LISTENER

Craig

Seattle, WA, United States
  • 68
  • reviews
  • 856
  • helpful votes
  • 198
  • ratings
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-18

Series Devolves into Repetitive Pageant

My decision is to abandon ship at Book 10 in the series. The opening novels have some merit, introducing several of the injustices and hypocrisies promulgated by the British Navy during the Age of Sail. However, the story runs out of material about halfway through the series and begins to rely on ever-expanding, but quite impossible, historical fiction scenarios to carry the main character (and his minions) through to the next novel. The main character, John Pearce, rather than developing a sense of purpose (and self) as he navigates the troubled waters of his impressment and sudden rise to fame, becomes increasingly indecisive, petulant, and selfish. Midway through the series his heroics are notable, but without the experiential precursors to make them believable. And, therein lies the problem with this entire saga. The author attributes (through John Pearce's loyal shipmates) most of his great deeds to luck and serendipity. Occasionally he is clever. Once, or even twice, naval-battle fortune might be acceptable as a literary device (after all, who hasn't listened to tales of lucky sea captains), but every novel contains some happenstance that allows John Pearce to sail away (or run away) again (if not victorious, alive long enough for another installment).

I liked the first few novels. Nevertheless, I am not recommending that my fellow listeners start this series intending to enjoy a long yarn about a great sea going character. John Pearce is quite droll and obnoxious towards the end of this series. Not to mention that he sails around with his be-sainted (to his shipmates) mistress...feh! This series occasionally repeats (verbatim) while dragging on and on and on...as do its tired characters and storyline.

I give these novels (as a series) two cannonades down for their repetitive fire, lucky shots, and angry emotional salvos.

In closing...if you like the word "concomitant," you'll love these novels. The author uses it so many times, I began counting. That's always a bad sign when you are trying to be open-minded about a series.

Read More Hide me
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-06-18

Mispronounced the Title for Umpteen Hours

I knew I had made a mistake with this download when the narrator mispronounced Fata Morgana in the first chapter. He did it again (and again) ad nauseum, and again even, to my horror. Fata Morgana is pronounced, Fah-tah Morgana, not Fay-tah Morgana.

This is a Sophomoric endeavor with few new insights or ideas. Extremely disappointing time travel adventure. Actually...it is a rip-off of several films and B-grade novels.

Do not purchase this book. It is a WWII, cliche packed, disjointed ramble, not worthy of your credit or time. BTW...it is not a love story as some reviewers have suggested. The love interest is a fantasy (dream-breakthrough) side show.

I give this novel two thousand-pounders down.

Read More Hide me
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-25-17

Artless Western Fiction - Celtic Fantasy Ending

First, let me say that I have over 2000 audiobooks in my library, purchased from Audible. Yes, I know my counter says, 1054...it has been stuck there for years. Of all the novels I have heard since Audible's inception....The Adventures of the Brother's Dent is the worst.

This novel was so incredibly naive, so brutally embarrassing, that I finished it just to write this review. (If you return a book, you may not write a review!) The story is about two perfect boys whose parents are murdered by bad men. They spend years seeking revenge with a road trip to become mountain men thrown in as filler. Most characters in this novel are illusions to historical fiction and non-fiction. It's like a bad 60's Disney movie rip-off...Mike Fink!?! You gotta be kidding.

I cannot believe that Audible is actually placing such low-quality pulp fiction on its roster. Without going into a lot of boring details, this book is part of a series, each of which appears to be written in the wrong publishing date order. I believe these books are repackaged, stand-alone, novels to sell as a series. The publisher, Wolfpack, also appears to sell primarily pulp. In one chapter the author uses the word *continuously* four times in one paragraph. (I assume it was one paragraph...I wasn't reading it after all.)

But the weirdest thing about this entire audio tale is last chapter. It is a random (45 minute) screed from some Celtic novel about a place called the Hall of Tutorigus. At first, I thought that this was just an editing error. Then, after restarting the chapter, I noticed that the narrator says - *chapter four...teen* - the *teen* is dubbed onto *four.* Very intentional dubbing. This was not an accident...it is definitely filler to get the book close to the magic eight hour number. Very unscrupulous, if in fact, this is what happened.

What is going on with quality control at Audible?

Read More Hide me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-17-17

Leftover TV Script

I can just imagine the conversation between Johnson and his publisher:

"You better get something out there Craig, your TV series bit the dust and your losing readers," says the publisher.

"No problem," Johnson replies, "I've got this script leftover from the TV season that they just cancelled, I'll just rewrap it and call it a book. It's not long enough for a novel, but I can throw in some Hollywood filler and cheesy metaphors. I'll flashback to a great steam engine train ride in the 70's and have Longmire carry around a copy of Murder on the Orient Express."

The publisher checks his iPhone calendar, punches some numbers into an ancient desk calculator, and gives Johnson his marching orders. "Give me something that forces your readers to buy a sequel. We've got to get your sales back on the map by September."

Craig Johnson, like most talented writers that become screenwriters, has gone the way of the buffalo...rubbed out.

I give this novel one Rainier up (for George Guidall) and one down for a Hollywood script passed off as Western Genre Fiction.

Read More Hide me

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-17

Irrelevant Details to Stretch Number of Volumes

I forgave the author in the first novel for ripping-off Mark Twain's, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," because the premise for "21st Century man meets Napoleonic War" was explained through some interesting sci-fi machinations. Then, the sci-fi fizzled out.

In the 2nd and 3rd novel, we take a painful slog through ever deepening details. Unfortunately, the details that would otherwise make this novel interesting, like seminal battles where 21st Century technology meets the 19th Century battle field, rarely occur. Instead, we see skirmish lines at the end of long (interminable) chapters about home building, baby-births, personal triumphs and losses, and gimme-a-break revelations. These novels are less about adventure and more about drama. Great Court intrigue...terrible adventure.

This novel is not science fiction, it is not historical fiction, it can't crossover to fantasy in the absence of magic...it's just daytime drama (General Hospital or All My Children). It is soap opera masquerading as soft sci-fi. Don't get involved in book number 3. It is a total let down.

Read More Hide me

7 of 14 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-31-17

Paranoid Survivalist Fantasy

I'll be brief...this is not a dystopian tale with excellent scientific or economic explanations for the state of affairs that afflict the story's main characters (and the U.S.). This book is gun porn, survivalist fantasy, and right-wing (militia) pulp fiction.

The premise is ridiculous (EMP destroys the Eastern U.S. infrastructure), though no motivations for this eventuality are forthcoming. Instead, plot and back-story are replaced with people shooting, stealing, torturing and raping around a slow, plodding, plot. The most prominent line in the story is, "We can talk about that later." (Feh) Nothing ever gets resolved. The characters are acted upon, rather than acting. No character is actually smart or interesting...they are all merely gun-totting dim-wits with lots of MRE's and ammo in the basement.

Do not bother with this paranoid "prepper" fiction. A "prepper" is a citizen ready for the apocalypse. This novel is definitely not Peter Heller's, The Dog Stars. In fact...it is nothing but the stuff of bad dreams.

Run from this title and read, The Dog Stars...that book will get you ready for anything.

Read More Hide me

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-17

Heavy-handed Editing - TV Series Coming?

All of the John Wells novels are high entertainment, as is this one. However, the end of this story (no spoilers) took took the path of least resistance, which is quite unlike the previous Wells novels that leave the listener at the edge of their earbuds to the last paragraph. Stuff was just too easy for Wells in the end, even to the point of finding the bad guys in a city of millions by chance...feh!

I smell a rat! This is what happened to Craig Johnson novels before his books went into television syndication. Johnson either got lazy or his TV editors starting working him over in a back alley. Berenson is starting to show signs of heavy-handed editing, as if his creative juice sputters out when the publisher says, "Hey, Alex, your year is up!...where's my script!!"

Prediction...expect a TV Series or Film in the next year.

I give this novel one Makarov up and one down.

Read More Hide me

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-14-17

Shop Class Missing from Dogmatic Polemic

I teach "shop class." This book was a purchase intended to enrich my life with meaningful wisdom about the virtues of reintroducing hand-work in schools as a pathway to an enriched life.

Waiting...waiting...waiting...zzzzzzz.

This book straddles two worlds, both of which exist in the mind of the author. This guy likes old motorcycles (who doesn't?). But, he expects that gives him the street-cred necessary to wax poetically (Greek poetry usually) about our crumbling state of personal self-reliance as a species. He wants us to feel that, if we just use our hands, we will be saved by some unseen and virtuous Dead-American-Crafters-Creed. However, he cannot get far enough past his stupid motorcycles to address any real issues about American Education. He uses so much mush-mouthed hyperbole that he misses his own point...college and career readiness programs are mere classist drivel taught and managed by incompetent troglodytes.

I got so lost in Crawford's Marxist revisionism, and his faux universal philosophical handiman-codex, that I began fast forwarding to find some micro-nugget worthy of my time before I had to begin teaching my thirty 7th graders how to build inductor magnetos from scratch.

Do not waste a credit on this drivel. The author does not need the money or his ego inflated anymore than its current astronomical proportions.

I give this book two shifting spanners down...way down!

Read More Hide me

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-26-16

Honest, Not Exploitive, Look at Small Town America

America is full of communities where the full extent of human experience is encapsulated in their Main Street experiences. In the Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, there gathers a lovable, but sheltered, citizenry around which our main character, Ruddy, swirls. The foci for this gathering is a local dive bar long past its prime.

About the characters in this novel, you will find yourself wanting to say, "How dumb can he/she be," but you won't say it because they are flawed just like us (and that kind of self-deprecation is difficult).

I was moved and occasionally frustrated by this story about a man with tremendous intelligence who just goes with the flow in rural America, living a slightly parasitic life (but not quite). I rated the story a 4-star and the narration the same. Overall, however, I believe this story is 5-stars because it continues to gnaw at your soul long after the last byte fades in your earbud.

Keep an open mind...enjoy the people...open your heart to Ruddy and his friends. Ultimately all of us are good. Ruddy teaches us that.

Read More Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-02-16

Rapid Degeneration into Imperial Soap Drama

This novel had all the makings of a great wilderness (man and woman against nature) all-night listen. Two British "transported convicts" escape tyrannical imprisonment in the 18th Century prison colony of Australia's New South Wales, but they hightail into aboriginal wilderness.

So far so good…right?

Then, fortunes change for the two star-crossed escaped-cons and they re-emerge into Sydney Society as a couple of out-ot-place, very well-to-do frauds. The novel degenerates from there into tension between the haves and have-nots. The author unsuccessfully attempts to keep the tension going by reintroducing a nemesis, however it's trite and campy, like a bad script for a "B" grade Aussie made-for-TV movie.

There is some great historical fiction in this listen, however, if you have read other Australian Historical Fiction (or seen the fine films from that continent), this novel may leave you wanting to put up a long Rabbit Proof Fence between you and this novel. It's a good journey, but not Dreamtime drama.

I give this novel one boomerang up and one musket down.

Read More Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful