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Matthew A. Razzano

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-06-12

Good universe, good characters, bad ending

A story without an ending is an elaborate typing exercise. That's what my creative writing teachers always told me anyway. Pratchett and Baxter could have done with a refresher in that area. This book is probably setting up for a sequel, but it just... stops. I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that it's very unsatisfactory in terms of all the set up that goes on early in the book which gets left unresolved. Read at your own risk. If that kind of thing pisses you off, it might not be for you.

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7 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-18-12

a good book to start reading stephenson

This book is great as a starter for Stephenson in my opinion. It has everything I come to expect from his books from having read some of the others, but it's a little bit less thick with arcane knowledge and obscure references. Personally I had a blast reading it and seeing where it seemed dated in places, but spot on in others. A great read if you liked Metatropolis. The ending was a little abrupt for me, but that tends to be a bit of a continuing theme in Stephenson books and so I only took away the one star in my review for that.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-27-11

Great conclusion

Where does The System of the World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the top 5. It's really that good.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love so many of the, but most of all I love Jack. Even when facing certain doom he has a ridiculously unfeasible plan.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes in the other Baroque Cycle novels, and this one is right up there.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several but I'm not spoiling ANYTHING in this review so read it yourself!

Any additional comments?

This book isn't really a book all its own, but a conclusion to a long series that is actually three volumes of the same book. DO NOT START WITH THIS ONE! These books really need to be read in order or you won't have a clue as to what's going on.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-27-11

would you like some cheese with that?

Would you try another book from Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum and/or Jason Culp?

No, even though I like some of his editorials in the New York Times I think he's just a bit too much of a complainer for my taste in the long form. I would not try another Friedman book.

What was most disappointing about Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum ’s story?

Whine Whine Whine, complain complain complain, moan moan moan.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jason Culp’s performances?

Yes, he wasn't bad. Did the best he could with what he had. no complaints there.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from That Used to Be Us: Free Excerpt?

I'd cut the whole damn thing. A book about how great things USED to be when escalators were new and didn't squeak? REALLY? Shut up and write about things that matter like how to get our politicians to pay attention to infrastructure.

Any additional comments?

Thomas is a smart guy, and the other author I'm sure has very good credentials, but it sounds like a couple of old men around a checkers board moaning about the glory days of the past and how everything went to China... oh wait that's EXACTLY what it is. And we all know how to fix it too. The question is: how do you get the politicians who are too busy worrying about being reelected to do anything about it to pay attention and do their jobs. That's a book I'd like to read.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-13-11

I don't know what to believe but it was fun anyway

If you like secrets, conspiracies, lookin' up stuff on Google Earth to check the author's assertions out, if you like weird science, if you like strange occurrences, this book is a good bet to whet your whistle for the strange and clandestine. The kicker comes when you try to believe some of the more outlandish assertions the author makes towards the end. I won't spoil anything here, but let’s just say it gets really strange.

She spends a lot of time throughout the book establishing herself as a reliable source, providing sources, facts, names, dates, things you can check. But when it comes to the nail in the coffin, none of that is present. It kind of put a damper on her call-to-action to put pressure on the government to make public all the secrets of Area-51 and own up to any crimes against humanity they have committed.

She denounces conspiracy theorists throughout the entire book only to replace those outlandish theories with one of her own based on equally suspect information. Still, I found the book enthrallingly written and, for the most part, pinpoint accurate. If only I could find it in me to believe ALL of it.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-12-11

an interesting take on the noir genre

I really liked this book. It had just about everything a story needs to really shine. Was it some kind of moving literary masterpiece that changed my world view and altered my life to be a richer and more complete experience? No. But it did entertain me through some really boring busy-work and kept me inspired and attentive throughout. Very well done.

The fifth star would have come from a little more creativity in some of the language that could potentially be kinda awkward every now and then, but I'm niggling.

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1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-11

Breakfast at drudgery

This book is one of the biggest disappointments I've ever had the misfortune to listen to. I was really happy with Stranger in a Strange Land and this book made me question even that. The author's shameless self-insertion characters, the attempt at gender-equity which only comes off as even worse chauvinism for its trouble, the CONSTANT and EXCRUTIATING descriptions of characters EATING which plod and beat the boredom into your brain... it all combines into one boring stupid book that never makes any attempt to fulfill the promises it made to the readers right at the beginning. I was hoping for a taught spy-thriller set in the amazing balkanized America that Heinlein was so famous for creating. What I got was an ignorant and dissociated attempt at sexual social commentary tied up with a clumsy allegory for racism, sexism, and whatever-ism. The character constantly informing the reader that she is NOT human starts to really make me hate her early on and it never ever stops. Also, this book contains one of the most inaccurate depictions of rape I've ever seen. NO joke, it's shamefully ignorant and chauvinistic and that coming from a male who's never put much stock in militant feminism.

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4 of 9 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-11

Good on ~almost~ all counts

at the end of the book, I was really satisfied with it. I thought the world-building exercise engaged in by the authors of this anthology was really successful. They created an experience that had aspects of recognizable civilization and made it clear where they had used their imaginations to create followable paths toward the future of trends already starting in cities of today. Crowdsourcing, community action, all were represented. The only problem I really had with the book was that sometimes, the characters were forced into the plot rather quickly. They didn't always get the chance to ferment properly and develop. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. Even when it doesn't, it's not a story killer. The plotting of the stories, and the fantastic science fiction really make up for any character weaknesses. Excellant read. I'll be getting the next book this month!

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8 of 10 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-26-11

Very good if you're not too dear about holmes

Let's face it, certain stories in this series are particularly non-canon. And there are even a few that are almost insulting in their cavalier creative lisence with the characters. However, even those stories I've mentioned above aren't without a certain amusement for someone who can take a little ribbing about being a Holmes fanatic. Just remember that not everyone is as reverant as a devoted fan and shouldn't have to be to enjoy spinning these characters into new stories that give us more chances to see them in action. As long as you're prepared to take this series of shorts as just that, a series of short stories and not an attempt to revamp or in any way challenge the Arthur Conan Doyle versions of our heroes, you'll find it, over all, a very satisfying listen.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-16-10

great piece of meta-fiction

Gaiman is a true craftsman and a deft hand with the styles of other authors when he bends his will to it. This funny and fascinating piece of meta-fiction had me rapt from beginning to end. It will help if you're familiar with the work of Sir Conan Doyle and several of his contemporaries, but it's not necessary. This will leave you wanting more Gaiman awesomeness so I highly recommend Fragile Things, a collection of Short Stories that contains this as well as many others.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful