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Colin

Seattle, WA, United States | Member Since 2011

13
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 63 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • Assembling California

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By John McPhee
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (31)

    Thirty years ago, the theory that continents are comprised of drifting plates—plate tectonics—evoked more scorn than serious research. Today, this revolutionary theory continues to dazzle and challenge geologists and laymen alike. Assembling California explores an area uniquely demonstrative of the plate tectonic theory: California, which according to “tectonicists,” is breaking apart at its seams.

    Darwin8u says: "Subduction leads to orogeny zones in California"
    "Great Idea, Great Prose, Difficult Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love the way McPhee writes: who else would describe a beard as "tetragrammatonic"? But for me picking up on those kinds of literary allusions is a lot easier than trying to understand geology, and this book sometimes seems just too delighted in the swirl of geologic terms to make sense of. Since listening to this, I've looked at a paper copy, and that made it easier to keep the story sorted in my mind, but I have never studied geology, and while listening I found I was often rewinding and relistening and sometimes still not understanding what was going on.

    At the same time, I really enjoyed this book. The narration is pleasant. And the organizing ideas of the book work really well. McPhee organizes the book around a series of roadtrips in California, and brings up geological topics as they relate to places you can visit, especially if you live in the Bay Area or the Central Valley. The thing I like best about this book is how most of the geological information arises out of dialogues with the pioneering geologist Eldridge Moores. Moores makes a great character to organize the story around.

    Bottom line: as a piece of writing this is great. As a way to learn about geology, it's hard.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Narcopolis

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jeet Thayil
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    Jeet Thayil's luminous debut novel completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. This is a book about drugs, sex, death, perversion, addiction, love, and god, and has more in common in its subject matter with the work of William S. Burroughs or Baudelaire than with the subcontinent's familiar literary lights. Above all, it is a fantastical portrait of a beautiful and damned generation in a nation about to sell its soul. Written in Thayil's poetic and affecting prose, Narcopolis charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis.

    Rachel says: "Deep and seedy"
    "Headspinning"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the most amazing books I've heard or read. It has raw stories of suffering that moved me from deep within, and as portraits of addiction, or self-questioning, or the corrosion that comes from caste and class enforcement these stories are true to life. What makes the book so special is that it swirls these stories into one another, like the half-dreamed conversations of the opium-smokers it depicts. Where does narrator stop and character begin? Which stories are within other stories? Which snatches of verse are quoted song, and which are misremembered, or misrepresented? The novel gives you grit and dream at once. For an author this is a dangerous literary game to play: a novel like this could end up confused, or confusing, and lose the reader's attention, but Thayil pulls it off. The book is gripping, it is clear, and it is compassionate.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Painted Veil

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By W. Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Sophie Ward
    Overall
    (169)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (88)

    This is the story of Kitty Fane, the adulterous wife of a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. When her husband discovers her deception, he exacts a terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic in China.

    Karen says: "Better than the movie"
    "Great reader -- OK story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It was the reader that drew me in. I listened to the ten minute sample and I was hooked. The story is not gripping all the way through. Some of the characters stay frustratingly distant, but Kitty grows and deepens with every page, and watching her navigate her world is fascinating.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Anthony Horowitz
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi
    Overall
    (1022)
    Performance
    (888)
    Story
    (896)

    Sherlock Holmes is the greatest detective in literary history. For the first time since the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a new Holmes story has been sanctioned by his estate, whetting the appetites of fans everywhere. Information about the book will be revealed as deliberately as Holmes himself would unravel a knotty case, but bestselling novelist and Holmes expert Anthony Horowitz is sure to bring a compelling, atmospheric story to life.

    GP says: "A disapointment"
    "Fine Fan Fiction, but I Expected More"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are good things in this book, but it definitely felt like an homage to Sherlock Holmes rather than the real thing. In that sense, it is not so very different from other Holmes fan fiction out there. The writing is good. Horowitz can imitate 19th century English English well. But knowing Horowitz's superb work on the "Foyle's War" TV series, I expected better plotting, and more interesting use of the Holmes world, rather than a parade of Victorian cliches.

    It is true to the VIctorian setting to have gay characters and poor Irish characters denigrated by the establishment and narrator, but I'm not sure that's an aspect of the Victorian world I like to hear reiterated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Ottoman Age of Exploration

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Giancarlo Casale
    • Narrated By James Adams
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (24)

    In 1517, the Ottoman Sultan Selim "the Grim" conquered Egypt and brought his empire for the first time in history into direct contact with the trading world of the Indian Ocean. During the decades that followed, the Ottomans became progressively more engaged in the affairs of this vast and previously unfamiliar region, eventually to the point of launching a systematic ideological, military and commercial challenge to the Portuguese Empire, their main rival for control of the lucrative trade routes of maritime Asia.

    Jean says: "Ottomans in the Indian Ocean"
    "Fascinating History-- keep a map handy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book gives a fascinating account of the Ottoman political maneuvers in the 16th century Indian Ocean. It gave me a new perspective on events as diverse as the rise of Emperor Akbar in India and the sinking of the Spanish Armada. It's piqued my interest in Yemen and Gujarat in particular.

    If you are not familiar with the geography of the Indian Ocean, you will probably end up like me, poring over maps for hours after listening. My own ignorance of the region and of Ottoman history made this book more challenging to listen to than most of the audiobooks I have finished. I had to rewind and relisten to many parts in order to make sure I understood just what the sequence of events was.

    Overall I enjoyed it very much. I have given it 3 stars for story just because it is not a breezy listen the way some books are.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (151)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (102)

    After 500 years, the world's huge debt to the wisdom of the Indians of the Americas has finally been explored in all its vivid drama by anthropologist Jack Weatherford. He traces the crucial contributions made by the Indians to our federal system of government, our democratic institutions, modern medicine, agriculture, architecture, and ecology, and in this astonishing, ground-breaking book takes a giant step toward recovering a true American history.

    Lou says: "Eye Opening..."
    "A great listen for anyone in the Americas"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I recommend this book to everyone. I recommend this book to my students in Mediterranean history so that they learn how many of the things they misattribute to the Greeks and Romans are in fact Native American contributions to world culture. I recommend this book to those who love cooking and eating. There's a lot of folklore about which staple foods today originated in the Americas. This book does a good job of giving an overview. And I recommend the book to anyone who just loves to be wowed by stories of real travel, and real people today interwoven with a historical perspective.


    Any additional comments?

    On a few (rare) occasions, the narrator mispronounces some words in European languages. This didn't detract from the listen for me, but I did notice.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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