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Robert E Ballou

I listen while driving. When I review, I'm much more apt to discuss the performance than the content. Sometimes, a bit of both.

ratings
44
REVIEWS
18
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
18

  • Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By John Heilemann, Mark Halperin
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1929)
    Performance
    (777)
    Story
    (782)

    Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasion-ally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.

    Sara says: "Out Dated Even When It Was Current"
    "Well written and well read"
    Overall

    If politics is your thing then this a must read! The narrative is tight, proving the rule again from English Comp 101: "There is no good writing, only good rewriting". Well balanced and candid without sounding like gadflies, this is a fantastic book for the long commute.

    It was also very well produced and the audio is very clean. Dennis Boutsikaris does a great job keeping the voices separate. Even his Bill Clinton voice is subtle enough to avoid the cardinal sin of being distracting.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Things They Carried

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tim O'Brien
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1293)
    Performance
    (1199)
    Story
    (1190)

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

    Darwin8u says: "Grief, terror, love, longing"
    "Cranston's Performance a Real Treat! Thanks!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tough subject matter. What I would call an "important read". You can get tons of better critiques online elsewhere. Mr. Cranston's performance was spot on. A grave voice for grave material!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kenobi: Star Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By John Jackson Miller
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (641)
    Performance
    (614)
    Story
    (615)

    Tatooine - a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.

    Amazon Customer says: ""The Rifleman"... with a Lightsaber"
    "Solid Story - Poor Production!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You can read critiques of the story elsewhere. I'm on Audible so I confine my remarks to the performance and production. Jonathan Davis is just fine for reading this book (and probably others). I enjoyed his reading and pace. Well done, Jon!

    Unfortunately, it's only Jon who gets the three stars. Random House Audio has taken it upon themselves to insist on using sound effects for this book. Unfortunately, their effort is half-hearted at best. They are using sound effects from the Star Wars audio library to bolster each scene for background or ambience.

    Movie fans will instantly recognize what they hear but listeners such as myself quickly perceive the distractions of such sounds and the occasional havoc they play on my car audio system! I found the sound effects entirely unnecessary and the musical interludes, also from the Star Wars library, sometimes misfired.

    In short, I would VERY MUCH like the option to simply hear the book WITHOUT the background noises. I don't need it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Three Musketeers

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By Walter Covell
    Overall
    (220)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (56)

    Set during the reign of Louis XIII (1610-43) and based on actual events, The Three Musketeers is perhaps the greatest "cloak and sword" story ever written. Three Musketeers, loyal servants of the King, are joined by the dashing D'Artagnan, a veritable Byronic hero. These four are pitted against the master of intrigue, Cardinal Richelieu, and the quintessential wicked woman, Lady de Winter. Dumas was quite expert in pacing and varying action while weaving historical fact with purest fiction.

    Douglas says: "Dumas is King!"
    "There's a better "Three Musketeers" out there..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been listening to this version read by Walter Covell and there are a couple dire issues I found with the audio. First, it is very compressed (the same effect you get from listening to someone on a telephone earpiece). This makes it slightly more difficult for me to hear when listening on my iPhone connected to the car audio (even with the car A/C fan is set on low). Second, it seems to me that the producers, or those charged with post-producing the audio, probably amplified the volume to compensate for the compression. That leaves me stuck listening to audio that sounds like a telephone...only very loud and, sometimes, distorted (over-modulated). This makes the whole experience quite annoying! I've stopped listening anymore. I experienced a lot of this in the old days of audiocassettes (yes, those are now officially considered, "the old days"--long may they be forgotten!)

    Of course, I went back to Audible only to discover there are other unabridged versions performed by readers that avid fans of audiobooks will know and love. It doesn't help to also learn that the widely accepted English translation of "The Three Musketeers" was altered by the censorious attitudes of Victorian England in order to disallow the sexual overtones of the French language! I now wish to wait and see if Audible will provide an excellent performance of the Richard Pevear translation from 2006 which, from what I've read, is supposed to be faithful to Mr. Dumas' original.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Joel Fuhrman
    • Narrated By Joel Fuhrman
    Overall
    (717)
    Performance
    (515)
    Story
    (519)

    When Mehmet Oz has a patient whose life depends on losing weight, he calls on Joel Fuhrman, M.D. In Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Dr. Fuhrman offers his healthy, effective, and scientifically proven plan for shedding radical amounts of weight quickly, and keeping it off.

    Joseph says: "The facts of what's healthy, and what's killing us"
    "Great book! Reader not so great (but that's ok..)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I won't spend so many words on reviewing the book since there are better reviewers worth checking but I found the book quite helpful. It represents one of the primary benefits of my listening to books rather than trying to read them. The book is simple enough to follow and listening to Dr. Fuhrman read his own words actually made the book sound more like an interview from time to time. That may "sound" like a bad way to go but I don't recall ever zoning out on this reading. He loses a couple stars on performance because some words were mispronounced or pronounced inconsistently but, hey, it kept me listening...and that's not a bad thing, is it?

    Oh...I started taking his advice about a week ago and have already lost ten pounds, feel great and hope for even better results. Thank you, Dr. Fuhrman! Great book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Deerslayer

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By James Fenimore Cooper
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (6)

    Natty Bumppo , one of the greatest heroes in American literature, is the rugged frontiersman of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels that includes The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer. Although it was the final volume to be written, The Deerslayer is the first in the chronology of Natty Bumppo’s life, depicting the character as a young man testing himself in the wilderness and against enemies for the first time.

    Robert E Ballou says: "A careful writing but uncareful reading"
    "A careful writing but uncareful reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed the book even after learning that while this is the first of the five Leatherstocking stories chronologically, it was actually written last by Cooper. I had purchased the unabridged version read by Ray Todd but found it lacking. Peter Berkrot's reading is much better by way of accent, inflection, etc. Where his reading fails is in the recording. The audio drops out on a regular basis towards the ends of sentences. It's as if Peter pulled away from the mic at the same time he softened his tone. Listening as I did in a car, it was quite an annoyance. The producers should have caught this early on.

    This isn't to say you won't like the book. The pace is as glacial as the Glimmerglass lake on which most of the story takes place. Still, though, it is quite nice to read a book from an author who so carefully spelled out the characters both in narration and dialog. Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Odd Thomas

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Dean Koontz
    • Narrated By David Aaron Baker
    Overall
    (4632)
    Performance
    (2085)
    Story
    (2101)

    "The dead don't talk. I don't know why." But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

    Denise says: "No Doubting Thomas"
    "Well Read!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well read by the narrator! Clean recording! David Aaron Baker acts the story as well as reads it and there are no distractions in his voice that would prompt me to stop listening. You can find out more about the story elsewhere but this recording was definitely worth my time.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Atlas Shrugged

    • UNABRIDGED (63 hrs)
    • By Ayn Rand
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (5634)
    Performance
    (3576)
    Story
    (3604)

    In a scrap heap within an abandoned factory, the greatest invention in history lies dormant and unused. By what fatal error of judgment has its value gone unrecognized, its brilliant inventor punished rather than rewarded for his efforts? In defense of those greatest of human qualities that have made civilization possible, one man sets out to show what would happen to the world if all the heroes of innovation and industry went on strike.

    Henrik says: "What an incredible audio book"
    "Good Audio, just couldn't finish it"
    Overall

    Scott Brick did just fine with this reading but I couldn't find a single protagonist in this book with which I could readily identify or sympathize. Likewise, the "looters", etc., are treated with a very broad brush. I quit before even getting through the first 8-hour segment. You might like this book but it just didn't hook me.

    0 of 2 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
    (1964)
    Performance
    (1122)
    Story
    (1127)

    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!"
    "Great book and a great reading"
    Overall

    Good recording! Great reading. Donna Tartt, who's read the book herself a bazillion times, is spot on with her vocal characterization. I'm almost afraid to see the movies now!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Gary Taubes
    • Narrated By Mike Chamberlain
    Overall
    (1833)
    Performance
    (1166)
    Story
    (1155)

    Building upon this critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Taubes now revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change—in this exciting new book. Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat makes Taubes’s crucial argument newly accessible to a wider audience.

    Igor N. says: "Are you looking for an attachement for the book?"
    "Great read and great audio"
    Overall

    I try to keep my comments solely in terms of the audio. You can look elsewhere for the take on the content. That said, this is a great read! Mike Chamberlain handles it perfectly. He has a good voice. The only distractions were the careful reading of numbers and spelling out of websites. Also, the references to electronic elements "with this program", whatever that means. That probably can't be helped given the statistical and scientific theme of the book. Highly recommend it to my carb-junkie friends!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Robert Reich
    • Narrated By Robert Reich
    Overall
    (464)
    Performance
    (277)
    Story
    (281)

    The author of 12 acclaimed books, Robert B. Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and has served in three national administrations. While many blamed Wall Street for the financial meltdown, Aftershock points a finger at a national economy in which wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top - and where a grasping middle class simply does not have the resources to remain viable.

    Chris says: "Very plausible assessment of our economy"
    "Hey! Rob Reich can read his own books!!"
    Overall

    And he didn't do a bad job either! It's probably not easy to read your own book. The recording is clear and works just fine for the ear. Reich keeps the tone conversational throughout. Kudos to the sound engineer!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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