Woodland, CA, United States | Member Since 2011
Narrator: Frank Muller
Frank Muller is one of what I consider to be the "best of the best" of narrators, so I suppose my commentary on him is colored by other books. In this one, he manages to start out the "Red" character at around 30 some odd years old, and slowly age him to 58. That, in itself, is a feat. Mr. Muller is not afraid of comfortable pauses between chapters, or reading slowly and carefully enough to emanate important emotional parts. He's just as excellent as always in this one.
Story: Originally titled "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption", one of four such stories in the book "Different Seasons" written by Stephen King.
This story is about an upstanding citizen, who, through what appears to be truly a truckload of bad luck, finds himself imprisoned for 27 years for 2 murders he did not commit. It is told by his best friend on the inside, a man who owns his own crime (rare on the inside) and a man who can "get you things". Though most of the story is focused on Andy, it is also focused on the interpretation of Andy by this man, whose name is Red.
In or around 1994, I saw the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins and instantly fell in love with it. I ran out and bought a copy to keep and watch for years to come.
I was concerned about buying this book. It is short: a mere 3 hours, 58 minutes and 28 seconds long. I thought that the movie, at about 2 and a half hours would overshadow it and buying this short book might be a "waste of money". How much more can there be in the additional hour and a half, especially considering it is a short story? Would it "ruin" my enjoyment of the movie, bothering me with inconsistencies to the movie story I knew so well?
I lucked out. Audible had a half-off-just-about-anything sale, so I only spent half what it is normally priced at. There was no thought about the money once I got into it, sale or no. It did not ruin my enjoyment of the movie, it has enhanced it.
"No good thing ever dies." says Andy Dufresne in both the book and the movie. Well, I would add that goes for good stories as well. To me, this is a classic story, one that should be shelved between Hansel and Gretel and The Wizard of Oz. But only because it would be shelved in fiction. It is, obviously, a book for adults, not children, but it endures because of it's nearly full believability, a tough thing to pull off for a fictitious story about a prison break. Stephen King not only pulls it off, he makes it a classic, and Frank Muller's narration makes it a keeper.
If you're considering it, save up your dollars until you can buy it, full price or otherwise. It is a very good evening's worth of rapt entertainment. Definitely better than prime time television, though I know that's not saying much these days. I'd say it'd be worth more than one evening of prime time television anywhere from the 1960's on, including my favorite shows and even movies. I'd give up one evening gladly, and pay the price gladly. And I don't regret having done so at all. Frankly, it's a steal, even at full price.
Being a fan of dark, apocalyptic fiction, this book awed me. The realism captured in the way Max Brooks uses uninterrupted interviews after the fact lends outstandingly good form fora nearly all star cast. It is riveting and fascinating. Worth more than a single read. We're this in my home library it would be bound in leather. I would want my grandchild to read this in his mid teens.
I was delighted with this STORY as a fun, easy read, but appalled at the narration. In nothing more than my first semester of college, even I learned that when one orates, or reads aloud, one must SLOW DOWN. The class I took on Oral Interpretation spent the first half of the semester with the teacher repeatedly telling each of us to SLOW DOWN. This is the problem with the narration (and the only problem with it as far as I could tell) as the narrator Heidi Baker reads at about the speed of light. That might be helpful in other professions but not this one. Thank goodness I found the story fun, interesting and not too explicit, which is saying a lot for a love story based on two people alone on an island! However, I did have to listen about 3 times to catch everything. Please, Audible, do what you can to find better narrators! Or, HELP them!!!! There's nothing wrong with a little direction.
MAGIC'S PAWN BY MERCEDES LACKEY
Vanyel Ashkevron is a 16 year old young man who's father is Lord of Forst Reach in the kingdom of Valdemar, and is expected by his father to take over his estate as Lord Holder when he comes to manhood.
However, Vanyel is far more interested in music than in being Lord Holder or in the "hack and bash" fighting his nemesis, Jervis, tries to force down his throat. He understands neither of those any more than he understands why his father never seems to think he does anything right and seems to believe he lies: though he does not. Eventually the root of his father's "problem" is told in this first book and handled well in all three of this trilogy. I found the treatment Ms. Lackey did of the issues around being gay with a parent who is homophobic (though neither word is used it becomes obvious) to be very accurate and true to life. Those who think it isn't either had awesomely progressive parents or they are not gay and therefore have no understanding of the wounds this inflicts.
Magic's Pawn, the first in three books of the trilogy known as "The Last Herald Mage" is the beginning of a tale that starts with the main character (Vanyel) very young, and ends in the third book in his mid thirties, quite a different man and very mature. It seems that things only go from bad to worse at first, but eventually the story shows what it took to make Vanyel the Legend he eventually becomes.The characters and relationships in Lackey's writing are very well drawn, and while this first book of the trilogy includes seemingly overdone emotions, for a 16 year old confused boy, it's just right. Emotions are always seem to adults to be a bit overdone at 16 years old regardless of gender or sexual preference.
About the narrator: James DeLotel did a FANTASTIC job of narrating all three books of this series for the American Printing House for the blind. However, my copy is old and missing at least 22 pages (broken tape, fixed ultimately but missing the broken part) of the first book is missing. I so badly wanted copies of all three books that were whole.
I am grateful that Audible did this, but I wish that Audible could have some way of checking the narration at the very least, even if they can't afford (or won't pay for) studio time for recording in which both editing and directing could have made a huge difference.
I think that this narrator, Gregory St. John, has at the very least a natural gift for narrating, but even gifts need direction. This narrator for this book has been reviewed MANY times as having anything from an annoying effect on listeners to an UN-listenable effect. I found it merely annoying because I know the story is worth it. No newcomer to these stories can be expected to see that though.
MERCEDES LACKEY has written quite a few fantastic series that many people follow in an age when reading has all but gone out of style. It's not fair to the author or the listeners to have such inconsistent, badly timed and badly pronounced (e.g. "Tamentable" is said in place of "Lamentable" for instance in book two) regular English/American words as well as the inconsistency of pronunciation of names as well as pacing. Speaking of which, the pacing is horrid. No pause, not even one second between obviously different scenes. The reading is so bad, my first listen included many lost sentences going by as I tried to figure out what the narrator had just said. And I had already read the entire series three times in hardback!!!
If too many of Audible's narrators are like this, I fear many people will find other places to get their audio books. I've even thought of doing that myself, which I find a bit disturbing. And all because of bad narration by one narrator. One. And I know, from experience with "The Island" and a few other books from Audible that regardless of the greatness of the writing, the horridly unprofessional narration made it so I could barely stand the too fast reading, very bad "accents" that do not remain consistent within characters, bad pacing, mispronounced words, etc. in any book from Audible. That's not good for keeping me from wandering around looking for other sources of audio books.
It is necessary, I believe, to bother with studio time, recording with editing and some direction.
I put up with it, because it's where I first found a copy of "The Last Herald Mage" trilogy not as old as my worn James DeLotel version. But....I won't be tossing that version, as it's nice to RELAX rather than be constantly irritated and finding myself correcting the narrator such as when St. John says the word "merc" (shortened form for mercenary) as "merse" rather than "merk". Actually, with that mispronounced word, St. John was absolutely consistent! Which only made me more annoyed. After about the fifth time he says "merse rations" I start correcting him ... as though that will make any difference. I'm glad I already loved these books or Audible, frankly, I WOULD NEVER HAVE BOUGHT THE SECOND ONE. In fact, I probably would have asked for money back and rescinded my rights to the first book once I got that money back. That's how annoying it would be had I not already been familiar with and loved the books themselves.
Really, these things could have easily been cleared up with a little direction. It makes your narrators look bad as well as your company. Of course, this is all assuming that Audible has any say and is something more than a place that rents audio books from other places. If Audible does rent from other places, perhaps Audible needs to first read user reviews from the companies they rent from so they can better choose which books Audible wants to present to it's clientele.
Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise and Magic's Price are awesome books in written form. And if a bad narration, bad or no editing and no direction causes people to turn away from the books themselves, I hope authors check in and insist on their books being done by professionals rather than just well, gifted folks in home studios with no direction and absolutely no editing. I will start warning authors if I see this on the increase. It's a very bad misrepresentation of an author's work when the narration alone turns readers away. How many times do your customers have to tell you this, Audible, before you find a way to seriously address the issue? And if you'd like a dialogue, Audible, contact me, I'd be happy to talk to you about it.
For those who love fantasy and love books by Mercedes Lackey, you can still hear her works here, just allow for some really challenging moments in listening for this series.
"The Stand" originally came out in 1978. In 1990 (or close thereabouts) Stephen King, in response to his fans requesting it, edited and expanded this classic work to include hundreds of pages that were cut from the original version on account of the billing department. Now, the entire story is here, and included are more details about the characters familiar readers will recognize.
If you're a first time reader, get ready for the ride of your life through Stephen King's description of a world where 99% of the population is wiped out by a flu plague. And more...what happens to the 1% left to survive. What would it be like, REALLY?
I loved this book, still do, have my own hard copy along with this version on audio.
Grover Gardner is, to me, the STANDARD for good narrators. I wish some other books I've bought here were read by him and not the folks who mispronounce words and names and can't seem to read consistently and read too fast. Gardner's reading is so smooth it's almost enough to make you think you are thinking the book rather than hearing it. He's not slow, he's not fast, he's easy to listen to, he gets emotion across without blasting your eardrums and without overdoing it. His vocal characterizations are consistent and again, not overdone. A pure joy to listen to. Here's a narrator that makes you actually not want to read yourself. Other narrators I could name but won't, make me want to give up and go read the hard copy myself. If you want a nice long story, like end-of-the-world scenarios, like Stephen King or are curious, and want to hear a REALLY PROFESSIONAL narrator: this is the book for you. Well worth it.
From the moment my father explained to me that there is space, quite a bit of it, in between walls, I learned to not let my imagination travel down certain roads.And, to continue the thought, once I read Stephen King I wasn’t as frightened as I thought I would be … since my ‘under mind’ (in Dark Tower speech, meaning unconscious) had already traveled down those roads. What a surprise to find out it was worth a little fear to read such suspenseful stories. Character isn’t just three dimensional, it’s Whole in King’s writing. And no more so than in the seemingly endless Dark Tower stories, which now include a total of eight volumes. (In case you want a list to compare, here they are in the order the author suggests they be read:
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole
The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
That order is found in a forward by the author in “The Wind Through the Keyhole” which is the last book he wrote in the Dark Tower cycle. In his words it should be shelved between Dark Tower 4 and 5.) The wonderful thing about TWTTK, is that it really CAN be enjoyed all by itself. There is enough “pre-story” told to catch the reader up to who the characters are. So, to get the flavor of the Dark Tower series, this book is the one to read. If you like it well enough, it may be all you need to choose to read the rest of the Dark Tower Series. Being a story within a story within a story, this is especially well suited to those who are ‘storiophiles’. That is to say, people who are bound by stories like a junkie to his junk. Good stories, of course. Having read the entire series several times, I have to say I get especially excited when I get to this volume because the story within the story within the story is so artfully done. After Frank Muller’s amazing narration of the first 4 volumes, it was a little hard for me to get used to Stephen King narrating (yes, the same, the author reads this volume himself!) his narration is plenty correct, flows well, and I found within a short time I am lost in the book and have forgotten there has ever been another narrator for the series. While Stephen King does not have the ever-spooky pacing and tone that Frank Muller had which could make a perfectly sweet lullaby sound like death bells, the truth is, for the story within a story within a story, it only makes SENSE that the story writer should, himself read it. To those who have complained, whined and otherwise bedraggled the fact that Sie King reads his own book, I would answer with “Yar. And could any of you have read it better?” I couldn’t and my narration abilities are very good. There is a difference between good narration and acting-narration. That is all that is different. Though, for those of you who insist, I am certain Stephen King actually plugs his nose for one character somewhere around the middle of the beginning of the book.So, there is your "acting narration" if you must have it. The book itself is a fantastical tale that is worth not just one read, but several. And if you’ve read the original 7 volumes and loved them, I would encourage you NOT to give this a pass. It’s pure Stephen King and it adds to Roland’s back-story as well as illustrating the beginnings of his wildly romantic (albeit practical) nature.I would like to thank Stephen King in this review, for reading the book himself. It is the only thing I have that is read by him. Can anyone claim anything else, other than occasional quotes from some speech? This is going to be collector's status, take my word for it.
This story surprised me! Emily Pollifax is an older woman, busy with much volunteer work, but not really happy.In fact, as her doctor notes, she is suffering from mild depression.
However, Mrs. Pollifax does not turn to an anti-depressant. She turns to a dream she had from her youth -- that of becoming a spy.
Her approach to getting that job is phenomenally unique and full of good humor. I enjoyed it from cover to cover (as it were). Enough to listen yet again, and again after that.
Emily Pollifax is intriguing not because she is so outwardly different from women her age, but because of how she looks at life. She comes across as a "doddering old woman" yet she does amazing astounding things that people in their young adult years might find too demanding. But Emily doesn't do these because she's in "shape" to do so. She does them because they befall her.
Her spirit is what is so commendable, and while she like all of us has her "grumpy" moments, for the most part her openness to life in general and learning specifically are truly inspirational. But mostly she is far more interesting that one would expect. In fact, she is completely Unexpected.
Highly recommend to all ages.
Barbara Rosenblat does a wonderful job of creating the voice of Emily Pollifax, making her more alive and believable than print could do.
The City of Ember is the first book and The People of Sparks is the second.
The People of Sparks are "put upon" by more than the whole population of their own town when 417 people arrive in one day, all needing shelter and food and water. Good intentions wear thin with hardship and the reader is shown the difficulty of both sets of people. The argument for difficulty and impossible expectations are well defined and so reasonable it's easy to see how any of us would feel the same in either position.
This story also teaches how wars start -- on a small scale. It shows that people do not have to be evil in order to have both misunderstanding and fear coalesce into a dangerous mob without much to urge it on.
It is also a story of forgiveness and courage, as well as the way to stop war.
Taken together this is far more than just a story of a post-apocalyptic world. There is not much description of the "Disaster" though it is simply explained. The astonishing thing about these two books is the depth of wisdom and insight about people. How we function, how we respond to uncertainty, strangers, new places, and how easy it is to believe that our own way of life is the only way, even if it isn't the best way.
This story is written from and seen through the eyes of children between the ages of about 9 to 13 and has the resulting success of answering all the questions the reader would have.
Wendy Dillon's voice is soothing as well as flexible. Her rendition of the different people is almost unnoticeable it is so smoothly done.
This is an amazing book when combined with it's predecessor The City of Ember. If I could give my grandchild only 2 books, I would give him these two.
First, the narrator is so perfectly chosen for this book as to be nearly eerie; as though the author first met the narrator then wrote a book around the narrator's voice.
Action packed, magically involved, and all in a "now" time, there is much tension as well in this young adult story of magic, humor and action-packed "fight the bad guys" good moments.
Young Stephanie leads a regular life, with regular (and good) parents and she's truly bored. Then, Stephanie loses a beloved uncle and at his funeral meets someone who will forever change not only her life but her own understanding of who and what she really is: one Skulduggery Pleasant, a person who is so wrapped in clothing one cannot see his features. But that voice...that voice....
Skulduggery is a detective, yes, even as a sort of undead person, and he continues in his vocation as Stephanie insists he must help her find out who murdered her uncle. She feels she owes her favorite uncle that much.
This has violence in it, but somehow the author wraps it up around the edges with true gallows humor.
I found myself laughing in despite. On the second listen, I was far more able to focus on the story and laugh easily at the odd humor. By the third listen, I was pretty crazy for it. This is a tension filled story that is both light with humor and dark with magical doings of both good and "evil" characters. The characters aren't deeply drawn except for the main character and her protagonist, but they don't need to be. The action carries the story forward well.
The paperback version of this trilogy gets a full 5 stars from me. The story is astounding, and far more detailed, of course, than what we will see in it's movie versions.
However, the audio book was frustrating to me. I really don't know how exactly she does it, but somehow Carolyn McCormick adds a dimension to Katniss Everdeen that does not exist in the book version: she sounds like a whiny, rather priggish, sort of self-centered not-nice-word-for-a-girl. And that is NOT the way Katniss appeared to me when I read the actual written paperback trilogy.
So ... needless to say that is a rather large drawback.
On the whole I rely on audio books because I tire very easily and they are much less energy demanding than holding the book and doing the reading myself. I would PREFER to do the reading myself because I get to paint my own picture in my head, even down to each character and the narrator if there is one, but frankly my physical being isn't up to it all the time.
I do wish there was a choice on many books of narrators: at least two narrators for any book or trilogy. (But I guess that would cause a glut of great jobs for narrators.)
The whole story is here; all three books. And the words are certainly all there. If this narrator appeals to you rather than offends or irritates, you'll love it as much as reading it yourself.
The story is a simple yet profound one: how far is too far when the "leaders" take everything and take over and the "people" are left with imminent threats to their survival? This trilogy paints a grim, yet possible story of one way that could all come about.
I would say common sense should keep this at age 13 years or above.
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