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Doug

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. C.S. Lewis

Elizabethtown, IN, United States | Member Since 2006

39
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 39 ratings
  • 426 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2014
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  • Astray

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Emma Donoghue
    • Narrated By Khristine Hvam, James Langton, Robert Petkoff, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (47)

    The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress. With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present.

    Doug says: "Great use of historical fiction"
    "Great use of historical fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fine and unique collection of historical fiction pieces, with a postscript behind each story explaining the origin of the characters and the situation.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • A Year in the South: 1865: The True Story of Four Ordinary People Who Lived Through the Most Tumultuous Twelve Months in History

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Stephen V. Ash
    • Narrated By Neal Ghant, Nicholas Techosky, Jeremy Arthur, and others
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    A slave determined to gain freedom, a widow battling poverty and despair, a man of God grappling with spiritual and worldly troubles, and a former Confederate soldier seeking a new life. They lived in the South during 1865 - a year that saw war, disunion, and slavery give way to peace, reconstruction, and emancipation. Between January and December 1865, these four people witnessed, from very different vantage points, the death of the Old South and the birth of the New South. Civil War historian Stephen V. Ash reconstructs their daily lives, their fears and hopes, and their frustrations and triumphs in vivid detail.

    Christopher says: "Excellent audio book"
    "It's on my repeat list"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The best historical pictures contain activities of daily life. People doing what they did every day. To anyone who thinks they understand a time period of the past, I would say this - try to write down in detail what they did every day - not in broad strokes but in detail. It's the details that make the story.
    Reading how communities traded and bartered, how salt was extracted and brought north, how the south allocated certain provisions and collected taxes, the dangers created as local militias interpreted the war - it's all fascinating and very well told.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Ben Macintyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (253)
    Story
    (250)

    Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6.

    Michael Eaton says: "The Greatest Spy -- Ever Discovered"
    "I'm addicted to Cambridge Spy Ring stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" was the first book I owned in hardback. And Peter Wright's "Spycatcher" is in my library - and the story behind the book's publishing is almost as good as the printed book.
    So I was a little surprised that there was anything left to tell about these rogues. But Ben Macintyre does a great job of storytelling and adds a lot of facts I didn't know or had forgotten.
    So much of post WWII politics can be read through the actions and outing of these men. Maybe McCarthy never gains prominence in the U.S. Senate if they hadn't existed. McCarthyism never would have occurred.
    Until I read this book, I think I was of the Angleton frame of mind; that Philby was an active poison right up until he defected from Beirut. This is an excellent telling of how Philby SEEMED to fool everyone, andt Macintyre does a great job of showing the toll it took on Philby, and the incredible luck that seemed to follow him everywhere. The amount of alcohol consumed, as Macintyre tells it, is astonishing.
    A very good book on a topic that has already been well documented. Kudos to Macintyre for an amazing accomplishment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Light in August

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By William Faulkner
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (1662)
    Performance
    (1138)
    Story
    (1137)

    An Oprah's Book Club Selection regarded as one of Faulkner's greatest and most accessible novels, Light in August is a timeless and riveting story of determination, tragedy, and hope. In Faulkner's iconic Yoknapatawpha County, race, sex, and religion collide around three memorable characters searching desperately for human connection and their own identities.

    FanB14 says: "Perseverance in Face of Cruelty"
    "The hard side of Faulkner"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a lifelong fan of Faulkner, but this is one work I have never read. While it has many of the style traits I love in Faulkner; the sharp, hard focus on the subject of race and the angst of the main character leaves me dry.
    "Light in August" is an admirable work, and I read it to close a gap in my Faulkner reading history. But unlike "Intruder in the Dust" and "The Reivers," each of which I've read several times, I'll never read "Light in August" again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Serpent of Venice: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Christopher Moore
    • Narrated By Euan Morton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (723)
    Performance
    (664)
    Story
    (666)

    Venice, a really long time ago: Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from Britain who also happens to be a favorite of the Doge: The rascal-Fool Pocket. This trio of cunning plotters have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising a spirited evening. Their invitation is, of course, bogus. These scoundrels have something far less amusing planned for the man who has consistently foiled their quest for power and wealth. But this Fool is no fool.…

    Amazon Customer says: "Moore sophomoric humor riffing off the Bard's time"
    "Misleading Audible Recommendation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I purchased this book based on Audible's recommendation to me. It is very clever and well done, but there is nothing in the review concerning the amount of vulgar language. To me, "irreverent" and "vulgar" are not interchangeable.
    Not a bad book, but definitely not one that I have any interest in hearing front to back.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Spectator Bird

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Wallace Stegner
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (137)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (108)

    Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, "killing time before time gets around to killing me." His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator. But a postcard from a friend causes him to return to the journals of a trip he had taken years before.

    Alan Tripp says: "outstanding narration"
    "Stegner's great talent doesn't resonate with me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've tried and tried to read Stegner - I've started this book three times, and I also have 'Angle of Repose' and 'Big Rock Candy Mountain,' and I just can't make it work. Stegner is very talented, but I can't make any lasting connection to his characters and their lives.

    I have the same problem with Philip Roth's work. Very good stuff, but zero resonance with me.
    So I feel a little guilty giving a low review - but it's an honest opinion of my relationship with the book and not meant as an opinion of Stegner's talent.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Triumph of Night

    • UNABRIDGED (59 mins)
    • By Edith Wharton
    • Narrated By Katrina Rosati Kross
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    How surprising that a woman of Edith Wharton's literary stature not only believes in, but writes about, ghosts. This short story is a result of her haunting fascination and fear of both spirits and supernatural phenomena, and as Ms. Magazine says, is "flawlessly eerie". In The Triumph of Night, Wharton pushes one to finally decide if ghosts are real or imaginary. That is, if one can....

    Demonwife says: "Great story, well told"
    "Terrible editing ruined a fair story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The editing is so choppy that phrases are repeated in two or three instances. The story feels rushed as the reader flies past punctuation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Catching Fire: Hunger Games, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Suzanne Collins
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30374)
    Performance
    (23456)
    Story
    (23637)

    Katniss Everdeen continues to struggle to protect herself and her family from the Capitol in this second novel from the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy.

    FanB14 says: "Dissent Rules"
    "Solid Story, not my fav style"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Hunger Games are such a cross culture success that I chose to read Book 2 when the movie was released.
    I read Book 1 from print, and although Carolyn does an excellent job of reading Book 2, her formal, almost British enunciation didn't match the voice of Katniss that spoke in my head. Suzanne writes a solid story, but I felt the action and details of "Fire" were a little thin and at times took a back seat to Katniss' internal angst. I could hear the rule of "writing 101" echoing in my head - "SHOW me the story, don't TELL me."
    The ending was well done, and I'm sure I'll get around to reading the third book in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Michael O'Brien
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (7)

    Early in 1815, Louisa Catherine Adams and her young son left St. Petersburg in a heavy Russian carriage and set out on a difficult journey to meet her husband, John Quincy Adams, in Paris. She traveled through the snows of eastern Europe, down the Baltic coast to Prussia, across the battlefields of Germany, and into a France that was then experiencing the tumultuous events of Napoleon's return from Elba.

    Michael says: "Interesting Book on Mrs. Adams"
    "Fascinating story of the early nineteenth century"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story is well researched, and there is so much to learn here - how "post roads" worked in Europe, the scattered ruins of castles that still littered the countryside like dinosaur bones of the feudal system, the shifting alliances of the powers of the day.
    If I were editor on this project I would make one change - just as the journey reaches it's penultimate point, with Louisa across most of the continent and Napoleon returned and growing stronger - just then the book takes a long detour to describe the background of Louisa's state of mind - everything from the details of her marriage to her miscarriage in St. Petersburg. These are interesting facts, too, but their placement in the book detracts from the story of the journey, and if I were editing I would rearrange the chapters for better continuity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Taos Bank Robbery: And Other True Stories of the Southwest

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Tony Hillerman
    • Narrated By Jack Garrett
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (21)

    This classic collection of nonfiction essays about life in New Mexico by the great Tony Hillerman remains a must listen for anyone looking to understand the state's unique charm. The engaging pieces in The Great Taos Bank Robbery unveil the life and magic one experiences in the Land of Enchantment.

    Susie says: "How Tony Hillerman Got His Start"
    "Great mix: history, geography&colorful characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tony's old school journalism training and talent are displayed well in this collection. I purchased this book for background research on some fiction I'm writing, and the stories were much more varied and entertaining than I expected. The title piece is pure entertainment, but other stories are more sober as Tony writes about the people and the culture of New Mexico. I'm not a personal fan of desert climates, but reading Tony's collection makes me want to visit New Mexico.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sweet Tooth

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (711)
    Performance
    (604)
    Story
    (607)

    Winner of such prestigious honors as the Booker Prize and Whitbread Award, Ian McEwan is justifiably regarded as a modern master. Set in 1972, Sweet Tooth follows Cambridge student Serena Frome, whose intelligence and beauty land her a job with England's intelligence agency, MI5. In an attempt to monitor writers' politics, MI5 tasks Serena with infiltrating the literary circle of author Tom Healy. But soon matters of trust and identity subvert the operation.

    Susianna says: "Perfect Book for your Literary Sweet Tooth"
    "A Misleading Summary makes for disappointment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When the summary mentions MI5 in the early 70's, I think of the generation that lived in fear of repeating Burgess and the Cambridge spy ring. The generation that came after Peter Wright, after George Smiley.
    McEwan makes references to this generation of brinksmanship, but it is just name dropping. This is not the spy novel I expected; this is part sappy love story and part a writer's description of his introversion.
    The heroine is talented at describing her sexual needs and experiences, a talent which may in turn represent her generation. These depictions guarantee that readers will stay with the book through the slow sections.
    I enjoyed the portrayal of daily life in England at a time of crisis. McEwan is a good writer, but Stevenson is a more talented narrator.
    "Sweet Tooth" is a good book, but not the book I expected, so I was disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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