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portland, OR, United States | Member Since 2007

  • 123 reviews
  • 301 ratings
  • 806 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2015

  • The Grapes of Wrath

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

    J. H. Monaco says: "Wonderful Tale Punctuated with Loud Harmonic Licks"
    "Does Steinbeck Proud"

    I am a long-time Steinbeck fan. I've read literally everything he's written, including the odd, hard to find science logs and short stories. Getting to listen to this book after reading it a decade ago was a real treat. I enjoyed every minute. The narrator really added to this story. The way he pronounced "family" and "Rose of Sharon" made me feel like he had met the Joad family and traveled with them to make sure he got it all just right.

    Listening to it now, in the middle of the current Presidential race, I appreciated Steinbeck's hubris in making his political views crystal clear.

    The story is a classic for a reason.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Impasse: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Royce Scott Buckingham
    • Narrated By Allan Robertson

    Forty and facing a midlife crisis, Stu Stark has lost his mojo. He simply gave up after being fired from his prestigious job as a prosecuting attorney for losing the biggest case of his career. So when Stu's best friend gifts him a one-week trip into the Alaskan wilderness to rediscover his manhood, Stu thinks it just might do him some good. But after a horrible week, Stu is crushed when he realizes no one is coming back for him.

    Marci says: "Really great with just a couple of flaws"
    "Really great with just a couple of flaws"

    Impasse is great. Really great.
    This book drives the listener forward. It's a ride where you get in, commit, and just hold on. As the story developed, I could not wait to get back to it, I was so excited to see what happened next.
    The character development is good. I believed the relationships between Stu (main character) and the other characters and I cared about what happened to the good guys and the bad guys. I really bought into the whole story.
    This book also felt well researched. The details in scenes including everything from real estate law to how to skin a rabbit seemed legitimate to me. Just another reason why it was easy to invest and really enjoy the story.

    There were a couple of flaws. Royce's character development of the "bad guy" was a little shallow, a little cartoonish. I see that his past book was for teens and I think that showed here. He could have made the bad guy more evil and sinister without being so obvious. Also, in a couple of scenes towards the end, as the action climaxes, I rolled my eyes at what the characters did--just a couple times, their actions were not in their character. The flaws should not stop you from listening to this book though, as they were anomalies in an otherwise well written story.

    The ending was great and satisfying--a little surprising and sneaky and fun.

    The narration was good, not great. The narrator forgot which character he was supposed to be a couple of times, mixing up the female voice with the male ones. Also, the story would say "and he said breathlessly..." and the narrator wasn't breathless. Overall though, Robertson brought the story to life and wasn't a distraction.

    I recommend this book.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Where All Light Tends to Go

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Joy
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews

    The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually.

    Marci says: "Perfection"

    Wow this is a great book, I just loved it.
    The development of the main character was so deep and thorough, I was completely invested in what happened to him. He was flawed and likable and I really rooted for him.
    The other main "character" in this book was the setting of the story. There was a darkness, and a hopelessness, that had such a weight that it brought it's own emotional reaction.
    The story, and pace, and interactions were perfect. The story was very centered around the main character and how he interacted with the other characters, but it was done with a great story, good action, and a great pace.
    I don't have a single negative critique about this book.
    The narrator was ridiculously perfect. I'm not sure I've ever heard a better pairing of a book and a narrator as this one. As an audible listener, the experience is definitely better than reading it. The narrator brought an extra depth to the story.
    I highly recommend this book.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Funhouse

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Dean Koontz
    • Narrated By Karen Peakes

    Once there was a girl who ran away and joined a traveling carnival. She married a man she grew to hate - and gave birth to a child she could never love. A child so monstrous that she killed it with her own hands.… Twenty-five years later, Ellen Harper has a new life, a new husband, and two normal children - Joey loves monster movies, and Amy is about to graduate from high school. But their mother drowns her secret guilt in alcohol and prayer.

    Patty says: "I read this 35 years ago!"
    "Not Koontz's best and bad narration"

    I'm late in my love of Koontz. I've been devouring his books for just the last few months. It felt like discovering a diamond mine in my back yard. Phantoms, Lightning, and A Bad Place were all just amazing. So I was excited about a new release by him.
    Funhouse in not the quality of the other Koontzes I've listened to.
    The book started out strong. I loved the first couple chapters. It was creepy and I was instantly invested and excited for the ride.
    The two girl characters who were the main characters in the 2nd half of the book were annoying. They were young and dumb and uninteresting, so I didn't care what happened to them.
    The action and the bad guys were interesting. The development of the story was good. I believed in the "evilness" of the bad guy. He carried the story well.
    There was either too much editing, or the writing was lazy, because there were big details and big moments missing. There was no wrap up in the end of what happened to the characters. The story was missing those big, satisfying moments where all is revealed and everyone faces off.
    The ending was disappointing due to that lack of wrap-up.
    I didn't like the narration from the start. She was slow, whiny, and amateurish. I think she made the annoying characters even more annoying. I was glad it was over so I wouldn't have to hear her voice any longer.
    This review is harsh for a book I still give 3 stars. The harshness comes because of my high expectations and disappointment because I love Koontz so much. If this book had been by a new, unknown author, I still would have given it 3 stars, but I wouldn't have been more forgiving with the flaws.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ben Montgomery
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor

    Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than $200. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, atop Maine's Mount Katahdin, she sang the first verse of "America, the Beautiful" and proclaimed, "I said I'll do it, and I've done it."

    Marci says: "Inspiring story about a strong amazing woman"
    "Inspiring story about a strong amazing woman"

    I loved Grandma Gatewood. She's quirky and ornery and stronger than maybe any other character I've ever known. She suffers gracefully and graciously, which of course makes her perfect for the Appalachian trial. I was inspired by her strength on many levels.
    The story only gets four stars because I felt like Montgomery didn't completely do her justice. I felt like this story just scratched the surface of her and what she experienced. There was too much "filler" in the story about the politics of the time, and other topics that didn't belong in this story. I wished there was a lot more detail about her.
    The narrator was perfect. Lawlor gives a lightness to the story that highlights the quirkiness of Grandma Gatewood and of the situations she gets herself in.

    I've already recommended this book to several of my friends.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Torch

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Cheryl Strayed
    • Narrated By Cheryl Strayed
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    "Work hard. Do good. Be incredible!" is the advice Teresa Rae Wood shares with the listeners of her local radio show, Modern Pioneers, and the advice she strives to live by every day. She has fled a bad marriage and rebuilt a life with her children, Claire and Joshua, and their caring stepfather, Bruce. Their love for each other binds them as a family through the daily struggles of making ends meet. But when they received unexpected news that Teresa, only 38, is dying of cancer, their lives all begin to unravel and drift apart.

    Marci says: "Meh. The characters just weren't likable"
    "Meh. The characters just weren't likable"

    Be incredible? Really? I wish ALL the characters of this book would have taken that advice. The first part of the story is good. Meeting Teresa, the mom who has cancer is great. The characters around her and her relationships are great. But I lost interest during the rest of the 3/4 of the book.
    If you are like me, you are interested in this book because you loved Wild. Strayed's style is in here. It's in here in the shocking, raw things that the characters do because they are flawed and because of their grief. I liked those moments. Where this book failed though was redeeming those characters and making them likable. In Wild, Cheryl obviously is super likable and does things and shares things that made me like her including and because of her flaws--I liked her because of her complete-ness.
    The characters in Torch were selfish and narcissistic and shallow and single faceted in their flawed-ness. I had no reason to cheer for them, they were just kind of lame.
    The end of the story was the worst part. It just fizzled as the characters continued to have things happen to them and as they just stumbled through their mediocrity.

    I also did not like Cheryl as the narrator. She had an annoying lilt in the way she finished each sentence that got tedious.

    I hope Strayed writes more books. Fiction or non-fiction, I'll read (listen to) it, because I like her style and I think she'll only grow as a writer.

    I don't recommend this book.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Revival: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By David Morse
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs - including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession.

    Thug4life says: "Not fit for a King"
    "Sinister and Classic King"

    I really enjoyed this book, but I had to alter my expectations away from "horror." I was bracing for a scary story based on the description and some of the early reviews. I was picturing IT, The Shining, etc. It's classic Stephen King, but it's more in the line of the Green Mile, or 11.22.63 style.
    The story is great. I became interested and totally invested almost right away. King is a master story teller which is why I can enjoy his books no matter which way they go. The character development of the main character Jamie was deep, extensive, and very interesting. I liked him and even more, liked his relationships and interactions with all the other characters. That's what drives this story is the people. I was interested in what happened to them without wavering, and was interested right up until the end.
    Pastor Jacobs is a great antagonist. He is a great vehicle for the creepiness. He has the hubris, and the lack of humanity that kept me on the edge of my seat. He remained unpredictable which helped create a great pace to the story and kept me guessing.
    Why only 4 stars? I love the book, but it could have had more. It could have been creepier, Jacobs could have been a little more evil, or there could have been a side-kick to Jacobs that could have been really evil that would have created a little more action.
    The ending was good. It was worthy of the rest of the story and worthy of the characters. I enjoyed the ending.
    I loved Morse as the narrator. I've already looked at other books he narrates for, I like him enough to seek him out. While I was listening, I took note that Morse's voice for Jacobs was perfect. He made him sound overly patient, a little patronizing, and a little edgy, he really brought Jacobs to life for me.
    I would recommend this book.

    70 of 86 people found this review helpful
  • The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man: Book 1 of the Repo Man Series

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By W. Bruce Cameron
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Ruddy McCann, former college football star, has experienced a seismic drop in popularity; he is now Kalkaska, Michigan’s full-time repo man and part-time bar bouncer. His best friend is his low-energy Basset hound Jake, with whom he shares a simple life of stealing cars. Simple, that is, until Ruddy starts hearing a voice in his head. The voice introduces himself as Alan Lottner, a dead realtor. Ruddy isn’t sure if Alan is real, or if he’s losing his mind.

    Charles Atkinson says: "As Good As It Gets"
    "Multiple Layers Make a Great Story"

    This is a story that truly "unfolds." There are tons of layers that reveal themselves that made me more and more invested as I got to know Ruddy and Alan and Katie.
    Just when I thought that I knew how the story was going to go, a small twist or a new fact was revealed that delighted me and kept me super interested.
    The writing is great. The author, Cameron, is funny without feeling like he's trying very hard. The chuckles in this book are subtle and surprising which makes them even more fun.
    The action in the story drives the pace really well. A TON happens to Ruddy, there are several stories woven together at the same time, but it is all done smoothly, and believably, and in a self-effacing, funny, natural sort of way. I'll say it again, the writing is great.
    The character development, especially of Ruddy is really well done. That's another aspect that unfolds really well--I got to know him more and more as the story went on.
    Why only four stars? I felt like Cameron could have pushed it just a little bit more. It could have been a little funnier, a little faster. It's really 4 1/2 stars, it just wasn't quite, quite perfect. On the other hand, maybe it was perfect, because it left me wanting more. I'm assuming there is a next book based on the title, and I'm really looking forward to a sequel.
    The narrator is great. George Wilson does the funny, tongue in cheek, sardonic books so well. He is a perfect choice for this book.
    I recommend this book.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Gray Mountain

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Catherine Taber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer's career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track - until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the "lucky" associates. She's offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she'd get her old job back. In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about.

    Jan says: "Sorry John... wanted to like it... love you anyway"
    "So Disappointing"

    Remember John Grisham? Remember the books that shot him to #1 over and over again? The Client, The Firm, etc? Gray Mountain is a pathetic shadow of one of his good earlier stories.
    I kept waiting for the action to start. The beginning was great, loved meeting her parents and having her get fired, and getting the internship--all the parts that were written in the publishers description of the book. But after that, nothing happened. I was patient for hours as the story developed, but there was no climax. There was no one and nothing to cheer for, there was no John Grisham moment! The story is set in Appalachia, filled with colorful characters, but none of them really did anything. The stage was set, and then nothing happened.
    The main character, Samantha, wasn't developed to the level you would expect in a 12 hour story. What she eats or doesn't eat is not enough for me to care about her as a character. What details were developed left her simpering and weak and a victim, when she was supposed to be the "heroine" of the story. Everything happened TO her, she didn't actually do anything. In the end, I just didn't care.
    I know John Grisham isn't high literature, but I think it is fair to expect a level of entertainment from him and to hold him to the standards of his past books. I was very disappointed.
    As for the narrator, yeah, she was terrible. She spoke way too slowly, which didn't help the fact that there was no action. She made me feel like she was reading to a group of 1st graders at a library. She also didn't change her voice for men vs. women so I sometimes couldn't tell who was saying what.
    It's a John Grisham, so lots of people will still read/listen to it. But at least go in with much lowered expectations.
    I do not recommend this book.

    129 of 144 people found this review helpful
  • Spark: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By John Twelve Hawks
    • Narrated By Scott Brick

    Jacob Underwood is a contract employee of the Special Services Section, a shadow department in the faceless multinational corporation DBG. Jacob is not a businessman...he is a hired assassin...and his job is to neutralize problems deemed unacceptable by the corporation. Jacob is not like other employees, nor is he like other people. Suffering from Cotard's syndrome - a real condition that causes people to believe they are dead - Jacob perceives himself as nothing but a Shell with no emotion...

    D says: "Engaging"
    "I really wanted to like this book"

    This was my first John Twelve Hawks. Before I chose it, I read reviews from his other books and reviews for this book. He is loved and has many loyal followers, so I was looking forward to Spark.
    The main character, Jacob Underwood, was the problem for me with this story. As the description says, he's a man with a brain injury that gives him perfect characteristics to be an assassin. He thinks he is dead so he feels nothing, no empathy, no sense of something being beautiful vs. being ugly, and no concept of the future. The problem with that premise is that there is no reason to care about him one way or the other as a reader. There is no character development because he doesn't have any personality. I wanted to care about Jacob, as he did is job, as he experienced the world around him, like traveling to foreign countries, and as he met the people he's supposed to murder, but there was nothing there. I didn't get to experience any feelings, any sensations, any change of heart because he has no feelings, senses, or heart.
    The whole premise is interesting, but it needed another facet introduced, like he needed a handler, or he needed to have ONE part of his conscience work, so there would be something I could latch on to and care about.
    The pace of the story, the action, the other characters, and the general idea of the book were good, but not enough to make it a great book.
    There were all sorts of deep, thought provoking ideas around are we alive, what defines "alive," and how are we different than non-sapient beings. But again, that wasn't enough to carry the book.
    Scott Brick as the narrator was a good choice, or maybe he was a bad choice, I couldn't tell. He did a nice job of interpreting the lack of emotion and sensations, but it got tedious. A couple times I wondered if I would like the story better if I read it instead of listened to it because the narrator really highlighted to stark-ness of the story.
    The ending set up the possibility of a continuation of the story. I will not be getting the sequel if one comes out.
    Bummer, I wanted to like it, but I do not recommend this book.

    13 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • How to Build a Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Caitlin Moran
    • Narrated By Louise Brealey

    It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde - fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer - like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës - but without the dying-young bit.

    Marci says: "Get This Book!"
    "Get This Book!"

    I loved this book.
    "How to Build a Girl" has it all. The character development, the relationship development, and the pace of the story are perfectly done.
    The main character Dolly/Johanna is beautifully developed. I was completely invested in her, in every decision she made, and in everything she did. I rooted for her and cringed and held my breath and laughed out loud a lot.
    The surprising, and best part of this book is how much I laughed, the writing is clever and really funny. As Johanna/Dolly developed I thought that the story would get more serious, as most funny movies go, they aren't funny by the end because all the problems get ironed out. But Moran's writing was so good, it was consistently interesting and clever right up until the end.
    The ending was great, really great, and worthy of the rest of the book and how the characters were developed.
    The couple things I would say as a review:
    1. I wished it was longer. A couple moments felt overly edited, I'd wanted more color, description, follow-up that weren't there.
    2. This is a very Rated R book. I was never offended, but I certainly gasped and cringed more than once. This book is gritty and raw and naughty which is part of what makes it great.

    The narrator was great, she seemed perfect for the part, her accents and voices were perfect.

    I highly recommend this book.

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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