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James

Centerville, OH, United States | Member Since 2010

2
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 5 reviews
  • 15 ratings
  • 138 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015
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  • War and Peace, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Neville Jason
    Overall
    (537)
    Performance
    (318)
    Story
    (318)

    War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it examines the relationship between the individual and the relentless march of history. Here are the universal themes of love and hate, ambition and despair, youth and age, expressed with a swirling vitality which makes the book as accessible today as it was when it was first published in 1869.

    Tad Davis says: "A long book, but at least the chapters are short"
    "Rooting for Napoleon, but alas!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Folks who enjoy reading about everyday characters going through years of their uneventful lives, who even through the rare exciting events, learn nothing, may enjoy this book.


    What could Leo Tolstoy have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Stop building characters and let them have something exciting happen to them. By the way, I greatly enjoyed the level of description Tolstoy employed, and his style of writing--there was just far too much of it without anything of note happening...at all. And I am a bibliophile. I enjoyed the historical context Tolstoy put at the beginning of the books and at key sections. Did not enjoy the constant drivel about men having no significant role in history, that great men were merely objects moved by the hand of God, blah, blah, blah. I am a very religious person, but this became more than tedious to listen to.


    What about Neville Jason’s performance did you like?

    Very good characterizations, and knowledge of Russian pronunciations. Excellent dramatization of key emotional parts. Mr. Jason was one of the key reasons I pushed through to the end.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from War and Peace, Volume 2?

    Pierre's foray into Stone Masonry was completely useless to the development of his character, other than to show that he was searching for truth. No spoiler because this plot element was utterly pointless.


    Any additional comments?

    Spoiler Alert. Tons of potential. The love story between Andre' and Natasha was heartbreaking. When Pierre began to fall in love with her, I was almost screaming at the book:

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tom Jones, Volume 3

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Henry Fielding
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    Tom Jones is greatly admired not only for the meticulous craft with which it was written, but also for its humor, objectivity and penetrating psychological depth. It is without a doubt one of the great contributions to the English novel, and as such will always maintain a place of honor in world literature. Through the minute examination of the motives of his characters, Henry Fielding revealed many universal truths about human nature.

    James says: "Story was slow and long, but ended well!"
    "Story was slow and long, but ended well!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It depends on the friend. The great moments of humor and enlightenment were punctuations on a much more mundane text. I felt there was too much character development for some, and not enough to others.


    What about Charlton Griffin’s performance did you like?

    Griffin did great, though I couldn't tell the Irish accented characters apart. A lot of emotion, and he pulled off timing on the comic parts perfectly.


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

    Tom is probably like most people--easily influenced by passion yet putting on airs about being full of honor, trust, and dignity.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kurt Vonnegut
    • Narrated By Ethan Hawke
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2818)
    Performance
    (1485)
    Story
    (1506)

    Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time' after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

    W. Seligman says: "What more can be said?"
    "Great story, well written!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade the most enjoyable?

    The story and its weaving back and forth through time was incredible. Loved Vonnegut's ability to re-hit themes over and over. I even found myself surprised at times when he would say, "and so it goes" even though I knew it was coming.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade?

    The water in the glass was dead...so it goes.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Stop whispering! Gah! You are Ethan freaking Hawke--be a man.


    Any additional comments?

    Definitely on my top ten list! Though I can't imagine reading it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Don Quixote

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Miguel de Cervantes, Tobias Smollett (translator)
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    Overall
    (604)
    Performance
    (234)
    Story
    (228)

    Don Quixote, the world's first novel and by far the best-known book in Spanish literature, was originally intended by Cervantes as a satire on traditional popular ballads, yet he also parodied the romances of chivalry. By happy coincidence he produced one of the most entertaining adventure stories of all time and, in Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, two of the greatest characters in fiction.

    James says: "Excellent"
    "Wish I hadn't seen Man of La Mancha before I read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Don Quixote?

    The adventures and the humor. I was running during the (Spoiler!) scene when Quejada drank the tonic and threw up in Sancho's mouth. Had to stop because I was laughing so hard at the very calm, literary way Cervantes handled the situation. Loved the absurdity and how folks continuously exploited the protagonist for their own benefit. His naivete became absolutely lovable.


    Would you recommend Don Quixote to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes, though many of them would give up because of the sheer length of the thing.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Whitfield’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No way. Didn't have a week to spend.


    Any additional comments?

    The ending was disappointing, because I wanted it to be like Man of La Mancha. In retrospect, however, the ending was fitting to what Don Quixote had endured. Reasonable at last--cured of adventure. Sad, but pretty darned good ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Jungle

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Upton Sinclair
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (197)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (111)

    Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is a vivid portrait of life and death in a turn-of-the-century American meat-packing factory. A grim indictment that led to government regulations of the food industry, The Jungle is Sinclair's extraordinary contribution to literature and social reform.

    Donald T. Wardlow says: "brilliant rendering of an old classic"
    "Diabolus Ex Machina"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about The Jungle?

    I wanted to like it, even though I knew I disagreed with Upton Sinclair on just about everything. Halfway through the book I was amazed at how much I liked some of the protagonist's actions and beliefs. I was stunned by Sinclair's narrative--others find it unreadable and juvenile, but I really got a kick out of his literary skills. The constant diabolus ex machina (devil in the machine) that put unbelievable circumstances in Jorgis' path so he could fail, time and time again, to make the right choices, became formulaic. Then Deus Ex Machina, as socialism rides in to save the day, and to show Jorgis that salvation is possible despite his lack of accountability.


    What was most disappointing about Upton Sinclair’s story?

    MAJOR SPOILERS! The ending. I am as pro-capitalist as a man gets, so I was excited at the damage Sinclair did to the socialist cause. The man who resonates the most with the socialist speaker is the man (Jorgis) who consistently makes poor, uninformed decisions (despite the fact he has the capacity and resources around him to educate himself), and does not seem capable to ever admit that those choices might have been a proximal cause of his sorrow. Jorgis is a man sans accountability. He is abusive, physically and emotionally, to his family members, and solves issues with others like a brutish teenager. Additionally, he learns the system well enough to participate in organized crime, but is not smart enough to exploit that system himself, either by rising through the ranks and building a skillset, or by enhancing his roles within the crime syndicate, or by asking the syndicate to help him take care of his interpersonal issues with Connor (which would have kept him from his final trouble).


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    I liked the performance, but the narrator changed for a couple of chapters. I hate this, as it is hard to get used to another narrator.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Loved the descriptions at the beginning. The level of character development was spot-on (could have used more about Ona). And I am sure the description of Chicago's business realm, where politicians, businessmen, and criminals were incredibly intertwined, had a great grain of truth. But it became too much.
    Sinclair had a ton of potential that, in my opinion, he wasted on a really bad ending.


    Any additional comments?

    I hate books or philosophies that refer to business owners as idle men who reap the benefits of the working class after doing nothing. Private ownership of the means of production means that a man can own a business; but to keep it and to avoid being overrun by competitors who offer the same service or products at lower prices, the man has to work harder than any man on the killing beds. Jorgis had an immense potential to raise himself up; nothing kept him from this except for his own choices. Honestly, when your buddy says,

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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