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Madeleine

Audiobook addict.

London, United Kingdom | Member Since 2008

533
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 75 reviews
  • 194 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 54 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
127

  • No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Mark Owen, Kevin Maurer
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3226)
    Performance
    (2904)
    Story
    (2928)

    From the streets of Iraq to the mountaintops of Afghanistan and to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden's compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group - commonly known as SEAL Team Six - has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines. No Easy Day puts listeners alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the 24-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives.

    Darwin8u says: "Gripping, first-hand narrative of Op Neptune Spear"
    "I'm Reviewing the Book, not the Writer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I feel I have to title my review this way because although I'm very glad this event happened, and I have boundless admiration for the people who participated in the raid, including the author, I can't honestly say it was a great book.

    To be fair to 'Mark Owen', his ghostwriter, Kevin Maurer, does bear some responsibility for taking a tired, pseudo military thriller approach to the story. The first half of the book is a very mediocre, dramatized 'montage' approach to what it takes to be a Navy Seal and rise up through the ranks to do the type of special operations detailed in the book. As heart-pounding action-thrillers go, it's lacking in the kind of tangible, humanizing elements that elevate good stories of this kind out of the G.I. Joe stereotype.

    The second half of the book deals with the raid itself in a very dry, accurate and factual way. It paints a clear picture of the anti-climactic demise of Osama Bin Laden. It probably would have taken a ghost writer with superior skills to Maurer's to forge the rising anticipation, the fear, the frustrations into a more gripping read/listen.

    I need to make it clear that I'm not dissing the Navy Seal. I'm just saying a better ghost writer might have done more to bring his story to life.

    Many critics have questioned this author's motives for writing the book, and I think the end of the story really exposes them. He's clearly not in it for the money - since most of the profits from this book are going to veteran's charities. I think he's a man who is bitter about the 'spin' the media and the administration gave the killing of Bin Laden, because having been an eye-witness to it, he feels the factual truth was good enough and didn't require embellishment.

    But he's also a man, like many in front line positions, who holds tremendous animosity towards anyone with a say in military policy and decision-making who isn't sitting beside him in combat gear, holding a firearm. I think most people who experience war on the front lines feel this way. But it sours the end of the book rather badly. Because the author is clearly not a fan of Obama, and says so often and, at times, in disparaging ways.

    This book is a) a first hand account of the raid, b) a portrait of what these admirable and brave people go through to serve their country and c) a concerted effort on the part of the author to deny the present administration any share in the glory of Bin Laden's final demise.
    (Note to future administrations: If you say you're going to have a beer with the guys your pinning medals on, you'd better keep your promise. Otherwise they end up bitter and write books like this one.)

    And although I thoroughly commiserate with the author's 'walk a mile in my shoes' feelings, I also think it does damage to the nobility of an account of what was a brave, courageous and well-implemented military action. I wouldn't want to walk in Owen's shoes, nor would I want to be responsible for making decisions about the fate of a whole country, its security, its economy and its place as superpower.

    I think it may be a central flaw in attempting to write a first person account of this sort of experience too close to the actual event, without the distance of some time and consideration to put the events in proportion. There have been some outstanding first-person accounts of war, but rarely are they written so soon after the event.

    The narration by Holter Graham was perfect for the material.

    33 of 45 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
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    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.

    1 of 1 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
    (75)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (72)

    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.

    "unknown" says: "Fascinating!"
    "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.



    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Kathleen M. Higgins, Professor Robert C. Solomon
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    Who was Friedrich Nietzsche? This lonely and chronically ill, yet passionate, daring, and complex man is perhaps the most mysterious and least understood of all contemporary philosophers. Why are his brilliant insights so relevant for today? How did he become the most misinterpreted and unfairly maligned intellectual figure of the last two centuries?

    Madeleine says: "Engaging Course"
    "Engaging Course"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a very comprehensive course on Nietzsche. Not just his works and his thoughts, but there is a rather helpful and contexualizing of his life as well.

    It's a real pleasure to listen to lecturers who love their subject. A few, though by no means all, of these Courses series are taught by people who have a really selective preference for certain parts of what their teaching, but not all of it, and it shows.

    Professors Higgins and Solomon are tremendous fans of Nietzsche's work; it comes through in their passion and enthusiasm for the topic and it makes some of the harder-to-grasp concepts presented much easier to take on board.

    I also really appreciated some of the back and forth, dialogic style of the presentation. It made the apologetics more vibrant and fertile.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert C. Solomon
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    What is life? What is my place in it? What choices do these questions obligate me to make? More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene - with roots that extend to the mid-19th century - Existentialism's quest to answer these most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom, life has continued to exert a profound attraction.

    Madeleine says: "Wonderful Survey of the Evolution of a Philosophy"
    "Wonderful Survey of the Evolution of a Philosophy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was an incredibly compelling audio course. I appreciated Prof. Solomon's inclusion not only of philosophical thinkers but also writers like Camus, Hesse, Dostoyevsky and Kafka. Their inclusion helps greatly to bring the elements of the philosophy out of dry generalities and into the real of human experience.

    I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in existentialism, but also for a richer look at the works of writers mentioned above.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Louis Markos
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Any lover of Shakespeare or the Romantic poets can concede that poetry is pleasurable. But is it good for you? Can it teach you anything? These are questions that have beguiled and engaged eminent critics for millennia, and now you can develop your own answers and options with these 24 lectures.

    Madeleine says: "Very good until it it gets to the 20th Century"
    "Very good until it it gets to the 20th Century"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Professor Markos is a passionate teacher on the history of poetry. I was a little disappointed that he was only covering poetry when I started the course, but quickly got engrossed in his lectures because he has organized the course very well and so some of the more difficult concepts of that emerge in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries were very well explained.

    However, when Prof. Markos gets to the 20th century, it becomes very clear just how disenchanted he is with even modernity, not to mention post-modernity. His derision is obvious and unhelpful. Primarily because, for instance, people like Derrida are some of the hardest philosophers to understand when it comes to literature. I could have used less derision and more information.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Code Zero: Joe Ledger, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Jonathan Maberry
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (300)
    Performance
    (286)
    Story
    (284)

    For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons - designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons.

    Melinda says: "Back Off! Or I'll Bite"
    "Look out, Joe!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am an unapologetic devotee of the Joe Ledger novels. Maberry's hero just gets more broken, wittier and more loveable with every novel.

    It leaves all the other paranormal /military thrillers behind in the dust. But so do all the others in this series.

    Ray Porter's narration is flawless.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Donnie Eichar
    • Narrated By Donnie Eichar
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (36)

    In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.

    Bruce says: "Fascinating and compassionate investigation"
    "Engaging and Creepy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This examination of the Dyatlov pass was interestingly structured and had a good sense of immediacy. A hard thing to achieve in a book that looks at a 50 year old mystery. Although not as slick as a professional narrator, the author does an excellent job of narrating his own text. My one criticism is the ending. The skepticism that is sustained throughout the book falters rather badly at the end.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Hard Spell: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Justin Gustainis
    • Narrated By Peter Brook
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (65)

    Scranton, the strangest city on earth has an uneasy “live and let unlive” relationship with the supernatural. But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that’s when they call me. “My name’s Markowski, a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”

    Madeleine says: "Predictable and Flat"
    "Predictable and Flat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was really hoping to like this. I'm a fan of the paranormal detective/thriller genre. But apart from being superficially 'noirish', this was deeply disappointing. It's gravely lacking in any of the attributes that make the genre engaging. It does nothing creative with any of the various paranormal mythologies. The plot is predictably structured and plods along. But all that would be forgivable if the characters had any depth or humour or a spark of intelligence.

    They don't.

    It was not helped by the clichéd and annoying narration.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Sycamore Row

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Michael Beck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (73)

    For almost a quarter of a century, John Grisham's A Time to Kill has captivated readers and listeners with its raw exploration of race, retribution, and justice. Now, its hero, Jake Brigance, returns to the courtroom in a dramatic showdown as Ford County again confronts its tortured history. Filled with the intrigue, suspense and plot twists that are the hallmarks of the world's favourite storyteller, Sycamore Row is the thrilling story of the elusive search for justice in a small American town.

    Madeleine says: "Grisham is all about the craft"
    "Grisham is all about the craft"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    People often dismiss Grisham as lightweight airplane novel material, but after years of listening to some pretty dismal storytelling, my return to Grisham reminded me of what an incredibly skilled writer he is. Admittedly, Jake's wife is a bit of a prop to show he's a family man, but on the whole, his characters are meaty and challenging. The plot is solid and well-constructed and gripping and his pacing is absolutely immaculate.

    At no point did I do what I usually do these days, which is groan and wish the writing had been better edited. There's no fat on this story. It's all lean, page-turning (pod-listening?) goodness.

    In an era of a lot of self-published, unedited, badly finished fiction, John Grisham is a long, tall drink of cool water.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Her Royal Spyness: A Royal Spyness Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (3788)
    Performance
    (3205)
    Story
    (3193)

    Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932. So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg... She's gate-crashed a wedding... She's making money by secretly cleaning houses... And she's been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.

    Coffee Lover says: "Joy, Joy, Joy!"
    "Fun romp, but needed a little more research"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a really lighthearted little mystery/romance series. No depth to speak of, but humourous in places.

    I did guess the solution of the 'who-done-it' very early in the book, which was a little disappointing. Also, the author could have done a slightly better job with research. The heroine calls 999 (the number for emergency in the UK - equivalent to the US 911) several years before it was instituted.

    However, high praise for the narration. Katherine Kellgren is excellent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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