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Sebastian

East Wallingford, VT, United States | Member Since 2013

36
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 26 ratings
  • 535 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2015
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  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (576)
    Performance
    (502)
    Story
    (501)

    The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement-especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla - his Moscow Centre nemesis - and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

    carl801 says: "Le Carre remains the gold standard"
    "Viscous and Bottomless but Great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the only book I've ever encountered in which I could never really keep straight the endless characters but never felt that such confusion impinged on my ability to understand the gist of things. Despite the profusion of characters and backstories, the narrative is terse and economical and the author has an expert grasp on pacing and tone. Moreover, the language of the novel casts knowing darts outward from the ostensible spy story toward enduring themes of love, society, democracy, friendship, and institutions in ways more effective than most "deep books". The reader was the best ever. I have already replayed this novel as background music, which is a first for me.

    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • The Internet Is Not the Answer

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Andrew Keen
    • Narrated By Tom Pile
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    The Internet, created during the Cold War, has now ushered in one of the greatest shifts in society since the Industrial Revolution. There are many positive ways in which the Internet has contributed to the world, but as a society we are less aware of the Internet's deeply negative effects on our psychology, economy, and culture. Andrew Keen, a 20-year veteran of the tech industry, investigates how the Internet is reconfiguring our world, often at great cost.

    Andrew E. says: "Light on facts heavy on conjecture"
    "Important polemic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What struck me about this book is that I now know that because I am writing this review, that I am essentially volunteering to help Audible/Amazon in their unquenchable hunt for data. It's a good book and well written but I'm sure some readers may wish that he was more dispassionate/less hysterical about certain topics. If Amazon allowed me to give stars for genre, I would say it was a 3 star polemic that could have been a 5 star expose. I don't doubt that the author is probably right about our feudal Renaissance but he has to convince a lot of people and his diatribes may prove counterproductive. For example, it would have been good to see him interview some dispassionate economists to persuade us of some of his more revolutionary claims. Still a fun and informative read that I would highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Pearl S. Buck
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2211)
    Performance
    (1333)
    Story
    (1349)

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.

    SHEILA says: "The Good Earth"
    "Gratifying beyond expectation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The narrator is perfect as his voice is soothing and mature but also very dynamic. The many characters come to life through him. The book itself is far better than I thought it would be but I imagine that its beauty and insights would appeal most to readers who themselves have already attained a certain age. It is the story of a man's life and so one must have seen something of life and perhaps already have wed and had children, to fully enjoy this marvelous tale. The descriptions of the land are unforgettable and never once overwrought or tedious as I worried they might be. The writing flows through the places and characters as they develop and as the land transforms from their labor. It is also a book about poverty and wealth, work and ritual, family and love and lust and hatred. war, starvation, shame, bandits, revolution, the country, the city, the disabled, drug addiction, beauty, greed, risk, friendship and loyalty, fear and loathing, honor, guilt, memory, money, loyalty, disloyalty, famine, disease, mobs, theft, rumor, innuendo, scheming, posturing, embarrassment, pride, babies, whores, gender issues.... It's all there but never as overwhelming as a long list might suggest. It is a giant book that taxes the reader very little and will probably remain a classic for a long time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1452)
    Performance
    (898)
    Story
    (902)

    Author of the National Book Award-winning All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy is one of the most provocative American stylists to emerge in the last century. The striking novel Blood Meridian offers an unflinching narrative of the brutality that accompanied the push west on the 1850s Texas frontier.

    Colin says: "Existential leavings"
    "Beautiful and gut wrenching"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book justifies and rewards those readers who have the capacity to read advanced prose. I. Could not have u nderstood this novel without having trained by way of copious prior literary e exploration because McCarthy presumes his readers are at the top of their game. He certainly is; this is an amazing novel not to be missed. The violence is unnerving and disturbing on many levels but it is also beautiful and sublime. Imagine a story as gripping and epic as Lonesome Dove but without a single good hearted character or even a single chuckle of humor. sounds 八点不同哦 itsg re s t

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Bruce Reizen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (253)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (116)

    In the weird glow of the dying millennium, Michael Lewis sets out on a safari through Silicon Valley to find the world's most important technology entrepreneur, the man who embodies the spirit of the coming age. He finds him in Jim Clark, who is about to create his third, separate, billion-dollar company: first Silicon Graphics, then Netscape - which launched the Information Age - and now Healtheon, a startup that may turn the $1 trillion healthcare industry on its head.

    Kenneth says: "A fun book about Jim Clark"
    "Good to check out yesterday's cutting edge"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Worth listening to despite how out of date the book is. Also worth checking out Lewis's earlier writing style, which is very good but not as confident as his more current work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • East of Eden

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    Overall
    (1534)
    Performance
    (1312)
    Story
    (1329)

    This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

    karen says: "American classic, not to be missed."
    "A Greater and Lesser Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I would have bet that Steinbeck wrote this long before The Grapes of Wrath because it is the lesser novel, but evidently he wrote this much later. It is too sprawling for even his control and stretches rely on narrative exposition rather than dramatic action or nuanced description. Perhaps it should have been longer still! No doubt my world is enriched for having read this and it is still a masterly work of fiction--it's in the top 500 novels ever but not the top 10 like Grapes of Wrath, and some of the characters will endure long into the future. Thematically more ambitious than Grapes of Wrath, the Cain and Abel structure is enlightening but less meaningful and less tangible than the historical forces at play in Grapes, at least for me. No Steinbeck enthusiast should miss this but a newcomer would be advised to start with Grapes. The reader is excellent and helps shape the experience.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Gary Greenberg
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Am I happy enough? This has been a pivotal question since America's inception. "Am I not happy enough because I am depressed?" is a more recent version. Psychotherapist Gary Greenberg shows how depression has been manufactured---not as an illness but as an idea about our suffering, its source, and its relief. He challenges us to look at depression in a new way.

    Sebastian says: "Modern Gonzo Tour de Force"
    "Modern Gonzo Tour de Force"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Greenberg blends gonzo journalism, scientific literacy, and wry critical thinking into an engrossing, enlightening, and provocative work of art. Another reviewer called this book a rant but it is the opposite of a rant; the author never repeats himself but instead constantly reassesses his beliefs according to the evidence at hand, tweaking them to conform to his changing experiences. Instead of a rant, the book is a dialectic, a series of conflicts and resolutions, the backbone to a great story. In addition, Greenberg isn't afraid to explore the idea that treating depression with drugs could be yet another concession that democracy makes in the face of advanced capitalism. Greenberg is not a timid writer. He is also astonishingly smart about how to analyze the facts of his subject not only in the best terms that science promises (not mystifying jargon but razor-sharp logic and metacritical rumination) but also in terms of the (frankly fascinating) history of science. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I an shocked that The Emperor of All Maladies received so much press whereas it was pure chance that I heard about this book. Yes, The Emperor of All Maladies is a very good book, but Manufacturing Depression takes more risks by drawing narrative steam from the engine of the romantic-self and the democratic society rather than the lachrymal-melodrama of the cancer ward.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Ali Ahn, Adam Grupper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (608)
    Performance
    (334)
    Story
    (339)

    Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, creates a compelling reality in this tale about an illiterate America in the not-too-distant future. Lenny Abramov may just be penning the world’s last diary. Which is good, because while falling in love with a rather unpleasant woman and witnessing the fall of a great empire, Lenny has a lot to write about.

    Ryan says: "Dystopia Now"
    "Our 1984"
    Overall

    Wonderful, entertaining, smart, provocative book that is very well directed and perfectly read by two characters. This book lends itself very well to audio because it's essentially two narrators describing the world. I have recommended this book to everyone I know but be forewarned, the "near-future" described is slightly raunchy and not for the grandmothers of the world.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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