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Dracula By: Bram Stoker

Dracula512DRQBCNTL._SL500_ (1)
By: Bram Stoker
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 15 hrs and 15 mins
Release date: 12-23-08
Publisher: Tantor Audio

Time to revisit a classic. I think I could read/listen to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” 2 or 3 times a year. While Dracula is not the first vampire story, that honor goes to “The Vampyre” by John Polidori, it is definitely the one that set the standard. Then when those stupid sparkly vampires came along those became the ones you compared to when deciding the worst vampire story. Anyway, everything from the way the story is told to the language used makes this story one that will never die, yes it will remain undead.

Told through letters, journal entries and diary jottings, much like the latest trend in horror films. Dracula is the 19th century’s version of found footage. This creates an atmosphere while reading/listening to that makes it hard to put this book down. In this case I listened to the audiobook read by John Lee. I have to admit I was looking for the version with an all star cast including Tim Curry, but settled for this. I was not let down. John Lee delivered the story as if it still were an all star cast. He was able to convey through his vocalizations the different people involved in the telling of this story.

I’m sure most of you reading this are familiar with the original story, so I will let the publisher recap the story in the Publisher’s Summary below. One thing I wanted to cover in this review is a new concept or moment of understanding for me this time around. It struck me this time that Bram Stoker developed Jonathan Harker as a very rational person. He’s very organized, meticulous and is a lawyer. So being a rational person thrown in a completely horrifying irrational story the breakdown of his mental state seems to take place where by the end of the book he is a broken man. So it could be about a man slowly losing his mind. I don’t know why but that aspect of the story stuck out for me this time.

Next time you read “Dracula,” keep that in mind. If you have never read this book, do yourself a favor and get a classic into your system.

Publisher’s Summary

First published in 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker has become the inspiration for countless film and stage adaptations. Indeed, the name “Dracula” has been synonymous with the undead for at least a century, and the original novel still has the power to chill.

Come then to Castle Dracula, hidden in the forbidding peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, where an undying creature of evil casts his sights on unsuspecting England. Voyage on the doomed ship Demeter as it carries a monster out of ancient superstition in search of new life and new blood. Tremble as first one woman, then another succumbs to the unholy thirst of the nosferatu, and as a small band of men and women, horrified by the supernatural forces arrayed against them, risk their lives and their very souls to oppose the evil known only as…Dracula.

(P)2008 Tantor


19486421Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files, Book 15 By: Jim Butcher
Narrated by: James Marsters
Length: 15 hrs and 49 mins
Release date: 05-27-14
Publisher: Penguin Audio

First and foremost I have to say, I miss Harry Dresden. Ever since I read the first book in the Dresden Files Series, “Storm Watch,” I’ve been hooked. What really got me hooked was listening to the audiobooks read by James Marsters. Marsters uses his voice to completely embody Harry Dresden, the Wizard of the White Council, and Chicago’s only Wizard. I really hope they try another series, this time with Marsters as the lead. The SyFy series “The Dresden Files” was ok, Paul Blackthorn was awesome as Harry, but the writers got it wrong. So try again and since Blackthorn is busy with “Arrow,” cast James Marsters as Harry and you’ll have a hit. Really, he is that good.

Even if they don’t bring it back as a series, Jim Butcher, I know you’re reading this, get back to writing, who let you out?

As we join Harry in this 15th entry to the series he is living on the island of Demonreach, unable to reach his allies. Queen Mab decides to sublet Harry and his services. Harry is to help Nicodemus steal something from the vault of Hades. Harry enlists the aid of Karrin Murphy to watch his back.

Harry and Karrin meet Nicodemus and his crew, which includes Binder and a female warlock, Hanna Ascher, and Anna Valmont, the only surviving member of the group of thieves who had stolen the Shroud of Turin in Death Masks. In what turns out to be a heist to steal the Holy Grail, Harry & Karrin experience all sorts of backstabbing and double crossing. It really wouldn’t be a Dresden book without all that fun anyway.

Publisher’s Summary

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day.…

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it.…

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains – led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone – to break into the highest-security vault in town, so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world – which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess – assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance.…

©2014 Jim Butcher (P)2014 Penguin Audio

FREE: The Future of a Radical Pricefree
By: Chris Anderson
Narrated by: Chris Anderson
Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
Release date: 07-02-09
Publisher: Hyperion

If everything was free, how would anyone make money? While not everything would be free but this book shows the incredible business strategy that will surprise you, in that it works. Chris Anderson points out that free is not just a gimmick but is a real business plan that will succeed. By the way, on Anderson’s book is FREE, so he put his money where his mouth is, or maybe

Speaking of the author, Chris Anderson, he also narrates this book and while I’m a bit wary of authors that narrate their own audiobooks, this guy can tell a good story. Anderson’s voice and delivery keeps the listener glued to the book, thus making this audiobook one of those rare business concept books that will entertain while teaching, or even teach while entertaining.

In this day and age where nearly everything is free via the internet, (podcasts, TED talks, even music) how can an individual or business take advantage of this trend? Chris Anderson points out how some have succeeded already using this concept and even gives some ideas on how anyone can adopt this plan.

So how do Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others in the digital realm survive by just giving away their products? We all have the general idea of ads keeping a site running. I work in the longest free business, radio. In radio we give the audience free music, entertainment etc. But you have to put up with ads. However not all Free business plans rely on advertising. Give this book a try to find out more.

I will say that I’m not so sure the Free model works for everyone, but Chris Anderson will try to convince you otherwise. Maybe that’s because I’m one of the older folks in his audience. Us older folk are a bit concerned and suspicious about free things. (What’s the catch.) But the younger folk, Millennials and others are used to everything being free. So it looks like free may be the future.

Publisher’s Summary:

The New York Times best-selling author heralds the future of business in Free. In his revolutionary best seller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates niche markets, allowing products and consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that, in many instances, businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them.

Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company’s survival. The costs associated with the growing online economy are trending toward zero at an incredible rate. Never in the course of human history have the primary inputs to an industrial economy fallen in price so fast and for so long.

Just think that in 1961 a single transistor cost $10; now Intel’s latest chip has two billion transistors and sells for $300 (or 0.000015 cents per transistor – effectively too cheap to price). The traditional economics of scarcity just don’t apply to bandwidth, processing power, and hard-drive storage. Yet this is just one engine behind the new Free, a reality that goes beyond a marketing gimmick or a cross-subsidy.

Anderson also points to the growth of the reputation economy; explains different models for unleashing the power of Free; and shows how to compete when your competitors are giving away what you’re trying to sell.

In Free, Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new global economy and demonstrates how this revolutionary price can be harnessed for the benefit of consumers and businesses alike.

©2009 Chris Anderson; (P)2009 Hyperion


She Stoops to Conquer9170561
By: Oliver Goldsmith
Performed by: Rosalind Ayres, Adam Godley, Julian Holloway, James Marsters, Ian Ogilvy, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf
Length: 1 hr and 51 mins
Release date: 08-25-11
Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

I just can’t get enough of these productions by L.A. Theatre works. They can take a live performance record the audio and release as audiobook without losing anything. Sure it’s nice to be able to watch the performers in action, especially this production’s star, James Marsters. I’ve enjoyed Marsters since back in the Buffy days, but more recently I’ve been enjoying his voice on James Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels he really brings those to life. So while looking at the L.A. Theatre works catalog I see him acting in a couple of the performances and I am eager to give them a listen.

Back when I was in college getting one of my degrees in Theatre, we saw the play “She Stoops to Conquer.” I thought it was mildly funny at the time. I mean come on this takes the mistaken identity genre to a whole new level. Where the main characters Hastings and Marlow are tricked into believing the home of Mr. Hardcastle is an inn. Both behave badly and hilarity ensues. Okay like I said it was mildly funny.

This performance is more than mildly funny, I actually laughed out loud several times during the nearly 2 hour performance. L.A. Theatre Works definitely knows the right cast to put into all of their recordings, but something about this one completely surprised me. I think the best part about this was that the actors weren’t necessarily known for comedy, making the “accidental” comedic occurrences even funnier. No one tried for the laugh, just let it happen. It worked. Have some fun and then let people know you listened to a stuffy play from the year 1773. It’ll make you appear more scholarly.

While the mistaken identity part of the comedy is fun, this play teaches us a little something about class, greed and behavior versus appearance. Just enjoy.

Publisher’s Summary:

Starring James Marsters, this classic comedy of manners from 1773 is still widely performed and studied. Love, lies, and dysfunctional families. Sound like your last family gathering? Try this one on for laughs. Two randy young gents, Charles and George, set out to woo the alluring and upper-crust Kate and Constance. But inexperienced Charles is shy and clumsy around upper-class ladies, so it’s the barmaid who catches his eye. But is she really who she seems? Bawdy high-jinx, popped pretensions, and good dirty fun are the hallmarks of this romping frolic that’s kept audiences laughing for over two centuries.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring (in alphabetical order): Rosalind Ayres as Mrs. Hardcastle; Adam Godley as Tony Lumpkin; Julian Holloway as Elder Marlow/Stingo; James Marsters as Charles Marlow; Christopher Neame as Roger; Paula Jane Newman as Bet Bouncer/Pimple; Ian Ogilvy as Mr. Hardcastle; Moira Quirk as Constance Neville; Darren Richardson as Diggory/Jeremy; Joanne Whalley as Kate Hardcastle; and Matthew Wolf as George Hastings. Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, in June 2010.

Public Domain (P)2011 L.A. Theatre Works


By: William Shakespeare
Starring: Alan Mandell, Josh Stamberg, Emily Swallow, Stephen Collins, Stacy Keach, JoBeth Williams, Matthew Wolf
Length: 3 hrs and 13 mins
Release date: 02-15-12
Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

Before we get to far into this review I have to talk about L.A. Theatre Works. L.A. Theatre Works audio abilities are phenomenal.  I mean, come on, I don’t think I could sit and just listen to a play for 3 hours without getting bored. That is just not the case with L.A. Theatre Works recordings.  A combination of excellent production along with casts that are just phenomenal create an audio theatre experience that will bring the stage to you.

One of the things that intrigued me most about this was that it had Stacy Keach. I love Stacy Keach’s performances, whether on Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke,” or an episode of “Mike Hammer,” Keach has some serious acting chops. As Hamlet’s father’s ghost Keach hooked me from the beginning.

With the caliber of actors in all their performances any production from L.A. Theatre Works deserves your attention.

So in case you have been under a rock for the past 500 years or so, here’s the Publisher’s Summary:

Shakespeare’s timeless story of revenge, corruption, and murder is considered one of the greatest works in the English language. Composed over 400 years ago, the tragic tale of young Prince Hamlet remains one of the theater’s most studied and performed works, presented here in a new full-cast recording, directed by Martin Jarvis and featuring a special appearance by Stacy Keach as The Ghost.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Josh Stamberg as Hamlet; Stephen Collins as King Claudius; JoBeth Williams as Queen Gertrude; Stacy Keach as The Ghost; Alan Mandell as Polonius; Emily Swallow as Ophelia; JD Cullum as Laertes; Matthew Wolf as Horatio; Mark Capri as Ambassador and others; Josh Clark as Gravedigger, Voltemand and others; Henri Lubatti as Rosencrantz and others; Jon Matthews as Guildenstern and others; Darren Richardson as Player Queen and others; André Sogliuzzo as Reynaldo and others. Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded at the Invisible Studios, West Hollywood, in August 2011.

©2012 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2012 L.A. Theatre Works


Narrated by: Robert Ramirez
Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
Release date: 09-17-07
Publisher: Recorded Books

Sometimes a book comes your way and just sits there waiting to be read, and then when the time is right you read it when you need it. That’s pretty much what happened here with “Bless Me, Ultima.” I had downloaded the audiobook from the SYNC YA summer reading program and just kept it on my computer for a while. Then while looking for what I thought would be some light fare I decided to listen to this Young Adult novel. I have to say it was interesting to read about someone else trying to determine what is good and what is evil and how to cope with what you know to be true.

The book follows a young Antonio as he is about to begin school and be separated from his mother for the first time. While worrying about school, Ultima, a sort of folk healer, comes to live with his family. Antonio is expected to become a priest, by his mother. In a community of farmers this will be a difficult road to travel. While he is preparing for his first communion and learning about God and good and evil, his religious background is enhanced by the folktales and teachings of Ultima about his ancestors.

As Antonio begins to question good and evil things happen in the village that lead Antonio to become concerned for the soul of his father. Ultima also shows him how to break a curse from the town’s witches and learns to save his Uncle. Antonio’s education becomes a pathway that shapes not only his future but his family’s future and his standing in it.

This book not only tells the coming of age of Antonio, but also gives the reader/listener a look into the society of the vaqueros (farmers) and Mexican-Americans / Chicanos and the blending with European religion and attitudes.

Robert Ramirez delivers the narration of the book with the perfect subtlety and accent to keep the book interesting throughout.

Publisher’s Summary

With hundreds of thousands of copies in print, Bless Me, Ultima has been called the most widely read Mexican-American novel in the English language. Richly evocative, it has earned its place among the classics of modern literature, even drawing favorable comparisons to Herman Melville’s legendary Moby Dick.

©1973, 1994 Rodolfo Anaya; (P)2004 Recorded Books LLC


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes8548907
By: Arthur Conan Doyle
Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
Release date: 08-14-09
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

You may have read my earlier review of a Young Sherlock Holmes book, after listening to that audiobook I wanted to listen to a “real” Sherlock Holmes book. So I found this collection, and I’m so glad I did. Ralph Cosham does a remarkable job narrating the story changing voices between characters. His Watson is just perfectly spot on and makes the entire collection worth listening to all day long.

The fun of a Holmes story is always in the Sherlock revealing how he deduces the outcome. The common observations are sometimes the ones that solve the crime but there are times when something not revealed in the story is the solution, you just really never know. Thus making Sherlock Holmes a fun read for anyone.

Publisher’s Summary

In the more than 100 years since Doyle created the immortal Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson, no other mystery writer has come close to eclipsing him as the standard bearer in crime fiction. A brilliant London-based “consulting detective,” Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess and is renowned for his skillful use of astute observation, deductive reasoning, and inference to solve difficult cases. Holmes is at the height of his powers here in this collection of 12 of his most famous cases, including “The Red-Headed League” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.”

(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Includes the following cases:

“A Scandal in Bohemia”

“The Red-Headed League”

“A Case of Identity”

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery”

“The Five Orange Pips”

“The Man with the Twisted Lip”

“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band”

“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb”

“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor”

“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”

“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches


What Would MacGyver Do? True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life
By: Brendan Vaughan6803848
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor, Shelly Frasier
Length: 4 hrs and 49 mins
Release date: 12-01-06
Publisher: Tantor Audio

Okay this is one of those rare occasions where I will be posting a bad review. The reason bad reviews are rare from me is that when I get a bad book I figure out it’s bad before wasting my time and stop reading or listening. The problem was this book seemed like it would get better. Based on the title I assumed it was going to show how super creative people can be. But no, this book stayed mundane or even less creative and more on the common sense side of things.

Growing up in the 70s & 80s, I got to enjoy (once in a while) the TV series MacGyver. Most of the time I thought the show was predictable, but the cool ways he came up with saving the day were fun to try and figure out whether they would really work. I can’t say I was a fan, but we did watch the last few minutes just to catch the big save. I figured this book would have something that great that everyday people could come up with MacGyveresque solutions, after all, it is in the title. But no, these people did a lot of things to get them out of a fix in a very simple way that didn’t impress me. I pretty much label these as common sense. I was in no way impressed.

Publisher’s Summary:

You’re driving on a deserted road when your car dies. Your cell phone isn’t getting service. All you have on hand are a gum wrapper and a wire hanger.

Or maybe you’re living in a building without central air conditioning in July. You can’t afford an AC; all you have access to are a fan and a bucket of water.

In such times of desperation, many have called upon the symbol of all that is inventive, the hero who awed thousands with his cool, quick wit: “What would MacGyver do?” they ask.

For anyone who’s ever wished they could channel the 1980s action-adventure icon comes this clever collection of 45 true stories, commemorating the use of improvised genius to solve everyday problems. Inspired by television’s Angus MacGyver (played by Richard Dean Anderson), a secret agent who relied on his brains and scientific prowess, not to mention duct tape and a Swiss Army knife, to save the day, the “MacGyverisms” recounted range from the concrete to the intangible (saving a relationship with the perfect turn of phrase). Edgy, entertaining, and smirk-to-yourself funny (using Chex Mix to provide traction in an icy parking lot?), these masterfully told stories reveal that, with a little luck and a lot of ingenuity, you can “MacGyver” yourself out of virtually any predicament.

©2006 Brendan Vaughan; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.


61zxRCSGv7L._SL500_Oliver Twist
By: Charles Dickens
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
Release date: 07-29-08
Publisher: Tantor Audio

In this day and age everyone pretty much knows Charles Dickens work, and the same could probably be said about Oliver Twist. On occasion I like to revisit classic stories, especially revisit in audiobook form. Most of the time I pick up on something I missed whether it’s because of the age difference (yeah I’m Old now, so what.) or maybe just because I do the audiobook version when revisiting and just listening to the story and letting it flow over me, either way it’s nice to discover something new each time.

While on the subject of the audiobook version, let’s talk about the narrator, Simon Vance. Vance is one of my top 5 audiobook voices. He can give each character a unique voice while reading, that at times it seems as though more than one person is narrating. Sometimes it is just enough to know it is another voice but Vance can give the story that extra oomph that will help the listener get lost in the story.

In case your not familiar with the story, this Dickens novel was a social commentary on how poverty affects all, not just the poor. Oliver is an orphan sent to live at the workhouse where his mother gave birth to him and experiences the abuse the workhouse caretakers express on the children in their care. He is then sent to be an apprentice for an Undertaker where Oliver gets abused and runs away. Once on the streets Oliver begins working for the shady Fagin while learning the tricks of the pick pocket trade from the Artful Dodger.

Through Oliver Twists misadventures with the criminal element the reader/listener is taught that poverty creates problems for everyone and that we are all affected somehow. If you ask me, you definitely learn that crime does not pay, although you have to get through nearly all of the book for that to surface.

Publisher’s Summary:

One of Charles Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, “Please, sir, I want some more”. After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and the terrifying Bill Sikes, perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time.

Rife with Dickens’ disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation – and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

(P)2008 Tantor


Billy Bathgate514bigQmtLL._SL500_
By: E. L. Doctorow
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins
Audiobook Release date: 03-04-14
Publisher: Random House Audio




First off I have to somewhat rationalize why I read a gangster novel. I really do have an eclectic taste when it comes to reading material, but I tend to stick to my favorites, Sci-Fi & Horror, but I have been known to branch out. But Gangsters? Well what happened was that I had just seen the Movie based on this book, and around the same time E.L. Doctorow’s books were re-released as audiobooks. Synchronicity? Maybe. Coincidence? Maybe. Whatever the case I was curious and wanted to hear the book.


So what’s this book about? It is a coming-of-age story about Billy Bathgate who finds a mentor in the form of Dutch Schultz. Dutch takes Billy under his wing as a young kid and turns him into pretty much a full fledged gangster. But when Dutch’s gang falls It is Billy who survives and turns his life around in a completely opposite way than that which Dutch would have led to, but because of what he learned and Dutch’s hidden fortune Billy creates a way for gang members to go legit.

From the Bronx, to upstate New York, Saratoga, and to the docks of Manhattan, Doctorow supplies the color and the feel of the 1930’s. The feel of the book just plunges the reader into its world and with the narration by Mark Deakins his delivery keeps you in that era throughout the book.

If you like gangster movies, you’ll love this. If they aren’t your thing you may not like this but give them a shot. (pardon the pun)

Publisher’s Summary

To listen to this audiobook is to enter the perilous, thrilling world of Billy Bathgate, the brazen boy who is accepted into the inner circle of the notorious Dutch Schultz gang. Like an urban Tom Sawyer, Billy takes us along on his fateful adventures as he becomes good-luck charm, apprentice, and finally protégé to one of the great murdering gangsters of the Depression-era underworld in New York City. The luminous transformation of fact into fiction that is E. L. Doctorow’s trademark comes to triumphant fruition in Billy Bathgate, a peerless coming-of-age tale and one of Doctorow’s boldest and most beloved best sellers.

©1989 E. L. Doctorow (P)2014 Random House Audio

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