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Brenda

ratings
20
REVIEWS
10
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
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HELPFUL VOTES
6

  • The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By John Thavis
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (143)
    Performance
    (132)
    Story
    (128)

    For more than 25 years John Thavis held one of the most fascinating journalistic jobs in the world: reporting on the inner workings of the Vatican. His daily exposure to the power, politics, and personalities in the seat of Roman Catholicism gave him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on an institution that is far less monolithic and unified than it first appears. Thavis reveals Vatican City as a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, scandals threaten to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past is continually upended by the practical considerations of modern life.

    Linda says: "A neutral look at inner workings of the Vatican"
    "Timely and Well Balanced"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is not a book that extols the virtues of Catholicism or the wonderful works of Catholic charitable organizations. It focuses on how the Vatican operated during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI from a reporters point of view. In that light, it is an interesting and very timely read for anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes workings of the Vatican. The author presents a balanced point of view and projects thoughtfulness as well as critical analysis of a number of high profile issues that have cast doubt and suspicion upon the Catholic Church in recent years. While he doesn't delve into every recent high profile scandal, he does report on some that are well known and others that are not so well known. Definitely worth the time if you're fascinated by church politics. The timing of the release of this book, just as Benedict announced his retirement and before the election of Francis, made it a most timely read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Exodus

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Leon Uris
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (144)
    Story
    (145)

    Exodus is an international publishing phenomenon - the towering novel of the 20th century's most dramatic geopolitical event. Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies - the beginning of an earthshaking struggle for power. Here is the tale that swept the world with its fury: the story of an American nurse, an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heartbreaking, triumphant era. Here is Exodus - one of the great best-selling novels of all time.

    Meaghan says: "My favorite book of ALL Time"
    "Not for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really wanted to like this book due to my interest in the Middle East and the history of the Jews along with the reputation of Leon Uris as a great author, but it just didn't capture my imagination. Maybe it's because it seems to be written in a slightly outdated style that seems to marginalize female characters, or perhaps it just moves too slowly. Regardless, after getting about half way through it, I'm moving on to try to find something else that will give me the history I want in a manner that I better enjoy. Thanks Audible for providing the opportunity to return unliked books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Bryce Courtenay
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3286)
    Performance
    (2320)
    Story
    (2321)

    Always leave a little salt on the bread. Ikey Solomon's favorite saying is also his way of doing business, and in the business of thieving he's very successful indeed. Ikey's partner in crime is his mistress, the forthright Mary Abacus, until misfortune befalls them. They are parted and each must make the harsh journey from thriving nineteenth century London to the convict settlement of Van Diemen's Land.

    karen says: "Best audiobook of the year!"
    "Difficult Start...Don't Give Up"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The beginning of this book was so dark and violent that I nearly gave up on it, but at the urging of other reviewers I kept going and am glad I did. The history of the exportation of persons judged to be criminals in London and banished to settle Australia came to life as Courtenay wove his tale, and the book culminates as a wonderful story of determination and survival.

    During the tale, I was a little put off by what I thought was unnecessary antisemitism, but in his preface Courtenay had addressed that as factual so I looked upon it as a fact of life as it was at the time.

    The narrator does an admirable job of using accents and a heavy brogue but speaks too quickly at times. At other times, the audio sounds as though it was artificially engineered to speed the narration, which also challenged comprehension. Nevertheless, the narration added greatly to the effectiveness of the story, and overall the book was a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Guns

    • UNABRIDGED (49 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (884)
    Performance
    (801)
    Story
    (786)

    In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King's keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.

    Daniel E. Jacobs says: "putting his voice on what people have been saying"
    "Clear and concise justification"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a former great fan of King's early works who became disenchanted with what I considered excess use of gratuitous violence and far too much unnecessary "grossness" which turned me off from his later works. I bought Guns out of curiosity regarding his opinion on the subject, expecting him to take an unrelenting stand against any restrictions on firearms of any kind. Instead, he presents a thoughtful and reasonable position that suggests an accommodating middle ground. Without insulting the beliefs of anyone with an opinion on the subject, he prompts the reader to think rationally. It was gratifying to read an intelligent discussion sans the typical polarizing rants and ridiculously divisive insults so typical of most of what is written about this explosive issue. Than you, Mr. King.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    Overall
    (445)
    Performance
    (108)
    Story
    (106)

    You'll stop at Europe's most diverting and historic locales and view the Old World through Bryson's tourist eye view in this affectionate, blisteringly insightful, and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul.

    Darren says: "Been There -- Didn't Do That!!"
    "Takes me back"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm listening to Bryson's book for the first time as I prepare for my own solo return to many of the sites he reviews. Despite differences in national currencies, the result of creation of the euro, and a few country name changes that resulted from some nasty civil wars over the years, I was transported back in time and with Bryson revisited many of the same places, sites, smells and experiences he describes. While a decidedly lightweight reflection of history, economics and social structure, it is nevertheless a delightful review of major tourist cities and provides travelers and would-be visitors with ideas of how a budget traveler might enjoy some of Europe's greatest sites. Altogether a pleasant way to travel vicariously for a few hours.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Winds of War

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2609)
    Performance
    (2197)
    Story
    (2202)

    Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

    Robert says: "A Masterpiece"
    "Disappointed for having expected better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I made it about half way through the book before giving up. I was disappointed with the character development, particularly the females who are cast as flighty, self-absorbed and irresponsible. The young men in the story didn't fare much better, and came across as immature and either reckless, indecisive or cowardly. Perhaps it's a reflection of the mindset of the 70's or simply my own opinion, but the story could have been much richer had those supporting characters played more significant roles earlier in the book. As it was, it felt all too much like a made for TV soap opera mini series, which of course it did become in the 80's.

    Since I didn't finish the book, perhaps the characters all matured and made significant contributions to the war in the end. The writing itself was fine and the historical context was satisfying. I learned a lot about the impact of the war upon central Europe, and perhaps at some point I'll return to finish the book for that reason alone. But for now, there are other historical novels such as Ken Follet's Century Trilogy that are more satisfying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • World Without End

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8679)
    Performance
    (3126)
    Story
    (3156)

    In 1989 Ken Follett astonished the literary world with The Pillars of the Earth, set in 12th-century England. Readers and listeners ever since have hoped for a sequel. At last, here it is. Although the two novels may be listened to in any order, World Without End also takes place in Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building their exquisite Gothic cathedral. The cathedral is again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge.

    Laura says: "Repetitive, but still enjoyable"
    "One of the best."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I recently listened to this book for the second time in conjunction with watching the television performance. As might be expected, the book is much richer, fuller and more complete and tells a different and much more satisfying story. Follet does a find job of enlightening the listener to the history and social structure of the middle ages and John Lee hits a perfect pitch as the narrator. The characters remain interesting throughout, but the second time through some scenes felt repetitive. Nevertheless, to someone interested in this period of history it is insightful and a terrific story by a knowledgable historian who gifts us, the listener, with his understanding and research into that most interesting age. It is a listen well worth the cost.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Kingdom: The Saxon Chronicles, Book 1

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Jamie Glover
    Overall
    (533)
    Performance
    (219)
    Story
    (219)

    From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times best-selling author whom the Washington Post calls "perhaps the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today", comes a saga of blood, rage, fidelity, and betrayal. In the 9th and 10th centuries, King Alfred and his heirs fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture by battling the ferocious Vikings, whose invading warriors had already captured and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.

    Stephen says: "Great Historical Fiction!"
    "Great intro to the Vikings"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're new to the history of the Middle Ages, this book provides a great introduction to the Vikings and their massive influence upon the development of England. Bernard Cornwell writes great historical fiction that focuses on the growth of several key characters, and during the telling of the tale, incorporates the greater aspects of cultural development and the impact of population shifts during that era. He weaves the importance of both religious and economic factors into the story line and educates the listener to the great influence that these warrior people from the North played upon the history of England. The warring scenes gets a bit tedious at times, but are appropriate given the history of the Viking warriors.

    Jamie Glover is a fine narrator with satisfactory inflection and accents. The story is not overly long, so the audiobook is priced fairly. As this is the first in a series by Cornwell, I'm looking forward to hearing more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mysteries of the Middle Ages

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Thomas Cahill
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (153)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (45)

    After the long period of cultural decline known as the Dark Ages, Europe experienced a rebirth of scholarship, art, literature, philosophy, and science, and began to develop a vision of Western society that remains at the heart of Western civilization today.

    Amber says: "the dark ages illuminated"
    "Excellent!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This has quickly become one of my favorite period history books. I've become a fan of historical fiction set in the Middle Ages, and Mysteries of the Middle Ages serves as a good companion in that it helps explain some of the greater issues that helped shape the history of that time. Readers interested in the Middle Ages will find an abundance of fascinating information presented in chapters that illuminate aspects of history without getting bogged down in endless timelines and mind numbing details that often derail other similar books.

    John Lee is an excellent narrator (as always) and enriches the book with his elegant accent, inflection and seemingly flawless performance of Latin, French and Old English.

    There are a couple of points at which the author injects his own opinion about Catholicism, which I happen to agree with, but feel should have been left out as they were commentary and drifted away from the focus of the book as history.

    Overall, this is one of those books I will return to again. It has also compelled me to look for more books written by Cahill and narrated by Lee.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Garth Stein
    • Narrated By Christopher Evan Welch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5516)
    Performance
    (3470)
    Story
    (3478)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: If you’ve ever loved a dog - or even patted a dog - this book, told from the perspective of man’s best friend, will tug at your heartstrings...and won’t let go until long after Welch performs the last word. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and by listening very closely to the words of his master.

    Lora says: "Enzo (because he's so wize) for president."
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about The Art of Racing in the Rain? What did you like least?

    This book definitely didn't live up to the hype of other reviews. The story line was predictable, the climax implausible. While it was easy enough to listen to and the performance was satisfactory, the story itself had no real tension, required no committment and was routine. It bordered on boring and thankfully, because it is a relatively short book, ended before I gave up and went on to something more interesting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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