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Anastasia Lester

Reading Mom

Peachtree City, GA United States | Member Since 2012

5
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 17 reviews
  • 60 ratings
  • 110 titles in library
  • 28 purchased in 2014
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  • Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Yann Martel
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (221)
    Performance
    (81)
    Story
    (84)

    When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and the epic journey they undertake together.

    S. Connors says: "Excellent writing and reading, but..."
    "A Study in Human Psychology"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to people who are interested in the study of human behavior. There are instances where the book is very dark and disturbing because the author goes to great lengths to describe torturous acts in finite detail. For that reason, I would caution readers who are looking for a light, "beach" book to stay away from this one.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The author did an excellent job of weaving all of the characters into one story with an ending that is very unexpected. There were subtle hints throughout the tale that were revealed as much more important details once the end comes into view. Although I would have added one other element to the summarizing chapter, the author chose an excellent ending!


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

    I really enjoy Mr. Bramhall's voice interpretations of the characters. With each different inflection, he captures an essence of a person in the form of the character so that the reader can visualize him/her. It was not difficult to determine in which voice Mr. Bramhall was speaking.


    If you could rename Beatrice and Virgil, what would you call it?

    Wow. I wouldn't begin to think that my literary skills are near Yann Martel's. But to answer the question, I might venture to title the book "Measure of a Man" (not to be confused with Martin Luther King, Jr. or Sidney Poitier's work). It seems to me that the taxidermist was taking stock of his entire life and trying to put it into words. A comparison, if you will, so as to "measure" the things in his past to those of the prince in the story that was referenced early on; perhaps he was seeking his own redemption through the play.


    Any additional comments?

    This story is excellent and I enjoyed 85 - 90% of the content. I really could have done without some of the more gruesome descriptions as I have a tender heart for people and animals. However, I also understand that none of us will never know the full extent of the atrocities that took place during the horrific historical event that is the back story for this literary work. In light of that, I am sure that what was described is a drop in the bucket to what actually happened.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • To Die For

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Linda Howard
    • Narrated By Franette Liebow
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (190)
    Performance
    (122)
    Story
    (123)

    Blair Mallory lives the good life. She's pretty, confident, and the owner of a thriving upscale fitness center. But in the shadow of success, a troubled member of the club develops a strange fixation on her, imitating her style and dress. Matters take a darker turn when the look-alike is shot dead - and Blair witnesses the horror.

    SassiKassi says: "Story is great. Narrator, not so much"
    "Not The Best Use of Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Linda Howard and/or Franette Liebow?

    I actually enjoy most of Linda Howard's books. Of all the ones I've read previously, I didn't care much for the one about the man-eating bear because it was so gruesome, but THIS one was borderline awful. The voice of the narrator sounded WAY too old to be a woman in her late twenties to early thirties... it sounded more like the mother of the main character. In addition, Ms. Howard did not make the main character very likeable. In every single chapter, she was pouting, rude, condescending and just generally got on my nerves. I found myself literally saying 'oh, shut up' out loud when Blair was griping and complaining.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The reason that I picked up this book is because the next Linda Howard book that I want to read is some sort of "follow-up" to this one. When I read the reviews of the next book, it was recommended that I read To Die For first... in my opinion, that was terrible advice. I simply suffered through this book and couldn't wait for it to be done so that I wouldn't have to listen to that voice or hear any more of Blair's little hissy fits.


    How could the performance have been better?

    In my opinion, the narrator needs to SOUND younger. I don't mind the Southern drawl (although that gets old after a couple of hours), but the cracking voice and the high pitched wails just don't sound like anyone who is supposed to be around 30. I'd be willing to bet that if you selected a different narrator, more people would enjoy the book - or at least tolerate the main character a little better.


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

    The basic story was a good one and I enjoyed how the relationship between the two main characters developed. Ms. Howard does a great job at developing the characters so that the reader feels as if s/he actually knows the person.


    Any additional comments?

    I sure do hope that the next Linda Howard book is SO much better than this one... and I do not think that I will ever be able to listen to this narrator again. Sorry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Next Time You See Me

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Holly Goddard Jones
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (253)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (221)

    Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends; her classmates find her strange. When one day she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery - a choice that begins to haunt her. Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister, Ronnie, trolled bars for men and came home late, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, and a young daughter.

    Tango says: "Fascinating Characters - Great Book!"
    "Long Story, Disappointing Ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Overall, this was a good book, so the time was mostly well-spent. There are a lot of characters to keep up with and it is sometimes difficult to remember how this person knows or is related to the other person that is speaking. In addition to keeping up with a boat-load of characters, the listener is subjected to flash-backs, flash-forwards, and even sideways time jumps. The story would be better told in chronological order - starting with the Thanksgiving scene instead of ending with it.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I did NOT like the ending at all. After listening for all of those hours and anticipating how the characters would resolve some of the issues, there was really only a conclusion for one character out of a cast of 15 or so. Very, very disappointed with the ending.


    Have you listened to any of Cassandra Campbell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes, I have listened to Cassandra Campbell in other audio books. She does a great job. This book had so many characters that they started to "sound" alike at some point - which isn't her fault. Cassandra is clear, concise and easy to understand.


    Could you see The Next Time You See Me being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No, this book would NOT make a good movie because people want an ending that makes sense. People want finality, or at least the knowledge that certain issues are resolved. Moviegoers would be upset if they paid $10 to see a story where 90+% of the characters are left with no end.


    Any additional comments?

    Please do not write books that flash forward and backward in time. It is confusing when the story is so complex and there are so many characters that interplay in the events.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman Upstairs

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Claire Messud
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (348)
    Performance
    (302)
    Story
    (307)

    Nora Eldridge, a 37-year-old elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who long ago abandoned her ambition to be a successful artist, has become the "woman upstairs", a reliable friend and tidy neighbor always on the fringe of others' achievements. Then into her classroom walks Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale. He and his parents - dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar and professor at the École Normale Supérleure; and Sirena, an effortlessly glamorous Italian artist - have come to Boston for Skandar to take up a fellowship at Harvard.

    Beth Anne says: "Disturbing, Frustrating, Messed Up and AWESOME!"
    "Crazy Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Claire Messud and/or Cassandra Campbell?

    No, I will not try another book by this author.


    What could Claire Messud have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It seems to me that the author used foul language for the purpose of making the story more sensational. I did not like the way it ended - was there even a REAL ending???


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance was fine. If you have terrible material, it's hard to have a great performance, but the narrator did her part.


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

    This could have been a better story. The character deserve one another.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Hypnotist's Love Story

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Liane Moriarty
    • Narrated By Tamara Lovatt Smith
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (829)
    Performance
    (751)
    Story
    (747)

    Ellen O’Farrell is a bit unusual. She’s a hypnotherapist. She’s never met her father. And she can’t seem to keep a relationship going. (Okay, that’s more normal that we want to admit.) When Ellen meets Patrick, she’s hopeful nevertheless. But when he says he needs to tell her something, she fears the worst. When Patrick reveals that his ex-girlfriend is stalking him, Ellen thinks, "Is that all?" She’s more intrigued than frightened. She’d love to meet her. What she doesn’t know is that she already has.

    S says: "a twisted love story...so interesting!"
    "Slight Disappointment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would only recommend this book if someone is looking for a way to waste time. It is so long and is such a labor. I kept thinking it would get better, but it continued to drag. A shorter, greatly edited version would yield a better book.


    If you’ve listened to books by Liane Moriarty before, how does this one compare?

    I haven't.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Winter Dream

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Richard Paul Evans
    • Narrated By Fred Berman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (66)

    Joe is forced out of the family business by his jealous siblings. Moving on to another company, he soon becomes chief advisor to the CEO. But when the economy turns, Joe's siblings need his help to save the family business. Based on the Old Testament story about Joseph and the coat of many colors and including a love story, A Winter Dream can be embraced for its message of forgiveness by believers and nonbelievers alike.

    Susan Mather says: "Full of heart, emotional depth & wisdom"
    "Fantastic Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to A Winter Dream the most enjoyable?

    I was drawn to the fact that this story was based on a biblical story.


    What other book might you compare A Winter Dream to and why?

    I don't compare books to one another because I like to enjoy each one and the gifts it bestows.


    What about Fred Berman’s performance did you like?

    Great performance!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, this was a great story.


    Any additional comments?

    My only suggestion would be that it is not necessary to begin the narrative by explaining the story of Joseph from the Bible. Giving out that information at the beginning removes the anticipation of the reader since we already know how it will end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Christmas Home

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Greg Kincaid
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (54)

    On Sunday, November 29, 2009, more than 12.5 million families fell in love with the television adaptation of the novel A Dog Named Christmas. Within forty-eight hours after the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie aired, the initial run of twenty thousand DVDs sold out. Two years later, when Christmas with Tucker, the prequel to the McCray family stories, was released, it was described by Dean Koontz as “a perfect Christmas read,” by A. J. Jacobs as “lovely and poignant,” and by Publishers Weekly as “cute, hopeful, and heartwarming.” Now, the much-anticipated third installment, A Christmas Home, will prove to be yet another holiday classic.

    Ronna says: "Must read for dog lovers!!"
    "Excellent Holiday Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does A Christmas Home rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best stories that I have ever read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a great story that could be used to teach children about people who are physically or mentally challenged.


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

    Each character really came to life with the inflections of the narrator.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    A Heartfelt Movie for the Whole Family - this would be a great movie for the Hallmark Channel!!!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cricket on the Hearth

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    Overall
    (3093)
    Performance
    (2604)
    Story
    (2634)

    The holidays are upon us, and this year Audible is very happy to present to our members one of Charles Dickens’ most popular Christmas stories, The Cricket on the Hearth. This holiday classic (original subtitle: “A Fairy Tale of Home”) tells the innocent, picturesque, and charming story of a poor family and their would-be guardian angel; in short, a delightful vision of Victorian Christmas. As always, a great story calls for a great voice, so we’ve brought in legendary actor and record-breaking Audie and Grammy award-winning narrator Jim Dale (The Night Circus). Happy holidays and happy listening!

    Benedict says: "One of the best stories about Men and Women ..."
    "Hard to Follow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The writing could be more clear. It was hard to determine who was talking because there were so many characters.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I might go see it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The People in the Trees

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Hanya Yanagihara
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey, William Roberts, Erin Yuen
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    In 1950, a young doctor, Norton Perina, signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price.

    linda says: "Warped Perspective of an Anti-Heroic Scientist"
    "Disappointing Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I'm not sure that a person with any sense of reality will ever enjoy this book. This was, by far, the most disappointing book I've ever read and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone.


    What was most disappointing about Hanya Yanagihara’s story?

    First of all, the title is very misleading because there is very little in this book about the discovery of the People in the Trees. The book should be more aptly titled "The Undoing of Norton" or something much like that because the majority of the book is really about the deranged professor. I kept listening because I was hoping that the next chapter would hold something worth waiting for, something of value that would redeem the professor. Alas, that never happened, and the worst that I thought turned out to be true.


    What aspect of the narrators’s performance would you have changed?

    There were multiple narrators and they all did a fine job with the material they were given.


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

    I am very disappointed and honestly wish that I had just turned it off after the trip to the island where the people were discovered. This was a total waste of hours of my time because there was very little positive content in this story. I read from a diverse list of topics and genres, and I can typically find value in any book - but not this one.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Water for Elephants

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Sara Gruen
    • Narrated By David LeDoux, John Randolph Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13670)
    Performance
    (6059)
    Story
    (6139)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Some books are meant to be read; others are meant to be heard – Water for Elephants falls into the second group, and is one of the best examples we have of how a powerful performance enhances a great story. Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It's the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

    Kindle Customer says: "Great Narration!!"
    "Not a Book for Me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Water for Elephants better?

    Write the story in real time without the flashbacks. I don't enjoy reading a story that flashes forwards and backwards - it's too distracting and it's very difficult to keep up with the original story line when there is a different time and place being interwoven throughout the book. Although the narrative by the 90-year-old is thought provoking at times, I don't think it added value to the original story.


    What could Sara Gruen have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    There is too much violence for my taste. People and animals are killed with hardly any consideration at all, and I don't think the deaths added anything to the content. The mental images conjured by the narrative were so vivid as to be disturbing.


    Would you be willing to try another one of David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones ’s performances?

    Yes. The performances were one of the things that I enjoyed because it was easy to determine whether we were in the "present" or in the "past" as the chapters moved along.


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

    The base story line is good - the Jacob and Marlaina story. If I could have read that story without the killing, it would have been much better. Every time a person or animal was killed, I was disgusted. There were several times I thought about just turning it off and not finishing the book, but I pushed my way through so that I could get to the end of the story for Jacob and Marlaina. I do not think I will read another book by this author - I just can't take the senseless use of violence against people and animals.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Aunt Dimity's Death

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Nancy Atherton
    • Narrated By Teri Clark Linden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (43)

    Down-on-her-luck Lori learns she's about to inherit a sizable estate - if she can discover the secret hidden in a treasure trove of letters in Dimity's English country cottage. What begins as a fairy tale becomes a mystery - and a ghost story - in an improbably cozy setting, as Aunt Dimity's indominable spirit leads Lori on an otherworldly quest to discover how, in this life, true love can conquer all.

    Amazon Customer says: "great book, lousy reader"
    "Best Story in a Long Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Aunt Dimity's Death in three words, what would they be?

    Heartwarming Love Story


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characters were easy to relate to and the storyline was deep. The author used a lot of descriptive language to bring the landscapes and scenery to life.


    Which character – as performed by Teri Clark Linden – was your favorite?

    Teri Clark Linden did the greatest job with this story! I never had a hard time identifying which of the many characters was speaking. The range of accents, tones and inflections that Ms. Linden employes is fantastic!! I am planning to look for more stories that are narrated by her.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. Every time I had to turn it off, I was anxious to get back to the story!


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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