You no longer follow Avalon

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.

OK

You now follow Avalon

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.

OK

Avalon

Bibliophile, English Teacher, Wordsmith

California USA | Member Since 2009

ratings
359
REVIEWS
14
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
16
HELPFUL VOTES
28

  • Farewell to Manzanar

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (17)

    Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp - with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton-twirling lessons, and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the nation's number-one hit: "Don't Fence Me In".

    Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention.

    Avalon says: "Freedom subverted"
    "Freedom subverted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Do you live in a country where 110,000 innocent individuals can be taken from their homes at a moments' notice and detained in an isolated location for years with armed guards and no escape? If you're an American, the answer is yes.

    In the racist roundup now known as the Japanese Internment, no charges were brought, no appeals were possible, and no due process observed. Families were apprehended without cause, incarcerated in the desert, then unceremoniously "released" three years later, their jobs, homes, and social networks dissolved in the interim.

    Jeanne Wakatsuki was 7 years old when her family was forcibly relocated, by the US government, from Long Beach, CA, to the remote, high desert prison camp known as Manzanar. How this unthinkable action affected her, her siblings, and her parents is outlined in this true coming-of-age tale, set in the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar, California.

    Through the eyes of a child, but with the wisdom of an adult, Jeanne describes her life in the prison camp, and the impact it had on her family. While she has every reason to be outraged at the injustice, Jeanne tells her story without rancor, focusing on facts, events, and details that let you feel her experience, illuminating a little-known historical series of events. Her memoir is clear-eyed and poignant, an easy listen you won't soon forget.

    At the dawn of the great American experiment of democracy, Thomas Jefferson warned us that the price of freedom would be eternal vigilance. Although Jeanne's story happened in WWII, echoes of racism cloaked as national defense again surfaced after 9-11. Those who value freedom need to know Jeanne's story, as a protection against this type of atrocity ever being revisited.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Run, River

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Joan Didion
    • Narrated By Holly Cate
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Joan Didion's electrifying first novel is a haunting portrait of a marriage whose wrong turns and betrayals are at once absolutely idiosyncratic and a razor-sharp commentary on the history of California. Everett McClellan and his wife, Lily, are the great-grandchildren of pioneers, and what happens to them is a tragic epilogue to the pioneer experience, a story of murder and betrayal that only Didion could tell with such nuance, sympathy, and suspense.

    Avalon says: "Thought-provoking, riveting, memorable"
    "Thought-provoking, riveting, memorable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This powerfully insightful first novel is Joan Didion's finest work. A finely-drawn meditation, it focuses on Lily, a shy and melancholy young matron who yearns for love, but struggles with the challenges of everyday life. Thoughtful but unemotional, Lily and Everett are quintessential Central Valley Californians, strong as the rich soil they till, but unable to confront their personal demons. Leading unexamined lives, they are filled with emotions they cannot express, forever reaching, like their gold-seeking forebears, for the real Eldorado that lies still further on, a mirage just beyond their grasp.

    The narrator has a pleasant voice while reading descriptive passages of the book, but her character voices are a disaster. Depressed people are not best represented through high, squeaky, baby voices, like every female character in this audiobook had - Sarah, Martha, Edith, even Lily. The midwestern senator inexplicably had a southern accent. Male voices were unrealistic, exaggeratedly low, without nuance. Lily sings off-key, but the narrator merely recites the lyrics in a stiff monotone, failing the author's purpose of adding authentic layers to the setting and character they were so carefully chosen to reflect. However, while the disappointing narration distracts, it cannot diminish the compelling characters and strong storyline of this fine work.

    Thought-provoking, riveting, and memorable, Didion's "Run River" is a quiet masterpiece.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Plum Island

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Nelson DeMille
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2733)
    Performance
    (2002)
    Story
    (1992)

    Wounded in the line of duty, NYPD homicide cop John Corey is convalescing in rural eastern Long Island when an attractive young couple he knows is found shot to death on the family patio. The victims were biologists at Plum Island, a research site rumored to be an incubator for germ warfare. Suddenly, a local double murder takes on shattering global implications - and thrusts Corey and two extraordinary women into a dangerous search for the secret of Plum Island....

    DERALD says: "Great on par with" LION'S GAME""
    "Twisted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Probably the most exciting book I have ever read. The build-up is gradual and precise. Just when you think you've finally got it worked out, you find yourself in the most terrifying scene of all. And the ride is still not over. I'm new to Nelson De Mille, but will be downloading another of his books, in a hurry, which I doubt will be my last.

    John Corey is a comfortably anti-social anti-hero. The NYPD detective is staying at his uncle's Long Island summer home while recuperating from the bullets he took in the line of duty. Hard-edged with few social graces, he's a beer-swilling, wise-cracking, hard-loving guy, a bit like Raymond Chandler's Marlowe, but with a personality all his own.

    This book will lead you through multiple mazes of intrigue. The number of glittering clues, red herrings, and dead ends is amazing. I think I solved the mystery four different times before I finally did.

    The plot is twisted with switch-backs and blind alleys. Every one is so promising, you're sure you've got it. But there's a game-changing new lead around every corner.. The romance is ever-present and equally complicated. Don't get too attached to any outcome. It will change, repeatedly, before you are safely home.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (158)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (130)

    Generations of readers have enjoyed the ingenuous triumphs and feckless mishaps of boyhood days on the Mississippi. This classic of American wit and storytelling introduced Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, Aunt Polly, the Widow Douglas, and many other characters to the world; including, of course, the boy who "was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town, because he was idle and lawless and vulgar and bad - and because all their children admired him so," Huckleberry Finn.

    Nothing really matters says: "Never thought I'd read this, but very glad I did"
    "A Swashbuckling Boyhood"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This adventure has everything: Pirates, robbers, orphans, mysterious strangers, buried treasure, a swimming hole, a ghostly graveyard, a deserted island, a spooky cavern, a sensational murder and more sensational trial, even a brutal and evil villain.

    Tom is brash, brave, adventurous, and smart. His mischievous ways are troublesome but endearing. Whether snitching donuts from Aunt Polly's pantry, playing hooky to go swimming, or running away with his friends to Jackson's Island, Tom always has the upper hand. He tricks the Sunday school superintendent, fools his aunt, pranks the schoolmaster, taunts his half-brother, charms the new girl, and teaches his friends an important lesson about whitewashing--and human nature.

    Tom is alternately the village darling or the town pariah in this ultimate boyhood tale. His scrapes are sometimes scary, even life-threatening, but he always pulls it off. He is irresistible, and you'll be cheering for him long before he emerges the hero, as you know he will.

    Dick Hill's narration is absolutely perfect. He enhances every character through his skillful differentiation, and his accents are authentic to the time and place setting. The shy schoolgirl, the town drunk, the grizzled judge, the "Spaniard," and the kindly widow all come to life through his talented narration.

    This is a tale you won't want to end! Just don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling a bit wistful that you didn't grow up on the banks of the Mississippi River in the 1840's, like Tom (and Samuel Clemons, aka Mark Twain) did.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Whiskey Beach

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1327)
    Performance
    (1154)
    Story
    (1158)

    For more than 300 years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore - and its secrets. But to Eli Landon, it’s home.… A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of - but never arrested for - the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife. He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall. Abra Walsh is always there, though.

    Kim Venatries says: "Not So Good"
    "Well Written & Highly Enjoyable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Complex and fascinating characters, layered back story, irresistible setting, and a tightly woven plot make Whiskey Beach one of Ms. Roberts' best. The setting is evocative. Bluff House has a characterization of its own. From Barbie to the beach, every element adds to the beauty of this suspenseful tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat, eager to discover the protagonist, but reluctant for the story to end.

    The narrator is awesome. Full differentiation of voices, great resonance, one of the best. His Boston accents are just right, realistic but not overdone. The matriarch's voice reminds me of Rose Kennedy, a quintessential Boston Irish accent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • East of Eden

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1303)
    Performance
    (1126)
    Story
    (1141)

    This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

    Suzn F says: "Epic story of Love and Loss"
    "Return it! Quickly! You have been warned!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I tried to listen to this book, for the California setting, and because Steinbeck is so highly regarded. But I had to set it aside, as the themes became too much for me -- people are basically evil; loved ones will betray you; violence is inevitable; self-improvement is futile, as the future is predetermined; eventually, everyone gets hurt. Random people will experience brief glimpses of undeserved happiness/success, for no apparent reason that others could possibly hope to emulate.

    A masterpiece of American fiction? While well aware that many readers love this book, the purported greatness eludes me. I hope it gets better after the first several hours. Personally, I could think of absolutely no reason to continue what was, to me, a depressing, degrading, debacle of a book.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Esperanza Rising

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Pam Munoz Ryan
    • Narrated By Trini Alvarado
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (142)
    Performance
    (75)
    Story
    (78)

    Esperanza Ortega possesses all the treasures a young girl in Aguascalientes, Mexico could want. But a sudden tragedy shatters that dream, forcing Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. There they confront the challenges of hard work, acceptance by their own people, and economic difficulties brought on by the Great Depression. Pam Munoz Ryan eloquently portrays the Mexican workers' plight in this abundant and passionate novel.

    Amazon Customer says: "This book rises above the rest!"
    "Courage, resilience, and love"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Esperanza's privileged childhood in no way prepares her for the brutal reality of the migrant farm worker she abruptly becomes. The unforgettable events that propel Esperanza out of her life of ease and thrust her onto the lowest rung of Depression-era California agricultural work are swift, tragic, and irreversible.

    Esperanza's initial attempts to adjust to her new life are inept and unsuccessful, complicated by her anger and arrogance, as she yearns for all she has lost. Slowly, she redefines herself, as she begins to recognize her enduring beliefs and values in unexpected forms in her new circumstances. Her courage and resilience fortify her, and love ultimately lifts her above the perplexing conditions and painful tragedies she must overcome. The fact that "Esperanza" is based on a true story adds considerable emotional depth to this intriguing slice of historical fiction.

    The story is enhanced by the truly masterful narration of Trini Alvarado. Ms. Alvarado does not read this book, she performs it, revealing the cultural nuances and inhabiting each character in turn, most especially Esperanza.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Broadway Nights: A Romp of Life, Love, and Musical Theatre

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Seth Rudetsky
    • Narrated By Seth Rudetsky, Kristin Chenoweth, Andrea Martin, and others
    Overall
    (389)
    Performance
    (184)
    Story
    (183)

    Stephen Sheerin was born to play on Broadway - or at least, under it. He's a musician, a conductor, and his dream is to music-direct a big Broadway musical. After years of toiling in the pit of some of the best-loved (and loathed) hits on the Great White Way, he's just been given his big break. Can life really be going that well? Of course not.

    Michael says: "A *must-have* for any fan of Broadway or humor!"
    "Love"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you'd like to hear a neurotic, nasal, New Yorker giving a loooooong, over-the-top monologue about his boyfriends, auditions, therapy sessions, Jewish mother, childhood/ongoing insecurities, drag parties, etc., this is your book.

    I wasn't sure I was the right audience for this book, but Seth/Steven dishes it up in a manner both soulful and stylish. He grew on me, I eventually found him iresistable, and I ended up loving this book. Recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Onion Field

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Joseph Wambaugh
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (223)
    Performance
    (156)
    Story
    (151)

    Hollywood. Saturday night. A broken taillight leads to a routine traffic stop. It shouldn’t have changed the lives of the four men involved, but it did. The Onion Field is the frighteningly true story of a fatal collision of destinies that would lead two young cops and two young robbers to a deserted field on the outskirts of Los Angeles, towards a bizarre execution and its terrible aftermath.

    Avalon says: "Haunting"
    "Haunting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This true story is of a murder that shocked the City of Angels, and became the impetus for dramatic change in police procedure, both in potential hostage situations, and, much later, in recognizing and understanding emotional trauma, PTSD, and survivor's guilt.

    The characters are depicted with precision. I feel like I know them, or knew them, as the last of the four recently died (2012). Wambaugh is a master, a former policeman who writes with sensitive eloquence, an understanding of the people and places that makes his work leap off the page and seize your senses.

    I first read this book many years ago and have never been free of its spell. The audiobook is even better. The memorable individuals, immortalized in this, Wambaugh's best work, continue to puzzle and fascinate. The onion field is very near what is now Interstate 5 in California's San Joaquin valley, just over the Grapevine from LA. I travel this road frequently, and never pass it without a nod and a prayer for the victims, the fateful events so hauntingly penned here, and the loss of innocence that touched so many people. Thank you, Joseph Wambaugh, for this historical treasure.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Rilla of Ingleside

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By L. M. Montgomery
    • Narrated By Anna Fields
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    Rilla, almost 15, can't think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever.

    Joseph R says: "For Older Children and Adults Who Are Old Enough"
    "Anne's Most Charming Child"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Rilla, Anne's most charming child, is on the brink of becoming a woman, full of romantic hopes and dreams, when a far-off war intervenes and changes her life forever. Suddenly, everything familiar is upended, and she is faced with a world unlike any she has ever imagined, even in dear Glen St. Mary, where she has lived all her life. Growing up will require unexpected skills, but Rilla finds her path, laying aside her idle ways as she develops her strengths and selflessly throws herself into tasks far beyond her years. Her joyful nature is tested but not overcome, as she weaves her life with strands familiar as well as unexpected.

    I have purchased all three of the audiobooks of this title, and was extremely disappointed with the other two. Although this book is a favorite, the other narrators just ruined it for me. Anna Fields' narration makes this version the only one worth the listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.