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John

Needham, MA, United States | Member Since 2005

29
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 6 reviews
  • 7 ratings
  • 145 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
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  • Howl's Moving Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Diana Wynne Jones
    • Narrated By Jenny Sterlin
    Overall
    (1175)
    Performance
    (933)
    Story
    (943)

    A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book and ALA Notable and Best of the Year in Young Adult Fiction, Howl's Moving Castle is by acclaimed fantasy writer Diane Wynne Jones amd was transformed into an Academy Award nominated animated motion picture by Hayao Miyazaki. On a rare venture out from her step-mother's hat shop, Sophie attracts the attention of a witch, who casts a terrible spell transforming the young girl into an old crone.

    Elisa says: "Howl's Moving Castle is Amazing!"
    "Great book for all ages"
    Overall

    I really love this book, it is inventive and rich in so many ways. It has themes that appeal to all ages, and playfully tweaks the fantasy genre while creating one of the most memorable wizards in literature. The story is quite different than the movie version, with surprises right up until the end. The narrator has a unique voice, but I liked her interpretation, and highly recommend this audiobook.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Fantastic Tales of Ray Bradbury

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Ray Bradbury
    • Narrated By Ray Bradbury
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (36)

    Bradbury's rich, evocative prose stands in perfect contrast to his dark atmospheres and fantastic settings. These 14 spellbinding stories, including "The Illustrated Man," demonstrate why Ray Bradbury has been called "America's finest living fantasist."

    Thomas says: "Wonderful"
    "Overall a great listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    These are masterful stories of all types, from frightening and futuristic cautionary tales to nostalgic portraits of days gone by. It's amazing that a science fiction story like The Veldt, first published in 1950, still has relevance in today's computerized world, perhaps even more so.

    From a dramatic standpoint, I don't think the author is the best narrator for his own work. His modest, everyman voice doesn't rise to the luminous poetry of the writing, and he rushes through passages so beautiful you wish you could savor them. But the great benefit to having the author's own narration is not only his inside knowledge of character and motivation, but his commentary at the beginning of each tale, providing insight into how it came to be. These strengths help compensate for the reading and make this a collection worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Kathleen M. Dudzinski, Toni Frohoff
    • Narrated By Kym Dakin-Neal
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (3)

    Dolphins have fascinated humans for millennia, giving rise to an abundance of stories and myths about them, yet the actual details of their lives in the sea have remained elusive. In this enthralling book, Kathleen M. Dudzinski and Toni Frohoff take us into the dolphins' aquatic world to witness firsthand how they live their lives, communicate, and interact with one another and with other species, including people.

    John says: "A great introduction to dolphin behavior"
    "A great introduction to dolphin behavior"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more about these mysterious mammals. It delves into topics of dolphin biology, behavior, communication, interaction with humans, and public perception.

    As an audiobook, it's occasionally hard to follow. There is a lot of information to absorb, and the narrator speeds along at a relentless clip. Also, the printed edition of the book has many photos and drawings which are missed here.

    But aside from those minor drawbacks, this is a fascinating and thorough introduction to dolphins, which proves that the more we know, the more we realize how much we don't know. And if you're interested in learning still more, I highly recommend you seek out the printed book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Philip Hoare
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    The whale is the largest, loudest, oldest animal ever to have existed. It is improbable, amazing, and - as anyone who has seen an underwater documentary or visited the display at the American Museum of Natural Historycan attest - a powerful source of wonder and delight to millions. The Whale is an extraordinary journey into the world of this fascinating and mysterious animal.

    John says: "Some great insights, but too much digression"
    "Some great insights, but too much digression"
    Overall

    The uniqueness of this book – combining historical, biological and personal narrative – also makes it a bit hard to follow, especially as an audiobook. In the printed version, quotes from Melville and others are set off from the rest of the text, making them easier to distinguish (or skip), and there are also dozens of illustrations and historical photographs that illuminate the stories. Reduced to a single audio narrative, it loses focus. I also think the narrator is somewhat miscast.

    The writing itself is very good, and covers a huge amount of research and reference. Whales are portrayed in language poetic, wondrous, surprising, and occasionally profane (sensitive ears be warned!) You can see the author's inquisitive mind at work as he tries to uncover the essence of these creatures. Unfortunately the journey takes us in so many directions, readers may feel like those whalers at sea, weary from the long periods between actual whale sightings.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Archer's Tale

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Tim Piggott-Smith
    Overall
    (204)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (97)

    At dawn on Easter morning 1343, a marauding band of French raiders arrives by boat to ambush the coastal village of Hookton. To brave young Thomas, the only survivor, the horror of the attack is epitomized by the casual savagery of a particular black-clad knight. Thomas vows to avenge the murder of his townsmen and recapture a holy treasure that the black knight stole from the church.

    Jt says: "Excellent Adventure"
    "Action-packed historical fiction"
    Overall

    This is an exciting tale of medieval times. There is a lot of focus on the battle scenes, and while they are riveting, I felt almost as weary as the soldiers by the book's end. The author doesn't shy away from depicting violence and brutality, which makes for some intense listening at times. But the characters are strong, and their noble struggles make you realize the terrible cost of war in any age.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Franz Kafka
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    On his deathbed, Franz Kafka asked that all his unpublished manuscripts be burned. Fortunately, his request was ignored, allowing such works as The Trial to earn recognition among the literary masterpieces of the 20th century. This brilliant new translation of The Castle captures comedic elements and visual imagery that earlier interpretations missed.

    John says: "Obscure, enigmatic, and not for everyone"
    "Obscure, enigmatic, and not for everyone"
    Overall

    I'm a Kafka fan, and I read The Castle before hearing the audiobook. This is definitely not for everyone -- long, rambling, seemingly without direction. Many of the passages feel more like a philosophy treatise than a story. It is an unfinished novel, literally ending in the middle of a scene, which leaves one very unsatisfied.

    The narration is excellent, although a Kafka novel isn't something you can breeze through -- there are times when you need to stop and let a particular sentence sink in. In many ways I preferred to read the actual book, and take my time with it. This is a book that makes you work -- there are more questions than answers, and no real solutions. Like trudging through snow, it can be both wearying and exhilarating (not to mention deep.)

    Before he died, Kafka told his friends how he intended The Castle to end, and that information would have been very helpful to include here. I also recommend The Trial as a much more accessible Kafka novel, which deals with many of the same themes (the individual struggle against a frustrating and obscure bureaucracy).

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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