Wake marks my first encounter with Robert J. Sawyer, ad I've come away from the novel thoroughly impressed. I'm legally blind myself, though I do have some residual vision, so I immediately identified with protagonist Caitlin Decter, and I felt that she was a pretty believable blind character. The concept of visualizing the web was also intriguing, as was the premise that the web has some sort of underlying consciousness.
My only complaint about the book is that, even for the first novel in a trilogy it feels incomplete. One of the plotlines is simply dropped midway through the book. I understand that these plotlines will be picked up in the sequel, but an adept author should be able to bring about at least smaller resolutions within the overarching story at the end of each book, and I don't feel like Sawyer accomplished this.
To end on a positive note, the Audible Frontiers production is fantastic, with strong voice acting from all the narrators.
Well-written, historical, romantic
The protagonist Elizabeth Middleton is obviously intended to hold the narrative together, and she succeeds brilliantly. Though slightly, but only slightly, anachronistic, Elizabeth Middleton is a strong heroine in the modern sense, yet Sara Donati takes pains to make her precocity, wit, and spirit believable in the context of early American history. Her complex character, right down to her Carrie Bradshaw-esque proclivity for expensive footwear that results in her nickname "Boots", serves as a finely-ground lens through which the reader experiences the world of early America.
I may be the only audiobook listener who generally dislikes Kate Reading's narration. I normally find it stilted and uninspired. For whatever reason, though, she's the perfect narrator for this novel. She captures the spectrum of nationalities and classes beautifully, from Elizabeth Middleton's crisp aristocratic British drawl, to Nathaniel Bonner's no-nonsense backwoods talk, to the Native Americans' laconic speech. Given the range of dialect and diction in Into the Wilderness, Kate Reading has done an outstanding job.
The novel is chock full of fascinating characters, but given my own interest in both literature and education, I would have to choose protagonist Elizabeth Middleton. Perhaps she's even read some eighteenth-century books now lost to us.
I'm not a frequenter of romance or historical fiction, so it came as a surprise to me that I enjoyed Into the Wilderness so much. I think this is in no small measure due to Sara Donati's strong writing, Donati, which is a pseudonym for linguist Rosina Lippi, takes scenes that would feel clumsy and awkward in less capable hands and spins them into poignant gossamer webs of story. Romance writing, for me, too often dissolves into schmaltz and empty sentiment, but in Donati's hands the scenes feel authentidc.
Although some readers might be disappointed, I must also laud Donati for eschewing a set-piece confrontation in the book's final pages in favor of a more nuanced ending.
For an aspiring academic like me, James M. Lang's advice is invaluable. I will certainly come back to this book again when I start teaching, and I'd listen to any similar books that Mr. Lang publishes.
Drew Birdseye's narration is competent, but his mispronunciation of a few words, notably "pedagogy" which appears often, becomes grating. Based on this audiobook, I'd rate him as thoroughly average.
Drew Birdseye's intonation is off on a few words, and his pronunciation of pedagogy with a final hard "g" is like nails on a chalkboard.
I don't quite know how this book would receive the movie treatment, except as a how-to documentary, but yes, as an aspiring academic I would certainly watch it.
This book is listed as unabridged. And yet, the narrator constantly makes references to "resources listed below," references and citations that we never hear. This is part of a disturbing trend I've noticed in non-fiction audiobooks. Maybe audiobook publishers feel that listeners don't care about such details to the extent print readers do. Or maybe they somehow feel it's too challenging to integrate these elements into a book that, at the end of the day, they want to come across as entertaining and marketable. Whatever the case may be, the book is definitely abridged, and I feel I've missed something I would have gotten from a print version. I would be very eager to follow up on some of the recommendations for further reading that evidently accompany the print version, but sadly am unable to do so.
education paradigm shift
The book is full of inspirational stories about people who have found themselves, or found their
I'm dying to listen to
I think the opening story about Gillian Lynne, choreographer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera, set the tone perfectly for the rest of the book. I dare you to read that story without coming to tears.
Often authors shouldn't narrate their own books, but Ken Robinson, whom I first discovered through a TED Talk, lends a dynamism to his work that a third-party narrator probably wouldn't be able to capture.
Informative, funny, touching.
Mary Roach treats a subject that's at best unsettling and at worst taboo with both reverent respect and candid humor. Though founded on thorough research, Stiff never comes across as heady or academic.
I think for me the most interesting scene involved efforts to recreate crucifixion using human cadavers. There's something paradoxical and strange about this on many levels.
Death in the United States is defined as brain death, so there are dozens of
Shelly Frasier's reading of Stiff was solid enough--ugh, forgive the pun--but the recording quality suffered from a fair bit of static, punctuated by pauses of perfect silence, presumably in between takes. If not for these problems I'd have given Stiff a perfect score.
Nowadays we throw around the word
This isn't a book of
Dennis Holland's narration of Kuhn's precise, sometimes technical writing is lively and easily digested. I disagree with other reviews which claim this book is unsuitable for audio. Under a less capable narrator, yes, it could have been a monotonous listen, but Dennis Holland keeps the content moving.
The book is certainly engrossing, and I did find myself wrapped up in Kuhn's prose and arguments. On the other hand, it's a dense, meaty book, and others may want to pause periodically to think about and mentally digest some of the important points.
I'm very grateful this book found its way to Audible. Anyone serious about the study of history, philosophy, the history of science, or indeed almost any other discipline in the humanities owes it to themselves to read this book.
Scott Lynch's debut novel, THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, was a rollicking good read with an inventive world, great characters, and its share of poignant moments. Lynch has kept the momentum going strong in this follow-up, following the heroes to a brand new cityscape where new heists are hatched and intrigues plotted. The plot does sag a bit at times, but it's always redeemed by Lynch's powerful writing and witty dialogue.
Michael Page's narration captures the mood and characters perfectly. He makes you forget you're listening to a narration and opens a window directly onto Lynch's colorful world.
Belgarath the Sorcerer is one of the books that fueled my love of modern fantasy, so when I saw it released by Audible Frontiers I leapt at the chance to revisit the oddball immortal sorcerer and his world.
I can't recommend this book enough. It's meant as a prequel to Eddings's Belgariad and Mallorean series, but I actually read it before reading those books and still enjoyed it immensely. I missed some of the explicit and implicit foreshadowing, of course, but this didn't impede my enjoyment of this fantasy autobiography.
Unfortunately, this edition is hobbled by lackluster narration. Belgarath is an enigmatic character with a wry and sometimes acerbic wit. This comes through only occasionally in this telling. The original audio I listened to--I'm legally blind--was Recorded Books for the Blind's cassettes read by Roy Avers, and they were brilliant. I've also relistened to those recently, so it's not just my nostalgia talking.
By the way, the Audible Frontiers edition of Polgara the Sorcerer also claims to be narrated by J. P. Linton, with perfect female pitch. Either J. P. Linton has an INCREDIBLE vocal range, or one of the titles is mislabeled.
Don't get me wrong. I'm usually a big fan of Audible Frontiers work. This is just sadly the exception that proves the rule. The narration is certainly listenable, and I'd still recommend it if this is your only access to this great novel.
Lowboy, the nickname of the novel's main character, owing to his proclivity for riding the New York subway "low" underground, is on a mission. The opening pages establish the timeframe for this mission: it must be accomplished in a single day. Thus Wray meets one of Aristotle's requisites for good storytelling--the unity of time.
Wray's writing is excellent in almost every other respect. The pacing is perfect and keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat. The dialogue is at once humorous and touching. Symbolism runs consistently throughout the novel.
I find that the vivid metaphors of the book sometimes range beyond the brilliant and into the obscure or opaque, but this doesn't detract much from the overall writing.
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