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N. R. Gawlak

  • 62
  • reviews
  • 70
  • helpful votes
  • 160
  • ratings
  • The Once and Future King

  • By: T. H. White
  • Narrated by: Neville Jason
  • Length: 33 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,574
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,174
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,179

The complete "box set" of T. H. White's epic fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. The novel is made up of five parts: "The Sword in the Stone", "The Witch in the Wood", "The Ill-Made Knight", "The Candle in the Wind", and "The Book of Merlyn".

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My favorite book this year.

  • By Robert on 12-13-12

Another Brilliant Facet

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

Reviewed: 11-05-17

I have read many accounts of Arthur, the legendary king of Britain or England or the British Isles.from many and varied authors in my 74 years. I have enjoyed them all, some more, some less. My favorite rendition is recent...Bernard Cornwall's trilogy beginning with THE WINTER KING. His telling was, for me, the most gripping and real.

Nevertheless, in its own fashion, T H White's "The Once And Future King" was just as enjoyable and, though more sprightly in tone, nearly as dramatic. It did take some interesting tangents during the telling which were unexpected. Some might say that those twists were immature or for children and, certainly not for adult reading. However, I liked them pretty well. The novel was a bit heavily weighted toward British patriotism, but Arthur has always been England's legend and White concluded the book in the midst of WWII during England's darkest hours, so that was fine by me.

The reader, Mr. Jason, was just the right person to read this rather lengthy saga. He did it all with great skill and, as long as the book was, I never tired of listening to his reading.

Mr. White proves something about the subjects of great literature...that their stories can be told from many, many different angles and slants, and each can provide its own worth and beauty...like looking at single, gorgeous diamond from many different angles.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Silk Roads

  • A New History of the World
  • By: Peter Frankopan
  • Narrated by: Laurence Kennedy
  • Length: 24 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,537
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,376
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,376

It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures, and religions, and it was the appetites for foreign goods that drove economies and the growth of nations. From the first cities in Mesopotamia to the emergence of Greece and Rome to the depredations by the Mongols, the transmission of the Black Death, the struggles of the Great Game, and the fall of Communism - the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What Really Makes the World Go Round

  • By Mom in Santa Fe on 07-29-16

An Interesting Slant On World History

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

Reviewed: 05-04-17

Good work. Interesting all the way through. I thought that it was one of better pieces of historical analysis I have ever read. It describes what this region has actually been about since the start of recorded history and builds to a climax, showing how our current troubles in Asia, especially the Middle East and Central Asia, came about and why. Not simplistic. One has to think about what the author has to say. But the book shows lots of new (for me) angles and throws a powerful light on how our mistakes and lack of understanding of these places and the people in them has led us to our own breaking point. This is the kind of history reading that does as much to explain the present as it does the past.
Mr. Kennedy's narration was very, very good from start to finish.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • 1Q84

  • By: Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)
  • Narrated by: Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett
  • Length: 46 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,459
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,659
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6,632

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I've never read a book quite like this one

  • By Joey on 04-23-12

A Real Waste Of Time

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

Reviewed: 05-04-17

Having read several of Murakami's earlier, lengthy novels, I thought that this one would at least be readable. I am not a big fan of his work, but at least I found the others I read to be mildly entertaining. This one is not worth picking up. I could not come near to finishing it.
Although a description of the plot sounded interesting and, perhaps a bit original, the themes linking the thing together have been done over and over and over, often in far more interesting ways. These themes....child sexual abuse, glorified feminism, terrorism, to mention the ones I encountered in this work, are presented in ways better suited to comic books than print aspiring to be literature. I guess I was disappointed in that I expected a lot better from this author.
Anyone who tries listening to this version and who finds the narration even adequate, has my sympathy. Neither male was particularly good to listen to, and the female'a narration was an abomination...like having a clueless 10 year old trying to read Moby Dick out loud standing in front of her elementary school class. .

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Transition

  • By: Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 303
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 220
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 221

There is a world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse. Such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organization with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Finally an Iain M. Banks book on audible...

  • By Kurt on 10-29-09

Entertaining, original

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

Reviewed: 05-04-17

Mr. Banks is a very good writer, perhaps one of the best writing SF today. I have no idea where he gets his ideas and concepts from. But it is not from the usual hackneyed sources seemingly used by most modern SF authors. Glad that there are still writers like Banks with an honest to goodness imagination. Unfortunately, there are very few left. The rest do variations on themes that have been done to death years ago, and add precious little of interest to them.
I am a lifelong SF fan who has been reading this genre for more than 60 years. I find the modern trend of making nearly every SF protagonist a woman, seemingly for the political correctness of it, unappealing. Although Bamks does tend to do "women as superheroes" like so many do, I see that he generally manages to do that by emphasizing and reworking their feminine traits and refraining from turning them into he men warrior types...with breasts. This author writes a good story.
Peter Kenny's narration is first rate.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Harlot's Ghost

  • A Novel
  • By: Norman Mailer
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 48 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 31

With unprecedented scope and consummate skill, Norman Mailer unfolds a rich and riveting epic of an American spy. Harry Hubbard is the son and godson of CIA legends. His journey to learn the secrets of his society - and his own past - takes him through the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the "momentous catastrophe" of the Kennedy assassination. All the while, Hubbard is haunted by women who were loved by both his godfather and President Kennedy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Timely & Terrific

  • By Jeffrey L. Gingold on 05-26-17

Thought provoking work

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

Reviewed: 03-27-17

There is no question in my mind that Mailer has been and continues to be one of America's best writer's. This work, could have gotten 5 stars from me but for the kind of non ending ending which leaves me in mind of those modern writer's who are setting their audience up for one or more sequels. Lots of loose ends still waving in the breeze after the last word had been read. However, aside from that, whether the story was purely fictional or semi factual, it left me with a perception of recent US history that syncs with a good many revisionist historical accounts that have surfaced over the past several years. It was, in my mind, very well written...imaginative plot, characters with seeming real lives who I could relate to, whether in a positive or negative manner, behavior that was driven by the characters human motivations, and clear, concise description. Whether the story can be viewed as
"realistic" or outlandish, depends on the reader...who, I think, will be greatly entertained, either way. My complaint about the ending could be a result of: 1) the idea of sequels, stated above, 2) the author rushing for a conclusion for reasons unstated or, 3) it ends the way life ends...lots and lots of unanswered questions.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The City of Mirrors

  • A Novel (Book Three of the Passage Trilogy)
  • By: Justin Cronin
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 29 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,146
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,590
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,579

The Twelve have been destroyed, and the 100-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew - and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Couldn't wait for the end

  • By Gberdan on 09-14-18

He should have quit while he was ahead

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

Reviewed: 03-27-17

First, as today' writers go, Cronin is not a bad one. He knows how to move his plot along, his characters are not completely without merit, and there are bursts when the motivation of the characters and motion of the story seem to naturally flow.. He manages to give some life to long worn out fictions...vampires, post end of the world dystopia, women as warrior messiahs, etc. That is, he keeps shells moving fast enough on the table to keep one actually wondering which one the bean is under. That's how I got through the thing, I think. The prior two in the trilogy were not much different, overall, but seemed more palatable..

But, the banality and triteness that lies as the foundation of these first two works could not be overcome in this 3rd book.. In fact, Cronin takes a few of these themes and hypes them for all they're worth. And, that, for me, is what makes this last work insufferable. I got through the first two by ignoring his ceaseless edification of those brave, anglo saxon women who were saving mankind by virtue of their being overall powerhouses of authority, bravery, power and intellect, his conjuring up of all the bad guys, certainly all male who are all, eager and willing to slaughter hundreds of millions of innocents directly or by proxy, by the most savage and vicious means, for some unknown reason.while having the only "good male guys" be subservient type who are all willing to instantly jump step aside as soon as one of the female heroes exerts her superior knowledge, strength and authority, Then there was the frequent hole in the plot that required resorting to almost deus ex machina contrivances to fill. But that problem was, in comparison to the above, minor. .

A complaint of smaller scope: I am a father of 5 children and have "participated" in the birth of 4 of them. I did not need Cronin to build up his total word credits to get more money from his publisher by laboriously (no pun intended) boring me with a blow by blow description of a human birth that went on and on and on. After awhile, I couldn't stand anymore pointlessness, so I skipped the rest of that sequence. I hope it wasn't crucial to the rest of the story...didn't seem like it was.

Is this writer the quintessential American good ole boy, or what? . It took him 3 books to tell us how a handful of real American Americans, lead by their god like womenfolk, while living much of the time in TEXAS, and never failing to rise up after defeat after defeat at the hands of evil supernatural (almost) hordes in uncountable numbers, came through at the end and literally saved the entire species and rebuild the world. The Evil One, by the way, spent this whole book living in bad old New York City...with rats....lots of rats. He, of course, was a Caucasian male of weak character to begin with.
Overall, "City of Mirrors: was kind of old testament fire and brimstone biblical combined with bits of 1 star horror flicks, and, written by an ardent feminist, I thought. Not my cup of tea.
Oh, almost forgot. And then there was the ending(s) ...insufferably marshmallow profound..
Cronin does not do well when he waxes poetic. .
Overall, the narrator over emoted. I have heard him narrate quite a few books and he usually does a credible job. Too many times, during this one, he sounded as if he was ready to burst into tears. Maybe it was the book.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Ultima

  • Proxima, Book 2
  • By: Stephen Baxter
  • Narrated by: Kyle McCarley
  • Length: 21 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 237
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 226
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 225

On the planet of Per Ardua, alien artifacts were discovered - hatches that allowed humans to step across light-years of space as if they were stepping into another room. But this newfound freedom has consequences. As humanity discovers the real nature of the universe, a terrifying truth comes to light: We all have countless pasts converging in this present - and our future is terrifyingly finite. There are minds in the universe that are billions of years old, and now we are vulnerable to their plans for us.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Book 2 delivers the goods.

  • By Angus on 02-01-16

Overall Badness

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

Reviewed: 04-08-16

The first of these two...hopefully, there won't be a third...was sort of ok. Novel plot, fair characterizations, not badly written. Not bad. Certainly not great. This 2nd in the series, is awful. I hate novels with politically correct agendas. This one, starts out a bit more subtly than some others I could (and have) named, where it tries to link up with the first book. But as its version of a plot unfolds, it simply starts to reek of it. Worse, the plot becomes thinner as it goes on. It seems like the author tacks on a piece from one place, then another from somewhere else, and desparately tries to glue them together. What gain there is in an approximation of cohesion, is lost in failed coherence. Novelty and imagination, give way to a mismatched rehash of what came before. Then, after dragging that on long enough to qualify this junk as a novel, he tries to finish it off with some kind of big war scene, like in an old Rambo movie, And then the author adds
a new MAIN THREAT/VILLIAN nearly right at the very end, although supposedly the threat was there all the time (just undiscovered?) in both books. That antagonist is as near a deus ex machina as I've seen any published sci fi author dare to use in years. Obviously, the author wants more than two books out of this series, which barely merits one. To say that the narrator is just what this book merits, sums up my opinion.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Iron Council

  • New Crobuzon, Book 3
  • By: China Mieville
  • Narrated by: Gildart Jackson
  • Length: 21 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 260
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 238
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 239

It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming city to the brink. A mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places. In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very Close to the First

  • By Tim on 03-11-16

Imagination Plus

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

This book seems to end the trilogy...and it is as fine a piece of literary work as the other two. Mr. Mieville seems to be able to put more imagination and originality into a paragraph of science fiction than most contemporary writers manage to put into a novel...or an entire series, many of them. Although each novel in this trilogy can easily stand on its own, each one remains linked to the other two, even if the connections are not obvious. Each is well done, with fine characterizations and solid story lines. Each is a bit of a tragedy in its own right. But if they lack "happily ever after" endings, those endings evolve from the realistic interactions of the very human acting characters. Mr. Jackson's narration was first rate.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The David Foster Wallace Reader

  • By: David Foster Wallace
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff, David Foster Wallace, Sally Foster Wallace, and others
  • Length: 48 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 127
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122

Where do you begin with a writer as original and brilliant as David Foster Wallace? Here - with a carefully considered selection of his extraordinary body of work, chosen by a range of great writers, critics, and those who worked with him most closely. This volume presents his most dazzling, funniest, and most heartbreaking work.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great for teachers!

  • By sharky on 10-07-15

Like listening to Mozart...or Led Zepplin

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

David Foster Wallace is a as good a writer as I've ever read, maybe the best. This collection of pieces of his work, some fiction, some not, could work as a sampler for someone who has never read or heard his work. Most of the narrators are good...but Robert Petkoff narrates Mr Wallace's work with a style and tone, that, to these old ears, is like listening to the best music I ever heard. Although I tend to like Mr. Wallace's fiction better than his essays, ("Infinite Jest" is the best novel I have ever read/heard) listening to 40 plus hours of The DFW Reader, seemed like being on one of those carnival rides that you wish would last for hours and is over in seconds. And, you want to right back and do it, again.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Half a King

  • Shattered Sea, Book 1
  • By: Joe Abercrombie
  • Narrated by: John Keating
  • Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,850
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,686
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,685

Yarvi, second son of the feared King Uthrik and the ruthless Queen Laithlin of Gettland, was born with a useless hand, and cannot hold a shield, or do any of the things expected from a man. Left an outcast, he's surrendered his birthright and been given a woman's place as apprentice to Mother Gundring, Gettland's Minister, training to be an adviser, diplomat, healer and translator. But when his father and brother are murdered by Grom-gil-Gorm, King of neighboring Vansterland, Yarvi is forced to take the Black Chair and become king himself.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Formula is not the opposite of gritty; it's just..

  • By David on 07-25-14

Oh, Joe. What happened?

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

I was, up until listening to this, a huge fan of Joe Abercrombie. I've listened to everything I could find on Audible he had written and found all of it first rate. The lowest rating I've ever given his work was 4 stars. Then, I listened to this and was keenly disappointed. Abercrombie is, in my opinion, the best fantasy writer on the block, bar none. He was never trite, never seemed to rely on gimmicks, never appeared to cater to current fads or political correctness. And always wrote with a sly wit. With this book, instead of listening to his muse, he seemed to be listening to some PR person from the publisher who told him how to write for the pop audience by using all the tinny devices so many "fantasy" authors employ to attract an audience brought up on "graphic novels" and superhero movies. Nor was there much wit, if any, demonstrated in the writing. Although this novel disappointed me badly, perhaps I am too harsh. Some of the problem for me definitely lies with the narrator, John Keating, who I do not care to listen to. I don't think that he is a bad narrator. I just find his voice wheedling and unpleasant. Many listeners do not share my opinion and that is fine. It is just a personal preference or matter of personal taste in narrators. I have already bought the other two books in the series and, will comment on them, if either is something that reads more like the Joe Abercrombie I used to like.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful