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Sparkly

interested in history, science, and pulp fiction

SF, CA, United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
37
REVIEWS
28
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
34
HELPFUL VOTES
112

  • The Rider

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Tim Krabbé
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    With The Rider, Tim Krabbé has created a book unique in the ranks of sporting literature. He describes one 150-kilometre race in just 150 pages. In the course of the narrative, we get to know the forceful, bumbling Lebusque, the aesthete Barthelemy, the Young Turk Reilhan, and the mysterious rider from Cycles Goff'. Krabbé battles with and against each of them in turn, failing on the descents, shining on the climbs, suffering on the (false) flats.

    Sparkly says: "Ah, the beautiful words..."
    "Ah, the beautiful words..."
    Overall
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    One of my favorite quotes from the book: "Every once in a while someone along the road lets us know how far behind we are. A man shouts: ‘Faster!’ He probably thinks bicycle racing is about going fast." Part memoir, part rant, part poetry, it is the story of a bike race in the subjective voice of one racer. The fictional 150 km 'Tour de Mont Aigoual' is the scene, and the characters are the fellow riders and the unforgiving terrain. I love how Krabbe so accurately renders the ceaseless inner monologues that occur while cycling. This book is perfectly suited to the audio format, and wonderfully performed by narrator Mark Meadows. The words, the language, are so beautifully crafted, so incisive, witty, and economical… I am so pleased that Krabbe turned his copious literary gifts toward cycling. This book has earned its status as a classic of sport writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • My Time

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Bradley Wiggins
    • Narrated By Tom Watt
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    On 22 July 2012 Bradley Wiggins became the first British man ever to win the Tour de France. In an instant, 'Wiggo' became a national hero. Ten days later, having swapped his yellow jersey for the colours of Team GB, he won Olympic gold in the time trial, adding to his previous six medals to become the nation's most decorated Olympian of all time. Outspoken, honest, intelligent and fearless, Wiggins has been hailed as the people’s champion.

    G. Fisher says: "Feels like you sitting right next to Wiggo"
    "Surprisingly excellent."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I say "surprisingly" because while I am an avid fan of cycling and road racing, Bradley Wiggins was never a cyclist I wanted to know more about. Perhaps that is because in 2012, he simply won too many races and his face was everywhere, so I felt there was no need to root for him nor research his backstory. Wow, I was so wrong! It is really good. I loved Wiggins' take on cycling and the story of his races. I was surprised by the story of his family background, especially his relationship with his father and grandfather. He has a great attitude, uses plenty of colorful language, and seems like a person you'd like to hang out with. I agree with other reviewers about the narrator - he really sells it. One of the best match-ups on Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Birds, Singing

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Evie Wyld
    • Narrated By Cat Gould
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something - or someone - picks off one of the sheep and sounds a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast.... And there is also Jake's past....

    D. Robey says: "All the Birds, Singing"
    "Strange, Delicate, Brutal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another word that comes to mind here is "original." This is a wonderful yet brutal story, rather short, and with such delicate notes in the prose and elliptical storytelling…it is a unique book. It is told in the first person, so that I didn't catch the character's name for quite a long time. She is near feral, which creates an uncertainty in the reader's relationship to her. And she speaks with a certain naiveté that made me nervous about her vulnerability. Yet her details are so vivid that one can't wait to put the pieces together. I don't want to give up too much of the story - there is hurt, guilt, self-loathing, avoidance behaviors, and violence. Also sheep, tears, dust, rain, and possibly redemption. Highly recommended for the reader of mysteries looking for something different. The narrator fit the story perfectly, in my opinion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Keeper of Lost Causes: Department Q, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • Narrated By Erik Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1506)
    Performance
    (1301)
    Story
    (1300)

    Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's premier crime writer. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in northern Europe, and he's won just about every Nordic crime-writing award, including the prestigious Glass Key Award-also won by Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Jo Nesbo. Now, Dutton is thrilled to introduce him to America.

    Ted says: "Dark, Cold, and Danish"
    "Excruciating, Meticulous, Satisfying"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am new to Jussi Adler-Olsen, and wow, this was a real attention getter! It is a bit gruesome in detail, and when I tried to explain the plot to friends it sounded ridiculous. But it held together in Adler-Olsen's telling, as an incredibly suspenseful and compelling story, riven through with dark humor. It is also very well-researched - and I am glad Adler-Olsen is an author rather than a psychopath, because this is a very original crime. Detective Mørck continues a well-trod path of flawed sleuths with messy personal lives (John Rebus, Harry Hole, etc), yet he is appealing and complex. I especially look forward to reading more about the "assistant," Hafez el-Assad, who is a thoroughly overqualified and delightfully unpredictable character. I found this when I needed to take a break from Jo Nesbø, and it is a welcome (though disturbing!) discovery. The narrator was fine, in my opinion. No Robin Sachs, but okay by me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Paris-Roubaix, The Inside Story: All the Bumps of Cycling's Cobbled Classic

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Les Woodland
    • Narrated By Nick O'Kelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    The Paris-Roubaix bicycle race, nicknamed "The Hell of the North," is famous for sending riders over brutal cobblestone roads. Only the strong, brave and lucky survive the hours of bone-shaking racing without suffering some mishap or catastrophe. It is so difficult no one wins it by accident, and winning Paris-Roubaix automatically puts a rider among the immortals of the sport. Why did Paris-Roubaix emerge to be such a special race? Les Woodland tells the inside story of one of cycling's classics.

    Sparkly says: "Hell of the North!"
    "Hell of the North!"
    Overall
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    Story

    What a great book. This is an excellent history of the race known as Paris-Roubaix, the springtime one-day classic that features distinctive cobbled roads in the north of France. Cycling history is filled with such amazing characters, as a rule, and the Paris-Roubaix is rife with them. Great stories about riders stopping at pubs, quitting the race, or fighting with spectators; heroic tales of athletes plowing through ridiculously difficult conditions to win this hellish yet somehow irresistible race. The author creates a wonderful portrait of a century, a region, and a parade of legendary cyclists. The narrator is perhaps the worst narrator I have ever heard on Audible, sorry to say (the French pronunciations are quite painful). But if you need to listen rather than read, as I do, try not to let that prevent you from enjoying this cycling history. It's worth the struggle.

    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
    (801)
    Performance
    (619)
    Story
    (612)

    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"
    "Excellent regional mystery."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great update on the reporter as crime fighter trope - this isn't 'His Girl Friday,' it's a depressed newsroom with layoffs and budget cuts, and has a more unvarnished view of the journalism industry. The protagonist, Mulligan, has issues, of course, but also has an entertaining cast of acquaintances and sources, in varying shades of unsavory. The author does a great job of creating the look and feel of this town. This first is an excellent book, with a lot of heart. I recommend 'Cliff Walk' as well, a solid follow up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Final Account: An Inspector Banks Novel #7

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Peter Robinson
    • Narrated By James Langton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (83)

    There's more than blood and bone beneath the skin... The victim, a nondescript "numbers cruncher," died horribly just yards away from his terrified wife and daughter, murdered by men who clearly enjoyed their work.

    Snoodely says: "Inspector Banks goes international"
    "More Murders in Yorkshire!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I find the books in the Inspector Alan Banks series to be reliable and plentiful procedurals. I discovered this series after exhausting all of the Dalziel books, the rest of the Reginald Hill catalogue, all the Ian Rankin, the M.C. Beaton, the Tana French, and in between Louise Penny's annual installments. I recommend them as entertaining mysteries with an interesting detective who has enough trouble with the ladies to keep it unpredictable. I really liked 'Final Account,' as it uses one of my favorite literary devices (though I can't be more specific without spoiling), and takes place in the purview of white collar crime.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Paleofantasy

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Marlene Zuk
    • Narrated By Laura Darrell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (69)

    We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in mud huts rather than condos, to sprint barefoot rather than play football - or did we? Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Although it may seem as though we have barely had time to shed our hunter-gatherer legacy, biologist Marlene Zuk reveals that the story is not so simple. Popular theories about how our ancestors lived - and why we should emulate them - are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence. Armed with a razor-sharp wit and brilliant, eye-opening research, Zuk takes us to the cutting edge of biology to show that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized.

    Kali says: "Dropping some evolution knowledge!"
    "Very Entertaining Strawman"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I picked this up so impulsively that I didn't read the description carefully. Thus, I was surprised to find that the author organized the book to take on and refute the 'urban paleo diet' movement. Since I have never found the 'urban paleo diet' movement credible anyway, this approach would not have appealed to me. I might never have read it, and that would have been my loss. It's a good book, and the author takes a glee in noting grim details and bursting myths. The details about human anatomy and running were interesting; her take on continuing evolution with respect to human diet, illness, and microbes was fascinating. I hope that in her next book she foregoes the artifice of taking down online commenters, though - she doesn't need that shtick, her science writing is engaging as it is.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Robert Penn
    • Narrated By Jonathan Cowley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    Robert Penn has saddled up nearly every day of his adult life. In his late 20s, he pedaled 25,000 miles around the world. Today he rides to get to work, sometimes for work, to bathe in air and sunshine, to travel, to go shopping, to stay sane, and to skip bath time with his kids. He's no Sunday pedal pusher. So when the time came for a new bike, he decided to pull out all the stops. He would build his dream bike, the bike he would ride for the rest of his life; a customized machine that reflects the joy of cycling.

    D. Littman says: "terrific book about bikes & history"
    "File Enthusiastically under 'History'"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An orgy of minutiae about cycling and the history of manufactury! I heard Robert Penn interviewed by Jack Thurston on The Bike Show, and I was excited to see the book listed here. History buffs of any stripe will enjoy it - Penn takes us from present to past, and across the globe, expertly weaving together technology, social movements, and vivid characters. For example, a visit to Chris King Headsets diverges seamlessly into a reverie about the nature of the child hood experience of learning to ride; Mark Twain's essay Taming the Bicycle; and 20 years of urban planning and tattoos in Portland, Oregon. I enjoyed hearing about the "glory days" of cycling, when cheap fast transportation changed lives in unpredictable ways. I loved Penn's take on the title - which he doesn't acknowledge until late in the book - as a reclamation of the elegance of the bicycle, a most enduring invention. This is one of the few books I have listened to twice. I recommend it heartily.

    (The narrator is affable, but may make a listener cringe with his unfortunate mispronunciations of European names - the great cyclist Hinault does not rhyme with "salt," for example.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Dave Barter
    • Narrated By Simon Whistler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder is an anthology of 30 articles written by an amateur cyclist over a period of 10 years. The collection exhibits the madness that engulfs those who descend into cycling obsession, celebrating the average cyclist living in a world defined by the pros. The writings range from fanciful musings concerning the Tao of singlespeeding to lengthy descriptions of end-to-end rides in Britain and Ireland.

    Maciej says: "Great one!"
    "Adventures of a Serial Amateur"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Personal essays, mostly essay-length, about the author's travails as a late blooming cycling fanatic. These 'inner voice' stories are quite humorous, especially the author's ping-ponging between hubris and humiliation at the club rides. My favorite sections were the introduction, when the author makes the life-changing decision to get fit during an awkward elevator incident, and his ride of The Étape in France, a cyclo-sportive event in which amateurs may ride a Tour de France stage on the rest day during the 'real' Tour. In the essayist tradition, the best stories emerge when things go wrong, and the author has plenty of things go wrong. My one criticism - occasionally attitude gets the better of the author. For example, he makes a point to single out and mock fellow cycling essayist Elden, of Fat Cyclist blog. Why do that? The two are cut from the same chamois, so to speak, and Elden is a much beloved figure in cycling blogs. Still, this was great to listen to while trapped in the carpool wishing I were cycling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Official Treasures of the Tour de France

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Serge Laget, Luke Edwardes-Evans, Andy McGrath
    • Narrated By Clive Mantle
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The Official Treasures of the Tour de France is a celebration of the 100th edition of one of the world's most famed annual events. Generally considered to be the greatest test of endurance in the sporting world, the Tour de France covers more than 2,200 miles in just over three weeks, climbing high into both the Alps and Pyrenees on a circular journey around France and briefly into neighbouring countries before ending on Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees. This brand-new edition comprises an authoritative narrative account of each major era in the sport, up to and including the 2012 Tour.

    Sparkly says: "To tide you over until next July."
    "To tide you over until next July."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit, despite its obvious shortfalls (rather brief; no photos in an audiobook; somewhat tame thesis). Listeners who are new to the history of this great race may enjoy the wonderful backstory of how the Tour came to be, and the crazy stories of its early iterations. The history of the race is, of course, inseparable to the histories of both 20th Century Europe and the Industrial Revolution, which makes for an intriguing perspective. For full disclosure, I am already a fan of the Tour de France, so I never tire of hearing the old familiar stories. There are not enough cycling audiobooks, and so we fans will listen to almost any of them. I was curious to hear the official viewpoint on the post-Armstrong era. The authors give an awkward "pass" to Miguel Indurain (whose name the narrator pronounces delightfully!), but otherwise they pull together a credible context for appreciating the race with a view to the long term.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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