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Madeleine

Audiobook addict.

London, United Kingdom | Member Since 2008

ratings
208
REVIEWS
83
FOLLOWING
9
FOLLOWERS
141
HELPFUL VOTES
600

  • 2666

    • UNABRIDGED (39 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Roberto Bolaño
    • Narrated By John Lee, Armando Durán, G. Valmont Thomas, and others
    Overall
    (333)
    Performance
    (168)
    Story
    (174)

    Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño's life, 2666 was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of Santa Teresa - a fictional Juárez - on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Nancy Bauer says: "Brilliant"
    "Avoiding Mister Death"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Someone, I don't know who it was, said that the difference between a piece of genre fiction and a literary novel is that, in literary novels, the author gives you far more detail than you need as a reader. What you make of that excess of detail then determines whether you are a literary reader or not.

    There are truly great things about this book. Although the meta-narrative voice stays true, its five parts each offer a very different narrative style. I'm not going to bother with a synopsis, because other reviewers have done this, but it moves from quirky, cosy satire to grim documentary realism to modern historical fiction.

    For me, it was mostly a story about death and the humorous, tragic, poignant or obsessive strategies we use to put it off. We're all treading water. Whether one distracts oneself focused on the ludicrously esoteric (the part about the critics), or by living through one's child (The Part about Amalfitano), or by allowing oneself to be carried up on the chaos of events (The Part about Fate), or by hovering close to the edge of death itself and living within its shadow (The Part about the Crimes), or by ccupying oneself with the act of narration (The Part about Archimboldi), I think Bolaño wrote a book about the ways people put off death. Which makes sense, since he was dying while he wrote it. "Thanatos," says Bolaño in the last part of the book, "is the greatest tourist on earth."

    There are a lot of sparkling moments of truth in this novel. The one I feel I will carry away with me most durably is that, in our relationship with our societies, there is a strange tipping point - a moment triggered by a collision of dire circumstances - at which, individually, alterity stops being a delight, an adventure, a richness of life's tapestry, and seems to become a mortal threat to the existence of the self. Whether it is the other as Foreigner, or as a member of another class, or race, or gender, the human psyche can flip from appreciation to blind terror in a very short space of time. And beyond that point, we are a murderous, inhuman bunch.

    Perhaps one of the greatest disappointments in the novel comes about because, by the end of his life, it is clear that Bolaño acquired a hell of a lot of wisdom, and yet he leaves no real place for love. I think he had taken the measure of most things, but not that. Perhaps because, despite his honest and insightful grasp of many things, he chose, like so many modern literary writers, to let that subject embarrass him into silence. In this way, it has the same, familiar asymmetry, you see in a lot of contemporary literature. Bolaño went to his grave successfully innocent of sentimentality, which, in my view, makes the novel a little less courageous than it could have been.

    I'm not a literary reader. And the single star I did not give this book probably reflects my insufficiency as reader more than it does Bolaño's ability as a writer. I found his meta narrative style of over-elaboration grating and unfruitful. And I found his rejection of sentimentality predictably post-modern.

    That being said, I don't regret the time I spent reading this book at all. It is a rich, harrowing journey, well worth the effort.

    Regarding the narration, it was very good overall. However, I found the choice of Scott Brick as narrator for "The part about the Crimes" was a poor one. This part focuses on the hundreds of murders of young women in Santa Teresa (a thinly veiled docu-drama narrative of the serial killings in Ciudad Juarez). He really loads emotion into his voice, and I felt this was particularly antithetical to the purpose of the almost list-like account of the murders. I'm pretty convinced the dryness of the style of this portion of the novel was meant to explore the phenomenon of the 'normalization' of violence. I found Brick's reading really betrayed the author's efforts to do this.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Refuge

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Craig Robertson
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    When John Callum arrives on the wild and desolate Faroe Islands, he vows to sever all ties with his previous life. He desperately wants to make a new start, and is surprised by how quickly he is welcomed into the close-knit community. But still, the terrifying, debilitating nightmares just won't stop. Then the solitude is shattered by an almost unheard of crime on the islands: murder.

    Madeleine says: "Intriguing but a little slow"
    "Intriguing but a little slow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a very interior novel. It has some lovely literary elements to it and I did enjoy it. The atmosphere is seductive and gripping, and the character is nicely developed.

    However, I found the narration hard to cope with. The Scottish brogue is thick and unremitting and, to my ears, somewhat artificial. Reynolds does Irish and Northern English accents very well, but his Scottish burr leaves something to be desired.

    I suggest you listen to the audio sample provided to see if it works for you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Richard Armitage
    Overall
    (204)
    Performance
    (193)
    Story
    (192)

    It is a tale of ghosts, of madness, of revenge - of old alliances giving way to new intrigues. Denmark is changing, shaking off its medieval past. War with Norway is on the horizon. And Hamlet - son of the old king, nephew of the new - becomes increasingly entangled in a web of deception - and murder. Beautifully performed by actor Richard Armitage ("Thorin Oakenshield" in the Hobbit films), Hamlet, Prince of Denmark takes Shakespeare’s original into unexpected realms, reinventing a story we thought we knew.

    Janice says: "Masterful retelling of a masterpiece"
    "The Devil's In the Details"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling and restructuring of Hamlet. I began listening with moderate expectations, knowing the play well and expecting it would just be a fleshing out of the original, but it was so much more than that.

    The authors have done a wonderfully creative job of approaching the tale from a fresh, very lateral perspective. Lesser events and characters in the play are brought to the fore, and a wonderful layer of Machiavellian political intrigue suffuses the story. The same is true of the play's original paranormal elements. The authors have developed it into a lush political and psychological thriller.

    I didn't give the story five stars only because I found the villain of the piece (I won't tell you who it is because that would be a huge spoiler) a little underdeveloped and cardboardish. That being said, this was more than a retelling of the play. If you like historical mysteries or alternate histories, you'll love this. It's rich and atmospheric and wonderful.

    The narration was outstanding.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Solitary Man's Refuge

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Ron Foster
    • Narrated By Duane Sharp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    This audiobook combines the three postapocalyptic adventure books of the Solitary Man Series. Look around. Millions of preppers are working feverishly every day to get prepared for what they fear is a disaster about to happen in America. The motivation for preparing differs for each person. Donald is getting his farmstead prepared in case a predicted solar storm takes out the electrical grid. Some folks might call what Donald is trying to create as a bug-out location. Other people consider his little rural house as an effort to become more self-sufficient, like a homesteader.

    Madeleine says: "Badly Constructed Narrative"
    "Badly Constructed Narrative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I do owe Foster a thanks for introducing me to the world of 'preppers', and giving me something to chew over when it comes to why there are so many people looking forward to the apocalypse. However, as a novel, this is poorly constructed.

    As with many fetishists, Foster makes the common mistake of believing his readers will share his obsession with preparing for the looming apocalypse. Consequently, he offers no insight for the mainstream reader into the hows or whys of people who have caught the 'prepping' bug. There's no context to the characters. In fact, there is very little effort to examine any of the characters' motivations. The plot flits around, clumsily interrupted with recipes, hints on prepping, and long digressions on different types of ammunition. The whole novel is dripping with a curious sort of schadenfreude towards the non-prepping majority, and there is no sense that the author was even aware of this.

    Consequently, I was relieved when it was over.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer (translator)
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (128)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (111)

    What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories.

    Darwin8u says: "Hottest Economic Beach Read of the Season"
    "The Financial Times' Critique Doesn't Detract"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is a deep shame that the Financial Times' critique of Piketty's data is going to put some people off from buying and listening to this book, because a few quibbles about a very small amount of the data (on the UK only) doesn't detract from the validity of this detailed piece of analysis. It won't matter that many other well-respected economists defend Piketty's use of the data, or the robustness of his argument. For the readers of the FT, for those who represent the top 10% of weathholders, or those who aspire to be one of them, this book is a fundamental threat to their plans.

    It's a long book, and it takes some concentration to listen to. Looking at the linked PDFs help to bring the stats and numbers to life. But I found it incredibly worthwhile. The central argument - that R>G (capital always trumps growth) is successfully and persuasively argued six ways from Sunday. And that is something not even Piketty's most vehement detractors can argue against.

    Nor did I find Piketty's conclusions and suggestions even close to being the 'radical marxist' ones that he's been accused of holding by the press. He's conscious of the fundamental value of entrepreneurship, of a vibrant market.

    When all is said and done, this book will polarize its readers along ideological lines. Because ultimately he's asking the question: what do we want our society to look like? He argues very persuasively that many of the ways we have sought to establish fairness and meritocracy in society have been ineffective in the long run.

    This book threatens those who continue to perpetuate the myth that there are even playing fields: that financial success is based on merit, that opportunity is available to everyone, that trickle-down economics works, that education is the great leveler. There are good reasons why certain groups find this book threatening. It erodes the very thin veneer that the free market is truly free.

    But it is also a very optimistic book. Piketty offers some very 'unradical' solutions for how to mitigate the problem of rapidly accelerating wealth concentration. It's not a 'downer' at all.

    The narration is good for such a long and complex book. Well chosen to be easy on the ears but still engage the concentration. I found it well worth the credit and the time I spent on it.

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Pure Instinct: Instinct Thriller Series

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Robert W. Walker
    • Narrated By Ted Brooks
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    A new horror is stalking New Orleans. He is the "Queen of Hearts" killer, removing the hearts of his young male victims. He is savage. He is unstoppable. And the New Orleans Police commissioner has requested - by name - the aid of Dr. Jessica Coran. But another horror is stalking Jessica. The man known as "The Vampire Killer" has escaped from prison, leaving a trail of blood-drained bodies in his wake. No one knows where he is - but they do know that he's coming for Jessica, the woman that put him behind bars.

    Jennifer says: "Series Takes a Nose Dive!"
    "Great Premise, Badly Written"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the premise of this novel: serial killers, psychic investigators, forensics. As a fan of detective fiction, murder mysteries and a bit of the paranormal, I was so looking forward to reading this, especially since it was the first in a series. I really wanted to like it.

    I found Walker's writing very hard to stomach. He head-hops in mid-scene (switches from the POV of one character to another), which is disorienting enough in text form and almost vertiginous in audiobook form.

    There are incredibly long passages of diegetic (telling) narrative in which we are told rather than shown the story. I'm not opposed to 'telling' and enjoy stories with a certain amount of interior dialogue and reflection to add an emotional dimension to the story, but this goes on and on, making the story feel sluggish, claustrophobic and boring.

    I was also not terribly crazy about Ted Brooks' narration. He's fine when he's not trying to do women's voices. But when he does, they sound so much like a man trying to sound like a women, it becomes comedic and distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ravage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Iain Rob Wright
    • Narrated By Nigel Patterson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Nick Adams is just a normal guy. He loves his family, appreciates his home, and covets his car. But he absolutely hates his job. Which is what makes it so difficult when not a single customer comes by his store that day. It seems as though there's a bug going around, something that has come out of nowhere and is keeping people at home. Still, it's probably nothing to worry about. People get sick all the time. And besides, things are finally starting to look up. Nick's first customer of the day has just stumbled through the door…

    Madeleine says: "Perhaps I've Read One Too Many of These"
    "Perhaps I've Read One Too Many of These"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Perhaps I've read one too many of these zombie apocalypse books and have just hit the wall on them, but overall, I found this book frustrating and annoying.

    I found the main character very hard to engage with from the beginning. I can see that Wright was trying to write a very 'everyman,' unremarkable character for his main protagonist in the first part of the book, but Nick Adams is SO unremarkable, I sort of kept hoping he'd get bitten and die off fast.

    Also, both he and the main character in the second part of the book keep seeming extraordinarily stupid and doing extraordinarily stupid things just to build artificial tension. All of this seems a bit of a shame since the one good thing about post-apocalyptic zombie novels is that the tension is really built in. You can write really smart, capable characters and still have tension galore.

    I found the story, on the whole, unoriginal and dreadfully formulaic. The sub-characters were stock and 2 dimensional.

    Patterson's narration is fine, but not outstanding. Sometimes a really good narrator can rescue a mediocre story and Patterson didn't succeed in doing it.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America - and What We Can Do to Stop It

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Thom Hartmann
    • Narrated By Dan Woren
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (56)

    The United States is more vulnerable today than ever before - including during the Great Depression and the Civil War - because the pillars of democracy that once supported a booming middle class have been corrupted, and without them, America teeters on the verge of the next Great Crash. The United States is in the midst of an economic implosion that could make the Great Depression look like child's play.

    R. Pontiflet says: "Heads Up Everybody!"
    "Good analysis, interesting conclusions"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hartmann's book is a very good, plain language look at the history of economics and the pendulum swings from liberal to conservative economic policies. It's a far easier read, but makes similar points to Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. So, if you peeked at that but found it daunting, this is a more accessible book that focuses specifically on the US.

    Like Piketty's book, it argues that, far from hindering economic growth and stability, high levels of taxation of the super rich were directly responsible for the enormous growth of the middle class and dominated during the US's most prosperous decades. And that we now find ourselves in a second 'gilded age' where a small percentage holds the overwhelming bulk of the wealth. Both books use incontestable, factual data to show that trickle-down economics never worked, that high taxation of the rich never stifled economic prosperity for the vast majority of Americans, and that any policies that enable and perpetuate the vast accumulation of wealth in the hands of a very few spells economic misery for the many and, in the case of Hartmann's book, threatens the fabric of democracy as we know it.

    The let down in this book is Hartmann's repeated use of the word 'royalists' to represent supporters of the unregulated, anti-taxation, free market forces. I found it distracting and annoying dogmatic. To call them 'royalists' is misleading. There is no monarchy being ideologically defended here. Royalists, at least, hold an ideological belief in the responsibility of a monarch to rule in the best interests of his/her nation. These people are oligarchs (or aspire to be oligarchs) in a lawless, ethic-less anarchy where the only thing that is good is greed.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Love in the Time of Cholera

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gabriel García Márquez
    • Narrated By Armando Durán
    Overall
    (350)
    Performance
    (300)
    Story
    (307)

    From the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude comes a masterly evocation of an unrequited passion so strong that it binds two people's lives together for more than half a century. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs - yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral....

    Darryl says: "Marquez is great, awaiting 100 Years"
    "The Sublime Disease of Love"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I decided to revisit this book in memory of Gabriel Garcia Marquez who just passed away. It brought back all the reasons I've loved his writing. Complex characters who evolve with the story, incredible descriptions that pull you into the settings; they become characters in their own right.

    Marquez reminds us that love is not benevolent. It is a wasting disease. But we wouldn't be human without it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 20th-Century American Fiction

    • ORIGINAL (16 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Hemingway. Fitzgerald. Faulkner. These and other giants of literature are immediately recognizable to anyone who loves to read fiction and even to many who don't. Now, thanks to these 32 lectures, you can develop fresh insight into some of the greatest American authors of the 20th century. Professor Weinstein sheds light not only on the sheer magnificence of these writers' literary achievements but also explores their uniquely American character as well.

    Carolyn says: "No longer wasted on the young!"
    "A Truly Enriching Experience"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've just spent the most delicious, rich16 hours with this audiobook course. This course is organized around the central theme of American individualism - its presence and absence in the texts, the making and breaking of persona, the way it plays into society and the way society affects it. It's a nuanced, deep dissection of how that has played out in the American novel and other ancillary writings.

    Prof. Weinstein offers some vibrant new ways into reading some familiar, and some not so well-known pieces of American literature. I'd buy any course he taught.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Human Language

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (127)
    Story
    (125)

    Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.

    Saud says: "You'll Never Look at Languages the Same Way Again"
    "How to Learn a lot in a very short time."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Prof. McWhorter's lectures were outstanding I learned so much that I didn't know about the origins, the structure and the evolution of human language. It really opened up a whole new world on a subject I didn't even realize I was all that interested in.

    I found his continuous dismissal of the effect of culture on language a little ...um... questionable, but this is his take on it, and he resides in a field that doesn't have a lot of time for cultural criticism, so that's okay. I took it on board that this is one way into the subject, and one I didn't know a lot about.

    I'll never listen to dialects or accents the same way again. I'll never bemoan the eclipse of certain words in my language, or the addition of new ones I find silly again. It's language growing and changing and without it, a language dies.

    Wonderful. This is a keeper. I'll be listening to it again.



    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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