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David

Halifax, NS, Canada | Member Since 2010

261
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 55 reviews
  • 57 ratings
  • 130 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2014
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11

  • BBC Radio Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing (Dramatized)

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By David Tennant, Samantha Spiro, Full Cast
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (77)

    BBC Radio has a unique heritage when it comes to Shakespeare. Since 1923, when the newly formed company broadcast its first full-length play, generations of actors and producers have honed and perfected the craft of making Shakespeare to be heard.

    David says: "Excellent"
    "Excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fun production of "Much Ado", with some lively and enjoyably performances, especially from Tennant and Spiro as Beatrice and Benedick. The text is cut a bit, but not to an extent that it will disturb non-purists.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Orenda: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Joseph Boyden
    • Narrated By Ali Ahn, Graham Rowat, Edoardo Ballerini
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (42)

    Christophe has been in the New World only a year when his native guides abandon him to flee their Iroquois pursuers. A Huron warrior and elder named Bird soon takes him prisoner, along with a young Iroquois girl, Snow Falls, whose family he has just killed, and holds them captive in his massive village. Champlain's Iron People have only recently begun trading with the Huron, who mistrust them as well as this Crow who has now trespassed onto their land; and her people, of course, have become the Huron's greatest enemy.

    C says: "Torture to listen to"
    "Thoughtful and interesting, if not always gripping"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read a few novels on the subject of the interactions between the French missionaries and the First Nations in North America during the 17th century, and this one is essential reading if you're interested in the subject. Boyden has clearly set out to immerse himself in both cultures and to try to give each an equal amount of respect. The missionaries are naive and arrogant but are also brave and have integrity in their spiritual beliefs. The native belief system and way of life is made fully comprehensible and possible for the reader to identify with yet Boyden doesn't sentimentalize the First Nations into New Age hippies - he pulls no punches in depicting their culture as patriarchal and militaristic. It's an amazing depiction of two worlds that feel intensely real and are trying to understand each other. And the plot never goes in the directions that you think it will.

    I should also warn listeners of a sensitive disposition that the novel contains numerous detailed and intensely disturbing descriptions of the long, drawn-out tortures of prisoners that dominated the wars between the Huron and the Iroquois. It is the stuff of nightmares and while it's essential to the plot and themes, many listeners will find it hard to deal with.

    Although I found the novel fascinating on an intellectual level, the characters and story sometimes left me cold and felt a little flat. The main problem is that although the two cultures are presented with superb complexity, the three protagonists are excessively good-hearted and admirable, to the extent that they feel rather cardboard when compared with the minor characters. This problem is exacerbated by the three readers, who are all competent but never exciting. This makes parts of the novel drag.

    Overall though, this is essential reading for anyone with a strong stomach and an interest in the subject.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Barry Gifford
    • Narrated By Eva Kaminsky
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    >Wild at Heart is a novel from Barry Gifford's Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels. On the 20th anniversary of the publication of Barry Gifford's international best seller, Wild at Heart, as well as the anniversary of the Palme d'Or-winning film adaptation by director David Lynch, Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels presents all of the novels and novellas that comprise the saga of Sailor Ripley and Lula Pace Fortune, "the Romeo and Juliet of the South".

    David says: "A good reading of a hard-to-perform novel"
    "A good reading of a hard-to-perform novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Wild at Heart" is a crazy novel. It is almost plotless and most of it consists of characters recounting bizarre anecdotes in cartoonish Southern dialect. But it's enjoyable for the irrepressibly charming relationship of Sailor and Lula whose indestructible love for each other is very moving despite the absurdity and craziness of the world they travel through.

    Reading Barry Gifford out loud is incredibly difficult, thanks to his use of extreme Southern dialect? And his densely-packed pop culture ref'rences? You know? Eva Kaminsky does a pretty good job. It's not a bravura performance, as the drawl gets a little monotonous at times, but on the whole she captures the lazy, spaced out style and the accent really well, and succeeds in ensuring that the protagonists are loveable. She made we want to listen to the rest of the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18186)
    Performance
    (14259)
    Story
    (14299)

    A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

    Alisha says: "Good listen, but what's up with the chapter set up"
    "Stay with it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I won't add to all the other plaudits. I'll just say that if you're wondering what all the fuss is about Roy Dotrice, you just have to get through the first chapter. His reading starts off a bit stilted and by an unfortunate coincidence all the characters in chapter 1 are little old men who all sound the same. After chapter 1 he warms up and gets to show off his range, which is quite wonderful. Trust in Roy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9404)
    Performance
    (8940)
    Story
    (8957)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "Entertaining hard scifi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can't add much to the many other plaudits here, which are well earned. I'll just say that if you don't enjoy the first half hour, stay with it: it's not like that all the way through, and you will eventually acknowledge that it was necessary to begin the book that way. Trust the author, he knows what he's doing!

    This is a very entertaining piece of hard science fiction with a delightfully tense and unpredictable storyline. I'm giving it 4 rather than 5 for the somewhat overlong engineering sections. There's also a glaring plot hole in the first third of the book and a point two-thirds in where the author's reluctance to represent any genuine emotion becomes exceptionally cowardly, but I can't explain these flaws without spoiling the plot, so you'll just have to see if you agree with me! It's worth putting up with them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Leviathan Wakes

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By James S.A. Corey
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays
    Overall
    (1905)
    Performance
    (1696)
    Story
    (1695)

    James S.A. Corey delivers compelling SF that ranks with the best in the field. In Leviathan Wakes, ice miner Jim Holden is making a haul from the rings of Saturn when he and his crew encounter an abandoned ship, the Scopuli. Uncovering a terrifying secret, Jim bears the weight of impending catastrophe. At the same time, a detective has been hired by well-heeled parents to find a missing girl, and the investigator’s search leads him right to the Scopuli.

    Ethan M. says: "Fun hard SF action with a blue collar bent"
    "Solid"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I chose this book because I like plausible sci-fi set in our solar system and had run out of Kim Stanley Robinson and Arthur C. Clarke. On one level it disappointed me as it doesn't have the epic grandeur of those novelists. There are no journeys across the landscapes of planets and moons; instead, the novel is set almost entirely on grungy cargo vessels and in the corridors of seedy space stations. This wasn't really what I was looking for, but the novel is undeniably successful at doing what it's setting out to do: that is, create a blue collar sci-fi thriller in which the heroes live in the gritty underbelly of mankind's future.

    The writing is solid if unexceptional and the story, though ultimately quite silly, is unpredictable and well-orchestrated. The narrator is equally competent, although I wish he could have distinguished the two protagonists better - they kept blurring together in my mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Mark W. Muesse
    Overall
    (511)
    Performance
    (447)
    Story
    (436)

    Meditation offers deep and lasting benefits for mental functioning and emotional health, as well as for physical health and well-being. These 24 detailed lectures teach you the principles and techniques of sitting meditation, the related practice of walking meditation, and the highly beneficial use of meditative awareness in many important activities, including eating and driving. You will also learn how to use the skills of meditation in working with thoughts and emotional states.

    Steven says: "Outstanding introduction"
    "Intermittently thought-provoking"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I learned a lot from this course, although parts of it are more valuable than others. The best sections are those which give advice on meditation practice and how to overcome the difficulties that challenge the beginner. The lecturer has lots of useful, practical ideas that are very helpful. I found the later sections where he spends a great deal of time moralizing in a rather banal way to be less interesting, although here and there I found nuggets of thought-provoking ideas about how mindfulness can help us live our lives better - the chapter on accepting mortality is particularly good.

    The lecturer speaks WAY too slowly and has a slightly condescending tone, as if he is explaining the subject to a small kitten. However, I found that if I played him at 2x speed he sounded like a normal human being and was perfectly listenable.

    33 of 36 people found this review helpful
  • King Richard III

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh, Geraldine McEwan, Nicholas Farrell, and others
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    Written in 1593, King Richard III is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. This play differs from its predecessors, being amore structured piece, examining the development and motivations of a single character, Richard Duke of Gloucester, who will stop at nothing to gain control of the throne occupied by his brother Edward IV.

    Donald says: "Another NAXOS masterpiece!"
    "Rather disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't finish this one. I was expecting some fireworks.from Branagh's Richard but his performance feels rushed, muted, and undefined, with little to hold the interest.

    The sound quality is poor and I think this may be a recording of a stage production, because parts of it are baffling - in particular, there is a loud tapping sound throughout the opening speech that makes no sense without visuals (is it maybe Richard's walking stick? no idea, but it's really irritating).

    Maybe it gets better later on, but I couldn't summon the energy to find out. A misfire.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Tempest

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Ian McKellen, Emilia Fox, Scott Handy, and others
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (71)

    Sir Ian McKellen, fresh from his performance as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, is Prospero, and heads a strong cast in Shakespeare’s last great play. The wronged duke raises a tempest to shipwreck his old opponents on his island so that he can ensure justice is done. With Emilia Fox as Miranda, Scott Handy in the pivotal role of the sprite Ariel, and Ben Owukwe as Caliban.

    Corey says: "Great Story, audio needs a little tweaking"
    "Good, not perfect"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a perfectly decent recording of The Tempest. Sir Ian is an excellent Prospero and the rest of the cast are competent, although the Caliban is a bit awkward, The sound quality is a little murky sometimes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pericles (BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3)

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 40 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Benjamin Zephaniah, Tom Mannion, Helen Longworth
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Shakespeare's romantic adventure is full of tyrants, incest, murder, knights, teenagers, pirates, brothels, sublime poetry, young love, a great hero, and the goddess Diana. A multicultural cast, world music, and the poet Benjamin Zephaniah give this timeless tale a contemporary twist.

    David says: "Adequate"
    "Adequate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a competent performance of Pericles that never becomes anything more interesting than that. The actors all seem to know what they're doing, but don't seem especially excited to be doing it.

    Some notes:

    The text is cut fairly heavily and occasionally rearranged, so avoid this recording if you're an extreme purist.

    There is an range of accents on display (Gower is Caribbean, the Tharsians are African, Pericles is Scottish, etc.) which is cool, but some of them take some getting used to.

    The sound ambience is a little odd; in some of the scenes the characters sound like they're talking inside tiny little rooms, which doesn't really gel with the play's epic scope.

    In summary, it's fine, and - let's face it - recordings of Pericles are hard to find, so beggars can't be choosers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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