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John

Blacksburg, VA, USA | Member Since 2003

27
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 93 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • Under the Banner of Heaven

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Jon Krakauer
    • Narrated By Jon Krakauer
    Overall
    (340)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (46)

    At the core of this book is an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims. Weaving the story of the Lafferty brothers and their fanatical brethren with a clear-eyed look at Mormonism's violent past, Krakauer examines the underbelly of the most successful homegrown faith in the United States, and finds a distinctly American brand of religious extremism.

    Craig Hansen says: "Not bad, but a bit biased"
    "More about fundamentalism than murder"
    Overall

    This is very well-written book is more than just a book about a couple of murderers -- to tell the story properly. JK goes to great lengths to put the murders in the context of the FLDS Church, and raises disturbing questions about how far the seperation of church and state can really be allowed to go. He certainly brings up some issues I had never considered.

    The narrator is very good, although the narrator is perhaps occasionally over-emphatic. For example, it would have been nice to hear the word "any" said a few times without emphasizing both syllables ("N-E").

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anansi Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Lenny Henry
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3833)
    Performance
    (1691)
    Story
    (1702)

    Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times best seller American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny, a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him."

    A. Hawley says: "Beautifully narrated"
    "More narrow scope means better story"
    Overall

    American Gods is one of the best books I've heard on Audible, and I didn't expect Anansi Boys to live up to that. It's far less ambitious in scope, but that turns out to be a strength, not a weakness. Despite being about corporeal gods, Anansi Boys is a very human story about what it means to become a whole person. It's also very nice to see a story involving mythological characters _not_ drawn from the Norse, the Greek, or the Romans.

    The narrator does an extraordinary job; I'll have to seek out more of his work as well, even if he isn't reading someone I'm familiar with.

    Incidentally, it's not necessary to have read American Gods first. I recommend reading/listening to both, but if you're trying to decide between one or the other, the tight focus and deeper character development make Anansi Boys stronger of the two, and it stands just fine on its own.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Talisman

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs)
    • By Stephen King, Peter Straub
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3528)
    Performance
    (1586)
    Story
    (1594)

    On a brisk autumn day, a 13-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: His father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America - and into another realm. One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery.

    Swad says: "Still Good"
    "Does this book never end?"
    Overall

    I love King's books, Frank Muller's other readings, and books longer than 20 hours long. But this book just would not end. The story is overwhelmed by descriptive passages, restatements and rerestatements and rererestatements of theme, and frequently sappy dialogue. The story itself is interesting, but the book could have stood significant editing prior to publication; as it is, the book reads more like parody of King than anything else.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How it Corrupts Democracy

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By David Brock
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    Former right-wing journalist David Brock uses his keen understanding and experience to show how a conservative media has skewed American politics noticeably to the right. Brock's incisive analysis of right-wing media theories, strategies, financing, and operations makes for a convincing argument that the Republican Right does not embrace or encourage journalistic freedom, but instead seeks to control it.

    A User says: "A 4 star book (If you are a political junkie)"
    "Better read than heard."
    Overall

    A difficult book to hear rather than read for two reasons. First and formost, there's so much data and so many names, not being able to underline, highlite or skim back over previous pages is a genuine handicap. Secondly, the reader reads everything with a kind of smirking, sarcastic tone that doesn't really appear to be called for by the text. With political nonfiction, I want to be sure I'm being convinced by the quality of the argument, not the tone of the voice -- and I'm someone generally inclined to side on the left.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • I'm a Stranger Here Myself

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    Overall
    (562)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (90)

    Cather says: "Enjoyable"
    "A little disappointing"
    Overall

    I wouldn't go so far as to say "worst book," but this one was pretty disappointing. I'm a big fan of Bill Bryson, but this book -- which is a collection of newspaper columns -- seems choppy and gets more than a little formulaic. Practically every one ends with "Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go (do something related to what I was just talking about)," something you can get away with, I suppose, as long as people aren't reading a string of your columns at once. It's clear Bryson is more comfortable with and much better at the longer format.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The First Man in Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Colleen McCullough
    • Narrated By Jill Tanner
    Overall
    (333)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (57)

    Author of the beloved classic The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough creates sweeping sagas that are unparalleled in their drama and emotional grandeur. Now she carries listeners into the pageantry and passion, politics and intrigue of ancient Rome. Cunning and ambition were prized in this vast and powerful empire, but what would it take to win its highest honor, to be First Man in Rome?

    Jessica says: "Best Historical Fiction Ever"
    "I need a map."
    Overall

    Interesting book, and I'd bet others in the series if they were available, but this *is* one of the more difficult books to digest in this format. Not only are there many characters, but each character has a multitude of names -- and which name is being used when seems to be kind of important. The reader also takes some getting used to. She pauses to carefully enunciate names and also seems to take extended pauses at inappropriate points in the story so what you thought was a chapter break is actually a comma. I don't regret this choice, but it did take quite a bit of effort.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Zeitgeist

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Bruce Sterling
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (14)

    It's 1999, and on the Turkish half of Cyprus, the ever-enterprising Leggy Starlitz has alighted - pausing on his mission to storm the Third World with the G-7 girls, the cheapest, phoniest all-girl band ever to wear Wonderbras and spandex. His market is staring him in the face: millions of teenagers trapped in a world of mullahs and mosques, all ready to blow their pocket change on G-7's massive merchandising campaign - and to wildly anticipate music the band will never release.

    James says: "Enjoyable, very well narrated post-cyberpunk piece"
    "Buzzwords galore"
    Overall

    This book does its own literary criticsm, which would be interesting if the work actually rated literary criticism. Instead, _Zeitgeist_ stumbles under the weight poor storytelling and dozens upon dozens of buzzwords from modern philosophy and Internet-bubble technology.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil in the White City

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Erik Larson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4259)
    Performance
    (1979)
    Story
    (1993)

    In a thrilling narrative showcasing his gifts as storyteller and researcher, Erik Larson recounts the spellbinding tale of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Also available abridged.

    D says: "A Rich Read!"
    "Architectural history with a touch of the lurid"
    Overall

    On one hand, this book offers an interesting view of Chicago during the turn of the century and gives interesting insights into the issues that shaped modern American architecture. That's the "white city" bit. But the other part of the book -- the "devil" bit -- is poorly written and not nearly as detailed as the architectural history section. On the topic of "America's first urban serial-killer," Larsen offers little in the way of scholarship. He makes a big deal out of insisting that everything in quotation marks is accurate, but makes no such claim for anything else. He also judges the "likelyhood" of certain parts of the story based upon his own judgement of how monstrous serial-killers are in general. He does not create a "portrait of the mind of a killer" but a portait of how we would like to think a demon-posessed killer would think. For a better story about the mind of a murderer, check out _Under the Banner of Heaven_.

    The serial killer part of the story never sufficently intersects the White City part of the story to justify the inclusion of the two narratives between the same covers. It feels tacked-on, as though Larson felt a story about the building of the White City alone would not sell.

    Brick's reading of the book is excellent, but his talent is wasted on this relatively narrow story; he doesn't get to show off his skill with accents nearly as much here as he does in _the Company_.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Speaker for the Dead

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By David Birney, Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7795)
    Performance
    (4294)
    Story
    (4348)

    In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War. Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered by Portuguese colonists on the planet Lusitania. But again the aliens' ways are strange and frightening...again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery...and the truth.

    Joe says: "The Enderverse"
    "Mostly excellent, one recurring annoyance..."
    Overall

    Overall a great reading of an engrossing novel. The production features multiple readers. Different voices take a little while to get used to, but are ultimately a great aid to the novel's many viewpoints.

    The one exception is the woman who reads from Novenia's viewpoint; her overly-dramatic, breathless, bodice-ripping delivery -- where every emotion is magnified to characiture and every minor plot developemt is. delivered. with. excrutiating. solemnity. and. weight. is more of a jaw-clenching distraction than an accurate reflection of the text.

    Don't let her delivery turn you off, however. Fortunately there several other readers, both male and female, who more than make up for this annoyance.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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