The narrative is disjointed and poorly written. I started this book twice (around an hour and a half into it the first time, I realized that my mind was wandering); the second time I forced myself to listen carefully, and still my mind wanted to wander. It's supposed to be entertaining, not so much work. Skip this one.
Midnight's Children is beautifully written and, while I agree that the narrator may overdo it sometimes, the reading works very well for me, transports me to another world.
But nearly halfway into it, I'm thinking: OK, but so what? So far there have been a string of character studies -- beautiful character studies, to be sure -- all intertwined and related with one another, but ... where's the narrative? Is something happening? Is there a story here somewhere?
So far, it's mostly form with very little content. So this would be an amusing book for those who are content with character vignettes, and less so for those of us who appreciate a bit of plot.
Well read, well written, "The Forgotten Garden" is an enjoyable story that takes place in the early 1900s, the mid 1970s, and in 2005. The main character is a writer of fairy tales; the novel itself is a lot like a fairy tale. Thoroughly enchanting. I definitely recommend it.
Don't get me wrong: I love Dickens, and thoroughly enjoyed "The Pickwick Papers" when I read it years ago. The narrator of this audiobook, however, is horrible, notwithstanding the fame of his great great grandfather. He has two voices: Soft, breathy and slow; and (most of the time) a high-pitched screech, much like a carnival hawker, devoid of expression and with cadences unrelated to the content being read, read at an unintelligibly high speed. After an hour of listening, and re-listening (going back over that first hour 4 times), I've given up: A complete waste of time and of my Audible credits.
Beautifully written, lovingly narrated, I enjoyed this book thoroughly. The structure of the plot parallels "Hamlet" -- with ghosts, fratricide, and even similar character-names (Trudy=Gertrude) -- but the stars of the story are the Sawtelle dogs. If you're a dog-lover, you'll be astonished by the detail and clarity of the descriptions of these incredible creatures; if you're not yet a dog-lover, you will be by the end of the book. One of the best Audible experiences yet.
As someone who mostly listens to books either at my noisy health club or during my commute on public transit to and from work, I'm especially attuned to the voice qualities of the narrator. Many Audibe narrators are superb. However, I found this narrator's voice very difficult to listen to, and annoying: He speaks in a monotone; his male characters all sound like smart-asses; and his female characters all speak in a breathy, "Talulah Bankhead" bass. Long stretches of the book were completely inaudible, and only slightly better when listened to in a quiet room. The book itself was relatively fun and engaging, but I'll be on the lookout for this narrator, and will avoid him.
I don't think of myself as a fan of history or of biographies -- I can't explain, really, what made me decide to listen to this book. But I'm SO glad I did! Well-researched, well-written and extremely well-read, Hamilton came to life in this book: By the end, I felt like I knew him personally, and felt truly privileged to know him, warts and all. I was especially impressed by how the author managed to weave such an engaging and coherent story entirely on the basis of letters and contemporary documents -- to his credit, it was Hamilton himself, not the author, who came through. Despite its daunting length, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the birth of this country, and in the intelligence, vision and idealism of those who founded it.
I've just started listening to the 3rd book in this series, and am still completely engaged. "Ender's Game" tackles some of the really big issues facing us humans -- things like good vs. evil, us-vs.them-ism, free will, the nature of love -- inside a fast-moving, exciting story: These are clearly issues for our times, complex issues, and the author's treatment of them was anything but superficial. Never once did I feel I was being preached to, and I was never bored. The audio version of the book is very well produced and is performed by excellent readers with strong, clear voices. I whole-heartedly recommend it, if for no other reason than to set the stage for the author's *superb* second book in the series, "Speaker for the Dead".
I only allow myself to listen to my audiobooks at the gym (one of my rewards for staying in shape), and since I started listening to the Ender series I've been exercising more than ever. In my case, the Ender books have been good for my soul, mind AND body.
I enjoyed the story -- fast-moving, entertaining, perhaps a bit far-fetched but, well ... it *is* sci fi. The performance was disappointing, though: the reader uses accents and modulations in tone volume to represent the different characters, and I found this (cheesey) device to be distracting, and often made it difficult to hear/understand. Plan to listen in a quiet place, not (for example) a noisy gym, and try to listen past the performance, it really is a fun book.
Terry Gross is my idea of a near-perfect interviewer: She's smart, well-informed, uninterested in sparring or in proving anything, clearly focussed on getting good quality information from her interviewees and maintaining rapport. In the 3 or so weeks I've subscribed, there has been a huge breadth of subjects. Give this show a listen.
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