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Riley A. Vann

Morristown, NJ USA | Member Since 2010

25
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 23 ratings
  • 226 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
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  • The Prague Cemetery

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Umberto Eco
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (272)
    Performance
    (236)
    Story
    (234)

    Whether it’s a critically acclaimed novel or provocative collection of essays, every work from best-selling author Umberto Eco is a highly anticipated publishing event. The Prague Cemetery is set amid conspiracy-rich 19th century Europe, where intrigue abounds—and where a lone, evil genius may be pulling all the strings.

    Melinda says: "Umbrage and Umberto; Peanut Butter and Jelly"
    "Flawed but Fascinating Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Absolutely love the concept, but think the execution is lacking a bit. The book is a thin veneer of fiction on top of actual historical events leading up to the publication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the preeminent antisemitic book of the 20th century, still used today by some to prop up their delusional conspiracies. The history is absolutely fascinating and makes the book worth reading alone, but the fictional dressing grows a little tired by the last third of the book when it at times becomes nothing more than a list of this happened, then this happened, oh, and this happened. Ultimately a flawed if still fascinating read.

    George Guidall has a voice meant for audiobooks and I've loved everything he's done. This, however, was somewhat hampered by the vast number of foreign words and phrases. Guidall's accent on the French words--can't speak to the German or Italian--was quite good actually, but it made listening difficult as he switched back and forth between different languages. If you can get past that difficulty, you'll find Guidall doing his normally brilliant work.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Suttree

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    Overall
    (234)
    Performance
    (205)
    Story
    (205)

    No discussion of great modern authors is complete without mention of Cormac McCarthy, whose rare and blazing talent makes his every work a true literary event. A grand addition to the American literary canon, Suttree introduces readers to Cornelius Suttree, a man who abandons his affluent family to live among a dissolute array of vagabonds along the Tennessee river.

    Melinda says: "Glorious Flotsam & Jetsam on the River Styx"
    "Challenging Read/Listen, Narrator Outstanding"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Suttree rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very near the top. I've long been a Cormac McCarthy fan, and this was a challenging book, but well worth the effort and trips to the dictionary. Richard Poe does so much to bring the characters to life, each with a unique and wonderfully authentic Southern accent.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Gene Harrogate because I also love watermelons. You have to read the book to understand.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Too many to choose from--t's a very episodic book--full of interesting, quirky scenes.


    If you could take any character from Suttree out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Suttree. He would be a fascinating conversationalist, I'd love to find out what the problem he had with his father was, and he could probably use a good meal.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are willing to give it the attention you need to, this book will repay your efforts in ways you can't begin to imagine. The world of 1950s Knoxville comes to life and the characters flourish with the voice acting of Richard Poe in ways I didn't think possible. Southern accents are easy to get wrong, often becoming cartoonish or all sounding alike. Poe was able to infuse all of the characters with a life and voice of their own. Brilliant.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Pride And Prejudice

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Emma Messenger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (253)
    Performance
    (224)
    Story
    (235)

    Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet deals with the issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Austen at her wittiest.

    Adam says: "Hilarious"
    "Great Book Made Better by the Perfect Narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Not to be reductive of a very important book, but this provides the storylines for every single romantic comedy and high school drama ever made. The characters are very compelling.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There are far too many great scenes to say there was one best, but one of the most memorable was Mr. Collins' proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. Her refusal and his mental contortions to make himself believe that she really wasn't saying no was hilarious.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No tears yet, but plenty of laughter. Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins are both perfect comic relief.


    Any additional comments?

    Audiobooks aren't a replacement for reading obviously, but at their best they can bring those books to life in interesting ways. Emma Messenger manages to do that with Pride and Prejudice beautifully. The depth and timbre of her voice make the listen a true pleasure.

    Even more than her voice, however, is her voice acting which makes the fascinating characters of the novel truly come to life. Her shrill, loud Mrs. Bennet helps bring out all the comic awfulness of her personality. Even better, in my mind, was the self-important harrumphing of Mr. Collins. The deep, dramatic breaths she would give him before every mention of Lady Catherine de Bourgh truly brought to life the ridiculousness of his character.

    Emma Messenger is quickly becoming one of my favorite readers and I hope she continues to read titles for Audible.com.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Against the Day: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (53 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Thomas Pynchon
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    Overall
    (213)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (82)

    This novel spans the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I. With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

    Rebecca Lindroos says: "brilliant!"
    "Best Pynchon Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Against the Day to be better than the print version?

    I have read several Pynchon novels before starting this audiobook, so I understood the scope of characters and grand, sweeping events I was in store for. What I *wasn't* ready for was Dick Hill's narration. I have been impressed with audiobook readers before--George Guidall on American Gods, Simon Vance on Wolf Hall, and Roy Dotrice on the Fire and Ice series, each outstanding in his own way handling a multitude of voices and complexity of langauge--but Dick Hill in Against the Day set a new standard which few others will ever reach. His handling of song lyrics, foreign languages, tricksy Pynchon prose mixing both high and low brow culture, and a cast of characters far too long to list here made a very difficult novel come to life and entertain in ways people can't imagine a Pynchon novel can even do. Dick Hill was essential to my enjoyment of this read/listen.


    What other book might you compare Against the Day to and why?

    Obviously it compares to Pynchon's other classics such as Gravity's Rainbow and Mason & Dixon. From the point of view of how it synthesizes so many different ideas from so many different cultural and scientific fields, it reminds me of Joyce's most challenging works: Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. It also covered much of the same ground as Umberto Eco's recent Prague Cemetery, although it does so in a much more fulfilling and far reaching manner.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Too many to count. It could be the many discussions of the cultural and political implications of fin de siecle science and math--aether and Riemann Functions for example. It could be the Chums of Chance, the perfect parody of pulp fiction of the early part of the 20th century (think Doc Savage for example). It could be the exploration of the political changes from the 1890's that lead up to the First World War. It might well be the masterful ways in which Pynchon mixes high brow and low brow culture. He'll move from discussing the Michaelson-Morley experiments in the speed of light moving through aether that helped set the groundwork for Einstein's Theory of Relativity to having a Arabic character named Al Mar-Faud who wears a hunting cap, carries a shot gun and loves to go hunting for "wabbits."


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The Traverse boys, all with different points of view spend most of the novel hunting for the man who was responsible for ordering their father's death. They are as a whole perhaps the most human and fleshed out characters in all of Pynchon's work. Their whole story arc is very moving.


    Any additional comments?

    It's not an easy read/listen, but it's well worth the time. Enjoy the laughter even as you puzzle through the implications of some of the weightier issues and themes. Pynchon is a master at that blend in a way no one else is.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • True Grit

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Portis
    • Narrated By Donna Tartt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1909)
    Performance
    (1074)
    Story
    (1081)

    Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

    Tommygaus says: "So worth it!"
    "Great Accent, Poor Acting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Charles Portis is truly a master of dialog and character. The list of writers who can come up with more compelling characters and more fascinating dialog would be very short indeed. True Grit is no exception. Mattie Ross, Rooster Cogburn, hell, everyone down to minor characters leap off the page, or out of the speaker in this case, and come to life.

    Donna Tart is a good writer in her own right and has the perfect accent to do the young Arkansan narrator, but her voice acting feel far short of bringing out all the humor and pathos that could have been wrung out by a more trained voice actor. Often, I found her narration preventing the story to reach its full potential, but even with that it was a compelling listen and I can't wait to read or listen to more Charles Portis.

    If anyone wants a place to go from here, definitely try The Dog of the South. I haven't listened to the audio book, but recently read the print version and can't say enough things about that story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The City & The City

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By China Mieville
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (868)
    Performance
    (450)
    Story
    (452)

    When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlof the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined. Borl must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own.

    James says: "Interesting Premise"
    "Another Mieville Wonder"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow, China Mieville has done it again. A great blend of sci-fi and hard-boiled genres. John Lee continues to amaze me as an outstanding narrator who lets the story take center stage. Excellent all way around.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elric of Melnibone

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Michael Moorcock
    • Narrated By Jeffery West, Michael Moorcock
    Overall
    (335)
    Performance
    (164)
    Story
    (164)

    It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair that flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody.

    Tony says: "Great Listen (Ignore the Sample Listen)"
    "Enough with the music"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the story and and narrator, but the music in the background began to grate very quickly. Just let the story stand on its own.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1981)
    Performance
    (1248)
    Story
    (1255)

    In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn.

    S. Marie says: "A unique perspective of history"
    "Great Book Made Better by Narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was nervous about listening to Wolf Hall rather than reading it because the book has a huge cast of characters. However, I decided to give it a try because I enjoyed his voice from the sample on Audible.com. Little did I know how lucky I was. Simon Slater made each character he voiced come alive with a vibrancy that I'm not sure I would've gotten just from reading the text. The voice for Thomas More in particular gave such dimension to the character. It was one of those books that I was devastated to finish because I was enjoying it so much. Simon Slater was in no small part responsible for that. I hope Audible.com offers more of his narrations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Claw of the Conciliator: The Book of the New Sun, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (314)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (193)

    The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

    Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

    Riley A. Vann says: "fascinating world"
    "fascinating world"
    Overall

    I read this series when it first came out and seeing it here as an audiobook gave me the perfect opportunity to listen to it again and was glad to have my original opinion fully supported. Wolfe creates such fascinating characters and such a vibrant, fully realized world that you get totally sucked in. Jonathan Davis also does an excellent job in making Wolfe's prose--very ornate--pop and come alive.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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