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HDJ

Member Since 2006

ratings
778
REVIEWS
32
FOLLOWING
9
FOLLOWERS
22
HELPFUL VOTES
112

  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Rachel Joyce
    • Narrated By Jim Broadbent
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (233)
    Performance
    (209)
    Story
    (206)

    When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof, or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking - to save someone else's life.

    Carol says: "What a wonderful story!"
    "A Wonderful Journey"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    For me, the narrator can make or break a book. In this case, the narration was perfectly matched to the story and it's characters. Jim Broadbent did an awesome job of making a superb story even better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved it's simplicity and the bare boned honesty of it's characters.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    It's impossible to choose just one scene as a favorite though I especially liked the interactions with people Harold met along the way.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This whole book is moving, tender and at times very funny.


    Any additional comments?

    I so enjoyed going on this journey with Harold and Maureen. It's a book I'll listen to again. I find it hard to believe this is the authors first novel. I look forward to reading future books by this amazing author.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Benediction

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Kent Haruf
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (83)

    From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado. When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him....

    Adele says: "Another Home Run for Haruf & Bramhall"
    "A Blessing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A benediction is a blessing and that is exactly what this book is. Kent Haruf writes about the lives of ordinary people in such a way that I'm left feeling I know them and remember them. I wrote a similar comment when reviewing Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. Haruf's ability to look into the soul of his characters reminds me of Stegner.

    Benediction is about Dad Lewis who is dying of cancer. The story revolves around his experiences and those of the people who are close to him. It's an unhurried book perfect in it's simplicity. There are no earth shattering twists to the plot. Beautifully written and expertly narrated by Mark Bramhall, it never slides into sentimentality. Ultimately this is an uplifting story that reveals the ways we live and the values we live by. I strongly recommend it and Haruf's other books as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Sandra Chastain, Deborah Smith, Donna Ball, and others
    • Narrated By Lee Ann Howlett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Come sit on the porch a spell. Let's talk about times gone by and folks we remember, about slow summer evenings and lightning bugs in a jar. Listen to the music of a creaky swing and hand-cranked ice cream and cicadas chorusing in the sultry night air. Let's talk about how things used to be in the South - and for some of us, they way they still are. Welcome to the world of Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes, where award winning authors Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Virginia Ellis, Debra Dixon, Donna Ball and Nancy Knight come together for the first time to create this poignant, humorous collection of nostalgic tales.

    MissSusie66 says: "Southern short stories"
    "A Taste of Southern Life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes is a charming collection of stories of the South. They range from sweetly sentimental to laugh out loud funny. It is an easy light listen and though I liked some stories better than others I did enjoy all of them. Unfortunately, I did not particularly like Lee Ann Howlett's narration. She wasn't so bad I had to stop listening. I just kept thinking these delightful stories deserved so much better. Despite my criticism of the narration, I do recommend Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Places

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (58)

    Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the 'Libby Day fund'. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering.

    HDJ says: "Not for the fainthearted!"
    "Not for the fainthearted!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dark Places is the story of Libby Day who, in 1985, helped a jury convict her 15 year-old brother Ben for the brutal murder of her mother and sisters. Now, 25 years later, Ben remains in prison and the money in Libby's trust fund is gone. Unwilling to find a job, Libby accepts an offer from a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. The Kill Society offer to pay Libby to interview Ben and others about the massacre and they are eager to buy family mementos from her.

    The story unfolds in alternating chapters between Libby in the present and her family in the hours leading up to the murders. The characters are vivid and believable though not very likable.The chapters play off each other perfectly exposing layer upon layer of ugliness.Gillian Flynn has had the courage to depict the long term damage and consequences of a brutal murder. She almost dares the reader to look away.

    This novel succeeds on so many levels. It made me think about what happens to the survivors in the headlines or on the news. In the media limelight they are showered with sympathy, years later they are all but forgotten.

    Dark Places is a masterpiece of cold blooded horror. It is not for the squeamish. There is graphic violence to humans and animals. There is sexual content and language that some may find offensive.

    If you're looking for a dark (really dark!) mystery that is well crafted and competently narrated, then this is the book for you. I actually enjoyed it more than Gone Girl.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Storyteller

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno, Jennifer Ikeda, Edoardo Ballerini, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3397)
    Performance
    (2964)
    Story
    (2979)

    Jodi Picoult's poignant number one New York Times best-selling novels about family and love tackle hot-button issues head on. In The Storyteller, Sage Singer befriends Josef Weber, a beloved Little League coach and retired teacher. But then Josef asks Sage for a favor she never could have imagined - to kill him. After Josef reveals the heinous act he committed, Sage feels he may deserve that fate. But would his death be murder or justice?

    Suzn F says: "The Baker, The Nun, The Virgin and The Monster"
    "I miss the old Jodi Picoult!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jodi Picoult fans will be familiar with her usual formula of court-room drama and moral dilemmas. Her endings are never quite spelled out and the ultimate decision about what happens is left for the reader to decide. While still dealing with moral issues, the court-room drama is missing this time. The Storyteller is an historical novel that uses the Holocaust to explore guilt, responsibility and family. Like all Picoult's novels, The Storyteller is exceptionally well researched and the narration is outstanding. However,I did not find the story at all compelling. Vampires? Really? It just did not work for me and yes I did get the analogy Picoult tried to make but it was so unnecessary. All the characters, except the grandmother, felt shallow and contrived. I simply couldn't engage with a disfigured reclusive (not to mention self centered) baker, a 90 year old Nazi who is suddenly overtaken with remorse and a barista who speaks only in haiku (I got distracted counting syllables). Meanwhile, Jesus appears in a loaf of bread, a vampire wrecks havoc in a small village and three sisters are called Sage, Pepper and Saffron. Honestly, it could have been a comedy if it weren't for the grandmother's story. When I was listening to the chapters about Minka growing up in Poland and her time in the concentration camps, I was totally engrossed. It was disturbing and devastating and so unlike the rest of the book. I wanted much more of Minka and much less of everything else.

    I used to be Jodi Picoult fan. I have read almost all of her novels but with each new book recently, she tries the same old formula and fails miserably. I miss the days when Picoult wrote novels that I could get lost in and that didn't bore me to death or make me roll my eyes in disbelief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Orphan Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Christina Baker Kline
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4771)
    Performance
    (4259)
    Story
    (4265)

    Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" out of the foster care system. A community-service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse.... As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

    Kathi says: "Moving story of sharing and transformation."
    "Powerful Historical Fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Between 1854 - 1929 up to 250,000 children whose parents were dead or no longer able to care for them were transported from the East Coast to rural Midwest, Canada and Mexico. Families interested in adoption came to the train station to look them over and placements were often made with little or no attempt to ensure the children's safety or well-being. Unfortunately, many were used as slave labor by those who took them in.

    Orphan Train is a fictional account of Vivian who, at 9 years old, was sent on the orphan train to Minnesota. Now 91 years of age, she befriends 17 year old Molly who has been in foster care most her life. The stories of Vivian and Molly run parallel throughout the book and although they seem an unlikely pair a strong bond develops.

    Orphan Train is an enjoyable and inspiring listen with enough depth to the characters to keep me invested in their stories.The narration was the only let down for me but it wasn't bad enough to make me want to stop listening. It's a good read that I am happy to recommend.

    30 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • The View on the Way Down

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Rebecca Wait
    • Narrated By Mandy Weston, Carl Prekopp
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (27)

    The View on the Way Down captures the insidious, sometimes violent, force of depression and its ability to tip lives into chaos. Gripping, moving, and ultimately hopeful, The View on the Way Down will have you rooting for the family’s redemption. Rebecca Wait graduated from Oxford University in 2010 with a first class degree in English, having been mentored by the poet and novelist Craig Raine at New College. She’s been writing since she was a child and has won numerous prizes for short stories and plays.

    Tango says: "Beautiful Debut Novel - I LOVED THIS BOOK"
    "A Powerful First Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The View on the Way Down is about the different ways grief and loss affect the lives of the family left behind. The publishers summary makes it clear that one of teenage Emma's brothers has died and part 1 is told from her point of view. Bullied at school, disillusioned with God and becoming ever more miserable at home, she turns to food for comfort. Emma's parents response to the tragedy is to retreat into their own misery barely acknowledging each other or Emma. They are all estranged from the surviving brother.
    Put this way, the story sounds simplistic. But don't be fooled by the simple almost gentle way the story unfolds. This book is powerful. It is well researched beautifully written and expertly narrated. I highly recommend this truly amazing story from first time author 25 year old Rebecca Wait. She apparently wrote The View on the Way Down in the evening while working as a teachers assistant. I eagerly await her next novel.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Into the Darkest Corner

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Elizabeth Haynes
    • Narrated By David Thorpe, Karen Cass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1173)
    Performance
    (987)
    Story
    (989)

    Catherine has been enjoying the single life for long enough to know a good catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic, spontaneous – Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. But there is a darker side to Lee. His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape.

    Betty says: "AN OCD IS STALKED BY A PSYCHOPATH"
    "Spine Chilling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you liked the movie Sleeping With The Enemy, I believe you will like this book. It is a spine chilling psychological thriller that kept me awake at night and had me checking the door locks. Although some reviewers found the switching between two time periods confusing, I believe Elizabeth Haynes handles the movement between past and present well. The suspense in each period adds to the other, resulting in a story of rising tension. This book is well researched and gives good insight into PTSD and OCD as a result of domestic violence. The strength of the writing and dialogue ensured I found the characters believable. Into The Darkest Corner is a dark and twisted tale. It contains profanity, violence and some moderately graphic sexual content. If these things bother you, then this is not the book for you. The narrators were good, I found them easy on the ear though not the best I've ever heard. I recommend this book and in fact this author. I have since listened to two more of her books and enjoyed both of them.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Code Name Verity

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Wein
    • Narrated By Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1600)
    Performance
    (1447)
    Story
    (1445)

    Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery. Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong....

    Suzn F says: "Haunting, Beautiful, Exquisite, Special Book"
    "Do Not Read Any (other) Reviews of this Book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Believe me when I say, you do not want to read about this book before you actually listen to it. There is absolutely no way to write a review without giving away spoilers..no way at all! All I will say is that it is a poignant story of friendship and survival by turns funny, sad and scary. It is wonderfully written and narrated and it will stay with you long after you have finished listening. In fact, I can almost guarantee it is a book you will listen to a second time.

    25 of 29 people found this review helpful
  • People of the Book

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Geraldine Brooks
    • Narrated By Edwina Wren
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (34)

    In 1996, Hanna Heath, a rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna discovers a series of artifacts in its ancient binding, she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation.

    K. says: "Excellent book, some narration problems"
    "Wait for the movie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book could have been so much better. The format was promising and it is clearly well researched but the central character is irritating and superficial. I became engrossed in the historical fiction which was fascinating. I'd have given the story 4 stars if Brooks had left out the present day nonsense with it's angst and contrived love affair. As for the ending, well, don't get me started on that! The whole thing reads like a screenplay-hence the title of this review. The narration is mediocre. At times, Wren's depiction of the characters is irritating but it wasn't enough to stop me listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Dennis Olsen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (181)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (173)

    It is 1939, Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings.

    HDJ says: "Ignore the teen classification!"
    "Ignore the teen classification!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an adult story about the power of words. It is also about children growing up and trying to live a normal life in a time of unbelievable horror. The Book Thief is moving and personal and wonderfully written. I often found myself going back listening to passages a second and even a third time immersing myself in the language. So beautiful and at times so sad. The narration by Dennis Olsen is outstanding. I highly recommend this book and hope it won't get lost in the teen section.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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