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John 'n Austin

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  • 4
  • helpful votes
  • 222
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  • The Hearts of Men

  • A Novel
  • By: Nickolas Butler
  • Narrated by: Adam Verner
  • Length: 11 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 54

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age 13, social outcast and overachiever, is the bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan. Over the years Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father's business into a highly profitable company.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyed the story but the narrator

  • By Kitt on 05-07-17

I cannot recommend this one

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

Reviewed: 10-09-18

The story is quite contrived, and for various reasons just doesn't work very well. The men were mostly misogynistic pigs. Nelson comes off as a decent guy, but he is not a realistic character. The younger Trevor and even younger Thomas are portrayed as good male characters, but they are they only ones, and they are not drawn as human beings one would recognize. As an older white male, I know that there are quite a few men like those pictured in the story, but I did not grow up with and have not worked with such assholes, at least as far as I have been able to ascertain. In any event, I don't particularly want to read about the behavior of these kinds of guys. If this is intended to be a portrait of rotten male thinking and behavior, I can buy that, but it just isn't done very well. Although there are occasional bits of good writing, the writing overall is just not that good. I read this for my book club, and was so eager for it to end. Nikolas Butler may have written much better books than this, but I am unlikely to try them. And the narration does not help at all. The narrator might be able to do a single character well, but he struggles to perform the voice of multiple characters. His performance was quite affected and just not believable overall.

  • A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

  • By: Norman Maclean
  • Narrated by: David Manis
  • Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 915
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 821
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 827

In A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean claims that “in my family, there is no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.” Nor is there a clear line between family and fly-fishing. It is the one activity where brother can connect with brother and father with son, bridging troubled relationships at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana. In Maclean’s autobiographical novella, it is the river that makes them realize that life continues and all things are related.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved the Movie- and the Short Story is Better!

  • By Joe on 08-10-14

Beautiful stories, beautifully written

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

The subject line says it all for me, but 15 words are demanded. All three novellas, the first now justly famous, are wistful, poignant, even sad, and often hilarious. I will read or listen to the author's story about fighting a tragic fire in 1949, but I so wish that Norman Maclean had written more.

  • Bluebird, Bluebird

  • By: Attica Locke
  • Narrated by: JD Jackson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,128
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,039
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,036

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules - a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the Lone Star State, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders - a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman - have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good but very irritating

  • By Tunde on 01-15-18

A Good Novel About a Texas Ranger in East Texas

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

Reviewed: 09-06-18

This is quite a good novel about a black Texas Ranger in rural and small-town East Texas in modern times. He is a flawed but honorable man of keen intellect, and is faced with dealing with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, one of the worst white supremacist organizations in the country. Groups like this exist in all parts of America, of course, not just Texas. The author does a nice job of creating a lot of tension and conflict, with a great deal at stake. The only negative thing for me was the ending--it's fine for a story to have an inconclusive ending that leaves readers guessing, but I didn't think that this particular ending served the novel as well as other conclusions the author might have chosen. On the whole, however, it's a good book that's well worth reading. The narrator also did a good job.

  • Leaving Time

  • A Novel
  • By: Jodi Picoult
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, and others
  • Length: 15 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,546
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,339
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,326

Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice's old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts. Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Pickiest Reader Would Be Willing to Give 6 Stars

  • By Jan on 10-18-14

A pretty good mystery but very, very flawed

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

Reviewed: 08-30-18

Leaving time does have some good points, which mainly include the fascination portrayal of elephant behavior that is apparently based on very sold research, and the information at the end about the crisis that elephant populations face. These are amazing creatures, and their plight is a tragedy.

Jody Picoult has a keen intellect, and her ability to do research and assimilate her detailed findings into her fiction is very admirable. This was evident in Small Great Things, one of my favorite novels, and far superior to Leaving Time.
As a writer myself, one of my main criticisms is that this novel shows many signs of having been written much too quickly, without proper care for the basics. Then, of course, little copyediting takes place anymore. Publishers seem to just not invest in that any longer. Some authors, who are otherwise quite good like Picoult, as well as their publishers, apparently count on the fact that many readers will not notice a mixed metaphor (as occurred in Leaving Time), phrases that defy logic (such as, among others, a character's life-altering discovery that "forgiving and forgetting are not mutually exclusive"--how could any sentient human being possibly think that they are?), improper word usage (it's "preventive" that's far preferred, not "preventative"), and on and on. I won't further belabor these points, but they are merely illustrative of the many instances of sloppy writing.

Don't get me wrong--not all of the writing is bad. There is a lot of good writing here. Picoult is good. But the quality of writing is so uneven. She can do so much better.

And, in this novel, we finally learn that there is such a thing as a "real" psychic, ghosts and spirits (apparent different entities), spirit guides for these genuine psychic who can leave if the gifted second-sighted ones lose confidence in themselves, "water" poltergeists (a subspecies of ghost apparently), and all sorts of other supernatural phenomena that I now need to look around for. The story could have been so much better, far better, without this. A writer as truly talented as Jody Picoult is could have fashioned an excellent novel with all of its other elements, without resorting to this supernatural garbage. It wasn't necessary.

The narrator was good in this recorded version, doing a variety of voices in a creditable way. Including the people who were actually dead.

So, this is a writer whom I much admire, but this effort was just so disappointing to me.

  • The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

  • By: Gabrielle Zevin
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,529
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,867
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,865

The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books - the only bookstore on Alice Island - has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go. One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children’s section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Tale for Booksellers

  • By B. Leon on 04-15-14

Good story with annoying narration

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

I liked the story a lot, and would have rated this 3.5 stars if I were able to assign something other than whole numbers. I gave the author the benefit of the doubt with 4 stars. The literary references added a lot, and the writing was good but not terrific. The narrator had a good strong voice that was clear and understandable, but I personally found the style of narration overwrought and annoying.

  • Testimony

  • By: Scott Turow
  • Narrated by: Wayne Pyle
  • Length: 14 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 524
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 478
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 472

At the age of 50, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court - an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity - he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Full of insights to human failings and achievement

  • By Adventure Seeker on 08-09-17

Another good novel by Scott Turow

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

Reviewed: 08-05-18

Scott Turow very reliably delivers an original story that is very well researched to provide authentic detail. He naturally gets the law and legal procedure right. His writing is always good if not great. The narrator did an outstanding job with a variety of voices, and I might have rated the performance a five had it not been for a mispronunciations of a few common words.

  • The Unseen World

  • A Novel
  • By: Liz Moore
  • Narrated by: Lisa Flanagan
  • Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,454
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,316
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,324

Ada Sibelius is raised by David, a single father and head of a computer science lab in Boston. Homeschooled, she accompanies her loving father - brilliant, eccentric, socially inept - to work every day. By 12 she is a painfully shy prodigy. At the same time that the lab begins to gain acclaim, David's mind begins to falter, and his mysterious past comes into question. When her father moves into a nursing home, Ada is taken in by one of David's colleagues. She embarks on a mission to uncover her father's secrets.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Appreciated but Not Enjoyed

  • By Margot T. on 01-21-17

Excellent but slightly marred by errors

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

Reviewed: 06-28-18

The story in The Unseen World was highly original and fully engaging, and the writing was of high quality generally. The writing was, however, marred by a number of mistakes in word usage and grammar that could have been caught easily by some light copy editing, or perhaps even just proofreading by the author. I know that publishers no longer invest in line editing, probably based on the correct assumption that most readers don't notice because they no longer no any better. Consequently, authors should be more careful. Again, though, this was an excellent story.

  • The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre

  • By: Dominic Smith
  • Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 70
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 31

In this luminous novel, Dominic Smith reinvents the life of one of photography's founding fathers. In 1839, Louis Daguerre's invention took the world by storm. A decade later, he is sinking deep into delusions brought on by exposure to mercury, the very agent that allowed his daguerreotype process. Believing the world will end within one year, he creates his "Doomsday List", 10 items he must photograph before the final day. It includes a woman he has always loved but has not seen in half a century.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting

  • By wjgcz on 12-20-07

Gorgeous writing

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

Reviewed: 03-25-18

The writing in The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre is simply gorgeous. Smith is a master at using the English language. As a backdrop to the story of Daguerre is an achingly sad but rich love story. I loved the book.

  • My Absolute Darling

  • A Novel
  • By: Gabriel Tallent
  • Narrated by: Alex McKenna
  • Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,206
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,114
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,108

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At 14, she roams the woods along the Northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous. Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Weird and completely underwhelming

  • By Chris on 10-10-17

A Mixed Bag

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

Reviewed: 03-12-18

The author is clearly a very talented writer, and many parts of the book are quite good. Many other parts, however, are simply preposterous--what a 14-year-old girl knows, what her thought processes are, what she can do. If she had been a brilliant, 30-year-old Navy Seal, maybe so. The last hour and a half were especially unbelievable. If a story is explicitly going to be fantasy, I'm fine with that, but this was not the case. Again, though, Tallent can really write, and I hope he does better next time.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Artemis

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: Rosario Dawson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57,706
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53,835
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 53,690

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A ferrari with no motor

  • By will on 11-18-17

Loved The Martian, but this one...good grief!

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

Reviewed: 02-14-18

I loved The Martian, and was looking forward to Weir's second novel. But this book was really pretty terrible--shallow characters, amateurish writing, story sort of empty.