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Washington DC


  • A Visit from the Goon Squad

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Jennifer Egan
    • Narrated By Roxana Ortega

    Jennifer Egan brings her unique gifts as a novelist and short story writer to a compulsively listenable narrative that centers on Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and record executive, and the beautiful Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs.

    Laurene says: "Excellent, subtle, moving"
    "You Will Still Get Old, Even If You Never Grow Up"
    Any additional comments?

    The title of this book refers to goon squads, which are used to attack and intimidate people. The author uses the title as a metaphor for time, which according to her is as ruthless as a goon squad. Time is a thug that steals your youth, energy, creativity and finally, your life.

    This book is playfully structured like a record album but instead of 13 songs we get 13 intertwining short stories narrated by 13 different people. Because of the many narratives, it’s hard to summarize the entire book. Each story is a snapshot from a pivotal moment in a narrator’s life. Each character connects, in some way or another, to other characters in the overall story. The stories are not told in chronological order; they jump to different decades and different cities.

    Many of the characters are disturbingly self-destructive; others are predatory and sleazy. The poor choices each character makes at a young age will steer them on sordid trajectories and the resulting repercussions will reverberate long into their lives as adults and old age and into the lives of their children. I realize this sounds extremely depressing but surprisingly, it’s not! In fact, at times, it’s wickedly funny. I attribute this to the clever writing of Jennifer Egan. The humor in the book juxtaposes the debauchery and it makes for a fast, clean read.

    Every character in this book struggles with change, time passing and aging. The author accelerates and intensifies that struggle by presenting it in an industry obsessed with youth. The music industry revolves around the culture of youth. More than any other art form, rock n’ roll clings to a “live fast, die young” mentality. Don’t suffer through old age. At one point a washed up record executive’s daughter tells him, “This is the music business. Five years is five HUNDRED years.”

    Our time here is short; we all have regrets, all of us. The one thing we all have in common is we are all going to get old eventually. Hopefully we will also grow up before we grow old.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Mean Streak

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Sandra Brown
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her. While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name.

    KC in Lexington says: "Ms. Brown's book far exceeds usual quality."
    "I want my money back!"
    What would have made Mean Streak better?

    Ludicrous plot. Unbelievable characters. The writing is so bad it made me cringe. The plot is full of so many cheesy cliches it could been a Harlequin Romance parody if it was written with even the smallest bit of wit and humor. Save your money.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • That Night

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Chevy Stevens
    • Narrated By Jorjeana Marie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Toni Murphy was eighteen when she and her boyfriend, Ryan, were wrongly convicted of the murder of her younger sister. Now she is thirty-four and back in her hometown, working every day to forge and adjust to a new life on the outside. She's doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back to prison. But nothing is making that easy – not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who clearly doubts Toni's innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni's life miserable in high school.

    Kristy Rodsho says: "Love the book. But, the narration is distracting."
    "Narrator sounds like she is wearing a nose plug"
    What was most disappointing about Chevy Stevens’s story?

    This might be a great book, but I will probably never be able to force myself to finish listening to it. Why? I could barely focus on the story because the narrator sounds like she is wearing a nose plug. I don't know if it was that is how her voice really sounds or if the recording equipment somehow distorted her voice.

    What didn’t you like about Jorjeana Marie’s performance?

    Narrator has a very Stuffy Nose. She sounds like she has cotton packed in her sinuses.

    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyance. Frustration. Disappointment.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Amazon Customer says: "Word Thief"
    "Destined to be a classic!"
    Would you listen to The Book Thief again? Why?

    The narrator of this audiobook was phenomenal! Very authentic! Although is is a very bleak subject, the narrator keeps the story from being unbearably heartwrenching.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character was the narrator, Death. The idea to have Death narrate this story provides us with a very unique and clever perspective. Who knew Death was such a charming, kind and likable gentleman? It goes against every stereotype we have of Death! He is wise, kind and compassionate. Death does not want people to die. Death does not cause people to die. Death exists only because people do die. It is Death’s neverending job to carry away a person’s soul after it has separated from the body. Death jumps right past foreshadowing and lets us know ahead of time which characters will die, this really alleviates a lot of the agonizing dread and distress of the subject matter.

    Any additional comments?

    What a unique and creative book! I could not put it down. This story is told in masterful, beautiful language, surreal metaphors and lush imagery that held me completely captivated. Language plays such a very important role in this story. When the story starts, the main character, Liesel, a young Jewish girl, is illiterate. As she slowly learns to read, books offer her a much needed escape from her suffering and misery. Alternatively, Liesal is enlightened with a new understanding of the destructive power of words, most notably Hitler’s hateful speeches of bigotry and destructive propaganda. Words hold a remarkable power; positive and negative. Books that are opposed to Hitler’s viewpoint are burned in celebratory book burnings. In many ways, the Nazi Holocaust began with hateful, destructive, racist words. Hitler's words manipulate and compel entire Nations to hate Jews, commit unspeakable acts cruelty and to massacre millions of people. On the flip side, words can also heal, inspire compassion, love and understanding. It all depends on how you use your words. Words eventually inspire Liesal to tell her own story which cultivates goodness and love. Where Mein Kampf is the source of misery, death, concentration camps and war, The Book Thief is the gift of hope, compassion, kindness and resilience in the struggle to rise above circumstances when life feels unbearably heartbreaking and harsh.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Beauty in art might save you"
    What made the experience of listening to The Goldfinch the most enjoyable?

    The beauty we encounter in life and art can make it all worth living.

    This novel is a love letter to great art and a literary version of a great painting. As soon as I finished this book, I started it again. It's that good.

    The pace of this book is amazing. But you will wish it would never end. It is a story about loss, grief, family, friendship, beauty, existentialism and the power and promise of beautiful art.

    One of many the joys of this novel are the visually striking and timeless descriptions of New York City. When the scene shifts to the barren wasteland of suburban Las Vegas, it is a striking contrast. The characters and their stories are conveyed with such beautifully rich detail, they've become real people to me.

    There are numerous references and allusions to classic literature woven throughout the book. The most explicit ones are to Charles Dickens and 19th-century Russian novels. Theo might be a modern day Pip (Great Expectations). His artsy mother is named Audrey (Holly Golightly of Breakfast At Tiffany’s). A favorite Central Park bench Theo visits with his mom is the same bench that Holden Caulfield visits in "The Catcher in the Rye". Hobie, a modern day Joe Gargery (Great Expectations), is a kind, gentle man who rehabilitates furniture in a charming antique shop (The Old Curiosity Shop). Theo's streetwise best friend, Boris, is a character reminiscent of The Artful Dodger from "Oliver". Boris spends several paragraphs analyzing Dostoevsky's novel, "The Idiot" and an entire part of the book is titled The Idiot. Boris nicknames our bespectacled protagonist "Potter". This reference creates a sharp contrast between the cute, wholesomeness of Harry Potter with the bleak realism of Theo's life as a lonely orphan. An old, wealthy Manhattan family, the Barbours, personify New York’s posh, seemingly ideal upper-class life. They live in a richly decorated Upper West Side apartment stuffed with priceless furniture and large, dark oil paintings of naval battles. (The Age of Innocence, Great Gatsby).

    Art in almost every form is represented in the book: fine art, music, film, literature and even antique furniture restoration. I counted roughly 36 works of classic literature referenced, two-dozen classic films, 20 famous works of fine art and about a dozen iconic musicians and pieces of music. Certain characters in the book find meaning in their life through art and the creative process: Hobie through furniture restoration, Pippa through her music and probably Fabritius through his painting and Donna Tartt through her prose.

    The last 10 pages of the novel is not to be missed. It gathers all of the understated subtext about life and art and exposes it to the surface. How does one differentiate the value art v/s the price of art? Or an authentic work of art v/s a counterfeit? Can a work of art truly capture the soul, essence and spirit of life? Can art make life worth living? Is there really free will or is every action determined by causes? Life is harsh, cruel and short; what is the point? What if you do the wrong things in life, but for the right reasons? Maybe the acts we commit out of sincere love, are beyond good and evil. Maybe there is no enlightenment, no ultimate truth, no transcendent divine experience. And maybe the artist's job is not to surrender to the emptiness of this existence, but to find an antidote to counteract that feeling of emptiness. Maybe, hope, even if it is just an illusion, is a good reason to continue. And maybe, just maybe, the beauty we are lucky enough to encounter in life is can make it worth living.

    It took ten years for Donna Tartt to finish this book. It was well worth the wait.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn.

    Bronwyn Soell says: "One of the finest audiobooks I have heard"
    "Painfully Boring"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    After slogging over a third of the way through this long book I did a little research. There seems to be a general consensus that this book is not recommended for anyone who is not already familiar with Tudor history. (That would be me.)

    Apparently anyone without a decent background in this particular period of history is likely to be confused and bored by this book because the author leaves so many gapping holes in the story, holes that the reader must fill in with their own knowledge.

    Personally, I find this to be an indication of poor writing. If a book requires it's readers have a certain amount of background information on a subject, the book should come with a warning label on the cover and maybe even some other recommended reading material to explore before trying out the book.

    I found this book to be a chore and I have given up on it.

    Would you ever listen to anything by Hilary Mantel again?


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    A lot of yawning.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Child

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By John Hart
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    his most powerful and intricately-plotted novel yet. Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: happy parents and a twin sister that meant the world to him. But Alyssa went missing a year ago, stolen off the side of a lonely street with only one witness to the crime. His family shattered, his sister presumed dead, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown in a last, desperate search.

    Christine says: "Stick With It!"
    "Great Story Now Find a Narrator With a REAL"
    What didn’t you like about Scott Sowers’s performance?

    This is a great story, but I could only stand to listen to it in small intervals.


    Every time this narrator speaks in his overly-exaggerate Southern drawl I feel vaguely ill.

    This story takes place in North Carolina. I lived in North Carolina for many years. Most of my family members live in various parts of North Carolina, including the Sandhills, Piedmont, etc.. None of them sound anything like this annoying guy!!

    Exaggerated accents are jarring and as off-putting as nails on a chalkboard to people familiar with the accent. What's frustrating is, this is a great plot and such an exciting story but I have to keep shutting it off when I can't take it anymore!

    Narrators and actors: if you can't "do" an accent well enough to fool the people from that area, please just speak in your regular speaking voice!

    I hope I can eventually finish this book. :(

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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