This book has been a favorite of mine for years. My son is almost 13 and I thought it would be perfect to listen to during a car trip. Well, it was- sort of.
The story is eerie and wonderful and takes you back in time to the US of the 1960s in a way that reminds me a little of To Kill A Mockingbird. The narrator, Richard Thomas is wonderful, his voice, accents and characters all completely believable and compelling.
So why does it only get 3 stars? It is ABRIDGED. I should have noticed before I bought it how short the audible book was, but I was so happy to see it that I didn't. This version cuts out much of the richness and texture and magical realism of the original novel, leaving you with a sort of cockeyed murder mystery story- still enjoyable, but so so disappointing to anyone who has read the book.
Buy this if you want a great introduction to Robert McCammon- and then join me, as I am sure you will want to, in asking Audible to give us the REAL book, and not this poor cut up imitation.
I felt that the author managed to convey a lot of information about how our military and our attitude to it as a nation and a government has changed- and that those changes have not been accidental. I felt that the book was mostly very non-partisan and feel that a person of any political opinion could read it and find the factual information fascinating. Also, it was pretty funny in some parts- definitely not a dry, dully recited history.
I have seen her show on tv a few times, but have not heard her read before. She reads very clearly and with great humor and character. She is able to deliver facts and history in a lively way that really shows how they relate to current real world situations.
I believe that anyone, of any political persuasion, could not fail to be moved by her final chapter of how the lives of our soldiers have changed and the negative effects on they and their families. Her points about how much easier it is for us to go to war and how so many of the 'improvements' of the military complex have not really made things better for our serving military personal and their families was deeply touching and disturbing to me.
I think a lot of people might automatically not want to hear or read this book because of the author and pre-conceptions about her positions and political views. All I can say, is I encourage you to listen to this book, no matter what end of the political spectrum you sit on. I believe there is information here that is important for Americans especially to know, if you are interested in how your country is run and goes about the business of going to war. It is much more than black and white ideology and Maddow does a very good job of showing that with both humor and seriousness. I believe there is a lot to absorb and discuss here, and that people of all political beliefs will find a great deal of information that may be new to them and give them a broader perspective.
Not better, but the closest thing to reading it that I have found.
I think in many ways, you cannot compare Tolkien to other fantasy series, because so much of what has been written later is based, however loosely, upon his ideas, which have become fantasy 'standards. Listening to this book is almost more like hearing a work of history- Tolkien seems as concerned with the history and reality of his world as with the story.
I have not listened to him before, but his rich voice give this performance a gravitas that works very well with the material. You are at once both hearing a story and feel as though you are listening to something of great importance. His character voices are good and his descriptive reading is a pleasure to listen to.
No, I have been listening to it in stages while driving, which has been perfect for me.
This brings back to me the importance of these books, both as literature and to me personally. It is a pleasure to hear someone else read a book that I am so familiar with. Not only because it is so well read, but also because of the little differences in how things are read, and to hear remembered phrases or sentences that come back to me. Overall, no Tolkien fans should deny themselves the pleasure of listening to this edition.
Incredibly moving without ever being maudlin or fake. Funny and tragic and wonderfully written.
The realism of the characters. I know a kid who fought cancer and is still with us, so I could appreciate the gallows humor of the Cancer Perks, the ruthless practicality of parents and doctors, the support of friends- and the ultimate futility of all of it. To term this as just a YA book is an insult. It is a fine, fine novel for anyone who wants to be moved and provoked to think about the world in a different way.
Her voice was spot-on as Hazel Grace and as the other characters. Her inflections, which changed with characters' health or personal situations, her accents, everything was perfect. I can honestly say that I cannot imagine a better narration of this book.
“You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”
This is a quote from the book. Hazel, who has terminal cancer has pushed away Agustus, because she sees herself as an emotional grenade- a time bomb that can only, in the end, bring pain to her parents and anyone who cares for her. The quote above is Gus's reply.
I read a lot of books and many of them are very good. But I continue to be moved and provoked to think about one that I finally feel I have to designate as the best book I read in 2012. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is not only as good as all the reviews have said, but better. If you've ever known someone who is terminally ill, read it. If you have a teenager, read it. If you've loved someone and lost it, read it. And- if you've already read it, listen to the audio version, read by Kate Rudd. It has just wrecked me all over again, in the best possible way that a book can suck you in and spit you back out. There is so much painful and beautiful truth, as well as teenage characters written with honesty and great warmth and humor. Don't deny yourself the experience- read and listen to The Fault In Our Stars today.
I've loved this book for years for its elegant prose and detailed and interesting world and sense of honor, danger and romance. It is a great example of the 'show don't tell' theory of storytelling and really sets the standard for classic modern fantasy.
I've never been a huge fan of full cast recordings of audiobooks. I find many of them to be sort of overdone- all the background noise, various voice actors, etc. can just turn the story into a mish mash that can ruin the prose you enjoyed in the book in the first place.
So when I read that Swordspoint was being produced with a full cast, I was not enthused. Until I saw that it was being produced by Neil Gaiman and read by Ellen Kushner herself. I knew that if anyone could do it up right, it would be these two and my trust in them more than paid off.
This is simply lovely- deliriously fun and witty and clever to listen to. The background noise and actors are unobtrusive and a perfect counterpoint to Ms. Kushner's reading as well as the other actors who also portray the main characters. If you love fantasy, just get it and let yourself fall into Riverside. You'll be glad you went.
The Chaperone is just wonderful! I try to be an unbiased reviewer and I can honestly say that this has been a marvelous listening experience. The book itself is touching, charming and a fascinating view of an interesting time in our history. It a story about people coming into themselves- stretching out and finding out what they can do and be. It is moving and funny by turns and the writing just flows along so beautifully that you find yourself floating on a river of words and suddenly you are near the end and don't want it to be over!
The writing is excellent, but a lot of the credit must go to Elizabeth McGovern's inspired performances. Her voice is so perfect- not only for Cora, the main character, but for all of the people and accents and situations she conveys to us. McGovern's voice has both charm and gravity- she compels you to listen. I cannot praise her performance here too highly- she really conveys the essence of the novel's emotions with every word.
The Chaperone goes right up at the top of my vocal performance list- I will be looking for future novels from this author and for other books narrated by Elizabeth McGovern.
There are few books that remain as interesting or as good to read or listen to years after they were published. The Stand is one of those books. Any references to the time in which the book is set only serve to add to a nostalgia for all that the world has lost or how things have changed.
Just as many books can disappoint if one goes back to them years after a first reading, not many narrators could hold up to the marathon of characters, situations, accents and subplots that are encompassed by The Stand. But Grover Gardiner is more than up for the challenge- he is simply brilliant. I was familiar with his excellent work on Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series, and therefore had very high expectations of his narration here. He surpassed my expectations in every way. His accents are dead on, whether twanging or subtle and he continues to be one of the most believable male narrators when voicing women (in my opinion). He can convey menace, fear, joy or reverence with just a word and I cannot recommend his skills enough- this book just gives him so much to work with and shows off his talents so very well.
But the book itself... well, Mr. King has written some very good things over the years and some not-so-great things, but I do believe this is one of his stand-out works. This is a book I remember reading in high school and feeling that it really taught to to THINK for the first time about the larger implications of what I was reading, even as I was both scared and entertained by it. A lot to live up to in later years, but I am finding the listening experience now to be just as rich, both as entertainment and as thought- provoking material. The language veers from armchair philosophy to the possible supernatural, to the horrors that man perpetrates upon other men with no prompting needed from any outside force, to mundane, everyday concerns like where do you find a washboard to hand wash clothes with, or how do you get power generators running again?
In a post-Katrina world, I found the parts of the book detailing the Burial Committee of the Boulder Free State and their marking of the houses and descriptions particularly eerie- they were very similar to what had to be done in the 9th Ward after the hurricane and considering when this book was written seemed almost prescient.But that is just one detail of what is a rich and detailed picture of a great battle for humanity, in all the large and small ways possible.
This is a long listen, and not unlike The Shining, can be so intense at times that I have broken away from it for a lighter book on occasion. But the material is so dense and fascinating, I cannot stay away for long. This is an audio masterpiece on every level.
I have never read any of the Honor Harrington series, so I did not have any fan axes to grind about pronunciation, etc. I was a little put off by other reviews complaining about the pronunciation of 'Manticorian' even when the author himself had posted a note explaining that any mistakes were ENTIRELY his fault and not the narrator's.
However, I must say that the narration IS something of an issue in the beginning of the book and during any non-dialog, exposition type scenes. The descriptions 'robotic' or 'newscaster-ish' are both completely true, IMO, for at least the first few chapters.
BUT- I do feel that the narrator really nailed the main character's voice and I found her voices for other characters to be easy to differentiate from one another and I had no issues with her accents. So for voices, I say she is fine, just rather bland in non-dialog scenes.
Somewhere around the fifth or sixth chapter, the narrator seems to get much more comfortable with the material and sounds less wooden. When the story improves and gives her more of interest to narrate, her voice warms up considerably.My instinct feels that her narration for the series will only improve as she continues on with these characters in later books.
I would have regretted putting this audiobook down early because of my frustration with it in the beginning chapters.
And not all of the things I didn't like can be laid at the narrator's feet either. I know this is a beloved series, and being a huge Vorkosigan fan, having been told this was similar space opera, I thought I would try it.
Although the character of Honor is likable enough, she is sort of a huge sci-fi chick cliche in some ways. She is about 40 standard- but looks 20 something. She is not classically beautiful, but the 'planes of her face' and 'deep chocolately brown eyes' and 'light soprano' all make her much more attractive than she seems to realize. She doesn't wear makeup or bother with doing her hair, but always looks crisp and attractive- you know the type of female we're talking about.
In fact, one of the things I found most irritating to listen to in the first several chapters is the ENDLESS way that her light soprano, ivory planes of her features and especially her deep chocolate brown eyes get inserted needlessly into paragraphs over and over again.
I get it that the author likes Honor and wants us to like her- but I also got what color her eyes were, how her voice sounded and the basic description the first five times you told us. It gets almost romance novel-ish the way it goes on- and not in a good romance-novel way.
Also, she has a magical (read sci-fi telepathic) six legged kitty cat! Which, ok, cool, I would love one, but it does seem a bit twee for a science fiction series. But I'm willing to suspend judgement here, because it seems like the tree cat might be more important to the series later on and it sort of reminded me of Pip and Flinx, which I loved as a kid.
But again- I kept listening and ignored these annoying little tendencies, and hurrah! I have been rewarded with a very entertaining sci-fi yarn with an engaging heroine, a relatively complex plot and well-written space battle and political scenarios.
The basic plot of new commander having to win over the ship's crew to her and fighting against the odds is nothing new, but Weber gives it an interesting enough spin and things liven up considerably once the Fearless is assigned to Basilisk Station.
Since this is the first in the series, I am willing to forgive it a few snags in the startup, and will be getting the next book. I can't say for sure that Honor and her kittycat and crew will become my new favorite space series, but this book turned out well enough that I am willing to ship out with them for another voyage.
I believe Dorothy Dunnett to be one the greatest writers of historical fiction who ever lived. This audio production of the Disorderly Knights more than lived up to the material of the original book. It was beautifully read and paced and completely engrossing.
For those not familiar with the series, this is the 3rd book in the famous Lymond Chronicles- a series that follows the sometimes erratic but always brilliant career of Francis Lymond, the younger son of a Scottish family during the years of constant border skirmishes and plots with the English, French and Irish as young Mary, Queen of Scots is raised in France, while her mother desperately tries to hold Scotland's throne for her and keep her restless nobles in line.
Into this mess of history comes Francis Lymond- who is witty, cultured, deadly and terribly troubled about the history of his family. All the characters in this book, whether made up or historical, are so finely drawn, and so believable, you will feel that you are PART of the time you are reading about.
This is not a light read or listen, but detailed, well crafted historical fiction that demands that you give it your attention. But you will be so enthralled with Lymond and his contemporaries that should not be a problem.
The biggest complaint- Audible! This is the THIRD book in a series of six! It makes me sad to think some listeners might be turned off because they have to jump in at the middle of the main character's story! I still think it will hold listeners' interest, but there are a lot of things that happened in the first two books that are referenced.
Why isn't this entire excellent series available??? It should be- if you listen to the Disorderly Knights and agree with me, please message Audible to try and get the rest of the books!
This is not one of my favorite Vorkosigan novels, but as always, Bujold's writing is so excellent and funny and her characters so humorous and well-drawn, that it is entertaining all the way through. Miles and his decorative cousin Ivan are sent to Cetaganda, their own planet's long time enemy, as representatives of the royal family to the funeral of the Cetagandian Empress.
It is supposed to be a strictly diplomatic mission- just show up, stand where you're told, drop off the ceremonial gift and don't embarrass us! But of course things start to go wrong almost from the start and pretty soon Miles finds a mystery on his hands that he cannot resist looking into and is talking Ivan into covering for him... and wacky hi-jinks ensue!
This is one of the lighter of the Vorkosigan books. In many ways Bujold's writing is at its best when drawing light and hope out of horrible and tragic circumstances. But in between some of the 'heavier' events of Miles' life, it is nice to take a little break and this book not only accomplishes that, but also serves the longer plot arc of the entire series- something Bujold is also very good at. There are small references back to events in this book that show up later in the series and will provoke a chuckle or a 'ha!' from those in the know :)
Anyway, it's a Vorkosigan novel, which already means it's probably better written, funnier and more likely to grab and keep you wanting more than about 90% of the science fiction out there :)
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