Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • gilwilson 12:51 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , james farantino, julie harris, , , performance, , , ,   

    “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller from the “Arthur Miller Collection” by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “All My Sons”
    by Arthur Miller
    included in the “Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: James Farentino, Arye Gross, Julie Harris, Mitchell Hebert, Naomi Jacobson, Barbara Klein, Paul Morella, Michaeleen O’Neil, Nathan Taylor and Jerry Whiddon.
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 Hours.

    I’m continuing my run through this collection of 10 plays by Arthur Miller that is “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works and this next play is “All My Sons.”  I’m going to include this in one of the depressing plays from Arthur Miller, the entire premise is sad, and in fact this one really reminded me of a classic Greek Tragedy, in that a character committed an act that haunts him until his tragic end.  This time around the act is to allow faulty aircraft parts to go out during war and end up killing pilots.

    Before we talk about the story I have to talk about the production itself.  L.A. Theatre Works produces plays in audio format and every one I have heard, so far, has been a joy to hear.  Not necessarily due to the subject matter, as this play proves, but in the production itself.   Each performance is recorded with a live cast and with all the elements combined the listener feels as though they are placed smack-dab in the middle of the audience.  Being a student of theatre I was leery at the idea of theatrical performances in audio format.  The reason being, theatre is a visual art.  But the excellent production in all of LATW’s releases have taken the visual part out of the equation and mad these fully enjoyable in audio only format.  In all my previous listenings, LATW has pulled this off perfectly.

    With that said there was one minor scene in this story that just didn’t work right for me.  I’m not sure if it was because I was missing something visually or what but it just didn’t feel right.  It’s the scene where Kate’s brother, George comes back to confront Joe about the criminal act that put George & Kate’s father in prison while Joe went free.  When he arrives he was very angry, then suddenly in the scene he was congenial and ready to go out to dinner, only to immediately go back to being angry and storming off.  The mood changes in this scene seemed forced and just didn’t make sense at the moment.  However the scene is needed and later on in the performance all goes back to being perfectly performed and produced that that scene is forgiven.   By no means let that keep you from listening to this otherwise stellar performance of “All My Sons.”

    Another aspect of all the productions of LATW is the casting.  Each time I hear one of these performances I love knowing the actors names.  In this performance Arye Gross portrays Chris the son who is the center of the play, and he owns the part.  His portrayal is spot on and superb.  Sure, he’s got the support of James Farantino and Julie Harris, but Gross just makes the character come to life in his performance.

    In August 1946 Joe Keller, a self-made businesmann,  who once manufactured parts for the war effort, is contemplating a tree that has been taken down by a recent storm.  The tree was planted in memory of his son, Larry, who died in the war.   His son, Chris, is visiting and has invited Larry’s girlfriend to the homestead to ask her to marry him.   The problem with all of this is that Kate, Joe’s wife and Chris’s mother, believes Larry is still alive and will coming back.

    Ann’s father is in prison for selling faulty engine blocks for p-40 aircraft that ended up killing the pilots that flew with them.  He claims that he alerted Joe to the problem but Joe had the parts sent out anyway so he wouldn’t lose the government contract.  Joe says he was sick the day that Steve, Ann’s father, called and did not know.  A neighbor reveals that everyone on the block thinks Joe is guilty.

    Kate says Joe cannot be guilty because that would mean he killed their son and all those other boys.   In a play where family secrets are kept tight and the final outcome could destroy everyone, Arthur Miller has written a depressing yet eye-opening play.  The idea of business matters over safety is a lesson that is apropos even today.

     
    • Tanya/ dog eared copy 1:37 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I just posted my own review of this same production on my own blog a couple of days ago and I find interesting that we both mentioned the scene with George as being problematic and; that we both referred to Greek Tragedy! However, whereas you saw that scene as an anomaly in an otherwise excellent production, I was less impressed with the overall performance. I found the unrelenting fervor a bit wearing.

      Like

      • gilwilson 2:40 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Just went over to your blog and read…yeah you weren’t too happy overall.
        I thought the play was very strong otherwise, Arye Gross seemed to carry this performance for me. And yes that scene….ugh…It just didn’t quite make sense as it happened, but later in the play I understood what happened, but (and this is coming from an audio professional) i think the problem with this may have been an editing problem. I think there should have been longer silences or bigger gaps between the emotional changes. I would love to see this performed live and try to figure out what is missing in that scene.

        While I don’t full agree, i do like your “ham-fisted” description of the scene…just the term ham-fisted, i guess.

        When I read this play in college my comparison back then was to a Greek Tragedy as are most of Arthur Miller’s plays. He definitely wrote some tragic plays…death of a salesman was also a good Greek Tragedy type play. (btw, since you have the same collection I have, you’ll be listening to that one soon, I’m guessing, Stacy Keach rules that performance.)

        I also see you are listening to “We’re Alive” I loved that series…how’s that one going for you?

        Like

  • gilwilson 10:11 PM on April 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , karen savage, laura kreitzer, , revolution publishing, , , , , , ,   

    “Phantom Universe: Summer Chronicles, Book 1” By Laura Kreitzer 

    “Phantom Universe: Summer Chronicles, Book 1”
    By Laura Kreitzer
    Read by Karen Savage
    Published by Revolution Publishing
    8 hours 38 minutes

    Once again it’s time to take a romp into the world of Young Adult fiction, and sticking to my favorite genre overall, Science-Fiction.  Some of the most interesting stories come from Young Adult fiction, but then again so have some of the worst, I won’t mention any names (cough, cough, Twilight, cough, cough), but I think you know some.   Anyway this book and what looks to be a series is among one of the most interesting.   I will admit it was a bit frustrating, but in a fun way.  Frustrating because it was so cleverly written that it kept me trying to guess what was happening next, and constantly changing that guess.

    This audiobook is read by Karen Savage, and I’ll be one of the first to jump on her bandwagon.  Ms. Savage captures the voice, or rather the inner-voice of Summer, the main character in the story.  She also is able to differentiate the separate voices of the other characters with  ease and let me tell you that is no easy feat.  The voices range from Scottish and British accents, to pirates, to Native American, to Canadian, and even some Southern American.   Each one is performed beautifully in order to enhance the telling of this romp through time.   So now I have one more audiobook voice artist to put on my list to listen to more often.

    Oh, I see you caught that time travel hint.  Well the time traveling done in this first book of the Summer Chronicles is only one way with a large amount of people traveling 200 years into the future.  But before I get caught up in that aspect, which was one of the frustrating parts of the story for me, remember, frustrating in a good way.

    Summer lives in the modern day world as a slave.  Yes this book talks about child slavery and gets a bit rough, but it is all done to further the story and create the what turns out to be a strong character in Summer.  Summer was sold into slavery by, what at first seems like her mother, but more is learned to deter that idea later in the book.  She is sold at the age of 4 and is beaten with a whip until she learns to not make any noise.  The lessons of the whip are so harsh that Summer, even at the age of 16, does not talk.   She communicates with expressions and by writing on a very few trusted people’s palms.  I have to throw in at this time that this is another time to send kudos to both the author and the reader in representing the thoughts and actions of summer, the author provides the perfect descriptions and the reader presents these words in such a manner that I could visualize easily the facial expressions and emotions of Summer.

    At the age of 6 Summer is sold to a Captain of a Pirate ship.  Yes this is modern times, and the pirates, capture ships and sell the cargo.  The Captain of this ship has a liking for large screen TVs and captures container ships carrying this cargo.  Throughout her life on the ship, Summer never talks and becomes the Captain’s favorite because she doesn’t talk.  This section of the book is told with flashbacks throughout her life on the ship to modern day of Summer at 16 years old with the flashbacks talking about different things that shaped her character.  One such event is one where she is nearly raped by a crew member but is saved by another slave, a boy near her age by the name of Landon.  Summer and Landon become best friends from then on.

    About halfway through the book a surprising event happens and the Pirate ship is boarded by The Secret Clock Society in search of Summer.  Jaiden, a slave from before Summer was sold to the pirates, is sent to find Summer, but instead she betrays the Society and helps Summer escape just as the ship explodes.  Jaiden and Summer manage to make it to shore, but are unsure of the fate of Landon.

    On shore a strange thing happens and the two wake up to the intrusion of a military force capturing the two girls and rounding up what are called “Outlanders.”  Summer strangely begins to feel something for the commander of the force, Gage, and for some odd reason trusts him, this trust comes from deep within and she doesn’t understand why when she has never trusted anyone in her life, except for Landon.

    Gage and the others are members of the Canadian military and reveal to Jaiden and Summer that they are now in the year 2210.  This is where it got really frustrating for me.  How did they travel through time? Why?  Summer is examined by a medical personnel and it is decided she is not in any shape to be taken to the Outlanders internment camp.  So she spends some time in a hospital where the years of starvation and severe beatings are treated.

    In the year 2210 the Canadian government has taken over most of the civilized world.  While the United States and the rest of the world were busy with World War III, the Canadians were tired of wars and wanted peace and were able to invade through covert actions and behind the lines invasions.  I found this odd but so did some of the other characters from the past so this part was not treated too lightly and an explanation is provided, but I will leave that up to you to discover.  One of the things that caused the Canadians to be able to take control was an “Exodus,” in which 200 million people disappeared.

    So how did Summer travel to the future? and why?  Well that is the fun of this story, and it would be a spoiler, so I won’t be telling you, but it completely changes the character of Summer and all her friends new and old, and starts a saga that is only begun in this book one of “The Summer Chronicles.”  I’ll warn you now, don’t try and figure out why or how, just enjoy the great storytelling and when it is explained, just say, “Ahhh, of course.”  Oh also as is in most Young Adult fiction you have a bit of silly teen romance going, but that is not the bulk of the story, so just let that slide as well.

     
    • Jeff 11:25 PM on April 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good review!

      Like

    • MarthaE 10:51 AM on May 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Glad you had a positive response to this book. So did I. I avoid reading other reviews until I get mine done. Funny how we focus on different things.
      Happy reading/listening!

      Like

  • gilwilson 11:02 PM on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , autumn aftermath, , , , , , , , ,   

    “Autumn: Aftermath” by David Moody 

    “Autumn: Aftermath”
    by David Moody
    Published by Thomas Dunne Books (2012)
    388 pages

    What an adventure!!  If you, like me, have been reading the entire “Autumn” series by David Moody, this final book in the series is a bittersweet thing.  First of all It brings an end to the series of books where the dead have risen and only about one percent of the population have survived.  Now, before I go any further, I should clarify that this is not your typical Zombie Apocalypse novel.  While the dead do rise and there are a few survivors having to fight of the hordes of rotting, walking dead, they never use the word zombie.  In fact, the things that make this different from other zombie stories, is that the walking cadavers do not have the need to feed on the dead, and the infection is not spread and the survivors do not have the risk of being turned into the living dead.

    This series is primarily about survival and how the interactions of the human race could allow us to destroy ourselves further or enable the species to live on.  The cadavers in David Moody’s book can kill but only by mere mass of thousand of bodies closing in on someone.  They do become violent when threatened, but they are not out to eat your brains.  So if you are ready to survive that then get ready to read an outstanding series about apocalyptic survival.

    This is the fifth book in the series (you could almost say 6th because of another story that was released online, but maybe I’ll explain that more if I get a copy of that one on my Kindle) and wraps up the entire apocalyptic events and even attempts to explain why the undead “attack” the living.  The extra super cool thing about this book is that it fully explains and brings into the fold that last book, “Disintegration,” the 4th in the series.  “Disintegration” introduced a completely different set of characters from the first three books and I just assumed it was a side book which took place at the same time as the others.  But this final book in the series wraps them all up in one nice neat package.  (However, Mr. Moody, if you are reading this, there is room for a follow-up, that would be fun.)

    While it was amazing to wrap up all the books and find out what was going to happen to mankind in a world overrun with rotting dead folks walking around, I was sad to see that the story was over and done.   The best part about the series was not the walking dead, nor really the survivor’s stories, the best part of the series and especially so in this book, was the descriptive writing by David Moody, that kept me in the story in all dimensions.  There were times when he would describe the surrounding areas covered in decomposing bodies that through his words I could actually smell the rot and decay.  In a similar manner I could hear the squelching of the people walking through the liquid depths of decay through fields where the bodies were decomposing and leaving a liquid slurry of rot.  At the same time as writing about these gory details the author also placed the reader into the heads, in a very realistic manner, of each of the characters and made it easy to understand why they acted as they did.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this guy, David Moody, is the bard of zombie apocalyptic stories.

    Okay the main story of this book finally converges the two parties mentioned before and brings in a few new characters.  As soon as you open to page one you will not be able to stop until the end because of the non-stop action and will to survive.  The first couple of books told of the group that started the whole walking cadavers experience in cities, a university, an army base and finally finding an island to settle on after clearing the few dead.   Book four took us on an adventure where a small group was surviving in the city, but when the dead overpowered their home base, took off and found a group holed up in a remote resort hotel.  That book ended with the hotel being overrun by the zom…oh wait…walking cadavers.

    “Aftermath” takes us first to one of the characters from the hotel finding a small group of people surviving in a castle where the bodies cannot get inside.  When the winter sets in and the dead are frozen the group heads back to the hotel and finds the few survivors and brings them back to the castle.  In this castle there is a bit of a rift between 2 men who want to lead, one says they should plan for the future, while the other says no need to plan, just wait out the bodies.   When they make a trip to raid a town of food and supplies, one man, Harte, distracts the unfrozen dead so the raiding party can get back to the castle.

    Now it’s time to bring in the folks that are on the island.  If you remember they have a helicopter and are still using it to fly to the mainland for the occasional supply run.  This time they fly to the mainland to find boats for future trips.  They fly into the same city where Harte distracted the dead, and find Harte still alive.  Harte tells them of the survivors in the castle and with the idea of adding more to the population of the island a few fly to the castle to bring the survivors to the island.

    The leaders of the castle are split as to whether they should stay or go and a schism develops which further develops into a small war between the islanders and the castle survivors.  The outcome is a long battle for the survival of the human species.

    While the zombies don’t eat flesh, this is definitely a book and series that any zombie lover should add to their library.

     
  • gilwilson 10:33 PM on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , contemporary theatre, , everyman, , , , , midwest, , ,   

    “The Man Who Had All the Luck” by Arthur Miller (produced by L.A. Theatre Works “The Arthur Miller Collection”) 


    “The Man Who Had All The Luck”
    by Arthur Miller
    Full Cast Performance Starring:
    Emily Bergl, Kevin Chamberlin, Tim DeKay, James Gammon, Lee Garlington, Graham Hamilton, Tom McGowan, Kurtwood Smith, Russell Soder and Tegan West
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 hours

    I have recently discovered the magic of theatrical productions from L.A. Theatre Works, and they are now among my list of top 3 audiobook producers.   L.A. Theatre Works records live theatre performances and releases them as audiobooks, making a huge selection of plays,  from classic to contemporary, available for consumption.  The nice thing about these is that the audio production quality put into these releases not only places you in the middle of the audience but the high caliber of acting makes it so the plays will keep you intrigued and wanting for more.  At least that is what has happened to me.

    This time around I listened to another Arthur Miller play (previously I had listened to the Arthur Miller play “Death of a Salesman” starring Stacy Keach).  Arthur Miller wrote many plays about the everyman and created plays that explored the struggles of man.  L.A. Theatre works has put together a collection of his plays called “The Arthur Miller Collection” which includes 10 plays which includes this one.  It also includes, “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible,” and more.  I recently got my hands on this collection after listening to “Death of a Salesman” so I could explore more about this American Classic that is Arthur Miller.

    What makes the productions from L.A. Theatre works so good is that through attention to detail recording and production, take a live performance and turn it into an audio medium.  Listening to these performances (and this one is no exception) I felt as if I were in the middle of the audience, with applause and sound effects from the performance pushing that feeling.  The one thing that totally surprised me is that I did not miss any of the visual aspect of the performances and was able to enjoy the full effect of the play(s).  I can’t wait to get on with the rest of this collection, with 2 down and 8 to go, I’m going to spread them out a bit, besides, they are only around two hours each so they are perfect to get in between other audiobooks and while doing all my daily functions.

    “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” is about a young Midwestern boy, David Beeves, who seems to have all his life handed to him, or rather lucks into whatever he gets.  He’s set up in a barn as a mechanic and everyone takes their cars in for repairs, yet he’s never had any training and admits he doesn’t know anything about fixing cars, but he seems to get the job done.  When he is having a problem with a particular car a stranger out of nowhere walks in and is able to fix the car.  When he can’t get married to his girlfriend until her father is out of the way, the father dies in an automobile accident.  When he builds a gas station, the state decides to put a highway right in front of it.  When Beeves gets older he begins to wonder what is going to happen when his luck runs out, is he due for a disaster to pay back for all the luck?

    This play fully explores the question whether fate or hard work decides a man’s future.  David’s brother, Amos, is trained by his father day in and day out to be an expert baseball pitcher, but how does all that hard work pay off?  Not in the way that it would for David and his “Midas Touch.”

    On a side-note here; Kurtwood Smith plays the part of David’s father and is constantly training Amos.  Kurtwood is the one who played Red Foreman in “That 70s Show,” and deep down inside (because I was a fan of the character he played on that show) I wanted him to say a line from the show (I won’t say the line here, but you probably know which one, if you ever watched the show).  But just knowing how great of an actor he was I was happy enough just to hear his voice.

    One of the 10 great plays by Arthur Miller, produced by L.A. Theatre Works and cram packed into this “Arthur Miller Collection.”

     
  • gilwilson 9:02 PM on April 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a movie in your mind, , , , , , , , , joseph nassise,   

    “The Templar Chronicles: The Heretic” by Joseph Nassise 

    “The Templar Chronicles: The Heretic”
    by Joseph Nassise
    Multi-cast performance
    Published by GraphicAudio
    Approx 6 hours

    I started listening to this audiobook on a Friday the 13th, and didn’t realize the synchronicity of my starting on that date and the subject matter until I had arrived at work.  I work in radio, and on one of the newscasts the news announcer talked about the origins of the fear of Friday the 13th, one of the reasons listed was that on a Friday the 13th Pope Pious ordered the murder of all the Knights of the Templar due to rumors of dabbling in witchcraft and other acts of heresy.  After starting this book and hearing that discussion, I knew I was listening to the right audiobook.

    Other than the synchronicity of the date another reason I knew I was listening to the right audiobook was that it is published by GraphicAudio.  GraphicAudio doesn’t put out mere audiobooks, the create what they call “A Movie in your Mind.”  Every time I have listened to an audiobook from them I am amazed at the quality of their productions.  They use top notch voice actors and their music and sound effects make all their books come to full 3D life.  Previously from them I have listened to their audiobooks created from DC comics.  Their bringing to life the otherworldly sounds and battles between superheroes and super-villains is just unreal.  This book has a lot of characteristics of comic books including super-powers and otherworldly villains and GraphicAudio was the perfect choice for this audiobook, because GraphicAudio knows how to bring these subjects to life.

    I say that this book has some superhero/comic book characteristics and after doing a bit of research on the book, I found that the author has turned this into a comic book series, which sadly is now out of print.  Maybe they’ll print a trade-paperback.  Either way I feel as though I have heard the full effect of the book by listening to this, yet another, mind-blowing special effects extravaganza that goes into every GraphicAudio production.

    At the end of the First Crusade, the church created a monastic military order known as the Knights Templar.   They were the official warriors for Christendom but when they were captured and tortured into false confessions, many were burned at the stake and the Pope disbanded the order.  This only led to the knights becoming the stuff of legend.  Now, rising up from the ashes of history, they are the Vatican’s last defense in the war between good and evil.

    The desecration of Templar cemeteries has sparked a full-scale investigation.  Leading this investigation is Cade Williams, who is no ordinary man. His ability to cross over to the other side and touch a person or item and see its past makes him uniquely qualified to command the Church’s special operations division.  As a modern-day Knight, Cade can use the curse that has scarred his soul as a weapon against the forces of darkness, but this curse/power has also branded him as a heretic among some of the higher-ups in the Vatican.

    Cade and his team soon discover that cabal of necromancers and sorcerers is behind it all. Their purpose: to claim the legendary powers of a lost holy relic, the Spear of Longinus, for their own ungodly campaign.  Cade takes on a new member of his team who also has a special power of his own.  Cade also has the ability to see special abilities and forces (both good and evil) and sees that the leader of the Knights Templar’s aid, Duncan, has the ability to heal with his hands.  Combining powers they must battle demons, zombies, and sorcerers to protect the Spear, the world and all known reality.

    In what is a cross between a Frank Miller comic book, an Indiana Jones adventure, and a Seal Team 6 mission,  Joseph Nassise has written an excellent action adventure novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the superb audio production from GraphicAudio will push you off and right into the middle of the action.  What is even better, is that this is only book one of a three book series, so that means more to come.

     
  • gilwilson 9:42 PM on April 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: audiobok review, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    “The Toughest Ranger” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “The Toughest Ranger”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    Approx. 2 hours

    Wanna get roped into a fun story from the golden age of stories?  Read on and I’ll tell you about a fun collection of stories that will be released this coming June from Galaxy Audio and Galaxy Press.

    Galaxy Press and the audio book equivalent Galaxy Audio have been releasing the stories from the Golden Age, other wise known as the days of pulp fiction, since 2008.   During the early to mid 20th century in America there were all sorts of cheaply printed magazines that specialized in everything from sci-fi, mysteries, crime-stories to westerns.  The magazines were printed on cheap paper that was so cheap that the pulp was clearly seen and felt, thus the name Pulp Fiction.  Many writers used these magazines as outlets to release some of the greatest stories ever written.  During this time L. Ron Hubbard was prolific at putting out the stories and he would write in every genre of fiction that was printed in these magazines.  Galaxy Press has been re-releasing these stories creating a newer version of the pulps.  These books contain stories written by Hubbard in these magazines and picking up these books you can escape back in time and enjoy some fun short stories from the master storyteller.

    Galaxy Audio is the audiobook side of Galaxy Press and they release the books in audio form that still create that feel of the pulps.  The audiobooks sound like an old-time radio drama from those same days.  With the over the top Hubbard characters, the actors bring to life the written word with some great vocal acting.  The music is created for each genre and really push the emotions and excitement of the stories.  One other thing, being like an old-time radio drama they have sound effects that not only perfectly match the events and ambiance of the story settings but keep the story in your head so you can still create your own theatrical performance.

    This time around I listened to another group of stories from the Western genre.  This is a genre that I never had even thought of reading, let alone listen to in audiobook form.  I was just never a Western fan.   With the excellent productions I had heard from Galaxy Audio in the Sci-Fi stories from L. Ron Hubbard, I ventured into some of the Fantasy, Mystery and Adventure stories and finally broke down and gave the Westerns a chance.  I was not at all surprised at the production being just as superb but I was surprised that I now look forward to listening to another Hubbard Western story.  The two aspects that sold me are the excellent vocal skills of all the actors and the realistic but subtle sound effects, even the rattlesnakes sound like they can strike if you get to close to the speakers.

    This book, which once again will be released in June of 2012, contains 3 stories from the Western Pulp Fiction magazines.

    “The Toughest Ranger,” originally published in the June, 1938 issue of “Western Story Magazine,” tells the story of a  scared, exhausted, and half-starved young Petey McGuire, a saddle tramp on the run from one beating to another, crying sensitively when a lame horse has to be shot.  He finally gets angry or maybe hungry enough to become the toughest Ranger.  Petey finds his way to the headquarters of the Arizona Rangers looking for a job.  Needing food for himself and his horse, Petey creates a new ornery personality; he claims to be the toughest man around from Kansas City to Nawlins (New Orleans for you city folk), a man so tough he’d give a rattler nightmares. But when the chief Ranger, Captain Shannon, calls Petey’s bluff and sends him after the most dangerous desperado in the state, Petey must discover what it really means to be Ranger-tough.

    The second story, “The Ranch That No One Would Buy,” originally published in the October, 1939 issue of “Western Yarns,” tells the tale of when a fearful young man comes to town to buy a ranch for a friend and is challenged to a gun fight for cheating by the local bully.  The outcome of the six-gun showdown seems sadly predictable.   But this is an L. Ron Hubbard book and one of the things he’s best at is throwing twists and turns into a story, and the ending may surprise you a bit.

    “Silent Pards,” originally published in the November, 1938 issue of “Western Story Magazine” is a fun tale that tells of an old prospector, Old Cherokee, who gets his gold stolen from him twice, but when of  rattlesnakes have Old Cherokee marked for their hungry fangs, they overlook his two silent partners, his dog, Hardtack, and Joe the mule.  This one was the best story to close out this collection, in that it was just plain fun, and you knew the bad guys were gonna get what’s due.

    So venture off into some fun stories from the days of Pulp fiction and escape.

     
  • gilwilson 9:47 PM on April 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a.j. scudiere, , , , , , , , ed asner, god's eye, Gryffon ink Corp, , multi-cast,   

    “God’s Eye” by A.J. Scudiere 

    “God’s Eye”
    by A.J. Scudiere
    Multicast performance
    Published by Griffyn Ink Corp.
    15 hours and 25 minutes

    Every once in a while I venture into the new publisher/author/audio producer realm of audiobooks and it can be hit or miss.  This book was a mix of a lot of hit and a little miss.   I have been asked before why I never write a bad review, and my answer is because I never read or listen to a bad book.  If a book is bad I put it down and don’t bother with it.  With all those good books out there why should I waste my time?  So with that in mind and reading this review you know that this was not a bad audiobook…but….there were some moments which need to be pointed out so you can be prepared for them.

    I think I’ll have to address this review in segments, so first I’ll start with the writing and story itself.  The writing is very dark and the story is very intriguing.  So there is the win.  The basis of the story is that Katherine Geryon works in a financial investment company, in fact, her name is in the company name, Light & Geryon.  Okay to be exact, her father’s name is on the company, but hey you get the idea.  The company funds projects and gets high returns on their investments.  Katherine’s job is research.  She looks into company histories to see if return on investment is high enough to sink money into the project.  This becomes important later in the book, but I’ll leave that surprise up to you to find for yourself.

    The main concept behind the story is a war  between an angel and a demon for Katherine’s soul.  The two, Zachary and Alistar, must win over Katherine and she must make a decision as to which one to go with.  One will win and the loser will die.   The problem that Katherine has is that she is seduced by both and once she finds out she must make the decision she cannot figure which one to go with.  To be fair A.J. Scudiere’s writing is so ingenious that even the reader/listener cannot determine which is the angel and which is the demon.  I have to say I was rooting for one or the other to win throughout the book, and kept changing which one that I couldn’t figure out which was which until the very end, and then I said to myself, “I knew it,” but in reality the mystery through the book kept me guessing throughout.  That aspect alone makes this book a very nice escapism piece of horror fiction.  I enjoyed the writing and storyline immensely.

    The book is a multicast performance in which each different character was read by a different voice actor.  When the story was from Zachary’s point of view you’d hear his voice and from Katherine’s you’d hear her voice with all dialogue performed by each actor.  This was nicely done and with the added bonus of having Ed Asner (yes THAT Ed Asner) as the voice of Katherine’s father, the voice work was nice.  The actor portraying Zachary had a very interesting super deep voice that kept me interested in his side of the story.

    At this point here’s were some of the non-hit part of the audiobook took place.  While the actor portraying Alistar was superb in his performance, his voice just seemed to be too old for the part written, but he made it work and made it more bearable.  The actress portraying Katherine did another superb job….but…there were three words that drove me buggy throughout the entire book, and they were enunciation problems.  The words; wouldn’t, couldn’t and didn’t would sometimes come out as; woont, coont and dint, and that just totally irritated me.  If the story hadn’t been so good I would have stopped listening.  (yeah, I know that’s a bit picky, but it just didn’t belong in this story.)

    Being touted as an “AudioMovie,” I was thinking there would be more in production for this audio book.  There were some sound effects thrown in that helped to mentally visualize the settings of some of the scenes and when the cell phone would ring and the story called for the character to be startled, it would startle me also.  So the sound effects are very subtle and there were times where they seemed a bit forced, or maybe that more were needed.  They went for the middle of the subtle and full-blown production and I think it worked, but there were moments.   The really cool parts were the sound effects used when portraying the changes from the other worldly creatures to humans, some sounds that just don’t occur naturally and the production company created some nice effects that could give some people nightmares, and that’s a good thing.

    All around I would recommend this audiobook and say enjoy the constant twist and turns that create a nice supernatural mystery, but just be prepared for a few slips here and there.

     
    • radaronelson 9:53 PM on April 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I have never really been able to do audio books. Something about someone reading to me detaches me from the storyline and I can’t get into the characters like I can if I’m reading it myself. As for writing bad reviews I am the same way, though my OCD won’t let me put the book down if I don’t like it, I have to finish it, maybe in part hoping at some point it will get good but even if it is bad my review won’t be all bad, I’ll most likely say it was an okay book but not for me and maybe point out a couple thinks I didn’t agree with or like. I think there has only been one exception to that rule. Otherwise, I did enjoy your review, I see your reading Autumn Aftermath which that series is on my list to read in the future as well. Thanks for the review. Keep them coming.

      Like

      • gilwilson 8:46 PM on April 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        There are some audiobooks that aren’t just people reading to you. In fact the audiobook market is filled with some really good books that are completely dramatized like “GraphicAudio” or “Galaxy Audio” and it’s a completely different experience. There are some audiobook readers that are extremely talented and can present a book as if it were a one person play Susan Erickson comes to mind. You should give them a try.

        Like

  • gilwilson 10:05 PM on April 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , john f. kennedy, kennedy assassination, lee harvey oswald, , , , scribner, ,   

    “11/22/63” by Stephen King 

    “11/22/63”
    by Stephen King
    Published by Scribner (2011)
    849 pages

    If I remember right, “Christine” was the very first Stephen King book I read, and since then I have read every book published by Mr. King. The King of Horror is my go to man when it comes to wanting something to read and not sure what I want to put my hands on. He has never let me down and always creates a story that is not only intriguing but can envelop the reader completely. I have read every thing he has written to date, and when he announced he was retiring, I desperately sought out other similar authors; Dean Koontz and Clive Barker were a couple, but none seemed to grab me as much as Stephen King. I have other favorite authors, but Stephen King will always be my utmost favorite. So with that in mind, understand I enjoy every Stephen King book and don’t think I could give them a bad review if I tried. This one is no different.

    A lot of critics say he gets too wordy, but I think that is what I enjoy in a Stephen King novel, the expansion of the main story into something else entirely and eventually he will bring you back to the main idea that started the story in the first place. This book is exactly that. The main premise is that there is a portal that goes back to September, 1958, and when you return it is only as if two minutes have passed, no matter how long you stay in the past. So with that as the main part of the story and the title of the book “11/22/63,” you know someone is going back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Again, this is a Stephen King book and the development of a story doesn’t stop with that idea. There are whole lives involved and whoever goes back to the past has to live in the past for five years before the event happens, so now the story really unfolds.

    Basically Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. In the beginning of the story he receives an essay from one of the students, which is a true Stephen King gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on a mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

    It seems Al has tried this but the past is obdurate and does everything it can to prevent the future from being altered. Al has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to die. Jake is the only one that can change the past to make the future better. Before he does something as drastic as preventing Kennedy’s assassination, Jake decides to first try and save Harry Dunning’s family from his murderous father. While the past does try to keep Jake from changing the outcome, he manages, barely, to save all but one member of the family. When he returns to the present he sees that it can be done but that there are consequences.

    One other thing, each time someone goes back through the portal to 1958, the past/future resets. So Jake must save several people on the second time round and eventually move to Texas and get ready for the big mission. Here’s where the story gets involved and becomes more than just a time travel novel. Jake, Now George Amberson, has taken up teaching in a small town while he stalks Lee Harvey Oswald, to confirm he is the one and only shooter and to plan on how to stop Oswald before the deed is done.

    During this time Jake/George, falls in love, finds his life is teaching and that he loves helping out the students, but all the while Oswald lurks near and must be stopped.

    So while enjoying a story of a man out of time thoroughly getting lost in life, the time travel aspect keeps coming up, especially the mention of the “butterfly-effect,” and how much of the future is changed by his simple interactions with people and especially students. This effect is made even more prominent when near the end of the book he returns to his own time, only it is not his time anymore.

    Can this simple (really not that simple) plan of saving one of history’s favorite Presidents be a good thing or a bad thing. In writing this story King not only relied on his gift of an elaborate imagination, but he also had many discussions with historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin and actually has a fully thought out and debated plan for the future with Kennedy surviving, which may surprise you.

    All around this is a fun book and yet another Stephen King book that provides one more answer to the What If question.

     
    • gajenn 7:32 AM on April 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I really enjoyed this one as well. I’m anxiously awaiting the new Dark Tower novel!

      Like

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