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Doggy Bird

Glen Ridge, NJ USA | Member Since 2017

864
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 103 reviews
  • 143 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2018
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FOLLOWERS
87

  • Everyman

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Philip Roth
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (405)
    Performance
    (108)
    Story
    (108)

    The hero of Everyman is obsessed with mortality. As he reminds himself at one point, "I'm 34! Worry about oblivion when you're 75." But he cannot help himself. He is the ex-husband in three marriages gone wrong. He is the father of two sons who detest him, despite a daughter who adores him. A masterful portrait of one man's inner struggles, Everyman is a brilliant showcase for one of the world's most distinguished novelists.

    JOHN says: "Full Frontal Roth"
    "Excellent narration, my favorite American author"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a pleasure to hear, such an intelligent book. George Guidall's narration profits from the fact that he seems very comfortable and familiar with the text and its meaning as well as a generally pleasant voice.

    I love Philip Roth's novels best of all American fiction, and this effort is a touching though short examination of the struggle with our common fate - to be one day full of life and loving life and the next day to die.

    This particular struggle to understand his unavoidable fate concerns one man, very much from New Jersey, whose funeral opens the novella. His life and his work are seen through the prism of his relationships to those who attend his funeral. But the book seems (as so many of Roth's books do) as a personal cri de coeur, a struggle to understand illness in a man whose older brother has never been ill and to understand why he is so alone after so much love and passion in the first six decades of his life.

    What I love so much about Roth's writing is the depth of his quest to understand how to live via an incredibly rational intelligence and a great feel for the absurd anchored in a time and American place. Not every book is perfect, but they are all better than most. Roth could only have written in America, not anywhere else in the world - his novels are those of immigrants and their succeeding generations and very anchored in the places and time in which he has lived. Perhaps that is what the Swedes say they don't like in Philip Roth's work - I recently read a comment that Americans don't get Nobel prizes because they are too 'narrow'.....but that is what I love about Roth's novels, how they illuminate what is unique about this time and place in America.

    His later novels touch me at a level few authors can reach because they ask the most fundamental questions about life and love and fate while addressing our connection to time and place with an affection and an attention to detail that is unique. In 'American Pastoral' his discussion of Newark and the glove industry are like a paean to the artistry and craft of that time. In 'Everymen' he gives the same treatment to the jewelry trade in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is able to represent the beauties of the world as it was when he grew up without suggesting that the past was better than the present. He pays tribute to the virtues of the past without worshiping it as better than today. He gives a sense for the nature of generations as they recede from the generations of immigrants who came here.

    Roth writes of the landscape of his life with such detail and love, it always makes me emotional to talk about why I love his books so much.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By David Yaffe
    • Narrated By Xe Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (58)

    Joni Mitchell is a cultural touchstone for generations of Americans. In her heyday she released 10 experimental, challenging, and revealing albums; her lyrics captivated people with the beauty of their language and the rawness of their emotions, both deeply personal to Mitchell and universally relatable to her audience. In this intimate biography, composed of dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs.

    Barb Stewart says: "Terrific retrospective"
    "Great story - can't stand this narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As much as I am enjoying this book, I have to stop often because of the very affected reading of the narrator who is playing some sort of game with the narration that drives me crazy. She vocalizes some weird accent that I guess she thinks is a cool folk singer voice or something - but it's quite phony and really offputting.

    The writing is good and the critiques of Joni Mitchell's music are really interesting, but I cannot get carried away with the story because I keep being drawn back to how distracting the narration is. Very breathy, then volume going up and down, eating the end of sentences then Brooklynizing consonants out of the clear blue sky - why can't she just read it and stop acting it? What a waste of a good story. I give the narration two stars because it's mostly comprehensible - but wow! Could have been SO MUCH BETTER!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Hausfrau: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Jill Alexander Essbaum
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (497)
    Performance
    (444)
    Story
    (446)

    Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno - a banker - and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences.

    NMwritergal says: "Wonderful writing; pathetic, passive protagonist &"
    "A well-narrated book which surprised me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this audio and was stunned to read how many negative reviews the book has gotten on Audible.

    First of all the narration is excellent, I have never heard this narrator before but I will look for other readings by her immediately.

    Second, the book itself is a fascinating view of a person living in a foreign country. She faces enormous challenges integrating herself into a foreign society, which with I sympathized. Anna does not resolve these issues in time to save herself, but we get to enjoy her intelligent and pointed commentary about the Swiss language and the culture as we watch her struggle. As a person who has lived in another country prior to mastering its language I really found that aspect of the book to be quite engaging and a good reflection of the feelings I knew myself as an outsider sometimes ambivalent about my new 'home'.

    Third, the character of Anna is very frustrating, but I saw the book as more of a meditation on Anna Karenina than as a character portrait of a real person. I thought it was fascinating to follow the author through the exploration of how a modern woman could end up in the same situation as Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I don't think I liked the character of Anna in Hausfrau, or some of the other characters but that did not prevent enjoying the book and its examination of their dilemmas.

    There were issues that bothered me in the writing, such as the continued obsession with images of fire which didn't seem to lead anywhere, and I thought the ending was a bit prolonged, but nothing I felt while reading this book can relate to the very negative reactions other listeners describe. I enjoyed this audiobook quite a lot and found it very intelligent.

    I hope that readers will give the book a chance - I wasn't able to read a book for months because nothing felt right, and once I listened to a sample of Hausfrau I had to buy it right away and read it straight through in only a few days during limited commuting hours. The narrator adds quite a lot to the experience and does wonderful accents and very expressive reading. The prose is also very beautiful and clever. I think the author is very promising and I look forward to reading more of her work.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Adam Bede

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By George Eliot
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (57)

    George Eliot's first full-length novel is the moving, realistic portrait of three people troubled by unwise love. Adam Bede is a hardy young carpenter who cares for his aging mother. His one weakness is the woman he loves blindly: the trifling town beauty, Hetty Sorrel, who delights only in her baubles - and the delusion that the careless Captain Donnithorne may ask for her hand.

    Tad Davis says: "Country tragedy and country humor"
    "Consummate reading by Nadia May"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are some audiobook readers whose narrations never fail and among those I would place Nadia May. I have had this audiobook for more than a decade and never got around to listening to it until now but it is still as wonderful as the day I bought it - and now there are so many other readings available but this is still the one I would choose. Nadia May has wonderful tone, pace, diction and an ability to tell a story without drawing attention to herself. That said her ability to appropriately read dialects in a natural tone is an amazing talent.

    In this particular text she speaks the dialect of the rural farmers and tradespeople in a way that makes the realism for which George Eliot strives have a much greater impact than reading the book as a text. I have heard many of her other narrations such as 'Anna Karenina' in which her ability to give a subtle Russian accent to words also made the reading a much greater pleasure than would otherwise be the case.

    I love the intricacy of the text in 19th century novels and having a reader like Nadia May makes these readings so much richer. I highly recommend this book, particularly as read by such a talented narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By David Maraniss
    • Narrated By L.J. Ganser
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Here is the epic story of Vietnam and the 60s, told through the events of a few tumultuous days in October 1967. David Maraniss takes the listener on an unforgettable journey to the battlefields of war and peace. With meticulous and captivating detail, They Marched Into Sunlight brings that catastrophic time back to life while examining questions about the meaning of dissent and the official manipulation of truth, issues that are as relevant today as they were decades ago.

    Doggy Bird says: "A beautiful title, an excellent audiobook"
    "A beautiful title, an excellent audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I purchased a copy of this book on audiotape when it first came out, and then repurchased the audible version so I would be able to listen to it again. It examines in detail two days in October 1967 when students protested in Madison, Wisconsin against Dow Chemical and a platoon of soldiers marched 'into sunlight' in Vietnam to be ambushed. The two events, one on the ground in Vietnam and the other illustrating the cultural upheaval among the those who opposed the war show how young lives were impacted by a series of bad ideas and miscalculations by the nation's leaders which terribly divided the American people as welling as killing a significant number of young men. It was a critical moment in history that continued to affect the US for decades after its end and I would argue even now. I highly recommend this very well written and well read book for students of history, students of current events. citizens, and those with the intellectual curiosity to know more about another very difficult time in America. The narrator has a gravely voice that is perfect for the nature of the text.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Euphoria: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Lily King
    • Narrated By Simon Vance, Xe Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1992)
    Performance
    (1754)
    Story
    (1749)

    English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe in the territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband, Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery.

    David says: "Anthropologists in Love"
    "Excellent story, couldn't stop reading!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was one of those rare books that I couldn't put down from the minute I started it and couldn't stop reading till I had finished three days later. As a temperamental reader, I seldom find books these days that enchant me right from the first page and never let me drift off. The story was fantastic, the plot never rested, but the characters were fully drawn and kept you deeply engaged in their fate and in the things for which they were passionate - in this case their anthropological work.

    It is a story about a character inspired by Margaret Mead and it follows her into tribal settings along with her very new husband and his very aggressive personality, jealousy and inability to imagine his life as her spouse rather than vice versa. A third anthropologist encounters them during their Sepic river studies and the trio's balance is upset by the tensions. Tragedy ensues. But how you get there is an intricate and fascinating path through tribal studies and the ecstasy, the euphoria, of thinking you are coming to understand some part of human nature up close.

    The book was an intellectual adventure in addition to a well-told tale.

    What is unusual for me is that I was not so happy with the audio version, despite the male reader, Simon Vance who is one of my favorite readers of all time - I kid you not I once actually wrote him 'fan mail' to let him know how much I had enjoyed his versions of the Anthony Trollope Barsetshire novels. Yet his reading didn't click for me in this narration, and I especially didn't enjoy having two different narrators - a male for the Bankson narration in the book and a female for the Nell Stone narration. It also wasn't consistent, since each narrator then had to read parts of all the characters in that section of the book - so you had two VERY different characterizations of the Australian accent for Fen.

    Since I had purchased both the Kindle and Audible versions, I just finished the book entirely on the Kindle, although I had planned to alternate between the two. I think it's fair to conclude I prefer one continuous narrator for a novel and will think about that issue the next time I am presented with a choice.

    Highly recommended novel whichever way you choose to hear it or read it - I look forward to reading Lily King's earlier novels.

    47 of 51 people found this review helpful
  • Nora Webster: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Colm Toibin
    • Narrated By Fiona Shaw
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (403)
    Performance
    (360)
    Story
    (359)

    Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father.

    Susan Finch says: "Couldn't finish it, I just didn't care"
    "Very moving portrait, interesting times"
    Overall
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    Story

    I really enjoyed this book which is the first one I have read by Colm Toibin. I also thought the narration was, for the most part, quite good. The only complaint I have about the narration is that a few of the characterizations were a bit over the top - almost cartoonish in tone. In the worst case the character in the book is supposed to be a mean and nasty boss at work and the vocal characterization approached the level of the wicked witch of the west. For the greater part of the book the narrator enhanced the story and did a great deal to locate the novel in place and time. It is a small flaw but a noticeable one.

    The story takes place in a small town in Ireland. It is a narrowly focused portrait of a woman who has lost her husband, and it takes place in the three years following that loss. The lens of the story opens to take in a bit of the era -1969 and the years immediately following, when the troubles between the Catholics and the Protestants exploded. Otherwise, only the technology of the period distinguishes the setting - record players and cars are still luxuries and not everyone has a telephone.

    The writing is very beautiful although much of the story is sad. Each sentence, each word of the book seems specifically chosen - nothing is extra - no descriptions, nothing sloppy. The prose is precise and spare and much of what happens is revealed in dialogue. The main character, Nora Webster, is not the most likable of heroines. She is thoughtful and not sentimental, but a concerned and caring mother despite not making choices that are universally applauded. During her husband's terminal illness, which occurs before the opening of the story, she left the children with her two sisters for quite a while, and she does not question that decision even as she sees the impact it has had on at least one of her children. It is clear that her marriage was the center of her emotional life. Throughout the book much of what she decides is not approved of by those around her, and she is a sort of prickly character who becomes more confident and independent over time.

    The movement in the story is from about six months after her husband's death until 3 years later and traces the passage of her life from grief, resentment and loss towards her redefinition as she navigates parenthood alone and discovers what motivates and defines her in the absence of the circumstances of her younger married self. Though much of what happens in the novel is small the questions addressed by the story - what matters and how to live - are very large ones.

    I was very moved by this book, by the beauty of the prose and by the minute details which made the story resonate for me. I also think despite the flaws I mentioned earlier regarding the narration that the audio version is very powerful in transmitting the character's movement over time. I highly recommend this book for serious readers who value beautiful writing.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Brimstone Wedding

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Barbara Vine
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (127)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (95)

    Unlike the other residents of Middleton Hall, Stella is elegant, smart and in control. Only Jenny, her care assistant, knows that she harbours a painful secret, and only she can prevent Stella from carrying it to the grave. As the women talk, Jenny pieces together the answers to many questions that arise: Why has she kept possession of a house that her family don’t know about? What happened there that holds the key to a distant tragedy?

    Doggy Bird says: "Amazing reader elevates book to a higher level"
    "Amazing reader elevates book to a higher level"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) fan, but this audiobook stands out because of the amazing narration by Juliet Stevenson. The reader takes this book to a higher level and as a result her voice beckoned to me constantly to pick it up and continue after every interruption over the past three days. The story itself begins very well, but it drags on just a little too long to be rated as highly as the narration. The ending was ultimately surprising and neatly tied up the threads of the story but without this fabulous narration I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. The subjects of the story focus on infidelity, cruelty, how women's lives and social views of marriage and fidelity have changed over the last 70 years - all interesting and engaging topics that carry most of the story along at a very good pace.

    I can't say enough about the power of Stevenson's reading. She adds subtle differentiation to voices through accents and voice coloration that make it impossible to miss which character is speaking, her ability to communicate emotion is unequalled among female readers, and her timing is perfect.

    The story is very interesting and I only rate it a '3' because I felt the pacing of the story stumbled in the second half of the story and made me impatient when there remained three hours left to go. Overall despite this flaw it was one of the better psychological mystery novels I've read in a while.

    Still, I recommend it as highly as I do because I am amazed by what Juliet Stevenson adds to this novel by her tremendous abilities as a narrator.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Children Act

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Lindsay Duncan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1622)
    Performance
    (1463)
    Story
    (1457)

    Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.

    Bonny says: "McEwan has written perfection in this novel."
    "Very strong narration by Lindsay Duncan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this book, as I have all of the Ian McEwan novels I have read. His writing is excellent and he examines meaningful subjects without the posturing and self-consciousness I find irritating in much of contemporary literary fiction.

    I rated the narration a "5" because it reminds me of the wonderful Juliet Stevenson narration for 'Sweet Tooth', and 'Middlemarch' and many of the Jane Austen novels. I had not heard Lindsay Duncan before but I will seek out other of her narrations in the future. She enunciates really well and has a very pleasing voice and tone without affectation.

    The focus of this book is the distinction between morality and religious faith and the dilemma of legal justice at the center of these tensions when the court must decide between the arguments of one parent vs. another in a divorce case where the parents have different religious beliefs, where medical decisions counter to a family's religious beliefs on behalf of children are appealed to a court by a hospital and where other weighty decisions of the family courts involve choices made for others based on laws and made by humans in all their imperfections.

    The book itself is fascinating and benefits even more from the excellent narrator. Many other books address some of the topical issues in this book, but many are quite manipulative and sensational. What is appealing about this particular book is the author's attempt to deal with these topics without whipping up the passions of righteousness and emotion but through examining the ways in which a judge attempts to do right by those on whose behalf he/judges.

    I rated the narration better than the overall book because somehow the ending didn't feel like the rest of the book. I am not sure the author was entirely successful at blending the personal life of the judge and her involvement in the life of the child at the center of the novel. I felt that much more tension was built up than actually was resolved by the ending - I don't want to disclose too much but I didn't feel as engaged by the ending as I was by most of the book. That said, I am already thinking about listening again.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Ivan Doig
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (155)
    Performance
    (127)
    Story
    (126)

    A nominee for the National Book Award, Ivan Doig's brilliant memoir shares the experiences and culture that shaped his early years and made him fall in love with the West. From his childhood in a family of homesteaders through the death of his mother and his move to Montana to herd sheep, Doig shows his intimate connection with the American West.

    Doggy Bird says: "Early work by a favorite author"
    "Early work by a favorite author"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first audio version though I have enjoyed reading the books of Ivan Doig for many years. Most of his books take place in the Montana of early to mid-20th century and are as strange and fascinating for me as the stories of medieval knights. They bring me the kind of pleasure that I felt as a child reading the "Little House" books, but with much more mature themes and very beautiful, often poetic language.

    I think Tom Stechschulte does a very good job of reading with a natural but flat drawl that I associate with this region of the country and with an earlier and slower time. This particular book is interesting because it describes Doig's journey in becoming a writer. It is a tribute to his parents and grandparents and to the way of life that his family for generations had known. This way of life had already begun to disappear at the time this book was written and Doig was conscious of chronicling the end of an era in this work. He taped his father's and grandmother's recollections as he progressed, knowing these were memories that held in them a way of life that was disappearing. I was sometimes surprised when modern technology shows its face in a book filled with stories that could not have been much different a hundred years before. The challenges faced, hard weather and stubborn animals, are eternal and help to make the stories timeless and yet there is an aspect of them very bound by time since few Americans today grow up with a childhood like this one that occurred not much before most of us were children.

    I think the emotion in the stories, the connection between the family members who spend a lot of time struggling with one another as well as with nature is another reason I enjoyed the memoir. It demonstrates an intense but unsentimental bond I found very appealing. The stories recount Doig's memories of his life with his father after his mother died, from the age of 6 or 7 until college and Doig's burgeoning conscience of his rejection of this life.

    When his father becomes ill his maternal grandmother joins the journey and the three of end up together -more or less- and the stories of their isolated, hard working lives driving sheep and repairing fences, working in the shadow of awesome mountains and catastrophes make for fascinating reading most of the time. There are a few stories where the memoir slows down in the middle - where the fact that this is Doig's first full length book becomes evident, but that is a small price to pay for this very engaging memoir and story of Montana. Doig's use of language and investigation of memory also distinguish this memoirs from those of many less talented writers that seem to appear more and more frequently these days. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate beautiful writing and stories of other way of life.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Age of Innocence

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Edith Wharton
    • Narrated By David Horovitch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (722)
    Performance
    (617)
    Story
    (623)

    Countess Ellen Olenska, separated from her European husband, returns to old New York society. She bears with her an independence and an awareness of life which stirs the educated sensitivity of the charming Newland Archer, engaged to be married to her cousin, May Welland. Though he accepts the society's standards and rules he is acutely aware of their limitations. He knows May will assure him a conventional future but Ellen, scandalously separated from her husband, forces Archer to question his values and beliefs.

    Ilana says: "Narrated to Perfection"
    "One of the best narrated novels I've heard"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a favorite novel which I am hearing for the first time in audio. The narration is a wonderful surprise and has really enhanced the pleasure of an already beloved text. The reader is British, but uses American consonants and more nasal vowels to distinguish the mostly American dialogue from the narrative text. That distinction, plus his resonant voice and sensitive reading gives an extra level of meaning to the book which focuses on a love triangle in late 19th century New York. The reading illuminates Edith Wharton's particular view of American customs and social distinctions in that period. The characters are rich and well defined by their dialogue, making this perfect as an audiobook. The 'innocence' that characterizes many of the actors in the drama at different moments is a somewhat sarcastic commentary by Edith Wharton whose eye is sharp and whose writing is incisive. This audio is such a pleasure! In an impatient and fretful period when I have been starting books and abandoning them unable to sustain interest, this excellent performance has been like an oasis in the desert. From the moment I sampled the audio I have been unable to put it down. Highly recommended both for the beauty of the prose and its very sensitive reading.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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