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J.

Moorhead, MN, United States | Member Since 2007

32
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 23 reviews
  • 32 ratings
  • 500 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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  • Empires of Sand

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By David Ball
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (116)

    After four trips to the Sahara and extensive historical research, David Ball crafted this sweeping adventure novel spanning two continents and 15 years. Set against a backdrop of the crumbling French Empire’s attempts to colonize the Sahara Desert, Empires of Sand follows the lives of two cousins who are raised as brothers but destined to become enemies. It is 1870, and France is at war with Prussia.

    Pamela says: "my first review"
    "Read one, read them all"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is Ball's first novel, but I read Ironfire first. The characters and plots of Ironfire and Empires are largely one and the same, different only in detail. Good reads as historical fiction and the facts are accuate. The characters are rather stock and lack complexity. Ball seems to have it in for the Catholic Church. Priests and nuns have nothing better to do than engage in self-serving or sadistic activity.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Histories

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Herodotus
    • Narrated By Bernard Mayes
    Overall
    (269)
    Performance
    (119)
    Story
    (117)

    Herodotus is not only the father of the art and the science of historical writing, but also one of the Western tradition's most compelling storytellers. In tales such as that of Gyges, who murders Candaules, the king of Lydia, and usurps his throne and his marriage bed, thereby bringing on, generations later, war with the Persians, Herodotus laid bare the intricate human entanglements at the core of great historical events.

    Jefferson says: "Fascinating and Well-Read History"
    "Maps would help"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's hard to call yourself an historian and not to have read Herodotus, the Father of History. Every time I'd pick up the written version, I found the beginning so slow (and so steeped in fable as to be of questionable historical value) that I would set it aside as a chore to be tackled when I really needed to do penance. Listening to the audio version has strengths and weaknesses of its own. One gets through the fables and the travel book accounts of the first book more easily, though I found times where my attention lapsed. There are so many odd names of persons and places, that it's difficult to keep them straight without seeing their spelling or location on a map. This might be one of those books that are best listened too and read simultaneously. Keep an ancient atlas with you as well. The story picks up with the recounting of Persia's invasion of Greece and the resistance made by Sparta and Athens. It's then one realizes just how much of our understanding of the Persian Wars trace back to Herodotus. Many later texts on the period draw on him almost exclusively. Parts of the work are worth many re-reads, but as I say, keep some maps at hand. As for Bernard Mayes's narration, yes he comes off as a Greek oral traditionalists, but his dry voice make dry sections seem particularly desiccated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Devils

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (30)

    Exiled to four years in Siberia, but hailed by the end of his life as a saint, prophet, and genius, Fyodor Dostoevsky holds an exalted place among the best of the great Russian authors. One of Dostoevsky’s five major novels, Devils follows the travails of a small provincial town beset by a band of modish radicals - and in so doing presents a devastating depiction of life and politics in late 19th-century Imperial Russia.

    Lawrence says: "Excellent translation and narration"
    "Even George can't save this one."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this classic twice thinking I'd missed something. In the end I just had trouble paying attention enough to keep track of the story. Given how terrorism is now a daily occurrence, one would think a book about anarchists would be topical. Dostoevsky is examining philosophical debates surrounding nihilism that was a pressing topic in Russian intellectual circles of his day. For me, however, (and I'm guessing for you as well), this book is too dated to engage modern readers. This is the first book Guidall has narrated that I have not liked. Guidall selects his projects well and having his name on the cover is usually a book's best reference. Suffer from insomnia? Buy this book and let George's melodious voice rock you to sleep knowing there's not much of a plot you'll be missing.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Helene Wecker
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2930)
    Performance
    (2695)
    Story
    (2696)

    Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

    Tango says: "Enchanting Debut Novel - Delicious!"
    "A good book made great by Guidall"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before there were latex sex dolls there were female Golems. Fine, I'm stretching things, but what would happen if you found that you'd fallen in love with an animate piece of clay? Wecker not only brings to life her Golom, but immigrant society in 19th C. America; sort of a historical fantasy. An interesting story with a feminine perspective on love and loyalty. Guidall is one of the few male narrators who do women and dialects very well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John le Carré Value Collection: Tailor of Panama, Our Game, and Night Manager

    • ABRIDGED (16 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By John le Carré
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    Night Manager: Enter the new world of post-Cold War espionage. Penetrate the secret world of ruthless arms dealers and drug smugglers who have risen to unthinkable power and wealth. Our Game: With the Cold War fought and won, British spymaster Tim Cranmer accepts early retirement to rural England and a new life with his alluring young mistress, Emma.... Tailor of Panama: Le Carre's Panama is a Casablanca without heroes, a hotbed of drugs, laundered money and corruption. It is also the country which on December 31, 1999, will gain full control of the Panama Canal.

    J. says: "Carre' reads Carre'"
    "Carre' reads Carre'"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Generally I think it is a terrible mistake to let writers narrate their own books. Not so here. While I've gotten used to listening to Carre' through the voice of the late David Case (aka Fredrick Davidson) Carre's disenchantment with the powers of the Western World suits the cynical outlook of his characters. Carre' is as good a vocal actor as he is a writer of the cerebral thriller. Unlike the Smiley series, The Tailor of Panama is almost a comedy.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Fourth Protocol

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Frederick Forsyth
    • Narrated By David Rintoul
    Overall
    (144)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (94)

    MI5 investigator John Preston, is the only man who can prevent an act of murderous devastation aimed at tumbling Britain into revolution.

    Calum says: "Good story, too much detail in some areas"
    "Cold War Thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Rogue elements in the Politburo seek to destabilize Great Britain and let the Americans take the blame. Forsyth is in top form here making the far-fetched come off as perfectly plausible. A great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Place of Greater Safety

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (34)

    It is 1789, and three young provincials have come to Paris to make their way. Georges-Jacques Danton, an ambitious young lawyer, is energetic, pragmatic, debt-ridden - and hugely but erotically ugly. Maximilien Robespierre, also a lawyer, is slight, diligent, and terrified of violence. His dearest friend, Camille Desmoulins, is a conspirator and pamphleteer of genius. A charming gadfly, erratic and untrustworthy, bisexual and beautiful, Camille is obsessed by one woman and engaged to marry another, her daughter.

    Amazon Customer says: "Disaster"
    ""Historical" diatribes posing as a novel."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The French Revolution is a great backdrop for a novel, just ask Mr Dickens. Mantel should be commended for attempting to be true to history in her copious use of letters and documents of key figures in order to give them an authentic voice when it comes to dialogue. The problem is that most of this book is just dialogue and precious little explanation as to what the hell is going on. I'm a professional historian myself and yet I had difficulty wading through the didactic exchanges of these revolutionaries in order to piece out where we were in the evolution of the Revolution. Even more problematic, in Mantel's effort to rely on writings of these figures in order to put words in their mouths, she forgot that a novel needs a plot. The only satisfaction the reader gets out of this long and dreary piece is seeing everyone get it in the neck. --- Oh, don't accuse me of being a spoiler, you know what happened to these guys, right?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Spandau Phoenix

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Greg Iles
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    Overall
    (465)
    Performance
    (288)
    Story
    (284)

    The Spandau Diary -- what was in it? Why did the secret intelligence agencies of every major power want it? Why was a brave and beautiful woman kidnapped to get it? Why did a chain of deception and violent death lash out across the globe, from survivors of the Nazi past to warriors in this new conflict about to explode? Why did the world's entire history of World War II have to be rewritten as the future hung over a nightmare abyss?

    Corinne says: "Excellent and intense"
    ""Nazis, I hate those guys!""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is right in line with the back-to-life Nazi conspiracy stories we've seen in Indiana Jones or the Boys from Brazil. Interesting spin on the mystery surrounding Hess' flight to England and Nazi sleeper cells in West Germany and South Africa. Enjoyed the first 2/3, but the final shoot out scene involving so many strange alliances slipped into farce.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cryptonomicon

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    Overall
    (2213)
    Performance
    (1543)
    Story
    (1565)

    Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

    flaos says: "Finally Audible"
    "Could have been tighter"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story jumps back and forth in time and is told from numerous character perspectives. That doesn't bother me when it is done with purpose. Opacity in a novel is fine, but this story goes off in so many tangents that the thread gets lost and worst, we stop caring about the characters. There are some engaging aspects here, code braking and encryption throughout history. Stephenson has an annoying habit of introducing characters and situations in order to be funny and the effect is forced and obnoxious. The book needs to be edited to half its length.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Green Balls: The Adventures of a Night Bomber

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Paul Bewsher
    • Narrated By Felbrigg Napoleon Herriot
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    FNH Audio presents an unabridged reading of Green Balls: The Adventures of a Night Bomber. Paul Bewsher was one of the founding members of an experimental unit of Night Bombers during World War One. Never before had an attempt been made to create a unit of specialist bombing aircraft that would operate at night over enemy territory. It was a new experience and new techniques had to be developed to carry out the missions.

    J. says: "Surprisingly dull"
    "Surprisingly dull"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One expects WWI air combat to be much more exciting than is presented here. This is not a novel or a history but a daily journal of a bombardier. Not much happens here. Green Balls refers to German anti-aircraft fire which little threatens the author. The greatest peril results more from mechanical troubles than the enemy. The narrator's Cockney voice is also ill suited to what one expects of British officer. Very disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Parade's End

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Ford Madox Ford
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (90)
    Performance
    (79)
    Story
    (77)

    First published as four separate novels (Some Do Not…, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up, and The Last Post) between 1924 and 1928, Parade’s End explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of war. Christopher Tietjens is an officer from a wealthy family who finds himself torn between his unfaithful socialite wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. A profound portrait of one man’s internal struggles during a time of brutal world conflict, Parade’s End bears out Graham Greene’s prediction that "there is no novelist of this century more likely to live than Ford Madox Ford."

    leora says: "A brilliant, challenging, and valuable work"
    "See the TV Series then read the book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wonderful, but wordy and sometimes slow. I first saw the TV series staring Benedict Comberbatch in all his brilliance. The series happens to be one of those rare instances where the screen adaptation faithfully follows the book capturing the important parts and sparing us much of the repetitious mental ruminations of 'Ford's characters. This doesn't take away from the merits of Ford's investigation into Edwardian society or the study of a virtuous man tormented by having to live in a world unworthy of him. Tiejans is an ultra-conservative, but one with a heart embodying all that is good in the Tory philosophy; honesty, fairness, obligation to care for those in his service. He's a rather good example for how the American Republican party might reinvent itself and still remain true to its core values. Seeing the Series gave me images of the characters and places that made the story even more vivid. The series also largely overlooks the last volume which is the weakest of the four books and more of an after thought involving the protagonist's brother. Crossley's narration is spot on doing justice to both male and female characters.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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