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Ellen

FROSTBURG, MD, United States | Member Since 2004

38
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 50 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2014
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  • On Beauty

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Zadie Smith
    • Narrated By Peter Francis James
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (100)

    Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.

    Sarah says: "two thumbs up"
    "could not put this down"
    Overall

    Characters were beautifully drawn, narration was excellent. I could NOT put it down, thought about it when I wasn't listening to it and missed it when it was over. WONDERFUL!!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Round House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Louise Erdrich
    • Narrated By Gary Farmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (860)
    Performance
    (727)
    Story
    (726)

    One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and 13-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

    Melinda says: "Heavy in My Heart"
    "Buy this title if you can stand the narrator...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Erdrich is one of my very favorite authors, so I looked forward to listening to The Round House. The narration was extremely odd and halting, almost as if the narrator had just recently learned to read. The wrong words in a sentence were emphasized, the pace was inconsistent, and it was very distracting. I strongly recommend The Round House, but even more strongly recommend that you buy the actual book and read it, not listen to it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • It

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    Overall
    (3990)
    Performance
    (2738)
    Story
    (2751)

    They were just kids when they stumbled upon the horror of their hometown. Now, as adults, none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them all back to Derry, Maine, to face the nightmare without end, and the evil without a name.

    Parola138 says: "I thought I was desensitized"
    "annoying narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story is about what I expected and wanted as a diversion. However, Weber's narration seldom drops below frantic, loud, obnoxious yelling, and I found myself sometimes yanking my earphone out when I couldn't stand it anymore.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Deborah Feldman
    • Narrated By Rachel Botchan
    Overall
    (302)
    Performance
    (251)
    Story
    (249)

    In this captivating memoir, Deborah Feldman takes listeners on an eye-opening journey into Orthodox Jewish culture. Raised in the suffocating world of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim, Feldman was told what to read and who she was allowed to talk to. Married off at 17, she suffered from anxiety and was shamed by an inability to please her older husband. But after giving birth to a son at age 19, Feldman realized it was time to tear up her roots and make her own path in life.

    Ella says: "A one-sided glimpse into a secretive world"
    "Unremarkable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I found the narrator's baby-ish voice very annoying and will try to avoid her in the future.


    What could Deborah Feldman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The story needs a better( and more insightful) author. Potentially an engaging tale, the book's prose is on the level of a good high-school/freshman composition writer and thus disappoints.

    Technique aside, there were huge chunks of the story that the author simply did not deal with: at some point the author indicated that although she was considering leaving the marriage, it would be impossible to take her son with her due to the objections that her husband would certainly voice. Then all of a sudden she's moved out with--with her son--and we never hear anything about her interaction with the husband on the subject. There were several such inconsistencies.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The timbre of her voice seemed too childish/childlike; not well suited to narrating anything other than kids' books. I found it affected and grating.


    You didn???t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    For someone unfamiliar with the customs of the Orthodox I think it would probably be an interesting read. As a Jewish reader (although not an Orthodox one) I was still hoping to gain some insights into this branch of Judaism, but that didn't happen.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Forgotten Country

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Catherine Chung
    • Narrated By Emily Woo Zeller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    On the night Janie waits for her sister Hannah to be born, her grandmother tells her a story: Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, their family has lost a daughter in every generation, so Janie is charged with keeping Hannah safe. As time passes, Janie hears more stories, while facts remain unspoken. Her father tells tales about numbers, and in his stories everything works out. In her mother's, deer explode in fields, frogs bury their loved ones in the ocean, and girls jump from cliffs and fall like flowers into the sea. Within all these stories are warnings.

    Ellen says: "Tedious story; annoying narrator"
    "Tedious story; annoying narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Forgotten Country?

    Almost everything disappointed me about this novel. I rarely fail to be engaged by a book, but I cared nothing about the characters, their challenges, their goals, their present or past or future. It was agonizingly repetitive and drawn out.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Catherine Chung again?

    No.


    How could the performance have been better?

    By selecting another narrator. For some unfathomable reason, the narrator chose to portray the main male character (the father) in a voice that was pitched 2 octaves higher than any of the female characters. Worst narrator I think I've encountered in my audible.com history


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

    I only struggled through it because I had no other book to listen to at the moment.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Moonlight Mile

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Dennis Lehane
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (115)

    Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood 12 years ago. Kenzie and Gennaro risked everything to find the young girl - only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home. Now Amanda is sixteen - and gone again. Haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, and more....

    Charles says: "Oh Dennis, what happened to you?"
    "Decent storyline; distracting narrator"
    Overall

    Lehane is one of the best in the genre; this is NOT the best of his works. The plot was a bit contrived and all of the characters except for Patrick and Angela were not fleshed out sufficiently.
    The narrator was trying--I think---to produce a Boston accent, but it wasn't consistent and often he sounded British rather than 'Southie'. As a Boston native, I found this distracting.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lit: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Mary Karr
    • Narrated By Mary Karr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (103)
    Story
    (104)

    Lit follows Mary Karr's descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness - and her astonishing resurrection. Karr's longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting poet produces a son they adore. But she can't outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in "The Mental Marriott" awakens her to the possibility of joy, and leads her to an unlikely faith.

    Kim says: "Finally! One for the "Win" column"
    "Rule #1: Authors should not narrate their own work"
    Overall

    Mary Karr's is not an unfamiliar nor unsympathetic story: a poet/wife/mother/alcoholic struggles with her disease while trying to manage her life. Often witty, sometimes downright funny, and certainly well written, the volume suffers from lack of editing; we get anecdote after anecdote of Karr getting drunk, managing to find her way home and berating herself. Rinse and Repeat. It gets tiring and tiresome. In terms of listening, I stand by my conviction that it is the VERY rare author who reads his/her work well. The narration is unpolished and at times halting. If you must read this book, I'd buy it in paper.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Lush Life: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Richard Price
    • Narrated By Bobby Cannavale
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (590)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (103)

    What do you do? Whenever people asked him, Eric Cash used to have a dozen answers. Artist, actor, screenwriter...But now he's 35 years old and he's still living downtown, still in the restaurant business, working night shifts and serving the people he always wanted to be. What does Eric do? He manages.

    richard says: "Eerily real"
    "you'll regret it if you pass this one by..."
    Overall

    This one is a winner, both from the perspective of the writing and the narrator. Rarely does police fiction delve into this much character study or exhibit such realistic dialogue, and rarely is an audiobook read this convincingly and with such a complex, multi-layered performance.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Khaled Hosseini
    • Narrated By Atossa Leoni
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4856)
    Performance
    (1114)
    Story
    (1115)

    Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss, and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them, in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul, they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.

    David says: "Somber but gripping"
    "Not to be Missed"
    Overall

    The high quality of the writing is matched by the expressiveness and perfectly rendered narration. A more intimate and revealing view of life than in his first book, Hosseini delivers character studies that are believable, poignant and authentic. I knew the end of the book was inevitable, but I dreaded it---I wanted it to go on and on and on. My highest recommendations for both the novel and the narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mercy Part 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Alyssa Bresnahan
    Overall
    (188)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Police chief Cameron McDonald has lived in idyllic Wheelock, Massachusetts, for most of his life, as has his beloved wife, Allie. Their lives are thrown into tumult, however, when Cam's cousin, Jamie, arrives in town, along with his wife's dead body. Jamie admits to the murder: a mercy killing to end the pain caused by a ravaging cancer. And now Cam is torn by his oath to uphold justice and his family obligations. Meanwhile, another new arrival in town threatens to drive a dagger through Cam's marriage.

    Ellen says: "Nothing more than a bad romance novel"
    "Nothing more than a bad romance novel"
    Overall

    I've enjoyed Picoult's work in the past, but she seems to have written this novel while her attention, imagination and skill were employed elsewhere. Characters are one-dimensional and simply a collection of cliches and stereotypes. With "Mercy", Picoult descends into the realm of Danielle Steele (and other authors I refuse to read). Awful, awful, awful. Couldn't stomach it and gave up after 2 hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Me & Emma

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Flock
    • Narrated By Lauren Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (307)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (71)

    In many ways, Carrie Parker is like any other eight-year-old: playing make-believe, dreading school, dreaming of faraway places. But even her imaginative mind can't shut out the realities of her impoverished North Carolina home or help her protect her younger sister, Emma.

    glamazon says: "Brilliant but Disturbing"
    "It grows on you"
    Overall

    I initially found the narrator's reading extremely annoying, but grew to appreciate its nuances and style. There's a bit of repetition in the novel--I think it would be improved by some careful editing--but the problem is not big enough to affect one's enjoyment. I'd recommend this one highly, as I found it engaging and memorable

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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