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David

Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

Houston, TX, United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
467
REVIEWS
148
FOLLOWING
13
FOLLOWERS
299
HELPFUL VOTES
1093

  • The Woodcutter

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Reginald Hill
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1125)
    Performance
    (825)
    Story
    (820)

    Wolf Hadda's life was a fairytale - successful businessman and adored husband. But a knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later Wolf begins to talk to the prison psychiatrist and receives parole to return home. But there's a mysterious period in Wolf's past when he was known as the Woodcutter. Now the Woodcutter is back, looking for truth and revenge...

    Diana says: "One of my favorite Reginald Hill books!"
    "You are in good hands"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Some reviewers have suggested that the book gets stronger as it goes along. I actually felt just the opposite. I had not read any Reginald Hill before, but after only a few minutes of listening it was obvious that I was in the hands of a master storyteller. His unobtrusively artful use of language, the subtle brush strokes he used to paint his characters and the effortless way in which he moved through the exposition allowed me to relax and settle in to enjoy what was obviously going to be a fascinating and exciting ride. This impression was only reinforced by Jonathan Keeble's extraordinarily fine vocal rendering of both the characters and the narrative.

    Nor did I, like some other reviewers, feel the book went on for too long. It continued to keep me fully engaged all the way to the last word. My only complaint is that it did begin to feel somewhat more contrived and "slick" as the plot wound to its conclusion. Sometimes even a little obvious. And the literally "bodice ripping" climax (no pun intended here) could have come straight out of the pages of a modern Gothic romance. No question that it was powerful and shocking, but it was also jarring and incongruous in a book which had been so seamless and convincing up to that point.

    That said, Hill was such a fine writer and this was such a ripping good tale for most of its length that I could forgive much. I had a great time listening and I think most others will as well.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • As the Crow Flies: A Walt Longmire Mystery, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Craig Johnson
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1326)
    Performance
    (1166)
    Story
    (1158)

    Craig Johnson has won multiple awards and earned starred reviews from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews for his New York Times best-selling Walt Longmire mysteries. Embarking on his eighth adventure in As the Crow Flies, Sheriff Longmire is searching the Cheyenne Reservation for a site to host his daughter’s wedding, when he sees a woman fall to her death. Teaming up with beautiful tribal chief Lolo Long, Walt sets out to investigate the suspicious death.

    B.J. says: "Simply one of my favorite series."
    "Low voltage cousin to Burke?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The setting and central character of C. Johnson's Longmire series invite comparison with James Lee Burke's recent books set in Montana. Both authors evoke landscape and local culture with deft brush strokes which contribute not only vivid visual images but also a sometimes haunting sense of milieu which actively drives the story. Both law officers are Vietnam era vets who have evolved into men who possess tremendous charisma rooted in a wisdom and gentleness born of tragedy, loss and recovery. Both are surrounded by an engaging cast of characters who become more interesting and "real" with each book. Both mine rich veins of mysticism at times in ways which challenge our comfortable assumptions about the limits of reality.

    That said, there is something much more comfortable, approachable and less visceral (not to mention bloody) in Sheriff Longmire and his adventures. If you seek antagonists who are personifications of evil, you will be disappointed here. Johnson's plots rise most often from the everyday and the prosaic while Burke's almost celebrate the existence of a kind of intrusive malevolence beyond understanding. As a result, instead of the high voltage exhilaration derived from defeating Dave Robicheaux's typically diabolical adversaries, Walt Longmire leaves us with satisfaction at a job well done and a nagging awareness of how most evil springs from roots which are very familiar to all of us.

    I love both series, but I was less taken by "Crow" than by the previous Longmire novels. The victim never quite mattered enough for me, and it seemed that the investigation took a back seat to the introduction and development of a new character (a very promising one). These books are always driven by character, but the balance seemed a trifle off this time to the point that the climax of the investigation left me wanting more. Still well worth the credit, however, and I have already downloaded the next book in the series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Conn Iggulden
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (183)
    Performance
    (165)
    Story
    (163)

    The novels of Conn Iggulden bring the past to thrilling life, from ancient Rome to 13th-century Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Now he delivers the spectacular story of the rise of Genghis Khan’s grandson, a man destined to become one of the most remarkable rulers who ever lived - the legendary Kublai Khan.

    Squeak says: "Great Finish to the Khan Historical Fiction Series"
    "Some of the blush is off the rose"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the early books in this series, but I am slightly disappointed with this one.

    Iggulden is a superb storyteller, no less here than in the previous Mongol works. He never allows my interest to flag; he creates complex and fascinating characters and is able to engage us emotionally; he writes battlefield descriptions to a fair-thee-well and builds suspense with remarkable skill. Plus, he is writing about some of the most amazing personalities in all of human history.

    Unfortunately, while the author made a real effort to stay close to the historical narrative in the first few books and was in the habit of setting the record straight in an informative "Afterword" about instances where he had strayed or invented extensively, this time his story often bears only a passing resemblance to the facts, and he never acknowledges the discrepancies. Interestingly, there were a few times in the narrative where I had a little trouble believing the story or where it got particularly thin. Checking the history subsequently, I found some congruence between these weak points and the major departures from the factual record.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book a great deal, and Richard Ferrone does a terrific job with the narration. If you approach the story as fiction with some familiar names, you will probably have a fine time listening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Robert M. Hazen
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (387)
    Performance
    (337)
    Story
    (335)

    Earth evolves. From first atom to molecule, mineral to magma, granite crust to single cell to verdant living landscape, ours is a planet constantly in flux. In this radical new approach to Earth’s biography, senior Carnegie Institution researcher and national best-selling author Robert M. Hazen reveals how the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere - of rocks and living matter - has shaped our planet into the only one of its kind in the Solar System, if not the entire cosmos.

    Gary says: "Makes minerals interesting"
    "How Earth scientists know what they know"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I would have to listen several more times to Hazen's very clear explanations of the details of the scientific evidence for our understanding of the history of the planet before much of it would remain in my sieve-like memory for more than a few days. What WILL persist, however, is a deep respect for the painstaking and ingenious scientific process which has yielded so much concrete understanding of events in the unimaginably distant past. The book also provides a broadly brush-stroked sequence for the Earth's development, often featuring vivid descriptions of the landscape and dynamic processes which bring the scientific findings to life in panoramas which will remain in my memory. (The image of our moon, a mere 12,000 miles away and gigantic in the sky, hurtling by overhead every few hours sporting visible volcanic fracturing, for instance.) What's more, I never would have guessed that rocks and minerals would become so fascinating and central to my understanding of the rise of life.

    Hazen's narrative is replete with details of change. Two kinds of change: that which has driven the history of the planet through constant and extraordinary formation, destruction and reformation with only occasional periods of stasis, and that which has marked the development of our scientific understanding of our own particular niche in the universe. The result is a picture of mixed certitude and conjecture, and he is quite clear about the difference between the two. This is a fascinating listen, very well read. If you can deal with a good deal of clear but fairly detailed technical explanation, I recommend it to you highly.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation into War

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Steven M. Gillon
    • Narrated By John Pruden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (174)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (151)

    Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy." History would prove him correct; the events of that day - when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor - ended the Great Depression, changed the course of FDR's presidency, and swept America into World War II. In Pearl Harbor, acclaimed historian Steven M. Gillon provides a vivid, minute-by-minute account of Roosevelt's skillful leadership in the wake of the most devastating military assault in American history. FDR proved both decisive and deceptive, inspiring the nation....

    David says: "How everything became suddenly very simple"
    "How everything became suddenly very simple"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is not a particularly enlightening book, but with its moment by moment recital of the events in and around the White House at that wrenching moment in history, it does make clear how all the political skirmishing and hostility of the preceding months suddenly became inconsequential in the face of the Pearl Harbor debacle. FDR's ability to read the American will correctly at that moment and his decision to deliver a simple address informing the country of the seriousness of the attack and expressing the nation's resolve seems like the obvious choice now, but Gillon makes it clear that the President's advisers pressed for the kind of extended historical diatribe which would have diminished the clarity and power of the speech. We are left with an image of a president perfectly attuned to the task of leading a unified nation into the conflict.

    There is little else of significance in Gillon's account. The biographical material about FDR's struggle with polio and the unraveling of his marriage does little to shed light on his initial response to the crisis in the Pacific, and notes about the scramble to establish a new security environment for the White House do not add much to our understanding of the crucial events of the day. As I listened I found myself waiting for more momentous revelations, but they never came.

    John Pruden's narration is competent and unremarkable.

    1 of 1 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
    (561)
    Performance
    (245)
    Story
    (247)

    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"
    "World class reportage"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is definitely a case of truth beggaring fiction. I found this account of America's occupation and attempted transformation of post-Hussein Iraq to be riveting--a kind of masochistic fascination is perhaps the best way to describe it. Eight years after the book was written, there has still been no adequate response to the indictment it embodies, even though the account Chandrasekaran presents is substantially undisputed.

    The picture here is so appalling that it is hard not to suspect (hope?) that the author has neglected to report some positive aspects of the U.S. occupation, but one looks in vain for such material elsewhere. What's more, his on-the-spot access to the events and personnel involved with the story was clearly extraordinary. So in the end his reportage, compellingly straightforward and extremely well written, is convincing.

    Ray Porter's voicing of the book was, in keeping with all his work, superb.

    Do not be misled by the cover art for the book. The "Green Zone" movie starring Matt Damon was a piece of fiction inspired by but definitely distinct from this non-fiction work.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Pilo Family Circus

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Will Elliott
    • Narrated By Mark Stephens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    "You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?" Delivered by a trio of psychotic clowns, this ultimatum plunges Jamie into the horrific alternate universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between Hell and Earth from which humankind’s greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place - peopled by the gruesome, grotesque, and monstrous - where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself.

    Eva says: "Wow, you gave me what for free!"
    "Entertaining but unremarkable bit of the lmacabre"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is not a genre I would normally have visited, but I was given a choice from several pre-release titles as a bonus for contributing reviews on a regular basis, and the others were even farther out of my ball park. Consequently, since I do not often venture into the horrific or the macabre, I do not feel terribly well qualified to judge this one. As a result I will resort to a simple list of what I noticed.
    1. It is essentially a combination of the Jekyll/Hyde theme and the ever popular clown demon with some other pretty standard occult fare such as a hell mouth and reality shift gates thrown in for good measure.
    2. It garners a good deal of its shock effect from descriptions of all the usual bodily fluids flowing, pooling, spurting, spattering, and soaking the into whatever surface is handy and repulsive.
    3. The action moves along at a satisfying pace and the writing is skilled though unremarkable.
    4. Unless you are especially sensitive to the aforementioned clowns, you are not going to find anything terrifying or chilling here. Creepy is about the extent of it, but some of it is creepy in a pretty entertaining way.
    5. By the end I did not feel I had wasted my time listening. The story was engaging and entertaining, and the narration was quite good. Definitely worth more than the nothing I paid for it, though I doubt I would spend a full credit for the book since I usually pass on the occult.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Luka and the Fire of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Lyndam Gregory
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (41)

    Honored with almost every conceivable award for literary merit, Salman Rushdie penned this richly imagined fable for his son—and for book lovers the world over. From Rashid’s fertile intellect spring bedazzling tales his son Luka devours with a child’s earnestness. But when Rashid succumbs to an unending sleep, Luka must enter a magical world ruled by video-game logic.

    David says: "An artful fantasy/mythology/video game mashup"
    "An artful fantasy/mythology/video game mashup"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wish I could read this as a twelve year-old. It would send me scurrying to find the myriad sources of the storyteller's material, filling a summer with wonder and delight. Rushdie's literary fantasy video game seems capable of seducing a kid away from XBox or PSP and enriching a young imagination as it explores the treasure trove(s) from which the writer has conjured teasing glimpses and succulently baited hooks. Amerindian demigods; deities from every age and corner of the globe; named natural powers of wind and sea and fire; all play their parts in an extraordinary embroidery of tale and myth. As a child, I would have tracked them all down in their original settings and then reread Luka's adventure with deep satisfaction and pleasure.

    For an adult reader the tale is perhaps a trifle overwrought. I could not help but wonder at the amazingly comprehensive cast of characters. Still, I found the narration, which is quite in keeping with the world of the twelve year-old auditor, a bit too wide-eyed and breathless for an adult listener, and the cavalcade of mythical beings became a little wearisome by the end. This even while under the influence of Rushdie's superb prose style.

    I suspect, however, that I will find myself reading this book to a grandchild in bedtime installments sometime in the future. So three stars boosted to four in anticipation of that greater pleasure yet to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Poisonwood Bible

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Narrated By Dean Robertson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2965)
    Performance
    (1790)
    Story
    (1804)

    The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture - is calamitously transformed on African soil.

    Lynda Rains Bonchack says: "A long time coming..........."
    "Masterfully written; superbly narrated"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is another book for which excellent listener reviews are already available but which I would like to call to the attention of anyone who may have missed them so far. (While I am on the subject, allow me to apologize to Westergren Viveca. The single negative response to her very interesting review came when my finger slipped. I wish Amazon would make it possible to correct such mistakes.)

    One caveat. This is not a book which will slip easily into one ear while the other is atuned to traffic or a house full of distractions or the underdrone exigencies of a busy day. It is full of riches which will be missed by the casual listener. Perhaps this explains the problems some people have had with the narration. Dean Robertson brilliantly captures the rhythm, inflection and expressive idiosyncracies Kingsolver has written into these Georgia bred women and differentiates them in wonderful verisimilitude. Their words come alive in the voice of this gifted actor, and since the speaker is clearly named at the beginning of each chapter, no pyrotechnics of pitch or timbre are required to identify them. The result is a very truthful and telling characterization in every instance. Nor would a slower reading have served the text. These women do not speak slowly, savoring the poetry in their mouths. That bit of truth is one of the delights of this book. Just as with any really excellent piece of writing, there may be times when you want to go back. and dig a little deeper into the meaning and beauty. It is worth the time and effort.

    That was a pretty long caveat, wasn't it! Sorry. But do consider treating yourself to Barbara Kingsolver's ravishing book sometime when you can really listen with both ears.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Terminal World

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (617)
    Performance
    (378)
    Story
    (382)

    Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size. Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different---and rigidly enforced---level of technology. Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue.

    DAVID says: "This ain't your fathers Alastair Reynolds"
    "Interesting world, unsatisfying central character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reynolds always constructs extraordinarily intricate and ultimately logical worlds, and his central characters are usually fully drawn and complex as well. In this instance he nailed the world building but presented us with a leading character who is limp and unsatisfying. Always the thoroughgoing altruist and nearly terminally naive, he wanders along, captive to the plot throughout, functioning primarily as a conduit for information between the various factions with whom he interacts. He is so passive that he is hard to believe as a survivor. It is not the poor sap's fault since the author keeps him restricted and controlled throughout the entire book, but looking back on it I realize just how sick of him I was by the end.

    There were secondary characters who were more dynamic and with whom readers would happily throw in their lot if given a chance, but they never emerged from their supporting roles. Did someone say there will be a series? If so, perhaps the interesting world and the situation in which we are left hanging at the end of the book will provide a stage for giving one or more of the other personae the room to strike out on their own and give us someone to relate to and invest in. That could be worth a credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Raising Steam: The Discworld Series, Book 40

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Stephen Briggs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (632)
    Performance
    (585)
    Story
    (583)

    The new Discworld novel, the 40th in the series, sees the Disc's first train come steaming into town. Change is afoot in Ankh-Morpork. Discworld's first steam engine has arrived, and once again Moist von Lipwig finds himself with a new and challenging job.

    David says: "So much more than funny"
    "So much more than funny"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is hard to know how to characterize this and so many of Pratchett's other books in order to convey the desired impression which is, "If you have not already tried them, you really should read one right now." If a review mentions the goblins and trolls and werewolves and vampires, and the Leprechauns and, oh yes, the witches, it risks giving entirely the wrong impression. These have nothing in common with Tolkien and the least of them is far more human than your standard fantasy hero. If one refers to Pratchett as a brilliant humorist with a needle sharp wit, it suggests a self-conscious wordsmith who is too clever by half. Referring to his ability to crystallize the essence of human folly with deftly drawn plots which prick all our narrowest prejudices and suppositions with unerring accuracy suggests a tiresome agenda dressed up in borrowed whimsy.

    Perhaps it is simplest just to say that his books are an accumulated treasure trove of wisdom and delight. This particular one is not the best place to begin exploring since it depends upon some familiarity with its forebears for complete appreciation. This is, after all, book 40. But you needn't go back to book one. I would suggest Going Postal, which will get you nicely on track for the characters in Raising Steam. My personal favorite is Monstrous Regiment, but a quick survey of the reviews for the books Audible offers should give you an idea of other starting places. And since both the narrators available are terrific, you can't go wrong there either.

    One caveat. It may take you more than a chapter to get into the swing of things in Disk World. In fact, one of the hallmarks of these books is that their meaning and relevance accumulates, moving from whimsy to wisdom as each story progresses. This particular one starts a little more slowly than most and depends somewhat more on its predecessors, but by the end I was entirely delighted. Enjoy!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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