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Robert

Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

Yamhill, OR, United States | Member Since 2009

3787
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 214 reviews
  • 366 ratings
  • 926 titles in library
  • 69 purchased in 2014
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  • The Once and Future King

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By T. H. White
    • Narrated By Neville Jason
    Overall
    (1428)
    Performance
    (1196)
    Story
    (1197)

    The complete "box set" of T. H. White's epic fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. The novel is made up of five parts: "The Sword in the Stone", "The Witch in the Wood", "The Ill-Made Knight", "The Candle in the Wind", and "The Book of Merlyn".

    Robert says: "My favorite book this year."
    "My favorite book this year."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I read reviewers write, “the best book I have ever read,” I thought yeah right! ‘must not have read many books. Well, I have read a fair bit myself and this is definitely one of the best written books I have ever read. I believe it is a book that one can read and reread and enjoy over and over and find something new in each reading of it. Not to be redundant, it is also one of the most fun and funniest I have ever read. It is a scholarly and even literary work, if you will. And yet, at the same time, the book is totally enchanting, witty and charming.

    The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table arose in the early Middle Ages, when England was just beginning to come under the influence of Christianity. When anyone retells the story, the author brings his own perspective to the tale of chivalry. Here T.H. White often appears to use the education of the young king Wart by Merlyn to educate the reader. While not in so many words, or maybe it is that: Merlin is a time-traveler. Not so much in the context of some science fiction novel but in his memory. Merlin is aware of past, present and the future. Certainly the author is aware of those times and uses those temporal events to tell his story. The book is in many ways a critique of mid-twentieth-century British culture. At first, things seem somewhat anachronistic but then we see that the narrator regularly references events and people in modern times to help tell his tale even more effectively.

    Both T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings were written in the shadow of World War II, and both reflect that context to some extent:

    “No. There is one fairly good reason for fighting - and that is, if the other man starts it. You see, wars are a wickedness, perhaps the greatest wickedness of a wicked species. They are so wicked that they must not be allowed. When you can be perfectly certain that the other man started them, then is the time when you might have a sort of duty to stop him.” (Merlyn)

    Not only is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King full of anachronistic references to places and events of modern times, but it also plays fast and loose with time within the framework of the novel itself. Given the references to the death of Uther Pendragon in 1216 and the appearance of Thomas Malory at the end of the story, Arthur would have lived from 1201-1485. In effect, what White does is telescope almost three hundred years of English history and social development into the backdrop of a single narrative.

    The book is long. But multiple versions of the story of King Arthur are considered within its covers so how short can it be? No, this is the best of several interpretations of the legend and it is not too long. While much of the book’s ending dwells on allegory, philosophy and social commentary, it is done with and eloquence and prose that is hard to compare with.

    One of the young reviewers of this book that I found tried to figure out the audience for for whom the author intended and concluded there were many. I agree:

    For children and young adults-
    “I have been thinking ... about Might and Right. I don’t think things ought to be done because you are able to do them. I think they should be done because you ought to do them.” (Arthur). One of the central themes of the book is War: Right and Might.

    On one level, both Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and T.H.
    White’s The Once and Future King are children’s stories, yet both novels contain very
    serious social commentary clearly intended for adults. Who could argue though that the social satire found in these novels detracts too much from the ability of children to enjoy them. Could a child appreciate all that is contained within TOaFK? Certainly not. However, there are many stories in this legend and many that target the child in all of us. One need not read this entire book though I am sure a lust will always remain to do so.

    No reviewer could possibly do justice to this book. How about some more of the author’s own words:

    On Wisdom-
    “The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never
    fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then - to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” (Merlyn)

    This is a story about great compassion-
    “If I were made a knight ..., I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, a Hob does with
    his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.” (Wart)

    The author writes a great deal about the evolution of man-
    “Here, all you embryos, come here with your beaks and whatnots to look upon Our first
    Man. He is the only one who has guessed Our riddle, out of all of you, and We have great pleasure in conferring upon him the Order of Dominion over the Fowls of the Air, and the Beasts of the Earth, and the Fishes of the Sea. Now let the rest of you get along, and love and multiply, for it is time to knock off for the weekend. As for you, Man, you will be a naked tool all your life, though a user of tools. You will look like an embryo till they bury you, but all the others will be embryos before your might. Eternally undeveloped, you will always remain potential in Our image, able to see some of Our sorrows and to feel some of Our joys. We are partly sorry for you, Man, but partly hopeful.” (Badger)

    Much is written about human morality-
    “Morals ... are a form of insanity. Give me a moral man who insists on doing the right
    things all the time, and I will show you a tangle which an angel couldn’t get out of.” (Lionel)

    This title actually includes Books 1-5 of T.H. White’s magnum opus. It is not so much about world-building per se though there is enough of that. The book is more about us as humans and our nature... our intellectual, psychological, social and even political nature. The book is philosophical, satirical with even a little theology thrown in. Not too much; just the right amount. If it is action that ye seek, knockdown, drag out fighting, best look elsewhere. This is one more about relationships and different kinds of heroes.

    This is brilliant storytelling brilliantly read and performed. The narration by Neville Jason is as good as it gets. I could not recommend a book more highly.

    93 of 95 people found this review helpful
  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Robin McKinley
    • Narrated By Charlotte Parry
    Overall
    (190)
    Performance
    (177)
    Story
    (181)

    New York Times best-selling author Robin McKinley has won numerous awards for her writing, including the prestigious Newbery Medal. Though her two sisters are beautiful, Beauty, despite her name, is thin and awkward - but she's also courageous. So when her father makes a terrible promise to a Beast living in an enchanted castle, Beauty knows she must volunteer to be the Beast's prisoner.

    Cybele Bell says: "she's really quite a perfect reader"
    "Watch the movie; go to the musical; avoid the book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I finished this book searching and hoping for something redeeming at least in the ending. I never found it.

    The book could easily have been written by an above average high school student.

    Okay, only three words so as not to waste any more time on this book:
    Silly, Simplistic, Uninspired.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Helene Wecker
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3010)
    Performance
    (2770)
    Story
    (2771)

    Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

    Tango says: "Enchanting Debut Novel - Delicious!"
    "I loved the story, the writing and the narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is probably the most enjoyable book I have read/listened to all year and the year is 2/3 complete. For those among us who gravitate to fantasy, this is certainly that. For those looking for something quite unique this is that also. For those among the hopeless romantics, you have come home. I loved everything about this book: the story, its depth and its ending. And narrated by George Guidall; what more could one ask for?

    The nature of my world these days has caused me to cut back on the number of reviews that I am able to write. But I just have to share what I find to be the truly wonderful books I come across and this is one of them.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (48 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8334)
    Performance
    (7892)
    Story
    (7921)

    In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war.

    D says: "Book !!; no let down- "Words of Radieance" shines"
    "A page-turner"
    Overall
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    Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. His development of unique characters, worlds and systems-of-magic are perhaps for many of us without parallel in modern writing. It is in the actual writing that I am sometimes left frustrated. The story-telling is superb and keeps me coming back there's no question about it. I finished the book in less than a week and that after spending the previous week reading Book 1. Every available and non-sleeping moment was spent with the book. But there was always something missing... something that said this is still just not a literary work. Maybe it just seemed to me to be a bit too commercial. But Sanderson is young and I have no doubt that his writing will mature even more and I will come to a completely different conclusion about his place in history and the body of works considered great literature.

    The production and narration by two premier narrators was excellent.

    22 of 30 people found this review helpful
  • The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Marti Olsen Laney, PsyD
    • Narrated By Tamara Marston
    Overall
    (563)
    Performance
    (495)
    Story
    (489)

    The Introvert Advantage dispels common myths about introverts - they’re not necessarily shy, aloof, or antisocial - and explains how they are hardwired from birth to focus inward, so outside stimulation such as chitchat, phone calls, parties, or office meetings can easily become "too much". Most importantly, it thoroughly refutes many introverts’ belief that something is wrong with them. Instead, it helps them recognize their inner strengths - their analytical skills, ability to think outside the box, and strong powers of concentration.

    Robert says: "Read the book Quiet instead"
    "Read the book Quiet instead"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you were to read one book on the subject of introversion, I would highly recommend Quiet. The book was superlative. The Introvert Advantage communicates many of the same tenets as Quiet just not as completely or entertainingly.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • 14

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12091)
    Performance
    (10982)
    Story
    (11009)

    There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

    Magpie says: "Super solid listen!!"
    "The stars say it all."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book has been around and promoted for a while now. I've seen and been tempted but not so much till it went on sale. While I think it was worth the sale price, it was not worth my time. I was tempted to quit in a number of places but continued to hope it would somehow redeem itself. It didn't.

    The book has almost 1000 ratings on Audible and over 4 stars. I don't get it. I thought the book was silly, trivial and uninspired. You can read what the book was about and why others liked it elsewhere. But for me, I'm done.

    19 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By C. S. Forester
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (703)
    Performance
    (614)
    Story
    (616)

    The year is 1793, the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, and Horatio Hornblower, a 17-year-old boy unschooled in seafaring and the ways of seamen, is ordered to board a French merchant ship and take command of crew and cargo for the glory of England. Though not an unqualified success, this first naval adventure teaches the young midshipman enough to launch him on a series of increasingly glorious exploits.

    Emrys says: "Superb narration of a great story"
    "A wonderful classic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was one great book. I loved every minute of it. Sure there were nautical terms bandied about (it's a book about the Royal Navy) and a awareness of these terms can help in its enjoyment but such knowledge is not essential. At first I thought this was a coming-of-age story and in some respects it is. And, while it could be classified as YA, this story has something for everyone. The actor/narrator Christian Rodska takes the book to a whole other dimension. His voices for all of the characters seem spot on.

    The book is truly exciting, touching and hilarious. I highly recommend it. I loved it.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Leonard Mlodinow
    • Narrated By Sean Pratt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2647)
    Performance
    (1572)
    Story
    (1548)

    In this irreverent and illuminating audiobook, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, chance, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious causes, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.

    Joshua Kim says: "Very Very Smart"
    "Interested in statistics? This is the book."
    Overall
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    You’re presented with three doors. Behind one door is a car and behind the other two doors are goats. Sound familiar? It is. You pick door number one. Instead of opening your choice, Monty opens door number two and reveals a goat. He then asks you if you wish to keep what’s behind your original choice (door one) or change your mind to door number three. If you think it makes no difference whether you switch or not and that your odds are 50/50 either way, you might be surprised at the answer and enjoy reading this book. If you are surprised by the answer to this ridiculously simple challenge, you’re in for a plethora of awakenings about the assumptions we make of the numbers and statistics we hear in our daily lives.

    Peppered with charm and wit; wonderfully read by Sean Pratt, I would highly recommend this title to anyone interested in a history of the development of statistics. Books about numbers are especially not easy ones to listen to but Sean Pratt reads this one at just the right pace and with just the right inflections to make listening to and learning from The Drunkard’s Walk totally accessible. I will often read two or three books at a time. This one, however, was just so captivating, it monopolized my complete attention. But then I’m a nerd and that too might be a requirement for truly enjoying this title.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Speed of Dark

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Moon
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (359)
    Performance
    (195)
    Story
    (197)

    In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They will be made active and contributing members of society. But they will never be normal.

    Andrew says: "Totally Recommended!"
    "A lot to like"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There was a lot to like about this book. I felt it was original having been written in the 1st person with a protagonist who is autistic. My understanding is that the author has personal experience with a family member who is autistic and we can probably rely on its authenticity. Thinking and speaking from the perspective of one who is autistic was for me sometimes painful. I wanted to give up on the book at times. But I could not, which must say something for the book in itself.

    From the aforementioned perspective, the book is quite simple. And this is not meant in any kind of derogatory sense in that respect. If most of us were more simple not only in how we view and feel about the world but also in how we relate about those things to others, there might be fewer misunderstandings among us. I think that the strongest aspect of the book is its ability to really get inside the head of the protagonist and help us to feel what he must have been feeling especially in his frustration with "normal" people. And truly, he was much more normal if not more ideal than many of us who do not carry the label of autistic.

    I believe that the book deserved a better plot. The plot seemed almost too trivial given the nature of the subject material. The ending was not what I expected and it seemed too short. Further, I have to think that in the end, I would not have chosen for myself what the protagonist chose for himself. Perhaps the book was deeper than I thought and I might have missed something. But I don't think so.

    I'd liked to have given the book a 3.5 stars rating but since I could not, and because for me it was quite original, I gave it 4 overall.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing, or, Getting Things Done by Putting Them Off

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 48 mins)
    • By John Perry
    • Narrated By Brian Holsopple
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (440)
    Performance
    (390)
    Story
    (389)

    John Perry’s insights and laugh-out-loud humor bring to mind Thurber, Wodehouse, and Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. This charming and accessible audio educates, entertains, and illuminates a universal subject. Procrastinators will be relieved to learn that you can actually accomplish quite a lot while procrastinating. In fact, the book itself is the result of Perry avoiding grading papers, refereeing academic proposals, and reviewing dissertation drafts. It also has a practical side, offering up advice that listeners can put to use.

    LongerILiveLessIKnow says: "Great read for a time-management nerd like me."
    "Not even if you have nothing else to do..."
    Overall
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    I think many of us are sometimes either encouraged to purchase or dissuaded from reading a book by a publisher’s summary. I know that I can be influenced by them. Like most things in life we are trying to decide about, we search for support of our position to do something that we are leaning toward such as purchasing a book. We use these summaries as well as the reviews of others to give us that little extra nudge to hit that “Add to Cart” button. In deciding to purchase The Art of Procrastination..., I believe that I was totally misled by the summary and in disagreement with most of the reviewers. This book was one of the smallest wastes of time I can imagine.

    The book was one of the smallest wastes of time only because it was so short. I finished it in one round trip drive to and from a work assignment. Thank goodness I didn’t waste that time doing something that required my full attention... or... maybe I did. There’s continuing debate about whether we can safely multitask while driving. Though the book certainly was not so profound as to draw my attention away from the road. It was not so laugh-out-loud funny as to cause my eyes to tear up and obstruct my vision of the road. It was not so wise as to cause me to ponder and plumb its depths and unconsciously and dangerously change lanes. Not once did I think of Thurber, Wodehouse, or Harry Frankfurt’s *On Bullshit* though there was plenty of dung to conjure those thoughts and be analogous to the contents of this book along the country roads of my drive. The book was not for me at all insightful, charming or witty. It did not entertain, educate or illuminate.

    I can only conclude that the author is, as he claims to be, the consummate procrastinator: Anything else the author might have had to do and that he put off doing, had to be more important than writing this book. If you are looking to procrastinate, justify and avoid doing something else more important then read or listen to this book. But I can promise you that almost anything else that you do instead will be more rewarding. If your wish is to discontinue your procrastinating, you will find no insights here: avoid it.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • The Tao of Pooh

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Benjamin Hoff
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (765)
    Performance
    (684)
    Story
    (680)

    Author Benjamin Hoff shows that the philosophy of Winnie-the-Pooh is amazingly consistent with the principles of Taoism and demonstrates how you can use these principles in your daily life. Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist's favorite food is honey.

    Gavin says: "Simply Pooh"
    "Wonderful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a wonderful little book. I have a hard copy but with Simon Vance doing the narrating and being on sale, I could not resist the audio version. This may not be a book for everyone. Taoism is probably a rather arcane subject for the uninitiated. For those who have delved its depths or even those who have not but have an interest in the subject, this is a great little primer. The book is simple and deep at the same time (yin and yang). It is both serious and humorous. The narration is impeccable.

    If you are interested in further reading on the subject, for the original Tao Te Ching, I would highly recommend the translation by Stephen Mitchell who is also the narrator and available on Audible.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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