. The scholar, Dr. Mary Malone, has created a computer to communicate with dark matter trying to prove her hypothesis that dark matter is intelligent. Lyra uses the system to communicate with the dark matter as she does with Dust through the alethiometer. This proves to Dr. Malone, who lost funding for the project and was about to be shut down, that she was on the right track. During this time a man from Lyra's world steals the alethiometer and recruits Lyra and Will to steal the Subtle Knife in return he'll give back the alethiometer. The knife can cut through any material and more importantly cut through the veil between worlds allowing the user to travel between worlds.

This story branches out in from there following the witch Serafina Pekkala, who was separated from Lyra during a battle in "The Golden Compass,"and is searching for her. She discovers that the Magisterium and Lyra's mother, Mrs. Coulter, have learned of the prophecy surrounding Lyra and plan to destroy her. She calls a meeting of the witches council. The witches vote to band together and join Lyra's father, Lord Asriel, in his fight against the Magisterium.

The Aeronaut Lee Scoresby ventures out to find the explorer Stanislaus Grumman, who is rumored to know of an object that gives protection to whomever holds it. That object is the Subtle Knife.

The book follows the separate adventurers as they travel and fight their way back together to leave a huge cliff hanger as the end of the book. Along the way people die and get hurt, but in order to leave you with something to read I'll leave it at that. Trust me this one is just as good, if not better, than the first book in the series and will leave you wanting more. Again religion is not yet threatened and the concept of free will is emphasized. So read away my friends.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:30 PM Comments: 0

Saturday, August 08, 2009

"The Demon Spirit - Part 1" The Demon Wars Saga" by R. A. Salvatore

"The Demon Spirit - Part 1"
The Demon Wars Saga"
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast production
Produced by Graphic Audio
Approx 5 hours.

R.A. Salvatore created a phenom in the Demon Wars Saga, spanning seven books and a role playing game. This saga of high fantasy in the Land of Corona is one of action and adventure equal to that of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy by Tolkien. In the first book, which Graphic Audio produced in audio form in three parts, the listener was introduced to the Heroes; Elbryan the Ranger, Jilesponie the warrior and wizard in training, Avelyn Desbris the Wizard Monk, Bradwarden the Centaur and Juravial the elf. The all went to battle the Demon Dactyl which had awakened and sent it's armies of dwarves/powries, goblins and giants into the Land of Corona to clear the way for the Demon to take command. Avelyn and Bradwarden and many humans lost their lives in destroying the Demon Dactyl and Elbryan and Pony returned to the humans in hopes the evil was gone.

Graphic Audio once again will knock you out of your socks with their superb audio production of this audio book. From the swords clanging to giant's skulls being bashed in to the screams of goblin agonies, Graphic Audio makes all the moments of battle or peace in this audio book seem as if they were recorded live and on the spot, placing you in the center of the action.

"The Demon Spirit - Part 1" tells the story of how after destroying the Demon Dactyl, Elbryan and Pony set off to return to their homeland hoping that the end of the Dactyl means the end of evil on the land. This is not the case, instead the armies of the Dactyl are now scattered throughout the land of Corona with no leader. The armies, giants and dwarves are wreaking havoc on the land. Elbryan and Pony meet up with Juraviel the elf and he tells them of how the Dactyl may have ruined the lands of the elves forever and that the humans could lose the battles with the leftover armies of the Dactyl. They then team up and decide to rid the land of the Demon Spirit left behind.

In the meantime the monks of St.-Mere-Abelle still believe that Avelyn Desbris has become in legion with the Dactyl and the monks set out to destroy Avelyn not knowing that he was the hero who destroyed the Dactyl. The monks head to the Barbicon and Mount Aida to recover the magic gemstones Avelyn stole from the monestary and to destroy Avelyn. When they arrive at the Barbicon a different story is told in the destruction that is found. But it seems the Demon Spirit has infiltrated the monks and maybe they don't want the truth to be know.

Great Production, Great acting and most of all a great story make this yet another Graphic Audio Production to seek out and enjoy.

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:53 PM Comments: 0

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Innocent in Death" by J.D. Robb

"Innocent in Death"
by J.D. Robb
Read by Susan Ericksen
Produced by Brilliance Audio 2007

I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse that the " Death" series of books are written by J.D. Robb, a pseudonym for Nora Roberts. I love the brilliant detective/mystery/thriller aspect of the writing, but Nora Robb creeps in the stories and you get that bodice busting romance type feel during moments of these books. I personally read them for the sci-fi detective novels aspect and just kind of skim inevitable romance and skip over the gratuitous sex, not that I'm a prude, it's just they seemed forced into the story. With that out of the way let's talk about what draws me to these books.

Lt. Eve Dallas is a take names / kick butt NYPSD homicide detective that always cracks the case. This series of books is set in the mid 21st Century around the year 2060. Dallas is married to the richest man on and off planet, Roarke. One of the things that makes this series interesting to me is the cast of characters. Dallas' assistant Detective Delia Peabody and Electronics Detective McNabb are just a couple of characters that make these books fun. I think Peabody is the queen of sarcasm.

The audio books in this series (including this book) are read by Susan Ericksen. Her voice work is phenomenal. She has a unique voice for each character and makes the listening to these books even more fun.

"Innocent in Death" begins with the death of a private school teacher. The teacher is found dead at his desk in his own filth. Obviously this leads to Lt. Dallas to suspect poisoning and the school becomes a crime scene. Who would want to kill this teacher. He was newly married and him and his wife were overwhelmingly in love, so rule out the spouse. He did however find out about another teacher making unwanted sexual advances on one of the school employees. Maybe it was a cover up. But soon the teacher that was suspected is found dead. Dallas must catch the killer before another dies.

With no known motives and various backgrounds of the victims this one has her stumped. But soon she comes to a suspect that surprises all. The problem with this case is not the lack of evidence, but, and here's where the Nora Roberts writing takes over, Lt. Dallas' husband, Roarke, is visited by one of his old flames that wants to relight that flame. This drives a wedge between Roarke and Dallas and between Dallas and her work.

With an ending to surprise all, I'd recommend this book for the detective story enthusiast, however, this is one of those books in the series that leans highly on the romance novel side of Nora Roberts.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:20 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, August 06, 2009

"The Lost Throne" By Chris Kuzneski

"The Lost Throne"
By Chris Kuzneski
Published August, 2009
by Putnam

I'm not sure who started the trend of treasure hunting, globe hopping, action and adventure novels, but I hope it is not one that ever goes away, especially after reading this latest novel from Chris Kuzneski. In Kuzneski's latest novel "The Lost Throne" a cast of characters hop the European continent in search of treasure and tracking down murderers with some great thrills to keep you glued to every page in this book.

If you haven't read a Chris Kuzneski novel, the best way to describe it is that his writing is very much his own. Okay, If I have to compare for the sake of introduction I'll say he's a bit of James Patterson, Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, James Rollins, with a twist of Tom Clancy for flavor. Simmer down until you have a heaping dish of thrills, action, adventure, and humor. Kuzneski’s novels follow the adventures of Jonathon Payne and David "D.J." Jones, former members of the MANIACs an elite Special Forces unit in the U.S. military, the main characters are ex-soldiers,but the novels are not “military” thrillers. The relationship and the resulting dialogue between these two is very real and at times very funny. And to top it off all there's a puzzle that you will be trying to solve alongside Payne and Jones.

"The Lost Throne" starts out with two separate sets of murders. One in a nearly unknown Greek Orthodox Monastery, in which 7 monks are beheaded while the group of assassins try to find a book. The other is a single man assassinated in St. Petersburg, Russia in broad daylight, both are professional but other than that seem unrelated.

Interpol agent Nick Dial takes on the case in Greece where the monks are murdered. Upon arrival he gets the gut feeling that something bigger than murder is at stake. The monks were at the monastery for a secret meeting between a group of Orthodox monks that come from various nationalities. Dial soon discovers that the monks had some modern facilities and on a security camera tape an image is caught of one of the assassins. The assassins seem to be Spartans, yes the same from Sparta, the subject of the film and comic book "300," from the battle of Thermopylae. The Spartans were after something and when Dial discovers the beheaded monks heads in a pyramid stack in a hidden chamber within the monastery he must find out why.

On the other side of the world the Heroes Payne and Jones are called upon for help. But the problem is that Payne mistakes the ringing of his cell phone for the ringing of the hotel phone and at 3 am he knocks the cell phone down getting to the other, thus breaking the cell phone. The next day after Jones fixes the phone (yes, he's a tech expert) he finds that every half hour an call came through his phone. The caller is an academic named Richard Byrd. Byrd fears for his life because he has nearly uncovered the location of a magnificent treasure. But there are those who have dedicated their lives to protecting it, and they will stop at nothing to prevent its discovery.

After Byrd is discovered to be assassinated Payne and Jones are called on to help smuggle Byrd's assistant out of Russia for her safety. There is the plight for the treasure uncovered and eager to help in all ways Payne and Jones seek to solve the puzzle of what the treasure is and where it is located.

With some great fights, chases, espionage-like moments and the fun humor of Payne and Jones, "The Lost Throne" will keep you on the edge of your seat and eager to help solve this mystery.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:06 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"The Demon Awakens - Part 3" The Demon Wars Saga book 1 by R. A. Salvatore

"The Demon Awakens - Part 3"
The Demon Wars Saga book 1
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast production
Produced by Graphic Audio

The beginning of a new era comes to a close in part three of the high fantasy saga, The Demon Wars, by R. A. Salvatore. The demon Dactyl has awakened and has put together an army to destroy the land of Corona. The army is invading the towns and villages of Corona and the humans are slowly overcoming their denial and under the tutelage of Elbryan, Pony, Avelyn and Bradwarden and beginning to fight back. R.A. Salvatore has created a story that runs through seven books and is the basis of the role-playing game, Demon Wars. Now teamed up with Graphic Audio, these books come to life as an audio adaptation. In order to do justice to the books, Graphic Audio is producing each title of the series in multiple parts. This is the third of three parts which make up the first title, The Demon Awakens.

Once the villagers and townsfolk experience for themselves the devastation brought on by armies of goblins, powries and giants they realize the warnings have been true. Elbryan the Ranger, Pony the warrior and wizard in training, Avelyn (the Mad Monk) the Wizard and Bradwarden the centaur have trained some of the remaining humans in how to fight back against these foes. Once the humans are able to somewhat fend for themselves, the trainers must take on their own quest and leave for the Demon Dactyl's lair in Mount Aida to defeat Bestesbulzibar, the Dactyl himself.

This audio book is filled with numerous battle scenes and skirmishes and once again Graphic Audio has produced the "Movie in your Mind" with such talent and ambiance that the actual battles become more than real in this listening experience. Not to give anything away but when the heroes arrive at Mount Aida the volcano in the mountain and all the creatures defending the Demon Dactyl's throne come alive and the listener easily becomes lost in this epic battle. Graphic Audio not only provides great voice talent but the sound effects and ambient music are a bit of wizardry in themselves.

This audio book should be on any an well respected fantasy fan, and should be added to those who love great adventure. R. A. Salvatore has taken the fantasy realm and added some nice bonuses. The wizards in this realm are monks that use a variety of gems, crystals and stones to perform their magic. Each stone has its own power and Salvatore has made the magic within seem almost obvious and yet still maintain the creativity within their use.

Bradwarden the centaur has to be my favorite character, not only is he strong, smart and musically inclined with the bagpipes, but he also has a wit that creates a perfect fit within the group of heroes attempting to defeat the evil invading their land. Oh yeah, and he sometimes eats his victims.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:28 PM Comments: 0