Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Time's Eye" A Time Odyssey, Book One by Arthur c. clarke and Stephen Baxter

"Time's Eye"
A Time Odyssey, Book One
by Arthur c. clarke and Stephen Baxter
read by John Lee
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Unabridged Approx. 11.5 hours


When It comes to science-fiction there are some authors that just have to be read. Any true sci-fi fan has read at least one Arthur C. Clarke novel, the most often mentioned would be "2001, a Space Odyssey." "2001..." was only book one of what turned out to be a four book odyssey in Arthur C. Clarke's future vision of religion, intelligence and mystery. This time around Sir Clarke has teamed up with Stephen Baxter to create another odyssey through space and time.

The total series came out to three books but the third book was published as the final chapter in the series and yet did not conclude the plot. The final book was published in December of 2007 and Arthur C. Clarke died in March of 2008 so we may never really know if there was a fourth book intended. However each of these books can be read as independent works of great science-fiction.

Blackstone audio has recently produced the first book, "Time's Eye," with John Lee as the reader. John Lee does what seems like a nearly impossible task of singlehandedly voicing the characters and brings them to life by using a diverse range of accents. This is no easy job since the characters range from British soldiers from the 1880s, ancient Greeks, Macedonians, Babylonians, Mongolians, Afghanis, Russians and Texans. John Lee keeps each character separate with their own accent and attitude.

The premise of this book creates a great "What if?" scenario. What if Alexander the Great were to battle Ghengis Khan? That question is answered in what turns out to be a great mashup of historical figures in a new world.

The story begins with an Australopithecus being (the possible missing link) observing a silver orb in the sky. She is then captured by British Empire (circa 1880) soldiers who are guarding a fort in India. The discovery of this strange creature and the floating silver orb is interrupted by the crash of a strange flying object. This object turns out to be a U.N. peacekeeper helicopter with its 3 crew members from the year 2037. The British Soldiers investigate the crash and soon befriend the crew, even though 2 of the crew turn out to be of Indian and Afghan descent.

After talking with each other the time castaways figure out they are some how in a strange timeslip that has something to do with these suddenly appearing "eyes," the silver orbs. Soon the 2037 castaways, the moderns, discover that they are not the only ones from 2037. Floating above the Earth, or whatever this newly formed planet consisting of slices of various times from Earth's history is, a Russian Soyuz capsule is returning from the space station and gets caught in the timeslip and returns to earth. They contact each other using ham radios and more is learned as the 2 cosmonauts and one astronaut from Texas, send pictures from space of the new planet they dub "Mir."

With no ground control the Soyuz capsule lands in the middle of Mongolia. The ruler of the nomadic tribes of Mongolia is the great Genghis Khan. One of the warlords immediately beheads one of the cosmonauts, leaving the other two to think fast. They go to Genghis Khan as emissaries of Heaven. Back in India, the armies of Alexander the Great meet up with the British soldiers and the first band of Moderns. Both groups decide to trek to Babylon, since that is the location of a mysterious radio signal each group of Moderns has detected.

After many months the two groups reach Babylon to battle for rights of the land.

In what turns out to be a very interesting social commentary on the ideas of peace and humankind's ability to hold the peace, Arthur C. Clark and Stephen Baxter have created an intriguing time odyssey.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:02 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Demon Apostle (Part 3 of 3)" The Demon Wars Saga Book 3 by R. A. Salvatore

"The Demon Apostle (Part 3 of 3)"
The Demon Wars Saga Book 3
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast performance
produced by GraphicAudio (2009)
approx 5 hours.

R.A. Salvatore created a world of fantasy in which the magicks rested in gemstones, the elves trained one ranger in each generation to protect the forests and people of the outlying areas of the kingdom of Honce-the-Bear, and the Abellican church seeks power over the the state. In this magical Land of Corona, wherein lies Honce-the-Bear, there are many mythical and magical creatures; elves, centaurs, dwarves, giants, and goblins, but the enemy of man turns out to be none of these. Instead man's worst enemy is himself, especially in the form of Religion and Politics.

GraphicAudio has produced the first three books in Salvatore's "Demon Wars Saga" and this audio book brings to a close the third book in the first trilogy of the Demon Wars. Each book in the trilogy has been divided into three parts making it, in my opinion, easier to consume the "Movie In Your Mind" production. While each segment leaves you ready to dive into the next installment, with the superb sound effects, music and acting, the mind needs the intermission. If only enough time to grab more popcorn and begin the next.

In this final section of the final book of the first trilogy of "The Demon Wars Saga," Elbryan the Ranger, Bradwarden the centaur and Roger Lockless have escorted 5 Abellican monks to Mount Aida on a quest to view the place where the renegade Abellican monk-named-heretic, Avelyn Desbris died defeating the demon dactyl Bestesbulzibar. This battle, while defeating the physical form of the demon, released the demon's spirit so it could possess the father of the Abellican Church Father Abbott Markwart. Markwart has, under possession of the demon, has turned the church in a direction away from God and the young monks wish to turn the Church back by possibly canonizing Avelyn. Markwart will do all he can to stop this.

Back in Palmaris, one of the major cities of Honce-the-Bear, Elbryan's wife and disciple of Avelyn (she can battle with the best and use the magic of the gemstones), Pony, is pregnant with Elbryan's child and in hiding. When Father Abbott Markwart pays a political visit to Palmaris, Pony tries to exact revenge on the man who killed her adopted parents by attempting to assassinate Markwart throught he magic of the gemstones. Her plot seems to have succeed by sending a lodestone through Markwart's skull, but to the amazement of the monks the father abbot survives. He now seeks revenge on Pony. In a battle between the spirits of Pony and Markwart, Markwart removes the baby from Pony. Pony believes the baby to be killed but the elves Belli'mar Juraviel and queen of the elves, Lady Dasselrond, take the baby back to the elven lands.

These events all come to their apex in a battle between the powerful Markwart and the spirit of the demon within and Elbryan and Pony. With superb sound effects in this production you will easily lose yourself in the land of Corona and the magical battles within.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:56 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"52" Parts 1 & 2 by Greg Cox

"52" Parts 1 & 2
by Greg Cox
Multicast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 12 hours

"52" was a weekly comic published by DC comic beginning May of 2006. This comic covered a year in the DC Universe where just following the "Infinite Crisis" The world's greatest superheroes were missing but there was no lack of super powered heroes. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are missing after saving the world, the universe, and the multi-verse from a version of Lex Luthor trying to make his perfect world. But the world is not without its superheroes. The main heroes in this year long comic publication are a mixed batch of interesting characters.

Booster Gold and his robot/computer sidekick , Skeets, are in Metropolis. Booster is a time traveler from the 25th century and with the aid of Skeets they prevent crimes and disasters by referring to the timeline recorded in Skeets memory.

Supernova, whose identity is unknown and at the same time key to the entire "52" plot line, is a hero that makes a sudden appearance in Metropolis, surprising both Clark Kent and Booster Gold.

Black Adam, who was originally a villain, an opposite to Captain Marvel/Shazam. At the beginning of "52" Black Adam is somewhat of a dictator over the country of Khandaq. He is trying to form an alliance with countries like, Iraq, Iran et. al. to protect their citizens. A world wide crime organization called Intergang tries to gain support from Black Adam by offering him a woman they captured as a slave. Black Adam retaliates and kills the gang representatives and through her frankness the woman becomes Black Adam's wife. After showing Black Adam "how to be good," he takes her to the Rock of Eternity, once guarded by the wizard Shazam, now guarded by Captain Marvel. There he pleads his case and she becomes Isis. Isis and Black Adam seek out Isis brother who was enslaved by Intergang. When he is found he has been severely beaten by Intergang to the point he cannot walk. Black Adam gives the boy some of his own powers and he becomes Osiris. Now Black Adam has a family similar to that of the Marvel family. But Intergang is not happy with Black Adam's rejection.

The Question and Officer Montoya play the parts of catalysts between all the goings on. First they thwart a terrorist bombing attempt at Black Adam's wedding. Then they prevent the death of the new Bat-Woman, by stopping intergang and their twisted religion of crime from sacrificing Gotham City's new hero. Montoya discovers The Question has terminal cancer and discovers he has been training her to become the new Question.

Through the one year publication of the comic Booster Gold becomes an anti-hero, Skeets begins taking on an evil identity bent on domination. Super Nova takes Booster's place as Metropolis' new hero and through the help of Rip Hunter, another time traveler attempts to stop Skeets' evil plans. (Great time travel paradoxes in this plot line.) Black Adam saves his country from famine, only to have his family destroyed by the Four Horsemen and he then seeks his revenge on the Horsemen, Intergang and the scientists that created them and starts World War III. Montoya and Nightwing then assist Bat-Woman in protecting Gotham City from Intergang.

With a sprinkling of some of DC's minor superheroes; Nightwing, Captain Marvel and a few others the world is protected, but is it enough, these new heroes are a big help as the Multiverse attempts to be recreated.

Greg Cox novelized this year long publication and GraphicAudio in all their audio splendor brought the comic back to full color production with sound.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:58 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Infinite Crisis" parts I & II by Greg Cox

"Infinite Crisis" parts I & II
by Greg Cox
multicast production
Produced by Graphic Audio
approx 12 hours total

I think I may have become addicted to GraphicAudio audio book productions. These guys really know how to suck you into a story and leave you, in this case, feeling as beat up as the superheroes involved. I mean that in a good way, the sound effects, music and acting puts you in the middle of the action and you feel every punch thrown. With all the action in a comic book, the transition to novelization of a series and then to audio book there lies the potential of losing some of the ambiance created by the brightly colored panels, but here's where GraphicAudio shines. Not only do you get all the ambiance, you are placed dead in amongst the action.

Infinite Crisis was a seven-issue limited series of comic books published by DC Comics beginning in October 2005. It was written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Phil Jimenez. The series storyline was based on the 1985 series "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and it revisits characters and ideas that were from the earlier work. Greg Cox then took that series and created the novelization of the series. Then we move to audio book "Movie in your Mind" form from GraphicAudio. GraphicAudio released the production in two 6 hour segments.

For years, the rift between the Justice League's leaders has been widening. Batman's paranoia has given birth to an army of robotic assassins. Batman created the Brother Eye satellite to make sure "meta-humans" don't abuse their super powers. Somehow the satellite is hijacked and begins it's jihad against superheroes.

Wonder Woman has declared herself judge, jury, and executioner, taking a foe's life in an act that was broadcast worldwide. Superman is under the influence of mind control. With the Justice League divided and a super-villain coalition openly targeting the heroes, ordinary civilians find themselves caught in the crossfire.

The heroes have lost their way, their values, and their responsibilities. Only those who understand the true meaning of sacrifice are prepared to rectify this crisis-a crisis that originated in an alternate era when infinite earths collided in a cosmic cataclysm that erased history and lives. And those who survived are looking to restore all they have lost, regardless of the consequences.

In an epic adventure with battles taking place all around the world and even into the center of the universe every comic book fan will enjoy listening for their favorite hero. Nearly every superhero ever created by DC Comics makes an appearance and even some new ones.

Be prepared to be completely blown away with a great story by Greg Cox, created by DC Comics, and converted into a "Movie in your Mind" by GraphicAudio.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:01 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Dune: House Atreides" by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

"Dune: House Atreides"
by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
read by Scott Brick
Produced by Tantor Media
approx. 26.5 hours

Back in 1999, Brian Herbert discovered some manuscripts left behind with more information on the universe of Dune, written by his father Frank Herbert. Teaming up with Kevin J. Anderson they began a quest to add more stories to the "Duneverse" based on these manuscripts and their own talents in writing Science Fiction. The first was the "Prelude to Dune" series. This book "House Atreides" was the first in this series.

Tantor Audio has re-released these books in audio book form and this time they aquired the award winning voice of Scott Brick. Back when I first started listening to audio books Scott Brick was the first reader I heard. After hearing his performance I became a huge fan of audio books. There's a reason Mr. Brick has won so many awards. His voice is completely adjustable to any genre and his talents are fully expressed when reading a book with multiple characters. When expressing the voice of another speaker in the dialogue in the book he can, with the subtlest of changes, change characters so the listener is treated to what nearly sounds like a multi-cast performance. At the same time he can add the characters emotions into the voice to the utmost perfection. Scott Brick is no stranger to the "Dune" series, he has voiced many of the audio books so he knows the material and I would have to say he is the perfect choice for the re-issue of these books.

"House Atreides" gives some information on the buildup of what created the situations leading to the epic novel "Dune," by Frank Herbert.

An aging tyrant emperor rules the known universe, Emperor Elrood Corrino IX, and his son Shaddam IV, cannot wait for him to die, so that Shaddam may become emperor. He and his minion, Hasimir Fenrig devise a slow poison to kill off the old man so Shaddam may sit in the "Golden Lion Throne."

While this is going on Elrood has some schemes going that could change the universe. Spice Melange, only found on Arrakis (Dune), is needed for the Spacing Guild to fold space, it prolongs life, and is highly addictive. "He who controls the spice, controls the Universe." So Elrood has set out to devise an alternative to spice. Teaming up with the genetic scientist race of the Tleilaxu, Elrood has commissioned them to develop the newly engineered spice. As payment to the Tleilaxu, Elrood plans a takeover of the machine planet IX, where in place are the facilities for such a genetic engineering feat. To do this the House Vernius must be defeated. Instead of laying back and being defeated the house goes renegade, meaning they are no longer supported or recognized by the league and are criminals. The children are sent to Calidan to live with Duke Paulus Atreides. They are raised along with the Duke's son, Leto Atreides.

Meanwhile the Bene Gesserit discover they are only 2 or 3 generations from the Kwisatz Haderach, a prophesied messiah figure. But first they must get Baron Vladimir Harkonnen to "donate the genetic material." The first union of a Bene Gesserit sorceress and Harkonnen is deformed and must be repeated. This time Harkonnen violently rapes the sorceress and in the process she curses him with an incurable disease.

On Caladan, Paulus Atreides dies during a bullfight with a drugged Salusan Bull, and Leto becomes Duke. House Harkonnen has developed a ship that renders itself invisible. And frames House Atreides for an attack on the Tleilaxu.

In the meantime on Arrakis, Dune, Pardot Kynes a planetologist sent by Emperor Elrood, arrives on Arrakis and begins his duties there. He starts to dislike the Harkonnen rule there, and is getting more and more interested in the native Fremen of the desert and the possibility of terraforming the planet. Pardot is discovering more and more proof that some time, long ago, Arrakis was covered with giant oceans, and gets curious about what changed the climate to what it is today.

Once again another book filled with lots of material lots of action and great political interaction.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:48 PM Comments: 0

Monday, December 14, 2009

"The Dame" by R. A. Salvatore

"The Dame"
by R. A. Salvatore
read by Erik Singer
produced by MacMillan Audio
Approx 12 hours

After becoming a fan of R.A. Salvatore's writing through "The Demon Wars Saga," I became curious about some of his other works, I'm constantly hearing about his famous anti-hero, Drizzzt, but have yet to tackle that side of Salvatore's worlds. I decided to stay within the realm of Corona with this audio book, "The Dame." I rarely ever read the middle of a saga but this time I started with the last of the 3 books in "The First King Saga." During the first section I had to listen very closely this was when the characters were pretty much introduced, but having a past history in previous books there was some information that was assumed to be known so it took a bit of deciphering, once the story evolved the enjoyment of the adventure moved along so that the listening was easier and made for a nice fantasy novel.

The reader, Erik Singer, had his work cut out for him with numerous characters and several different races and different types of regions from where they came. The nice thing about fantasy is that the accents are the reader's choice. The choices made by singer were a hit. With one of the bands of characters involved they were a combination of what could be construed as Turkish assassins and Ninjas. Singers accent for these characters were a perfect combination of the two, making these characters really come alive.

"The Dame" follows the continuing adventures of Bransen Garibond, The Highwayman, and the land of Honce's continuous battle over who would be king of all Honce. Bransen wants no part of the fight that is continuing between the Lairds of Honce. Bransen only wants peace for his family.
However a recent occurrence not only puts Bransen in the sights of one of the Lairds who now calls himself King, because one of the Lairds, Delaval, is assassinated by a group of mystic warriors whose abilities could only be the Jhest warriors. The Jhest warriors use a type of blade that is curved and has intricate carvings along the blade, Bransen's mother was Jhest and he uses her blade. One of the warriors blades is broken during the assassination and the blade found is wrongly identified as that of The Highwayman. More intriguing to Bransen is the chance to connect with his mother's people and to delve more deeply into the abilities that he has developed and possibly even to find a Jhest teacher that might free him from his dependence on the gemstones.

Bransen Garibond was once known as The Stork, due to his clumsiness. A brother of Mere Abell gave Bransen a soulstone so he may become more in control of himself and led to Bransen to become the legend known as the Highwayman.

Speaking of the Mere Abell church, the monks of the church are caught in the middle in the battle for King of Honce. The church has been a neutral party to the war and have healed and housed soldiers from all sides of the war. Now the new king wants all that opposed to him to be put to death at the hands of the monks. They rebel, and establish their own sovereignty, creating St. Mere Abell as a power to be dealt with in the land of Honce.

If you have read any of "The Demon Wars Saga," books then this one will give you a nice background on how the world of Corona developed.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:01 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Angel Time" by Anne Rice

"Angel Time"
by Anne Rice
read by Paul Michael
produced by Random House Audio
Approx. 9 hours


Anne Rice is best known for her vampire chronicles, including the most popular "Interview with the Vampire," but any Anne Rice fan knows she's written more than just tales of vampires. She's written about witches and mummies, as well. Okay, all kidding aside, Anne Rice has written romance novels and even some stories about Jesus, so don't be surprised to hear this latest novel is about angels. Angels, hit men and Jews of the 13th century are the focus of this novel. To be a little more forthcoming about the subject matter a hit man is "hired" by an angel of God to defend the Jews of Norwich, England.

The story is told first person through the voice of Toby O'Dare, a hit man that is known as "Lucky the Fox" by his boss who Lucky calls "The Right Man." Lucky knows "The Right Man" just enough to know that he is favored and loved by him. "The Right Man" insists that Lucky knows that he is working for the "good guys." Lucky doesn't want to know who "the good guys" are. A fascinating aspect of Toby/Lucky is that he is a expert lutist.

The story is told first by Toby as he is to perform a "hit" on a Swiss Banker in the Mission Inn, in San Juan. The Mission Inn is Toby's sanctuary, where he goes to escape his hitman life. So actually performing a hit in the sanctuary rattles the soul of this soulless man. This first section of the book seems at first drawn out and, to be honest, boring at first, but once the story gets rolling this section starts to pay off and by the end of the book the listener is glad to have heard this section in full. After Toby pulls off the hit, a stranger walks into the room where the murder was committed and begins to tell Toby an almost unreal story. This person is an angel of God and was sent to recruit Toby for a redeeming mission.

Before the mission can begin the angel tells the second part of the book. In this section the listener learns all about Toby's life and what led him to become a hit man. From Toby's dark past where growing up the son of alcoholic parents, he is forced to care for and raise his younger brother and sister, while at the same time learning to play the lute and excel at all scholarly tasks. Toby's father, a crooked police officer is sent to prison and knifed within three days of being sent up. Toby's mom devolves into a drunken, mostly incoherent, person that most of the time Toby buys her liquor just to shut her up. When Toby comes home to find his brother and sister drowned in the bathtub and his mother bleeding from her wrists, he leaves everything behind, his scholarship to study music, his girlfriend, everything. He goes to New York where an Italian restaurateur is impressed with his musical abilities and hires him to entertain in the restaurant. Soon the Russian Mafia threatens to take the restaurant, the house of ill repute (also run by the Restaurant) and any other properties. Before anyone dies Toby kills off all the Russian mafia involved and soon is recruited by "The Right Man."

Once this story is told by the angel, Toby realizes he is who he says he is, and asks why God would need him. The angel only remarks that God forgives him.

The mission now can be performed. Traversing through "angel time" Toby and the angel are taken to 13th Century England. There Toby becomes what he has most desired in life, a Dominican Friar.
As the friar, Toby is to save the lives of the King's Jewry in Norwich England.

A Jewish mother's daughter has disappeared after the young girl attended the Christmas Pageants at the encouragement of her Christian friends. She then takes ill and disappears. The Christians, seeking a Saint, like Little Saint William of Norwich, accuse the Jews of poisoning the girl and demand the Jews all be killed and the girls clothing be produced so all can be healed by the touch of the garments. The actual story is that the girl died of a burst appendix and the truth would not be accepted by the Christians in search of another Saint killed by Jews.

In an amazing story set in 13th Century England, Anne Rice proves again she's more than just a vampire novelist. This intriguing and thrilling story with many twists and turns is sure to appeal to any fiction lover.

The reader of this audio book, Paul Michael does an excellent job of voice characterization, including the subtlest of accents in the characters to establish who is speaking at the moment. His low soft voice definitely kept my ear tuned-in to the story.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:53 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"The Demon Apostle - Part 2" Book 3 of "The Demon Wars Saga" By R.A. Salvatore

"The Demon Apostle - Part 2"
Book 3 of "The Demon Wars Saga"
By R.A. Salvatore
Multicast Performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx. 6 Hours


GraphicAudio continues with their "Movie in Your Mind" production of R.A. Salvatore's "Demon Wars Saga" with book 3 of the 7 book saga. I haven't decided yet If I'm fond of the cutting the book into three parts. On one hand this makes the books in smaller digestible audio book chunks, but on the other hand GraphicAudio really knows where to divide the books and create massive cliffhangers between the sections, and this one ends with the listener craving to know what happens next.

This anxiety is felt even more so in that this third book is the end of the first trilogy of the series and the end of the first epoch in the world of Corona.

Here we find Pony and Elbryan separated for the first time since their youth. Elbryan is in the north helping to rebuild while Pony has moved south to Palmaris to try to find the whereabouts of Roger Lockless, to find the latest movements of the Abellican Church, and to hopefully ensure the safety of hers and Elbryan's unborn child.

It seems as though Roger Lockless has found his way back to Elbryan. He has been given the task of leading 5 monks who are not liking the way the church is headed and seek to find the friends of Avelyn Desbris, the monk labeled as a heretic but in actuality the one that destroyed the physical form of the demon dactyl. Brother Francis the right hand man to Father Abbot Markwart is starting to have doubts about the church and that is why he asked Roger to escort the monks to Elbryan.

The newly appointed Bishop of Palmaris, Bishop De'Unnero, is becoming quickly unpopular with the common folks and merchants. First he's repossessing all the magic gemstones, even the ones purchased directly from the church, and creating a police state. Some of the people not wanting to give up the stones are being tortured and one is even executed in public. Markwart sees this as a possible bad image for the new direction for the church and sends De'Unnero to hunt down Elbryan. De' Unnero, it should be noted is a trained assassin and proficient with the tiger's paw gemstone, a gemstone that gives the user the power of a tiger and even transforms the arm of the user into that of the big cat. De'Unnero becomes so proficient that he can turn his entire self into a tiger.

In the bishop's absence, Markwart sends Brother Francis, now Master Francis, to serve as interim bishop and ease up on the hardships created by De'Unnero and to prepare for Markwart's and the King of Honce the Bear's visit to Palmaris .

Elbryan, Roger Lockless, Bradwarden the centaur, and two elves set out to escort the 5 monks to the grave of Avelyn for a pilgrimage to find hope for the future of the world of Corona. The rest of the elves are dispatched to Palmaris for a possible meeting with the king but more so to watch out for Pony and the unborn son of Elbryan the ranger.

With all this excitement and intrigue GraphicAudio continues to create the perfect production for these audio books to help you to get lost in the world of R.A. Salvatore's "Demon Wars Saga."

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:41 PM Comments: 0

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The Demon Apostle - Part 1" Book 3 of the "Demon Wars Saga" by R. A. Salvatore

"The Demon Apostle - Part 1"
Book 3 of the "Demon Wars Saga"
by R. A. Salvatore
multi-cast Performance
Produced by GraphicAudio


Continuing on with book three of the seven book series of R.A. Salvatore's "Demon Wars Saga," GraphicAudio,and their magical production skills, transport you back into the world of Corona. With superb sound effects, awesome acting and mind-blowing music you will experience what GraphicAudio calls "A Movie in Your Mind." So far, they have broken up each book into three parts keeping them at five or six hours per section. This formula seems to work well, but I can say I get anxious to jump into the next part as soon as I hear the last word of each segment.

Elbryan Wyndon, the Nightbird, travels north to take back the Timberlands with the help of Bradwarden the Centaur and Belli'mar Juraviel the elf, while Pony moves south to the city of Palmaris for a few of reasons one to find what has happened to Roger Lockless and the other to find out the state of affairs in the crucial city of Palmaris and also to seek revenge on the church that killed her adopted family.

A civil war between Church and State in Honce-the-Bear seems imminent. The Abellican Church, and her Father Abbot's desire to take back the magic gemstones dog the steps of the heroes, especially those of Jilseponie, who has possession of hte magic gemstones and has just recently learned of her pregnancy.

In the church itself, the Father Abbot Markwart seems to actually be showing signs of his demon posession. He has shaved his head and his ears are starting to become pointy. To many who view this, including his right hand man Brother Francis, the change is startling. Markwart has also discovered some new uses of the magical stones and soon begins using them with far more ease than any monk before, but his uses are starting to lean into the dark forces.

Brother Francis is conflicted about where the church and Markwart are heading and even begins questioning his own faith. The biggest guilt on his concious is that Master Jojonah forgave him as he was executed. This weighs heavy on Francis' soul.

In the North Elbryan and company are still fighting goblins, dwarves and giants and in the South the church is creating discontent among the secular rulers, and the excitement never stops in this installment of "The Demon Wars Saga."

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:34 PM Comments: 0

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Winds of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson

Winds of Dune
by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson
Read by Scott Brick
Produced by Macmillan Audio
Run Time: 18:30


Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson continue to explore the Universe of Dune created by Brian's Father Frank Herbert, with this latest installment, "Winds of Dune." The Duneverse is filled with opportunities to write side stories or fill in gaps between the original novels. This job could not be done by just any Sci-Fi writer, and the team of Herbert and Anderson have not only done the job but they have done the job without taking anything away from the original stories. In fact, they have added more to the series that seem as though they should been there from the beginning.

The Winds of Dune begins after the events of Dune Messiah and jumps back and forth in time to before Paul Atreides came to dune and to the times during Paul Maud'Dib's Jihad.

Paul has walked off into the sand, blind, and is presumed dead as told by Frank Herbert at the end of "Dune Messiah", Jessica and Gurney are on Caladan; Alia is trying to hold the Imperial government together with the Duncan Idaho Ghola; Mohiam is dead at the hands of Stilgar; and Irulan imprisoned. Paul's former friend, Bronso of Ix, now seems to be leading opposition to the House of Atreides. With the characters from the classic novel in place Herbert and Anderson tell a story of true friendship, true love and the bonds of family.

After hearing of her son's death Jessica, Duchess of Caladan, and Gurney Halleck, Earl of Caladan, return to Dune to mourn the death of Paul and his concubine, Chani (also mother of Paul's children, Leto & Ghanima). During Paul's funeral there is great celebration in the life of Dune's Messiah, Paul Maud'Dib. The funeral is interrupted by Bronso of Ix (one of Paul's childhood friends) claiming Paul is not the Maud'Dib but simply Paul Atreides. Bronson of Ix has spent all his time, since Paul became the Messianic Emperor of the Universe, trying to thwart all the attempts at making Paul out to be a god, by simply pointing out his human flaws. Irulan is told by the now Empire's Regent, Alia, (sister of Paul, and the Bene Gesserit abomination) to write only things that put Paul in a positive light or she may be tortured or put to death.

Jessica then tells Irulan why Bronso is writing these negative things about Paul. This takes the book on its first flashback, in which the listener is told of a time when Paul and Bronso of Ix first met and why they became best friends. Both boys were only about 12 or 13 years old when Paul was sent to learn about the manufacturing based planet of Ix. Both houses, Vernius of Ix and Atreides of Caladan are very close due to Duke Leto of Caladan once marrying a descendant of Vernius, and both boys pledge their loyalty to each other to their fathers. The Bene Gesserit are upset with Bronso's mother (a Bene Gesserit, herself) and demands she returns to Wallach IX to become a breeding mother. She resists and the Bene Gesserit use a Guilt caster to put her in a catatonic state. Not knowing what to do Prince Rhombur sends her with the Bene Gesserit in hopes of finding a cure. Rhombur then reveals to Bronso that due to the accident that left Rhomber a cyborg he was not able to father a son and that Bronso is not his natural son. Bronso runs away and out of honor Paul runs with him.

During this adventure Paul and Bronso are befriended by a leader of a Jongleur troop. Jongleurs are traveling performers, so this makes this adventure very similar to the boys running away and joining the circus. During this excursion Paul and Bronso learn some Jongleur techniques including a form of mass hypnosis, which comes in handy when Paul becomes the Maud'Dib.

Flashback to the books real time and Alia is using all forces available to capture Bronso. For a reasons unknown at the time Jessica has Gurney Halleck stall the capture. Gurney is working with the Ghola Duncan to track down Bronso, and through his undying loyalty to House Atreides Gurney stalls as best he can. Meanwhile anyone caught with anti-Paul Maud'Dib material is put to death under orders of Alia.

Jessica then takes Gurney and Irulan out to the desert to finish her tale of Paul and Bronso. This Flashback goes back to when Paul has become Emperor and the Maud'Dib and the empire is fighting Paul's Jihad.

Jessica has been called to Wallach IX by the Bene Gesserit. They want her to kill Paul so that his empire will crumble and the Jihad will end. While making her decision Jessica discovers Bronso's mother, while not completely healed, alive and awake on Wallach IX. Jessica is called to Ix by Bronso and when she arrives on Ix she finds Paul with Bronso. Here Paul reveals that Bronso is to spread the word Paul is a mere human to keep the Mythology of Paul Maud'Dib at bay.

Back in the book's real time Bronso is captured and is sure to face execution. This book goes perfectly along the lines of all the books in the Duneverse, in that it again is filled with plans within plans and no one knows the complete story until the very end.

Once again Scott Brick performs in his usual stellar reading, creating the mood and emotions of the book from the words written by Herbert and Anderson. Brick is perfect at the subtle changes in mood and thought by small shifts in his voice that keep you glued to "Winds of Dune."

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posted by Gil T. @ 3:36 PM Comments: 0

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom

The Birthing House
by Christopher Ransom
Read by Edward Herrmann
Published by Blackstone Audio
Approx 10 hours

Conrad Harrison receives a large inheritance from a father he hardly knew. In returning to his home in Los Angeles, Conrad stops in rural Wisconsin and buys a house. The century-old house was once a birthing house, where midwives delivered babies, whose history remembers countless deliveries of babies, both alive and dead. Conrad is immediately drawn to the house and goes back to Los Angeles to get his wife, Jo, so they can start over. Their marriage seems to be on the rocks, especially when arriving in L.A. Conrad finds a man with his wife. They move to the house and begin working on their marriage.

Jo doesn't feel comfortable in the house and quickly goes to Michigan for a job opportunity. While Conrad is home alone during her training period the old owner of the home stops by to drop off a photo album that has a history of the house. Looking at a photo album, Conrad sees a picture of his wife, staring back at him in rage. And from there we are launched into a horror story of possession, obsession, and murder, as Conrad descends into madness, where reality and dreams seem to blend until Conrad is completely unaware of what is real.

While Jo is gone, the neighbors take Conrad in and welcome him to the neighborhood by inviting him over for dinner. Here he meets all the neighbors and more importantly the rebellious pregnant daughter. Soon after he rescues the girl from an abusive boyfriend and shows her his project which is to try to breed some rare snakes that almost never breed in captivity. The girl points out that if this is true then they have a miracle when she discovers 9 eggs in the snake's cage. This is a female snake that has never been with a male.

Strange visits from ghostly apparitions, bizarre and violent behavior in his dogs, and an odd attraction to the pregnant teenager next door plague Conrad Harrison as he tries to understand what is happening to his sanity. Meanwhile, his wife becomes impossible to reach after admitting to him that she, herself, is pregnant but it can't be Conrad's.

This audio book is one of those haunted house stories that leaves you with chills and perking up every time you hear a sound. At the same time this haunted house story is based on births not just deaths like most haunted house stories.

Edward Herrmann is very convincing in reading this story, in that he captures every nuance and chill with the subtleties of his voice. When the main character Conrad is in his deepest state of the haunting, Herrmann's voice takes on an even more haunting chill which pulls the listener into the story so that escape is impossible.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:58 PM Comments: 0

Monday, November 02, 2009

"The Demon Spirit Part 3" The Demon Wars Saga by R.A. Salvatore

"The Demon Spirit Part 3"
The Demon Wars Saga
by R.A. Salvatore
Multi-cast production
produced by Graphic Audio
Approx. 6 hours

Part 3 of "The Demon Spirit" audio book brings to a close the second book of R.A. Salvatore's The Demon Wars Saga, and running the risk of making this review too short, this book in the 7 book series ends with an extreme cliffhanger. To recap the story thus far in a nutshell: the Demon Dactyl awakened and was defeated by a Ranger, Warrior, Wizard, Centaur and Elf before he could take over the land of corona. The Wizard was a holy man known as Avelyn Desbris from the Abellican Church who after leaving the church was hunted down for "stealing" the magic gemstones. Avelyn's mentor discovered Avelyn was not the heretic the Father Abbot Markwart set him out to be, but rather a saint that saved the land. The Centaur, Bradwarden, is discovered alive and the church tries to torture him into confessing that Avelyn was a heretic. The Ranger, Elbryan and the Warrior, Pony, continue fighting giants, goblins and dwarves (leftover from the Dactyl's armies) to save the commonfolk in the land of Corona.

I guess that sums up the last book and 2/3 worth of material that makes this captivating saga. To close out "The Demon Spirit" book there are lots more deceits and heroism to keep this series well worth investing your time.

Elbryan and Pony have grown closer and have become officially married. They, however, put off having children until all the enemies of Corona have been defeated and the land is once again safe. In protecting the land they become targets for the evil Father Abbot Markwart and his assassins named Brothers Justice. Markwart hears of magics being used in the northlands and knows the magic can only be performed using the gemstones "stolen" by Avelyn Desbris. Markwart arrives in Pony's hometown and arranges for the murder of the Abbot of the local church. Markwart also schemes to get back the stolen gemstones from Pony. One of his servants, Marcalo De'Unnero, uses his exceptional training in the martial arts to create two new Brothers Justice to find the woman and the gemstones and deal with them both.

Markwart adds Pony's adopted parents to the torture chambers with the Centaur Bradwarden and attempts to torture them to find Pony as well as have them become allies in the making of Avelyn a heretic.

The Church no longer has a solid foundation, however. Master Jojonah is a high-ranking member of the Church and a former teacher of Avelyn Desbris, begins to see the rot in their beloved institution and works quietly to bring about the truth of Avelyn. This work eventually leads Jojonah leading Elbryan, Pony, and the elf, Juraviel to the dungeons to free the captives.

As I said earlier in this review, R.A. Salvatore ended this book with a massive cliffhanger, that leaves you wondering, will the church survive and in what incarnation?

The best part of listening to this series in audiobook form is that it is produced by GraphicAudio. With GraphicAudio's "movie in your mind" approach, listening to these books can make you feel as though you are launched into the magical/mythical land of Corona and sitting alongside watching the story unfold. The acting is superb, the sound effects are ultra-realistic and the incidental music helps shape the moods of the story. Bravo GraphicAudio.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:24 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"When You Are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris

"When You Are Engulfed in Flames"
by David Sedaris
Narrated by David Sedaris
Produced by Hachette Audio
approx. 9 hours


First let me say, I just love David Sedaris. Okay that said, I may be a little biased but his stories are just so funny and so well written, they make for a perfect humorous audio book source, especially when read by the author. Some of these are even recordings from his lecture tours so you get the fun audience reaction on some of the stories.

Sedaris has a way with finding the humor in the normal everyday happenings, from lancing a boil to rude neighbors to quitting smoking. Every one of the stories in this book had a little bit of a humorous witty twist that made want to go back and listen to the story again to fully analyze how he came to his final point.

Most of the stories in this book seemed to center around his partner Hugh where in his previous books David's family were the source of the the humor. Many of the stories in this book had the laugh out loud moments but some had some very poignant moments and still some had a great combination of both. The written stories when heard really felt as if he were telling you the story just then, kind of a train of thought type process that moved the story and made it so you have to listen and that you know something good is coming up.

One of the stories talks about when he's going away to Princeton and how proud his parents are. Sedaris then throws the listener a curve ball when he tells his father he's majoring in "Patricide." David's mom gets jealous and asks "I'm not good enough for you?" He then replies that he'll look into a double major. After some time at Princeton he becomes a writer and his parents ask, "What are you trying to do, kill us?"

Another very funny story happens when he's on a plane heading for the U.S. for one of his lecture tours and he is shamed by his own clothing when a very well dressed couple sit next to him. But his shame is soon turned to laugh out loud fun when the elderly couple begin using the "f"-word and the "s"-word in very creative ways.

The latter part of the book is about his and Hugh's trip to Japan. The purpose of the trip, to stop smoking. The whole stranger in a strange land idea reaches hilarious heights as he tries new food, tries to learn the language, and all while quitting smoking.

Once again Sedaris delivers fun while pointing out the realism of life in "When You are Engulfed in Flames"

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:38 PM Comments: 0

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Batman: Inferno" by Alex Irvine

"Batman: Inferno"
by Alex Irvine
Multicast Performance
Produced by Graphic Audio
Approx 7 hours.



Let me start this review off by saying, I think I may have just listened to the best Batman story ever. Not only was the story itself captivating and entertaining but the production has gone beyond my expectations from Graphic Audio audio books. This audio book is a simple Batman book with only two villains a new one named Enfer and the best Batman villain ever, The Joker.

When It comes to continuity, I'm not sure where in the comic book realm of Batman this book comes in but this book would make for a great sequel to the 2008 movie blockbuster, "The Dark Knight." This book takes place just as Bruce Wayne/Batman is building his Bat-Cave and has only been protecting Gotham City for a couple of years. The Joker has only recently been sent to Arkham Asylum, in this book Arkham is run by Dr. Jonathan Crane.

One thing I've noticed about DC comics is that the stories really don't rely on a running continuity, as long as the stories stick to the main theme of Batman. The Dark Knight run of Batman comics, books and movies do have a darker side and more sinister of villainy of crime for Batman to contend with and this audio book definitely has a Dark Knight feel to it. In fact the audio book contains the warning, "Due to subject matter, 'Batman: Inferno' contins realistically harsh language that may be offensive to some." So, you have been warned.

Before I get to the summary of this book I have to talk about the production of the audio book. I have reviewed several Graphic Audio productions before, and I am always impressed with the acting, sound effects and incidental music, so I was prepared for what Graphic Audio promises of "A Movie in Your Mind." This time around that was an extreme understatement. This production blew me away. The main premise of this book is fire and, let me tell you, the production conveyed that in a very explosive audio book. I was extremely impressed by the voice-work/acting of the actor that played The Joker in this production, Richard Rohan, who also does the narrating and the voice of Batman, he did a smash up job. And never once in the production can you tell or even have the hint that the same person narrating is either Batman or The Joker. The Joker has been portrayed by several great actors through television and the movies, Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. In the movies the Heath Ledger Joker gained infamy from being so dark. This Joker story is another dark story and Rohan, from this audio book borrows a bit from Heath Ledger, but at the same time you can hear some of Jack Nicholson's Joker and some of Cesar Romero, so Rohan makes the character his own, while still paying homage to the classics.

Let's talk about the story. Gotham City is burning and the police still don't know where to stand when it comes to the Caped Crusader, Batman. Batman doesn't worry too much about public opinion, his goal is to keep Gotham City safe. As for the burning, Batman is doing everything he can to find out who is starting all the fires and what he can do to stop this firebug. Batman discovers that the up and coming villian goes by the moniker of "Enfer" (the french word for hell.) Enfer draws his influence from a French poet and, is seeking to cleanse the fire stations in Gotham City by fire. Enfer also seeks to show The Joker that they could become allies, but the problem is that The Joker is locked up in Arkham Asylum. Enfer blows up the Asylum allowing all the super-powered villians to escape, including The Joker, and Gotham City police now have their hands full. To show his desire Enfer sets certain parts of Gotham City ablaze and when viewed from the sky the fires spell out "HA HA."

In the meantime The Joker is making his escape and trying to avoid the GCPD by escaping through the sewers and tunnels underground. A series of tunnels brings The Joker to a cave full of bats, the bats then lead him to what is a construction site that is obviously becoming the underground lair of Batman, the Bat-Cave. Instead of finding out who is behind the cowl thus destroying his raison d'etre, The Joker kidnaps Alfred, the trusty butler, and steals a costume and the Bat-Mobile, yes THE BAT-MOBILE. He then terrorizes Gotham City posing as Batman.

So with trying to stop an Arsonist, capturing escaped criminals, rescuing Alfred, Batman also has to fight for his reputation, in "Batman: Inferno." Treat yourself to a great audio book and pick up this one.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:55 PM Comments: 0

Monday, September 28, 2009

"The Dead Girl's Dance" (book 2 of the Morganville Vampire series) by Rachel Caine

"The Dead Girl's Dance"
(book 2 of the Morganville Vampire series)
by Rachel Caine
read by Cynthia Holloway
produced by Tantor Audio


It's time to continue int the Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine. Morganville, Texas is home to Texas Prairie University and Vampires. The university attracts new, young "blood" and the vampires rule the town. The locals are all under protection from a vampire patron, the families enter a contract which means they are protected, very much like life insurance, but instead of a payout when you pass on, you simply don't pass on by the hands of a vampire.

Claire Danvers is a super-smart 16 year-old that has graduated high school early and instead of going to a big name university she decides to start out with a couple of years at TPU. After being the butt-end of some hazing she moves off campus and into the Glass House, with the residents that all seem fairly normal, Michael Glass who owns the house, Eve the goth girl and Shane the video gamer. She learns the secrets of Morganville from her new roommates and soon the trouble begins.

After the big battle in book one which lead to the residents of the Glass House receiving protection from Morganville's founder and strongest Vampire, Amelie, It doesn't get any easier. In fact things may have been made worse. During the worst of the battle when things looked grim, Shane made a mysterious phone call, calling in the cavalry. It turns out the cavalry was Shane's dad and the anti-vampire biker gang set to destroy Morganville, at least to kill all vampires.

"The Dead Girls' Dance" starts out right at that cliffhanger of an ending from book one. With Shane's dad ready to kill. He starts out by killing Michael, thinking Michael is a vampire. His cohort stabs Michael then they cut off his head and burys him in the backyard. Not good for the Glass House. The protection was as long as all four friends stayed together and in Morganville and never cross Amelie. Shane's dad is out to kill all vampires and that may just break the protection circumstances.

Hearing that his dad has targeted the vampire Brandon as his first kill, Shane, even though he hates vampires and especially Brandon, goes out to save Brandon. Shane is found next to Brandon's dead body and since that is the most severe law to break in Morganville, killing a vampire, Shane is locked in a cage in the town's square set to die by incineration, unless Claire and the rest can find proof Shane did not do the killing.

So Eve and Michael and Claire set out to find proof. Yes, I said Michael, sure he's not a vampire but he is a ghost. The only problem is that being a ghost he is held by the power of the house, so he cannot leave Glass House, but on the bright side, he cannot die. One of the many plans the group come up with is to find a vampire to help them sneak into the square and help Shane escape. The vampire they find to help them is Sam. Wait till you hear what Sam's secrets are. No I won't tell, you'll have to listen and hear for yourself, otherwise you may not believe me.

To find Sam, Eve and Claire must attend the campus dance called "The Dead Girls' Dance." The problems really hit when Shane's dad and his biker buddies decide to crash the dance.

Once again while Cynthia Holloway does a pretty decent job of reading the story and has pretty good vocal characterization, she still needs to work on her pronunciation skills. On of the words in this one that stands out is here pronunciation of the word "nuclear." You guessed it she pronounces as "Nucular." There are others but that one stands out the most in this book. Other than that some good listening to this Tantor Audio book version of "The Dead Girls' Dance," by Rachel Caine.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:09 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, September 17, 2009

“When Shadows Fall” by L. Ron Hubbard

“When Shadows Fall”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy Press
Approx 2 hours

Once again I sit back with an audio book and have some fun. This time it's as if I'm jumping back in a time machine and going back about 50 or so years, and picking up some science-fiction pulp stories. That's right it's another L. Ron Hubbard audio book collection of his short stories. Hubbard wrote many short stories during the '30s through the '50s, they range in genre from westerns to sci-fi, from fantasy to piracy, and every one of his early stories have been packaged up in both book and audio book form. They consist of two or three stories within the same genre to fill up the audio book with two hours of listening pleasure.

Galaxy audio has produced the audio books with multi-cast performances, sound effects and incidental music that not only assist in the story telling but also give the feel of the times the stories were written. The characterizations from the performers' voices create an ambiance that boosts you into a jet pack and thrusts you into the hey day of sci-fi storytelling.

This collection, "When Shadows Fall" includes the following stories; the title story "When Shadows Fall," "Tough Old Man," and "Battling Bolto." Each one has the L. Ron Hubbard twist to the end that leaves the listener smiling or saying, "hmmm...." or both. Either way they are very fun to hear.

"When Shadows Fall" tells the story of Earth after most of its population has left to colonize the universe leaving the planet depleted of its natural resources. The few inhabitants have very little food, fuel, air or water. The Earth president and council decide to make a last ditch effort and pool all remaining resources to send out among the stars to ask for help. They only come up with enough for three expeditions each led by a completely different personality, one a military leader, another a financial leader and the third an artisan/story teller. Will any of these expeditions be able to gather help to save Earth?

"Tough Old Man" is an adventurous and fun story about a man named Moffat who is sent for final training under the Senior Constable of the Frontier Patrol, old Keno. All the others sent to train under old Keno have returned to turn in their badges because they couldn't keep up with the old man. Moffet is determined. He powers through the severities of the planets climates of extreme cold, extreme heat and rocky landscape. What it takes to be Senior Constable is a a surprise to Moffat.

"Battling Bolto" is a hilarious space age snake oil salesman story. A young hick is hired as a smith to create robot skins for a man selling robots to planets on the fring, you know, backwoods planets. He soon dons one of the robot skins and is set out to deceive the hicks by acting as a fighting robot. This one has one of the best twists I've ever read in a story and is a must listen.

So go on out pick up the collection "When Shadows Fall" and have some fun with an audio book.




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posted by Gil T. @ 8:25 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Series #1) by Rachel Caine

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Series #1)
by Rachel Caine
read by Cynthia Holloway
produced by Tantor Audio
approx. 8.5 hours

Finally a young adult vampire series you can really sink your teeth into. (I know too much, right?) Seriously Rachel Caine has created in the Morganville Vampire series a return to the good old days of when vampires were enemies and not something to fall in love with. And now Tantor Audio has brought the first book to life in audio book form.

Overall, Cynthia Holloway, does a very nice job of delivering the story as told from Claire Danvers a super smart 16 year old in her first year of college. However there are a couple of pronunciation issues that should have been cleared up before production. One that stands out is the word settee. Ms. Holloway pronounces as "setty" instead of set-tee. There are only a couple of other words that grated on me but this one was repeated several times in the book and just felt like nails on a chalkboard. If it weren't for the intriguing story I would have been turned off a bit from the book. Aside from a couple of mispronunciations, Ms. Holloway does a great job of helping to distinguish who is talking and thinking with slight voice variations and emotes the danger and and even sometimes humor Rachel Caine uses to create a world full of vampires.

The story in this first book of the series of Morganville Vampires, Glass Houses, introduces the listener to the town of Morganville, Texas, home of Texas Prairie University sometimes called T-P eeewwww. A town that is populated by some strange people and even stranger yet, the town is run by Vampires. Each person has a sort of insurance policy that protects them from the vampires, when the person turns 18 they must find some vampire family to "insure" them or risk becoming food for the vamps.

Claire Danvers is a 16 year old who, due to her super smarts, has graduated high school early and before heading to a major university has opted to attend TPU. The problem is her smarts gets her on the wrong side of Monica Morell, the most popular girl in school. When Claire corrects Monica and makes her look dumb in front of friends, Claire becomes marked for violence. Monica and the Monikettes beat up Claire and steal her clothes from her dorm room. Claire decides to be safe she will have to move off campus. She discovers that The Glass House residents are looking for a fourth roommate and after meeting with Shane and Eve she has to meet with Michael, the owner of the house and who only makes his appearances after sunset.

Shane whose sister died after Monica, under instructions from the vampires, set fire to Shane's family home, makes a deal with the vampires to keep Claire from further attack. This deal could mean the death of Shane. In order to null the deal Claire has to make a better offer to the vampires.

Eve a goth girl that is hated by the vampires because they feel she is making fun of them, tells Claire of something the vampires want and have been looking for for ages. Claire must find this lost article and bring peace to the town of Morganville. In doing so Claire discovers Michaels secret and is burdened with another secret. All this on the shoulders of a 16 year-old genius.

With exciting vampire battles and the hazing of college life, "Glass Houses" is a very nice introduction to a series of vampire books that brings back the stories of hunting vampires rather than falling in love with them. So if you are a fan of the other young adult vampire stories, pick up this ongoing series for some real vampire battles.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:59 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Superman: The Never Ending Battle" (Justice League of America) by Roger Stern

"Superman: The Never Ending Battle" (Justice League of America)
by Roger Stern
Multicast production
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 6 hours


I never really thought about it before, but comic books can really be philosophical pieces of literary art. I know that I had a friend that was a Literature/Composition instructor at a small community college in Missouri and he would assign the class comic books as a reading assignment and while getting a small laugh from the students, he would continue to tell them that the words in comic books can create as much of an atmosphere as the images. With the few novels in the market based on comics this imagery must be carried further. Sometimes it's a hit or miss but that is true with any novel. In this novel not only is the imagery there but the author, Roger Stern, has thrown in a bit of a philosophical view of what makes a superhero keep doing what he's doing.

To explain what makes a superhero keep helping even though he (or she) may be fighting a never ending battle, Stern uses the example of George Washington and the founding fathers of the USA mixed in with the Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership. Those commandments are:

1. People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered - Love them anyway.
2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives - Do good anyway.
3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies - Succeed anyway.
4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow - Do good anyway.
5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable - Be honest and frank anyway.
6. The biggest people, with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds - Think big anyway.
7. People favor underdogs but only follow top dogs - Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight - Build anyway.
9. People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them - Help them anyway.
10. Give the world the best you have and you may get kicked in the teeth. Give the world your best anyway.

So now we know what guides Superman and why he does what he does, let's talk about this audio book.

First and foremost this audio book is another spectacular production by GraphicAudio. When it comes to bringing a novel based on a comic book to life in audio book form I know GraphicAudio will do it right. With an amazing cast of voices, spectacular sound effects and sensational background music GraphicAudio makes this audio book a definite "Movie in your Mind."

The title of the book seems ominous enough that it will be a superior foe, but that is not the case, the foe seems to be a terrorist who wants to rule the world with chaos. To begin the chaos a small time villain is recruited. This guy is the Weather Wizard. He begins to bring severe storms to all the hometowns of the superheroes of the Justice League. In a team effort the Justice League must combat the devastation in their hometowns while at the same time trying to find who is causing the mess and stopping him.

While the book does focus primarily on Superman all the superheroes of the Justice League are found in action, and not just small cameos. So, for some good old fashioned comic book fun pick up this audio book from GraphicAudio.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:16 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"The Professor was a Thief" by L. Ron Hubbard

"The Professor was a Thief"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy Press
Approx 2 hours

Remember the days of the "Pulps?" The small magazines that printed short stories that ranged from westerns to pirate adventures to science-fiction were a staple for many readers during the early part of the 20th century. I was always a fan of comic books and on occasion bought the Isaac Asimov monthly magazines. But the real pulps preceded comic books, with titles like "Fantastic Adventures" and "Astounding Science-Fiction." Well L. Ron Hubbard wrote many stories that appeared in many of those pulps and now Galaxy Press is putting those stories together in collections of two or three stories in one book or in this case in one audio book. Let me tell you not only are they interesting stories but they are very fun to hear.

In this audio book there are three fun science-fiction stories written in the 1930s through the 1950s. The title story in the collection, "The Professor was a Thief" was even adapted as a radio play for the early 50s radio program "Dimension X."

"The Professor was a Thief" is about an ace reporter, Pop, as he is called by the staff, who is being forced to retire from a New York newspaper and before his retirement he is demoted to less important stories. Pop is given a magazine article about a physicist that has been shunned by the scientific community. It seems the professor has some outrageous claims about making the shipping industry almost otherworldly. After visiting the eccentric professor at his home, Pop is shown the professor's train collection which is in a room that is a scale model of the United states. the trains are there but no cities. Pop leaves not finding a decent story in the case and finds himself back in the office when calls begin coming in about major New York landmarks disappearing, Grant's Tomb, Pennsylvania Station and the Empire State Building completely gone. Soon Pop discovers the professor has a secret and that he is a thief.

The second story in this collection "Battle of Wizards," is a fun science-fiction story that pits Science up against Magic. Earth’s Mineralogy Service has its sights set on Deltoid, a planet rich in “catalyst crystals in a natural state.” Angus McBane, a Civil Affairs officer, is sent to Deltoid to resolve the conflict between the humans and the planet’s native inhabitants. This sets the stage for a battle between science (McBane) and magic (a local tribal chief). The winner gets rights to the planet and it's resources.

Finally we come to the third story in this audio book, "The Dangerous Dimension." This story is a humorous story with a touch of a morality tale. This is the story of a professor who discovers an equation that allows him to teleport himself anywhere he can imagine, whether he wants to or not. It is actually a pretty funny little story and does bring to question if someone discovers such a thing should the knowledge be shared.

The voice work, music and sound effects in this production all work together to give the listener an authentic mid-20th century pulp magazine feel.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:23 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Hater" by David Moody

"Hater"
by David Moody
Read by Gerard Doyle
Produced by Blackstone Audio
approx 7.5 hours


In the modern world the internet is king. This is proven simply by you reading this review here online. David Moody took advantage of the mass audience created by the internet, by first publishing his book "Hater" online. Once the novel became popular publishers scrambled to make this book a publishing success. Now "Hater" is available as and audio book, and I'm here to tell you this apocalyptic novel is well performed by Gerard Doyle and Blackstone Audio.

In "Hater" the world seems to be tearing itself apart through the madness of man. Seemingly normal people are reacting as if a switch goes off and suddenly killing their fellow man. In the beginning of the book the main character, Danny McCoyne, through whose eyes we watch the destruction of society, witnesses a man in morning rush hour foot traffic attack an elderly woman with brutality unexplained. The man viciously attacks and doesn't stop until he finally kills her by stabbing her with an umbrella. When the crowd tries to stop the man he turns on them and fights to the end. Upset by the scene Danny arrives at work shaken. Danny is an everyday average guy with a wife and three children who works in the parking division for the city. His job consists of a constant barrage of anger from the people who get tickets or worse, their car gets clamped. He is also under constant scrutiny from his supervisor. So Danny has a bit of anger he keeps under control all the time. But no anger he holds could measure up to what horror unfolds in his world.

As the days progress Danny is witness to several people snapping and just killing without remorse and always in brutal fashion. One of Danny's children's school has a child that snaps and brutally attacks and kills a teacher. Soon the television news is reporting several of the violent crimes and it seems something is happening to the city. Those that snap are soon labeled as "Haters." The big question is, what? Is it a virus, a disease, mental instability? Soon the government steps in and takes over the news broadcasts, issues pamphlets and worse yet send out troops and begin gunning down the "Haters." Danny and his family take the government's advice and lock themselves inside the house but with a "Hater" being anyone are they locking out the danger or locking it in?

Gerard Doyle delivers this first person view this end of the world novel with great vocal command. He portrays the gamut of emotions as seen through Danny McCoyne's eyes, flawlessly.

David Moody has written a piece here with intense drama and horror that keeps the listener to the audio book constantly looking into the eyes of a stranger to make sure they are not a "Hater." As a very interesting side-note; filmmaker/Author Guillermo del Toro has purchased the movie rights to this book and is in production to be released some time in 2010.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:01 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Green Lantern: Hero's Quest (Justice League of America) by Dennis O'Neil

GraphicAudio book coverGreen Lantern: Hero's Quest (Justice League of America)
by Dennis O'Neil
Muliticast Performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
approx 6 hours


When you are looking for an audio book and you want something entertaining and worth the time spent listening, you should stop and consider anything produced by GraphicAudio. These guys have set the standard for full production audio books. With superb sound effects, music and acting their promise of "A movie in your mind" is really an understatement. GraphicAudio has a way of recreating the entire universe to blast out of whatever soundsy stem you use to play the audio book.

Even more on that is that when you are looking for super realism that exists in comic books, the GraphicAudio productions of the Justice League universe from DC comics is about the only way to listen to an audio representation of a novel based on super heroes. In this audio book the listener is taken to the beginning and end of the universe with the Green Lantern guiding the way and the production by GraphicAudio makes you feel as though you are hitching a ride with the Green Lantern all the way.

This book is based on Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern. Many old school DC comics fans may know the Green Lantern as Hal Jordan, but at some time in the DC continuum, a new Lantern came about in the form of Kyle Rayner. This novel is that story.

From the beginning we learn how struggling artist Kyle Rayner is given the Green Lantern ring and forced to become the latest incarnation of the Green Lantern. But what does he do with the powers? The ring didn't come with an instruction manual, so not only what Kyle does with the ring have to be learned but also the how.

At this same time the Justice League, consisting of the favorite heroes from DC comics; Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Atom, Jonn Jonnz, Plasticman, et. al, become aware of this new Green Lantern. The Justice Leage is concerned as to how Kyle will turn out, will he use the powers for good or evil. After observing him beat down a fighter jet with a dragon created from the ring and then rescuing a man and a little girl from a plane crash using a pair of pliers and a catcher's mitt created from the same ring, they decide to ask him to join on the side of good and join the Justice League.

Kyle, being the geeky kid who never really succeeded at anything isn't sure if he can handle the responsibility and asks for 24 hours to think about the invitation. After discovering that he may be able to handle the responsibility, Kyle returns to the Watchtower, a satellite orbiting Earth that serves as home to the Justice League, the moment he arrives on the station it disappears.

The next day Kyle is summoned by Batman. You NEVER turn down a summons from Batman. Batman is out to discover whether Kyle is responsible for the disappearance. But it is soon discovered that the Oan that gave Kyle the ring, Ganthat, knows why the space station disappeared. Kyle then must travel to the planet of Oa to find the Justice Leaguers. Along this journey Kyle discovers the origin of the Green Lantern corps and the possible destruction of the universe and must battle alone to stop the destruction.

At this point in the book you may not notice but there's some lessons in philosophy, physic and humanity that may make you stop to ponder the meaning of life. This also what makes Kyle Rayner realize that, while he may not have asked for the power, he was born to wield it.

So sit back and enjoy a fun comic audio book with "Green Lantern; Hero's Quest" produced by GraphicAudio.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:26 PM Comments: 0

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

"Snuff"
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

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

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 "...in 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