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Joseph

Kingston, PA, United States | Member Since 2011

16
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 34 reviews
  • 34 ratings
  • 205 titles in library
  • 43 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • Swag

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Elmore Leonard
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (130)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (112)

    The smallest of small-time criminals, Ernest Stickley Jr. figures his luck's about to change when Detroit used-car salesman Frank Ryan catches him trying to boost a ride from Ryan's lot. Frank's got some surefire schemes for getting rich quick - all of them involving guns - and all Stickley has to do is follow "Ryan's Rules" to share the wealth. But sometimes rules need to be bent, maybe even broken, if one is to succeed in the world of crime, especially if the "brains" of the operation knows less than nothing.

    D. Sevener says: "Fun tale, well told, great narration"
    "It's Dutch, but it's Dated"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Which character – as performed by Frank Muller – was your favorite?

    Muller is simply superb. He always sounds like himself, but he has a great range of inflections so you recognize different characters. Plus, he always sounds good.


    Any additional comments?

    This is Elmore Leonard, so you know it's well done. Still, hardboiled as it often is, the setting is very much dated, and that starts to distract from the whole. It's worth remembering, too, that this is still fairly early Leonard, before the lighter-hearted work of Get Shorty. It's certainly worth reading this one, but temper your expectations. It's about a couple of pros setting out to commit crimes as pros, and that feels more or less like the challenge Leonard set out for himself as he wrote it: understated professional writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lay Down My Sword and Shield

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (566)
    Performance
    (390)
    Story
    (384)

    Against the backdrop of growing civil rights turmoil in a sultry border town, the hard-drinking ex-POW attorney Hackberry Holland yields to the myriad urgings of his wife, his brother, and his so-called friends to make a bid for a congressional seat - and finds himself embroiled in the seamy world of Texas powerbrokers.

    Cat F. says: "The Publisher's Summary is Anemic"
    "Burke...but not at his best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Burke is a well above average talented writer, and this is interesting for its glimpse at the young novelist figuring it out. There are some nice passages, and you get that there's really something at stake: the tough-guy protagonist has some real decisions to make about where his allegiance lies and how much he can tolerate in the face of deep corruption. I can't help reading it as Burke himself trying out different aesthetics for his own work.

    That said, this doesn't age all that well. The protagonist's narcissism gets old. The reconciliation of an early 1970s counter-culture sensibility with 1950s noir shows its seams (and feels forced). The maybe-interesting-for-her-day love interest gets reduced too quickly to arm candy after a promising beginning. And the climax resolves less than I'd like.

    I enjoyed parts of it a good bit as a flashback to an earlier time, but it didn't hold up for me through the end, and I found myself dragging for the last quarter.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Galveston: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Nic Pizzolatto
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (644)
    Performance
    (550)
    Story
    (554)

    From the creator, writer, and executive producer of the HBO series True Detective and soon to be a major motion picture comes a dark and visceral novel set along the wastelands of Galveston. On the same day Roy Cady is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he learns that his employer has put a hit out on him. After narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, Cady goes on the run with a young prostitute named Rocky and her three-year-old sister, from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas. But though they run, they cannot hide in this explosive, atmospheric, impossible-to-pause thrill ride.

    Stephanie says: "Richly Layered"
    "Hard. Boiled."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Galveston the most enjoyable?

    I may be the last hardboiled fan not to have seen much of True Detective (it's hard to watch when you have younger kids around), so this is all I have to go on from Pizzolatto. I've read a few genre novels recently, and this is far and away the strongest: he writes with real skill in contrasting periods, and he creates a character who seems haunted in the most interesting of ways.

    As far as the plot, it feels like an update on Les Miserables, but -- trusting that isn't a spoiler -- you don't notice until it's all over.

    The reading starts out a little slow, but the voice is overwhelming: Orson Welles with a trace of a Southern accent.

    I've withheld a fifth star only because the ending is a bit abrupt and, to my taste, a little out of step with the flavor of the rest of the novel. Still, this is a very talented guy, and I'll get to True Detective as soon as I can get those kids to sleep.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rogue Island

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Bruce DeSilva
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman, Bruce DeSilva
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (857)
    Performance
    (667)
    Story
    (661)

    Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaper man gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians--who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames, and the public is on the verge of panic.

    Michael Jacobi says: "Classic Whodunnit"
    "Solid detective work"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This is solid stuff with a newspaper reporter detective who sits at the center of everything and has more of it his own way than is good for anyone. It has a few twists and turns (and leaves a few loose ends open) and I enjoyed it to the end as I guessed some and got blind-sided by others. The Providence details definitely add to the whole, but I'm not burning to read any next installments.

    That said, the reading is exceptional -- just the right hint of a New England accent and a good, engaging speed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • His Majesty's Dragon: Temeraire, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By Naomi Novik
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1498)
    Performance
    (877)
    Story
    (883)

    When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo - an unhatched dragon egg - fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle.

    Janet says: "Dragon Riders of Pern meet Master and Commander"
    "Master and Commander meets Dragon Riders of Pern"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This book turned out to be exactly what I expected: a well-written, deeply imagined Napoleonic world that explores the what-if of dragons serving as an air force in the time of Nelson's navy.

    That said, this book was not quite what I hoped for: something that would offer surprises beyond its clever premise. Novik writes with impressive economy, but it too often felt to me as if, knowing she had a winner of an idea, she stretched it out too thin. In other words, the plot moves remarkably slowly -- not in itself a bad thing -- as if it's trying to beguile you into sitting down for the second, third, fourth, and who knows how many subsequent volumes of the series. I enjoyed it, but I'm not hooked enough to sign up for another ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The French Lieutenant's Woman

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By John Fowles
    • Narrated By Paul Shelley
    Overall
    (425)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (206)

    At Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast, a young Victorian amateur palaentologist, Charles Smithson, is struck by a solitary figure standing at the far end of the Cobb, staring out to sea. It is Sarah Woodruff, known to the locals as 'poor Tragedy' since her apparent liaison with a French sailor who has since deserted her. Although Charles is already engaged to a young heiress, he is immediately beguiled and eventually infatuated with Sarah.

    Darwin8u says: "Writes with a sharp elegance that is breathtaking"
    "Builds on Itself from Good to Great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    I thought I knew where this was going at the start: in what seemed an interesting but conventional experiment, Fowles used the form of the Victorian novel to encompass the unspeakable passions of an early Modern one; that is, it felt like Jane Austen meeting D.H. Lawrence.I liked that part of the novel well enough, and the narration -- crisp and formal in an upper-class English fashion -- complemented it. I'd just finished reading Austen's Persuasion, so it felt all of a piece.

    Then, and I do not want to spoil the wonder with too much detail, the novel turns into something altogether different. It leaps stylistically from 1840 to 1915 to 1970 in massive strides, and it rips you from one aesthetic/moral frame to another. It's disconcerting in what it asks of you, but the effect is brilliant: you're asked as a reader to experience the disorientation of its point-of-view character as he too confronts a radically transforming Victorian world view. And Paul Shelley somehow (and subtly) captures that transformation. I think the speed of his narration picks up, but I can't be certain even there. All I know is that his voice ceases to be as comforting and, at the same time as the bottom of the novel drops out, something in the overall sound becomes more insistent, harder to turn off.

    As brilliant as all that is, the novel grows even more complex in its multiple attempts to answer the central mystery confronting that character. The book is both provocatively feminist and misogynistic at the same time; it feels as if it's anticipating your responses and then subverting them, too.

    I knew the reputation of the book as one of the major accomplishments of the later 20th century, but couldn't know until finishing it that it lives up to it. I could have stopped half way through and admired it. I had to get to the end to realize how extraordinary an achievement it is.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • True Grit

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Portis
    • Narrated By Donna Tartt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1978)
    Performance
    (1138)
    Story
    (1144)

    Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

    Tommygaus says: "So worth it!"
    "As Good as Advertised"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about True Grit?

    Mattie's voice is magnificent, and Donna Tartt -- who's got a fine reading voice of her own even though she isn't a professional -- is perfect in bringing it to life. Mattie has a peculiar stiffness, but it's part of what makes her story seem plausible even though it finally isn't. Tartt has the accent and the pacing to make it all come together. You may well know the story -- two renowned movies will do that -- but don't let that stop you from listening to it. The story is fresh and suspenseful, and it opens up a world that seems both far away and still within reach.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ivanhoe

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Sir Walter Scott
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (311)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (228)

    Wilfred, knight of Ivanhoe, the son of Cedric the Saxon, is in love with his father's ward, Rowena. Cedric, however, wishes her to marry Athelstane, a descendant of the royal Saxon line, whom Cedric hopes will restore the Saxon succession. With a colorful cast of chivalric knights and fair ladies, this action-filled novel comes complete with feats of derring-do, the pageantry of a tournament, and a great flame-engulfed castle - all of which makes it the most enthralling of Scott's creations.

    Bill Dewey/Reclaiming Quarterly says: "Great Adventure, Good Rendition"
    "A Sentimental Listen that Really Scores"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Ivanhoe?

    This is a great story, and I remembered it pretty well from a high school reading more than 30 years ago. After I couldn't get my son to read it -- he balked after 30 pages -- I thought I'd give it a listen to see if I'd misremembered my appreciation of it.In a nutshell, it's at least as good as I remembered. From the opening scenes with the swineherd and the jester who give the wrong directions to the too-proud Norman knights to the big battle scenes of the climax, the pace and the romance are almost perfect. It's fun as a story, and it's fun to sit back and realize this is the guy who invented the historical romance.I've recently read some Dumas -- similar reputation from a similar era -- and none of it comes close to this. I'll be getting to Rob Roy and the Talisman in the next year or so, and I'm hoping Audible will figure out a way to produce Waverley and some of the others before too long.


    Have you listened to any of Michael Page’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is also a terrific performance. It's understated next to some -- he's reading, not acting as some very good readers do -- but it's always in the service of the story. He builds tension very effectively but it's never rushed nor too slow.


    0 of 0 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
    (3014)
    Performance
    (2774)
    Story
    (2775)

    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!"
    "Nearly as good as the hype"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I'd heard a lot of very good things about this one, and it mostly held up to them. It's the latest in a line of recent "fantasy for grown-ups" books, and it falls between Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore -- to pick a couple at the extremes of quality. This has all the ambition of the books of its sort -- a clever setting with the addition of some thoughts on the nature of immigrant life almost a century ago -- and it's solidly written. Parts go on a bit long, and it doesn't resolve itself with quite the satisfaction of the best in the genre, but it's still fun. It falls short of The Midnight Circus, say, but so do most books. I'd like to have seen it move more quickly once it established its characters (and there's an overly neat coming together of seemingly separate threads) but I do recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Wise Blood

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Flannery O’Connor
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (107)

    Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel is a classic of 20th-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a 22-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a “blind” street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel founds The Church of God Without Christ but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God.

    Darwin8u says: "Grotesque Southern Gothic Masterpiece"
    "Haunting and Haunted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Wise Blood? What did you like least?

    This is a hard book to listen to because it depends so much on her particular, bleak sense of modern American life. I very much admire some of her short stories, and they're a skeleton key for me in beginning to understand this. She calls it a "comic novel," and there are clearly parts that could be funny. In the context of this God-forsaken world, though -- and "Godforsaken" has a particular if difficult sometimes to parse meaning in O'Connor's works -- nothing is really funny. It's a lot of suffering brought on by incomplete understanding of the possibility for salvation. As a Jew, I admire the intensity of the work, but I can't say it speaks to me entirely.


    Any additional comments?

    The reader was fabulous, giving real character to different voices.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Libra

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Don DeLillo
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (52)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    Libra is a fictional speculation on one of modern history's central events: the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The anti-hero is Lee Harvey Oswald, who is as hauntingly real in the book as he was elusive in reality. Here he is joining the Marines, defecting to Russia, and imagining himself as an agent of history.

    Joseph says: "Dated but Intense"
    "Dated but Intense"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you be willing to try another book from Don DeLillo? Why or why not?

    Of course, he's a master. But I believe his real mastery came just after this with Mao II and then Underworld.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm glad I read this, and it can be compelling, but I have three complaints in the face of its general excellence:

    1) To appreciate this in full, you have to know a lot of the individuals purported to be involved in the assassination controversy. Wikipedia helped, I'm sad to say, and I enjoyed the book more when I realized that some of the minor figures were historical as well.

    2) James Ellroy ultimately does the deep cynicism here better than does DeLillo. His American trilogy covers a lot of the same ground with an even more devastating flamethrower.

    3) DeLillo really finds his voice, for me, with Mao II. You see some of the same insights here in nascent form -- the sense that the terrorist shapes our public consciousness more fully than the artist -- but he doesn't sharpen them until his follow-up.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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