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Arken

  • 12
  • reviews
  • 196
  • helpful votes
  • 13
  • ratings
  • Youngblood Hawke

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Nick Sullivan
  • Length: 41 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31

Arthur Youngblood Hawke, an ex-Navy man moves from rural Kentucky to New York to assault the citadel of New York publishing with his first novel, an oversized manuscript that becomes an instant success. Toasted by critics and swept along on a tide of popularity, he gives himself over to the lush life that gilds artistic success. Love comes with an affair with an older married woman and an unfulfilled flame with his editor, while wealth pours in with the publication of his second novel, and participation in real-estate developments. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More than a good yarn

  • By Arken on 10-24-18

More than a good yarn

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

Reviewed: 10-24-18

I'm not sure there are many books like "Youngblood Hawke" being written anymore. While clearly a sort of melodramatic, best-seller-ish potboiler, it is also very literate, artfully constructed, deeply researched, and smart. I wish there were more books like it I usually don't like novels about novelists - it seems like a cheap trick usually, a way to avoid thinking up plots and characters by substituting autobiographical musings for fiction. But that isn't all what is happening here. Like all of Wouk's novels, the successes and failures of the characters turn on which deliberate choices they have made. The good, ultimately happy characters are the plodders who go along behaving well; the tragic or inept characters are the ones who make bad choices which expose their weaknesses. That sounds trite and moralistic, and sometimes it is. But usually it is, in a Wouk book, part of a detailed and consistent universe. He may espouse conservative values, but they are not the phony and hypocritical values of the brain-dead right of modern times. Youngblood Hawke is (apparently) a greater writer than Herman Wouk. He is on his way to becoming a genius if he could only stop undermining himself. The travails of a Kentucky mountain boy trying to make it in post-WWII New York is a plenty good setting for an interesting book, but this work is an education into all kinds of details about that world - investing, the movie business, how the rich and powerful behave, what they eat, what they value. I have loved being in that world. I've been waiting a long time for this to show up as an audio book, and I haven't been disappointed. The reader was very good - the characterizations and accents were all handled with aplomb. I highly recommend this entertaining and well-written work.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Fear the Sky

  • The Fear Saga, Book 1
  • By: Stephen Moss
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 20 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,090
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,986
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,943

From the Audie-nominated narrator of The Martian. In eleven years' time, a million members of an alien race will arrive at Earth. Years before they enter orbit, their approach will be announced by the flare of a thousand flames in the sky, their ships' huge engines burning hard to slow them from the vast speeds needed to cross interstellar space. These foreboding lights will shine in our night sky like new stars, getting ever brighter until they outshine even the sun, casting ominous shadows and banishing the night until they suddenly blink out.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Caught me by surprise, and held me till the end.

  • By Brian Perry on 07-21-15

Good idea, not well-written

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

Reviewed: 10-17-16

This is a book that needs a good editor: he starts off with a pretty good concept for an alien invasion (although the aliens seem to have a history that more-or-less parallels earth's history - that just doesn't seem very likely.) But the pacing is really bad - he spends what feels like hours describing the screwing on of a piece of equipment and then zips through a potentially interesting encounter between man and invader without any satisfying detail. He also shouldn't present his characters as so super-smart if they have such a tendency to use the wrong word - his vocabulary is just enough off that it makes his characters unbelievable - check out the President's use of "efficacy" as an example. This happens a lot. It's the old "that word doesn't mean what you think it means" problem. I keep looking for well-written science fiction - I will keep looking. The narrator is good, though - it would be worse to read it on the page.

  • The Caine Mutiny

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 26 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,976
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,704
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,699

Having inspired a classic film and Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny is Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater. It was immediately embraced upon its original publication as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of the Second World War. In the intervening half century, this gripping story has become a perennial favorite, selling millions throughout the world, and claiming the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Even Better than the Movie

  • By James on 06-20-12

My First Book

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

Reviewed: 01-05-16

Although "The Caine Mutiny" wasn't literally my first book, I remember it as being the first "grown up" book I read on my own with no prodding from teachers or other adults. So for me it has the added attraction of nostalgia. The audio version has been a real treat for me. I've listened to it a couple of times and I think it stands up very well. Its plot is riveting, the characters are well-drawn and develop in believable and satisfying ways. Willie Keith, the hero of the tale, is a classic coming-of-age character: the callow youth who gains wisdom through adversity. Queeg is a wonderful villain (or maybe someone else is the villain?) Greenwald is the unexpected savior (or is he?) who metaphorically slays the dragon. A sea story as exciting as a Patrick O'Brian book combined with a terrific courtroom drama, and all with a serious purpose. Wouk is a "conservative" author in the classic sense of that word - he favors the ancient platitudes as guides to human behavior. Perhaps that makes the book read more like something from the Victorian era, and indeed I think there is a bit of Trollope's influence discernible in this fine novel. "The Winds of War" and its sequel are the main tale Wouk had to tell, and this is comparatively a miniature, but it is a superbly realized work.

  • Christ Actually

  • The Son of God for the Secular Age
  • By: James Carroll
  • Narrated by: James Carroll
  • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 30

Drawing on both a wide range of scholarship as well as his own acute searching as a believer, Carroll takes a fresh look at the most familiar narratives of all - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Not simply another book about the "historical Jesus," he takes the challenges of science and contemporary philosophy seriously, even as he retrieves the power of Jesus' profound ordinariness, as an answer to his own last question - what is the future of Jesus Christ? - as the key to a renewal of faith.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • I was hoping for more ...

  • By Kevin on 01-04-15

Good book - hire a real reader

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

Reviewed: 11-25-14

Even good books can be diminished by bad readers, and that is the case here. Lots of very good insights, an interesting personal story, a very good book for the 21st Century Catholic looking for something other than the usual triumphalist bunkum. But, really, leave the reading to the professionals. The author seems to think that getting emotional and dramatic in places is the best way to convey his point, when really it just makes you want to turn it off.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Real David Copperfield

  • By: Robert Graves
  • Narrated by: Steven Kynman
  • Length: 17 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

For Robert Graves, the writing of Charles Dickens was full of inherent difficulties. From its very repetitiveness to its extreme length, he doubted whether readers could ever fully enjoy the riches of even his most famous works. Seeking to bring Dickens back to the general reader and rekindle the excitement with which his books were originally received, Graves here presents his own retelling of one of Dickens' great masterpieces.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • My mistake, but still not too good

  • By Arken on 07-27-14

My mistake, but still not too good

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

Reviewed: 07-27-14

I was not careful when I ordered this book, so I had a mistaken idea about it. I assumed it would be a work by Robert Graves discussing David Copperfield in some way. I love Dickens, and especially David Copperfield, which I have read a couple of times, and I have listened to the audio version narrated by Simon Vance twice. So,when I realized that this was Robert Graves's "improved" version of the novel itself, I was pretty skeptical. I listened to the first couple of chapters, and it "fixed" all of the errors Graves believes Dickens is guilty of - repetitious, prolix prose, obscurities, lack of clear direction, etc. But it also sucked the life out of the story. It is like reading a straightforward version of Hamlet without all of those bothersome soliloquies. Perhaps it is a "better" telling of the facts of the story, but that is not why we read Shakespeare. Same with Dickens - the language and style are an organic thing which cannot be dissected, unless you don't like Dickens to begin with.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Hardwiring Happiness

  • The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
  • By: Rick Hanson
  • Narrated by: Rick Hanson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 356
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 297
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 294

Why is it easier to ruminate over hurt feelings than it is to bask in the warmth of being appreciated? Because your brain evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences and slowly from good ones, but you can change this.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Creating & savoring positive experiences

  • By Karen on 06-04-14

A little science, a lot of fluff

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

Reviewed: 11-04-13

I am interested in the way the brain is wired and how that affects things like happiness or self-control or behavior modification. This book sounded like it was right up my alley. And there was a bit about how the brain has evolved to react to threats and rewards, etc. But then it is all couched in godawful new age claptrap. Lots of "be in the moment" kind of talk that just gets on my nerves. And, perhaps unfairly, this was exacerbated by the author/reader's wimpy therapist voice. I didn't make it even halfway. Maybe it gets a lot better in the second half, but I'll never know.

9 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Marjorie Morningstar

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 28 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 333
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 287
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 283

Marjorie Morningstar is a love story. It presents one of the greatest characters in modern fiction: Marjorie, the pretty 17-year-old who left the respectability of New York's Central Park West to join the theater, live in the teeming streets of Greenwich Village, and seek love in the arms of a brilliant, enigmatic writer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thoroughly Enjoyed!

  • By Teresa Levite on 06-20-12

An excellent storyteller

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

Reviewed: 05-11-12

I am sort of a sucker for anything by Herman Wouk. As an aficionado of his WWII books, I expected this one (when I first read it a million years ago) to be too girlish for me; and it is certainly more soap-opera-like than the war books; but I think it is better than that implies. Wouk is attempting to get inside the mind of a mid-20th-century American as a way of exploring some big ideas. He is particularly concerned with the place of traditional moral values in a modern setting. His conclusions are seen by many as being bourgeois or reactionary, but I think that is going too far. He certainly favors traditional morality as a way to get through life, but he doesn't do it in the snide, condemnatory way that so many right-wingers use today. Bestselling novels just don't engage the kind of ideas that are in this book anymore.

And as a child of the rural midwest, this book was one I used to live vicariously in New York in its golden years. It is so evocative of a different era! And the characters are pretty well-drawn. Noel is exactly right as the seemingly super-accomplished yet really inadequate "genius" type; and Marjorie herself is an unusual heroine. I usually half fall in love with the heroines in Dickens or Trollope of whoever. Marjorie remained interesting and attractive without ever being the embodiment of perfection we usually get with such females.

The narration could have been better -- someone with a bit more sophistication and sureness -- and who could pronounce things a bit better -- would have been good. But well worth a listen, overall.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • The Omnivore's Dilemma

  • A Natural History of Four Meals
  • By: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 15 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,039
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,397
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,391

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great presentation of a moral dilemma

  • By MCRedding on 02-07-09

Good information, grating style

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

Reviewed: 12-12-11

I am pretty committed to the principles embraced in this work, and Mr. Pollan has done some good homework and marshaled his facts. I don't like his writing style. He comes across as pretentious and effete. The facts are the facts, but people are also influenced by presentation.

  • War and Remembrance

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 56 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,668
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,181
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,162

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues here in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What can I say that hasn't already been said??

  • By aaron on 01-31-12

A good, long read

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

Reviewed: 12-12-11

Wouk's American version of "War and Peace" is perhaps not as profound as Tolstoy, but it is entertaining and informative and much more intelligent than the kind of pot-boiler stuff that historical fiction has mostly become since this was written. Things do not come together perfectly in the end, and maybe Mr. Wouk is showing a bit of fatigue (understandably,) but the overall achievement is still pretty remarkable. I will definitely be listening to this and "Winds of War" again in a couple of years. Now, if Audible will only add "The Caine Mutiny" to its holdings, I will be perfectly satisfied!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • The Winds of War

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 45 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,444
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,721
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,720

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 45 hours + 56 hours = 102 hours of listening

  • By Jan on 10-25-13

Great storytelling

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

Reviewed: 11-07-11

I have a real appreciation of the works of Herman Wouk. He was one of the first "grownup" authors I read, devouring "The Caine Mutiny" as a 14-year-old, and then a couple of years later reading this work. I was in college when "War and Remembrance" finally came out, and I remember going to the mall to buy a much-needed pair of pants and instead buying the book! Over the years I developed a taste for English literature, particularly 19th-Century stuff -- Austen, Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot -- the usual suspects. And Herman Wouk was always mentioned as an almost quintessential second-rate writer. Perhaps because of my youthful awakening under his spell, I have never thought of him like that. When people say he writes soap operas and wooden dialog, I don't see it. I think his characters are well-drawn, his plots full of interest, and his style very straightforward and middle-American (in a good way!) Maybe it's because one of his themes is the value of the seemingly boring, day-to-day doers who get most of the jobs in the world done. Pug Henry in "The Winds of War" is that sort of person. His other books don't make heroes out of these plodders -- lots of them in the role of the behind-the-scenes fathers, providing the wherewithal for the more interesting lives of the younger generations.

"The Winds of War" seems to me to be written as part English novel of manners and part a great, long complicated work of Dickens. There are lots of characters who are drawn realistically, but they are put in situations requiring strange coincidences and improbable virtues. Victor Henry is the chief example of this. He is a convincingly-portrayed career naval officer thrust into a minor diplomatic post against his will. But then he displays a level of acumen and presence of mind to rival the the greatest of statesmen. He always seems to come up with the perfect thing to say, earning him the surprised respect of the big shots of the era (Big big-shots, like Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin.) He is perhaps just a bit too perceptive and unfailingly correct to be quite believable, but he overall feels like a real person we are following around the globe. His rocky relationships with his children seem real enough, and his personal traits are well-drawn and always interesting.

The real model for this work and the sequel is the great "War and Peace" -- the mixture of personal stories with world events, the encounters with real historical personages, and the mixing of historical narratives with the story line. This works successfully as a plan for the two books, I think, despite the great chutzpah it took to try it. I don't claim that Wouk is the writer Tolstoy is, but WWII is a theme that can at least deserve the same kind of treatment. The brief interlude that the hero and his love interest spend at Tolstoy's estate accompanied by a moment of dejavu make this treatment explicit.

Finally, this very entertaining and even (I would argue) profound story is beautifully narrated by Kevin Pariseau. He does the usual different voices that all the good narrators pull off but he also does accents, and even impersonations when necessary (e.g., Roosevelt and Churchill.) I am very much looking forward to his rendition of "War and Remembrance", assuming that will be following soon.

88 of 92 people found this review helpful