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Timothy

Member Since 2010

27
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 62 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
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  • The Persimmon Tree

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Bryce Courtenay
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1584)
    Performance
    (1145)
    Story
    (1134)

    The Persimmon Tree opens in Indonesia in 1942 on the cusp of Japanese invasion and the evacuation of Batavia (Jakarta) by the Dutch. Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Duncan is on holiday there, in pursuit of an exotic butterfly known as the Magpie Crow. It's an uncertain, dangerous time to be in Indonesia, and Nick's options of getting out are fast dwindling. Amidst the fear and chaos he falls in love with Anna, the beautiful daughter of a Dutch acquaintance, and she nicknames him 'Mr Butterfly'.

    Corinne says: "An excellent sequel"
    ""Page-turner" with some weaknesses"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bryce Courtenay is a gifted storyteller and Humphrey Bower is one of the best narrators on Audible, so it's hardly surprising that this is one of those books you just can't put down until it's finished. It's also historically very interesting, providing a wealth of information about the situation and events of the Pacific War that I wasn't yet aware of, and just for that it is definitely worth reading.

    Even so, it does also have some annoying weaknesses. The main one is that the main character, who is also the first-person narrator of the story, simply isn't credible. I don't know if Courtenay himself ever saw active service in war, and if he did I apologize in advance. However, it doesn't seem even remotely believable that a man could go through the horrific wartime experiences described and still remain basically the same insouciant, happy-go-lucky young man he was at the beginning of the story. Even internally, they hardly seem to touch him. It doesn't ring true, and that lessens the impact of the story as a whole.

    The resulting effect is of an author retelling a story that he has heard but was not involved in himself. It is as if he is seeing his characters from the outside, and knows nothing of how they really felt about what they experienced. It is still an excellent story, but if that missing depth had been there it would have been a much, much better novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Niccolo Rising

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Dorothy Dunnett
    • Narrated By Gordon Griffin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (60)

    Bruges, 1460. Street smart, brilliant at figures, adept at the subtleties of diplomacy and the well-timed untruth, Nicholas van der Poele rises from wastrel to prodigy in a breathless adventure that wins him the love of the strongest woman in Bruges and the hatred of two powerful enemies. Niccolo Rising combines history, adventure and high romance in the tradition stretching from Alexandre Dumas to Mary Renault.

    Theresa says: "A Classic Favorite Returns"
    "Not for me, it seems"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I fail to understand the positive reviews of this book. I normally love historical fiction and was hoping for something like Umberto Eco, C.J. Sansom or Robert McCammon. I struggled through two hours of it and found nothing at all to make me continue listening. At least by that point in the story, the author failed to introduce a single interesting character or story line. Just endless trivia related by uninteresting people. I'm sure it's well researched historically, but for me at least, that alone does not make a novel worth reading.

    Obviously, I'm missing something, but it's really not for me. Complete waste of a month's credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Annie Jacobsen
    • Narrated By Annie Jacobsen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1397)
    Performance
    (966)
    Story
    (974)

    Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

    A User says: "Reality, always more interesting than fiction."
    "Trashy, inaccurate, some interesting stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Other reviewers have already commented in detail on the author's lack of understanding or even interest in the science and technology involved. If you boil it all down, she got one interview with an unnamed engineer from Area 51 with some potentially new information and then padded it out with irrelevant but occasionally interesting declassified information to create a "book".

    The trouble is that even this one tidbit of "new" information is patently ludicrous from beginning to end -- making any little green men stories look credible by comparison. It's either disinformation or the engineer was pulling her chain or she made the whole thing up. Others have already commented on the many holes in the story, but the real elephant in the room is one simple question that the author never asks: If Soviet Russia under Stalin had a flying machine with a revolutionary new power plant that enabled it to perform like a UFO, why did Russia never use this technology? Why did they go on building Vostok rockets, MiG fighters, Antonov transporters and Kamov helicopters? Why didn't they equip the Vietnamese and their other proxies with these machines, which would have enabled them to win any conflict with ease? Come on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Winds of War

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2571)
    Performance
    (2161)
    Story
    (2166)

    Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

    Arken says: "Great storytelling"
    "Perhaps a bit dated..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love historical fiction but this one just didn't work for me. Perhaps because I recently finished the first two volumes of Ken Follet's new trilogy (Fall of Titans, Winter of the World), which are in a completely different class. I'm sure that Wouk's book made fascinating reading in the period shortly after World War II, but now it's just a little flat and probably dated. The characterization is on the level of Bonanza or The Waltons, and I just couldn't find it in myself to be interested in these shallow and really rather uninteresting people, particularly since the focus is so much more on their story than on the actual history of the War.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Steven Saylor
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (114)

    Weaving history, legend, and new archaeological discoveries into a spellbinding narrative, critically acclaimed novelist Steven Saylor gives new life to the drama of Rome's first 1,000 years - from the founding of the city by the ill-fated twins Romulus and Remus, through Rome's astonishing ascent to become the capital of the most powerful empire in history.

    S. Caruso says: "Excellent Feel for Ancient Rome"
    "Outstanding but over-ambitious for a single novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an outstanding, well-written and fascinating book with a perfect narration by John Lee. The only thing that is frustrating about it is that it tries to cover too much in a single volume. It would have been much better as a series of as many as ten novels. The material is there, and the author is easily up to the task: The characters, background, dialog, exposition and everything else are all wonderful. But as soon as you get familiar with a group of characters the story suddenly moves on a hundred years and you have to get used to another group. After every little episode I had the feeling of being short-changed.

    In a way, it's more like a historical docu-drama than a novel. But that's not quite right either, because it really does have the quality of a novel; or rather, of a series of frustratingly unfinished novels. This feeling gets heightened towards the end, where I started to get the feeling that the author was getting a little tired of the project. The whole story of Julius Caesar and his murder was much too perfunctory, with much less introduction and background than many of the other episodes.

    This is a good book and I'm not sorry I read it,but it could have been much, much better. And that's a pity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Day of the Scorpion: The Raj Quartet, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Paul Scott
    • Narrated By Richard Brown
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (15)

    The second novel in The Raj Quartet: the arrest by British police of Mohammed Ali Kasim, who is known to sympathise with the Quit India movement, signifies a further deterioration in Anglo-India relations. For families such as the Laytons, who have lived and served in India for generations, the immediate social and political realities are both disturbing and tragic. With growing confusion and bewilderment, the British are forced to confront the violent and often brutal years that lie ahead.

    Timothy says: "Timeless classic, disastrous narrator choice"
    "Timeless classic, disastrous narrator choice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Paul Scott's Raj Quartet series is a timeless classic about the British rule in India and its ignominious end. I enjoyed listening to the first volume so much that I bought the second without listening to a sample. Big mistake.

    I have experienced my share of poor narrators on Audible but never ever anything as bad as this. The problem is not the narrator's ability but his voice, and the emotion it conveys. No matter what the narrator is saying, he always sounds snotty, arrogant and condescending. Even the most simple, factual sentences sound like scathing insults. What is even worse for this book is the fact that this narrator's voice is the epitome of everything that Paul Scott criticizes about the British rule in India. It is the voice of the narrow-minded, pig-headed, racist British upper class who despise everything and everyone that does not belong to their tiny elite club. It is the exact opposite of everything for which Paul Scott's wonderful work stands and speaks out. It is like having a production of the Diary of Anne Frank narrated by the voice of a German World War II radio newscaster.

    Choosing Richard Brown to narrate this book is probably the most egregiously inappropriate decision in the entire history of audio book publishing. He manages to completely destroy it and its message.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Presumed Innocent

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Scott Turow
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1120)
    Performance
    (568)
    Story
    (574)

    Presumed Innocent brings to life our worst nightmare: that of an ordinary citizen facing conviction for the most terrible of crimes. Prosecutor Rusty Sabich is transformed from accuser to accused when he is handed an explosive case - that of the brutal murder of a woman who happens to be his former lover.

    Glen says: "Excellent Book, Gripping Entertainment!"
    "The best legal thriller I have ever read. Period."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this on a whim, having never heard of it or Scott Turow before. Man, had I missed something. I greatly enjoy the legal thriller genre, even though I haven't read all that many of them. This was far and away the best I have ever read, made even better by Edward Herrmann's literally pitch perfect narration. I've never heard him narrate before, but he ranks right up there with the greats like John Lee and Simon Prebble.

    All the characters are beautifully drawn and credible, brought to life by the wonderful narration. It's also really a pleasure to read a book that has been so carefully crafted in every detail, backed up by what is apparently really thorough research and familiarity with the subject matter.

    It's almost impossible to really write anything about this book without creating a spoiler, so I'll just say: If you enjoy first-class, intelligent and suspenseful legal fiction get this book. It's brilliant, and I literally couldn't stop listening until I'd finished. And now I'm sorry that I didn't make it last longer, which is always a pretty sure sign of an outstanding read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4559)
    Performance
    (3831)
    Story
    (3839)

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Jimmy says: "Epic, Remarkable, Easy & Enjoyable!"
    "Wonderful story, bringing history to life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was at least as good as the first volume in the series, possibly better. I'm hoping that all the historical information was accurate, because it was fascinating, including much that I did not know about the lead-up to World War II and what happened afterwards. Obviously it's impossible to cover everything in such an epic period in history in a novel of any length, but Follet does an excellent job of showing the War from the perspectives of many people in different parts of the world and on different sides. It also made me understand my parents' generation and appreciate what they lived through a lot better.

    John Lee's narration was generally excellent, as always. I only subtracted one star because it really wouldn't have taken all that much effort to learn the pronunciation of the simple German words and names that appear in the story, which where often embarrassingly incorrect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7982)
    Performance
    (7315)
    Story
    (7342)

    Few books have captivated the imagination and won the devotion and praise of readers and critics everywhere as has George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic cycle of high fantasy that began with A Game of Thrones. Now, in A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth book of his landmark series, as a kingdom torn asunder finds itself at last on the brink of peace . . . only to be launched on an even more terrifying course of destruction.

    Pi says: "Jarring change in Dotrice's performance"
    "Lock Roy Dotrice in a Sky Cell..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...and throw away the key!

    If you love Westeros and its history you will still finish this book, because you must, but you will hate every horrible minute of it, and your anger at the narration will grow and grow and grow. Roy Dotrice's performance is as bad as his narration of the first three books was brilliant. In fact, it is so abominably bad that I can only guess that it was intentional: That he didn't want to do the job, was sick of the books and felt forced into doing it, and decided to ruin the performance as revenge. The only other explanation would be that he has contracted Parkinson's or had a stroke, and has thus forgotten everything he knew before, but as far as I can see that is not the case. What I cannot understand is how the producers could allow this travesty of a performance to reach publication.

    Most of the time Dotrice abandons even a pretense of trying to deliver voices for his characters. For example, conversations between Jamie and Cerce are conducted with identical voices for both characters and the narration, and none of the voices are even remotely like the ones he used before. The brilliant characterizations he produced for wonderful minor characters like Dolorous Ed are simply gone. Samwel Tarly's perfect voice is gone. All the other voices are gone. Almost every single name is pronounced so differently that you often have no idea that you actually already know the character being referred to. Even normal reading is sloppy and slapdash and sometimes not even really English. In a passage I just listened to Dotrice pronounced a reference to a group of crossbowmen as "cross bowmen", making it sound as though they were in a bad temper. His lack of interest and distaste in his work are palpable in almost every sentence.

    Unfortunately, Dotrice's miserable narration is compounded by the fact that this is the first weak book in the series (so far as I can judge, I haven't read the fifth yet...). George Martin's only real weakness as a writer is a tendency to indulge in unnecessary rambling exposition and detours into endless sidelines and side-stories, and this has gotten out of hand in this volume. There would be nothing wrong with the side-stories if they were interesting in their own right, but so far they aren't. Nothing really happens, and this is described at great, great length, with all the suspense of a thousand-page phone book. I often drift off and miss entire paragraphs but it doesn't seem to matter much because nothing worth listening to was happening in most of them.

    I'm hoping that this is going to get better, and I'm going to finish the book and the next volume as well, because I must, but at the moment I'm horribly disappointed.

    1 of 2 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
    Overall
    (15874)
    Performance
    (12111)
    Story
    (12140)

    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.

    Teddy says: "Did not disappoint..."
    "A classic that you need to be willing to get into"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I actually initially gave up a few hours into the first book and even wrote quite a negative review about prolix fantasy with far too many characters, but I was completely wrong. Martin is the first writer since Tolkien to create a convincing world this complex. Although Martin is darker and less uplifting than Tolkien, he also has a gritty realism that can ultimately be more satisfying because it rings true.

    The quality, breadth and depth of these stories is amazing, and all the characters ring real and true. Even the people who you think are the villains at first are drawn in all their complexity and depth so that you suddenly find yourself very unsure where your sympathies really lie -- and that is the mark of a truly good novelist.

    Like Tolkien, Martin is clearly someone who understands how history works, and he makes the machinations and motivations of power comprehensible as few authors have ever been able to do. Many quotes from the book are already passing into common usage, like Varys' summation of power as the "shadow on the wall", and I am sure that many more will, because they describe how the "game of thrones" is played anywhere that it is played.

    This is a work that you have to give yourself time to get into, but once you have it is going to be your world until you have used up all the ten credits you are going to need to complete all the volumes.

    Roy Dotrice's narration is pitch perfect and matches the character of the story and everyone in it. Now at the end of the second volume he is already the voice of the Seven Kingdoms for me, and I am already looking forward with trepidation to the switch to the different narrator in volume four...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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