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B. Siemens

Vancouver, BC | Member Since 2009

ratings
92
REVIEWS
8
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
3

  • The Light in the Ruins

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Chris Bohjalian
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell, Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (143)
    Performance
    (124)
    Story
    (122)

    It is 1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered.

    B. Siemens says: "Breathes new life"
    "Breathes new life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is another delectable treat from a proven, master of character development and story telling. I am so amazed that every novel that I read by Chris Bohjalian is a new and fresh treatment of his chosen topic. The Light in the Ruins does not disappoint as it breathes new life into a story of the travesties of war, the aftermath, and human touch that comes through.

    The two narrators in this Audiobook edition added to the whole experience with clarity and timing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ragtime

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By E. L. Doctorow
    • Narrated By E. L. Doctorow
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (327)
    Performance
    (229)
    Story
    (229)

    The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, New York, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. And almost magically, the line between fantasy and historical fact, between real and imaginary characters, disappears.

    Catherine says: "Ragtime and Doctorow are compelling"
    "Left me breathless--not in a good way"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having read some very positive reviews, I had high hopes for this book. E.L. Doctorow narrates his own book and his lack of breath control was the first thing that I noticed. He gasps for air multiple times during a sentence and swallows consonants. It affected how I was breathing while listening to him. I had to stop after 30 minutes. Sad, that. I have no idea about the story--couldn't focus.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Guns of August

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1082)
    Performance
    (527)
    Story
    (513)

    In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Wonderful"
    "Hopefully better in print"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am conflicted about giving this low rating because I suspect that my reasons have little to do with the author or the narrator. Having heard good reviews about The Guns of August, I purchased this audio book with great expectations. Barbara W. Tuchman's writing style is clear and concise; it is an excellent representation of what I look for in historical non-fiction. Nadia May's narration is worthy of praise; she brings life to passages that might have otherwise been droned as a litany.

    So what's wrong, you might ask. The book has too many players and too many scenarios for me to successfully comprehend in audio. When reading such a work in print, I may easily turn back a few pages and remind myself that General Whatnot serves the German army but is in conflict with General Himtoo, who is also German. This is not so easy in audio.

    At about a third of the way through the book, I decided to just keep pushing ahead and hope that I would catch the thread without continually "paging back." Another third of the way along, I find myself in a quagmire of characters and plots. It's not enjoyable and I'm not learning a thing. I will re-visit this printed book in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Intercept: A Jeremy Fisk Novel, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Dick Wolf
    • Narrated By Peter Ganim
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (228)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (187)

    Days before the July Fourth holiday and the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, an incident aboard a commercial jet flying over the Atlantic Ocean reminds everyone that vigilance is not a task to be taken lightly. But for iconoclastic NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk, it may also be a signal that there is much more to this case than the easy answer of this being just the work of another lone terrorist. Fisk suspects that the event might also be a warning sign that another scheme has been set in motion.

    Katherine says: "Page turner"
    "Not good enough to follow the series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you ever listen to anything by Dick Wolf again?

    I have appreciated Dick Wolf's television work over the years; so I really expected to enjoy this novel. The plot had some good twists, but too much of the story was 'told' instead of 'shown.' I was never able to achieve an immersive experience.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator has a deep bass voice with very little modulation. I fought against my boredom with the story and the narration to get through it. Given my low level of frustration, I focussed on every mispronounced word. Not something I want to do again any time soon.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • What's So Funny?: My Hilarious Life

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Tim Conway, Jane Scovell, Carol Burnett
    • Narrated By Tim Conway, Carol Burnett, Dick Hill, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (414)
    Performance
    (375)
    Story
    (369)

    Six-time Emmy Award-winning funnyman Tim Conway, best known for his characters on The Carol Burnett Show, offers a straight-shooting and hilarious memoir about his life on stage and off as an actor and comedian. In television history, few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There's nothing in the world that Tim Conway would rather do than entertain - and in his first-ever memoir, What's So Funny?, that's exactly what he does.

    Richard says: "Very Enjoyable"
    "Remember him without his autobiography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ugh! I listened to the audio book. Too many times, it felt like Tim was reading a grocery list for the 100th time. He starts the narration by saying something about having read the book and it wasn't that interesting. I'm sure he meant it to be a joke, but his tone at the beginning and through the remainder of the book seems like he meant it a little more than he hoped. Don't listen to this book. Maybe don't even read it. Let your memories of this great comedian remain intact.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Relic: Pendergast, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    Overall
    (3975)
    Performance
    (2428)
    Story
    (2456)

    Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human. But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders. Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who - or what - is doing the killing.

    Snoodely says: "Non-Perishable"
    "Perfect balance of creativity and listenability"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Relic has an eminently creative plot, while still maintaining easy-to-follow excerpts. I enjoyed the interplay of attraction and offense between the dynamic, interesting characters that filled in the story. Sometimes I like to be a distracted audio book listener rather than a voracious reader; in those cases, any book like this one would fit the bill perfectly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Poisonwood Bible

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Narrated By Dean Robertson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2919)
    Performance
    (1749)
    Story
    (1761)

    The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture - is calamitously transformed on African soil.

    Lynda Rains Bonchack says: "A long time coming..........."
    "Deep calls out to deep"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Deep calls out to deep ...", Psalms 42:7. Many passages from the Bible (including the Apocrypha) are quoted in The Poisonwood Bible to give insight into the characters and their thoughts. I don't remember seeing this one, but it is a passage that provides insight into my own thoughts as I read this awesome novel. I enjoy browsing reviews after finishing a book and I was struck by how polarizing this book was. This work of fiction certainly gives much to offend the reader, where few stones (of the human experience) are left unturned.

    Some negative reviewers reacted to what appears to be an anti-American-Christian-culture message. May I suggest a different understanding? The newly landed, missionary family encounters a tree in the Congo that appears to be useful but the inhabitants warn the family away from the Poisonwood tree because it is poisonous to contact. This is a lesson that the all-knowing, father, with his colonialist mindset, learns slowly. I am left understanding the importance of learning the deeper role that factors play in this world; that accepting the surface message as whole can be dangerous. Good book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night Soldiers

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Alan Furst
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (491)
    Performance
    (298)
    Story
    (300)

    Widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel, New York Times best-selling author Alan Furst takes listeners back to the early days of World War II for a dramatic novel of intrigue and suspense.

    Theresa says: "Chilling..Fantastic"
    "Easier to understand in print"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I perceive that my middling rating for this book is largely influenced by my decision to listen to the audio edition rather than read the print edition. The first third of the book creates the setting and introduces the main characters slowly by inference and realization. For example, there are many characters that are introduced for one or two paragraphs and then never referenced again; it is only by continual reference that one realizes who are the main characters. These characters actions are inferred when another characters reflects on having witnessed an event. The scene changes frequently and without obvious breaks in the flow. I became so confused that I had to re-read entire sections from a borrowed, print copy to get back on track. The latter two-thirds of the book were more clear but I still lost the train of thought too many times.

    I wish that I had decided to read only the print version. The author's writing style is excellently formatted for that mode.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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