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David

Halifax, NS, Canada | Member Since 2010

271
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 60 reviews
  • 63 ratings
  • 138 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014
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11

  • Quicksilver: Book One of The Baroque Cycle

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson
    Overall
    (1758)
    Performance
    (1012)
    Story
    (1039)

    In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe -- in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

    David says: "Be aware of what you're getting into"
    "Be aware of what you're getting into"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's unfortunate that "Quicksilver" will turn so many listeners off the Baroque Cycle, because the other volumes are much more fun. "Quicksilver" is hard work, and is best thought of as an extended atmosphere-builder rather than a story. It is very rewarding though, if you know what you're getting into.

    To enjoy "Quicksilver", you need three things:

    * You need to be content with the fact that there's no plot. At all. All that happens is that a guy called Daniel wanders around London in the 1660s and 70s and chats with the leading scientific figures of the age. That's it. Oh, and there's some stuff about piracy in Massachusetts. Don't get me wrong,it's amazing writing and you will learn so much. You will get an amazing sense of the texture and atmosphere of the era. But there's barely a shred of story. Some people won't be able to deal with that. I didn't mind.

    * You need a basic familiarity with the history of the 1660s and 70s and with the aforementioned scientific figures. Complete newbies will be baffled. Get prepared to do a lot of Wikipedia-ing.

    * You need to want to listen to insanely detailed explanations of baroque science and the birth of economics. It's fascinating stuff ... if you like that kind of thing.

    I enjoyed the listen, on the whole, although the wordiness and lack of forward progression does make it a struggle at times. And it undoubtedly is of extremely limited appeal. You might be better advised to start with Volume 2 if you'd like a story rather than a scene-setter.

    The reader is brilliant.

    113 of 113 people found this review helpful
  • The Bone Clocks

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Mitchell
    • Narrated By Jessica Ball, Leon Williams, Colin Mace, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (372)
    Performance
    (336)
    Story
    (334)

    Following a scalding row with her mother, 15-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people," Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

    Melinda says: "Not Short Listed, This Time"
    "Very satisfying, needed a little more enigma"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    No major spoilers below.

    Initially, this book seems like Cloud Atlas, with a series of stories taking place in different historical periods that seem at first tenuously related, but gradually reveal connections between them. However, it's ultimately a lot more logical and straightforward than Cloud Atlas:the connections between the stories are soon revealed to have clearly defined reasons and by the end of the novel all has been thoroughly explained with bucketloads of exposition. Unlike Cloud Atlas, which leaves you scratching your head and wanting to go back and read it again multiple times, this novel leaves you satisfied but with no desire to read again. Both kinds of novels are of course good, but I personally preferred the more enigmatic and challenging form of Cloud Atlas.

    The novel has six chapters, each of which is read by a different narrator and each of which is a pastiche of a different literary style. Different people will find them differently engaging so here's a brief sense of what to expect.

    1. Written in the style of a teenage Essex girl. I found it richly detailed and engaging. The narrator's voice is perfect for the character, although she makes no effort to distinguish characters, making the dialogue scenes hard to follow.This chapter is full of British slang spoken at high speed, which may make it difficult for international listeners, but hang in there, the rest of the novel is easier.

    2. Written in the style of a smug, entitled public schoolboy. The transition from one voice to the next is sudden and jarring but Mitchell does a great job of making it quickly engaging. Again, the reader has the perfect voice for the character although he too seems inexperienced at audiobooks and is probably the least smooth of the readers.

    3. Written in the style of a middle-aged war reporter. From here on, the readers seem a lot more professional and easier to listen to, and this one is particularly strong.

    4. Written in the style of a satire on literary celebrity, with a sneery, over-educated protagonist. The reader is a lot of fun, but this chapter felt longer than the others and a little indulgent. Its comic tone feels (deliberately) discordant.

    5. Written in the style of sci-fi fantasy. This chapter suddenly brings in a ton of exposition and the novel takes a turn toward high fantasy. Some of the content is wonderfully imaginative but some of the events felt (deliberately, pastichy?) cliched. The reader is fine, but slightly flat and dull, and makes the complex writing feel somewhat dead. She also gives the wrong accent to one of the major characters in a very jarring way.

    6. Written in the style of a post-apocalyptic novel. This sequence is beautifully written and emotionally powerful, with a superb performance by the reader who communicates great emotion with great restraint.

    Summary: it's good, but listeners may struggle with some chapters and while it's very satisfying it lacks the limitless fascination of Cloud Atlas.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21086)
    Performance
    (18907)
    Story
    (18976)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "Overstays its welcome."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Overrated and overlong. I saw the 'twist' coming after about 10 minutes. I was drumming my fingers for the reveal, but it took hours. Finally, it arrived. Then the novel became rather intriguing and gripping. I liked this bit. But then the one of the characters began to behave completely out of character for no reason and from then on the novel descended into clumsy contrivance upon contrivance.

    And it's so darn long. It would have made a really good 2-hour David Fincher movie. Oh wait...

    The readers are adequate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Morality Play

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Barry Unsworth
    • Narrated By Michael Maloney
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    It is the late 14th century, a dangerous time beset by war and plague. Nicholas Barber, a young and wayward cleric, stumbles across a group of travelling players and compounds his sins by joining them. Yet the town where they perform reveals another drama: a young woman is to be hanged for the murder of a 12-year-old boy. What better way to increase their takings than to make a new play, to enact the murder of Thomas Wells?

    But as the actors rehearse, they discover that the truth about the boy's death has yet to be revealed.

    Steve says: "Great story"
    "Fantastic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On of Barry Unsworth's best novels and all the better for being short and punchy. It plunges you into a very believable medieval worldview and meditates on the relation between art and reality, while also spinning a gripping murder mystery tale at the same time. Michael Maloney's reading is a true performance - he speaks in a breathy, hyperactive voice that captures the novel's intensity extremely well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short Introduction

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Martin Bunton
    • Narrated By Neil Shah
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    The conflict between Palestine and Israel is one of the most highly publicized and bitter struggles in history. In this accessible and stimulating Very Short Introduction, Martin Bunton clearly explains the history of the problem, reducing it to its very essence - a modern territorial contest between two nations and one geographical territory. Adopting a fresh and original approach, each section covers a twenty-year span, to highlight the historical complexity of the conflict throughout successive decades.

    David says: "Solid introduction"
    "Solid introduction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm no expert on the subject (which is why I wanted a 'very short introduction') but I learned a great deal from this book. A lot of information is packed into a short listen but it is well organized and carefully designed to lead you through a complex subject. To my untutored ear, it did not seem to favour one side; you can understand the suffering and the anger of both. The reader is not very exciting but he is listenable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Yellow Wallpaper

    • UNABRIDGED (35 mins)
    • By Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    • Narrated By Jo Myddleton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (44)

    Instructed to abandon her intellectual life and avoid stimulating company, she sinks into a still-deeper depression invisible to her husband, who believes he knows what is best for her. Alone in the yellow-wallpapered nursery of a rented house, she descends into madness.

    Emily - Audible says: "A Visceral Reaction"
    "Excellent reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A really excellent reading of this iconic short story - the reader gives a very polished performance in which she gradually builds in intensity to match the increasingly hallucinatory nature of the prose. This reading would be a great way to experience the story for the first time or to re-experience it in a new light.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Orenda: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Joseph Boyden
    • Narrated By Ali Ahn, Graham Rowat, Edoardo Ballerini
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (46)

    Christophe has been in the New World only a year when his native guides abandon him to flee their Iroquois pursuers. A Huron warrior and elder named Bird soon takes him prisoner, along with a young Iroquois girl, Snow Falls, whose family he has just killed, and holds them captive in his massive village. Champlain's Iron People have only recently begun trading with the Huron, who mistrust them as well as this Crow who has now trespassed onto their land; and her people, of course, have become the Huron's greatest enemy.

    C says: "Torture to listen to"
    "Thoughtful and interesting, if not always gripping"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read a few novels on the subject of the interactions between the French missionaries and the First Nations in North America during the 17th century, and this one is essential reading if you're interested in the subject. Boyden has clearly set out to immerse himself in both cultures and to try to give each an equal amount of respect. The missionaries are naive and arrogant but are also brave and have integrity in their spiritual beliefs. The native belief system and way of life is made fully comprehensible and possible for the reader to identify with yet Boyden doesn't sentimentalize the First Nations into New Age hippies - he pulls no punches in depicting their culture as patriarchal and militaristic. It's an amazing depiction of two worlds that feel intensely real and are trying to understand each other. And the plot never goes in the directions that you think it will.

    I should also warn listeners of a sensitive disposition that the novel contains numerous detailed and intensely disturbing descriptions of the long, drawn-out tortures of prisoners that dominated the wars between the Huron and the Iroquois. It is the stuff of nightmares and while it's essential to the plot and themes, many listeners will find it hard to deal with.

    Although I found the novel fascinating on an intellectual level, the characters and story sometimes left me cold and felt a little flat. The main problem is that although the two cultures are presented with superb complexity, the three protagonists are excessively good-hearted and admirable, to the extent that they feel rather cardboard when compared with the minor characters. This problem is exacerbated by the three readers, who are all competent but never exciting. This makes parts of the novel drag.

    Overall though, this is essential reading for anyone with a strong stomach and an interest in the subject.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Barry Gifford
    • Narrated By Eva Kaminsky
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    >Wild at Heart is a novel from Barry Gifford's Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels. On the 20th anniversary of the publication of Barry Gifford's international best seller, Wild at Heart, as well as the anniversary of the Palme d'Or-winning film adaptation by director David Lynch, Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels presents all of the novels and novellas that comprise the saga of Sailor Ripley and Lula Pace Fortune, "the Romeo and Juliet of the South".

    David says: "A good reading of a hard-to-perform novel"
    "A good reading of a hard-to-perform novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Wild at Heart" is a crazy novel. It is almost plotless and most of it consists of characters recounting bizarre anecdotes in cartoonish Southern dialect. But it's enjoyable for the irrepressibly charming relationship of Sailor and Lula whose indestructible love for each other is very moving despite the absurdity and craziness of the world they travel through.

    Reading Barry Gifford out loud is incredibly difficult, thanks to his use of extreme Southern dialect? And his densely-packed pop culture ref'rences? You know? Eva Kaminsky does a pretty good job. It's not a bravura performance, as the drawl gets a little monotonous at times, but on the whole she captures the lazy, spaced out style and the accent really well, and succeeds in ensuring that the protagonists are loveable. She made we want to listen to the rest of the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18512)
    Performance
    (14566)
    Story
    (14608)

    A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

    Alisha says: "Good listen, but what's up with the chapter set up"
    "Stay with it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I won't add to all the other plaudits. I'll just say that if you're wondering what all the fuss is about Roy Dotrice, you just have to get through the first chapter. His reading starts off a bit stilted and by an unfortunate coincidence all the characters in chapter 1 are little old men who all sound the same. After chapter 1 he warms up and gets to show off his range, which is quite wonderful. Trust in Roy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10587)
    Performance
    (10073)
    Story
    (10091)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "Entertaining hard scifi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can't add much to the many other plaudits here, which are well earned. I'll just say that if you don't enjoy the first half hour, stay with it: it's not like that all the way through, and you will eventually acknowledge that it was necessary to begin the book that way. Trust the author, he knows what he's doing!

    This is a very entertaining piece of hard science fiction with a delightfully tense and unpredictable storyline. I'm giving it 4 rather than 5 for the somewhat overlong engineering sections. There's also a glaring plot hole in the first third of the book and a point two-thirds in where the author's reluctance to represent any genuine emotion becomes exceptionally cowardly, but I can't explain these flaws without spoiling the plot, so you'll just have to see if you agree with me! It's worth putting up with them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Leviathan Wakes

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By James S.A. Corey
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays
    Overall
    (1968)
    Performance
    (1751)
    Story
    (1750)

    James S.A. Corey delivers compelling SF that ranks with the best in the field. In Leviathan Wakes, ice miner Jim Holden is making a haul from the rings of Saturn when he and his crew encounter an abandoned ship, the Scopuli. Uncovering a terrifying secret, Jim bears the weight of impending catastrophe. At the same time, a detective has been hired by well-heeled parents to find a missing girl, and the investigator’s search leads him right to the Scopuli.

    Ethan M. says: "Fun hard SF action with a blue collar bent"
    "Solid"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I chose this book because I like plausible sci-fi set in our solar system and had run out of Kim Stanley Robinson and Arthur C. Clarke. On one level it disappointed me as it doesn't have the epic grandeur of those novelists. There are no journeys across the landscapes of planets and moons; instead, the novel is set almost entirely on grungy cargo vessels and in the corridors of seedy space stations. This wasn't really what I was looking for, but the novel is undeniably successful at doing what it's setting out to do: that is, create a blue collar sci-fi thriller in which the heroes live in the gritty underbelly of mankind's future.

    The writing is solid if unexceptional and the story, though ultimately quite silly, is unpredictable and well-orchestrated. The narrator is equally competent, although I wish he could have distinguished the two protagonists better - they kept blurring together in my mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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