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Richard D. Shewman

rshewman

Erie, PA United States | Member Since 2001

ratings
45
REVIEWS
34
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
17
HELPFUL VOTES
132

  • Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Eben Alexander
    • Narrated By Eben Alexander
    Overall
    (1669)
    Performance
    (1453)
    Story
    (1467)

    On November 10, 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander was driven into coma by a disease so lethal that only 1 in 10,000,000 survive. Seven days later, he awakened with memories of a fantastic odyssey deep into another realm that were more real than this earthly one - memories that included meeting a deceased birth sister he had never known existed. Dr. Alexander deployed all his knowledge as a scientist to find out whether his mind could have played a trick on him. In its shutdown state, there was no way it could have.

    Kelly says: "Compelling"
    "a challenge to the skeptics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The title "Proof of Heaven" is a bit of an overstatement but Dr. Alexander does add interesting data to the debate. He had a near death experience as a result of bacterial meningitis. This illness placed him in a coma and took his neocortex off-line for seven days. The highly detailed and hyper-real NDE experienced by Dr. Alexander would be dismissed by some skeptics as brain activity while the doctor was in coma. The thing is that with the neocortex non-functional it was biologically impossible for him to have the NDE that he did, if it was reliant upon brain activity. This basic fact is the prime message that he presents through the book. The book is a challenge to skeptics who automatically reject any experience that can not be explained away through material means. His data do not fit the material paradigm and he sees this as requiring the serious seeker of truth to look for alternative explanations. His personal conclusion is that consciousness is more than just an epiphenomonon of brain activity. Now, some might like to reject his conclusion out of hand and seek the opinion of experts, the thing is that he is the expert! There are few people in the nation who know more about the working of the brain than Dr. Alexander.

    The book is fascinating and works at several levels. First, it tells the story of Dr. Alexander's illness and the impact it had on his family. This part of the story is moving and offers insight not only into Dr. Alexander and his family but into the plight of many families who are trying to cope with the devastation of brain injury and coma in a loved one. It is worth a credit for this part of the story alone. It also works in delivering Dr. Alexander's challenge to the scientific community. He has good, well documented data and challenges others to make sense of the data...in good scientific fashion.

    The frustrating part of the book is that he doesn't really give much information on his NDE experience other than the general outlines and visual impressions.
    Though he suggests that he experienced a good deal of intuitive insight during the experience. Perhaps the insight is too difficult to translate into more mundane concepts but it is a real loss to the interested reader/listener who doesn't have to be convinced of the validity of his experience.

    The author is also the narrator. He does a good job. It helps that the book is about very personal experiences, so that he brings an emotional investment to his narration that enriches the listening experience.

    45 of 52 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
    (319)
    Performance
    (289)
    Story
    (290)

    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
    (1277)
    Performance
    (1149)
    Story
    (1142)

    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
    (955)
    Performance
    (867)
    Story
    (875)

    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.

    Melissa says: "Great addition to the story"
    "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
    (2684)
    Performance
    (2516)
    Story
    (2509)

    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
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4500)
    Performance
    (4150)
    Story
    (4163)

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Dave says: "Oh, the Wondrous Ocean!"
    "Experiencing the ocean of a master storyteller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Has their ever been a Neil Gaiman story that hasn't been magical, opening the doors to the reality that is behind the nundane surface world we think we inhabit? If so, I haven't found it yet. Ocean is another work of word magic and imagination that transforms the world and makes it exciting and mysterious. My biggest frustration with the book is that it comes to an end eventually.

    It is the story of a seven year old boy who stumbles into contact with the world behind the world as a result of the foolishness of a wandering spirit who finds its way into rural 1960's England. It is a story of magic, memories, nightmares, buried fears and wonder. It is similar in some respects to Coraline but then not...

    The book is narrated by Gaiman who does a fine job as the teller of his own story. His reading of the tale helps to draw you into it. It adds to the experience, a talent that is rare in many authors who attempt to narrate stories they have written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inferno: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9621)
    Performance
    (8730)
    Story
    (8801)

    In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

    linda says: "Well, I don't know what I was expecting"
    "not quite the usual Dan Brown book but not bad..."
    Overall
    Performance
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    Dan Brown always gets a mixed reaction from me. I enjoy the adrenelin rush of the constant chases and the "in your face" bad guys. I really disliked the Divinci Code but each subsequent book has gotten increasingly positive reactions from me. For me "Inferno"is the best of his Stephen Langdon books. It shows a fair amount research in support of the book. It deals with Dante's "divine Comedy" which doesn't get a small part of the attention it deserves in English speaking countries. It does a nice job integrating the symbolism that fills the DC into the adventure story that Brown tells. Not only does Brown tell a good story but there are twists and turns in the story that end up standing the story in its head, so that you can't be sure of anything until the last page. I enjoyed that as much as the action/adventure part of the story.

    Brown takes on some serious ethical issues as well,underscoring the ethical grayness of some options available to humanity as well as the ethical evil of not acting to address the issues that face us. I'd go into more detail but I don't want to spoil the story for you.

    In terms of negatives, aboutm the only thing I'll report is a bit of a let down by the ending. The ending was logical and made sense in the context of the story, yet there was sill as feeling of "that's it?"

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Angelopolis

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Danielle Trussoni
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (60)

    A decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline alight from the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of her new wings a betrayal that haunts him still. Now an elite angel hunter for the Society of Angelology, he pursues his mission with single-minded devotion: to capture, imprison, and eliminate her kind. But when Evangeline suddenly appears on a twilit Paris street, Verlaine finds her nature to be unlike any of the other creatures he so mercilessly pursues, casting him into a spiral of doubt and confusion that only grows when she is abducted before his eyes....

    Pam says: "Deeper mysteries"
    "significant improvement"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had a mixed reaction to Angelology, the first book in this series. The narration was good and the story was promising, though it would have benefited from some skilled editing. Angeloplois, the second book in the series, is shorter that the first book and a much more gripping story. The editing suggestion has paid off. This installment develops the characters and the plot, making the story much more complex and intriguing.

    The angels in the first story were two dimensionl and lacked credibility. This time around they are more three dimensional and as interesting as the human characters. This in itself is a major improvement.

    The narrator is excellent.

    I look forward to the next installment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Source of Miracles: 7 Steps to Transforming Your Life through the Lord's Prayer

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Kathleen McGowan
    • Narrated By Kathleen McGowan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    The real secret to creating and sustaining an abundant, joyous, and fulfilled life has been hiding in plain sight -- in the power of the prayer that unites two billion Christians worldwide, the prayer that each one of them knows by heart.

    Richard D. Shewman says: "Engaging reflection on the Lord's Prayer"
    "Engaging reflection on the Lord's Prayer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author presents her reflection on the Lord's Prayer in the context of her personal spiritual journey, as well as drawing on insight from the practice of Labyrinth prayer and a wide variety of works on Christian spirituality. While drawing on traditional sources, her personal insight and struggle adds depth to the work. While I've grown fond of her fiction, this book had me from the beginning. It also provides insight into the spirituality that she injects into her fictional works.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jean-Yves Leloup
    • Narrated By Jacob Needleman, Gabrielle de Cuir, Stephen Hoye, and others
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    Perhaps no figure in biblical scholarship has been the subject of more controversy and debate than Mary Magdalene. Although she is discussed in the gospels of Philip, Thomas, Peter, and Bartholomew in the collection of writings known as the Gnostic gospels that were rejected by the early Christian church, there is no better insight into this mysterious and influential woman than Mary's own gospel.

    Richard says: "very insightful."
    "Insightful look into early Christian Gnosticism"
    Overall
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    The audio book is the text of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and a commentary by the author. The gospel text is the surviving fragment of an apparently longer document that was lost over the centuries. The value of the book is not so much in the gospel text itself, which is available for free on the internet but in the commentary by the author which places the text in the setting of the Gnostic worldview in which it was written.

    The canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were only four of many gospels that were circulated in the early Christian community. The various gospels took stories, collections of saying and other Christian oral traditions and reduced them to writing. These gospels were not neutral documents but were written from the perspective of a particular community or understanding of the Christian message. The gospels that have come down to us generally represent the perspective of the proto-orthodox (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the Gnostic Christians (Thomas, Philip and Mary Magdalene). The author’s commentary takes the cryptic text of Magdalene’s gospel and breaks it open for the listener, so that it can be understood as an expression of the Gnostic worldview in which it was written.

    The contemporary Christian often looks at the early years of Christianity and views it as a golden era of faith and a glorious march through history with little disagreement on the basic Christian teachings that have come down to us. The reality is that there was a great deal of confusion and disagreement on exactly what Christians believed. Gnosticism was one of the earliest interpretative filters of Christianity apart from what emerged as proto-Orthodox. The energy with which Church Fathers attacked it suggests that it was attractive to many people and influential in the Christian community. Leloup’s commentary on Magdalene’s gospel provides helpful insight into why Gnosticism might have been attractive to people of the first century.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Poet Prince

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Kathleen McGowan
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (115)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (74)

    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
    Performance
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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

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