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Richard D. Shewman

rshewman

Erie, PA United States | Member Since 2009

168
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 40 reviews
  • 51 ratings
  • 528 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2015
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FOLLOWERS
19

  • The Poet Prince

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Kathleen McGowan
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (92)

    Worldwide controversy surrounds author Maureen Paschal as she promotes her new best seller - the explosive account of her discovery of a gospel written in Jesus's own hand. But a scandalous headline about her lover, Bérenger Sinclair, shatters Maureen's plans and sends her to Florence.

    Richard D. Shewman says: "the author had me all the way through!"
    "the author had me all the way through!"
    Overall
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    "The Poet Prince" is the third book in Kathleen McGowan’s Magdalene Line series. Most church historians will agree that in the early years of Christianity there was a wide variety of understandings with regard to what Christ had taught and exactly who or what he was. In the Magdalene Line series McGowan introduces the reader to one a line of Christianity that goes back to Mary Magdalene. This version of Christianity sees Magdalene as the wife of Jesus, has a Gospel written by Jesus and views the law of love as a fundamental moral principle. The community that follow this line of Christianity lost out as the dominant Christian line in the years following the rise of Constantine and the transformation of Christianity from a persecuted sect to a state religion. In the McGowan novels this community continues to exist as a subtle, underground force throughout history, attempting to shape the world in light of the law of love, rather than the power politics that all too often uses religion as a tool to manipulate people and nations.

    The first book in the series established a shell story to root the series in the present and to aid the reader in uncovering the world of the Magdalene Line. Each book also takes the reader back in time to see how different people played a role in the history of this clandestine community and its impact on the world. The first book focused on the tale of Mary Magdalene, as the foundation story for the series. The second book developed the doctrinal content of the series and the characters that populated the shell story in the present. The historical aspect of the book told the story of Matilda of Tuscany, one of the truly great women of the Middle Ages. The third book in the series focuses on Lorenzo de Medici, one of the moving forces of the Renaissance. The shell story is also developed.

    While the first two books in the series had their virtues and were engaging enough to get me to come back for the next installment, the third book had me all the way through. The author focused on the story and the characters, with much less of the didactic that filled the earlier works. All of the significant characters in both the shell story and the tale of Lorenzo de Medici were much more multi-dimensional than in the first two books; not just the heroic lovers of each tale, as with the earlier books.

    My biggest complaint regarding the first two books was that the villains were cardboard characters, who came across as mere plot devices rather than as real people. In The Poet Prince there was a real improvement with the villains. Each of the villains was sufficiently developed that you could understand why they made the choices they did. It became a cavalcade of the seven deadly sins, as the villains made their choices from greed, lust, envy, shame, pride and even psychosis fueled by toxic and fanatical faith.

    My complements to the narrator, Cassandra Campbell; she did an excellent job of making the characters come alive and providing distinct voices for each of them.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Why Evil Exists

    • ORIGINAL (19 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Charles Mathewes
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (48)

    Whether we view it in theological, philosophical, or psychological terms, evil remains both a deeply intriguing question and a crucially relevant global issue. Now, Professor Mathewes offers you a richly provocative and revealing encounter with the question of human evil - a dynamic inquiry into Western civilization's greatest thinking and insight on this critical subject.

    Megan Hewins says: "Best Audiobook I've Ever Listened To"
    "Challenging reflection on evil"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a frequent listener of the great courses series and find them to be excellent much of the time. Having just finished listening to why evil exists I found this course to be one of the best I have listened to in the many years that I have been following the series. Not only does it cover a broad expanse of material, but it does an excellent job of integrating the ideas presented and wrestling with them. I highly recommend this course to anyone who is willing to wrestle with the question of evil.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Emily Croy Barker
    • Narrated By Alyssa Bresnahan
    Overall
    (552)
    Performance
    (512)
    Story
    (519)

    Emily Croy Barker’s riveting debut novel is a must-read for fans of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic follows grad student Nora Fischer as she stumbles through a portal into a magical world. Having been transformed from drab to beautiful, Nora finds herself surrounded by glamorous friends. Life seems perfect. But then things take a terrible turn, and Nora must learn magic from a reclusive ally if she is to have any hope of survival...

    Amazon Customer says: "In most ways, this is just the kind of book I seek"
    "engaging characters but needs a good editor"
    Overall
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    I got this audio book because it was supposed to be similar in some respects to “Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness and “The Magician” by Lev Grossman. It was similar to the Harkness book, since the protagonist was a woman learning to use her magical powers. It was similar to the Grossman book in that a lot of the story dealt with the formal study of magic and travel to different worlds. Since I enjoyed both the Grossman and Harkness books, I thought this would be a treat as well.

    My reaction to this book is mixed at best. On the positive side, the author does a nice job of creating a world of knights and magicians that is earthy and detailed enough to allow the suspension of disbelief. Several of the characters are complex and adequately developed to engage the reader. On the negative side, the book is way too long. Some books can go for 26 hours and simply shoot by ending much too soon. This books drags on forever. The story could have been told in under 12 hours and it would have been a better story for it.

    As several people have mentioned, the protagonist can be quite irritating. She goes from a simpering air head in the thrall of the villain during early part of the tale to a head strong, uncommunicative and over angry shrew for much of the novel. Though when she is doing magic she seems to be her best self.

    There is relatively little action in the book, with only a handful of short actions scenes to break up the monotony and even those scenes are either flashbacks or a brief glimpse of a battle scene. Most of the action that moves the story forward takes place off stage.

    The protagonist carries a copy of Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” through the dimensional portal with her and it appears again and again as a motif that runs through the story. Indeed, the story seems to be a sword and sorcery version of the Austin book.

    The narrator was good for the most part, creating a range of different and relatable voices. A couple of the voices were a bit grating, especially the ice demon, but overall the narration worked well.

    While the book has some solid good points, there are sufficient weaknesses that I can’t give it much in the way of a thumbs up. Though I have to confess that I will probably give the next book in the series a listen with the hope that it is better edited.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last American Vampire

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Seth Grahame-Smith
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    Overall
    (267)
    Performance
    (242)
    Story
    (240)

    In Reconstruction-era America, vampire Henry Sturges is searching for renewed purpose in the wake of his friend Abraham Lincoln's shocking death. It will be an expansive journey that will first send him to England for an unexpected encounter with Jack the Ripper, then to New York City for the birth of a new American century, the dawn of the electric era of Tesla and Edison, and the blazing disaster of the 1937 Hindenburg crash.

    Jason says: "Werewolves, READ THIS! Not as good as Abe..."
    "Enjoyable but it has weakensses"
    Overall
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    As noted by other reviewers, this book seems less focused than his previous story of Abe and Henry. This time the protagonist is Henry. I enjoyed being back in the world of vampire hunters once more. While the story of Abe was focused and compact because it stayed within the normal lifetime of Lincoln, you are covering a 500 year timeframe with Henry. It is good in that there are a lot of interesting characters that can find their way into the story but it is bad in that they seem to flash into your imagination for a few moments and then disappear into history. Though I imagine that it gives a sense of what Henry was experiencing as his friends came and went.

    The book helps to flesh out Henry's back story and gives us more insight into his character, which is a big plus. We are also introduced to several new characters for whom we are given some backstory. However, these characters develop in ways that are confusing and not really consistent with the backstory, if they develop at all.

    The book left me with the feeling that it was meant to be a treatment for a television series. It was a collection of about a dozen episodes as we moved forward over the past 150 years. Each story could stand alone but was also part of the broader season story arc. If it is ever realized as a television series I would be a regular viewer. As a book, I found the structure a bit frustrating.

    The narrator was excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adultery: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Paulo Coelho, Margaret Jull Costa (translator), Zoë Perry (translator)
    • Narrated By Susan Denaker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (130)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (119)

    A woman in her 30s begins to question the routine and predictability of her days. In everybody's eyes, she has a perfect life: happy marriage, children, and a career. Yet what she feels is an enormous apathy. All that changes when she encounters a successful politician who had, years earlier, been her high school boyfriend. As she rediscovers the passion missing from her life, she will face a life-altering choice.

    Richard D. Shewman says: "a not uncommon vacation in hell"
    "a not uncommon vacation in hell"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is not uncommon for couples who have been married for about ten years to fall into a routine revolving around caring for children and building careers that can easily ignore their inner needs. Only a few years ago life seemed like a great adventure, filled with possibility. Now it seems like a trap that threatens to swallow you up and spit you out. There is a sense of desperation that drives one to do incredibly stupid things. My profession brings me into contact with many people who have been in this situation and struggled with this experience.

    Coelho book “Adultery” is an exploration of this vacation in hell. The focus is on the inner turmoil and the adultery itself is inly one expression of the protagonist’s struggle. The author does a good job of building the complexity of his main characters and allowing the reader/listener to enter into their perspectives. Stupid and desperate behavior is the hallmark of this experience and the author conveys this quite well.

    My frustration with the book was that the protagonist tended to show more insight at times than people in this situation can muster. It was as if Coelho voice and experience began to show through and the protagonist grew transparent for a few paragraphs, especially in the last few pages of the book.

    The narrator did a good job of interpreting the book. She was irritating in the beginning with the deliberateness and plodding rate of her reading but this was the part of the story where the protagonist is struggling to maintain control of a world that is spinning out of control. The narrator helped the listener to enter into the experience at a visceral level.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Magician's Land: The Magicians, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lev Grossman
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1257)
    Performance
    (1127)
    Story
    (1130)

    Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can't hide from his past, and it's not long before it comes looking for him. Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of grey magic and desperate characters.

    Charles says: "And so, it ends."
    "Back doing what he does best"
    Overall
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    Lev Grossman is one of my favorite authors. While some of his efforts have disappointed me (Codex), his “Magician” series has consistently been a pleasure. “The Magician’s Land” is the third installment in the series and ties up the trilogy in a neat and satisfying package. We are given back story to flesh out the characters, as well as significant development in most of the main characters.

    The story picks up a few months after the end of the second installment and weaves a complex web of intrigue, fate, relationships and adventure. I went through the story in just a few settings and enjoyed every minute of it. Grossman’s prose is pleasantly purple and paints a rich fantasy universe. By the end of the book there were still a few minor loose ends but I can live with that given the overall satisfaction I felt with the book. There is also a deeper level to the book that explores the fantasy genre from a post-modern perspective and helps to drive many of the plot twists. It is nicely done.

    The narrator did a fine job, allowing the hearer to be even further immersed in the fantasy universe Grossman created.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of Life: All Souls, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4141)
    Performance
    (3803)
    Story
    (3797)

    After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness's enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew's ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches - with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

    Loren says: "too many loose threads in this weaving"
    "Best of an excellent series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was hooked on the AllSouls series from the first chapter of the first book. The story and characters are engaging. The details, both historic and scientific, are credible. The dynamic of the relationships among the characters is honest and contributes to building characters that seem real; people you would really like to know. Even the villains are believable in their own psychotic way.

    Thus, when i began listening to Book of Life I worried that the author might not be able to recreate the same rich experience as the first two books. Shame on me for the lack of faith. This third book in the series soars. It is the best of the series, fulfilling the promise of the first two books and then some. My only frustration with the book is that this is supposed to be the finale of the series. I want more!

    The narrator is excellent with a full range of voices that bring the characters alive and contributes to the overall experience of the story.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Number of the Beast

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Robert A. Heinlein
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne, Emily Durante, Malcolm Hillgartner, and others
    Overall
    (417)
    Performance
    (377)
    Story
    (382)

    The wickedest, most wonderful science fiction story ever created in our - or any - time. Anything can begin at a party in California - and everything does in this bold masterwork by a grand master of science fiction. When four supremely sensual and unspeakably cerebral humans - two male, two female - find themselves under attack from aliens who want their awesome quantum breakthrough, they take to the skies - and zoom into the cosmos on a rocket roller-coaster ride of adventure, danger, ecstasy, and peril.

    Michelle says: "I've been waiting for this book in audio format..."
    "Frustrating at so many levels!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Robert Heinlein is the master of 20th century science fiction. That is a given among anyone who has read much in the genre. When he was good, he was very, very good. However, it must also be admitted that when he was bad he was bad. Along with "I will Fear No Evil", this 1980 novel "The Number of the Beast" comprise the corpus of what I consider his “bad” novels.

    This book explores the multiverse, which is an interesting concept, and suggests that works of literature are either expressions of real universes in the multiverse or real universes are generated when an author tells a story. This concept is introduced about about a third of the way into the book and there are a series of visits to literary universes before our protagonists encounter Lazarus Long and his buddies and everyone goes off on a little adventure that helps move along the Lazarus Long story arch. The story takes hundreds of pages in the print edition and 21 hours and 34 minutes in the audiobook. It is a story that could have been told better as a short story or a novella at most.

    The protagonists are a group A-type personality, high achievers who are related by marriage and friendship but forced to stay with each other in the space of a large car for what turns into several weeks. Very quickly they can’t stand one another. The back and forth bickering among the characters gets irritating after a while. It might be forgiven if they were moving a plot line forward but there really isn’t much of a plot to the book. Even the end of the book is random, as if Heinlein’s editor called and asked when he was going to get his next book submitted. So, the master reached over, pullet the sheet of paper from the typewriter, tossed it in the box with the rest of the typescript and sent it off to be published.

    There were four narrators but they didn’t consistently read the same character as would be the case in a dramatic performance of the book. The voice actor who played the character who begins the chapter would read the chapter, and do the voices for the other characters if they showed up in chapter. After a while you had four different versions of each of the four main characters to keep sorted in your head. It was confusing to say the least.

    This audiobook is frustrating at so many levels! Yet, if you ask me if I will I read other Heinlein books in the future? Of course, he’s the master and he has many more very good books than bad ones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Reza Aslan
    • Narrated By Reza Aslan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1763)
    Performance
    (1583)
    Story
    (1574)

    From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor.

    Charles says: "Palastinian Politics 4 B.C.E. - 70 C.E."
    "well researched and gripping story of Jesus"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As other reviewers have noted, Aslan does a fine job of pulling together the material on Jesus of Nazareth from all available first and second century sources both religious and secular. His conclusion is that Jesus of Nazareth saw himself as a messiah through which God was going to bring about the Kingdom and see justice done. This puts him in opposition to Rome and its representatives, such as the Temple leadership. He also does a nice job of helping the listener to see how the Christ of the Gospels and Epistles took shape from the life of Jesus and subsequent events in Rome and Israel that created the context in which Christianity emerged.

    Nothing in the book is radically new but it is well written and the story told by Aslan is not only well researched but gripping. Rarely have I enjoyed a book on theology or scripture studies as much as Aslan’s Zealot.

    The author also serves as the narrator, which usually proves to be a major ingredient in a recipe for disaster. However, Aslan did an excellent job of reading his book. I didn’t realize it was the author who had been reading until I finished the book and checked to see who the narrator was. He read with an appropriate mix of excitement and seriousness, drawing the listener into his vision of the historical Jesus and the world in which he lived.

    As an author and researcher Aslan is also honest. His forward discusses his religious history, including his Islamic roots, an involvement with Evangelical Christianity in his youth and an eventual return to Islam. This allows the listener to be sensitive to any influences on the book from his life history. The resulting vision of Jesus that emerges is probably closer to the Islamic perspective on Jesus, as human and prophet, than the traditional Christian perspective, which divinizes Jesus. Yet, if the historical record supports the Christian tradition, he accepts that position, as with the death of Jesus by crucifixion. The final result is a reasonable, etic perspective on the historical material and well argued conclusions.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Magic Rises

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Ilona Andrews
    • Narrated By Renee Raudman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1338)
    Performance
    (1223)
    Story
    (1232)

    Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shape-shifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta. Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shape-shifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute - and they’ll pay him in medicine.

    Vinity says: "Wow!"
    "a roller coaster ride frombeginning to end"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Magic Rises is a little different from the usual installment in the series. The setting is Europe. The action is focused largely on shape-shifter politics. It also develops the story arch of the series by introducing a couple of new characters that will no doubt be around in the future, wrecking havoc with several well established characters and moving along the kate-Curan relationship. It also develops the Hugh de Hombre character and Kate’s back story. If Hugh is on the scene in a big way, dear daddy (Roland) can't be far behind.

    I have followed the series since the beginning and enjoy each new installment even more than the last. That pattern continues with this sixth installment. The story grabs you and takes you on a roller coaster ride from the first pages through to the end.

    The narrator is excellent. She has been doing the narration for the series almost from the beginning and has honed the character voices well over the years. This installment showcases her craft and skill.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Larry Correia
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3753)
    Performance
    (3491)
    Story
    (3481)

    Only a handful of people in the world know that mankind's magic comes from a living creature, and it is a refugee from another universe. The Power showed up here in the 1850s because it was running from something. Now it is 1933, and the Power's hiding place has been discovered by a killer. It is a predator that eats magic and leaves destroyed worlds in its wake. Earth is next. Former private eye Jake Sullivan knows the score. The problem is, hardly anyone believes him.

    D says: "Started Strong-Finished Strong"
    "pure listening pleasure"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'll keep it short. "Warbound" is the last installment in the Grimnoir Chronicles trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and each time looked forward to the next installment. Warbound brings the story to a worthy end. It was pure listening pleasure all the way through. The plot twists and turns were unexpected but credible. The action was intense. The characters even more engaging than before.

    The narrator took this already thoroughly enjoyable book and kicked it to an even higher level. Each of his voices was finely crafted and well acted. It was like listening to a full cast performance of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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