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Bikram Agarwal

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  • reviews
  • 130
  • helpful votes
  • 429
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  • A River in Darkness

  • One Man's Escape from North Korea
  • By: Masaji Ishikawa, Risa Kobayashi - translator, Martin Brown - translator
  • Narrated by: Brian Nishii
  • Length: 5 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,095
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,904
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,900

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just 13 years old. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by false promises of abundant work and a higher station in society. In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal 36 years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Heartbreaking

  • By C. F. Gagnon on 05-31-18

Heartbreaking story of suffering.

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

Reviewed: 09-05-18

I, like many other people, had heard about inhumane conditions in North Korea earlier. But reading the first hand account of a survivor was a gut wrenching and heartbreaking experience. Makes you realize that no matter how bad we feel about our own life, those people are living a life way worse than that. It feels like a moral responsibility of the world to do something about them.

I did have a few issues with the content of the book though. The author kept saying that his father and other "returnees" didn't know any better because they haven't seen any other form of governance. But the author himself keeps acting as if he was the only enlightened one even at that age, even though he himself too hadn't been outside Japan or North Korea at that point...!!

And there are some timeline discrepancies in the epilogue of the book, where he mentions the dates of last letters.

Narration was pretty flat. Didn't convey the powerful emotions of the book.

  • Alien: Sea of Sorrows

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: James A. Moore, Dirk Maggs
  • Narrated by: John Chancer, Stockard Channing, Walles Hamonde, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 864
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 813
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 809

Set 300 years after the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: River of Pain, Alien: Sea of Sorrows deals with the rediscovery of dormant Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the abandoned mines of LV-178, the planetoid from Alien: Out of the Shadows, which has now been terraformed and renamed New Galveston. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, reformed after the collapse of the United Systems Military, continue their unceasing efforts to weaponise the creatures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • another great performance

  • By Anonymous User on 04-26-18

All 3 books are almost same. Why bother?

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

Reviewed: 08-22-18

I dunno why I keep buying books of this series. All 3 books (audible dramatizations) sound exactly same as the other. Just that the books reference events in the earlier book, only to repeat the same event. If you've read one book, you've read all of them.

And the gunfire sound in this series is the worst I've heard ever.

  • Hope Never Dies

  • By: Andrew Shaffer
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 213
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 198
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 197

Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident. To unravel the mystery, "Amtrak Joe" re-teams with the only man he's ever fully trusted - Obama. Together they'll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America's opioid epidemic. Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fan fiction - and a cathartic listen for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Yes, you will smile, laugh, cry, cheer, & applaud!

  • By Delores O. on 07-12-18

One of the worst narrations I've heard.

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

Reviewed: 08-08-18

First thing first - I picked up this book hoping that there will be some fun Obama and Biden voice impersonations. There's absolutely no Obama in there, and just a tiny bit resemblance to Biden. I could've still looked past that. But the narrator made absolutely no effort of distinguishing different character voices. Every single character sounds absolutely the same and I couldn't identify who's saying what. One of the worse narration I've ever heard.

That out of the way, the story is easy to follow. I'd call it a "cozy mystery" though, as there's no nail biting, edge of the seat thrill or tense suspense. Still enjoyable. The bromance between Obama and Biden was too "high-school"-ish at point, but I think that added to the comedic value of the story. There are few quips here n there that made me chuckle; nothing out-n-out laugh worthy though.

All in all, a pretty average book. Would I still read the next book in the series when it comes out? Yes.

  • American War

  • A Novel
  • By: Omar El Akkad
  • Narrated by: Dion Graham
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,414
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,312
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,306

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best listen in years

  • By odin on 04-08-17

Unique story of war

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

Reviewed: 07-20-18

This review might possibly considered a spoiler, so be warned.

One of the reasons I loved this book is because it is not another "everything gets resolved at the end" story. The ticking time bomb didn't get defused at the last minute. So, a different end than the usual fare.

The story's pacing goes through hills and valleys. Intense at places and dull at others. And in between these two extremes, we have snippets of lives of people living in this war torn land. Those are gritty and down to earth at the same time. Sarat and her cute antiques in the first half were endearing. Her world flipping 180 in the second half was equally heartbreaking.

If I have to nitpick, I would say Sarat's capture and torture and release - all of that felt very rushed. Some more time could've been spent there. And Sarat's final revenge... I wish the actual execution was a longer chapter.

Narration was mostly alright. But the female voices weren't convincing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The President Is Missing

  • By: Bill Clinton, James Patterson
  • Narrated by: Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, and others
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9,442
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8,686
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,639

The White House is the home of the president of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a US president vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so? An unprecedented collaboration between President Bill Clinton and the world's best-selling novelist, James Patterson, The President Is Missing is a breathtaking story from the pinnacle of power.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Wanted it to be so much better

  • By K. Moeller on 06-18-18

Extremely predictable story, still alright I guess

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

Reviewed: 07-07-18

From start till end, there's not a single omg twist in this book. There's just one single surprise that elicited a "huh...!! okkay" response in my mind. Other than that, it followed extremely formulaic path. I still didn't dislike the book and listened to it like watching a mindless action movie.

Things I did dislike about the book -
Chapters galore. 2-5 minute long chapters, breaking a single short scene into multiple sugar-grain sized chapters... It got irritating super fast. Get a hold of yourself, whoever did that.
Endless tries at the password guessing...!!! Cringe.
Multiple pop-culture / recent event references (e.g. wannacry) felt forced. The speech at the end felt super forced.
Narration was subpar at best. Only the female vocals for Bach's chapters were alright. And I liked the background music used in those chapters.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Son of a Liche

  • The Dark Profit Saga, Book 2
  • By: J. Zachary Pike
  • Narrated by: Doug Tisdale Jr.
  • Length: 20 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 619
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 591
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 591

Still bruised and heartbroken from their last calamitous quest, Gorm Ingerson and his band of washed-up heroes try to make amends for the orcs they accidentally betrayed. But justice is put on hold when an old foe marches to the city gates. Gorm is horrified to discover a liche pitching the frightened city-dwellers on the merits of the undead lifestyle...at the head of a corpse army. To save the city from high-pressure sales tactics and an inevitable siege, the dwarf warrior and his misfit band hatch a harebrained scheme that lands them at the top of the king’s kill list.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Crony capitalism compete to crush our heroes

  • By Ray Johnson on 05-27-18

As good as, if not better than, the first book.

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

I had requested and received this book for free from the author, in exchange for an unbiased review.

Humor books that genuinely manage to make me laugh are a rarity and "Orconomics: A Satire" had managed to do that when I had read that few weeks ago. So, when I had learnt that a second book was released in the series, I couldn't wait to get started with that. And I'm happy to report that this doesn't disappoint, like most sequels usually do. First book had set high expectations and this second book fulfills those and then some.

The characters are the life of this series. They extremely well written and stay with you even after you're done with the book. They are witty, smart, relatable, funny and interesting. The plot itself is choke full of humor and wit. The story pacing is comfortable and not rushed at all. Everything got ample time to stew and develop. I was thoroughly hooked for the entire duration. An out-n-out entertainer.

Doug Tisdale Jr.'s narration is perfect. Every single character is brought to life. It's amazing to hear someone make so many different voices.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Good Omens

  • By: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,221
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,743
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,768

The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Satisfyingly Hilarious

  • By FernT on 09-27-11

Pretty good. But not as legendary as I had heard.

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

Reviewed: 06-27-18

I've been hearing praises about this book almost on every "best humor book" threads on reddit n elsewhere and thus was expecting it to be hilarious. It wasn't that. The story was entertaining and I loved listening to it, like any other Neil Gaiman book. But it wasn't among the "best funny book" I have read. In fact I didn't find it all that funny. Was the British accent supposed to be funny or was the Them gang's childishness? Other than a few passages, I didn't find anything "funny". Having that wrong expectation sort of dinged the listening experience.

Now that that's out of the way - the story is still entertaining. It's a wholesome story with adorable characters and a good pacing. There wasn't any dull moment. The narrator did a fab job with all the accents and different character voices.

  • Orconomics: A Satire

  • The Dark Profit Saga, Book 1
  • By: J. Zachary Pike
  • Narrated by: Doug Tisdale Jr.
  • Length: 11 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,682
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,596
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,591

Professional heroes kill and loot deadly monsters every day, but Gorm Ingerson's latest quest will be anything but business as usual. The adventuring industry drives the economy of Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. Monsters' hoards are claimed, bought by corporate interests, and sold off to plunder funds long before the Heroes' Guild actually kills the beasts. Of course, that's a terrible arrangement for the Shadowkin; orcs, goblins, kobolds, and their ilk must apply for to become Noncombatant Paper Carriers to avoid being killed and looted by heroes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Holy shit

  • By EyeDeKay on 02-21-17

Hilarious without trying too hard.

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

Reviewed: 05-23-18

I had requested and received audiobook version of this book for free from the author, in exchange for an unbiased review.

I am always on the lookout for any genuinely funny story, which just doesn't depend on crass humor. Satire books are a risky bet in that quest. When they work, they are fabulous. But when they fail, they bomb. Thankfully, "Orconomics: A Satire" is the former. It is full of very cleverly written story sequences and intelligent humor. The well written characters and their antiques kept me thoroughly entertained for the whole duration. It is funny without trying too hard to be funny. I was laughing out loud in my room. I had to stop listening to it during my commute, because I didn't want to grin like an idiot in public. Listen to it to know what I'm talking about.

The narration by Doug Tisdale Jr. works so very well for this book. The different voices used were marvelous and kept me engrossed in it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Killers of the Flower Moon

  • The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
  • By: David Grann
  • Narrated by: Will Patton, Ann Marie Lee, Danny Campbell
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,921
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5,358
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,339

In the 1920s the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An outstanding story, highly recommended

  • By S. Blakely on 06-22-17

Makes me sad about our past.

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

Reviewed: 05-15-18

All of this is real...!!!?? I somewhat knew about the atrocities committed on Indigenous people, and yet, reading this book made me sick to my stomach. How can people be so cruel...!! And all for just money..! And then they have the audacity to act all high n holy and lecture others on human rights.

In chapters where the FBI investigations were unraveling twists of the murders, it read like a newbie thriller writer throwing in "twists" just for the sake of. And to think that it all really happened... Truth is really stranger than fiction.

This is the kind of non-fiction book I like; not the self-help books that sound all preachy and don't really help me in anyway.

This book is divided into three broad sections and each of them are narrated by different narrators. I think that was a wise choice.

  • A Higher Loyalty

  • Truth, Lies, and Leadership
  • By: James Comey
  • Narrated by: James Comey
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 20,879
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 19,047
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 18,960

In his audiobook, A Higher Loyalty, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of powe, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More Than Trump: All Comey's Life/Working Years--

  • By Gillian on 04-17-18

More of Comey's journey, less about Trump. Good.

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

Reviewed: 05-04-18

I read some news articles that people are actually feeling let down that this book is not entirely (as in, cover to cover) about Donald Trump. Really? People actually want to read an entire book on him? On top of the trump-flood that MSM is drowning in? I in fact liked that the book isn't constantly going trump, trump, trump, trump. I liked that Mr. Comey described different major cases of his life, in order to make us understand his values etc. I hadn't known about the Martha Stewart case before this (I am not American) and that was new to me. It was also good to learn how Comey dealt with the surveillance program and the torture regimen. I now know more about Mr. Comey and few other political players than I knew before. So, I would say this book was beneficial to me.

The book does have its flaws. To begin with, it did sound to me like Mr. Comey was trying to paint a very righteous image of himself. The few self-criticization that he has added in the book were there just so that he can say "no, see I criticized myself too" when confronted. I was expecting there will be at least one chapter on the Snowden leak. But apart from mentioning him in the passing, Mr. Comey didn't broach the subject. Of course there's the Stellar Wind chapter. But even there, we get no justification on how did they think any of those mass surveillance were justified. Bradley Manning gets no mention either. He also quickly wrapped the topic of encryption. Topics where he probably knew that his views are counter to public opinion. All that said, I do believe that Mr. Comey is a stand-up guy and did his best for the country under a very difficult situation. Being fired by Trump should be further proof of that and be worn like a badge of honor.

On the topic of Trump, yes, I'm a little disappointed. I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know. Every single thing related to Trump mentioned in this book was already part of msm news articles before this. Other than the still classified / unverified material implicating Lynch. Wonder what that is.

I'm glad that Mr. Comey himself narrated this book. Anyone else doing it wouldn't have been appropriate.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful