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Michael

Walnut Creek, CA, United States
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  • The Magus

  • By: John Fowles
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Boulton
  • Length: 26 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 442
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 389
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 398

John Fowles’s The Magus was a literary landmark of the 1960s. Nicholas Urfe goes to a Greek island to teach at a private school and becomes enmeshed in curious happenings at the home of a mysterious Greek recluse, Maurice Conchis. Are these events, involving attractive young English sisters, just psychological games, or an elaborate joke, or more? Reality shifts as the story unfolds. The Magus reflected the issues of the 1960s perfectly, and it continues to create tension and concern today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mystical Morality Tale of Love, Reality, Fidelity

  • By W Perry Hall on 03-24-14

Rorschach Blot

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

Reviewed: 06-09-18

This is a very unusual book in a few different ways. It is definitely post-modern meta-fiction and is full of meta-level-twists. This is not about character, or story, or action...it was described by the author as having no message and is like a Rorschach blot. I guess if anything, the book is an exploration of the nature of free will.

This is a hard book to describe without giving anything away.

I really liked this book but will not read it again, and won't highly recommend it to friends.
What I can say is, although this is nothing like Kafka and Joyce, it you really like them, you will get something out of this novel. I felt like re-reading Kafka and Joyce when I finished this novel.

I am a little surprised this is as highly rated as it is for, written in 1965, this was not really groundbreaking at that time. Some books are recognized as great for being first, instead of being very good. This is very good, but was not really first at anything I can see. Perhaps is it just resonated particularly well with the mid-1960's it does not quite continue that resonance now.

I found the narration really excellent with quite difficult material, expressing the narrator's internal states very well.

There is an odd PDF included which appears to be the dust cover of the book along with the table of contents.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • All Systems Red

  • By: Martha Wells
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 3 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,737
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,542
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,540

All Systems Red is the tense first science fiction adventure novella in Martha Wells' series The Murderbot Diaries. For fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie's Imperial Raadch series, or Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self-discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I LOVE MURDERBOT

  • By Michael - Audible Editor on 11-06-17

meh

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-18

This had a few interesting ideas, but nothing made me particularly enjoy the science, characters or story.
I may have chuckled a few times, but not a lot. I sometimes like humor Sci-Fi, but they need to either be pretty absurd or intriguing or have a nice science basis...this was just a mildly funny, just OK story with weak character development. Luckily the book is short.

The narration was quite fine without being outstanding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Power Systems

  • Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire
  • By: Noam Chomsky
  • Narrated by: Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian
  • Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 86
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86

A compelling new set of interviews on our changing and turbulent times with Noam Chomsky, one of the world's foremost thinkers...

In this new collection of conversations, conducted from 2010 to 2012, Noam Chomsky explores the most immediate and urgent concerns: the future of democracy in the Arab world, the implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the European financial crisis, the breakdown of American mainstream political institutions, and the rise of the Occupy movement. As always, Chomsky presents his ideas vividly and accessibly, with uncompromising principle and clarifying insight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nice update from Chomsky

  • By John on 02-25-13

Classic Chomsky

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-30-18

Firstly this is a series of interviews not a coherent book, the audio quality is variable but generally understandable.

I have read a lot of Chomsky (on both linguistics and politics) quite a few years ago, and when a friend asked me what I thought of this book and Chomsky, I decided to give Chomsky a fresh look.
This book, as the title implies, is mostly on power politics but there is a bit of linguistics at the end.

I have never been a fan of Chomsky and this book did not alter that.
Chomsky is very well read, is intelligent and says mostly reasonable things, that make sense, and uses quotes that are correct but out of context, then makes final conclusions that do not follow.
Chomsky has slight anarchist bent which I found off putting.
Some of his theories seem to me, at least borderline, conspiracy theories.
One of his theories is there is not good evidence that Osama bin Laden was involved in the 911 attacks and his death was a US "assassination".

On careful analysis Chomsky seems to blame everyone, corporations, government, the media, and even the people but he does not really provide a clear direction. He seems to feel the only solution is revolutionary transformation away from democratic capitalism but this is frustrated by the self-brain washing of the people.

I alway found Chomsky's very influential linguistic theories quite weak, based upon strongly held opinions, not science. His comments at the end of this book did not change that either. He seems to think some recent small language specific brain evolution must be responsible for the development of human language. Although this might be the case, there are other explanations.

Chomsky has written many books on politics and power and remains influential. I recommend reading some Chomsky, but reading with close attention to final step in each of his arguments.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Crooked Staircase

  • A Jane Hawk Novel, Book 3
  • By: Dean Koontz
  • Narrated by: Elisabeth Rodgers
  • Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 772
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 699
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 692

Jane Hawk knows she may be living on borrowed time. But as long as she’s breathing, she’ll never cease her one-woman war against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom - and free will - of millions. Battling the strange epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane’s husband, and is escalating across the country, has made the rogue FBI agent a wanted fugitive, relentlessly hunted not only by the government but by the secret cabal behind the plot. Deploying every resource their malign nexus of power and technology commands, Jane’s enemies are determined to see her dead...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well done.

  • By James C. Lamb on 05-11-18

Not the best book of not the best series

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

Reviewed: 05-30-18

I generally like Koontz and have read everything. This is not Koontz's best series and not the best book of this series, but it is still better than most in the genre. I found four significant weaknesses in this book:

Some parts were repetitive (at one point I wondered if this was a re-write, which Koontz has done from time to time) or I had read the novel before. But no, it was a very similar scene from a previous book in this series. Overall the series story is not moving forward in interesting ways, so each book seems a bit of a rehash.

I found it hard to like the protagonist who seems a bit too OK with maybe killing some innocents swept up by the evil doers. I am pretty OK with heros inialting evil, but considering the disposal of inconvenient innocents does not a good hero make.

The ending is abrupt and unfulfilling. It is not a cliff hanger, it is a dead stop with almost no resolution.

The final weakness is a matter of opinion. This book seems to encourage the belief that all media is fake news and nothing can be believed. This is a common theme of the genre and a standard Koontz theme that has grown over time. I used to accept this as creative license to heighten the story, but in the current environment it made me mildly uncomfortable. There even seems to be a masked dig at fired FBI Director Comey. Of course if you like Trump you will not be bothered by any of this. McCain supporters may be put off.

The narration is good (completely clear) but not great, seeming inconsistent (and almost bored a few times).

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany

  • By: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 26 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,398
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,026
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,035

Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Painfully nostalgic

  • By Barry on 07-29-15

Great book, Great Narrator

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

Reviewed: 05-28-18

I have liked other of Irving's books, but this is my favorite. It is a strange, non-linear, look at fate and faith which I found compelling, funny, and touching. The characterizations are wonderful, the story engaging (although odd), and the writing excellent. Although not quite magical realism, there is a lot of magic here. I laughed many, many, times and was always quite into the narrative, not wanting to stop listening.

The narration is perfect. This version in audio is better than reading the book as the voice of Owen is perfect.

This is a bit long for even a long drive, but this is the kind of book I would enjoy listening to with my family.

  • The Tin Drum

  • A New Translation by Breon Mitchell
  • By: Günter Grass
  • Narrated by: Paul Michael Garcia
  • Length: 25 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 197
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 151
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 155

To mark the 50th anniversary of the original publication of this runaway best-seller, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, along with Grass's publishers all over the world, offer a new translation of this classic novel. Breon Mitchell, acclaimed translator and scholar, has drawn from many sources. The result is a translation that is faithful to Grass's style and rhythm, restores omissions, and reflects more fully the complexity of the original work. After 50 years, The Tin Drum has, if anything, gained in power and relevance.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • It's a metaphor, right?

  • By Barry on 08-11-12

What War Does

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

Reviewed: 05-28-18

Although this is a great book, it will not be for all readers. There is little action and the story is convoluted, self-contradictory, and alternatively commonplace and absurd. I would not recommend this to young readers, and I am not yet sure I will recommend it to my (adult) daughter.

This book is funny at the surface and (literally) intolerably sad below. It deals with the effects of war and the dehumanization of the modern post-war world. This is a great book which uses aspects of magical realism and the absurd to express the pressures of humans dealing with modern war and its aftermath. This book is well worth reading just to hear the story of the Onion Club.

This book did not feel like a translation, it was smooth and resonated very well in english.

The narration was superb, completely clear, expressing emotionality, and handling swift changes of mode and perspective very well.

  • Persepolis Rising

  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 20 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,921
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,569
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,554

The seventh novel in James S. A. Corey's New York Times best-selling Expanse series - now a major television series.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beginning of a new story

  • By Michael G Kurilla on 12-17-17

Best of the Series (so far)

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

Reviewed: 05-16-18

I almost never restart a book immediately after completing it, but I did for this novel and I enjoyed the second listen as much, or more, than the first. This starts with a 30 year gap from the last book, with a whole lot of changes. The crew is older and slowing down...until, of course, stuff happens. The depression of Babylons Ashes has been replaced with grim determination and the action ensues. Wonderful relationships and character development, exciting, interesting, and touching in turns. The story has a lot of new stuff going on, and a little complexity, so my second listen was particularly useful. The only problem with this book is that I want the next one NOW. I am usually completely patient as there are so many books and so little time...but the end of this book left me definitely wanting more.

Again the narration is basically perfect. Complete clarity, with wonderful characterization and emotionality.

  • Before We Were Yours

  • A Novel
  • By: Lisa Wingate
  • Narrated by: Emily Rankin, Catherine Taber
  • Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31,128
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 28,374
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,262

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge - until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I was rivetted, finished in three days.

  • By Lin Cloward on 06-26-17

Creative History?

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-16-18

I am not sure what this was. It is not really bad, but I am not sure why it was written. It is kind of a fictionalized telling of a historical outrage of stealing and selling children, but everything that would create any dramatic tension is so thoroughly foreshadowed that there is absolutely zero drama. For me this was like a dark Hallmark movie. Everything, almost every word, was predictable. It seems to me this could have been a good fiction book, or a good non-fiction history, but the blend seems to suck the life out of both stories.

I was also not a big fan of the narration. The accents were all a bit off and took me out of the story. The narration did not add any emotionality or interesting characterization, but was reasonably clear.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

  • A Novel
  • By: Haruki Murakami
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas
  • Length: 26 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,257
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,056
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,060

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.... Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great story. Make narrators "female voice" incredibly distracting

  • By Benjamin E. Flashman on 03-19-17

Loved it - even most of the narration

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

Reviewed: 04-25-18

The female voices did leave a bit to be desired, but it did not distract me from the writing and the voice of the protagonist was excellent.

This was really engaging writing with a big dose of magical realism which both resonated honesty while being over-to-top extraordinary. I really loved the protagonist as he deals with real-life issues as he smoothly flows into a world of magic, inner life, and visions.

It is almost unbelievable this is a translation. The writing feels so personal, which can get lost in translations.

I will likely listen to this book again.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • What Is Real?

  • The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics
  • By: Adam Becker
  • Narrated by: Greg Tremblay
  • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69

Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favored practical experiments over philosophical arguments.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good, "light" "read"... potential caveat below...

  • By James S. on 03-31-18

The book ends "I don't know"

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

Reviewed: 04-25-18

This book is not really about what is real and the author does not know.
Instead it is yet another, middle of the pack, retelling of a slice of the history of quantum theory.

This book does a few things better than others in this sub-sub-genera:
It disparages the Copenhagen interpretation of QM as not fit to be a theory.
It focuses on Bell, Bohm, and Everett as examples of those that questioned the Copenhagen interpretation.

This was fine as far as it went, but the author either does not understand or does not believe these alternative theories. He goes on about randomness being fundamental to quantum reality while Bell, Bohm, and Everett are trying to say there are alternatives to randomness (deterministic non-locality or multi-world or something else).

I prefer The Trouble with Physics which. I think, makes similar points better and clearer.

The narration is good, clear, and has a pleasant upbeat tone.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful