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  • reviews
  • 109
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  • 91
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  • Cosmos

  • By: Carl Sagan
  • Narrated by: LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and others
  • Length: 14 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,377
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,081
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,071

Cosmos is one of the best-selling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiring. Innovative. Intelligent.

  • By Ben Engelke on 07-26-17

Behold the Universe!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-17-18

LeVar Burton is the narrator of this science classic and is one of the real pleasures of this book. Burton reads with the excitement of a fan and it made this listener join in his feeling. After a warm introduction by the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, Sagan crafts a book which is a history of science, a history of Sagan's love of science, and a look at how scientific knowledge affects us. Some of the science is dated (I kept wondering if astronomers are still looking for a supernova explosion which at the time of publication in the late 1970s hadn't happened) and that is part of the appeal of Neil deGrasse Tyson's updating of the television show recently. Still, Sagan's book retains its appeal because he was a lively writer and one who popularized science without dumbing it down. I wish that all of my science education that I suffered through in high school had been this enjoyable. Or at least I wish I had been wise enough then to appreciate science. Follies of youth, I guess.

  • The Year of the Flood

  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol, Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,052
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,403
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,414

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners - a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life - has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Atwood at her very best!

  • By Linda Novak on 10-18-09

Dystopian future expanded

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-10-18

In this worthy second volume of a trilogy Atwood greatly expands and changes the narrative that she began in Oryx and Crake. In this volume we get a range of characters (Wren, Toby, and members of the Gardeners) each of whom has a new perspective. This serves to flesh out a story that in the first volume was told exclusively through the eyes of Snowman/Jimmy. To make this even more explicit, this audiobook has three narrators. I just have to say that one of the kooky delights of this book is the singing of Adam One's songs--they sound like the really schmaltzy Christian rock of my youth but the lyrics are the words of an eco cultist leader.

Unlike the first volume though there is more satire. As each narrator tells their story, Atwood seems to be taking pokes at our organic obsessed modern culture. Other bits that get their share of jibes, are the strippers and their wealthy clients, and the general culture of sex commercialism. I think Atwood has a very realistic and healthy perspective on the kinds of people who inhabit those worlds (strippers, prostitutes, voyeurs, and the like). None of the writing seems in the least mean-spirited or shallow.

The characters become very real--Amanda in the first volume just the one time girlfriend is actually realized in this book as an actual, three dimensional character with a backstory and nuance. Toby is the strong survivor character and Wren (I presume this is the spelling but I don't have a copy of the print book) is likable but kind of weak. And yes, Jimmy and Glen show up too. So the pandemic that is seen through the eyes of the lone survivor in the first book turns out to have more survivors but true victims as well.

This is a strong book and even though the story is an expansion and continuation of the first book, it can be read (or listened to) as a stand alone as well. But it is more richly enjoyed I think when paired with the first book and I now look forward to Monday when I will get the third book, Madadam.

  • Oryx and Crake

  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
  • Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,312
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,115
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,147

As the story opens, Snowman is sleeping in a tree, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes - into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very Scary Stuff

  • By Doug on 07-21-03

Maybe even better than Handmaid's Tale

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-30-18

My son, Paul, has been urging me to read this book for a couple of years. He had read it for an honors class at his high school and had decided to reread it over the holiday break from college. "Dad, you would love this book!". Over and over. Finally, he added the clincher--"I think you might like it more than Handmaid". So I decided that since I already had Oryx and Crake in my Audible library and it wasn't that long that I might as well give it a listen.

Wow. This book is amazing. And while I thought there was just enough credibility in the dystopian vision of Handmaid's Tale, the premise of this novel has even more credibility because a lot of it is already happening at a more basic level. The novel here centers around a character named Snowman who is foraging for food and other supplies on an Earth that has been catastrophically depopulated, and Snowman's interactions with the only other inhabitants (Crakers) who are genetically modified semi-humans. Interestingly, the novel shifts back and forth in time and space--but the switches are made very easy to follow because in flashback the character is known by his name (Jimmy) and in current as Snowman. Most compellingly, we learn about Crake's importance to Jimmy both as his childhood friend and later his superior. Crake is the most chilling character in the novel--Oryx shows up later and her character serves more as a conscience. Most significantly is that we learn of a society where genetic manipulation and social control is at a horrifying level and is totally accepted as normal. As the book winds to its climax, the reader (listener) is left to ponder the choices made and not made, and to reflect on our own trajectory as a species.

I look forward to the next book and although my son said it is not a follow up, it is he assured me, still dealing with the core philosophical and scientific issues raised in this novel. I look forward to it and to getting more credits so I can get the third volume in the series.

  • David Copperfield [Audible]

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 36 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,944
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,822
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,806

Between his work on the 2014 Audible Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, and his performance of Classic Love Poems, narrator Richard Armitage ( The Hobbit, Hannibal) has quickly become a listener favorite. Now, in this defining performance of Charles Dickens' classic David Copperfield, Armitage lends his unique voice and interpretation, truly inhabiting each character and bringing real energy to the life of one of Dickens' most famous characters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A PERFECT narration of an English classic!

  • By Wayne on 09-03-17

Near Perfection for this fan

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-19-18

That this book is a masterpiece is hardly revelatory. The great and enduring characters in what is my second favorite Dickens novel (Great Expectations still has a narrow lead)--the foolishly improvident but absolutely lovable Wilkins McCawber, the odious Uriah Heep, and of course, Copperfield himself, are brought to magnificent life by Richard Armitage. This book is an epic work taking young David from childhood where he suffers the death of his beloved father and the too quick remarriage of his angelic mother to the loathsome Murdstone (who brings along his hateful, spiteful sister Jane) all the way to his blossoming career as a journalist and then novelist. Along the way we listen as young David makes friends and eventually loses his mother (yes, Dickens has a fancy for killing off a lot of females in his fiction) but is triumphantly adopted by his aunt (Armitage has his most successful female character creation here with a thick Scottish brogue) and her dear friend, Mr. Dick. But the character who always stands out for me is the delightful Tommy Traddles, the boy at school who draws skeletons for fun and later becomes a key figure in retrieving Copperfield's aunts fortune. Just so much fun to this story, but as befits the whole era of fiction, plenty of tears as well. The Victorian novelists exploited the overwhelming sense of tragedy as industrialization brought pollution, filth, and crime as well as material wealth. Dickens was not just a great plotter, but his concern for the ills of his time were clearly sincere and make everything he wrote intensely memorable.

  • Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

  • By: Elvis Costello
  • Narrated by: Elvis Costello
  • Length: 18 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 525
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 493
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 498

This memoir, written entirely by Elvis Costello himself, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best known songs and the hits of tomorrow. The book contains many stories and observations about his renowned cowriters and coconspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations on the less appealing side of infamy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Elvis by Elvis -- Best of the Best!

  • By Robert on 10-13-15

Enjoy the artist's journey

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-24-17

Elvis Costello was one of the first artists that I ever discovered for myself--I bought the eight track (yikes what a horrid format!) of his debut and fell in love with his passion and musicianship. Costello weaves a fascinating tale of the son of a singer who surpassed his father's accomplishments but admired his father enough to repeatedly acknowledge his contribution to his own career.

This is not the easiest book. Although the latter half of the book proceeds in a more or less chronological fashion, the first half is more the in and out weavings through time and childhood, adolescence, and adulthood tumble headlong into the strange reveries of a man looking back on several decades as a professional singer. Don't let this be an obstacle. Costello tells magical tales of being influenced as a performer, of collaborations with other artists (the sheer number of artists who have collaborated with Costello probably outnumbers those that he performed as the sole or leading singer).

This is less though a memoir of the man than a look at the development of an artist. Although there are biographical details (his account of his love for wife Diana Krall is truly sweet), this is more about the music and performers who inspired him and motivated him. I really enjoyed the chapter devoted to his love for the country music of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones and company. This was revelatory to me and made me appreciate even more the chapters about his collaboration with Paul McCartney (the Beatles autograph story is memorable), Toussaint, and the Brodsky quartet.

All told, this book is a gem. As a final part of what makes this such a good book to have is the inclusion of so many of the lyrics to his songs. The only difficult part is that at times Costello drops his voice to a whisper so you get to at times rewind to capture what made the lines so urgent. Other than that, one of the best books read by the author.

  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales

  • By: Oliver Sacks
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks - introduction
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,331
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,802
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,800

Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • "Lest we forget how fragile we are..."

  • By ESK on 02-23-13

Harrowing and Humorous?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-13-17

This was the book that started it all. The late great Oliver Sacks puts together a brilliant collection of anecdotes about his patients. Before I start, the only reservation I had was when I wondered whether his writing about his patients violated any codes of ethical conduct. Yes, the names are changed but I hope that Sacks sufficiently protected their identities.

Anyway, just to start with the title story--a brilliant music teacher who gradually loses the ability to discern the differences between human beings and objects or animals. What really struck me was how harrowing the disclosure was but also how the patient reconciled himself to his condition. And even more surprisingly, how his wife helped him cope with it by altering her conduct. The title comes from when the patient literally goes to put his wife onto his head at the end of the session with Sacks.

I came away from this book with both awe and sorrow. I was awed by how resilient people can be even when their brains inexplicably begin to misfire. But I was saddened by how random fate is. That of course is always the tragedy--as John Lennon put it "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Many of these patients were busy making other plans when life got derailed by their bodies and their brains. Sacks beautifully and compassionately records their cases and I am certain that they were fortunate to have a doctor as wise and warm as they got.

Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

  • By: Richard P. Feynman
  • Narrated by: Raymond Todd
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,839
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,403
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,414

With his characteristic eyebrow-raising behavior, Richard P. Feynman once provoked the wife of a Princeton dean to remark, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" But the many scientific and personal achievements of this Nobel Prize-winning physicist are no laughing matter. Here, woven with his scintillating views on modern science, Feynman relates the defining moments of his accomplished life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hilarious and inspiring

  • By Brad Grimm on 11-09-09

Brilliant, Eccentric, and Funny as Hell

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-02-17

This book is one that I've always meant to read--and actually started years ago but just lost track of it and never picked it up again. Once again--Audible to the rescue! Raymond Todd is an absolutely perfect narrator of the offbeat memoir of Nobelist Richard P. Feynman. Todd captures the humor by never overselling the lines, letting the words work their magic so that his (Todd's) mastery of the text not override that of the author's. As to the story itself, well what's not to like? In Feynman, you have a character whose sheer zaniness stretches credulity at times--if he were fictional, I imagine an editor would counsel an author to tone it down. This brilliant scientist spends as much if not more time dwelling on his pursuit of carnal pleasure, learning to play the bongos and art, as he does with his growth as a scientist. In fact, I suspect that what makes Feynman so memorable is not only was he a genius as a scientist, but he seemed to have an overwhelming love of living itself. One of the most significant portions of the book is his almost comical aversion to being labeled a Nobelist. He seemed to worry that being a prize winner might lower his chances for just having a good time. Here I have a suspicion that Feynman might have protested a little too much. Anyway, the other great part--there is a second volume after this one which I intend to listen to next (look for my review of it in a week or so!).

  • JFK

  • A Vision for America
  • By: Stephen Kennedy Smith, Douglas Brinkley
  • Narrated by: Paul Michael, Kirsten Potter, Jim Meskimen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9

Published in commemoration of the centennial of President John F. Kennedy's birth, here is the definitive compendium of JFK's most important and brilliant speeches, accompanied by a commentary and reflections by leading American and internationals figures - including Senator Elizabeth Warren, David McCullough, Kofi Annan, and the Dalai Lama.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Oh, What Might Have Been

  • By Amazon Customer on 10-17-17

Oh, What Might Have Been

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-17-17

Any book on John F. Kennedy which features his timeless prose brings a tear to my eye when I think about what America lost with his murder. This is even more true now when the prose of our current leader comes in the form of his tweet tantrums and the fawning restatements from the Congressional toadies and the GOP's media arm.

This book is a collection of JFK's speeches with analyses and reflections from a variety of figures in the political, academic, and entertainment worlds. What really struck me was how that in many of Kennedy's less cited speeches there is a prescience that is staggering (environmental catastrophe and the resentments of many in the Muslim world) and of course made me ponder what might have transpired if a madman had not struck him down. That being said, I think Lyndon Johnson did heroic work in pushing through legislation that Kennedy might never have been able to.

Get this book to give yourself not only an intellectual treat but as an antidote for today's miasma.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 79,422
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 73,674
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 73,332

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book and perfect narration

  • By Marilyn Armstrong on 12-15-16

What an Inspiring Book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-09-17

Trevor Noah is one of the best performers gracing the airwaves today. He took over Jon Stewart's role and he has been more than a worthy successor. This book is a wonderfully rich account of his growing up in mostly post-apartheid South Africa. Noah's tales of his childhood are enriched by the diversity of these stories--facing a life of poverty at times and want as a child of a black mother and white father, and building up a narrative of someone who can laugh at the absurd contradictions that racism and the societal changes. For me what was interesting (and frankly, depressing) were the parallels that I heard described in South Africa (still wrestling with post-colonial and post-apartheid legacies) and the United States. Truly, though, the hero of the book is Noah's mother who survived despite all the odds and the tale of her second husband is harrowing. But inspiring.

This book is meant for audio. Noah is a gifted performer and because he speaks several languages, it just sounds perfect. I will just single out the chapter on his dance crew and their star, Hitler, as one of the funniest in the book. Overall this was just so much fun to listen to and his positive, loving recollections really did give me greater appreciation of what a fundamentally good person he is. You will love this book.

  • The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository

  • By: John Connolly
  • Narrated by: Eric Yves Garcia
  • Length: 1 hr and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 52

Mr. Berger has spent 34 years keeping his life as empty as possible. His job title as a “Closed Accounts Registrar” doesn’t spark much interest, and his cautious flirtation with a woman at his company was cut short upon her engagement to another man. This doesn’t bother him, however, as he much prefers the company of books to that of people. His serene life is rendered strange when he witnesses a tragedy chillingly reminiscent of Anna Karenina as a woman flings herself before a train.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just get this book!

  • By Wayne on 04-19-16

Charming tale of bibliophilia

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-04-17

This is an absolutely delightful little book which I purchased because I had recently finished a young adult fantasy by the author. This is a charming tale of a book obsessed man who witnesses a horrifying suicide (I know, doesn't sound charming but trust me!) and his investigations lead him to some delightful discoveries about who the woman is and what the library is. Like Narnia, Oz or the land in Connolly's Book of Lost Things (the book which led me to this one under review), disbelief must be suspended, and the reader quickly becomes entranced with the idea central to this novel--that books create worlds and characters so real that they acquire real existence. Yes, it is totally predictable, but then when you think about it, many books are so vital to our lives that one can't be sure whether it was predictable because of a flaw in the writer or because it just had to happen that way.

A final note--Eric Yves Garcia's reading is virtually perfect and I had just given up on a dreadful book (not sure whether I have the heart to review it) so it made listening to this one that much better.

Think I will look into this genre more. It has been fun so far.