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Hal

Doral, FL, USA

104
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 110 ratings
  • 241 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The Life and Works of Chopin

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Jeremy Siepmann
    • Narrated By Jeremy Siepmann
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (21)

    Frédéric Chopin is the pianist-composer par excellence. Here, his life - from his birth in Poland, his famous affair with the French writer George Sand, and his death at the age of 49 in Paris - is told with his music featuring prominently.

    Stephen says: "Excellent Through and Through"
    "Best music biography I have heard"
    Overall

    When I first downloaded this I has a player that only supported a format 2 download, which is entirely inadequate for playing music. With format 4, the sound is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Our Mutual Friend

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (226)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (86)

    A sinister masterpiece, Our Mutual Friend was Dickens' last completed novel. It is perhaps his ultimate vision of a dark, macabre London and the corrupting power of money.

    Erez says: "Worth six stars"
    "Trenchant Social Satire by Dickens"
    Overall

    As he aged, Charles Dickens sharped his skill as a satirist. In his last book, Our Mutual Friend, he displays a skill that will probably never be surpassed in the English language. He skewers Victorian hypocrisy mercilessly—and being Dickens, gets away with it. Anyone else would have ended up in The Tower.

    The British have always excelled at making fools of themselves, and the book’s characters have done this brilliantly. The narrator for the audio book, Robert Whitfield, is also brilliant; he knows how to speak the English Language.

    The Victorians loved to make fun of themselves in a light-hearted manner, such as in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. This was one of their finer virtues. We Americans, by contrast, are an inferior lot. We never make fun of ourselves in a light-hearted way, but prefer self-righteousness. We take ourselves much too seriously.

    Come to think of it Mencken might be an exception, or even the economist John Kenneth Galbraith; but I can’t think of any contemporary examples. We have lost our sense of humor—and that is a dark matter indeed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Confessions of a Mullah Warrior

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Masood Farivar
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    At a time when the war in Afghanistan is the focus of renewed attention, and its outcome is more crucial than ever to our own security, Masood Farivar draws on his unique experience as a native Afghan, a former mujahideen fighter, and a longtime U.S. resident to provide unprecedented insight into the ongoing collision between Islam and the West. This is a visceral, clear-eyed, and illuminating memoir from an indispensable new voice on the world stage.

    Hal says: "Still can't understand Afghanistan"
    "Still can't understand Afghanistan"
    Overall

    I found the parts about his time in the States interesting. But the parts about Afghanistan didn't make any sense, and I ended up frustrated.

    I got the clear impression that it is a violent and chaotic place, but not much else. Why he would want to go back there, I cannot imagine. Was he trying to be another martyr?

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Teahouse Fire

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Ellis Avery
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (160)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (48)

    The fates of two women, one American, one Japanese, become entwined in this sweeping novel of 19th century Japan on the cusp of radical change and Westernization. The Japanese tea ceremony, steeped in ritual, is at the heart of this story of an American girl adopted by Kyoto's most important tea master and raised as attendant and surrogate younger sister to his privileged daughter, Yukako.

    Pamela says: "Captivating"
    "Only girl talk"
    Overall

    Women interest me, but listening to the smalltalk of two young women, and nothing else, was boring.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Babbitt (Dramatized)

    • ABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Sinclair Lewis
    • Narrated By Ed Asner, Ed Begley Jr., Ted Danson, and others
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (19)

    This epic of the booming 20's captures the relentless culture of American business. A classic novel about conformity in small town America - celebrated for its comic tone, statire, and vivid dialogue. L.A. Theatre Works, then a fledgling radio theatre company, completed Babbitt in 1989. This production was so well received that L.A. Theatre Works has since become the world's premiere radio theatre company.

    Caro says: "A nice change of pace"
    "American satire"
    Overall

    From Wikipedia: Babbitt, first published in 1922, is a novel by Sinclair Lewis. Largely a satire of American culture, society, and behavior, its main theme focuses on the power of conformity, and the vacuity of middle-class American life.

    As you can imagine, Sinclair Lewis was not America's favorite writer -- but, on the other hand he was certainly well-known. Lots of Americans enjoyed poking fun at America. It has been one of our favorite sports -- and this has been one of our strong points -- and we are still at it. In Latin American, by contrast, it is illegal to for the media to criticize the government.

    This cannot be classified as a profound novel, but it is well done, and gives one a feel for the <Real America> of the Twenties -- which in many ways has not changed that much. Sinclair Lewis has come back into style, now that we realize just how stupid we can be.

    I have only one criticism: I tired of hearing the credits repeated 29 times. It was originally a serial radio program and they neglected to remove these when they published the whole thing. Of course you can also read the book.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Bart D. Ehrman
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (200)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (88)

    Bart Ehrman, author of the best sellers Misquoting Jesus and Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, here takes listeners on another engaging tour of the early Christian church, illuminating the lives of three of Jesus' most intriguing followers: Simon Peter, Paul of Tarsus, and Mary Magdalene.

    heather says: "another Ehrman gem"
    "Too slick for me"
    Overall

    I have been a fan of Ehrman's, but this book has really let me down. He is talking about Christian mythology here without making that clear. Christians, it is true, do not want to admit they have a mythology, but the New Testament is just that--with a little historical material mixed into it.

    The writers of the New Testament were not interested in historical accuracy, the idea was foreign to them. They were used to the Jewish tradition of religious writing, which became the Christian tradition too. In this tradition the desired result is a story with maximum impact and appeal--which then becomes accepted as the truth, the logic being that if it feels right, it must be right.

    Ehrman seems intent on creating new stories about Peter, Paul, and Mary (Magdalen), working over the informal oral source material in the Bible--but ignoring the fact that this kind of material is inconsistent by its very nature. No matter, he will make it consistent anyway, and pretend it is history. This might be acceptable for a run-of-the mill religious writer. But it is inexcusable for a scholar of his standing.

    He tells a story that is entertaining and uplifting, suitable for a Christian TV series or a church school. His analogy to the folks singers Peter, Paul and Mary is deliberate and glib.

    3 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Les Miserables

    • UNABRIDGED (57 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Victor Hugo
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (1173)
    Performance
    (581)
    Story
    (591)

    Set in the Parisian underworld and plotted like a detective story, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean, originally an honest peasant, who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. A hardened criminal upon his release, he eventually reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and town mayor. Despite this, he is haunted by an impulsive former crime and is pursued relentlessly by the police inspector Javert.

    Amazon Customer says: "I love this book - one of the best of all time"
    "Much too much"
    Overall

    Victor Hugo at his best is amazing, but he frequently wanders all over the place. Try an abridged version.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Bleak House

    • ABRIDGED (11 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    The long, drawn-out case of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce provides the background to this novel, which takes us into Dickens' world of impoverished people on the street, lovers fallen on hard times, and the grand riches of the upper classes. It is read movingly by Sean Barrett.

    Hal says: "Can't understand female narrator"
    "Can't understand female narrator"
    Overall

    Dickens can be hard to understand, because there is a huge culture gap between his time and ours. His verbosity, convoluted syntax, and strange vocabulary can make reading difficult and listening even more difficult--to say nothing of his excessive sentimentality and over-dramatization.

    According to Wikipedia, Bleak House has 18 main characters and 36 minor characters. Evidently, this did not tax his readers, but it is a bit much for me. I needed a short explanation sometimes, to remind me who some of these people were.

    I had little trouble understanding the male narrator, but I could hardly understand the female narrator, she read so quickly. She seemed to think she was reading to a Victorian audience, not someone in the American colonies.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Blonde

    • ABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Joyce Carol Oates
    • Narrated By Jayne Atkinson
    Overall
    (130)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (63)

    She was an all-American girl who became a legend of unparalleled stature. She inspired the adoration of millions, and her life has beguiled generations of fans and fellow artists. The story of Norma Jeane Baker, better known by her studio name, Marilyn Monroe, has been dissected for more than three decades, but never has it been captured in a narrative as breathtaking and transforming as Blonde.

    C. Hutchinson says: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NO UNABRIDGED VERSION?"
    "When it's good it couldn't be better"
    Overall

    When its bad its only mediocre.

    The recreation of her first date with Arthur Miller, for example, is a high point. Her attempts to create great literature don't always work, for example, the opening scene with the messenger boy delivering death.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Female Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Louann Brizendine
    • Narrated By Louann Brizendine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (382)
    Performance
    (157)
    Story
    (159)

    Why are women more verbal than men? Why do women remember details of fights that men can't remember at all? Why do women tend to form deeper bonds with their female friends than men do with their male counterparts? These and other questions have stumped both sexes throughout the ages. Now, pioneering neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, M.D., brings together the latest findings to show how the unique structure of the female brain determines how women think and what they value.

    Michael Dillman says: "Great material :^D -- Agonizing orator >:^("
    "Our hot brains"
    Overall

    This book will change your brain, whether it is male or female. The author, Louann Brizendine, reads herself, and her wry sense of humor comes through—especially when talking about sex, one of her favorite subjects.

    She reminds us the testosterone is an aggression and sexual arousal hormone in both sexes. Which is fine, except males have more of it—much more of it. Some of my women friends have remarked that males are more prone to violence, but, being a relatively passive male, I didn’t believe them. She has made a believer of me—and given me insight into my adolescent sex-driven behavior, something I certainly didn’t understand at the time—to say nothing of my parents.

    Her description of the emotional problems of adolescent girls made me glad I wasn’t one of them. Here again, the problems of being a woman would overwhelm any man. For example, I have never understood how a woman can manage a career and a family at the same time. As she says, it ain’t easy, and everybody suffers because of it.

    The author makes it clear that hormones are what run our life, organize our brains, and make us men and women. (There are some differences here that might surprise you.) There is a lot of talk now about gene therapy, but hormone therapy is much easier—especially for women whose hormones tend to get out of line and drive them (and everyone else) crazy.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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