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Clodhopper

I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!

Tucson, AZ, United States | Member Since 2005

ratings
73
REVIEWS
19
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
2
HELPFUL VOTES
14

  • The Pillars of the Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12424)
    Performance
    (4824)
    Story
    (4859)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Got 40 hours to kill? You’ll find the time when you start listening to Lee’s take on Follett’s epic – and widely celebrated – novel of 12th-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...and of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame....

    Joseph says: "Good historical setting, but loose story."
    "To baroque to mend"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The concept is moralistic, the characters one dimensional, and the plot overlong though you can forsee the denoument many chapters before the end.

    I have had many people recommend "Fall of Giants" to me. Apparently it is quite good; best read it first. I have been unable to bring myself to start it because I found "Pillars" so tedious.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6958)
    Performance
    (6368)
    Story
    (6374)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Zen and the Art of Carel Fabritius"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Goldfinch is a wonderful novel, an unique and creative novel with entertaining characters and an engrossing, plot. Highly recommended reading for the Holiday Season. But it is not an immortal novel. It is not a novel for the ages. It will not be required reading in university curricula decades hence. And so, in the end, it rates four stars rather than five.

    The novel is so well written, so imaginative and complex, so far above the standard of most contemporary fiction, that one is tempted to search for deep meanings and universal truths within the story. I am not sure that they are there.

    I have read reviews claiming that the novel seeks to define the essence of art, or the relationship between man and art, etc. If so, the author’s message remains obscure for me, much as the painting itself remains hidden from sight for most of the novel.

    There is, instead, a thread in the novel that seeks to discern “quality”: quality in a person’s character, “quality” in a person’s work, “quality” in intentions well conceived. In this, it contains echoes of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. But “The Goldfinch” is less introspective, less self-aware, less didactical. Its lessons about quality unfold as a subtext to the plot.

    A quote from “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”:
    “You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge.”

    The Goldfinch is an appropriate response to this koan.

    David Pittu’s narration is brilliant.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Police: A Harry Hole Novel, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (509)
    Performance
    (435)
    Story
    (437)

    The police urgently need Harry Hole…. A killer is stalking Oslo's streets. Police officers are being slain at the scenes of crimes they once investigated but failed to solve. The murders are brutal, the media reaction hysterical. But this time, Harry can't help.... For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His dedication to his job and his brilliant insights have saved the lives of countless people. But now, with those he loves most facing terrible danger, Harry is not in a position to protect anyone. Least of all himself...

    Charles Atkinson says: "Simply the Best Detective Series In any Language"
    "One too many"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I assume, if you are reading this review, that you are familiar with the Harry Hole detective series.

    If not, go back and get started with "The Bat". There is no noir like Nordic noir, and Jo Nesbo writes great Nordic noir. In my opinion, he is the best of the surprisingly large and productive group of modern, Scandinavian mystery writers,

    But if you are familiar with the Harry Hole series, proceed at you own risk. From an aesthetic perspective, the series should end with "The Phantom". By the end of that novel, Nesbo has wrought a Grecian tragedy and brought it to a perfect denouement. Unfortunately Nesbo, like Harry Hole, cannot stop, even when he knows he should; the result is a bit of a hangover.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

    • UNABRIDGED (66 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (292)
    Performance
    (237)
    Story
    (242)

    Robert Caro's monumental book makes public what few outsiders have known: that Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of our time in the City and in the State of New York. And in telling the Moses story, Caro both opens up to an unprecedented degree the way in which politics really happens - the way things really get done in America's City Halls and Statehouses - and brings to light a bonanza of vital new information.

    jeff says: "AMAZING read"
    "Too much detail, too little power."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As an historian, Robert Caro is comprehensive to a fault. From this exhaustive biography of Robert Moses to his multi-volume encyclopedia of the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Caro has shown an aptitude for assembling historical detail. And even for writing it down in relatively accessible, popular prose.

    But in my opinion, the real achievement of a great biographer is to sift through the welter of detail that make up the subject’s life, cull out the inconsequential minutiae, and distill the crucial material into an epiphany that illuminates the person’s life and explains the impact that it has had on ours.

    Robert Caro is capable of such biographical alchemy when he wants to be. In the introduction to this book, he does a good job of summarizing who Moses was, why he was important, and what was, or is, the essential fraudulence that mars his otherwise monumental life’s work. But once you start into the body of the book, Caro’s compulsion for detail, his inability to exscind trivia, wear heavily upon the reader’s patience.

    In the end, I believe that half the book could have been twice as compelling; If Caro had been willing to do the job of discriminating between fact and substance, and select the quintessence of Moses’ life from the quotidian episodes that make up every human life.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Age Of Innocence

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Edith Wharton
    • Narrated By Mary Sarah
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (68)

    Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in upper class New York City. Newland Archer, gentleman lawyer and heir to one of New York City's best families, is happily anticipating a highly desirable marriage to the sheltered and beautiful May Welland. Yet he finds reason to doubt his choice of bride after the appearance of Countess Ellen Olenska, May's exotic, beautiful 30-year-old cousin, who has been living in Europe. This novel won the first ever Pulitzer awarded to a woman.

    Kristi says: "Tale of unrequited love per society rules."
    "Less than the sum of its parts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my first Wharton novel, and it is not an easy one to critique. It is a well-crafted novel; one can enjoy the prose and lose sight of the fact that the story is rather formulaic, and the crises happen mostly off-stage, and the book continues too long beyond the emotional denoument.

    Wharton, like Wilde, writes brilliant sentences but doesn't quite manage to assemble them into a brilliant novel. I may read more of her, but it will be to enjoy her gem-quality prose, not for her storytelling.

    The production is substandard. Fault for this lies equally with the narrator and the producer. The narrator tends to hurry her reading too much, and the producer has allowed too many re-reads and awkwards pauses to remain in the final recording.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Rachel Joyce
    • Narrated By Jim Broadbent
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2878)
    Performance
    (2558)
    Story
    (2560)

    Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack is a letter addressed to Harold from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person.

    FanB14 says: "Wonderful Walkabout"
    "The Travelogue of J Alfred Prufrock detours..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The "Travelogue of J Alfred Prufrock" eventually detours into "Walk, Forest, Walk".

    In the first few chapters of this book, Rachel Joyce does a creditable job of evoking, with convincing verisimilitude, of a feckless, tepid, colorless, retiree who has occasion to examine and regret his uneventful life and frigid marriage. Reasonable prose, but this has been done with so much greater compressions and intensity by T.S. Elliot that I was inspired not so much to continue the novel (it took me months to complete), but rather to go back and revisit the poem.

    This being a novel rather than a poem, however, Harold Fry must shake off his melancholy and shamble toward some sort of redemption. And redemption is to be found in unconditional love. Forest Gump taught us that.

    Anyway, there is a redemption of sorts, and a message for those of us who, at a later stage of life when we have inevitably accumulated a heavy cargo of regrets, haven't given up on finding a reason to carry on. There is even a formulaic crisis or two which make for reliable drama and cathartic denoument.

    Jim Broadbent's narration is well done.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Tom Robbins
    • Narrated By Keith Szarabajka
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (787)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (196)

    In Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, the wise, witty, always gutsy Tom Robbins brings onstage the most complex and compelling character he has ever created. But to describe a Robbins plot does not begin to describe a Robbins novel - you must hear it for yourself! Browse other Tom Robbins at audible.com.

    Rupa says: "Wildly entertaining-excellent naration!"
    "Humor or Humanism"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If, as the cone-headed shaman "Today is Tomorrow" believes, humor is what separates us from the animals, then Tom Robbins is a great humanist. His novel is a superior farce that delivers outrageous absurdity and whimsical wit. It follows the central character, Switter, through a non-sequitur succession of non-sensical events and surreal aquaintances that are artifically constructed for their comic potential.

    But the burlesque is too absurd, the characers too whacko and the plot too preposterous for the book to provide great insight into the "human condition". Read if for Robbins' whimsical humor. Don't try to read great profundity into it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bless Me, Ultima

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Rudolfo Anaya
    • Narrated By Robert Ramirez
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (84)

    As Tony follows his own path toward adulthood, he relies on the wisdom of Ultima, a magical healer, to forge his unique identity. With hundreds of thousands of copies in print, Bless Me, Ultima has been called the most widely read Mexican-American novel in the English language. Richly evocative, it has earned its place among the classics of modern literature, even drawing favorable comparisons to Herman Melville's legendary Moby Dick.

    Clodhopper says: "Mysticism, Catholicism, Naturalism"
    "Mysticism, Catholicism, Naturalism"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the books that establishes the "mystic" tradition in Latino culture - along with Castaneda's Don Juan books. I've always thought that this aspect of Mexican/Mexican American culture is overemphasized. However, this book wraps the mysticism around an entertaining plot that builds slowly to a dramatic denoument. The ending binds up all of the book's spiritual themes into an epiphany of sorts. Certainly an essential part of any anthology onthe American Southwest.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1872)
    Performance
    (1149)
    Story
    (1155)

    In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn.

    S. Marie says: "A unique perspective of history"
    "Read your history before your historical fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a first person narrative from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, and he assumes you are familiar with life and politics in Tudor England of Henry VIII. Now, there are people who fill this requirement because they are fascinated by this period and have read every work of historical fiction about it. My mom is one such. But if you aren't, I recommend you read the wikepedia entries on Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and Thomas More.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Imperial Life in the Emerald City

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    Overall
    (552)
    Performance
    (237)
    Story
    (239)

    The Washington Post's former Baghdad bureau chief, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, takes us into the Green Zone, headquarters for the American occupation in Iraq. In this bubble separated from wartime realities, the task of reconstructing Iraq is in the hands of 20-somethings chosen for their Republican Party loyalty. They pursue irrelevant neoconservative solutions and pie-in-the-sky policies instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity, angering the locals and fueling the insurgency.

    Rick Grant says: "A stunning work and performance"
    "Devastating Indictment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think even the most passionate opponent of Operation Desert Freedom hoped that the Bush administration knew more than we did, or had thought things out deeper than we had, or had a plan we were not privy to. History has proven that none of that was true, and this book documents just how little preparation and thought preceded the military decision to invade.

    This book is a case history in the folly of trying to impose cultural values at the point of a gun. Of course the U.S. government should have known this was folly - the British empire had demonstrated it in the same region 80 years before. But perhaps nobody in the administration had read David Fromkin's "A Peace to End All Peace".

    Hopefully, both Fromkin's book and this one by Rajiv Chandrashekaran will be required reading for all future administrations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Charles Brandt
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (79)

    "I heard you paint houses" are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the walls and floors. In the course of nearly five years of recorded interviews Frank Sheeran confessed to Charles Brandt that he handled more than 25 hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa.

    Grace Azul says: "Don't give up!"
    "The final word on Hoffa and Kennedy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK, I don't know whether Frank Sheeran's versions of the Kennedy assassination and the Hoffa disappearance are factual. But they are both more plausible and more titilating than most of the alternative theories I have heard. And they are told with such conviction, and so much detail, that I have decided to believe them. Now I don't have to sit through Oliver Stone's tedious speculations. Sheeran has told us what happened, and that's "the way it is".

    Brandt co-writes Sheeran's inside story his life in the Mob, and provides historical backdrop to explain the history of the Mob and Teamsters within the context of national politics inthe mid-20th century. Much more than just a personal journal of a gangster.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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