The Death of Santini : The Story of a Father and His Son, by Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy has attracted a huge legion of fans for his books over the years with The Great Santini being one of his more popular titles. The Death of Santini could be considered a sequel of sorts to The Great Santini as he writes, obviously from the title, about the death of his father, Donald Patrick Conroy. The majority of the book though is Conroy relating the story of his relationship with his father throughout his life. Donald Conroy was a troubled and difficult man beset by alcoholism, a tendency for outbursts of violent verbal and physical incidents towards his wife and children, and a rigid personality formed by his career as a Marine Corps fighter pilot. Pat Conroy somehow maintained a father/son rapport with this difficult man over the years and his story is at times sad, frustrating, humorous but very engaging. Conroy himself reads the introduction which is a hair-raising summary of life as a son with his father. Dick Hill reads the rest of the book and is terrific. While appealing particularly to Conroy fans, this book is also an absorbing account of a son dealing with a troublesome father as well as a writer detailing his emergence as a best-selling author.
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The Death of Santini : The Story of a Father and His Son, by Pat Conroy
Dinner with Churchill, by Cita Stelzer
Volumes of books have certainly been written about the great British leader Winston Churchill over the years. However, Dinner with Churchill by Cita Stelzer is wonderfully unique in that it explores Churchill's fantastic ability to use the dining table as the setting to frequently entertain and charm a very distinguished array of world leaders by hosting meals he designed. The goal of these gatherings was often to achieve political gains for Churchill and the British during World War II. For example, Churchill's dinners with Franklin Roosevelt were a perfect setting for him to cajole Roosevelt into adopting his viewpoints on how the war should be fought. Listening to this book on cd is not only a great history lesson, but a delightful insight into Churchill's mastery of dining diplomacy.
The bonus is the reader Davina Porter. Her mastery of dialects and accents adds wonderful descriptions to all the culinary dishes served at these meals. This is a relatively short book on cd at 5½ hours and makes for very interesting and extremely enjoyable listening.
World War Z, by Max Brooks
World War Z is the telling of a fictional zombie war that occurs inexplicably. The Downloadable audio book is the best adaptation of this novel. The characters come to life in each chapter. Max Brooks' story-telling is different and refreshing. He uses an interview form of narrating the character's individual accounts of what happened in the apocalyptic zombie war. The characters are vibrant and intriguing. They are from different walks of life and their personalities really hit home when you hear their experiences and survival methods. As the reader and audience we are being educated a decade after the war. This novel is essential for apocalyptic/zombie aficionados. Currently the film adaption is out in theatres; however, the film and the novel are completely diverse. The film is appreciated as it provides closure and a sense of 'the day is saved' by the hero who is the main character, something the novel lacks but does not intend to accomplish within the scheme of the collective oral history of the characters involved.
The Iceman, by Anthony Bruno
I don't normally like to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I made an exception! As I was browsing the downloadable books on Overdrive, I spotted The Iceman which has a dark, ominous cover. I read the review online and decided I might give it a try. I'm glad I did! I had a hard time putting it down and finished it in no time. It's the story of a fringe gangster who executed at least 100 people by various means, and the undercover cop who brought him down. Yet, this criminal cared very much for his family and did a reasonable job providing for them - despite a few incidents of domestic violence. You probably want to read it just to find out how he got his nickname. This is a great book to download and take on your vacation!
The Shoemaker's Wife, by Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani has become an extremely popular writer and The Shoemaker's Wife gives ample evidence as to why she has gained this reputation. With an excellent reading divided between the author and Annabella Sciorra, her story flows so easily and holds the listener's attention. The Shoemaker's Wife revolves around two main characters, Enza and Ciro. They meet quite by accident while both are living in villages tucked away in the northern Italian Alps in the early twentieth century. Each migrates to the United States before World War I unaware than the other has made the same journey. Ciro ends up a shoemaker in lower Manhattan and Enza becomes a seamstress. Their lives intersect at times, but then they wander off in different directions. Enza eventually has a great success creating wardrobes for the Metropolitan Opera while Ciro makes a good living making the shoes for the men building bridges and buildings in New York.
The book has great settings : early twentieth century New York City, the rugged mountains of northern Italy, battlefields of World War I as well as the mining areas of Minnesota. Enza and Ciro proceed through their lives and eventually find happiness. The Shoemaker's Wife on cd is a very pleasurable listening experience.
Iron Orchid, by Stuart Woods
For this reviewer, listening to Stuart Woods's Iron Orchid was the introduction to this very popular author's writing. This is the fourth in his Holly Barker series and is an extremely enjoyable story. Barker has moved from being a police chief in Orchid Beach, FL to a CIA intelligence agent tracking down terrorists. In this adventure, she is chasing Teddy Fay, an assassin on the loose who is killing political figures. The action really gains speed as Barker and other CIA operatives hunt the cunning killer through the streets of New York City. As with all books on cd, the reader can expertly make the story come alive and Carrington MacDuffie gives the listener a great performance with Iron Orchid. Not only is this book on cd recommended, but it also made this reviewer want to seek out more of Stuart Woods's books.
Duchess of Death, by Richard Hack
The story of Agatha Christie's rise from a writer of short stories as a young English woman into one of the most widely-published authors in history is quite an interesting tale. Her name quickly became synonymous with the very best in the classic, cleverly-constructed, never-easy-to-solve murder mystery. Born in 1890, Christie had a very protected upbringing that did not prevent her from eventually getting her short stories published early in her life. Moving away from that genre, she began to write the murder stories for which she became so famous. While Richard Hack has labeled this book as an "unauthorized biography, he has drawn upon unpublished letters, notes and documents to write Christie's story. How this proper English woman became the master of the murder mystery is quite entertaining. In addition to her great success as a book author, Christies wrote many plays. Quite incredibly, The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in theater history as it premiered in London in 1952 and is still drawing crowds today. One of the more interesting facets of Christie's life is how she became a devoted partner to her second husband Max Mallowan in his exploits as a world-renowned archeologist. Well read by Nicolas Coster, this CD is highly recommended for fans of Christie's books or anyone who wants to learn about a woman whose books have been published in the millions and provided generations of readers terrific entertainment
The Pillars of the Earth , by Ken Follett
Here is the audio book CD version of Ken Follett's monumental tale of 12th Century England that was originally published as a book in 1989. It comprises 32 discs and totals 41 hours, so it is a commitment of time on your part. But as the nights become longer or your commute does too, this is the perfect epic story to slip into. It took this reviewer a trip to Pennsylvania and back plus much daily commuting to finish it. It certainly is worth the effort as a compelling story of life in the 1100s unfolds in all its passion, ambition, treachery, grubbiness and magnificence. A string of memorable characters such as Tom the Builder, Aliena, Prior Philip, Jack, Ellen the witch, William Hanley, Queen Maud, King Stephen, two King Henrys, Thomas Becket and a host of ecclesiastics all figure in this tale. Throughout the tale of hardship, murder, pillaging, and cruelty, the shining beacon is the construction of a Cathedral at Kingsbridge, a job that spanned three generations. If you thought you had a bad day, put yourself into any one of these characters places and see what they endured on a daily basis. Life was tough in the Middle Ages. Here's what Ken Follett himself has to say about this book and here's the skinny on a new mini-series currently being shot in Europe for airing in 2010.
The Dark Tower (series)
by Stephen King
Follow the adventures of Roland the Last Gunslinger as he treks across a world that time has left behind in pursuit of the mysterious Dark Tower and the answers he hopes will lie within. Along the way he gains and loses friends and companions and battles with enemies nefarious and weird.
If you were unfamiliar with the series before now, you may have been fooled into thinking it is simply a Western--it's not. King's fantastical tale spans seven volumes, each of which is filled with equal parts horror, mystery, fantasy and adventure. The compact disc versions of King's novels are perfect for those fantastical (and long) treks of your own!
Nonviolence: Twenty-five Lessons From the History of a
by Mark Kurlansky
Famous actor Richard Dreyfuss lends his distinctive voice to this thought-provoking audiobook. In it, the author explains the differences between pacifism and active nonviolent resistance, while giving a history of the interaction between the forces of violence and nonviolence. All too often violence has won by forcing the nonviolent to take up arms in self-defense, thus losing the advantage of their superior moral argument. Once violence is thought of as a legitimate means to defeat violence, nonviolence has surely lost. But all hope is not gone, as Kurlansky explains, there have been several nonviolent victories, and by looking to these examples we can learn how to change our world through active resistance, thus creating the nonviolent world we desire.
If you are looking for an audiobook that adults and children (ages 10 and up) can enjoy together try The Cay by Theodore Taylor. This adventure/survival story is set during World War II. A young white boy and an old black man are stranded on a small uninhabited island after a boat they were on was torpedoed by the Germans. The young boy goes blind as a result of an injury and he comes to realize that friendship is color blind. I listened to the recent Random House/Listening Library compact disc version. The reader, Michael Boatman of Spin City fame, does an excellent job with the West Indian dialect of Timothy, the old black man. A previous version on Audio Cassette has Levar Burton as the reader. A bonus track on the compact disc is an interview with the author, recently deceased, who talks about the inspiration for this novel and how the book changed his life.
The Bounty: the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty,
by Caroline Alexander, narrated by Michael York
Having seen several film versions of the story of the mutiny on the Bounty, I was curious to learn about the event in more detail. Caroline Alexander's expertly researched account paints a broader picture of the whole affair than any single film could. I got the audiobook to listen to during my commute, and was pleasantly surprised to hear acclaimed actor Michael York doing the reading. His skill with dialogue and knack for accents lent an air of authenticity to this salty sea tale.
The Martha Rules,
by Martha Stewart
For all of us who find Martha's improbable decorating schemes the most relaxing thing in the world, this audiobook "rules." I once had her convince me that staple gunning pine boughs to the outside of my house would create an incredibly welcoming holiday treat. Her soporific monotone is the best thing since sliced bread to cure road rage. Listen to it on your way home after a hard day at the office. You will enjoy the anecdotes from Alderson prison, her recounting on the genesis of our own SONO bakery, and her ten rules for business success can't help but inspire.
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Full Spectrum Dominance, by Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky - We've all heard the name before. And the quote, "Noam Chomsky is one of the most important intellectuals of our age", is often repeated. But sometimes people my age can find all of this clout off-putting. I mean, who really wants to read a book by an "important intellectual" anyway? I think that if you give him a chance, most readers will find Chomsky to be engaging, thought-provoking, perhaps even life-changing. But where to start? A quick search of our catalog reveals 30 titles by this author. To ease you into the world of Noam Chomsky, I'd start with the DVD version of Manufacturing Consent". If that peaks your interest, try the audiobook version of Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Full Spectrum Dominance. After that, there are plenty of books to choose from. Enjoy!
The Bob Hope Show
Laugh in the Fast Lane ...If you are looking for something a little different than the usual audio book for that commute or vacation ride, try a classic radio program. Comedy SuperStars and The Bob Hope Show are two titles from the Legends of Radio series. On Superstars, Abbott & Costello, Amos 'n' Andy, Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly and more show how they tore up the airwaves between the vaudeville days and the dawn of television. The Bob Hope Show has Bob's favorites from his radio show that aired between 1938-1955, with Hollywood stars such as Bing Crosby, Peter Lorre, Olivia De Havilland, and Betty Grable. Both titles provide hours of comedy and music from this Golden Age of Radio.
Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): a Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,
by Al Franken
While I listened to this book on CD rather than reading it in the traditional way, Franken's scathing and hilarious look at the government, the news media, and the world in general was as interesting as it was funny. Franken intersperses the text with fictional scenes and other bits that carry his point across while breaking the stereotype of the dry, bitterly written political tome. The audio version is especially enjoyable because Franken has actors portray the characters in his fictional scenes. While I would recommend this book, I especially recommend it to those who are looking for an audiobook- it had me laughing through rush hour traffic on the Merritt, which is certainly a difficult feat!