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Laurie Ellington



  • The Grapes of Wrath

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker

    At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

    Dan Harlow says: "Almost more relevant now than when it was written"
    "My favorite book ever & a terrific performance."
    Where does The Grapes of Wrath rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This ranks in the Top 5 of audio books to which I have ever listened. Dylan Baker gives a marvelous performance, creating many different voices, so you are never confused as to who is speaking. He seems to channel Henry Fonda in his characterization of Tom Joad...kind of amusing.

    What other book might you compare The Grapes of Wrath to and why?

    Faulkner's "Light In August," although I vastly prefer Steinbeck's clean, sparse style.

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

    He practically channels Henry Fonda in the role of Tom Joad and gives each character a distinctive voice and interpretation. I just love his preacher full of human complexity.

    Any additional comments?

    If you have read and enjoyed GoW before, listen to this.
    If you have never read GoW, listen to this.
    If you have ever or never heard Steinbeck, listen to this.
    Very, very, very worthwhile.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cloud Atlas

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By David Mitchell
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Kim Mai Guest, and others

    A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation: the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history.

    Cynthia says: "Complicated and Not Good for Listening!"
    "Stylistically fascinating; not THAT hard to follow"
    What did you love best about Cloud Atlas?

    First, the author demonstrates such virtuosity with each prose style in the book and with each linguistic style that it is like six books in one. He is equally at home with the historical novel, the thriller, the sci fi and the futuristic novel.

    Second, the performances are GREAT.

    I also loved how the stories interconnect in subtle ways that really make you think. The author does not spoon feed you anything, so if you like to work a little as you read, this is a good book for you.

    The stories reminded me, with one exception, of those stacking Russian dolls, each nestling inside another, and shifting realities (who/what is "real" and who/what is from a novel within the novel?"), which makes for some intriguing reading.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Probably Robert Frobisher, the composer, because he is so delightfully flawed. And I am a musician, so I understood his thought processes.

    My favorite STORY, however, was the one with Timothy Cavendish, the publisher, because its conclusion had me laughing out loud.

    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    All of it, especially Zachry, because his speech was SO very stylized, yet the performance made it perfectly clear.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    My only complaints are:
    1) the scifi section in futuristic Korea left me bored and cold. I don't enjoy sci fi in general, so this part went on too long for my taste.
    2) the ending, which seemed evanescent and not entirely satisfying. But maybe a 2nd listen will reveal more.

    Any additional comments?

    This is not for people who like their punchlines fed to them. This IS for people who like a complex, intriguing and expertly written novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Adam Johnson
    • Narrated By Tim Kang, Josiah D. Lee, James Kyson Lee, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

    Lisa says: "The most compelling listen I've ever owned"
    "Pulitzer-worthy storytelling"
    Where does The Orphan Master's Son rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best I have listened to - among the top three, I would say.

    What did you like best about this story?

    Where do I start? First, I love how well researched it is. I learned something (a lot, actually) about North Korea while being engrossed in a complex, human story. I really cared about the characters and did not want the book to end. I love how it folds back on itself without ever straining to do so. The conclusion is satisfying in a weird way, but feels like the only possible one.

    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    The various narrators help one understand the structure of the story beautifully, and each is a stellar performance.

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

    In North Korea, the stories you tell are more important than the man you are.

    Any additional comments?

    I cannot recommend this highly enough. A great read, a great listen and one of the most engrossing, transporting tales I have read in a long, long, time. I'll be telling all my friends to read this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret of the Caves: Hardy Boys 7

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Franklin Dixon
    • Narrated By Bill Irwin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Triggered by the disappearance of a brilliant young professor, this mystery takes the Hardy Boys first to Kenworthy College, where they find a puzzling message on an examination paper. But then their pal Chet Morton and buddy Biff Hooper turn up a clue that sends the young detectives in another direction, to the Honeycomb Caves.

    John says: "Hardy Boys Fun"
    "My 8 year old son LOVES this book"

    My son is a big fan of the Hardy Boys series; he loves all these books and listens to them over and over. Great action and mysteries. He listens to every audiobook of the Hardy Boys he can get his hands on. An oldie but goodie, they still very much appeal to young readers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Freedom: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Jonathan Franzen
    • Narrated By David LeDoux
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul - the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter - environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man - she was doing her small part to build a better world.

    Lawrence says: "Believe the Hype"
    "Like getting teeth pulled, slowly."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I found the story completely uninteresting. Nothing but a sense of guilt over stopping halfway kept me listening to the end. The characters are all completely unlikable and so, again, I found no reason to keep listening.

    The writing was pedestrian, like a pair of sweat socks. Gets the job done but adds no aesthetic value.

    I seem to be in the minority here. I guess I am just hard to please.

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

    Boredom. Complete boredom. I found I could skip ahead a chapter and not have missed anything but self-centered whining and hand wringing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Traveler's Wife

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Fred Berman, Phoebe Strole

    Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36. They were married when Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

    Scott says: "Epic Drama & Love Story through Time Travel"
    "Sappy, unfulfilling, disappointing"

    Once you understand the central device of the book and get past the "that's a cool idea" moment, the book does not deliver anything more interesting than that.

    I felt she could have gone much further with the story, but instead stayed on the well-trodden ground of this boring love relationship. Sure, it was refracted by the jumbled timeline, but was ultimately as unfulfilling as a meal of iceberg lettuce and white bread.

    Furthermore, I found nothing charismatic, interesting or even likeable in the central characters.

    If you like more literary writing (Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Kingsolver), skip this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
    • Narrated By Paul Baymer, Susan Duerden, Roselyn Landor, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: The best book club you’ve never heard of – but will be eager to join, courtesy of a full cast of true characters. January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb....

    Kent says: "MUCH better than I ever expected! Give it a try!"
    "I really expected more...was disappointed"

    Sorry to dissent, but I think this book could have been great but did not live up to its early promise. It COULD have been more of a fascinating look at a corner of WWII history (the isolation of Guernsey), but instead devolved to a sappy unrequited-love-but-ends-happily story. In abler hands, such as Geraldine Brooks', it might have avoided that predictable trap, but these authors took an interesting character and made her just another woman who needs a man and a child to feel fulfilled.

    The most interesting character, Elizabeth, was given very much a secondary position...too bad; I would have liked to have known more about the internal struggle she had in falling for a German soldier and bearing a child out of wedlock. Again, in abler hands, this story would have shone through more and not have been eclipsed by all that Catherine/Heathcliff junk.

    Also, re: the recording...I began this book in print and switched to the audio version. In my head, my protagonist was much more independent, snappy and ascerbic than was rendered by the reader. This realization of the main character delved at times into sniveling girlish rants over unrequited love.

    I guess I am a minority opinion, but if you like LITERARY fiction, you will be disappointed by this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Middlesex

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By Kristoffer Tabori

    In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blonde classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them - along with Callie's failure to develop physically - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

    Chris says: "Great Pulitzer Winning novel!"
    "Great, great story, great narrator"

    I just love a good story, but it has to be poetically and lyrically written. And one which illuminates a period, a place, a history is doubly wonderful. This has it all: a great story written in a lovely, literary style, lovable characters, and a glimpse into history (Greek, Turkish, American) I really enjoyed. Don't be put off about the hermaphrodite theme: it's not really about that, but rather is used as an interesting allegory for the immigrant experience, family histories, and a host of other interesting issues.
    Loved the narrator who was able to capture the HUMOR in this book. He was great!
    Highly recommend this book - it's worth 2 credits (and it's long, too!)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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