This review covers "Left Behind" and "Tribulation Force" as narrated by Jack Sondericker.
I am so disappointed with the audio quality of this recording. It sounds like it was recorded straight off of a cassette which had been wound tightly for a long time. The audio is full of echoes and pre-echoes from where the cassette tape had experienced bleed-through. If you listen through earphones as I do, it's extremely distracting.
Additionally, there is a ton of background noise. Furious pencil-scratching sounds, bangs and clanks...and I'm almost certain I heard a toilet flush at one point.
All of that I could have tolerated, and in fact DID tolerate through Left Behind and much of Tribulation Force.
But then Rabbi Ben-Zion became a major figure, and his badly-done "Hebrew accent" is more than I can stand. If I were Jewish, I'd be insulted. It's one thing to be unable to master an accent, but it's another to make it sound as if the person is channeling a mixture of Donald Duck and Ludwig Von Drake.
I will be returning this series for a refund, but since I love the story itself, I will try again with a different narrator.
When God is building something beautiful out of broken vessels, it's a glorious thing. And He did something awesome here.
The only caveat is to be prepared for sudden, unannounced time-jumps. In the book you get visual hints in the form of a dividing line, but in the audiobook you frequently find yourself momentarily confused by a jump ahead or back several years. But don't let that deter you from enjoying this tremendous story!
... start with this one! An incredible story of heroism, madness, egotism, humility, valour, ingenuity, and love. I would have loved to have known Garfield. We will never know how much the country would have benefited from his presidency if he had lived longer. But what he accomplished in his short presidency and, amazingly, what benefits came from the struggle to save his life, are a story every American should know.
The narrator was simply superb.
I cannot recommend this highly enough!
Buy the book. It's wonderful! But do not buy the audiobook.
I hate to be so negative, but when an excellent book on the subject of grief is narrated by someone with what can only be described as "Low-Budget Informercial Voice," it's tragic.
Just imagine: You're listening to a narrative of personal devastation, and of the deep theological insights that came from grief, but it's presented in a "But wait...there's more" vocal style.
When the author summarized his family's tragedy (his wife, mother, and 4-year-old daughter were killed in an accident, with Sittser and his other children also in the vehicle), the narrator almost seemed to insult the author's grief just by reading it as if it were one of those incredibly irritating, "Oh, no, the cling wrap won't stick! Introducing new Super-Cling!" commercials.
But the book itself is wonderfully insightful and hope-giving. Read it, but don't let it be ruined by listening to this narration.
It's hard to imagine listening to a biography of one life for 54 hours...but this particular life was so packed with amazing events lived by an amazing man, that every hour was justified.
Okay, I'll admit there were a few hours that began to feel a little boring to me at times, particularly about his childhood and his ancestors. But I'm glad I listened to them, because biographies are about knowing people, and people are about all of the factors that shaped them, including the mundanities. Truman never forgot who he was and where he came from, so those shaping influences were necessary to the story.
And, as I'm learning from reading other minutiae-minded authors (such as Marilynne Robinson and even Victor Hugo), the little details provide ambiance, and ambiance immerses the reader, if the reader will allow it to. The reader begins to feel as though he is walking through life with the main character, and where this may not always be exciting, it certainly deepens the understanding and even affection that is developed.
And I became very fond of Harry Truman while listening to this biography. I knew next-to-nothing about him before reading it, but now I feel a deep respect and appreciation for him. Though we disagree on some fundamentals, I can now at least appreciate his positions. And though I can see some of his mistakes, I can respect that they were well-intended mistakes. He was, in short, a good man. And a good man is always worth getting to know. Frankly, that's one important way that this book helped me grow as a person. It showed me how much it's possible to respect someone with whom I disagree on major political issues. And that's a huge gift, because respect is a major antidote to...well...being a knee-jerk JERK. I hope to be less of a knee-jerker with people on the other side of the political spectrum, more interested in getting to know them as people rather than as political labels.
But mistakes and disagreements aside, this man did a phenomenal job in two terms which threw more staggering challenges at him than any previous president had ever faced. Few men could have stood up under the assault. I defy his critics to have done better.
As for the narrator, he was excellent. It must be a challenge to make a 54-hour biography enjoyable to listen to, but he certainly did it.
Somewhere past halfway through the book, something changed in the studio, because the mic picked up a lot of mouth noises from there until the end of the book. But that should reflect on the technicians, not on the narrator himself. And it should certainly not discourage anyone from taking this very worthwhile walk through the life of Harry Truman.
All of Herriot's books are very enjoyable because he had a wonderful eye for beauty, for humor, for poignancy, for sorrow, and for joy. And he knew how to set it all down masterfully on paper.
However, before reading this to children, parents should be aware that this was a hard-drinking culture, and Herriot didn't minimize that fact.
As for the narration? Well, it's Christopher Timothy! What more needs to be said? He's wonderful.
This is my least favorite of the four in the series, but as you can see from the ratings I gave it, it's still good.
Unlike most of his works, this one has portions that some parents will want to pre-screen before reading to young children because of explicit references to animal sexuality, detailed accounts of collecting specimens for artificial insemination, etc. And, additionally, parents should be aware that this was a hard-drinking culture, and Herriot didn't minimize that fact.
The story is also oddly disjointed, making frequent jumps from the 1940's to the 1960's and back again, which detracted from its quality in my opinion.
However, it's still very enjoyable because Herriot had a wonderful eye for beauty, for humor, for poignancy, for sorrow, for joy. And he knew how to set it all down masterfully on paper.
And the narration? Well, it's Christopher Timothy! What more needs to be said? He's wonderful.
The story itself was enjoyable. It follows the old formula of creating ambiance by adding in lots of seemingly extraneous dialogue (though not nearly as much as you'd find in some other old stories, like "Les Miserables"). If you know that in advance, and don't expect a perfectly streamlined, a-b-c plotline, you'll be able to relax and enjoy that ambiance. Raveloe will start to feel like a town you know. And you'll be glad you took the time, because it's a pleasant, feel-good story.
As for the narrator, he's even better than the story. I'd happily listen to him again.
I confess that this is my first Bronté novel. I say, "Confess," because it seems almost criminal now to have lived nearly 50 years without having read her before...especially since I'm already a fan of Jane Austen, who wrote similar works.
Jane Eyre is an amazing work of fiction. Brilliantly descriptive language transports the reader into another world...and the narrator is the perfect vehicle for the story. Susan Ericksen does a masterful job. She handles the different characterizations with ease, seamlessly, almost completely without stumble (and with none that are serious). I would happily read Bronté again, and I would happily listen to Ericksen again.
(This review covers both the Kindle version and the professional narration.)
I loved this book!
I have long been prone to being paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes, and would often rather live with the consequences of other people's decisions than make decisions of my own.
The Lord has been working on this problem in my life for a while, chipping away at the walls of my prison. But reading this book was like putting down my little chipping tool and trying dynamite instead. Fresh air at last!
Lots of good biblical wisdom here, and lots of dismantling of pseudo-religious thinking which shackles so many people. If you or someone you know is struggling with decisions and the will of God, get this book!
The professional narration was good. No complaints. I would readily listen to him again.
(This review covers both the eBook and the companion audiobook from Audible.)
This book touched and helped me in many ways.
First, it gave me a detailed account of an amazing life. A good biography leaves one feeling that one actually knew the subject. Though Bonhoeffer died back when my mother was only a tiny girl, I feel as if he was a friend...the kind of friend who inspires and enriches me. He makes me not only want to be closer to God, but also shows how God draws near to us in life's darkest hours. Since the world is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity, even in America, it is good to see an example of a man who lived what Christ taught. Bonhoeffer loved his enemies, did good to them, and taught the pure, unadulterated Gospel fearlessly. He died a martyr, just as fearlessly.
Second, I had heard differing accounts of Bonhoeffer which confused me. Some called him a great Christian, and others called him a heretic. This book showed which of his writings have been twisted to completely misrepresent his beliefs, and explained how it happened. I can't imagine that anyone could read this book and come away believing that he was heretical. His faith was too solid, too Biblical for that.
Third, it inspired me to buy another book, this one by Bonhoeffer himself. It's called, "The Cost of Discipleship," and I can't wait to read it. I know I will be challenged in very important ways.
Now, as for the audio narration, I can only give 4 stars. The narrator generally did a good job with the text (except when he tried to do female voices, which I'm glad he quickly stopped trying to do), and I would not hesitate to listen to one of his readings again. But for reasons that I cannot fathom, he was chosen for a book which requires the ability to pronounce German words and names...an ability which he largely lacks. Even the main character's name was mispronounced in painful ways much of the time. Really, the problem is not a reflection on the narrator himself, but on the choice to pair him with this particular book. But I say these things only to prepare listeners so that they won't be unpleasantly surprised. By all means, do NOT let this problem keep you from this excellent book. It is well worth it, even if you have a finicky ear.
I am so glad I read this book. Bonhoeffer was a true man of God and an inspiration to countless people. I am glad to now be included in that number.
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