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Orson

Member Since 2010

158
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 92 ratings
  • 387 titles in library
  • 33 purchased in 2014
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138

  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By John McWhorter
    • Narrated By John McWhorter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1001)
    Performance
    (751)
    Story
    (751)

    A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar. Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history.

    Cookie says: "Oh the joy!"
    "Brilliant Linguist makes his case"
    Overall

    Not many authors read their own work very well, but McWhorter is superb - and who else could read snatches from so many languages and get them right (or at least plausible!)? The content of the book is outstanding. McWhorter makes his case for the strong Welsh influence on English despite the low number of Welsh words, and when he gets to the Carthaginian influence on ancient proto-Germanic, I was delighted. Unlike many scientists, McWhorter never overclaims; where the evidence is thin and the ideas are speculations, he says so and never lets you forget it. When you're through listening to this book, you understand the bones of our language better than ever.

    38 of 40 people found this review helpful
  • Immune: The Rho Agenda, Book Two

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Richard Phillips
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (708)
    Performance
    (642)
    Story
    (640)

    Anyone who dares challenge the Rho Project is being systematically picked off. At the top of the hit man’s death list: NSA fixer Jack Gregory, and the three teenagers who first exposed the Rho Project’s dark agenda to the world.On the run for their lives, Heather, Mark, and Jennifer know that the Rho Project’s alien nano-technology has been released into the world, disguised as a miracle cure. But what they don’t yet know is that the serum has taken on a life of its own....

    Orson says: "A second volume that stands alone - brilliantly"
    "A second volume that stands alone - brilliantly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Richard Phillips has led such a life that he absolutely nails the science aspect of this new sci-fi classic - and yet also gets the action and the political aspects exactly right as well. Speaking as an old sci-fi writer myself, I know how hard it is to do what Phillips has done.

    But here's the clincher. Reading on my Nano, I began this book without remembering that this was volume two of the Rho Agenda series. Within a few chapters I realized that there must have been an earlier book. But so skillfully does Phillips handle exposition, and so clearly and deeply did he create his characters and their relationships, that I felt no need to stop and go back to listen to the first volume.

    I WILL go back and listen to The Second Ship, now that I've read Immune to its brilliant and completely satisfying end - but only because this new writer is so skillful and this storyline is so inventive and moving that I don't want to miss a chapter of it.

    I promise you that Richard Phillips is going to be a popular and influential writer, period.

    The Rho Agenda has young protagonists, and so the series could be viewed as YA (Young Adult) fiction. While the novel is brutally real, including sexual tension, there is NO explicit sex and nothing to keep you from handing this book to a mature and well-informed twelve-year-old. Yet it is also completely fulfilling for adult readers - as good as any science fiction being written today.

    MacLeod Andrews gives a perfect performance. You forget you're listening to a book. All you can think about is what's happening and why. Moving back and forth among characters, he is always clear as to who's talking - without "doing" voices in any obvious way. This is how audiobooks are supposed to be read.

    42 of 43 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume 3: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

    • UNABRIDGED (53 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By William Manchester, Paul Reid
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer, Paul Reid
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (467)
    Performance
    (394)
    Story
    (394)

    Spanning the years 1940 to 1965, Defender of the Realm, the third volume of William Manchester’s The Last Lion, picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became prime minister - when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill portrayed by Manchester and Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning-fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action.

    Mike From Mesa says: "A worthy final volume in a great biography"
    "Paul Reid finishes Manchester's work honorably"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first two volumes of Manchester's biography of Churchill were some of the finest work by one of the best biographers who ever lived. So how can a relatively unknown writer hope to step in and fill Manchester's shoes?

    Paul Reid, working from Manchester's research and notes, has done an astonishingly good job. Oh, there are a few missteps, but they're relatively trivial. Reid has not imitated Manchester, but rather has followed his approach to the story and the people involved and made the same kinds of choices Manchester made.

    That means the biography is opinionated - and Reid is faithful to the worldview Manchester demonstrated in the first two volumes. This book is not afraid to pass judgment; but such judgments are always fully justified, in the text, by the sources and the outcomes.

    Nor are Manchester and Reid so in love with Churchill that they overlook his flaws. He could be annoying and hard to work with, and those who worked with him were often frustrated with his scattershot approach to strategy and, well, everything else! But Manchester and Reid make it clear that much, perhaps most, of such criticism was unjustified or, in the end, trivial compared to Churchill's achievements.

    Churchill's life deserved a great biography, and this is it.

    The only flaw is that Clive Chafer artificially deepens his voice; but his natural voice isn't really that deep, so the effect is that he's working with only half his range. Sentences never sound quite finished, because he can't drop his pitch lower than it already is. The result is a constantly annoying sense of incompletion and tentativeness that does not suit the text at all. Maybe if the earlier volumes hadn't been so brilliantly read I wouldn't mind so much, but somebody needs to tell Chafer that he's a tenor, and he should read accordingly, so we get the benefit of his full vocal range.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4517)
    Performance
    (4062)
    Story
    (4144)

    The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in the trilogy, tells of the fateful power of the One Ring. It begins a magnificent tale of adventure that will plunge the members of the Fellowship of the Ring into a perilous quest and set the stage for the ultimate clash between the powers of good and evil.

    Ellen says: "At last - The Definitive Recording!"
    "Greatest Book, with the finest reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Fellowship of the Ring the most enjoyable?

    The audiobook doesn't let you skip or skim the songs (or the whole Tom Bombadil section); the result is that you experience the book as Tolkien intended it.


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

    Rob Inglis's reading is superb on general principles - he distinguishes characters well and interprets them beautifully. But the best surprise is the authenticity and quality of his rendering of Tolkien's many songs. Heroic when that's appropriate; funny or moving or spiritual by turns, this is an effect you can't produce for yourself in a silent reading. (And Tolkien heard and authorized some of Inglis's tunes.)


    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • Scaramouche

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Rafael Sabatini
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (65)

    With swordfights and romance, adventure and treachery set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, this is the book that made Sabatini famous. Andre-Louis Moreau has good prospects as a young lawyer, but an unfair duel with the ruthlessly cruel Count de La Tour d'Azyr leaves Andre-Louis' best friend dead and Andre-Louis himself a fugitive from the King's justice. While incognito, he becomes both a wildly popular actor and a firebrand of the Revolution.

    Tariq Anis says: "Mesmerizing"
    "A classic of Serious Historical Fiction"
    Overall

    Nowadays it seems that historical novels are a subgroup of bawdy Romance, but once upon a time, writers like Rafael Sabatini (who also penned the immortal Captain Blood) dealt with serious issues and created deft and morally subtle fiction like Scaramouche. This novel of the French Revolution takes the issues seriously - but never leaves you long without action, suspense, and intrigue. Robert Whitfield brings it to such vivid life that you feel as if you've watched a wonderful movie version. It is so much better than most new novels that you owe it to yourself to listen to this, if only to realize how poorly so many contemporary writers do by comparison.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Anthony Everitt
    • Narrated By John Curless
    Overall
    (803)
    Performance
    (391)
    Story
    (390)

    Caesar Augustus has been called history's greatest emperor. It was said he found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. With a senator for a father and Julius Caesar for a great-uncle, he ascended the ranks of Roman society with breathtaking speed. His courage in battle is still questioned yet his political savvy was second to none. He had a lifelong rival in Mark Antony and a 51-year companion in his wife, Livia. And his influence extended perhaps further than that of any ruler who has ever lived.

    John says: "Outstanding!"
    "Ancient biographies are hard"
    Overall

    Even though Augustus's life is about as well documented as is possible for figures from ancient times, author Anthony Everitt brings off a tour de force in this reconstruction of Octavian's life. He is always clear about the difference between fact and speculation, but by the end you get a much clearer and more trustworthy picture of Augustus than you get from, say, I, Claudius. John Curless's reading is clear and unobtrusive; the Latin words and names roll smoothly from his tongue, his pacing is perfect, and he has just enough inflection for you to feel that he is also interested in what he's reading. An excellent experience from beginning to end.

    11 of 11 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
    (3045)
    Performance
    (2010)
    Story
    (2044)

    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"
    "An extraordinary performance of a classic novel"
    Overall

    Linda Stephens is simply superb in her reading of one of the great novels in American literature. Everything is crystal clear, and the attitudes of the characters and the narrative voice are powerfully suggested. The book is long, but it never FEELS long when read this well.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Anthologist: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Nicholson Baker
    • Narrated By Nicholson Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    The Anthologist follows Paul Chowder - a once-in-a-while-published kind of poet who is writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry. He's having a hard time getting started because his career is floundering; his girlfriend, Roz, has recently left him; and he is thinking about the great poets throughout history who have suffered far worse and deserve to feel sorry for themselves.

    Orson says: "Ramblings of a narcissist"
    "Ramblings of a narcissist"
    Overall

    Alas, while there are some nuggets of good ideas, they are buried in the omphaloskepsis of a writer who finds every thought that occurs to him equally fascinating, a belief in which he is sadly mistaken. The nuggets are thus rare and, in my view, not worth the effort of waiting for them to roll around. If you ran into this guy at a party, you'd quickly find an excuse to go talk to the cat.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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