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John

chicago, IL, USA | Member Since 2007

32
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 4 reviews
  • 8 ratings
  • 276 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2014
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  • Summerland: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Michael Chabon
    • Narrated By Michael Chabon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (188)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    It's summer, and the Clam Island fairies, or "ferishers," as the North American Fair Folk call themselves, are in grave peril. War is coming, another battle in an ancient conflict, a struggle against the Fell Smith and his power of Anti-life. He and his host of demon engineers, kobolds, and warriors have sought to destroy the fairies since time began. When the Clam Island band sends for a champion, they get an 11-year-old boy named Ethan Feld.

    A Reader says: "Unforgettable characters!"
    "the hero's journey (around the diamond)"
    Overall

    the meandering quality of chabon's tale isn't unlike the the long pace of a baseball game, but that's kind of his point. he packs a whole lot of world mythology into the yarn, much of which will be lost on the younger listener, but what fun way to be introduced to coyote, the world tree, apple lawn (avalon) and ragged rock (ragnarok), among so many others. the story sometimes gets a bit too clever for its own good, but chabon always returns to the center of his heroes' quests. and it's true, the author gives a pretty great read.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Divergent

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Veronica Roth
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    Overall
    (15828)
    Performance
    (14327)
    Story
    (14428)

    In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

    Grant says: "It's not for me. Loved it anyway."
    "Don't buy this crap"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Divergent?

    The writing is atrocious. Sad to think that this hyperbolic crap is being fed to kids. The story is shamelessly derivative. It reads like a 7th grade creative writing assignment that should have gotten a C. Words are consistently misused. Hard to believe that a major publisher was involved with this book - was there no budget for an editor or a proofreader? It could have been passable story in the hands of a competent writer. Everyone involved with the publishing of this book ought to be ashamed of themselves - alas they are all contentedly sitting atop a huge pile of money. Please don't buy a copy - you'll just encouraging them.


    Has Divergent turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, if anything it reaffirms how good the genre can be.


    What aspect of Emma Galvin’s performance would you have changed?

    I admired her ability to soldier through this garbage


    What character would you cut from Divergent?

    the author, the publisher


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Inferno from The Divine Comedy

    • ABRIDGED (4 hrs)
    • By Dante Alighieri
    • Narrated By Heathcote Williams
    Overall
    (117)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (18)

    "Abandon all hope you who enter here." Dante's Hell is one of the most remarkable visions in Western literature. An allegory for his and future ages, it is, at the same time, an account of terrifying realism.

    John says: "buy this version"
    "buy this version"
    Overall

    i recommend this reading very highly. heathcote williams gives an excellent read, delivering the text with precision and clarity, personifying each character neatly. the divine comedy is arguably the jewel in the crown of the western canon and is a book that requires a lifetime of reading and rereading. it is a real joy to hear it read in full, so competently.

    that said, you need to do some studying to appreciate the book. the text is not as difficult as shakespeare - but dante makes heavy references to the politics and popular stories of his own times. If you do not come to this story as a student, with explanatory notes and a willingness to study, you will be frustrated. but do the homework. the divine comedy is one of the great treasuries of human experience.

    so, yes, i really enjoyed listening to the book. my only complaint is that the translator isn't credited - a shame for both the listener, who wants to read along and for the translator who deserves the credit.

    i am no expert, but i liked the translation. the text is rendered in prose, and it sounds natural and unforced to my ear. i think that this is the version to go with if you serious about listening to the whole work. the pinsky/cleese version is very, very good- both the translation (pinsky is a superb poet) and cleese's read (fun & lively - he obviously loves the book) but it is an abridged version. if you're only passingly interested in the inferno, i'd go with that. but why invest all the effort required, if only for a fraction of a fraction? and the other version with a woman reading it is as knuckle-headed an idea as i can imagine: the text is written the first person, in dante's voice - why would you cast the role as a woman? it’s as stupid an idea as having a man read molly bloom.

    anyhow... heathcote williams gives a great read, reads an unabridged version and reads all three poems. i look forward to taking the entire journey with him.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Le Morte D'Arthur, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Sir Thomas Malory
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    This monumental work made the Arthurian cycle available for the first time in English. Arthur is conceived and taken away in secret, returning as a young man to claim the throne by pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. In retelling the story of Arthur's rule of Britain, Malory intertwines the romances of Guinevere and Launcelot, Tristram and Isolde, and Launcelot and Elaine. Sir Galahad's appearance at Camelot begins the quest for the Holy Grail.

    John says: "a desert island book"
    "a desert island book"
    Overall

    john steinbeck loved this book too, and wrote: "I think my sense of right and wrong, my feeling of noblesse oblige, and any thought I may have against the oppressor and for the oppressed came from [Le Morte D'Arthur]."

    this is a book that will take you a life time of reading and rereading (and listening too). it is packed with adventure that is immediately accessible and dense allegory that you can chew on endlessly. it is the definitive, encyclopedic version of the arthurian cycle, and therefore long. but don't shortchange yourself with an abridged version. the strange little tales at the corners that don't make the abridged versions are the ones you'll find yourself coming back to time and again. you already know the big names like lancelot & arthur, but it's the lesser known names like gareth, kay and pellinor who you'll fall in love with.

    but wit thee well, my liege, this book requires a bit of an investment on your part. the language is high english and will be foreign to the impatient ear - not quite as tricky as shakespeare, but you will have to brush up your mallory nonetheless. yet if you give it a chance, and use your olde english dyctionarie, you'll make a friend & companion for life.

    my only criticism is of the reader. in general frederick davidson does a fine job, handling the language with aplomb and clarity. he transitions well between characters, so it is easy to follow who is speaking. but there is an certain uniformity to the pace of the reading that keeps it in the realm of a "reading", and not "storytelling". he also at times veers into a vocal pattern that (in my opinion) is oddly arch and affected. i recommend this version, but i think there is another, better reader out there - one with a real passion for the story. maybe it is derek jacoby, but seriously, why bother with an abridged version? personally, I want to hear my favorite medieval scholar giving it a read… may i recruit terry jones?


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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