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Alexandria

New York
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  • Call the Midwife

  • A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
  • By: Jennifer Worth
  • Narrated by: Nicola Barber
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,033
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,402
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,389

At the age of 22, Jennifer Worth left her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she met while delivering babies all over London - from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lived to the woman with 24 children who couldn't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city’s seedier side - illuminate a fascinating time in history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best book I've listened to this year

  • By Richard on 06-12-13

Disappointing narration ruins the book

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

Reviewed: 05-04-16

I recommend reading this book in print rather than listening to the audio. I bought this book two years ago and found the narrator extremely irritating. I've just given it another go, and I cannot focus on the narration for the failings of the narrator. The narration is done in a whisper (for no apparent reason), so it's necessary to turn the volume up all the way. She does a good job with dialects, but so do a thousand other narrators who would have been a better choice. The sound quality is also inconsistent, as if the recording was done by an amateur. The narration ruins this book and detracts from the story.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • I Am Pilgrim

  • A Thriller
  • By: Terry Hayes
  • Narrated by: Christopher Ragland
  • Length: 22 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,042
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,407
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,411

An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid. A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square. A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard. Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan. A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Please let this all be fiction.

  • By B.J. on 08-08-14

The bond amongst enemies

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

Reviewed: 08-11-15

In the end, the terrorist and the American hero are very nearly the same man. There were several aspects of this book I did not like, mostly to do with the simplistic, cocky, and patronizing view it conveyed towards anyone who is non-American in the book. The majority of the narrative really reinforced the negative mentality behind the worst of American foreign policy and xenophobia towards the Middle East, and particularly against Arabs and Muslims.

So why am I giving it 4 stars? There are two reasons. First, quite simply, the story entertained me. It made me curious to see where it was going and I really enjoyed the investigative aspect of it. I liked the weaving of many stories and locales into one.

But more importantly, I found its saving grace embodied in a deep criticism of this misinformed but very common American patriotism within Hayes' writing. The main character - by whichever name you prefer to call him - is drawn almost in parallel to the would-be terrorist he is hunting. Hayes' depiction drew for us the ways in which the War of Terror has essentially lead Americans to participate in and even condone actions they consider terrorism when done by others. There is a deep empathy on behalf of the protagonist towards the man he is hunting, not only conveyed through the trouble he goes to in order to understand everything about this man, but also to understand and empathize with how he was lead down a path to destructive actions. Likewise, the book conveys a similar journey for the protagonist, to understanding exactly how he got to where he is as a secret agent, the atrocities he has committed, both in terms of physical and emotional violence. Yet he rarely articulates his actions as being on behalf of his country or some great ideal, and rather talks about them as almost an expression of self-hatred and self-discovery based on his own tortured past.

His actions towards his enemy near the end confirm their shared bond; it is an act of compassion from one nomad to another, one outlaw to another, one of the rejected to another, and one who lives his life through violence and destruction to another who does likewise.

Ragland's pronunciation of Arab names was painful to listen to, even pronouncing "Allah" wrong. His accents were similarly destructive, and his Arab accents sounded more Russian than anything else. His voice is a bit youthful, and it took me some time to recognize his credibility as the man telling the story, but eventually I got used to it and stopped noticing.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • State of Wonder

  • A Novel
  • By: Ann Patchett
  • Narrated by: Hope Davis
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6,814
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,356
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,347

Research scientist Dr. Marina Singh is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared in the Amazon while working on an extremely valuable new drug. The last person who was sent to find her died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding answers to the questions about her friend's death, her company's future, and her own past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Do yourself a favor and listen to this book!

  • By F. B. Herron on 06-10-11

A Critique of Modernity

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

Reviewed: 04-24-15

This novel asks questions about the destructive nature of science in a world of limited resources and of dwindling native populations. It repeatedly draws attention to the price that is paid for the sake of "progress" - both by the Amazonian natives and by the Western scientists conducting research outside their own native environments. It asks questions about the privilege of scientific education set against an environment where the only useful education is one concerning nature, survival, and tribe and it draws attention to the power dynamics implicit in such opposing forms of existence and beliefs. I did not view this as a story about individual struggle or salvation, and I found the ending to be apt. Considered within the broader framework of the story and its message, another sort of ending may not have so well emphasized the privilege inherent in the scientists' ability to decide their own futures and the prices they are willing to pay (juxtaposed against the Natives, who are granted no such privilege of choice, even over their own bodies and resources). It is an excellent exploration of the cost of modernity and Western belief systems.

I think those reading this novel only for the surface narrative about the protagonist and her experience will find it disappointing. I found it helpful to engage with this story through a postcolonial reading, and I found Patchett's choice of subject matter deftly navigated muddy and complicated waters of issues of modernity, science, and privilege. Her decision to set the story in the Amazon could not have been an accident, for the issues she navigates are just as complex and intertwining as the Amazon River itself.

I found this to be a very rewarding and enlightening read/listen. Patchett makes a contribution to the discourse of power, ethics, and modernity through a refreshing perspective.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Absolutist

  • By: John Boyne
  • Narrated by: Michael Maloney
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 261
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 259

It is September 1919: Twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will - from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Love, War, and Guilt

  • By Cariola on 01-27-13

Inconsistent audio ruins a good book

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

Reviewed: 08-22-14

The narration of this book was extremely frustrating and blocked me from enjoying it. Maloney melodramatically whispers the majority of the book, so that I found myself constantly tuning the volume instead of taking in the book. After whispering the voice of the main character for an extended period of time, he would suddenly switch to the booming voice of a supporting character, causing me to hurry to re-adjust the volume again. He differentiates the voices well, but he needs to speak up. The whispering melodrama does not benefit this audio in the least.

I strongly suggest reading this book rather than listening to Maloney's narration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Rhinos

  • My Battle to Save One of the World's Greatest Creatures
  • By: Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 538
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 511
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 509

When Lawrence Anthony learned that the northern white rhino, living in the war-ravaged Congo, was on the very brink of extinction, he knew he had to act. If the world lost the sub-species, it would be the largest land mammal since the woolly mammoth to go extinct. In The Last Rhinos, Anthony recounts his attempts to save these remarkable animals. The demand for rhino horns in the Far East has turned poaching into a dangerous black market that threatens the lives of not just these rare beasts, but also the rangers who protect them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a tribute

  • By Elizabeth on 02-26-14

Front Line Conservation

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

Reviewed: 07-25-14

This book surprised me. First, it is important to note that, unlike the Elephant Whisperer, the rhinos in this book are more in the background; they are not all-pervasive and the personalities and personal stories of individual rhinos are not emphasized. Instead, it is much more a story about what happens outside the reserve, really touching on the human issues that help or hurt conservation efforts: politics, economics, social and welfare elements, war. Anthony's involvement in the Juba Peace Talks between the LRA and the Ugandan government provided a huge portion of this book, and with good reason: it emphasized the dueling roles of war and peace in conservation efforts, and also highlighted other not-so-glamorous roadblocks, like mundane paperwork and the absurdities of bureaucracy.

This book is a fitting addition to Anthony's corpus of conservation memoirs, providing new perspectives and highlighting how even the minutiae of human existence play vital roles in saving (or losing) wildlife species like the white rhino.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

  • By: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
  • Length: 5 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,310
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,104
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,119

Eliot Rosewater, a drunk volunteer fireman and president of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation, is about to attempt a noble experiment with human nature, with a little help from writer Kilgore Trout. The result is Kurt Vonnegut's funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh we are all heir to.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth.

  • By Darwin8u on 03-27-14

Not Vonnegut's best, but not bad

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

Reviewed: 07-21-14

The topic of this book serves as a satirical commentary on American capitalism and the place that money - and the people who have it - hold within society. It is a theme worthy of exploration, but this book lacks the typical spot-on punch of Vonnegut's best work. The message still gets through and in a fairly entertaining fashion, but it falls short of ensuring a lasting impression.

Summerer's narration irritated me at first, but I soon warmed to him. His voice contains a gleeful irony that is perfect for Eliot Rosewater's particular brand of "madness."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • How Much Land Does a Man Need?

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: Walter Zimmerman
  • Length: 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

Tolstoy is primarily know for his impressively long novels, but he also wrote some wonderful short stories. This one, dealing with ambition and greed, has an unforgettable message.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thought provoking

  • By Empowerment on 12-19-08

Eloquent parable about greed

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

Reviewed: 07-15-14

This is more of a parable than a short story. It is concise and to the point and very easy to reproduce orally. For example, after hearing this story just once, I know that I could repeat it easily and quickly to another person in order to illustrate a salient point about the human weakness for greed. Tolstoy does it beautifully all the way to the last line, which is perfectly ironic.

Walter Zimmerman's halting, dispassionate, and monotone narration is all the more ironic for the story's exceptional oral qualities.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany

  • By: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 27 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,976
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,569
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,574

Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Painfully nostalgic

  • By Barry on 07-29-15

Owen the faithful

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

Reviewed: 07-15-14

This is a marvelous book, and exemplary of the level of achievement that can come out of an author's staggering commitment to the exploration of a specific theme. In this case the theme deals overwhelmingly with religion and morality and in particular Christianity - what might it really look like to be a person of faith in the modern world, and what might be the implications on an individual level? Is a human society capable of supporting non-hypocritical morality; and considering a person is capable of such a feat, how would it impact those around him/her? 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' is John Irving's nuanced by flawed answer to that question, and remarkably his Owen is the type of person whom Irving has said would not be able to survive in the modern world ("modernity" being a secondary theme of the novel) because of the weakness of the human character, the willful ignorance of the masses, and lack of faith of most "people of faith". Yet this fact is not explicitly stated in the book, which instead provides a complex exploration of how such a scenario might play out set against a modern Western backdrop whose forces are opposed to both morality and faith - while purporting to be both. Most religious people would probably not recognize themselves in Owen Meany, a fact which Irving exploits as a consuming, fascinating study of what faith actually means, and how it actually shows up. I am not a Christian, but you don't need to be to enjoy this book or take something from it; the message is complex and transcendent.

John Barrett was an exquisite choice to read this book. The best singular narration I've ever heard.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • George Carlin Reads to You

  • An Audio Collection Including Grammy Winners 'Braindroppings' and 'Napalm & Silly Putty'
  • By: George Carlin
  • Narrated by: George Carlin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,850
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,557
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,525

If one George Carlin audio is funny, then two are funnier and three must be funniest, right? That's our thinking behind this new collection. t's a HighBridge library of laugh-out-loud, award-winning recordings featuring George himself performing many of his best bits.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Like a Cast of Thousands

  • By Rick on 07-16-12

Ebb and flow, up and down

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

Reviewed: 07-02-14

This is audiobook made me laugh hysterically for a few bits, then bored me to tears for a few bits. But in the end, I really only remember laughing. George Carlin read to me before bed every night for about two weeks, and his extremely enthusiastic (if I can use that word) narration held me rapt, even while listening to long lists of oxymorons and Carlin's pet peeves for minutes at a time (some of them were quite witty).

George Carlin reading to me was a nice change of pace.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Thérèse Raquin

  • By: Emile Zola
  • Narrated by: Kate Winslet
  • Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 1,347
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,241
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 1,229

Once upon a time, a teenaged Kate Winslet ( The Reader, Titanic, Revolutionary Road) received a gift that would leave a lasting impression: a copy of Emile Zola’s classic Thérèse Raquin. Six Academy Award nominations and one Best Actress award later, she steps behind the microphone to perform this haunting classic of passion and disaster.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • worth a listen

  • By Kindle Customer on 03-18-12

A very grim classic

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

Reviewed: 07-02-14

I am not opposed to gloomy stories generally, but I found this book so profoundly depressing that it started to affect my quality of life and I was relieved when it was over. Kate Winslet's narration is quite good, but her tone certainly does nothing to relieve any of the darkness from the tale, though I doubt it was supposed to. The book is well written but at times seems directionless and un-anchored, though I think that may have been the point.

If you enjoy some of the more grim classics, this is definitely for you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful