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DARBY KERN

Green Bay, WI United States | Member Since 2010

28
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 10 reviews
  • 81 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • The Honourable Schoolboy: A George Smiley Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By John le Carre
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (112)

    The mole has been eliminated, but the damage wrought has brought the British Secret Service to its knees. Given charge of the gravely compromised Circus, George Smiley embarks on a campaign to uncover what Moscow Centre most wants to hide. When the trail goes cold at a Hong Kong gold seam, Smiley dispatches Gerald Westerby to shake the money tree. A part-time operative with cover as a philandering journalist, Westerby insinuates himself into a war-torn world.

    Darwin8u says: "Conrad's Ghost Floats & Haunts this Sad Spy Novel"
    "I wish the story grabbed me more..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Honourable Schoolboy to be better than the print version?

    Yes. No. I don't know. Mr. Jayston does a great job reading a book that isn't my favorite JLC book.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Anything to do with George Smiley was interesting and engaging. Jerry Westerby is a great character but his part of the story just doesn't grab me. I may need to give it another go someday, but it won't be soon.


    What about Michael Jayston’s performance did you like?

    He's got a great handle on the characters and his Smiley is a great impersonation of Alec Guiness.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When I realized Smiley has the ability to be an uber-jerk. I didn't get it from reading the book.


    Any additional comments?

    The Honourable Schoolboy a byzantine and (maybe) overly long novel that takes almost a full day to listen to. It doesn't move like a bat out of anything but it does have lots of character development and a lot to say about how the world works, not all of it complimentary. It's a story that hasn't been translated into a dramatic form, except for the recent radio version with Simon Russel Beale (I've heard rumors that there was a version in the early 80s, but I haven't tracked it down), probably because of the complex nature of the story. Some folks think it's the best JLC book out there. I don't, and I think the novels on either side of this one are much better. JLC at his worst is better than many authors at their best. His command of the English language is immense and his stories are always thought provoking.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Harry Kemelman
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (45)

    Young and unassuming Rabbi David Small sorts through puzzling pieces of mysteries with logic straight from the Talmud. In Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, a shocking discovery on the temple grounds threatens to ruin both the diligent rabbi and the entire Jewish community at Barnard’s Crossing. Unaware that his congregation is grumbling about his rumpled appearance and absent-minded manner, Rabbi Small spends long hours poring over scholarly books.

    DARBY KERN says: "I slept late too, because i was up late listening."
    "I slept late too, because i was up late listening."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Friday the Rabbi Slept Late again? Why?

    I would listen to it again- I WILL listen to it again. It's a fun little mystery that set the tone for the whole series.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Rabbi Smalls is such an interesting character- not always likable, but his insights into the Jewish religion are always interesting. I learned lots about the true nature of a rabbi's duties with this series.


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

    Rabbi Smalls, again- though I thought he did a fine job with all the characters.


    Any additional comments?

    Check the series out if you like mysteries with a surprise ending. This is the first one and sets the tone. It may be a bit dated (1964) but it's good fun. All the clues are there and it's still a surprise when you find out who the killer is.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Perfect Spy (Dramatised)

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By James Fox, Harriet Walter, Julian Rhind-Tutt
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the bestselling novel by John le Carré, starring James Fox, Harriet Walter and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Magnus Pym, Counsellor at the British Embassy, is hosting a dinner party at his home in Vienna when he receives an unexpected telephone call that will profoundly affect his life. Once the guests have gone, Pym breaks the news to his wife, Mary: his father, Rick, is dead. In a state of shock, he says something Mary cannot understand - 'After all these years, I'm free.'

    Christopher says: "A decent dramatization"
    "A great dramatization, not the complete novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about A Perfect Spy (Dramatised)?

    It's a nice condensation of the novel, which I have less time to read or even listen to. The story is told very nicely and the actors do a wonderful job- as they do in all the Le Carre' adaptations. Those adapted by Rene Basilico are the best in my opinion. They include The Perfect Spy, The Russia House, A Small Town In Germany, and the two Smiley adaptations: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People (the versions starring Bernard Hepton- sadly not yet available on Audible).


    What other book might you compare A Perfect Spy (Dramatised) to and why?

    A Small Town In Germany and The Russia House, both dramatized and available on Audible. I recommend them both.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    A clear understanding of how the lines are read. The British idiom can be lost in print but the actors make things clearly understood. I haven't listened to Mr. Jayston's reading of the book, which is 17 hours longer, but I suspect he helps push the listener along too.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "After all these years... I'm finally free."


    Any additional comments?

    You must realize that this is a dramatization with multiple actors, sound effects and music. It's so much more than one person reading you a story, but it is NOT the word for word text of the novel. That is available too and I wouldn't discourage you from buying it. I think if you give the dramas a try you'll find you enjoy them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Lyndsay Faye
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1342)
    Performance
    (1001)
    Story
    (996)

    Breathless and painstakingly researched, this is a stunning debut mystery in which Sherlock Holmes unmasks Jack the Ripper. Lyndsay Faye perfectly captures all the color and syntax of Conan Doyle’s distinctive nineteenth-century London.

    connie says: "the best of both Holmes"
    "Best of the Holmes/Jack-the-Ripper books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Dust and Shadow?

    The voice of the narrator is true to the Conan Doyle stories. Lyndsay Faye gets it right. The story is true to the character and doesn't try to tell a story that changes the whole fabric of the Sherlock Holmes canon or history.


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Well, Simon Vance is always good. He does the characters very well, but that's a given. I like his audio books because he seems to understand every line he reads and that is NOT always the case with audio books.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I started it skeptical, because there have been so many really, really bad Sherlock Holmes/Jack-the-Ripper books and movies. This one didn't seem to want to change the whole world. It fits neatly into the Holmes canon without being disruptive.


    Any additional comments?

    Once you finish all the Conan Doyle stories this is a very good book to continue with. Doyle steered away from Jack the Ripper (or any current events) probably for good reason. There have been a bunch of really bad Holmes/Ripper books and movies, especially that POS by Michael Didbin, THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES STORY. Dust and Shadow is so much better that you don't even need to think about that one. This is probably the best of the bunch, but don't let that damn it by feint praise. This is a pretty good book. I hope Lindsay Faye writes another.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Family Corleone

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Ed Falco
    • Narrated By Bobby Cannavale
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (76)

    For Vito Corleone, nothing is more important than his family's future. While his youngest children, Michael, Fredo, and Connie, are in school, unaware of their father's true occupation, and his adopted son Tom Hagen is a college student, he worries most about Sonny, his eldest child. Vito pushes Sonny to be a businessman, but Sonny - 17 years old, impatient, and reckless - wants something else: To follow in his father's footsteps and become a part of the real family business.

    Richard Delman says: "Too many rub outs. Too little originality."
    "Great reading of a good book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Family Corleone in three words, what would they be?

    Sonny's bloody rise.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characters have more to them than we could have imagined. Luca Brazi has a backstory that I probably wouldn't have guessed. He's more than just a large, dopey killer.


    Which character – as performed by Bobby Cannavale – was your favorite?

    It's hard to chose just one, Cannavale does a great job with the voices. His reading of Frankie Pentangeli was perfect- you could even think it's Joe Gazo reading it. His Vito Corleone is pretty well done too, and doesn't veer into a caricature.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Five Families are four too many.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't know exactly how much of this book is directly from Mario Puzo's script, which was only half a movie to begin with. My guess is that Ed Falco had a fairly free hand in crafting much of this story and I think he did a great job. This is a book I enjoyed MORE than the original novel, The Godfather, which rambled into some lurid and even silly areas (seriously, who cares about Lucy Mancini's vaginal surgery?). The Family Corleone tells a tight, cohesive and fast paced story without wandering. The dialogue is good and the story has the feeling of authenticity. The only thing I noticed, and I may be wrong, is the timing of Laguardia being mayor of NY. I thought it was a little later than what this story covers. No big whoop.

    What Falco does right is he doesn't try to weave too much historical info into the story that everybody knows the outcome. The example that comes to mind is the assassination attempt in As Time Goes By. You know it will fail because that part of history is fairly well known to us. Sure The Godfather Part 2 showed us the fall of Cuba, but Michael was not instrumental in that in any way so there is a question of survival for him and Fredo.

    Bobby Cannavale does a great job reading this book. His voices are true and the character readings are spot on. He keeps the book interesting, even during the exposition. No matter how well written it is exposition is still exposition, but Mr. Cannavale does a very nice job with it.

    If you know and love these characters The Family Corleone is a great place to find out how well you really know them. It's a fun ride too. Well worth your credit or money.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Goldfinger

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (316)
    Performance
    (187)
    Story
    (189)

    James Bond is challenged by a maniacal superfiend: the world's cleverest, cruelest criminal. Complications abound. A beautiful golden girl turns up dead, and a friendly game of two-handed canasta turns into a deadly game of survival with ever-rising stakes: 15 billion dollars worth of U.S. government bullion. But 007 knows that Auric Goldfinger's rules remain brutally simple: heads I win, tails you die.

    DARBY KERN says: "One of Fleming's better books"
    "One of Fleming's better books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Goldfinger" is, in my opinion, one of Fleming's better James Bond books. The story is pure hokum, but it's told at such a fast pace that you don't need to worry about it. Raymond Benson called this "The Fleming Sweep" in his "The James Bond Bedside Companion," and it's in full force here. It's that drive that pushes the story along practically daring you to stop reading.

    This is also one of the rare occasions where the movie follows the book fairly well. The movie is plotted a little tighter and has more urgency but the book has better characterization- no surprise there.

    I'm a fan of Simon Vance's reading of the James Bond canon. He does it with a nice variety of voices and just the right hint of snobbery that Fleming includes in every story. I'm only a couple titles short of having the whole series for the time being, and Goldfinger is one of the best, right behind From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and (maybe) Thunderball. Vance does a wonderful job with all of them.

    If you're wondering if the books are for you this is a good one to test the waters with, even though it's the book that ends the first half of the series. The books that follow have a different tone and villain(s). SMERSH is the primary villain in the first half, directly or indirectly. After Goldfinger SPECTRE takes center stage and the Russians play a much smaller role.

    If you've read all the books before (I did over 25 years ago) then this is a nice way to "relive" them. I Definitely recommend the series.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Stephen King
    Overall
    (2179)
    Performance
    (1059)
    Story
    (1053)

    The prolific, perennially best selling author recounts his early life and writing struggles, gives advice on the crucial aspects of the writing art, and talks about his much-publicized, near-fatal accident.

    Bill says: "Excellent!"
    "Pretty darn good- and I'm not a fan."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before I bought this I had finished reading only one Stephen King book and listened to only a couple on audio. The one I managed to finish was only 148 pages long so I wouldn't call myself a "fan." Especially since I've started several of his books in the last thirty years and just given up on them.

    So why did I purchase "On Writing?" Well, I am a writer trying to make a switch to mainstream fiction, and who else has been more successful AND written a book with advice on how he did it AND been available on Audible?

    The experiment was a success as far as I am concerned. The book gives lots of insight into the publishing industry as well as where he got some of his ideas. He courageously gives opinions on his stories and other writers which, more often than not made me shrug and think, "That's pretty accurate, I guess..." His personal history was pretty cool too, and it's always nice for writers to see that someone is actually doing what we want to do. Realistically, even if I do break into writing, I'm not likely to replicate King's success- none of us are- but to think that you might be able to make a living at it is nice, even if it is a LOOOOOONG shot.

    Mr King's narration is fine. He's not as expressive as Simon Preble, but he knows his material! I've thought for years that he wasn't the best narrator of his books because his women sound like his men and his dialogue often sounds like his exposition, but I realized as I listened to this that it doesn't matter that much. He may not be a great "actor" but he tells a heckuva story. Now I think I've been unfair to him.

    I don't think a recap of the book is appropriate here. If you look at the cover you know what it's about. The only thing you really require from a review is whether it does a good job with what it sets out to do. My answer is- yes, it does. The greatest thing I can say about this audio book is that it makes me want to go out and buy the hard copy- not because I wouldn't listen again, I will, but because I want to use it as a reference.

    If you're on the fence (and I was at one point), I say take the leap. You'll enjoy it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • From Russia with Love

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (450)
    Performance
    (228)
    Story
    (226)

    Every major foreign government organization has a file on British secret agent James Bond. Now, Russia's lethal SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination. SMERSH is the Soviet organ of vengeance, interrogation, torture, and death. James Bond is dedicated to the destruction of its agents wherever he finds them.

    Pork C. Fish says: "The Best of Them All"
    "One of Fleming's best makes a great listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this book in high school... let's just say a long time ago, and haven't read it since. I still think the movie is the best of the series, but there's plenty that's changed. I purchased this audio book a while back and enjoyed every minute of it. I think it's one of the best of Fleming's books, right up there with ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. In fact, I think I enjoyed it MORE now than I did 25 years ago. It's not a bad book for newbies to Fleming to start with. Then again, when you get to the end you'll want to run out and buy DR. NO right away- not that that's a problem.

    Simon Vance is a wonderful reader as well. He gives each character a nice characterization and keeps them from being confusing. My only problem is the way he pronounces Romanova, but that's only because I've seen the movie a bazillion times.

    If you want to listen in order, start with Casino Royale. It's a good book and great listen as well, but almost 3 hours shorter than FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Declare

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Tim Powers
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (129)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (99)

    As a young double agent infiltrating the Soviet spy network in Nazi-occupied Paris, Andrew Hale finds himself caught up in a secret, even more ruthless war. Two decades later, a coded message draws Professor Andrew Hale back into Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Elements from his past are gathering in Beirut, including ex-British counterespionage chief and Soviet mole Kim Philby, and a beautiful former Spanish Civil War soldier-turned-intelligence operative.

    art says: "Oh Fish. Art Thou Constant???"
    "Crazy and entertaining, richly detailed and fun."
    Overall

    A trusted friend recommended that I read this book because he knows how much I enjoy a good spy story. I found a copy of the book on Amazon and bought it- for a great price too. Then I realized with my schedule I wouldn't have time to read it anytime soon. Fortunately for me I found the audio here.

    Declare is a richly detailed, byzantine story of the cold war almost in the style of LeCarre', but with a supernatural angle that Smiley's creator wouldn't dare. But instead of the supernatural angle stopping the story dead in it's tracks it drives the tale forward in many ways.

    Powers' story is too complex to explain here simply. Believe me when I say it's a humdinger. What really made this book come to life was the narration. Simon Prebble is in a class by himself. Accents, dialects, foreign languages and genders are no problem for this adept reader. Kim Philby's well known stammer is so well handled that you would swear Prebble is not acting. It's tour de force from beginning to end.

    I'm glad I took a chance on this book for many reasons. I'll listen to all 21 hours of this interesting and well told tale many times in the future. Definitely one of the best.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Dramatised)

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By John Le Carre
    • Narrated By Simon Russell Beale
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    It is 1962: the height of the Cold War and only months after the building of the Berlin Wall. Alec Leamas is a hard-working, hard-drinking British intelligence officer whose East Berlin network is in tatters. His agents are either on the run or dead, victims of the ruthlessly efficient East German counter-intelligence officer Hans-Dieter Mundt.

    DARBY KERN says: "Brian Cox is great but..."
    "Brian Cox is great but..."
    Overall

    THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD is such a great story that it's hard to make a bad version of it. This one is good, but it's just good. It's been a little while since I read the book, but it seems they throw more Smiley into the story just to have more of him. Yeah, I realize the point is to tell the whole Smiley saga, but he wasn't a huge part of this story until this telling. Mr. Russel Beale is fine as Smiley, but this story is about Alec Leamus, and Brian Cox is wonderful.
    My biggest beef with this production is that it wasn't needed. The BBC did a great adaptation with Colin Blakely which was commercially available until recently. That version maintained the mystery within the story better and didn't need a summation at the end explaining exactly what happened in case we didn't get it. I know there's an opinion out there, usually among younger people, that if something is more than 10 years old it should be redone because we can do it better now. This just isn't the case- not for THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, not for TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY, and from what I've heard so far, SMILEY'S PEOPLE. Newer isn't better. Just newer.
    Will this version do in a pinch? Of course, it's a fine production. And more than likely you won't be able to find the older version anyway. Too bad.
    As I've said, Brian Cox is wonderful in this. If nothing else listen for him.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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