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A. Hawley

PORTLAND, OR USA | Member Since 2008

  • 7 reviews
  • 56 ratings
  • 232 titles in library
  • 25 purchased in 2014

  • The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Timothy Egan
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history, told through characters he brought to indelible life. Now he performs the same alchemy with The Big Burn, the largest-ever forest fire in America, a tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy.

    P. Bergh says: "A fascinating history of early Forest Service"
    "Thrilling history, beautifully read"

    Timothy Egan's The Big Burn is the best sort of nonfiction book: a detailed and thoroughly researched examination of an interesting moment in history, made exciting and lively by the way the author structures the narrative. The Big Burn reads like one of those great disaster movies of the 70s, introducing a range of characters, great and humble, connecting them to an ominous disaster, and then following each of their stories to the thrilling conclusion.

    Unlike disaster movies of the 70s, though, The Big Burn will provoke thought and discussion about what has changed and what hasn't changed--politically, environmentally, and socially--in America in the hundred years since the events took place.

    Robertson Dean's deep, rich voice has a weight and substance suited to the text, and he even lends a touch of acting and dialect in extensive citations from the writings of historical figures.

    I generally listen to fiction from Audible, and the Big Burn was as entertaining and engaging as any novel, with a great deal more substance and food for conversation.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil You Know

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Mike Carey
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Felix Castor used to cast out demons for a living, and London was his stomping ground. But in a time when the supernatural realm is in upheaval and spilling over into the mundane world of the living, his skills are in renewed demand. With old debts to pay, Castor is left with no choice but to accept one final, well-paying assignment: a seemingly simple exorcism.

    Jessica says: "wonderful story"
    "The narration forced me to abandon ship"
    Would you try another book from Mike Carey and/or Michael Kramer?

    By Mike Carey, yes--and I have, in written form.

    What didn’t you like about Michael Kramer’s performance?

    No good ever comes of having an American actor fake British accents. Ever. I've enjoyed Kramer's readings in the Wheel of Time series, so I know he's talented. This was a very, very bad case of the wrong person for the job. The book's narrator is supposed to be from Liverpool, the story is peopled with all sorts of characters who should have nuanced UK accents, and yet they all sound like--well, like Americans faking what they think English people sound like. Cringeworthy, frankly.

    Any additional comments?

    Clever, original, dark and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, this is a fantastic start of an urban fantasy series with an overarching story that the author never loses sight of. I deleted the truly unlistenable audiobook and paid for the Kindle edition instead, and am happily reading the whole series. Sad that the audio version was so wrongly cast.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Chris Berdik
    • Narrated By Nick Oglesby

    We all know expectations matter - in school, in sports, in the stock market. From a healing placebo to a run on the bank, hints of their self-fulfilling potential have been observed for years. But now researchers in fields ranging from medicine to education to criminal justice are moving beyond observation to investigate exactly how expectations work - and when they don’t. In Mind Over Mind, journalist Chris Berdik offers a captivating look at the frontiers of expectations research, revealing how our brains work.

    A. Hawley says: "Interesting material, less than stellar narration"
    "Interesting material, less than stellar narration"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    If I were a professional audiobook voice talent, and commissioned to read a mainstream science-for-the-layperson title like this one, I think I might take a look at the text, notice that there are some foreign terms and ten-dollar English ones in it, and find out how to pronounce them. The narrator for this book didn't do that. Consequently, his pronunciations of French and Latin names and phrases becomes absolutely hilarious at times--enough to have taken me right out of the book.

    I'm not talking about esoteric terms here; just that it's not King Lewis XVI, and not Chateau-nee-uf du Poppay, and not inexORable, and not "in vino vu-REE-tas" and...and... There's one such gaffe every few minutes.

    Sadly, this makes a fairly thought-provoking text sound kind of...well, silly.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Accent Your Character - Standard British English: Dialect Training

    • UNABRIDGED (30 mins)
    • By Paul Meier
    • Narrated By Paul Meier

    Add some kick to your characters with some quick and simple dialect training. Paul Meier has been training actors for over 25 years and now offers his experience to the casual pretender in these entertaining presentations. You will find accent tips, colloquialisms, and charismatic character concepts that will add to your storytelling, roleplaying, or cosplay.

    A. Hawley says: "Worth the price but don't expect actual training"
    "Worth the price but don't expect actual training"

    Paul Meier riffs on Received Pronunciation or Standard British English, up and down the scales from Cockney to the King, and demonstrates nuances of class, profession, and fictional style. There are some good tips here about using different variations for historical and fantasy characters.

    It's a fun listen, well worth the low price, and I think frequent re-listening might instill a bit of the rhythm and character of the dialect in an American speaker. But there are no exercises here, nothing to actually guide an actor or storyteller in developing this dialect. Don't mistake this for language training or coaching. It's not. That, you have to pay a lot more for.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By David C. Korten
    • Narrated By Sandra Swafford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    David Korten argues that global corporate consolidation of power is but one manifestation of what he calls "Empire", the organization of society by hierarchies of dominance that have held sway for the past 5,000 years. Empire has always resulted in misery for the many and fortune for the few. Now it threatens the very future of humanity. The Great Turning traces the ancient roots of Empire and charts its long evolution from monarchies to the transnational institutions of the global economy.

    Rob says: "Wakeup call"
    "Some fascinating ideas"

    If I'd read user reviews prior to buying this audiobook, I wouldn't have bought it, and would have missed some very thought-provoking ideas, particularly in Korten's take on American history. He casts the whole founding of the United States in the light of his central thesis, that empire is inimical to humanity. He lays out some very good arguments against starry-eyed patriotism about Liberty and Justice For All when considering the foundations of the nation. Fascinating and perspective-altering.

    I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't warn other audiobook listeners (of any political persuasion) that this is a very poorly narrated piece with mediocre production value at best. The reader, I'm sorry to say, sounds like a 2nd-grade teacher didactically o-ver-pro-nouncing every word--and with a slight lisp, no less, and as a result, this book was very difficult for me to listen to.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Anansi Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Lenny Henry
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    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"
    "Beautifully narrated"

    I'm fairly new to audiobooks, and every purchase still feels like a bit of a gamble. I prefer to listen to books I haven't already read in print, and finding a good book that's also a good audibook seems to be a matter of chance. Anansi Boys was a gamble that paid off handsomely.

    The novel itself is as clever and original as I expected from Neil Gaiman. It's peopled by amazingly colorful, likable characters who give rise to a wonderful plot. I'm sure I'd have enjoyed the story very much in the written form.

    But the narration! Wow! The reader has a beautiful voice and a nuanced set of accents and speech styles that make the listening a continuous pleasure. Some of the story's witticisms are laugh-out-loud funny, largely, I suspect, because of the reader's own droll delivery.

    If you like fantasy-oriented fiction and prefer your audiobooks beautifully narrated with simple production values, add Anansi Boys to your list.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Susanna Clarke
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble

    English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

    David says: "Hang in there!"
    "Beautifully narrated"

    Yes, it's very long. No, it won't work for those with short attention spans. But Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is one of the most compelling and beautifully-written novels I've ever encountered. The slow pace and wealth of detail were a delight to me--I LOVE being able to spend a long time in a novel, especially one that takes place in such a highly original universe.

    Simon Prebble's ability to bring each character to life with subtly different accents and tones is nothing short of astonishing. I'm new to audiobooks, and I have a feeling that I'm spoiled now by the particular excellence of this one.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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