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Ken

Boiling Springs, PA, United States | Member Since 2010

ratings
261
REVIEWS
21
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
24

  • How Right You Are, Jeeves

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By P.G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Ian Carmichael
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (33)

    The Times has announced, much to Bertie's astonishment, the news of his engagement to the beautiful Bobbie Wickham. But worse is yet to come...Uncle Tom's antique silver cow-creamer has gone missing. Kipper Herring has libeled his and Bertie's former headmaster, leading British psychiatrist Sir Roderick Glossop, is posing as a butler, and Aunt Dahlia's masterly French chef is in trouble.

    Ken says: "Great Book! "Good" Reader..."
    "Great Book! "Good" Reader..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think this book is one of the best in the series - right up there with "Code of the Woosters." I've been working my way through the entire set of Jeeves and Wooster books and have been really enjoying Jonathan Cecil's readings. Some titles had to be picked up elsewhere to get Cecil's version. This book (a.k.a. "Jeeves in the Offing" as British title) is only available with Carmichael doing this title and he or F. Davidson doing the British title. I chose this because the audio sample of Davidson doing Aunt Dahlia's voice was "just wrong" as I heard it. I was glad I chose this. Carmichael's reading grew on me as the book progressed. His Aunt Dahlia was even more bombastic than Cecil's - which IS one of her charms, after all. Carmichael does have his flaws, though. He doesn't differentiate much between people's voices in quick conversations and he gave Bertie a small speech impediment (I missed that if it was mentioned in a previous book) AND his Jeeves doesn't have all the "gravity" I'm used to - but then, Jeeves isn't in this book as much as others. Overall, it's a good choice if they don't do a version by Cecil someday in the future. FYI - Wikipedia has a very helpful list of the entire series in publication order under the "Jeeves" heading. This book comes later in the entire series.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Leonard Mlodinow
    • Narrated By Robert Blumenfeld
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (298)
    Performance
    (156)
    Story
    (158)

    Through Euclid's Window Leonard Mlodinow brilliantly and delightfully leads us on a journey through five revolutions in geometry, from the Greek concept of parallel lines to the latest notions of hyperspace. Here is an altogether new, refreshing, alternative history of math revealing how simple questions anyone might ask about space -- in the living room or in some other galaxy -- have been the hidden engine of the highest achievements in science and technology.

    Eric says: "Wow!"
    "Was this really the same author???"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed Mlodinow's "The Drunkard's Walk" and I do recommend it to anyone. So it was a big surprise when I listened to "Euclid's Window." This book was very uneven. There were good chapters and weak chapters. Also, I felt like he was trying too hard to be humorous or "folksy." As I listened, I got the feeling that this was a much earlier book than "The Drunkard's Walk" and when I checked the publication dates, it was true. Mlodinow's "voice" is much better in his later writing compared to this book. The material here is good, for the most part, but how it is presented needed the firm recommendations of a good editor who might have made it more consistent and confident.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Richard Matthews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6810)
    Performance
    (2623)
    Story
    (2631)

    Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.

    Corby says: "Very informative, fun to listen to"
    "Not Your Typical Bryson Book - Less would be More"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was disappointed by this volume of Bryson's. I'm used to having him wander far afield, here and there going off on tangents and telling enlightening tales that become the focus of the book more than the stated topic. This book pretty much stayed with the topic of cosmology (origins of the universe, elements, life, etc...) and the interesting side-stories were minimal. Cosmology's not a bad topic and he certainly has some fun with it.

    ...but for nearly 18 hours??? ...Really?

    I got tired of listening to all the different things he had to say about the beginning of the cosmos after a few hours and clicked ahead. It was more discussions of the specifics of another aspect of universe formation. Clicked ahead again; more of the same. And again...

    My concern is that like some best selling authors, they reach a point in their career where they no longer listen to their editors. This book needed to be cut down. More isn't always better. An active editor could have made this a better "Bill Bryson Book." I enjoy his insights and especially his humorous asides, but at some point you need to let a topic go and move on to the next point. He didn't need to include ALL of his research.

    For me, this bordered on being tedious. I know I'm in the minority here. People seem to love this book as much as his others. I liked his approach and style in other books much more. This volume was a letdown for me.

    Perhaps, I would have liked the abridged version more. (One third the length and read by Bryson himself!) Perhaps cosmology is just not a topic that grabs me. (But other authors like Neil DeGrass Tyson have held my interest.) Either way, you may not want this book to be your first Bill Bryson book. Walk in the Woods or some of the others give you a better view of his unique perspectives on the world we inhabit together.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Day of the Jackal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Frederick Forsyth
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (614)
    Performance
    (368)
    Story
    (363)

    One of the most celebrated thrillers ever written, The Day of the Jackal is the electrifying story of an anonymous Englishman who in, the spring of 1963, was hired by Colonel Marc Rodin, operations chief of the O.A.S., to assassinate General de Gaulle.

    Darwin8u says: "Tight & fantastic political/cat-and-mouse thriller"
    "One of the best "cat & mouse" thrillers."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For those who are looking for a "classic" style thriller, this is one of the best of the genre. If you haven't heard this one, or are thinking about trying something from this style of mystery thriller, this is at the top of the class. Yes, the action takes place in the 1960's, but the story, characters, procedures, and tension are timeless.

    Every step in the story keeps us interested. It is actually told as two parallel stories - one from the perspective of the cat; one from that of the mouse. Every step of the way, you are kept wondering, "How will he be able to do that?" The story-telling does not disappoint or lag anywhere.

    This story deserves all of the fame is has gotten. (Look it up!) And Simon Prebble's reading is perfect, as always.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eye of the Needle

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By Eric Lincoln
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2004)
    Performance
    (1071)
    Story
    (1075)

    One enemy spy knows the secret of the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to the ultimate Nazi victory.

    Scott says: "A Classic WWII Spy Thriller"
    "Suffers by Comparison..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I know this is a well known thriller by Follett and it is good, but I had just listened to "Day of the Jackal" read by the always great Simon Prebble. As a result, the quality of this story and the reading paled compared to the previous thriller. If you only have one credit to spend on a good classic thriller, go with "Day of the Jackal" and let this pass.

    If you get both, then don't listen to them without a book or two in between.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Justin Pollard, Howard Reid
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (556)
    Performance
    (286)
    Story
    (290)

    Founded by Alexander the Great and built by self-styled Greek pharaohs, the city of Alexandria at its height dwarfed both Athens and Rome. It was the marvel of its age, legendary for its vast palaces, safe harbors, and magnificent lighthouse. But it was most famous for the astonishing intellectual efflorescence it fostered and the library it produced. If the European Renaissance was the "rebirth" of Western culture, then Alexandria, Egypt, was its birthplace.

    Jeffrey says: "A good listen"
    "An Unexpcted Gem!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought I knew a little bit about Alexandria, but this book showed me how little I actually knew!

    The history of this city and the people who made it what it became is well worth your credit! I had no idea how much this city and the (famous) people who lived there shaped the western world for centuries. I was so surprised by the discoveries that we had been taught only arrived in the Enlightenment that actually were "old news" in Alexandria. You'll be surprised by the familiar names of so many inventors, philosophers, rulers, and others who are wrapped up closely in the history of this city. This is not "dry" history; the authors do a good job of keeping us interested - mostly because it really was not a boring or "dry" topic! (...and besides, Simon Vance has never disappointed me.)

    Side note: This city was so far ahead of it's time - if only the discoveries of this culture had not been buried for centuries... It leaves you wondering where we might be today....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A History of the World in 6 Glasses

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Tom Standage
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1362)
    Performance
    (1157)
    Story
    (1157)

    Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period. A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.

    Stoker says: "Fun and Informative"
    "Fascinating! Stick with it, though!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    During the first hour or so, I was wondering if I had made a poor choice by getting this book, but once we got beyond the first "glass" and into the second, it got much more interesting. From that point on, the details, connections, and side notes make this a fascinating story to follow. I learned a lot of trivia about how different drinks became popular and influenced social development and history in the process.

    This is not a "stretch" to force history to fit the author's title. He does not overstep the influence that each drink has or has not had. It is just another fascinating way to look at the trends of history from a new angle.

    It is well told and well worth the listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Eric Metaxas
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1549)
    Performance
    (1021)
    Story
    (1041)

    A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer and was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp at age thirty-nine. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the twentieth century.

    Alan says: "Very Moving"
    "Uneven: Where was the editor?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The reader does an admirable job and held my interest. He also made very good decisions in understating accents that could have been distracting.

    The book itself, however, can best be described as "uneven."

    The majority of the book is very strong on telling Bonhoeffer's and Germany's history in a palatable manner and relating the details of Bonhoeffer's life and internal growth and struggles. However, the author would sometimes add an casual turn of phrase now and then that just didn't fit the rest of the tone of the book. A good editor should have caught these lapses. Was the author trying to seem "trendy" or "with it" as he threw in a contemporary idiom or expression?

    Also, I found myself gritting my teeth as we worked our way through some sections. The longest was Bonhoeffer's "too good to be true" childhood. I came close to giving up on the book but stuck with it. (I think the technical term is that he was bordering on "uncritical hagiography" there.) Once we reach adulthood, it was a more "human" picture that was presented...usually.

    Since I'm not strong on German history myself, I can't comment on the accuracy of the specifics that are offered as the background to Bonhoeffer's tale, but their inclusion was very helpful in putting him in the context of his times. (It also made me wonder about possible parallels in contemporary society. ...but that was me, not the book.)

    I'm glad I stayed with the book to the end. It is pretty long, but it needed to be this long in order to do him full justice. I had no trouble with the theological discussions because of my background and I've read lots of Christian stuff previously. I don't know how a reader who is not familiar with these themes would handle the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gifts: Annals of the Western Shore, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Jim Colby
    Overall
    (120)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (42)

    In the Uplands, people have magical and fearsome gifts. Orrec, a boy growing into his powers, can destroy any living thing with simply a glance. But he refuses to use his ability, and wears a blindfold to protect others from his devastating gaze.

    Ken says: "Book 3 won the 2008 Nebula Award"
    "Book 3 won the 2008 Nebula Award"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had never heard of this series and thought I'd take a chance on them because of the author. These are well written, thoughtful books that really deserve as much attention as her other works. Each audio reader does a good job. Each book could stand on its own, too. The stories are complex (I mean that in a good way - as in, not simplistic). It's just good literature. (...hence the Nebula award.) She respects the intelligence of the reader/listener and the maturity of her characters' thoughts and actions reflects that.

    I really enjoyed Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, so for those of you looking to compare them, this has a less dark theme and these are more about the people than about the magic - if that matters to you. As I listened to all three books, I found myself thinking, "These are really good books!" as I got into each. And they stayed good right to the ending of each. They really deserve just as much attention as other bestsellers in the field.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Voices: Annals of the Western Shore, Book Two

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Melanie Martinez
    Overall
    (85)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    Voices stars the people of Ansul, a town of scholars and traders conquered by the marauding Alds 17 years ago. When poet Orrec arrives in town, however, the people begin to garner the courage to rebel against their overlords.

    Mark says: "A bit disapointed"
    "Book 3 won the 2008 Nebula Award"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had never heard of this series and thought I'd take a chance on them because of the author. These are well written, thoughtful books that really deserve as much attention as her other works. Each audio reader does a good job. Each book could stand on its own, too. The stories are complex (I mean that in a good way - as in, not simplistic). It's just good literature. (...hence the Nebula award.) She respects the intelligence of the reader/listener and the maturity of her characters' thoughts and actions reflects that.

    I really enjoyed Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, so for those of you looking to compare them, this has a less dark theme and these are more about the people than about the magic - if that matters to you. As I listened to all three books, I found myself thinking, "These are really good books!" as I got into each. And they stayed good right to the ending of each. They really deserve just as much attention as other bestsellers in the field.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Powers: Annals of the Western Shore, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Andy Paris
    Overall
    (90)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (34)

    Young Gavie sometimes "remembers" the future. But as a slave living among those who feel threatened by the powers of the Marsh people, Gavie must hide his abilities. And then tragic events force the grief-stricken Gavie to flee the only world he's ever known. In his perilous quest for freedom, Gavie must learn to harness his unique gifts, or he may never find a place he can call home.

    Michael says: "Powers? what powers?"
    "2008 Nebula Award Winner"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had never heard of this series and thought I'd take a chance on them because of the author. These are well written, thoughtful books that really deserve as much attention as her other works. Each audio reader does a good job. Each book could stand on its own, too. The stories are complex (I mean that in a good way - as in, not simplistic). It's just good literature. (...hence the Nebula award.) She respects the intelligence of the reader/listener and the maturity of her characters' thoughts and actions reflects that.

    I really enjoyed Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, so for those of you looking to compare them, this has a less dark theme and these are more about the people than about the magic - if that matters to you. As I listened to all three books, I found myself thinking, "These are really good books!" as I got into each. And they stayed good right to the ending of each. They really deserve just as much attention as other bestsellers in the field.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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