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Nezar

Listener Since 2008

13
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 43 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2014
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  • A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Reza Kahlili
    • Narrated By Richard Allen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (275)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (207)

    A true story as exhilarating as a great spy thriller, as turbulent as today's headlines from the Middle East, A Time to Betray reveals what no other previous CIA operative's memoir possibly could: the inner workings of the notorious Revolutionary Guards of Iran, as witnessed by an Iranian man inside their ranks who spied for the American government.

    Walter says: "Absorbing throughout. Questionable at times."
    "You've Got to Trusht Me.. Blindly!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about A Time to Betray?

    Aside from the fact that it is hard to believe a spy - a professional liar (since we simply signed an unspoken pact of trust with him the moment we purchased the book), the author's motivation for spying, and other actions were simply ridiculous and he volunteers to highlight such ridicule by grave contradictions.

    First, he says he's chosen to spy for the CIA so that America would save his country from its regime, something some would believe; but when he's offered a salary, instead of rejecting it defiantly and with hurt dignity, he just accepts. Just like that. But to be honest, he did say that money was not his motivation when he was offered the first bonus payment, that's before accepting it on the CIA agent's encouraging words, "Take it, it's yours, you deserve it." Oh, and he didn't it say it out loud, it was an inner dialogue but the clever agent felt his struggle that he couldn't express with a single dignified word (after all, who knows how those agents take such words? She might have apologized, taken back the money, and thanked him for his free work to save his country. But we, the good readers, wouldn't do so, would we? No, we trust an honest spy working for the Iranian government's guards on one side and the CIA on the other, for a pay.)

    Now, what about those who though that the idea of seeking help from the US to bring democracy was a stale joke in the first place - those who know its black history of supporting tyrants, imperialism, and unchangeable own interest-driven policies? Like who? Well, like the author himself. At one point he admits that the "foreign policy of the US 'sent mixed signals'" (now that's one good romantic expression.) Yet, while many people made the conclusion that the US will not really scramble to set things right in Iran, our good spy made a different one which nothing could shake, not covert negotiations and support at least.

    I can go on like this listing situations where the author blandly shows his disrespect for the reader's intelligence.

    There other nice coincidences as well to entertain. The guard who was suspicious about the author dies on their trip to the front right after the author finds out that he started digging. The other guard, the author's boss, whom he finally confronted of his despise for the regime, gets assassinated by an anti government group, while driving his car with the author riding beside him. Luckily, the author, who works for the same establishment, walks out of this unscathed, although the car stopped and the motorcycle-riding assassins could have just walked to him and shot him there. Phew! That was close.
    And no, the author didn't wonder for a second about this, so I guess this means we shouldn't either.



    An important point to ponder is that the author is a Shiite Muslim as almost all Iranians. Shiites changed a lot in the original Islamic beliefs and are considered non-Muslims by original Muslim scholars (it's hard to have faith in a religion that speaks of a human being trapped in a tunnel for hundreds of years and built on the foundation that he will return.) The author mentions several of such horrific and bloody beliefs (like raping female prisoners before executing them to prevent them from going to heaven) but it should be understood that this is not Islam. While he keeps saying that this is not true Islam, he means only fanaticism, which is wrong in all religions. But at the same time, he attempts to twist some righteous beliefs, like martyrdom, which is respected even aside from religion, for one's country for instance, to show it as brainwash.

    All in all, I found the book to be far from believable and more of a CIA propaganda against Iran, although the foundations for Iran's atrocities are there, but it is hard to discern the truth from the lies with the above contradictions and irrationalities so stark.

    Note:
    For the audiobook, the narration was fine. The narrator used a heavy accent to impersonate the character and seemed to be a Persian speaker as well.


    What could Reza Kahlili have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    He could have respected my intelligence, for one.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Richard Allen?

    Yes


    What character would you cut from A Time to Betray?

    Reza himself


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Symphonies of Beethoven

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Greenberg
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    Ludwig van Beethoven is justifiably acclaimed as one of the most revered composers in the history of Western music-a genius once characterized as a "Titan, wrestling with the gods." There is no better way for you to understand the full impact of that description than to not only listen to all nine of his magnificent symphonies, but to do so with a full understanding of what this great composer was saying and the circumstances that drove him up to and beyond what had once been considered the limits of musical expression.

    Nezar says: "A Great Course with a Great Caveat"
    "A Great Course with a Great Caveat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Robert Greenberg?

    Yes


    What did you like best about this story?

    Prof. Greenberg's style is passionate and humorous which makes the course quite enjoyable. His explanations are good.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Robert Greenberg – was your favorite?

    N/A


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Symphonies of Beethoven?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    A great caveat is that Audible does not offer the word scores Prof. Greenberg uses heavily in this course and which are described in the very beginning as of great importance to understand the course. Not only that, but the professor skips some parts, due to lack of time, instructing the listeners to read those parts in the word scores!

    When I complained, Audible said that 'The Great Courses company said the word scores are not important' and 'you can return the book if you didn't like it', which doesn't work for me because there is information in it that I need, but I also need the rest of it. When I contacted The Great Courses company they offered to sell me the hard copy of the word scores!

    The question now is: Why doesn't Audible mention clearly that these courses come without the word scores that are given great importance by the instructor? And why doesn't it strike a deal with that company to sell the word scores and add their prices to the books'?

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Rebecca

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Daphne du Maurier
    • Narrated By Anna Massey
    Overall
    (853)
    Performance
    (623)
    Story
    (631)

    After a whirlwind romance and a honeymoon in Italy, the innocent young heroine and the dashing Maxim de Winter return to his country estate, Manderley. But the unsettling memory of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter, still lingers within. The timid bride must overcome her husband's oppressive silences and the sullen history of the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, to confront the emotional horrors of the past.

    P. Wade Thompson says: "A Great Listen"
    "A Different Perspective of the Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The only negative point about the performance is the audio quality, which is attributed to the old recording. If you give yourself some time you can easily get over this and enjoy the listen. Well, I, for one, did. The narrator is actually very good if not excellent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Visible Man: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Chuck Klosterman
    • Narrated By Annabella Sciorra, Scott Shepherd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (124)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (108)

    Therapist Victoria Vick is contacted by a cryptic, unlikable man who insists his situation is unique and unfathomable. Vick becomes convinced that he suffers from a complex set of delusions: Y__, as she refers to him, claims to be a scientist who has stolen cloaking technology from an aborted government project in order to render himself nearly invisible. Unsure of his motives or honesty, Vick becomes obsessed with her patient....

    Amanda says: "Hillarious & Disturbing In (almost) Equal Measure"
    "Different and Deep"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Visible Man again? Why?

    Yes. The style is engaging and the performance is perfect.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Both characters were drawn with care.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Listening Is an Act of Love

    • ABRIDGED (55 mins)
    • By Dave Isay
    • Narrated By Dave Isay
    Overall
    (1546)
    Performance
    (1291)
    Story
    (1302)

    Drawn from the work of StoryCorps, the largest and most ambitious private oral history project in American history, comes this tapestry of the stories Americans have been sharing from their lives to leave behind to their loved ones.

    Debra says: "Touching"
    "Stop and Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Listening Is an Act of Love in three words, what would they be?

    Humane, sincere, and touching


    What did you like best about this story?

    The idea, the spontaneity despite the staging, and the topics addressed


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The soldier who narrated how he killed a young good looking German soldier and how this affected him all his life


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Child

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By John Hart
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1040)
    Performance
    (419)
    Story
    (409)

    his most powerful and intricately-plotted novel yet. Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: happy parents and a twin sister that meant the world to him. But Alyssa went missing a year ago, stolen off the side of a lonely street with only one witness to the crime. His family shattered, his sister presumed dead, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown in a last, desperate search.

    Christine says: "Stick With It!"
    "The Universal Book of Cliches"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Those who can bear banality and cliche-riddled writing.


    What could John Hart have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Given it to a better author.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Scott Sowers?

    While Mr. Sowers admittedly did a not-so-good job with the narration, no narrator could have been able to lift this kind of writing off the ground.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Last Child?

    First, last (which I didn't reach as I couldn't bear to finish the book), and whatever is in between.


    Any additional comments?

    Almost every phrase and word had been used before millions of times. This is an incredible work of collecting cliches, indeed. Hart goes further to create cliched characters and events. This is a remake of remakes of dozen other low class movies.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sense of an Ending: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Julian Barnes
    • Narrated By Richard Morant
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (763)
    Performance
    (644)
    Story
    (648)

    Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumor, and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

    Chris Reich says: "Stunning. I'm Guilty. Are You?"
    "Intricate exploration of the deep human self"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Sense of an Ending in three words, what would they be?

    Cunningly and painfully insightful


    What did you like best about this story?

    The structure. Barnes plays the same tricks of the human psyche on the reader touching deeply and devilishly into it.


    What about Richard Morant’s performance did you like?

    Beautiful. While I would have loved a change of voice for each character, the somber one voice he read with has its charm and goes along with the novel's mood.


    If you could rename The Sense of an Ending, what would you call it?

    Remembering to Forget


    Any additional comments?

    The novel is short, yet is packed with a whole world of emotions and quite some surprises. The writing is wonderful and the insights are deep and invigorating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Moloka’i

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Alan Brennert
    • Narrated By Anne Noelani Miyamoto
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (730)
    Performance
    (555)
    Story
    (550)

    The powerful debut novel from Alan Brennert, Moloka’i tells the story of Rachel Kalama, a seven-year-old Hawaiian girl who contracts leprosy and is quarantined on the island of Moloka’i during the 1890s. Separated from her family and forced to grow up in the leper colony of Kalaupapa, Rachel experiences intense isolation. But she remains strong, finding moments of joy, and even love. Rich in Hawaiian history, this novel proves itself a stellar piece of historical fiction.

    Blaine says: "Unexpected Jewel"
    "Classically Touching"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. The book is quite touching and the writing is good. The narration is very good as well.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The expansive exploration of hard human emotions while keeping the rhythm


    What does Anne Noelani Miyamoto bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The native touch


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I did! No details, though. Sorry! :)


    Any additional comments?

    While the form is quite classical, the writer managed to keep a good grip on me and have me enjoy the novel. He managed as well to keep the structure from sagging despite the long timeline he is dealing with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By John C. Maxwell
    • Narrated By John C. Maxwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (488)
    Performance
    (416)
    Story
    (400)

    True leadership isn't a matter of having a certain job or title. In fact, being chosen for a position is only the first of the five levels every effective leader achieves. To become more than "the boss" people follow only because they are required to, you have to master the ability to invest in people and inspire them. To grow further in your role, you must achieve results and build a team that produces. You need to help people to develop their skills to become leaders in their own right. And if you have the skill and dedication, you can reach the pinnacle of leadership....

    Stephanie says: "Relevant and Applicable"
    "Valuable content calling for good writer/narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    At several moments, yes. However, it is far from amusing. This is some sort of a bitter medicine. The writer's style is poor and repetitive and you will sometimes feel yourself drowned in the many bullet/number points that will feel lost. Certainly the book could use a lot of editing in this regard.

    The only thing that's worse that the writing style is the narration style. As a start, Maxwell seems to have some sinus problem or chronic cold that is causing his m's and n's to be muffled, not to mention the ever existing veil on most of the other letters. Moreover, he has quite an annoying way of narration, especially his


    Has The 5 Levels of Leadership turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes


    Would you be willing to try another one of John C. Maxwell’s performances?

    No way!


    Did The 5 Levels of Leadership inspire you to do anything?

    Yes, to find a more concise and to-the-point book that is well written and narrated.


    Any additional comments?

    Please, if you can't have the book re-written, the least you owe your listeners is to have other narrators read it. Please!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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