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Yountville, US, Canada | Member Since 2010


  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Jimmy says: "Epic, Remarkable, Easy & Enjoyable!"
    "Focused on connecting events to characters"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The subject of the novel could be a trilogy unto itself. The focus on a half dozen characters from all over the world, all connected by blood, marriage, or friendship, and their connection to big historical events should have been blunted. I wish I did not have the feeling I was watching a HIstory Channel enactment.

    What could Ken Follett have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Not made tying all the characters and history together with a neat bow dominate the narrative.

    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I liked him better in the first of this series, and other of his Follett narrations.

    Did Winter of the World inspire you to do anything?

    Not really.

    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this after just listening to Cpnnie Willis' sci-fi dyptich about the blitz in England, a similar kind of WW2 historical yarn. Her depictions were so much more vivid, characterizations so much more realized and compelling, that I could not help but be disappointed by contrast. I usually like Follett, but this seemed to skim through events rather quickly, each being sketched rather than fully realized. And the book had the annoying Forrest Gumpisms (without the comedy) of seemingly being witness to every event of major note possible, while all, Brit, American, German, and Russian somehow being interrelated, sometimes by blood--both plot devices, a bit heavy handed for my taste. The first of this series was a stronger effort.John Lee was fine, though the plethora of voices and accents did not always serve him as well as in other readings by him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Speaks the Nightbird

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robert McCammon
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies -- and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel's innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal....

    aaron says: "Dark, Twisted Period Piece with GREAT Characters!"
    "Delicious Guilty Pleasure Tale of the First Order"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Speaks the Nightbird to be better than the print version?


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Wonderful characters, wicked and heroic, sympathetic and pathetic; great setting--time/place, outlandishly detailed and delightfully grisly adventures, an against all odds kind of derring do that wins the day, and so on.

    Which character – as performed by Edoardo Ballerini – was your favorite?

    Well for pure over the top, hard to beat Exodus Jerusalem, the fire breathing evangelical charlatan, a character out of Dickens for pure disgust and villainy.

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

    Certainly Corbett's scenes with his mentor and the woman he falls in love with and sets out to save from the massive injustice facing her.

    Any additional comments?

    I have read the whole series up to now. Books 2-4 are all good, but I do not know if I would have picked them up without reading the first one, which predated the author's success with this character. Many found the length of it not to their liking, but it was precisely the length and loving detail that for me makes this book far and away the best of the series (each new installment has been progressively shorter, and suffers as a result), a book that really does stand on its own, a great, long, rollicking delight of an adventure, whether or not the author would have pursued this character (HBO--this would be a natural for you guys) with new episodes in his life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gardens of the Moon: The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Steven Erikson
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting, and bloody confrontations with ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dreaded Claw assassins. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, their lone surviving mage, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities, yet holds out.

    Adnan says: "An engrossing yet demanding high epic"
    "Big hype but little to show for it"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Um, nothing that I can think of. It would have to be a different book.

    What was most disappointing about Steven Erikson’s story?

    Erikson comes highly recommended all around. But having read an enormous amount of fantasy myself from trying to start this book, twice in print and once in audio, I don't really get it. The language has all the overwraught quality that flaws much of the best fantastic writing, but without the plot or characterization insofar as I could get to. The whole thing reminded me more of a romantic era epic poem in which the characters were more demiurge than human, and demiurges who were hard to care much about. The battle scenes were full of pyrotechnics and magic, but the first was, in the age of cgi, so what, and the latter not realized, but rather simply imposed upon the narrative. Suspension of disbelief would demand interest; my interest began waning from the opening bell.

    Did Ralph Lister do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Not particularly, but then he did not have much in the way of characterization to begin with.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gardens of the Moon?

    I believe there are those who love the challenge of Erikson's in medias res style of scene. I would be more willing to put up with that in the third book of such a long series. This was a young author more filled with ideas than fleshed out characters. If you are an idea person, then go for it. He kind of reminds me of David Lindsay, the early twentieth century, Brit author of A Voyage to Arcturus, but with many of Lindsay's flaws, lacking Lindsay's stupendous imagination.

    Any additional comments?

    I have heard that the books in this series get immeasurably better after the first one. At the same time I have been told it is necessary to get through the first one to go on. Well, there you have it. I have tried and tried again, but it always puts me to sleep.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Watching You

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Michael Robotham
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett

    Marnie Logan often feels like she's being watched: A warm breath on the back of her neck, or a shadow in the corner of her eye that vanishes when she turns her head. She has reason to be frightened. Her husband Daniel has inexplicably vanished, and the police have no leads in the case. Without proof of death or evidence of foul play, she can't access his bank accounts or his life insurance. Depressed and increasingly desperate, she seeks the help of clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin.

    bernadette says: "Wow!"
    "Solid Psychological Thriller"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Watching You to be better than the print version?

    N/A--unless a book I listen to is extraordinary or vice versa, I don't also read the text.

    What did you like best about this story?

    The suspense.

    Which character – as performed by Sean Barrett – was your favorite?

    Marnella. The villain.

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

    I was caught up in the plotting.

    Any additional comments?

    This was a well done suspense novel, plotting especially. The reader did a great job. I loved the book for what it was until the very ending, the final twist struck me as either gratuitous and extremely unnecessary or meant as a cliffhanging intro to another novel, which I most definitely hope will not happen. Mysteries often turn on the endings. No matter how good everything is up to the very end, if the very end does not deliver, and I did not think this one did, even though I am referring to the anticlimax, not the climax itself, which was fine, then some of the work was compromised. For this reason I gave the novel 4 not 5 stars insofar as the sum total and story were concerned.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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