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Sher from Provo

Utah
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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-19-18

Takes an effort to read

Conrad’s books are full of symbolism and, for me at least, are hard to follow. This one is not written in chronological order, and has to be pieced together. It took me a little work to be able to figure this book out, but in the end it was worth the effort. It is beautifully written and I can see why it is ranked among the best literature of the early 20th century (even though it was written in 1899). Jim is the consummate tragic hero. I can’t read too many books like this in close proximity because it leaves me sad and a little depressed.

Frederick Davidson, as alway, is a fabulous narrator. I know some people don’t care for him, but I think he is phenomenal. His characterizations are just great, and the depth of feeling he puts into his reading is really what hooked me on him.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-19-18

I lived through this horror!

Ohhhh <shiver uncontrollably> this is a ghastly story! I don’t mean for that headline to sound as if I had a personal connection to him, but being a resident of Utah in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I was well acquainted with the name “Ted Bundy.” I lately learned that some friends of mine who fit the profile of Bundy victims and who lived in one of the Utah towns where Bundy had “made his mark” had unmistakably heard someone in the back yard of a home where they were staying. They were suddenly terrified and went home where they felt some modicum of safety. No one will ever know if it really was Bundy stalking those girls, yet his presence was felt in their terror. That is the power of evil in the shape of this serial killer who may have slain hundreds of beautiful young women.

I remember seeing the mother of Debra Kent being interviewed when Bundy, the alleged murderer of her precious daughter, was first arrested in Utah. She begged for him to tell them where he had put Debra’s body. When Bundy made his death-bed confessions just before his execution 14 years later, he told where many of the victims were “disposed of.” He said Debra was buried in the mountains near the small community of Fairview, and showed on a map where the location of her body and that of Nancy Wilcox, another Bundy victim, were buried. In spite of intensive searches, their bodies were never found. How my heart ached for that family and for the many other families and victims who were devastated because of one evil man, driven to kill.

The book is well written by an experienced writer of true crime. I was amazed at her objectivity in light of her personal close connection to Ted. I can only imagine her dismay upon finding out that this young man who had become her friend, someone who had sat next to her at work and who treated women with utmost respect, was in truth a monstrous killer. It is almost too much to process!

Don’t read this book if you are squeamish about such things because, although tastefully written, Rule is very forthcoming about what happened. She never goes into detail for any reason other than getting at the facts, but the facts are gruesome. I hope we don’t see the likes of Ted Bundy ever again, but that is probably too much to hope for. People like him do appear from time to time. So be careful and never help a man who has his arm or leg in a cast carry things to his car. Call for help.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-12-18

If Satan Were a Man on Campus . . .

Oh man, I am left a little speechless. Let me pull myself together. I just finished this classic novel by Sinclair Lewis. I have owned this book for decades but only recently, after finding it on Audible, decided now is the time to read it. It is a look at the morals of a church man, Elmer Gantry, who chooses to go into the ministry because he figures it would be easier than to get a degree and become a lawyer. He does go to ministry school and becomes an ordained minister, and he is really good at what he does. Sadly, what he does includes twisting his secret immorality so that it work to his advantage. He is able for the most part to give up the booze and the tobacco so that he appears righteous, but he can't seem to break with the habit of meeting women, even after his marriage, and seducing them into falling for him. He is one of those people who uses religion and his "faith in God" to further his own purposes, however low-class and hurtful they may be, while at the same time furthering his ambitions to become the dictator of morals in America, heck in the whole world. I think I started to believe he could actually pull it off. And the more rotten he is in his private affairs, the more admired, respected and esteemed he is by his congregations. I had a teacher once who told me that if Satan were a man on campus we would elect him student body president. That sums up the life of Elmer Gantry.

This book was written in 1926, but is still relevant today. Sinclair Lewis is a masterful writer, at times poignant, but often very clever and downright funny in his ironic juxtapositions. He paints the characters and situations so deftly that the flow between Elmer the righteous man of God and Elmer the morally bankrupt degenerate seems to be rational and acceptable, until in the end it becomes undeniable. I have to be honest. The middle of the book seemed to drag a little, but all in all, I enjoyed reading it. No wonder it is a classic!

Now, about Anthony Heald. He is hands down one of the best narrators I have ever listened to, and perfect for this novel. He catches the irony in Lewis' writing and brings it out in just the perfect way. Had I only read the book I don't think I would have picked up on the cleverness to quite this extent. I found myself laughing out loud at times (and as I was working in my garden while listening, I think my outbursts scared the mules across the fence). And his characterizations are topnotch. I don't know what planet those who do not love this narrator are from, because he is awesome.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-11-18

Pretty good book

I am not usually a fan of action/murder mysteries unless they are really well written. I have been disappointed by some that have been recommended to me as great, only to find that "great" to some people does not even translate as "good" to others. But this one was different. It was well written, and held my attention right from the very first. I am inclined to try more of Burke's books, but would love some recommendations as to which ones really are good. The characters in this book are memorable and the good guys are very likable. Dave, the protagonist, is just right--not too good to be unbelievable, but not so ridiculous that you can't even feel sorry for him. And I did feel sorry for him, and rooted for him to the end. There were some big clues as to who the bad guy was, which I would have liked better if I had not been able to figure out, but the plot was complicated enough that suspecting who it was didn't spoil it for me. Shall I give #2 a try?

The one thing that might push me toward another one in this series is the narrator, Will Patton. They just don't get much better than he is.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-10-18

A Little Bit Scary

This book has been on my to-read shelf for a long time. Finally I decided to listen to this 1959 novel, and as I listened, I began thinking that it could have been written yesterday. Some things would be different of course, but the threats outlined here are as real today as they were 60 years ago. And perhaps our preparations for such an eventuality are just as lame as they would have been then, who knows? Yet if someone tries to prepare for future disasters, he or she is labeled as some kind of a crazy prepper.

Frankly, the ending was little more optimistic than it probably should have been. Although it was mentioned a few times, the total devastation could have been more dramatically emphasized. Still, it was well written and painted a pretty dire picture of life after atomic bomb.

I think this is a book everyone should read.

Will Patton is the best of the best. I have listened to him read a number of audio books, and have always loved his narrations.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-10-18

Better than I thought it would be

I started this book some time ago and quickly abandoned it. It seemed to be about a bunch of not very savory activities of popular high school senior girls with nothing better to do than drink, have sex, and demean everyone who is not in their click. I don't know why I decided to give it another try, but I vowed to at least listen to half of it before abandoning it again. It was still all about those things, and that part was a little hard to listen to again, until the girls get in an car accident and one of the girls is killed. Oddly, in the morning, the dead girl wakes up in her own bed, and it is the same Friday as the accident, a la the movie "Groundhog Day." And it is like that iconic movie in that the protagonist has lessons to learn and becomes better and better at living that day. But it is also quite different. As Samantha learns more and more about the people around her, she begins to understand them, she sees them in a different light and that changes her. As I think about this story, I think I myself have learned a great lesson. Maybe if we could all do life over, or at least one day, just maybe we would get better at it until this whole world becomes the way it was intended to be.

Bottom line, it is well worth reading. Oliver really catches the mentality of this slice of society, and although not perfect (what book is?) it is very well written.

The narrator, Sarah Drew, is just incredible. Wow, way to go, girl. You have a future in the audio book business! I have to admit, you are probably one of the things that kept me listening.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-29-18

I loved this book

I really loved this book except for one thing that I will get to later. I loved the way this book was written, and how all the stories interconnected. I loved how so many of the people in these stories picked themselves up from sometimes atrocious situations and made life better, particularly for their children. To watch the progression of this race through several generations seemed miraculous to me. I loved these characters, and when I started a new story and figured out how the main character tied in to the stories I had already read, it was like finding an old friend. So well done.

Now the part I did not like. Some of the reviews are so racist, it almost took the joy out of it for me. Yes, there are horrible situations in this book Yes, the black race has been disproportionately trampled on in America since the beginning of the slave trade. Yes to all of the situations put forth in this book. They happened in reality way too many times. But to unilaterally say all white men are the devil is unfair. All of my male ancestors were white men, and guess what! Not one of them owned a slave. The ones I knew personally were good men who would have done anything for anyone, including a black man in need. Or any color of man. I have seen it happen many times. Yes, many white men felt entitled to hurt and belittle black men, and it was not right, is not right now and never will be. But there are many black men who have done the same kinds of things to white men and to other black men, or any kind of man. I am not in any way condoning the treatment of blacks during slave days and since. But be fair. Not all white men are the devil, just as not all black men are saints. There were many black men in these stories who conducted themselves in immoral and horrific ways. So give it up and let's teach love to all men and women. I'm white as can be. I didn't ask to be, it's just that my parents happened to be that color. But guess what? I loved this book, and it made my blood boil as much as any black person's to read about some of these atrocities. Surprise. Some of my ancestors, also very white, were persecuted beyond belief for the way they chose to worship God. There were states in this country that passed laws saying it was legal to shoot to kill my ancestors on sight, and some were killed. Any person can be evil, and any person can be godly. So choose to be godly, and if enough of us do, the sorts of things that happened in this book will cease to happen. Isn't that what we all really want?

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-21-18

Such Fun

Wish I had been able to read these as a child, or to my own children. Perhaps future generations of my family will get to enjoy them.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-21-18

It's not fair

Why do some people have to overcome such terrible things in their lives as this man did? I live in a beautiful place, in a nice house with a little piece of land and my children live close by. I can see them whenever I choose to. Why do I deserve that when this man had to lose so much in order to gain a little freedom. Don't get me wrong, I am so very very thankful for my blessings and I have had my share of problems, but many of my trials are first world trials. I would bless this man's life if I knew how. I hope my buying his book helped him a bit.

I gave the story four stars, not because I didn't like it, but because it was so heart-breakingly sad.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-21-18

Read many reviews before you listen to this book.

There are so many great reviews of this book that I hesitate to give mine. But I will write a couple of impressions.

1. It wore me out a bit to have to re-imagine life post-WWII with Nazis and Japanese in charge of this country.

2. I never got to the point that I really cared about any of the characters, yet I did "root" for them to achieve whatever it was they wanted to achieve.

3. The ending left me as mystified as when I began. I wanted everything to resolve nicely, and the man was going to be the hero, etc. When I learned that there was supposed to have been a sequel, I understood.

Thank you to the other readers who left such great reviews. It makes me happy that I finished the book.

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