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Gotta Tellya

Knoxville, TN
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  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

  • By: Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans - translator
  • Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 326
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 309
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn't planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing, and he has to visit his doctor more than he'd like. Technically speaking he is...elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums? Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not “A Man Called Ove”

  • By Art Guzman on 11-25-18

Great story, uneven volume somewhat detracting.

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

I read a few reviews commenting that this book is not as good as A Man Called Ove. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen is nothing like the first book, so comparisons are unfair. The Ove book is related in the third person, as by an outside narrator. The Secret Diary is told in first person, in (obviously) diary form, and is equally excellent. In Ove, we watch the personal evolution of a sad old man, set in his ways and solitary by nature, into a community minded, open hearted and more open minded man—happier, with new purpose. In The Secret Diary, Hendrik is already open minded and kind. His personal progress is of a different sort but is valuable and interesting nonetheless. I liked both books very much. But with The Secret Diary’s Audible version, there is one problem. I love Derek Jacobi as an actor. His narration was one of the draws that prompted me to buy the audio version. Unfortunately, though Jacobi’s interpretation of Hendrik is perfect, charming and fun, his lack of volume control hurt my ears. Jacobi must have at times had his mouth right up against the microphone, and at other times must have leaned far away from it. Or else he was prone to let his voice drift into quiet mode and then suddenly ramp it up by a hundred decibles. I wonder if the sound engineer was paying attention during this recording. The wide variations in volume aren’t so hard to take if the story is being listened to over speakers in a room. But over earbuds (which I use while walking outdoors) the sudden surges in volume were painful. I needed to manually adjust the volume control of my earbuds far too frequently. I gave the story itself five stars, but had to cut a star off the narration and the overall rating, only because of the volume fluctuations. I still highly recommend this book, with the caveat that buyers with sensitive ears should be prepared for the sharp and sudden changes in the narrator’s volume.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Born to Run

  • By: Bruce Springsteen
  • Narrated by: Bruce Springsteen
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,888
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,366
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,332

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl's halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That's how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to this audio the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Boss demonstrates his strong work ethic and dedication to excellence as he tells his story.

  • By Tim on 12-21-16

Excellent!

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

Thank goodness Bruce Springsteen chose to narrate his autobiography. The content, his narration, the man himself and his music, everything about this book is excellent. I was deeply moved by Bruce’s story more times than I can count. This will be a definite re-listen for me.

  • The Accidental President

  • Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World
  • By: A. J. Baime
  • Narrated by: Tony Messano
  • Length: 14 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 858
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 785
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 780

The dramatic, pulse-pounding story of Harry Truman's first four months in office, when this unlikely president had to take on Germany, Japan, Stalin, and the atomic bomb, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exceptional

  • By Jean on 11-14-17

Well written, engrossing.

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

This is a detailed account of a very difficult, dangerous time in American history, the interval after the sudden death of FDR, when Harry Truman took on the presidency and oversaw the end of WW II. It’s well worth reading. Truman had not been included in much of the wartime strategy planning. After FDR’s passing, the burden was abruptly dropped onto Truman’s shoulders, yet he did not flinch, make excuses or seek to blame others for any of the problems that he faced. He was a real President.

  • Can't Hurt Me

  • Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
  • By: David Goggins
  • Narrated by: David Goggins, Adam Skolnick
  • Length: 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 35,317
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 32,074
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 31,976

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare - poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a US Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I'M A 60 YR OLD WOMAN AND LOVE THIS BOOK!

  • By Christine on 12-01-18

Overcoming all obstacles

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

Reviewed: 12-31-18

I liked the format of this audio book. It combines Mr. Goggins himself, Mr. Skolnick, a narrator/collaborator, Mr. Goggins’ autobiography, his self analysis, a podcast format, and guidance for readers who wish to improve their lives. The interaction between Mr. Goggins and Mr. Skolnick adds a fresh element to the entire presentation. Clearly Mr. Goggins has confronted and overcome significant obstacles in his lifetime and can serve as an inspiration to all of us. That said, not everyone will feel the need to take self improvement to the nth degree, as did Mr. Goggins. I was somewhat put off by his drive to compete constantly. It didn’t seem like Mr. Goggins’ striving to be the best left much time for a personal life. But his path doesn’t apply to everyone, though aspects of it surely do. The story of his life still has much value for readers and listeners. I’m glad I listened to his book.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Red Rising

  • By: Pierce Brown
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,911
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,412
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,364

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow, what a performance and what a story

  • By Jared G on 08-27-16

One is enough.

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

I didn’t like this one enough to want to continue with the series. Too bad, as it had potential, but overshot the mark.

  • God, If You're Not up There, I'm F*cked

  • Tales of Stand-up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem
  • By: Darrell Hammond
  • Narrated by: Darrell Hammond
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 314
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 306
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305

Tina Fey’s Bossypants meets David Carr’s The Night of the Gun in Darrell Hammond's groundbreaking memoir, God, If You’re Not up There, I’m F*cked - a raw look inside the troubled life and mind of an American comic genius.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A "must listen" for Hammond fans

  • By Karen on 08-12-18

So that’s what happened!

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

Darrell Hammond is a fantastic comic and impersonator. Everyone knows that. I suspect many don’t know why. I’ll stop here and leave that discovery up to the listeners. This is a very well written, wonderfully narrated soul bearing. Don’t miss it.

  • New York

  • The Novel
  • By: Edward Rutherfurd
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 35 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,561
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,039
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,026

New York is the book that millions of Rutherfurd's American fans have been waiting for. A brilliant mix of romance, war, family drama, and personal triumphs, it gloriously captures the search for freedom and prosperity at the heart of our nation's history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic!

  • By Rachel on 12-17-09

Long. But NYC has quite the history.

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

I was born in New York. My parents grew up in the Bronx. I have an ancestor who came to New Amsterdam with Stuyvesant. My New York roots run deep. I was excited over the prospect of listening to this book. I found aspects of the book to be quite revelatory and fascinating. But those aspects were mainly those of historical fact. I didn’t get the same satisfaction from the fictional part of this “historical fiction” work. Some characters’ lives were so interwoven with those of actual historical figures that I couldn’t help thinking of Forest Gump and his unlikely encounters with the movers and shakers of the later 20th century. The core families of the book seemed to have a finger in every political and economic pie, and that is not realistic. I was, however, deeply moved by the last chapters, where the author wrote of 9/11. That part of the book was gripping. The rest was interesting to various degrees, but also very long.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Kiss Me Like a Stranger

  • My Search for Love and Art
  • By: Gene Wilder
  • Narrated by: Gene Wilder
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,113
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 865
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 865

Gene Wilder is one of the great comic actors who defined the 1970s and 1980s in movies. From his work with Woody Allen, to the rich group of movies he made with Mel Brooks, to his partnership on screen with Richard Pryor, Wilder's performances are still discussed and celebrated today.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting for a number of factors.

  • By A reader from Philadelphia. on 04-17-05

I miss Gene Wilder!

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

This is such a nice memoir. The story is as endearing as the author, who also narrates his work. I’ll keep this book on my short list of those I hope to listen to again, very soon.

  • One Doctor

  • Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine
  • By: Brendan Reilly
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 15 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,421
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,313
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,307

An epic story told by a unique voice in Ameri­can medicine, One Doctor describes life-changing experiences in the career of a distinguished physi­cian. In riveting first-person prose, Dr. Brendan Reilly takes us to the front lines of medicine today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Simply Brilliant

  • By Jan on 06-20-14

Rambling wool-gathering.

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

The author/doctor opened up his heart and his personal history in writing this book, which took courage and a unique degree of humility, rare in an MD. I’m glad that I listened to the entire thing. A few times, I almost quit. The author’s approach is rather circuitous, wandering back and forth between stories about his patients, stories about himself and explanations of his opinions on the current and future states of healthcare, not of all which are in sync with my own professional conclusions. If you don’t mind the randomness, you’ll probably like this book. I was mildly put off by the author’s approach to telling his story, particularly by his overly lengthy tale of a couple he cared for as a young MD and the impact these people had on his life and career. That section of the book went on and on and on. I’m a “less is more” kind of person. For readers who like length as well as depth, this won’t be an issue. As for the narrator: Rob Shapiro is fabulous, as always.

  • Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart

  • By: Mimi Swartz
  • Narrated by: Lydia Mackay
  • Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86

It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. If America could send a man to the moon, shouldn’t the best surgeons in the world be able to build an artificial heart? In TickerTexas Monthly executive editor and two time National Magazine Award winner Mimi Swartz shows just how complex and difficult it can be to replicate one of nature’s greatest creations. Part investigative journalism, part medical mystery, Ticker is a dazzling story of modern innovation, recounting 50 years of false starts, abysmal failures, and miraculous triumphs.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • People Magazine Version of Medical history

  • By Campion Quinn, MD on 08-26-18

Didn’t hate it, didn’t like it.

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

Reviewed: 09-07-18

Overall this audio book is just OK. I gleaned some interesting info re the history of the effort to create a practical version of an artificial heart. I wasn’t pleased that said info was dumbed down for public consumption. Nor did I care for the author’s reliance on cheesy similes and metaphors. Worse were the comments made re various physycians’ and other characters’ sex appeal, which might be relevant in a gossip column but didn’t seem appropriate in this context. Last but not least was the narrator, whose smooth style is better suited to sleep aide commercials and not so much to a book on a fascinating, serious medical device.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful