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Andrew

ratings
20
REVIEWS
7
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
24

  • Everything Is Illuminated

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Jonathan Safran Foer
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman, Scott Shina
    Overall
    (703)
    Performance
    (319)
    Story
    (318)

    Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with great tragedy, and an unforgettable story of one family's extraordinary history unfolds.

    J. Kovler says: "What a brilliantly original work!"
    "Annoying author and reversals"
    Overall

    Despite my 2-star rating, I enjoyed the book -- the Ukrainian side of the narrator role is hilarious in his consistent misuse of the English language, as if he learned to speak English by reading a thesaurus -- but the phrase that best describes the overall "ick" factor of the book would be "self-absorbed." It's really hard to separate the author of the novel from the protagonist, of the same name, and the latter isn't all that much likable.

    The other thing that really annoys me about the book is the consistent overreaching for quotable moments. The way to manufacture these quotable moments, it seems, is to write a phrase and then reverse it. Or perhaps to reverse the phrase and then write it. You see what I mean. Let's try for a few more:
    - Love is death, but only death is truly love
    - I am my grandfather, and he is me.
    - There are so many things to be said, and there is nothing to be said.

    The book is FULL of these reversals, and it gets so that you just want the author to move past them and keep telling the darn story.

    Anyway, I did like the story, but these two things -- the self-absorbed Jewish narrator/author and the cloying reversals -- disappointed

    23 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Take a riveting tour of the Italian peninsula, from the glittering canals of Venice to the lavish papal apartments and ancient ruins of Rome. In these 24 lectures, Professor Bartlett traces the development of the Italian city-states of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, showing how the modern nation of Italy was forged out of the rivalries, allegiances, and traditions of a vibrant and diverse people.

    Listen says: "Great course with some redundancy"
    "Great prep for a 2-week trip to Italy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    History with context!

    The professor has a superb job putting everything in context. Italy is such a complex place which such a diverse set of historical drivers, and so it's tough to do right.

    Most tour guide histories are just a list of "then this happened, then this king did this."

    In contrast, this professor ably articulates the trends and particulars, so that the names, places, and events make sense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Walk and Talk Florence

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Anne Holler
    • Narrated By Maria Tucci
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (10)

    Get ready for a one-of-a-kind audio experience: discover Florence through intimate, guided audio walking tours of the city's most historic and enchanting quarters. There are four guided tours for you to listen to as you walk through Florence, plus essential Italian words and phrases that every traveler wants to know.

    Andy says: "it works"
    "My favorite part of visiting Italy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've done 3 of the "Walk and Talk" series -- Rome, Venice, and Florence -- and they were my favorite part of my trip to Italy. You get such a great sense of the city and how people lived.

    The subject matter emphasizes architecture and location history, which I happen to love. It's not dry; the narrators share tons of interesting details about art, archways, street names, neighborhoods, and awesome miscellanea you'd never otherwise notice

    Each title has 4 walks for that city, each with a 45-minute audio track that takes you on a walk they say lasts 2 hours. I found each took me about 75-90 minutes, with the talking speed at 1.5x. But you can also take it slow and hop in and out of shops along the way, too.

    If you use these on your trip, here are some tips:

    1. You often need to enter buildings, so take the walks between 9am-12pm or 2-5pm. Many churches and museums are closed outside of these hours. (Better yet, check the hours of the main sites ahead of time; some museums are closed on Mondays, for instance.)

    2. Print the associated PDF maps, 1 for each person in your group. It's nigh impossible to follow the directions without them.

    3. If you have a few days in Rome/Venice/Florence, consider doing the walks first to get a sense of the city and to help you decide which sights you want to see. You get recommendations about special restaurants to check out, local stores, or out-of-the-way museums to visit. However, if you're only in one of these cities for a day or two, you might want to just head right to the main attractions.

    4. Be prepared to spend 2 to 8 euros to enter each of the various churches and museums along the walk; these are always worth it, and usually don't take more than 10-to-30 minutes to see each.

    5. I found that a familiarity with Italian history -- specifically Florentine, Venetian, and Roman history -- was helpful in putting some of the factoids in context. The Great Courses series "Italians Before Italy" has great lectures about these cities' history.

    Though the content is from 2006 or earlier, it was 95% accurate. Occasionally a store or restaurant mentioned wouldn't be there, or a museum has re-arranged its exhibits, but otherwise no issue. No surprise, I guess; these cities have stayed largely the same for 400+ years, so what's an extra decade?

    Each walk is about 5,000-10,000 steps (according to my pedometer), so it's a good workout.

    Happy walking!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Walk and Talk Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Anya Shetterly
    • Narrated By Maria Tucci
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Get ready for a one-of-a-kind audio experience: discover Rome through intimate, guided audio walking tours of the city's most historic and enchanting quarters. There are four guided tours for you to listen to as you walk through Rome, plus essential Italian words and phrases that every traveler wants to know.

    Lloyd says: "Walking Rome"
    "My favorite part of visiting Italy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've done 3 of the "Walk and Talk" series -- Rome, Venice, and Florence -- and they were my favorite part of my trip to Italy. You get such a great sense of the city and how people lived.

    The subject matter emphasizes architecture and location history, which I happen to love. It's not dry; the narrators share tons of interesting details about art, archways, street names, neighborhoods, and awesome miscellanea you'd never otherwise notice

    Each title has 4 walks for that city, each with a 45-minute audio track that takes you on a walk they say lasts 2 hours. I found each took me about 75-90 minutes, with the talking speed at 1.5x. But you can also take it slow and hop in and out of shops along the way, too.

    If you use these on your trip, here are some tips:

    1. You often need to enter buildings, so take the walks between 9am-12pm or 2-5pm. Many churches and museums are closed outside of these hours. (Better yet, check the hours of the main sites ahead of time; some museums are closed on Mondays, for instance.)

    2. Print the associated PDF maps, 1 for each person in your group. It's nigh impossible to follow the directions without them.

    3. If you have a few days in Rome/Venice/Florence, consider doing the walks first to get a sense of the city and to help you decide which sights you want to see. You get recommendations about special restaurants to check out, local stores, or out-of-the-way museums to visit. However, if you're only in one of these cities for a day or two, you might want to just head right to the main attractions.

    4. Be prepared to spend 2 to 8 euros to enter each of the various churches and museums along the walk; these are always worth it, and usually don't take more than 10-to-30 minutes to see each.

    5. I found that a familiarity with Italian history -- specifically Florentine, Venetian, and Roman history -- was helpful in putting some of the factoids in context. The Great Courses series "Italians Before Italy" has great lectures about these cities' history.

    Though the content is from 2006 or earlier, it was 95% accurate. Occasionally a store or restaurant mentioned wouldn't be there, or a museum has re-arranged its exhibits, but otherwise no issue. No surprise, I guess; these cities have stayed largely the same for 400+ years, so what's an extra decade?

    Each walk is about 5,000-10,000 steps (according to my pedometer), so it's a good workout.

    Happy walking!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Post-American World

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Fareed Zakaria
    • Narrated By Fareed Zakaria
    Overall
    (770)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (143)

    For Fareed Zakaria, the great story of our times is not the decline of America but rather the rise of everyone else - the growth of countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Kenya, and many, many more. This economic growth is generating a new global landscape where power is shifting and wealth and innovation are bubbling up in unexpected places.

    Gus says: "The Rise of Chindia"
    "Good for novices only"
    Overall

    Fareed Zakaria is funny on The Daily Show. In this book, he is not funny, nor entertaining, nor particularly insightful. I suppose if you have not been paying attention to the news and don't realize that India (and China) is something of a large country, you may be surprised by what Fareed has to say. I was not.

    Blech.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The White Tiger: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Aravind Adiga
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1979)
    Performance
    (814)
    Story
    (811)

    Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life - having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Through Balram's eyes, we see India as we've never seen it before: the cockroaches and the call centers, the prostitutes and the worshippers, the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger.

    With a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create morality and money doesn't solve every problem.

    Mark P. Furlong says: "Entertaining, thought-provoking, darkly funny"
    "Stopped 10% of the way in"
    Overall

    The narrator is just annoying (all the things everyone else said about his Apu accent) AND didn't like the 1st person voice (annoying). As for this second point, I can see how that would be a legit literary choice (to have an obnoxious 1st person voice), but I prefer 1st person books where the voice/character is someone I'd want to hang out with on my own accord. This is not one of those.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shantaram

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Gregory David Roberts
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    Overall
    (3304)
    Performance
    (1639)
    Story
    (1639)

    This mesmerizing first novel tells the epic journey of Lin, an escaped convict who flees maximum security prison in Australia to disappear into the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The keys to unlock the mysteries that bind Lin are held by two people: his mentor Khader Khan, mafia godfather and criminal-philosopher; and the beautiful, elusive Karla, whose passions are driven by dangerous secrets.

    Jamie says: "Do Not Miss This"
    "Don't bother with it if your standards are high"
    Overall

    The story is good, the details are often amazing, but then the author repeatedly devolves into some pablum about how, say, "the opposite of love is suffering, and the opposite of suffering is love." EVERY CHAPTER has these ridiculous passages, and they don't get any better as the book goes on, trust me. It's a farce of attempted profundity. ... I could only get through half of the book before realizing I was wasting my time. ... To devote 40 hours to an audiobook, it needs to be incredible. This one isn't. Don't bother with it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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