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Chris Baldwin

Atlanta, GA | Member Since 2010

3
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 76 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2014
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  • The Glass Castle: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Jeannette Walls
    • Narrated By Jeannette Walls
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (943)
    Performance
    (695)
    Story
    (698)

    Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination. Rose Mary painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family; she called herself an "excitement addict."

    Elisabeth says: "Like peeping through your fingers at a car wreck"
    "Not as good as I expected..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made The Glass Castle better?

    I had heard rave reviews about this book. Granted, the author overcame some big obstacles in life, but in general I found the story and the writing to be sophomoric. It read more like an oral recounting of a number of stories pieced together. Some were entertaining but on the whole, I found the book pointless and laborious.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Pearl

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Hector Elizondo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (105)
    Story
    (107)

    In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy. For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems.

    karen says: "Steinbeck."
    "Extremely poignant; incredible listen."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The Pearl rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In my top 5.


    What other book might you compare The Pearl to and why?

    Comparable to "Of Mice and Men" in length... but faster, more intense, more gripping.


    What about Hector Elizondo’s performance did you like?

    Perfect voice & narration for this story -- low and under-produced, yet mysterious, quick, and forceful... great complement to The Pearl.


    Any additional comments?

    I generally like to get a lot of audio hours for my credit... so I wasn't sure it'd be worth it to purchase a book that was 2 hours and change. I was wrong. Gripping book... listens much like a thriller. Classic Steinbeck. The same way "East of Eden" navigates the unspoken rhythms of brothers and fathers, "The Pearl" spotlights the same between husbands and wives... though in a more succinct, more frenetic manner. Riveting listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Defiant: The POWs Who Endured Vietnam's Most Infamous Prison, the Women Who Fought for Them, and the One Who Never Returned

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Alvin Townley
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    The story of the indomitable American POWs who endured "Alcatraz," the Hanoi prison camp where North Vietnam locked up its most dangerous and subversive prisoners, and the wives who fought to bring them home. As these men suffered in Hanoi, their wives launched an extraordinary campaign that would ultimately spark the POW/MIA movement. When the survivors finally returned, one would receive the Medal of Honor, another became a U.S. Senator, and a third still serves in Congress.

    Chris Baldwin says: "A Story Every American Needs to Know"
    "A Story Every American Needs to Know"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    Excellent narration. Narrator's voice was pleasing & easy to hear. Inserted some character inflections from time-to-time but at no point did the narrator try to 'compete' with the story itself. I would be happy to listen to another novel by this narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    For all the attention that has been showered upon WWII POW's (and rightly so), few Americans are as familiar with the narratives of Vietnam POW's. This book brings to life their stories in compelling and heart-wrenching fashion. It is a hard listen but an exceptional one. Equally as compelling are the stories of the POW's wives, who launched the POW / MIA movement in response to their husbands' captures and poor treatment. The author does a great job of interweaving these stories in a telling and timely manner. Extremely well-researched and extremely well-written account.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Of Mice and Men

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Gary Sinise
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (739)
    Performance
    (637)
    Story
    (639)

    While the powerlessness of the laboring class is a recurring theme in Steinbeck’s work of the late 1930s, he narrowed his focus when composing Of Mice and Men (1937), creating an intimate portrait of two men facing a world marked by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness. But though the scope is narrow, the theme is universal: a friendship and shared dream that make an individual’s existence meaningful.

    Jenny says: "The reader alone is worth it"
    "Sad, Sad, Sad.... but Excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What does Gary Sinise bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Sinise started a little slow (not sure how many readings he's done). Judged simply on the merits of the narration, there are certainly superior audiobook narrators. But once the character development and dialogue began, Sinise really began to shine. HIs character voices for this work were phenomenal -- some of the best I've heard on Audible. By the end of the novel, I was sold on Sinise even more than before (which is saying something).


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

    So, so sad. Think "Where the Red Fern Grows" or "Old Yeller" or some of those novels you read in elementary school. It is heart-breaking on many levels... but you still have to read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Winter's Tale

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Mark Helprin
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (539)
    Performance
    (359)
    Story
    (367)

    One night, Peter Lake - orphan, master-mechanic, and master second-story man - attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the affair between the middle-aged Irish burglar and Beverly Penn, a young girl who is dying. Because of a love that at first he cannot fully understand, Peter, a simple and uneducated man, will be driven "to stop time and bring back the dead".

    David says: "Great book and narrator - bad technical glitch"
    "I wanted to like this book...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I had heard good things about Helprin and perhaps I started with the wrong novel... but Winter's Tale was a wholesale letdown for me. Although the plot begins with modest promise, the character development is scattered and/or non-existent. Ten hours into the work, I find myself indifferent to the plight of any of the characters. The tone is frenetic. In some instances, it resembles a children's tale, penned with the same idealism and yearning you may find in a 'Chronicles of Narnia'. But then the lily-white protagonist beds-down with a home burglar for a one-night stand and any parallel to Lewis is lost for me. At the same time, the writing is far too whimsical & detached to be taken seriously as a novel or an epic. All sense of context was lost on me.

    I am generally open to most Audible narrators, and even if one may not be my favorite, I can adapt to their pacing and cadence after a few hours. I wish I could have said the same for Oliver Wyman. His voice is high and felt affected throughout, as if he were reading for a 30-second television spot as opposed to a 30-hour novel. A lot of forced emphasis.

    At this time of this review, Winter's Tale has a 3.7 rating on Audible, so it's obvious that others have enjoyed. I, for one, would bypass.

    p.s. in full disclosure, I did listen to this book after completing East of Eden, which is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard... tough to follow that one!

    1 of 2 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
    (1968)
    Performance
    (1035)
    Story
    (1037)

    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"
    "Gateway Drug to Follett"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Follett has a true gift for weaving together compelling stories. Eye of the Needle is shorter than his other works but equally as adroit at developing characters and building plot. If you didn't want to tackle a monolith like Pillars of the Earth, this might be a more palatable introduction to Follett. He does such a great job of taking you into the mind and emotions of each character, such that you identify with and empathize with the villains as much as the protagonists (mark of a great storyteller!). My only criticism with this performance was the narrator's pace. For the first half of the novel, it seemed as though he were speed-reading (almost as if nervous). I wanted him to slow down so that I could savor the writing a little more. Fortunately, his pace slowed as the book progressed. An excellent listen -- definitely a good use of a credit!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Kitchen House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kathleen Grissom
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6728)
    Performance
    (4705)
    Story
    (4690)

    Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

    B.J. says: "Good, but with reservations"
    "Why all the rave reviews?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I read a number of great reviews about this book before purchasing but was underwhelmed. The story was slow, lethargic, and depressing, as was the reader's voice. Put me to sleep while driving. I would not recommend this one...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 1861: The Civil War Awakening

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Adam Goodheart
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (616)
    Performance
    (450)
    Story
    (453)

    As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of our defining national drama, 1861 presents a gripping and original account of how the Civil War began. 1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents' faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal.

    James says: "Fascinating."
    "This bored the tar out of me...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I generally enjoy books such as these but had to stop listening 1/4 of the way through. It was just dry... informative, but dry.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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