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Sean

Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • Everything Is Illuminated

  • By: Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Narrated by: Jeff Woodman, Scott Shina
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 17

A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a 'blind' old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr., Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive - a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Lyrical and almost meditative in parts...

  • By Sean on 10-02-18

Lyrical and almost meditative in parts...

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

Reviewed: 10-02-18

I felt I was listening to spoken word poetry combined with Yiddish story telling. This is a moving and energetic work that ebbs and flows through space and time, confronting the tragedies of the Jewish people in Europe in a unique way.

A novel can’t be all good, so I do need to level some criticism. Foer’s Ukrainian alter ego, Sasha, appeared to have severe developmental issues which also extended to the entire Ukrainian populace. This is not a political correctness concern, it just seems unlikely an entire country would suffer from the same mental dysfunction. That being said, I’ve never been to Ukraine (I say that with tongue firmly in cheek).

The narrators were strong and dedicated to their performances. The reason I only gave them 3 stars is two fold, both relating to accents. The narrator handling the contemporary narrative tasked with American and Ukrainians accents, did not effectively manage the latter. The narrator tasked with the historical narrative in the shtetl, sounded more like a Midwest preacher at times than a venerable Rabbi. I’m not sure if this was intentional but the Slouchers and Uprighters sounded more like Quakers and Shakers.

Get it if you like poetic narratives around tragedy, identity, love and the universe.

  • The Finkler Question

  • By: Howard Jacobson
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 139
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 45

Julian Treslove and Sam Finkler are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick. Now all three are recently widowed, in their own way, and spend sweetly painful evenings together reminiscing. Until an unexpected violent attack brings everything they thought they knew into question.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Funny, touching, thoughtful

  • By BabsD on 11-19-10

Poignant, complex and touch - very 'Finkleresque'.

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

Reviewed: 09-22-18

This book captures the complexities of being Jewish and human, both for Jews and non-Jews alike. The Jew, as a character in human history has been both reviled (Shylock, Judas, modern-day Israel) and loved (Jesus, David, Einstein). This book cleverly explores the complex relationship that society and culture has with Jews and Jews with the rest of the world. The book's title is a play on 'the Jewish question' or 'Jewish problem', which was an ongoing vile debate in 19th and 20th century Europe, around the status of Jews, their rights and political status.

The fact that this was even a subject for debate and in some cases still is, shows a level of madness within the human mind I feel. This deeply destructive and hateful part of us has lead to genocides and discrimination against Jews and others; this is what the book tries to come to grips with. The protagonist, a non-Jew, who struggles with what it means to be Jewish, both in his admiration for them as well as jealousy of them, drives him to a type of hysteria that he struggles to explicate himself from. It's a funny, witty book that is both charming and challenging at times. The only issue I had was the narrator's Czech accent, that needed some work.

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

  • A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • By: Mark Manson
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 5 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 98,718
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86,589
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86,106

For decades we've been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F*ck positivity," Mark Manson says. "Let's be honest, shit is f*cked, and we have to live with it." In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn't sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is - a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is his antidote to the coddling, let's-all-feel-good mind-set that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A book for 20-somethings, but not me

  • By Bonny on 09-22-16

American in the worst way...

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

Reviewed: 09-16-18

This book is very American but not in a Hemingway or Fitzgerald way. It’s reads as if written by an ex-frat boy-cum-asshole. It’s repetitive and rambling with no sources to speak of (although I didn’t listen past an hour). I don’t what qualifies this fellow to give advice or what he bases his thinking on? It’s like listening to a guy in a bar tell you how to make something of yourself by swearing at you ala ‘man the fuck up’. I understand the premise; the more concerned you are about the result, the less likely you are to succeed...it’s sort of Buddhist with lots of expletives dotted around the book. The narrator is good but I rated him down for the hideous imaginary panda voice - strange device and hugely annoying. If you don’t like good writing and prefer to read tweets, you will likely enjoy this book.

  • UX Lifecycle

  • The Business Guide to Implementing Great Software User Experiences
  • By: Jeremy Baines, Clive Howard
  • Narrated by: Andrew L. Barnes
  • Length: 4 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 63

This book is for organizations starting their UX journey. It will help to address the basics of UX. There is practical guidance for building a business case and identifying the key investments required in people and process that will bring about the change needed to deliver success. Implementing UX is brought to life through the UX Lifecycle, a methodology framework that was born out of real life successes. At the heart of the UX process is the most important stakeholder - the user!

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Basic UX overview

  • By B. Bax on 02-02-17

Good introduction to UX from a business perspective

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

Reviewed: 05-13-18

Useful and practical examples. As someone in the industry, I would say it’s pretty accurate and useful. The narrator was good but at times had some strange pronunciations of certain words.

  • Moonglow

  • By: Michael Chabon
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 14 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

The keeping of secrets and the telling of lies; sex and desire and ordinary love; existential doubt and model rocketry all feature in the new novel from the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policeman's Union. 'The world, like the Tower of Babel or my grandmother's deck of cards, was made out of stories, and it was always on the verge of collapse.' Moonglow unfolds as a deathbed confession.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Very well written...just can’t get over the ‘disclaimer’

  • By Sean on 03-23-18

Very well written...just can’t get over the ‘disclaimer’

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

Reviewed: 03-23-18

This is a good book, no doubt about it. The narrator is good too. This being said there were two things that stopped me from enjoying it, unlike Chabon’s other books. The first is the ‘disclaimer’; Chabon writes something along the lines of ‘this story is true except where the truth was less interesting’. This book blurs the line between fact and fantasy, and so it’s difficult to really take it seriously. The stories of his grandfather, grandmother, uncle etc are really profound and significant but I can’t help thinking I was being manipulated as they could have been wild fabrications! The second issue is that the author and the narrator allow the no nonsense, matter of fact attitude of the protagonist, being the grandfather, to affect the character and dialogue of every individual in the book. In fact, every character appears as manifestation of the grandfather, himself and no one has their own identity. I don’t imagine this was intentional but if it were, and we were dealing with the memory of a dying man and not hearing the story through him it might make sense, but this story is told by Chabon who is not a tough taking, no nonsense sort by any means. The book has no nuance, it’s a masculine and measured, never deviating from a method of story telling that becomes pretty taxing nearing the middle of the book.

  • Johannes Cabal The Necromancer

  • By: Jonathan L. Howard
  • Narrated by: Christopher Cazenove
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,269
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,936
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,936

Johannes Cabal, a brilliant scientist and notorious snob, is single-mindedly obsessed in heart and soul with raising the dead. Well, perhaps not soul... He hastily sold his years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. But now, tormented by a dark secret, he travels to the fiery pits of Hell to retrieve it. Satan, who is incredibly bored these days, proposes a little wager: Johannes has one year to persuade 100 people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Masterpiece Comedy

  • By Guillermo on 06-19-10

Wasted credit but maybe just not my cup of tea?

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

Reviewed: 03-09-18

Even though this is a short audiobook, around 10 hours, I couldn’t get past the first hour. I had listened to a charming interview with the author speaking about his HP Lovecraft, steampunk, and Victorian influences etc and instead I get some silly Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman copycat. I can’t stand the infantile humor e.g. the mention of a crow’s tightening sphincter among other awful lines. This supernatural comedy is just not my cup of tea...maybe it works for others as the book has rave reviews? The narrator isn’t working with great material in my opinion but his delivery is devoid of feeling, the American accent is quite awful and his delivery of the protagonist has zero charisma or appeal. Again, the overall reviews for this by others are very high, but for me, this was a credit wasted.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The English Girl

  • Gabriel Allon, Book 13
  • By: Daniel Silva
  • Narrated by: Jim Barclay
  • Length: 13 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

When a beautiful young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, Gabriel Allon, master art restorer, spy, and assassin, is thrust into a game where nothing is what it seems...

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Silva is always solid and does well to focus on plot and build up

  • By Sean on 01-13-18

Silva is always solid and does well to focus on plot and build up

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

Reviewed: 01-13-18

I enjoy Silva’s Allon series very much, you know what you’re getting and there is a clear formula he follows with each book. It’s not going to ‘wow’ you with literary gymnastic (but that is not the intention), instead it is deserving of best seller status through its methodical, well researched and energetic story lines. The narrator was enjoyable, nice tone to his voice but all his accents sounded the same to me regardless of if they were Russian, Corsican or Israeli.

  • All the World's a Stage

  • Erast Fandorin, Book 11
  • By: Boris Akunin, Andrew Bromfield - translator
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Coote
  • Length: 14 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

Eliza Altairsky-Lointaine is the toast of Moscow society, a beautiful actress in an infamous theatre troupe. Her love life is as colourful as the parts she plays. She is the estranged wife of a descendant of Genghis Khan. And her ex-husband has threatened to kill anyone who courts her. He appears to be making good on his promise. Fandorin is contacted by a concerned friend - the widowed wife of Chekhov - who asks him to investigate an alarming incident involving Eliza.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatrical to a fault

  • By Sean on 12-12-17

Theatrical to a fault

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

Reviewed: 12-12-17

I imagine Akunin is drawing from a narrative style that dictates the plot line, characters, comic timing etc and if I do a bit of research I’ll appreciate the novel more. That being said, I don’t think the plot was grand enough for a Fandorin novel. It was a sweet tale with minor intrigue and twists but for the most it part it just puttered along. Fandorin was made to look a bit of a fool, owing to his being blinded by love but he was far too illogical and misguided than his previous detective successes should logically allow for. The voice acting was very good for the most part but I’ve rated it down because the Japanese accent of Masa was so objectionable it bordered on racist. It reminded me of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, rather than a Japanese man who had been by the side of Fandorin for 30 plus years. By this stage Masa should have a much stronger command of Russian (in the case of this audiobook, English). Masa also seems much the same character as the early books, one dimensional with little growth or development. It was enjoyable so I gave it a 3 overall but story and performances deserve a 2 due to the points mentioned above.

The Name of the Wind audiobook cover art
  • The Name of the Wind

  • By: Patrick Rothfuss
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas
  • Length: 28 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 461
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 423
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 427

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing. I want you to listen to this.

  • By William on 04-07-12

Not my cup of tea

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

Reviewed: 12-10-13

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Those not too concerned with character depth.

Would you ever listen to anything by Patrick Rothfuss again?

No.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Narration.

Any additional comments?

The lead character in this book has no flaws or intricacies; his challenges are as superficial as the supporting characters, who seem to have no existence of their own. This is meant to be a bildungsroman but the protagonist is basically infallible throughout with little or no growth – he is essentially blandly fully formed from the start. If you want low fantasy/genre breaking writing rather go for Joe Abercrombie. I don't understand how this book is so popular because I couldn't get through the whole thing, but maybe it's just not my cup of tea?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful