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JAS

LA, CA
  • 13
  • reviews
  • 12
  • helpful votes
  • 14
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iGen audiobook cover art

Hard to Connect to this Audiobook

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

Reviewed: 08-30-19

Great topic with tons of research, so on paper this should work. In fact, this book works probably much better on paper as opposed to streaming. It's frustrating to attempt to absorb graphs and supporting information here on an audiobook, as well as the quiz at the top where you actually need to tabulate different columns for your answer. On paper, this may well be a compelling read. But the author's message is hard to take seriously in this audiobook.

A bigger part of my problem with this Audiobook is the Narrator. While she has a pleasant sounding voice, the voice really doesn't fit the author. The youthfulness of the Narrator undermines the seasoned authority of the Author. When the Author references her research from over ten years ago for a previous book, it sounds comedically unlikely. Frankly, the Narrator suggests someone in her mid-late 20s, tops. She may have a professional sound and seriousness about her, but her voice continually pulls me out of this book. I kept trying to imagine that this voice represents the voice of someone with lots of anthropological experience under her belt - in addition to being a mother of three. I'm sorry, but this Reader sounds barely out of college.

Occasionally, when the Narrator dons the voice of some of the younger interviewees, I thought that maybe that was why they chose this Reader. But, between the graphs etc that aren't available here on an audiobook as well as the earnest but terribly miscast Reader, I had to stop about 1/3 of the way through.

The Sympathizer audiobook cover art

Cutting, complex and poetic story, delivered wryly

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

Reviewed: 06-30-19

The Sympathizer challenges the reader (and listener) with its breadth of story and circuitous narrative. For the most party, I enjoyed listening to it unfold. It took rather a long time for me to embrace the narration, if truth be told. Extraneous mouth noises, for example, pull me out of it. And the extremely detached and wry delivery of Francois Chau, to my ears, affects more of a real person, at times, than a narrator. It's a tricky balance. Ultimately, Mr Chau's reading does work for me even when his instrument sometimes sounds like it needs a drink of water.

The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer, so who am I to quibble with the book? I definitely enjoyed visiting a time (mid 1970s, Vietnam and beyond) with a complex and intriguing main character. The book casually features some drop-dead gorgeous language. Immense beauty. Occasionally, the content gets pretty rough - but it never feels gratuitous. Way too many pop culture references for its own good, but otherwise, a compelling read - if, at times, confusing. I suggest not to worry about the confusion, and stay with it.

Mr Chau's narration provides a well-matched tone of humor and pathos. While less convincing with some of the additional character voices, the bulk of his work here provides a flexible and sturdy spine to the audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Jane Eyre audiobook cover art

Brilliant Reading of Relevant Classic

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

Reviewed: 05-16-19

Having no prior experience with Jane Eyre other than knowing 'it's a classic,' I was curious. Having previously enjoyed Juliet Stevenson perform Shakespeare some years back, I was intrigued. Then, after hearing a short sample of her reading of Jane Eyre, I was ready to jump in to this well-regarded, time-tested novel.

It's brilliant. It's a banquet of delicious prose surrounding an uniquely modern story. The story requires a few pages to get into, given the structure of the book as well as the exposition into a world so unlike today. Yet, it's all so worth it. Before long, in my opinion, what once seemed so foreign soon becomes familiar. Jane Eyre (in case you don't know) is deeply human story, very clever, and filled with countless emotions and satisfying narrative surprises.

Juliet Stevenson's narration is outstanding, and serves the book well. Her gift with language, plus her skill at characters and countless dialects truly makes Jane Eyre soar. Ms Stevenson is clearly at home here, and we, the listener, are the richer for it. It is not a showy performance, per se; it is understated. However, I believe if you do stop to consider her performance, it is nothing short of masterful.

Small production details: At times, the volume of the audiiobook seems to get too quiet. Overall, it's hardly noticeable, and that's why we can adjust the volume, of course. However, if driving while listening, for instance, the outside road and traffic may temporarily overtake the largely gentle storytelling. (Also, the Chapters on Audible do not numerically sync up with the author's).

This Audiobook is Highly Recommended.

City of Thieves audiobook cover art

Excellent Read of an Entertaining Book

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

Reviewed: 04-14-19

Ron Perlman matches just great with City of Thieves. His detached narrator and under-played characters strike a perfect balance to help convey the drama, the horror, the humor and occasional joys found in the book. A dry reading does not make a dry read. Very enjoyable. Though the vocal production is seamless, there are frequent music 'outros' to the chapters. Music appears a minute or so at the end of the chapters. I found this part to be distracting. It even interfered with hearing of the story, at times. It also served as an artificial cue as to when the chapter was ending. Less music, please.

It's an entertaining story that gives some historical background about events of WWII. (The Siege of Leningrad, specifically). The story unfolds in an engaging, cinematic way. In fact, though quite different, it recalled Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds'. (City of Thieves was published a year or two before that movie)

At 8.5 hours, City of Thieves doesn't require too much of the listener's time. The story has its very dark moments, reminding the listener of some of the brutalities and desperation of the time. Still, there is hope and even sweetness among the backdrop of the Holocaust. It's an imaginative ride, peppered with some rough language. May not be appropriate for younger listeners.

Red Summer audiobook cover art

Better Understand 2019 by Looking Closely at 1919

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

Reviewed: 03-27-19

Anyone looking for a clearer understanding of how America has struggled with race relations would benefit from this book. It's sobering, tragic and, at times, almost unbelievable. However, in today's social climate, Red Summer helps shed a huge light on how we got to where we are today.

Cameron McWhirter is, of course, a top tier reporter, and his experience and curiosity matches well with this nearly-forgotten chapter in American history. I was intellectually stimulated and emotionally wrung-out by this treasure trove. Packed with exhaustive research, countless interviews, and insightful historical perspective, Red Summer is a book that delivers more than I could have imagined.

As an audiobook, I must say that I have a few misgivings. I often felt the tone of the narrator was at odds with the book. The 'read' is a little smug, frankly. I felt a more matter-of-fact reading would have benefited the listening experience. Furthermore, there are many audible 'breaths' in this recording, and that's distracting. Not sure why those weren't edited out or toned down. Lastly, at almost exactly the 8 hour mark, I noticed that there was some technical issue - like an interruption or something...right when the book discusses a gentleman whose fear for his own life is sadly justified.

I would still highly recommend Red Summer, in any form. America would learn a lot about 2019 by looking at 1919.

Point of information: Some years ago I knew Cam a bit, and have always followed and enjoyed his work.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

The 42nd Parallel audiobook cover art

Whirlwind Dreamy Narrative poor fit for Audiobook

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

Reviewed: 02-15-19

Kaleidoscopic, almost cinematic storytelling simply doesn't work here at all in this audiobook. The dutiful reader has a clear voice but it's no match for the various headings, demarcations and alternative storytelling that makes up 'The 42nd Parallel'. As much as I love listening to audiobooks, this one creates more problems than it solves. By no means an easy feat, however, to bring this experimental and multifaceted book to life. To be fair, it's easy to get lost in this book even when reading it from the actual text. Still, that is my recommendation with this book, and indeed the whole 'USA' trilogy that Dos Passos has created.

It's a dreamworld with multiple storylines, dozens of characters, and several different sub-chapters with different sensibilities. In listening to a good chunk of this audiobook, I was simply confused and disinterested. To my ear, the world in this audiobook is flat and chaotic. In my opinion, for this book to work as an audiobook, there needs to be either more of a radio-play experience, or perhaps a more varied vocal performance by the likes of an actor/chameleon such as Jim Dale.

The Bully Pulpit audiobook cover art

Outstanding Performance of Truly Amazing Story

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

Reviewed: 02-07-19

Edward Hermann brings his erudite and amiable narration to a fascinating, if bulky, book that covers the years of Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and the birth of investigative journalism. The Progressive Movement gathers steam and real social change abounds.There are many familiar names and events as well as even more whom I didn't know. Doris Kearns Goodwin brings her vast knowledge and research to paint a masterpiece of historical wonder. I'm not kidding, this is as expansive as the TR's ambitions or as hefty as Taft's waistline. It's a love letter to #26 and #27, but not without a critical eye. While there is much to admire in both men, their short-comings are well-documented, too. A major part of this book is actually a kind of love story between two kindred spirits, and it's a joy to hear it unfold, then fall apart, then find resolution.

Intertwined throughout is the story of S.S. McClure's, his eponymous magazine, and the legendary writers and editors he hand-picked who helped usher in the 'Golden Age of Journalism.' Well before Woodward and Bernstein, Edward R. Murrow or even Marie Colvin, it took a certain visionary and all-star staff of literary and critical sharpshooters to help effect change in the public's conversation in the USA.

There are times where I wished to be reading this in print so to be sure about certain names of the participants. Even so, there are other times when some of the details of the legal or legislative battles got a tad tricky to follow. But thanks to the rewind 30 button, it's quite possible to keep up with all the doings of the many colorful characters and events.

I loved it. I'm glad I had at least some prior knowledge of Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln Steffens. Still, it one were to come in and start here, The Bully Pulpit is a wonderful opportunity to learn about our history and to recognize how (in so many ways) politics hasn't changed all that much.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Destiny of the Republic audiobook cover art

Fantastic tale with lots of modern day implication

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

Reviewed: 12-30-18

The storylines of James A. Garfield and his seriously troubled assassin, as well as other historical figures, make this a fascinating and heartbreaking listen. While you may know something about the outcome (such as Garfield's death), there is so much here to learn. It's a great story, full of resonance for today. Hard work, determination, grit, invention and personal growth, and personal loss. It also speaks to mental illness, and how challenging it was to address it even in 1881. Medicine, in general, gets a front row seat here, in fact. How the generally-accepted ways of unsanitary conditions prompted Garfield's ultimate demise is eye-opening and devastating. And how this helped paved the way for better practices.

The historical significance of Alexander Graham Bell and his efforts to try to help save Garfield is inspiring, too. That Bell is a supporting character is pretty amazing.

I think Candice Millard has a wonderfully researched history for the reader/listener. She has three books that I know of, and this is the last of them that I've now had a chance to enjoy. (Please write more!) I adore the way she weaves the historical narrative throughout. You needn't necessarily be a fan of Presidential history (like I am) to be whisked away into another time that feels like a completely different universe.

To my ears, Paul Michael is generally very good as the Narrator. When he assumes the various character's voices, however, it's less successful. While his Scottish dialect for Bell is wonderful, too many of his other characters' sound either too similar, or at times, regrettable. When he assumes the roles of ladies, or when he approximates Frederick Douglas - well, it doesn't help convey the characters nor the story. It's distracting, in fact. His villainous Dr. Liss also just sounds cartoony. Still, as narrator, he's particularly helpful and easy to listen to.

I would encourage everyone to give 'Destiny of the Republic' a read or a listen.

Hero of the Empire audiobook cover art
  • Hero of the Empire
  • The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill
  • By: Candice Millard
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance

Great reading of a fantastic story

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

Reviewed: 12-09-18

Simon Vance is well-suited to carry Candice Millard’s fascinating history of the making of that heroic statesman, Winston Churchill. I found listening to this audiobook educational, entertaining and enchanting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Scarlet Letter audiobook cover art

Masterful storytelling with excellent narration

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

Reviewed: 10-13-18

I sampled no less than eight narrators while searching for an audiobook of this classic. Adam Sims’ colorful and supple delivery brings ‘The Scarlet Letter’ to life.

The language flows and flourishes in this audiobook. While I was familiar with the story, I’d never read it. Listening to the book, it becomes instantly clear why this novel has endured over a couple centuries. Outstanding story, well-told, and nicely interpreted. Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful