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Herve

New York, NY, USA | Member Since 2003

326
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 20 reviews
  • 141 ratings
  • 519 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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  • Bel Canto

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Ann Patchett
    • Narrated By Anna Fields
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1548)
    Performance
    (727)
    Story
    (733)

    Somewhere in South America at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening, until a band of terrorists breaks in, taking the entire party hostage.

    Brian says: "Surprisingly engrossing"
    "Superb and haunting"
    Overall

    I haven't written a review for a long time, but I feel compelled, although it's been more than six months I've read/listened to the book. The story starts in one direction, it's not too hard to fllow but also not very compelling at the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to listen to the whole book. It's well worth if you pass the first hour or two, as then plot takes on some completely unexpected turns, and the story unfolds as a beautiful love song(s). The reason I give it five stars is because, it is one of the few audiobooks which have kept with me long after I finished them. I love the Time Traveler's Wife, for the same reason. The writing is suberb, and the situations don't have to be believable. It doesn't take long to really feel sorry for everyone and yet enjoy the contradictions of the "huis clos" in the embassy. For those who may wonder (like me before I started to listen), there is not much relation with the Peruvian embassy takeover, although the setup is pretty much the same. Once we're locked in with the hostage, it doesn't matter where or when we are, it's all about the interrelationship between hostages and their captors. Enjoy!!!

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (47 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    Overall
    (13125)
    Performance
    (9830)
    Story
    (9877)

    As opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others, a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.

    Teddy says: "Wow... Another EPIC novel"
    "Thrilling fantastic literary works."
    Overall

    Now I know there have been so many reviews that I hesitate to add one. I just wish to say I enjoyed these books tremendously. This one is the third of the series "A Song of Ice and Fire", whose title takes more and more ominous tones as the story unfolds. The first two books were "A Game of Thrones" and "A Clash of Kings", and although I haven't written a review of those, I agree with all those who raved for the book. I loved them all. How else could you listen to this third volume (38 hrs?!?) So I assume I am preaching to the choir here. If by any chance, you haven't listened to the first two, you really need to start with GoT (as the first volume is called amongst fans). Absolutely.

    For the fans, I just wish to say that the fourth installment comes in November. I've already asked Audible when they plan to provide the audio version. I find these books more immensely enjoyable in audio form, although I recently bought the paperbacks as a reference, esp. when the fourth volume comes out. It'll be handy, and more easily browsable than an audio version.

    So there. If you don't know where the web site is, and would like to read the announcement from the author himself, google it or go to georgerrmartin.com. In a previous page (now defunct, I wonder why) he explained that his choice for "A Feast for Crows", as the fourth tome is going to be named, is to take apart the book he'd be writing and only keep the part about the Seven Kingdoms (yeah! my favorite!) The part about Daenerys and the Isles is going to go into the next installments. This way he'll be able to finish the fourth in time, and in fact it makes more sense to him. And to me too: it was a bit irritating to jump back and fourth between the two continents in two stories which we knew wouldn't come together till much later in the story (perhaps not even in the next two volumes).

    For those of you feel same, my favorite character is Arya. Can't wait to hear her story. Yeah!

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Angels and Demons

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    Overall
    (5953)
    Performance
    (1546)
    Story
    (1570)

    World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization, the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra.

    Phillip says: "I couldn't put it down...5 STARS"
    "A good thriller and fantastic ending..."
    Overall

    A good thriller, but the end is a bit predictable. Although I couldn't believe he actually made the anti-matter explosion. Now just that should make you want to read it, because you're wondering where and how could there be such an explosion on earth, and how does the author plan to get away with such an even (hint: the explosion is a perfect sphere that annihilates a three mile radius sphere, imagine a three mile deep hole somewhere...) But that, I'm not saying :-)

    Among the characters, always likeable, we find Robert Langdon about one year before the Da Vinci code. The plot is still about one of these mythological societies, this time a sect devoted to the cause of science against religion, esp the Catholics, and the monstrous plan it has against the Vatican. So we find Robert goes to Rome, where he and the beautiful heroin whose father (the scientist who devised the anti-matter and is killed at the beginning of the book), track down the assassin in his quest for destruction. They have to interpret some clues and this takes us deep into Vatican history, which makes for a cultural read as well as a thriller.

    I found the plot highly likeable, with fewer of the historical and somewhat distracting long cultural monologues that render the Da Vinci code a bit lengthy. So here is a slightly more compact, more muscled, and overall more enjoyable book. If you liked the Da Vinci code, this is a must read for you. If you really disliked it, you may find this a bit too incredible and far-fetched. But it's an enjoyable summer read, definitely.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Summertide: The Heritage Universe, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Charles Sheffield
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Howard
    Overall
    (255)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (70)

    It was just before Summertide, the time when the twin planets, Opal and Quake, would orbit closest to their sun, subjecting both - Quake in particular - to vast tidal forces. It was to be the most violent Summertide ever, creating something that only happened every 350,000 years. Planetary Administrators Hans Rebka and Max Perry had no choice but to go to Quake - risking their lives to protect the others - and to learn, just maybe, the secret of Summertide and the Builders.

    Herve says: "Intriguing and leaving you wanting for more..."
    "Intriguing and leaving you wanting for more..."
    Overall

    Fortunately, this is only the first volume of the Heritage Universe series. There are three more. I wanted to listen to this book because it's a classic. And it is well deserved. We are left with enigma of the Others, until the end (will have to read the next book to know more about that) but something does happen -- not unexpectedly -- at the end. While the background and indeed the whole intrigue of the book is tapestried on the Artifacts left by an ancient and disappeared civilization, the whole story is really about these five or six characters that pursue the enigma by being at the right place at the right time, a fact noticed by only the experts or by chance for some. It is a very serious story, there is not much humor in it. It's elaborate, consistent (scientifically and literarily), and has a nice ending point that at once concludes the current story and opens vast possibilities for the next three volumes. However, I wouldn't recommend this book if you're not ready to listen to the next three...

    In passing, I should mention another old classic that treats exactly the same theme with slightly different point of view, and is a LOT more fun, in that it's written very wittily and funnily. It's the Heechee saga by Frederik Pohl (Gateway, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Hechee Rendez-Vous, and Annals of the Hechee). Now those are books that I would treasure in audio format. If you've enjoyed that one, this Summertide will feel a bit austere and just a bit belabored sometimes. But it's still good science fiction.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • State of Fear

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Michael Crichton
    • Narrated By George Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1998)
    Performance
    (424)
    Story
    (431)

    Once again Michael Crichton gives us his trademark combination of page-turning suspense, cutting-edge technology, and extraordinary research. State of Fear is a superb blend of edge-of-your-seat suspense and thought provoking commentary on how information is manipulated in the modern world.

    F says: "Did I read the same book as some of you?"
    "Entertaining but subtly missatisfying"
    Overall

    This book is (under the guise of a thriller) an attack on the global warming theory. And so if you're a hard-core global warming advocate, you'll be irked by the book. If you're of an open mind, like I am, you'll find food for thoughts. Unfortunately, I haven't checked (and don't have the time to) all the facts advanced by the author. As such, this book does not make me adopt the position of the author but at least it poses questions which I'd like to investigate later. I suspect if you have the patience to check on Crichton's (many) references, given by the protagonists, or in the prologue and conclusion, you could well be swayed by his arguments against the theory of global warming. However, for that purpose, a paper edition might be handier.

    I've read a lot (if not all) of Michael Crichton's books, and like all his devoted fans, I always enjoy them. But they all have that Hollywood touch to them that's slightly missatisfying. The close-up on the hero and the focus on the personal story get in the way of the plot. There are many action scenes in between the character development, in a way that's sure to produce a Hollywood blockbuster and keep audiences entertained. I find that in a book format, even in audiobook, the literary device is a bit too transparent and I could not really empathize with the characters. I was happy to travel and live the adventures, most of the characters were high in color, but there was this feeling at the end, that this was mostly entertainment. A good product, but not one I'm likely to reread again. One of my favorites of Crichton's recent books was Timeline, which did haunt me after I finished it, in the sense that I wanted to continue the story or be present with the characters in the story line, and revisited and sometimes reinvented some scenes. This book did not have the same quality. Still a very good listen, so I rate if four stars.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Brimstone

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
    • Narrated By Rene Auberjonois
    Overall
    (849)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (187)

    Behind the gates of a fabulous Hampton estate, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers the carnage of a gruesome crime, a nightmare of seemingly supernatural origin. The smoldering remains of infamous art critic Jeremy Grove, a melted cross branding his chest, are found in a locked, barricaded attic. The hoofprint singed into the floorboards and the smell of brimstone recall the legendary horrors that befall those who make a pact with the Devil.

    Jody R. Nathan says: "Couldn't put it down"
    "Nice reading, although..."
    Overall

    I enjoyed the reading and resuming the life of Agent Prendergast (from Cabinet of Curiosities). This book actually focuses on a case where Prendergast is the main protagonist and not just an acolyte. The story is well constructed, and while the mystery of the brimstone lets you expect some supernatural phenomenon - esp. wonder if the devil is under it somewhere, you'll have to read till the end to know more about it, I'm not telling. There is ample reference to history of the Italian as the second part of the book takes place there, and I appreciated the visit to Cremona and the violin makers. So I'm looking forward to more pleasant and entertaining listening from the duo of authors (still life with crows comes next).

    My only criticism about this book is that it's constructed on a clever idea and well put into gears, but still remains a bit too anecdotical. It lacks the grandeur and universality of themes that the authors have gotten me used to in their other books. But it's an entertaining listen and I don't regret it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ringworld

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Larry Niven
    • Narrated By Tom Parker
    Overall
    (2544)
    Performance
    (1254)
    Story
    (1273)

    Welcome to Ringworld, an intermediate step between Dyson Spheres and planets. The gravitational force created by a rotation on its axis of 770 miles per second means no need for a roof. Walls 1,000 miles high at each rim will let in the sun and prevent much air from escaping. Larry Niven's novel, Ringworld, is the winner of the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1970 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1972 Ditmars, an Australian award for Best International Science Fiction.

    Kennet says: "Genuinely Creative"
    "An entertaining but pointless romp"
    Overall

    Still wondering why I picked up this book. Although, it is a sci-fi classic, worth listening to once, perhaps, but I would've preferred to read it on paper, as I would have gone much faster. There wasn't really anything to really take the slower time to listen to the narration, I read this kind of books in diagonal and find it quite enough. (The abridged version must be even worse though.) By the end, you're left entertaining some thoughts about whether it is indeed possible to control or influence chance (there was a nice movie about this, "Intacto", with Max von Sydow, which treated this idea with better zest I though). But otherwise, it's a good reading, entertaining, but won't leave any indelible marks on your reader's psyche. I've almost forgotten it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Skinny Dip

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Carl Hiaasen
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2267)
    Performance
    (524)
    Story
    (531)

    When Chaz Perron's wife discovers that he is running a scam (posing as a marine biologist to doctor water samples so that an agribusiness tycoon can continue illegally dumping fertilizer into the Everglades), he pushes her overboard from a cruise liner. Unlucky for Chaz, Joey survives clutching a bale of Jamaican pot. Rescued from the Atlantic by a former police officer, Mick Stranahan, she decides not to report him but instead haunt and taunt him, with Mick's help, by playing dead.

    Phillip says: "Summer's Best Read"
    "Why?"
    Overall

    I still don't understand why the author took pains to write such a book. All the characters, while high in colors, are completely fabricated. It took a long time to listen to and at the end, I was struck dumb when the end came, and left to ask why? Such a pointless story, and all this time wasted. The thing with an audiobook is, you can't quite fast-forward to get a preview and decide if it's worth listening until the end. I've had this feeling also with Ringworld, although that was by far more entertaining. This book, however, meanders thru petty and unlikely characters and an intrigue which never really goes anywhere. It's a good exercise for a creative writing class, and the writing is actually quite skilled. But overall, and not being an English major student to appreciate the style, it was a waste of the time it took me to listen to.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lost Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (536)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (152)

    Step Fletcher, his pregnant wife DeAnne, and their three children move to Steuben, North Carolina, with high hopes. But Step's new job with a software company turns out to be a snake pit, and 8-year-old Stevie's school is worse. As Stevie retreats into himself, focusing more and more on a mysterious computer game and a growing troop of imaginary friends, the Fletchers' concern turns to terror.

    Dave says: "A knockout"
    "Rings so true, entertaining, and spooky"
    Overall

    This book is a fictional account of a Mormon family moving to North Carolina. I've read it a while ago and don't remember the details / names, but the story sticks. It's very bittersweet, but overall rings very true. I could have done without the Mormon's side, but it's actually not uninteresting to see the inside of the church. However, what range best in this story for me is the relationship between the family members (father/mother and children). Being a young father myself, I could appreciate and really delighted in those passages where the author analyzes the relationships. I felt that most of the material had nothing to do with the religious convictions but merely with the author being a humanist. The part about the work at the company is also interesting, not just because I am also a computer scientist, but for its early 80s hacker's feeling. All of this has gone so corporate now, but a lot of the inner politics haven't changed so much...

    About an hour before the book is over, and you wonder where all these things he's been weaving are going, is where the spooky part begins, and you don't (at least I didn't) really see it coming till the end. I must say that part was very well done. I enjoyed it immensely. Be prepared to be sad, and emotionally fragile, by that time, because the author (and the excellent narration) really takes you thru the full emotional spectrum. I have no problem putting this book in my library among my favorite titles, even though I probably won't read it again.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori, Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Lian Hearn
    • Narrated By Kevin Gray, Aiko Nakasone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5594)
    Performance
    (1780)
    Story
    (1779)

    A tour-de-force novel set in ancient Japan filled with passion, fantasy, and feuding warlords. The first volume in the highly anticipated Tales of the Otori trilogy.

    Jody R. Nathan says: "Wonderful epic story"
    "Reads like poetry! Don't miss the sequels!"
    Overall

    I?ve always loved Japan, and martial arts have always fascinated on me. So it is with the greatest pleasure I listened to the magic of this book. Magic at several levels indeed, since the leading character, Takeo (Tomasu) is of an ancient tribe and has supernatural powers. Set in medieval and feudal Japan, it starts within the Hidden (the Christians) who are persecuted. That part is historic. Then we learn about the feuds between the clans and the designs of Lord Otori, and how Takeo fits in. I won?t give away more of the story. You?ll have to find out how the clans lead their wars, including assassins and one way to keep them at bay: wooden floors designed to chirp on anyone who walks on them (hence the beautiful title, which is the first thing actually that captured my attention).

    Those who have read and liked the White Ninja series by Eric Lustbader will immediately love this book. I thought for a while that the skills (invisibility, power to put anyone to sleep by looking at them) lent to the hero had a natural explanation, such as a natural way to blend into the scenery (camouflage techniques, hypnosis), but it seems they are to be taken quite literally.

    But there is so much more magic in this book. The choice of words and sentences reads like poetry. Since the chapters alternate between Kaede (the feminine hero) and Takeo, reading by two narrators of the opposite sex was a great idea. The narration is good and does not get in the way. Some found it monotone (esp. of Ms Nakasone), but I quite disagree; to me, it had a hypnotic quality. Besides, it let the words speak for themselves and did not try to add on to them, which I think was the just touch. On a last note, those like me who speak or have some knowledge of Japanese will also appreciate the accurate and original pronunciation of the Japanese names.

    Last note: this is the first of a trilogy. The second (Grass for his Pillow) is even better. Read on!

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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