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  • 6 reviews
  • 7 ratings
  • 41 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015

  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Maria Semple
    • Narrated By Kathleen Wilhoite
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

    Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle - and people in general - has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands.

    S says: "One of my top 10 listens of the year!"
    "Great characters, fun performance!"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Although the story was a bit thin by the end, I enjoyed the characters and enjoyed the book overall. I wouldn't say it's a must-read, but it's clever with some nice moments and also some hilarious and creative bits of writing. It started off really strong, but the story got increasingly over-the-top (and harder to believe) as it went on. As someone who works in Hollywood, I enjoyed hearing a certain television writer's name being used for a character. Nice homage to a very talented, kind writer who I'm sure the author worked with during her TV writing career!

    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The two main characters -- Bernadette and her daughter -- were a hoot (and I think they'd describe themselves that way as well).

    What does Kathleen Wilhoite bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She really captured the young, inquisitive and exceptionally precocious spirit of Bee, the narrator.

    Any additional comments?

    Keep writing, Maria Semple! I'm excited to see what you do next.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Love in the Afternoon

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By Alison Packard
    • Narrated By Gia St. Claire

    Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image - and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime's most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend. Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm's length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.

    MAB says: "Shocked that I enjoyed this so much"
    "Cheesy romance with stereotypical dialogue"
    What would have made Love in the Afternoon better?

    The dialogue was so boring -- I felt was like I was listening to completely ordinary people have mundane conversation full of lame cliches, like the main guy said several times, "Guilty as charged" when having supposedly flirtatious conversation with the love interest. The descriptions also sounded so stereotypical. There was nothing special here, nothing that made this distinct or unique. Instead, it felt cliche, and, with so many "Listen, sweethearts" thrown in (does anyone in their 20s talk this way?) stilted and cheesy. The narration was a problem too. Although the narrator enunciated everything well, her interpretation of the characters was off, especially for all of the male characters. Their voices usually went up at the end of each line as if they were from a 1940s radio show, and they also just sounded so unappealing. The voice for Sean in now way matched with the description of who this character is.

    Has Love in the Afternoon turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Not completely but I would be more selective in the future. I don't mind something light or even sexy -- this was pretty R-rated in places -- but the writing was so basic and uninteresting and the narrator did not serve the story at all.

    What didn’t you like about Gia St. Claire’s performance?

    Her characterizations of the men in the story did not work. No one sounded appealing or interesting. The main character worked best with Gia's voice. The narration was fine, though sometimes she put too much of a spin on things, but I guess that goes with the soap opera feel of the book.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I like the idea of the setting and enjoy a good love story, but I couldn't figure out what these characters actually liked about each other aside from their good looks and a strong physical connection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Her Royal Spyness: A Royal Spyness Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Rhys Bowen
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren

    Georgie, aka Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, cousin of King George V of England, is penniless and trying to survive on her own as an ordinary person in London in 1932. So far she has managed to light a fire and boil an egg... She's gate-crashed a wedding... She's making money by secretly cleaning houses... And she's been asked to spy for Her Majesty the Queen.

    Alice says: "Happy addition to a difficult genre"
    "Fun concept and main character but so-so story"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I love the idea of this book but I wasn't crazy about the actual story. Rather than a main character who decides to be a spy as a great way to make extra money, which she needs, she falls into it by accident and as it turns out, those around her do most of the spying and have most of the clever ideas. Things constantly happen TO her rather than her driving the story. Perhaps the second book in the story works better since the main character is already a spy, but this one felt like a mess. It was not what I expected at all, though I did enjoy spending time in the world in which the story takes place.

    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Love the concept and the world; disliked the set up of the story and how it all unfolded. I did enjoy that there were many possible guilty parties but I wanted the main character to be the smartest person in the room and find ways to solve the mystery. Instead, she was very reactive.

    What aspect of Katherine Kellgren’s performance would you have changed?

    She did a solid job but was quite difficult to understand at times.

    Do you think Her Royal Spyness needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I believe there's a whole series of these but I doubt I'll listen to another. They're very short books -- I definitely don't feel like they're worth $14.95. I got mine on sale for $4.95, which felt about right considering what a quick listen it is.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Power of One

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bryce Courtenay
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower

    Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa. Through enduring friendships with Hymie and Gideon, Peekay gains the strength he needs to win out. And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice.

    Bob says: "Compelling story lifted higher by the narration"
    "Moving story enhanced by a wonderful performance"
    If you could sum up The Power of One in three words, what would they be?

    Powerful, moving, inspiring

    What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator truly brought me into the world of the story with what sounded like an authentic South African accent and his excellent interpretation of the emotional meaning behind the words.

    Any additional comments?

    Although the story was larger than life at times and the main character occasionally too good to be true, the writing was lovely and moving and there are beautiful, touching, sad moments that will live with me for a long time. The writer weaves throughout the notion of the "loneliness birds," which is such a visual way of describing what the main character was experiencing. I loved being taken into this world and loved hearing about the various people who made a difference in the main character's life and who taught him how to strive for the best. The characters were fantastic. I do wish a certain character who was introduced early on had made an appearance at the end to see how his kindness changed a boy's life, but still great even without that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    FanB14 says: "Amazing Amy"
    "An excellent production and fun listen but..."
    What made the experience of listening to Gone Girl the most enjoyable?

    I thoroughly enjoyed most of this book -- the two actors doing the reading excellently bring the characters to life, the writer makes every detail and emotion count and goes to great lengths to establish the characters' psychological make up and relationships with each other, the characters are intricately layered and the story is loaded with fun twists and turns and complications.

    I was completely on board, enjoying every second and waiting with baited breath to see how it would end... until I reached reached the last 40 or so pages, at which point the story takes a turn to the truly unbelievable. I won't spoil anything for you, but I will say that for me, the ending was completely unsatisfying. Based on everything the author had established thus far, I just couldn't believe that the characters would make the choices they ultimately do and I was thoroughly disappointed by that. What ultimately happens doesn't seem true to everything that's come before or to the characters the author so elegantly created.

    I would still recommend this because it was fun -- sometimes I couldn't wait to get back to my car so I could hear what happens next! -- but I just wish it had ended differently. Ultimately, the story didn't work for me.

    Would you be willing to try another book from Gillian Flynn? Why or why not?

    Yes, if the story appealed to me.

    Which character – as performed by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne – was your favorite?

    Both actors gave amazing performances.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beautiful Ruins

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jess Walter
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

    Michele says: "The Perfect Summer Read"
    "I felt a bit ruined after listening..."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    There was way too much unnecessary backstory and whole sections that could have been cut out, i.e. the story would have been the same without them. I absolutely hated having to sit through one character's entire movie pitch as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world (it wasn't, and it wasn't necessary for the plot in any way), and the chapter from one character's memoir? Ugh! I found myself saying aloud "Who cares?" half the time and "Get on with it!"

    Which character – as performed by Edoardo Ballerini – was your favorite?

    Pasquale was the only one I ever cared about. I didn't really connect with any of the other characters, except maybe Claire a little but the fact that she would stay with her lame boyfriend who was horrible to her just because he was hot made me lose all interest in this character. Mostly this was fully of shallow, unappealing people who didn't really evolve or grow.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Beautiful Ruins?

    I would definitely cut the movie pitch and also the chapter from Michael Dean's memoir. I would majorly cut tons of back story from Pat and a lot from Dee as well. Back story is nice when it helps move the plot forward but most of this was telling us things we didn't NEED to know. For me, the movie pitch felt like the author was trying to show Hollywood what they missed out on, i.e. maybe he tried his hand there and things didn't work out, and it turns out that's kind of what happened. There's some lovely language here but I was too distracted by the loads of extraneous information to appreciate it.

    Any additional comments?

    The book started out beautifully which made me excited about what was to come -- it felt quite cinematic and I couldn't help but think about the great movie this would make -- but there were way too many sections that felt unessential in moving the story forward. Ultimately, I felt like I sat through tons of "filler." The story had interesting facets but I did not enjoy the way it was told or most of the characters and cannot recommend it. The ending was unsatisfying and the only moment that moved me in the entire book was when Pasquale was reunited with Dee -- not because I cared about her at all but because I cared about him. I never believe there was any sort of real connection between them though and could not have cared less about most of the other characters. Sorry if this is a harsh review but I was really frustrated from about 1/3 of the way through the book all the way to the end.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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