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Lanlady

Woodbridge, VA USA | Member Since 2006

93
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 33 reviews
  • 163 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Henryk Sienkiewicz
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (25)

    Marcus, a Roman officer in Nero's army, risks his career, his family, and even his life when he falls in love with a Christian woman named Callina. In order to win Callina's love, Marcus must come to understand the true meaning of her religion, even as Rome sinks under the excesses of Nero and Christians are thrown to the lions. Quo Vadis brims with passion and life as it explores one of the turning points in history.

    adjutant says: "loved every word"
    "archaic translation"
    Overall

    Beware: this is the late 19th-century translation which uses archaic English (thee's and thou's and Bible-like phrasing and syntax) to give the text an "ancient" feel. Five minutes of "Dost thou know how I love thee?" is quaint, but one tires of the ornate speech rather quickly. There's an up-to-date, contemporary translation of Quo Vadis that is supposed to be very good but it is not yet on audio. As well, the narrator speaks with an uber-upper class British accent that, combined with the archaic language, turns the characters into snobs and drama queens. Not sure if this was intended or not, but Nero actually sounds normal in comparison the insufferably snobbish Petronius! Still, there are some very fine moments in this book and some levity sprinkled here and there. Sienkiewich did his homework and one really does get immersed in this vanished civilization. Hopefully they'll bring the modern translation to audio.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Jeremy Scahill
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (312)
    Performance
    (262)
    Story
    (268)

    From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond, Scahill speaks to the CIA agents, mercenaries, and elite Special Operations Forces operators who populate the dark side of American war-fighting. He goes deep into al Qaeda-held territory in Yemen and walks the streets of Mogadishu with CIA-backed warlords. We also meet the survivors of US night raids and drone strikes - including families of US citizens targeted for assassination by their own government - who reveal the human consequences of the dirty wars the United States struggles to keep hidden.

    Lanlady says: "fantastic book -- and disturbing"
    "fantastic book -- and disturbing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    THANK YOU JEREMY SCAHILL for bringing us Dirty Wars -- this is a book that had to be written, and in my view it should be read by everyone who is concerned about where our country is headed in its relations with the rest of the world. Succeeds brilliantly in describing how, and why, our most secretive, clandestine defense and national security assets (JSCO, drones) have evolved into the weapons of choice of our political and military leaders, and the shattering implications of this trend. Throughout Dirty Wars we follow the saga of US citizen Anwar Awlaki, targeted for "elimination" by the Oval Office without a shred of due process. Scahill very skillfully puts his story into its global context, but at the same time brings us back again and again to the heart-breakening, human story behind the so-called "signature strike" -- assassination by any other name -- that ultimately killed Awlaki, Samir Khan (another young American), and, soon thereafter, Awlaki's teenaged son and other family members.

    Dirty Wars is not a hatchet job against Obama or Bush or any political group in particular. It's about how we as a nation have ceded basic constitutional rights and responsibilities in the name of fighting terrorism, even as, unwittingly, more terrorists and America-haters are created in consequence of our actions.

    Scahill's book appears amid a flood of recent stories about NSA etc. harvesting all of our email and phone calls. But one question I haven't heard the media ask is: what the heck are they doing with all that information, what is its practical purpose? But having read Dirty Wars, the answer is pretty clear: they're using it to detect patterns of behavior and build out profiles and "signatures" for the list of kill targets that goes to the president's desk. All of this is going on extra-judicially, beyond any attempt at oversight, much less within legal structures. It is frightening.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • A Case of Redemption

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Adam Mitzner
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1451)
    Performance
    (1249)
    Story
    (1261)

    A high-profile attorney in the middle of a leave of absence following a personal tragedy is drawn back into the legal arena amidst a media firestorm when he agrees to represent a popular rap artist accused of brutally murdering his pop star girlfriend. With its powerful voice, pause-resisting tension, and strong cast of characters, Adam Mitzner’s novels are reminiscent of such best-selling authors as Scott Turow and John Grisham.

    cristina says: "Excellent"
    "complete waste of time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are a lot of legal thrillers out there. Many of them are good, gripping reads. Case of Redemption is not one of them. There is not a single intriguing character; the main character, Dan Sorenson, is so devoid of personality that the author is reduced to ascribing a personal tragedy to him in order to try to wring sympathy for him on the part of the reader. His professional partner, Nina, is equally blank and uninteresting; we find out more about the cut of her suits than what goes on inside her head. The lesser characters constitute a parade of annoying stereotypes that each seem to scream out, "I'm sorry for being so unoriginal, but the person who created me has no imagination."

    The dialogue is banal in the extreme. Adam Mitzner seems quite taken with his creation in the form of Judge Perlmeyer (who's narrated with a Southern accent--why? this is New York), and gives her way too much real estate in the book to harangue Dan over his behavior in court. This, too, is an artificial way to generate sympathy for the thoroughly unremarkable main character, and does nothing to advance the plot.

    The portrayal of the relationship between Dan and Nina is shockingly inept and cheesy. And as for the story itself -- there is not a single element of suspense or surprise, and the whole thing smacks of implausibility. Just two examples: this is a high-profile case involving a celebrity, there is no murder weapon, and the judge gives the defense only two weeks to prepare for trial? During their meetings with the defendant, L.D., in jail, our two legal eagles, Dan & Nina, never get round to asking him about his alibi on the night of the murder. I'm no lawyer, but isn't that pretty fundamental to a murder case? Yeah, I know, this is fiction, but to my mind, a story loses luster if it becomes too unmoored from reality and it's impossible to relate to anyone or anything in the book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tommo and Hawk: The Australian Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Bryce Courtenay
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    Overall
    (1876)
    Performance
    (1252)
    Story
    (1253)

    Brutally kidnapped and separated in childhood, Tommo and Hawk are reunited at the age of 15 in Hobart Town. Together, they escape their troubled pasts and set off on a journey into manhood. From whale hunting in the Pacific to the Maori wars of New Zealand, from the Rocks in Sydney to the miners' riots at the goldfields, Tommo and Hawk must learn each other's strengths and weaknesses in order to survive.

    Angie says: "Brillant Narration"
    "runs out of steam, recycled characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't enjoy T & H nearly as much as I did the Potato Factory. Too much gratuitous violence for my taste (were the whale ship lashings really necessary?) and a number of characters from volume 1 of the series either drop out of sight for no reason or else get recycled. Found myself irritated and somewhat offended that with few exceptions, the women in this series are all prostitutes, either current or former. Maybe that was the reality of this time and place, I don't know. Even so, there was no need to pepper the dialogue with comments like "she is only a whore," "all women are whores" etc. Ugh.

    0 of 0 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
    (3250)
    Performance
    (2287)
    Story
    (2287)

    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!"
    "thoroughly enjoyable!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A tremendous story with unique and interesting characters, especially in Ikie Solomon. Humphrey Bower does an exceptional job of narration. I can't imagine who would not like this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By M. L. Stedman
    • Narrated By Noah Taylor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1153)
    Performance
    (1022)
    Story
    (1004)

    In 1918, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes only four times a year and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel.

    Sandra says: "Wonderful story.....terrible narrator."
    "a beautifully told, heart-breaking story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Light Between Oceans is the story of how two good people can make a wrong decision, and the consequences of their error in judgment. The narrative is simple, uncomplicated, and gently flowing (somewhat in the tradition of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth), but underneath the surface it explores in forceful terms some basic flaws of the human condition: how easily we seek to rationalize what we know to be wrong; the temptations of selfishness; our overwhelming dependence on others for happiness; the fickleness of destiny. Tom, the light-keeper who survived WW1, confronts the core moral dilemma much differently from his wife Isabelle, a survivor of a string of still births and miscarriages, and the contrast between their mentalities is, in my view, extremely compelling. Due to an ipod fumble, I unwittingly skipped over 10 or 12 chapters in Part 2 and ended up listening to the last chapter of the book. If that had happened with most other audiobooks, I likely would have said, nah, I won't bother to listen to what I missed since now I know how it ends. In this case, however, I went back to listen to the skipped chapters, and enjoyed them none the less for knowing how it would all end -- which I think is a testament to M.L. Stedman's beautiful writing and a great story. A book, after all, shouldn't be just about getting to the denouement on the last page, but about enjoying an entire experience, page by page (or digital bit by bit). And Light Between Oceans more than measures up to that basic standard. The only reason I didn't give the audiobook 5 stars is that narrator Noah Taylor has a habit of whispering/mumbling the ends of his sentences, which hinders comprehension.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • It

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4337)
    Performance
    (3079)
    Story
    (3102)

    They were just kids when they stumbled upon the horror of their hometown. Now, as adults, none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them all back to Derry, Maine, to face the nightmare without end, and the evil without a name.

    Parola138 says: "I thought I was desensitized"
    "Never so happy to FINALLY reach the end of a book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a huge Steven King fan, but this just did not do "It" for me. What you have is a mature story with well-developed, likable characters that--much to the story's detriment--has been contorted into a thoroughly pointless and (to me) unentertaining and waaaay-too-long saga of an evil presence that lives in the drains of the small town of Derry, Maine. Steven King, at his best, can do "creepy" like no one else (The Stand still sends shivers down my back) but with It, he totally fails to fascinate with this manifestation of evil in the form of a shape-changing clown. There's a veritable orgy of the ghoulish and grotesque over 20+ hours of audiobook but none if it's in the least bit scary or original. Including 20 different instances of children having their limbs pulled off does not make a horror story any more horrific, it simply makes it dreary. The book would have been so much better if King had left out all the supernatural elements and told a simpler story of Derry and its inhabitants, past and present.

    0 of 1 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
    (2575)
    Performance
    (2165)
    Story
    (2170)

    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.

    Arken says: "Great storytelling"
    "Boring -- adds nothing to our knowledge of WWII"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A challenge for anyone writing a story based on historical facts and events is that the reader essentially knows how it will end; the key to success, in my humble opinion, is to illuminate some unknown, intriguing, or original aspect of that history that will add to our appreciation. Winds of War begins by raising two interesting (although hardly original) questions: how could a civilized country like Germany descend into such madness? and, how did Hitler get away with it for so long? (in Wouk's telling, the Allies didn't get their act together until the Nazi invasion of Norway). Unfortunately,once raised, the story doesn't explore these questions in any depth, which is a shame. Winds of War unfolds as a kind of Greatest Hits of WWII narrative (the Holocaust! the Blitzkrieg! Pearl Harbor! the A-bomb!) from the perspective of Navy Captain Victor Henry and his family. I had trouble working up any interest in the Henrys and their entourage; the characters are shallow and one-dimensional. "That Churchill fellow gave a pretty good speech last night" is about as deep as it gets. One thing that troubled me no end: neither Henry nor his annoying wife, Rhoda, ever question the morality of their living in the SS-appropriated home of a Jewish family that is clearly destined for Auschwitz.

    About mid-way through Winds of War, it occurred to me that plunging into a good, general history of WWII would be considerably more interesting than Wouk's fictionalized version--not to mention the many great works of fiction set during that time period (two of my favorites are Erich Maria Remarque and Irene Nemirovsky) that plunge the reader into a Europe turned upside down and force us to confront that most disturbing of moral dilemmas: what would YOU do in this situation? would you act any differently? And there are so many fascinating, real-life stories from WWII that can't be topped by any fiction (read Studs Terkel, The Good War). Winds of War just doesn't measure up, I'm sorry to have wasted an audible credit on it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gone with the Wind

    • UNABRIDGED (49 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Margaret Mitchell
    • Narrated By Linda Stephens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2948)
    Performance
    (1925)
    Story
    (1955)

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, Margaret Mitchell's great novel of the South is one of the most popular books ever written. Within six months of its publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind had sold a million copies. To date, it has been translated into 25 languages, and more than 28 million copies have been sold. Here are the characters that have become symbols of passion and desire....

    dallas says: "not to miss audible experience"
    "Tour de force but very much a product of its time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's a reason why GWTH is considered one of the greatest of American novels, and Scarlett and Rhett two of the most fascinating characters ever invented on the page. This book has it all: story, history, romance, family, personalities, glamour, and tragedy. Even the secondary characters, like Mr and Mrs O'Hara, are dazzling. If, like most people, you are familiar with the film version only, you'll find that the film followed the book quite closely, right down to the final "I don't give a damn." There are a couple of notable exceptions: in the book, Scarlett has two children by her previous marriages, not just the ill-fated Bonnie. (It doesn't much matter, as she is not a terribly attentive mother.) Another surprise is the presence of the Ku Klux Klan throughout the narrative, which Margaret Mitchell treats as a force for good -- but which, of course, was eliminated from the film version.

    And on that note, before you undertake reading GWTH, be aware that it is a *masterful* piece of Confederate propaganda. In Mitchell's telling, the slaves were never ill-treated; they did not seek their freedom but had it forced upon them by the evil Yankees; they did not know what to do with themselves when freed, thus many took to crime, indigence, and government handouts (a refrain which echoes even today in US politics, especially on the right). The mission of the KKK was to protect white women from being raped by freed black men. Curiously, despite the wealth of historical detail that Mitchell provides, she never mentions the assassination of President Lincoln--I can only speculate that she was at a loss to spin it in a way that cast the South in a positive light.

    But if you can overlook all that, and bear in mind that the mentality of the period during which the book was written (1930s) is, itself, gone with the wind, you'll be rewarded with one hell of a read. Linda Stephens is a superb narrator, too. Her rendition of Scarlett deserves an award; it captures all her complexities, effortlessly moving from coquette to loving daughter to savior of Tara and its inhabitants. Bravo!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Drums of Autumn

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6503)
    Performance
    (4163)
    Story
    (4154)

    Twice Claire has used an ancient stone circle to travel back to the 18th century. The first time she found love with a Scottish warrior but had to return to the 1940s to save their unborn child. The second time, 20 years later, she reunited with her lost love but had to leave behind the daughter that he would never see. Now Brianna, from her 1960s vantage point, has found a disturbing obituary and will risk everything in an attempt to change history.

    Frances M says: "You listened, Audible!"
    "Tedious and flat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the second book in the Outlander series that I've picked up, and it will be my last. Gabaldon writes pretty prose, but I find the story lines relentlessly linear and lacking in all suspense. You can literally fast forward/skip through chapters and not miss any crucial plot details along the way. There's no incentive to keep reading and see how things are resolved in the end. In my opinion, too, the time travel aspect makes no sense. The best time travel books are ones that create dilemmas between present and past (or future, as the case may be) and raise interesting moral or historical questions (for example, what Stephen King, in his masterful 11-23-63, calls the 'butterfly effect'). Gabaldon does not venture there, which causes me to wonder why she didn't just set her story in the eighteenth century and dispense completely with the twentieth. Her main character, Claire, is a physician; could she not have brought at least some penicillin with her in her journeys to the past, saved some lives, and potentially changed the course of history? But Claire is too pre-occupied with her longing for Jamie Fraser to make space for intriguing questions about the impacts of changing the past. Bottom line, it's all one long perambulation through an 18-century theme park. The moderator, Davina Porter, is very professional but the faux Scottish accent quickly becomes annoying. When someone imitates an accent, it ends up sounding unnatural and exaggerated if sustained over a long period of time. In a 20+ hours audiobook, it is too much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fall of Giants: The Century Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (7786)
    Performance
    (4510)
    Story
    (4496)

    Ken Follett's World Without End was a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh - as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

    Louis says: "Loved it and learned alot."
    "too formulaic to be interesting"
    Overall

    I'm an avid Follett fan but Fall of Giants was disappointing. The core problem is the extremely shallow characters who move through the vast panorama of events of 1914-18 with nary a physical or emotional scar to show for it. Hence, we have lovers on opposite sides of the War who are completely unconficted about their patriotic loyalties; a German diplomat who shuttles between the trenches of France and revolutionary Russia without so much as muddying his boots; and a wealthy Woodrow Wilson aide who falls in love with 3 utterly disparate women within the space of a few years, all for the sake of moving the plot along chronologically. Another troubling aspect is Follett's penchant for retroactive social commentary that seems aimed at teenagers, or at audience that is clueless about 20th century history. At times I felt like I was reading a social history for middle schoolers. Women's rights, gay rights, ethnic rights--it's all packed in here, tied with a neat little bow. Finally, I fear that some of the more memorable moments in Fall of Giants were ripped off from other people's work. If you've ever seen the wonderful French film Merry Christmas, about the 1914 Christmas truce, you will recognize the source of Follett's treatment of Billy William's first winter in the trenches. It's very close to being a violation of intellectual property.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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