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Great collection for Fanboys

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

Reviewed: 2019-10-12

Have to admit I'm a nerd. I play D&D and Video Games, read lots of SciFi and Fantasy, and enjoy campy Action and Horror flicks. I really savored this compendium of action-filled stories, almost all under an hour, about one of my favorite characters.

I was pretty worried when buying this book that such a visually impressive creature (almost tailor-made for Movies/TV and Graphic Novels) wouldn't be done justice in this format. I was wrong. It translates great to audiobook.

There are a few lame stories and dreadful performances, but what do you expect from 16 different recordings?...not all are going to fit your tastes perfectly. Personally, I'm not a fan of stories written from the perspective of the Alien. I think it's more effective if the creature remains mysterious, not thinking of it's "clan" back home. I don't really care for it's motivation. Concentrate on events, especially in short story form. I don't really care that the stories develop the "character" of a relentless, ruthless hunter. Switching back and forth from human and Predator perspective is done, too. Quite a few of those.
And face it, Salman Rushdie is never writing a "Predator" tale. Some of the authors aren't exactly MENSA members..."He instructed they put 3 minutes on the clock. They put up a countdown of seconds for more drama. It counted down from 240..."You were expecting 'literature'?

Overall it's fun, and more hit than miss. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 Stars.

Came for the Rothfuss..

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

Reviewed: 2019-10-08

...stayed for all the others
Note: This is a CROSS-GENRE ANTHOLOGY. I got it for all the Fantasy/SciFi authors, but many of the tales fit other story types. There's a couple of mysteries, a horror story, even a pulpy detective story! The Rothfuss, Martin, and Abercrombie are great.

Like any collection of many authors and an ensemble of readers, there are a variety of results. There are some good readings of kinda lame stories. There are a couple of sub-par performances of very good stories. All of the stories in this collection (except 'Bad Brass' - reads like a puerile but profanity-laced Nancy Drew; 'Bent Twig' - just plain awful; and 'The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives' - misanthropic feminist drivel) are at least decent. Some are very good...even excellent (see 'The Caravan To Nowhere' and 'The Lightning Tree'). If you have an open mind and eclectic tastes, this collection is great. If you're looking for strict Fantasy/SciFi, look elsewhere.

I was a little worried by some raters noting the messed-up format for this production - downloaded in multiple chunks for each tale and apparently no way to navigate. Not so. Each "Chapter" is an individual story, listed with the title in the menu. Each is preceeded by a short CV for the author. Pretty clean, actually. They must have fixed it.

This compendium is a decent 3.5 Stars out of 5 for fans of short stories.

Start with 'Chapter 2'

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-23

Thank you Audible readers. Chapter 1 really should be an 'Afterword', as many raters said. This story is a fun action romp in a dystopian future. The plot is straightforward, but with a Shyamalan twist near the end. Preface actually gives it away.

The story structure is like nothing I've ever read before. It's divided into small bite-sized chunks. I've seen short chapters before, usually as we approach the climax, to build pace like a 'Hurry-up' football offense. Never for a whole book. Bible Chapters are longer. I wonder if King planned this beforehand, or cut up his story after it was done. Kinda cool way to try and keep up a breakneck pace.

My issue with this presentation is with the narrator. Kevin Kenerly reads this book with all the sombre solemnity of somebody delivering a eulogy. You know what The Joker would say to this guy while describing why he has facial scars. Kenerly IS way too serious. The book is a fun action story. Nowhere near lighthearted, but Kenerly reads it like every line will determine his kids' fate.

What we have here is a "so-so" reading of a decent novel. Not King's best work. I give it 3, maybe 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Unique plot device works. Great novel

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-22

This book has all the best elements of a Stephen King book. Fascinating characters, a creepy 'What The...' plot (not really spooky in this one), and amazingly realistic descriptions of events and people. I'm convinced the man could make shopping for shoes interesting...turning mundanity to something fascinating. There is nothing in this book that's mundane.

The book has NO CHAPTERS. The whole thing is written in a strict first person perspective...one long confession in a police examination with ONLY the protagonist's voice. Gutsy approach that reminded me of Kafka and Hunter S. Thompson in it's attempt at something non-conventional. It works!

Frances Sternhagen does a fantastic job narrating. Her Eastern New England dialect is bang-on. A perfect Maine accent that's not over-the-top. Excellent emotion, appropriate pauses. You are not listening to her reading a transcript of an interview, you're with her in the interrogation room.

The book and presentation does have a couple of flaws:
Dolores is inexplicably well-read. A folksy bumpkin one moment, quoting Shakespeare the next. And why does this woman, clearly feeling justified in what she did, even give this confession? Guilty conscience? Afraid? Doesn't quite fit this iron-willed character.
For some reason they add music to some specific images Dolores describes. The musical interludes are out-of-place, reminding me of the red-coated kid in 'Schindler's List' but way less effective. I mean, they put in sound effects to make it sound like a recorded interview, then add a splash of "artistic" theme music?

This book and it's performance still rates a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Marvelous novel. NOTE: Abridged; poor narration

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-19

Elsrwhere on Audible, there is a full version of this novel (3× the length) read expertly by John C. Reilly. That is not to say this isn't a very good reading of this story. This 'Reader's Digest' version of the book maintains all important moments and scenes. Perfect for an afternoon in the garden or a road trip.
Kesey is not a great reader. Not horrible, but you can tell he's not a professional. He reads characters like Mcmurphy (always Nicholson in my mind's eye) like they're characters in a Robert Service poem. To his credit, he avoids accents, but all the characters sound kind of the same.

The interview at the end with the author is interesting. I give this version of an outstanding story 3.5 out of 5 stars

Great 'Find the Killer'. Narrator falls short

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-19

This is a masterfully written mystery. The realistic investigation isn't cluttered with suspects and false leads, but has "loose ends" aplenty, with plausible twists and red herrings. Connelly's characters seem true-to-life with interesting motivations. The pacing is great. Forays away from the main plotline are infrequent and add, rather than detract, from the mystery. Small wonder this was made into a movie.

That's not to say the book has no flaws. The love interest plotline makes little sense on the whole. The 'quirky' sidekick seems contrived. The people that McCaleb deals with seem to come in 3 strains: outwardly hostile, sycophantically helpful, or reluctantly cooperative. Few characters fall outside of these categories, to the point that I would consciously guess which people fit where as they were introduced.

The narration by Dick Hill is enthusiastic and competent, but somehow doesn't work that well here. He reads the characters with emotion and good cadence, which is great. A goodly portion of the dialogue is over the telephone. Hill uses voice effects for these, also appreciated. But after a few hours - HOURS - of phone conversation (not his fault) it gets grating, like listening to a pop singer that uses autotune too much. Some of Hill's accents are straight-up bad, and others make little sense. Why do all these L.A. cops sound like they're from Brooklyn?

With a better reader this is easily a 5-star novel. As it is, I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Probably the Weakest in the Series

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-17

Don't get me wrong. This is an excellent book, very necessary as you go on in Harry Potter's world, setting up lots that happens. It's just a little weak on plot, starts to introduce much of the stuff I hate about YA (Harry becomes more and more surly, the misunderstood loner kid with a heart of gold), and doesn't flow as well as Rowling's other books.
But I still give it a solid 4 stars.

Great follow-up

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-17

One of the better books in the series. Rowling continues to develop her classic children's hero.
Jim Dale is a tremendous reader.

Quite entertaining suspenseful yarn

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-16

This book had me at times thinking of Ambrose Bierce and at others of V.C.Andrews. The book is well-written and very descriptive. It reads like a screenplay for a movie adaptation of a "scary" story, though one unfortunately not terribly scary. It has a couple of creepy moments but isn't quite the chiller I was hoping for when I bought this as a Daily Deal.

A few readers have commented on the off-putting sex in the book. I don't see it. While a little gratuitous and somewhat nonsensical in a couple of scenes, I didn't find it excessive.
The biggest concern I had for the book was it's length. It was slow to get started, plodding at times, and I was getting tired of it by the climax.

Robin Miles does an adequate job of narrating...nothing special. Her interpretation of African-Americans is at times caricature-ish. Like the only black people she had ever seen were on TV, but puts in an otherwise decent performance.

Overall, a very good book. While I am happy to have gotten it on sale, it's worth a credit. A solid 4 stars out of 5.

Enjoyable, if typical, Zombie fun

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-13

Face it, 'Hellifax' will never make the list for Canada Reads. You won't be studying 'Safari' in your Adv Lit classes. This is, on it's face, a pretty standard zombie apocalypse story - go to town for supplies, kill some zombies, fight some bad survivors, befriend some good ones - but "Mountain Man" has some features that make it far better than many books in the genre.

First is Blackmore's writing. The man writes amazingly vivid scenes. His descriptions of battles, in particular, are fantastic, easily visualized with great pacing, tension, and even humor. He clearly enjoys the subject matter and recognizes how actually absurd this premise is. It's not parody, but he joyfully doesn't take his story too seriously. I mean, come on. It's a Zombie story, not classic literature. Blackwood understands that.
Unfortunately, his style does have some flaws, particularly his apparent fascination with genital scratching and pooping.
Also, the number of oh-so-nearly fatal experiences seems a little excessive. I found myself hoping at times that Blackmore would show the courage to pull a G.R.R.Martin and kill off one of his guys. Not so much in these tales.
But maybe Blackmore is that brave? Some of his scenarios are simply NOT survivable, yet Blackmore's characters struggle on...or do they? Did that just happen? Or was it a Hallucination? Kind of a cool yet frustrating style that makes the reader think and reflect.
And why are there so many psychopaths in Blackmore's world? Are crazy people more likely to survive? Or does surviving drive you insane? Thought provoking.
The combination of an almost tongue-in-cheek approach, some philosophical questions, and plot ambiguity is intriguing, entertaining and refreshing.

The second pretty unique aspect of the stories: the setting is SUBURBAN NOVA SCOTIA! Zombie Apocalypse in small town Canada, hordes in the dead of a Canadian winter. Awesome.

Third, Blackmore's characters are fairly unique...not quite antiheroes but very flawed protagonists. Neither terribly clever nor brave, Gus is out of shape and alcoholic. Scott is more of a typical 'hero', but remains a tortured man and a bit of a wuss. While decent fellows, neither are really all that nice. They're relatable, something attempted but not often successful in zombie stories.

Lastly, R.C. Bray is a masterful narrator. First time I've listened to a performance and considered buying a book just because this guy is reading it (though I love Michael Kramer and Roy Dotrice).
One very small issue. Why can't any Non-Canadian say the word "toque"?

All in all, an exceptional novel. 4.5 Stars out of 5.

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