GWTW is simply the best historical romance novel ever written. No need to go into the plot here, I think everyone knows it. At first I wasn't too happy with the narrator and I do feel that a cast of voices might have served this book a bit better, but after I got used to her voice and realized that I wanted to hear Viviene Leigh and Clark Gable narrate, I got over it. I hadn't read it in over 10 years, so listening to it was a treat. It's actually a darker story than I first remember. Well worth the 39 or 40 hours. Highly recommended.
The Black Count starts off as a marvelous, brave tale describing the way blacks were treated in France the 2 centuries before before Napoleon Bonaparte came into power, and the influence thereafter on the unlikely man who would become Alexander Dumas who would then give us the magnificent Count of Monte Cristo and it's more famous brother, The Three Musketeers.
The author masterfully gives us 2 hours of background in the centuries leading up to the birth of Dumas' father known as "The Black Count" and then the unlikely story of Dumas' rise to fame, not only because he was a genius of a writer. He was a grand character (both men, really) in this snappy rendition of the slightly mysterious Alexander Dumas... a huge celebrity during his time here who left this world at much too young of an age.
I don't like to give away everything in a review, and I'll continue that tradition here, but if you are a lover of Dumas' books as I am (TCOMC is my favorite book of all time), then you will love this well told story of how it came to be that an obese mulatto becomes one of the most cherished authors of all time and a major celebrity during his all too brief life in Paris.
This is a great book for history lovers, biography lovers and really, anyone interested in black culture or in ancient France (and how their policies toward blacks may have shaped our own 200 years ago) and just about anyone else. It is a joyous, intriguing story of how one of how this great, great author came to be and lived his life and how his father's life shaped his own. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's one of the best books I have listened to in so long. I am giving 5 stars for narration, but it's nothing special, except that it is expertly done. It's a straightforward read, since there are no "characters" to play. It's the story that really shines here.
By all means, treat yourself to this wonderful little known bit of history. You will be a richer person for doing it. And if you haven't read the unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo yet, you won't be able to resist after this. I'll probably have to re-listen to it now. Be sure to look for the one read by John Lee, available on Audible.com, which is so masterfully read and executed.
Ian is a complicated guy: He is in love with the extraordinarily beautiful and smart Angela, is studying Near Death Experiences and trying to rescue his beloved parents from Hell after they saved his life when they were in a car accident together. Author Glenn Kleier has given people who enjoy tense thrillers a reason to celebrate... The Knowledge of Good And Evil is imaginative, taught, tense and enough narrow escapes to keep the reader going.
Angela is the type of heroine we all love: she is bright, smart, listens to her own, interior panic button and saves Ian more than once from heading into straight folly. I'm not sure a book exactly like this has ever been attempted before. For one thing, the reader gets about 30 prompts to a web page to show the readers a particular painting or a scientist in the world of certain esoteric sciences. The reader doesn't have to wonder why a special church in Europe is so distinct.... instead of wasting 2 pages on trying to describe it, Kleier just takes the reader to a special website that has all the photographs on it. This gave the book extraordinary depth.
Even though I tend to gravitate to literary novels and have recently been on a tear reading very old novels, The Knowledge of Good And Evil was a fun break from the more formal books and go on an old-fashioned (dangerous) treasure hunt that takes us all over this world and into others.
The book is expertly read by the talented Macleod Andrews and all the voices are distinct and well-read. I really enjoyed this book.
I adore Tori Morrison. Beloved is my favorite book of all time. I read A Mercy (her last book) when it came out in hard cover and it was just a mess. It was surprising to me that Ms. Morrison would write such a disjointed book. However, I am reviewing _Home_ and while it is a lovely collection of short, unrelated stories, I was expecting a novel. Nowhere in the description does it say it is short stories. So... if you love Morrison's way of putting words together (and that's what I'm letting myself concentrate on as I listen for the second time) and her reading voice (she doesn't "act". She just reads)...but the feeling is so intimate that I feel like a sweet fairy godmother is reading to me. But, some people don't like that and have complained.
If you like short stories (I'm not a big fan) and you have enjoyed Morrison's books in the past, then you may like this one. Her language is just spectacular and I don't regret spending a credit on such a short book.
I read Lonesome Dove 23 years ago and have seen the miniseries several times. I know that Gus has a loud voice, but the actor doesn't need to scream, sending my sleeping cats scattering and me racing for the volume control every time he talks.... and Gus is a main character. (and one of the best leading men ever written in literature)
This book is a masterpiece~~and I don't need to finish it to know that. But I doubt I'll finish this version. 35 hours of this isn't too much fun.
PLEASE RE-RECORD THIS!!!!! It deserves it! I don't think there is anything wrong with the performance by Lee Horsley...because the voices are all OK except for Gus'. I'm going to complain to Audible...and I was warned in reading some of the other reviews that there were sound quality issues... but it's worse than anyone said.
My advice is to not buy this until they come up with a new recording of it. I'm mad that I wasted a credit on a book I was REALLY looking forward to re-reading.
I love historical fiction and have always idolized the Kennedys and always wondered what would have happened if JFK had not been killed in '63, how would the world be different? I guessed in this book, if JFK had been allowed to live out his life and be elected again...what would have happened? Since I was 3 when JFK was gunned down (and I think my own memories of that day were the reactions of my parents that made it so indelible on my psyche) but I had always assumed that if JFK and RFK had been allowed to govern the way they were groomed to do, our country and the world would have been a better place. Not necessarily DisneyLand, but better.
Not so, according to Steven King who has written a highly imaginative book here that I listened to on Audible and finished today. I like the narrative, liked most of the characters, adored the exceptional love story between adults and, overall, it is a very good book. Yeah, you have to suspend belief for the main conduit of the story being this little invisible stairway to 1958...but that is why we read novels...to be swept up in an imaginary world and go for a walk with a storyteller.
So, while I have no main criticism of the book or the story, I really hated the narrator. Firstly: he cannot do women's voices. And a lot of the men's voices sounded alike and when the reader is just reading narrative, sometimes it sounded like he was having trouble going from that impassive voice to one of the characters' voices. But it is his complete lack of ability to do women's voices well, or even give it a try (!) kinda ruined the book for me a bit. I also don't appreciate overacting~~which this guy does a lot. The only thing impressive to me is that Mr. Wasson was given this job with only 10 or so other books to his credit. I'm sure he will be getting more work since this book is so popular, but I won't seek him out. And I have listened to books because of a narrator before just because I love his voice so much.
So.... overall, from me, the book, its self, gets 4 stars overall, 2 for performance and 5 for story.
This book gets 5 stars on Amazon.com and very high marks here...so I knew nothing about the book, so I thought I'd give it a listen...and I am SO glad I did. This is a WONDERFUL story and I can't imagine anyone not liking it. It's probably not for girls under 16 due to a scary rape scene, but other than that, it's pretty violence free, quite funny and I devoured it.
When I realized it was coming to the end I actually started the book over and waited to read the final 2 chapters fresh after reading the book a second time. It made the end...which is somewhat bittersweet...a LOT sweeter since I had just read this magical little book twice and was TWICE as eager to hear the last 2 chapters. I was NOT disappointed. I was gladdened... Such a wonderful book. I just didn't want it to end.
This book gets so much great attention here, but I was quite perplexed by The Wind-Up Bird. First of all, why was not someone like George Takei summoned to do the voice work? I have heard his voice work before, and he is amazing. All the women in the book except one sounded exactly the same and while I found the narrator's voice and diction to be (mostly) well done, the word "Soviet" is mispronounced every time except twice (why bother to say it correctly twice?) and while the men's voices were done well, why didn't anyone have a Japanese accent? The whole book takes place (with a couple of exceptions) in Japan, both in modern day (the 1980's) and at the end of WWII.
The narrator does a good job with the male voices, but still, just for authenticity, why was a voice actor with a Japanese accent not called to do this book?
And someone said "the sexual content in the book is mild". What? There was one of the most vividly brutal sexual scenes in it I have ever heard and the general brutality in the book is misplaced and overwrought and I really detested that part. I get it: War is brutal and hellish, but my God, the author just went overboard in the gore department during torture or execution segments. Animals are executed, people are executed, people are brutalized in the worst, most deviant and extravagant ways.
Characters drop in and out for no reason and their stories are not followed to the end. Especially with the sisters of Malta and Creta... I loved those characters, but they are absent in the last 2/3rds of the book and other characters who are very interesting are developed and seen through to the end.
I don't see how anyone could "enjoy" this book. I thought parts of it (especially in the first third) were quite well done and was looking forward to more, but then, when the shock value set in, I just have to balk. And nothing is really ever settled in the end. It is a book that will haunt me, and not in a good way.
The Book: Is a wonderful, funny and well-told story. Yes, it's a bit predictable but I forgave it that because this book is supposedly the first "English novel ever written". I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I had to read it just for that fact alone. I loved the little "coming attractions" before each chapter, and quickly learned that I did not need to put my full attention on the first chapter of a new book. It's mostly the author's musings about life in general and has little to do with the actual story. 5/5 stars for the actual book.
The narration: The men's voices were very well done, especially the drunkard Squire Western. He had me laughing out loud quite a bit and also relieved to not be his daughter. My only issue with the narration is that Sophia's voice was so quiet (maybe Mr. Danzinger couldn't think of another way to do her) that I literally had to rewind and turn it all the way up, which was a problem when her father is yelling at her. 4/5 stars for narration.
I saw another version of this book cut up into three volumes (so 3 credits or three times the price, whichever way you want to look at it) and if I had known I was going to enjoy it so much, I might have gone for the more expensive option. So... listeners: be warned.
I always suspected Ken Follett was a bit of an arrogant man, and boy.... did this interview ever confirm it! But since I am in love with John Lee's voice, it was so great to listen to him just speak in his normal voice. I learned a lot about how audio books are produced and it is an interesting way to spend a few minutes. John Lee rocks as a narrator and I hope he continues to crank out a many as possible. Hey! He got me to read my first Dickens novel! I might try the space opera that everyone is raving about... just for Mr. Lee's amazing vocal talents.
Having become a John Lee addict, I am tending to seek him out as a narrator because I am in love with his voice. I did read Follett's other big book: Pillars of the Earth and I enjoyed that one as well. I wouldn't have read either of these books if John Lee did not narrate.
That being said...in this book, Follett was a bit high-reaching for me. The story lines were confusing and just plain boring at times and for me there were too many political discussions and too many descriptions to battle scenes that just were not that different from the previous political discussion or battle scene. I also felt that many stereotypes were used that aren't really true: Are all Russian middle-class women whores and drunks? I doubt it. Are all British Lords so baffling, brutal and cold? I doubt that as well. Was it fun to hear John Lee do an American accent? Yes... it was. (a first for me)
Follett fans will be happy, and John Lee fans will also be satisfied. I cannot fault the narrator for the material, but I can fault Follett. Will I read the next one? Probably... but this is not "literature" and I just prefer literature to pop fiction.
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