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Melanie

I love words that can take me into other worlds.

Portland, OR, United States | Member Since 2007

134
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 251 ratings
  • 363 titles in library
  • 1 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
6

  • Heat

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Bill Buford
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (289)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (89)

    From one of our most interesting literary figures, former editor of Granta, former fiction editor at The New Yorker, acclaimed author of Among the Thugs, a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook.

    chris says: "Enthralled"
    "Hot and Cold"
    Overall

    For the most part, this was a really enjoyable book. The glimpse into various extremely different food worlds was fascinating: from celebrity chef Mario Batali's 3-star New York restaurant to uncelebrated Italian women who make tortellini the way their grandmothers were taught by their grandmothers. I loved Buford's self-deprecating wit and his genuine interest in people of all stripes, as well as in the food they cook. Although the book is most known for its intimate portrait of Batali's kitchen, I found the chapters on the artisanal food producers in Italy even more appealing, making me want to fly off to Italy to feast on traditional dishes before they are lost to modern fast food. My only objection to the book was Buford's over-use of expetives. It is too bad he didn't learn from all those great cooks that seasoning is most appealing when laid on with a light hand.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Song of Achilles: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Madeline Miller
    • Narrated By Frazer Douglas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (373)
    Performance
    (345)
    Story
    (343)

    Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

    Cariola says: "Didn't Expect to Like It, but I Was Swept Away"
    "An Olympic Perfect Ten"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Song of Achilles, as read by Frazer Douglas, is pure lyricism--a love song for the ages. Madeline Miller's simple poetic phrasing soared thanks to Douglas's tender, understated narration. I was enraptured from the start--and spent the last chapters in tears. This is the first audio book I finished, then immediately started again. Now I know how audiences must have felt as they listened to bards reciting the Iliad: entranced.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • I, Claudius (Dramatised)

    • ORIGINAL (5 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robert Graves
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi, Tom Goodman Hill
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (38)

    A full-cast dramatisation of Robert Graves' brilliant account of the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome, starring Tom Goodman Hill as Claudius and Derek Jacobi as Augustus. The wickedly entertaining inside story of the lives and deaths of the Imperial dynasty from Augustus to Caligula is told by their obscure relation, Claudius. In public, Claudius is a stammering, drooling weakling, whose reputation as an idiot keeps him safe from office and assassination.

    Melanie says: "Great Audio Theater"
    "Great Audio Theater"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a fan of both the book and the classic BBC TV miniseries starring Derek Jacobi, I couldn't resist trying out this audio drama version of I, Claudius--especially as it stars some of the great British theater actors, including Jacobi as Augustus, and it recently won an Audie Award for full cast recordings.

    What a great piece of audio theater it was! I was so drawn into the story, the characters, and the life of the early Roman Empire that I literally couldn't stop listening. (Since I normally listen as I walk, this was also quite good for my figure!) You find you don't miss the visual element at all--each character is clearly separate and your imagination paints the scene. Great story, great acting--who could ask for more?

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Fool: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Christopher Moore
    • Narrated By Euan Morton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1987)
    Performance
    (811)
    Story
    (827)

    Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege's side when Lear demands that his kids swear to him their undying love and devotion. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father's request is kind of...well...stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.

    Michael says: "Mr Moore does it again."
    "Funny book, hysterical narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Brilliantly narrated by Euan Morton, Fool is the perfect example of how a great audio book is far more than a good book well-read. When done right--and the wickedly comedic Morton assuredly does it right--it is an art form of its own. In this case, that means laugh-aloud funny.

    The book itself is a delightfully pun-filled riff on King Lear, filled with twisted references to other Shakespeare plays. The writing is clever indeed, but this is in no way high brow humor: potty mouth would come closer to the mark. Think Monty Python, but in a less censored age. While some scenes are rip-roaringly funny, however, the book does get repetitious. Naughty words can only amuse for so long. I think had I merely read it, Fool would soon have begun to feel one-dimensional and flat.

    Morton's reading, particularly the charm he gave to the fool, was what kept me addicted. Not only was he able to engage different voices, but he created characters with wholly different personalities. Pocket, the fool, came across as every bit as sweet as he was malicious--all with perfect comedic timing!

    While this is not a book I would recommend to those who are offended by salty language and saltier behavior, to all the rest I would say: this is the funniest audio book I have ever listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Robert Harris
    • Narrated By Simon Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1203)
    Performance
    (540)
    Story
    (544)

    When Tiro, the confidential secretary (and slave) of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually propel his master into one of the most suspenseful courtroom dramas in history.

    Karen says: "Great Naration, Great Book"
    "Bringing History to Life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Really good historical fiction is a rarity. Most books calling themselves historical fiction are simply modern murder mysteries or romance novels with a bit of period detail thrown in. But now and then a marvelous book comes along that takes you into the past in with an honesty and intimacy in a way a pure history book never could. Think of Wolf Hall, I Claudius, or The Red Badge of Courage. Imperium is definitely in that category.

    This compelling story, beautifully narrated by Simon Jones, brings Cicero and his world alive. You can practically smell the decaying odors of Rome in the final days of the Republic. You are gripped by his scheming, even as you know the ultimate outcome. It takes a great writer to urge you along even when there is no mystery. I highly recommend this audio book to anyone who loves history, politics, biography, or just a plain good story.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The End of the Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Graham Greene
    • Narrated By Colin Firth
    Overall
    (2184)
    Performance
    (2009)
    Story
    (2002)

    Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God is an English classic that has been translated for the stage, the screen, and even the opera house. Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man) turns in an authentic and stirring performance for this distinguished audio release.

    Emily - Audible says: "Colin Firth Kills It"
    "Incandescent Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is without question the most beautifully narrated book I have experienced in the 10 or more years I have been listening to audio books. It also shows how an exceptional audio book can be so much more effective than prose on a page. I had tried and failed to read The End of the Affair a couple of times in the past, always succumbing to boredom over the unlikable characters, turgid story, and narrow emotional range. (I realize that I'm swimming against the stream here, but even heartfelt anger becomes tedious after a while.) Still, with an actor as gifted as Colin Firth as the narrator, I felt it was worth investing in one more try.

    I am so glad I did! Firth made you feel the pain of the characters, pain that had merely seemed self-indulgent when written on the page. His voice gave depth to what otherwise felt like a shallow story line. And while I still found the end of the book to be mawkish, the narrator's many layered voice won't leave my head. That is what a superb audio book can do.

    58 of 64 people found this review helpful
  • Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Robert Harris
    • Narrated By Simon Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (648)
    Performance
    (272)
    Story
    (272)

    On the eve of Marcus Cicero's inauguration as consul of Rome, the grisly death of a boy sends ripples of fear through a city already wracked by civil unrest, crime, and debauchery of every kind. Felled by a hammer, his throat slit and his organs removed, the young slave appears to have been offered as a human sacrifice, forbidden as an abomination in the Roman Republic. For Cicero, the ill forebodings of this hideous murder only increase his frustrations and the dangers he already faces as Rome's leader.

    David says: "Enjoyable Read"
    "Historical Fiction at Its Best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a wonderful audiobook--both in the story and the narration. I was bowled over by "Imperium," the first book in Harris's Cicero trilogy, and was dubious that the second book could be as good. I'm happy to say that my fears were unfounded. Admittedly, the story has a less clear moral arc and is darker than that of Cicero's rise to Consul, but that is the real difference between rising to power and wielding it. This is a more complex book, but every bit as gripping: from the Catiline Conspiracy to the rise of Caesar resulting in Cicero's exile. No spoilers here: this is all in the history books. Yet, thanks in part to Simon Jones's excellent narration, I felt such empathy for the lead characters that I actually found myself hoping it would turn out differently.

    Good historical fiction adds a depth of understanding that a pure history book cannot. Conspirata is a great example of doing just that.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Barbara Demick
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (1480)
    Performance
    (906)
    Story
    (909)

    Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape never before seen, Demick brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today.

    Gohar says: "The man who wants to be GOD"
    "Ruined by the narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was really looking forward to this book, as I had heard so many excellent things about it. I am still looking forward to this book, only this time I will read it. The narrator's wooden style and robotic pronunciation of Korean names and words made it impossible to finish. I was forced to give up half-way through because the weirdly over-enunciated narration was making it impossible for me to focus on the story. What a waste!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Last Night at the Lobster

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Stewart O'Nan
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (30)

    Perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall, the Red Lobster hasn't been making its numbers, and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift. With only four shopping days left until Christmas, Manny must convince his near-mutinous staff to hunker down and serve the final onslaught of hungry retirees, lunatics, and holiday office parties.

    Richard says: "Very good novella"
    "Not a Christmas story"
    Overall

    Although this book was listed by Audible among its holiday selections, the only connection with that category is that the events take place on December 22. Rather, this is an unremittingly depressing account of the last day of a chain restaurant. The manager is very appealing in a Charlie Brown sort of way, always running for the football that will inevitably be yanked away. The reading is well done. But don't expect to come away from this book with any warm feelings about the redemptive power of goodness or hope.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Member Bonus: Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 6 mins)
    • By Jean Shepherd
    • Narrated By Dick Cavett
    Overall
    (737)
    Performance
    (124)
    Story
    (123)

    This is a free download, for members only, of "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid", the first story in the anthology on which the film A Christmas Story was based. Young Ralphie Parker launches an unstoppable campaign to get Santa, or anyone else, to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range-model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid"?

    K. Vieira says: "Early Christmas gift..."
    "A lovely Christmas gift"
    Overall

    This short audiobook is charming, lighthearted story that will take you back to your own childhood Christmases. Beautifully produced and read by Dick Cavett. Thank you, Audible, for this lovely Christmas gift.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Aeneid

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Virgil
    • Narrated By Simon Callow
    Overall
    (186)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (64)

    The publication of a new translation by Fagles is a literary event. His translations of both the Iliad and Odyssey have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and have become the standard translations of our era. Now, with this stunning modern verse translation, Fagles has reintroduced Virgil's Aeneid to a whole new generation, and completed the classical triptych at the heart of Western civilization.

    Rob says: "Fagles is best"
    "Grand epic"
    Overall

    I downloaded this with some trepidation, fearing it would be too dense for listening. But the combination of a very accessible translation and a brilliant reading have proved my concerns unfounded. This is a marvelous way to enjoy one of the masterpieces of classical Roman literature. In many ways, it's better than reading, as the reader glides over names whose pronunciation would baffle me. I have listened to this while jogging and even cooking and have never found myself lost. A great story told by a great storyteller.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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