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Janna Wong Healy

I've spent my entire life around the written word - writing it, editing it, teaching it. So, it's no wonder I also love to read it!

Los Angeles, CA | Member Since 2013

9
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 13 reviews
  • 26 ratings
  • 79 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014
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  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By The Countess of Carnarvon
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    Overall
    (235)
    Performance
    (213)
    Story
    (212)

    Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS series, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants: Lady Almina, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.

    connie says: "the lowdown on Downton times"
    "Lady Almina Deserves Better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes! I would like to see more focused research about Lady Almina's life rather than listen to lists of who was at dinner, what was served and who wore what.


    Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

    I liked the son's adventures the best.


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

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Based on the comments of other readers, I was excited about reading this book. I listened to the audible version and I must say that, while interesting, it didn't engage me as I thought it would. Yes, it tells the story of the countess of Highclere Castle, the site of Downton Abbey; and, yes, Lady Almina lived a very compelling life, especially in her years as a nurse during World War I. But I was immediately wary when the Introduction states that this is not a biography nor is it a history. So, then, what is it? Much of the book (especially the early chapters) are lists culled from guest books and photographs. Who came to dinner. What did Almina wear on her wedding day? Who were her bridesmaids. Where did they have their wedding reception and what was served? Frankly, this was not particularly compelling to me.

    The book gets more interesting when journalistic records of the time improve and we learn more about Lord Carnarvon's many trips to Egypt and his discovery of King Tut's tomb.

    This is rich material but because of the lack of sufficient research, it lacks a deep exploration of the key relationships in Lady Almina's life. After all, relationships form the foundation of the engaging Downton Abbey...that's what keeps us involved in the show...and that's what is missing here.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Venetia

    • ABRIDGED (4 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Richard Armitage
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (168)

    Venetia Lanyon, beautiful, intelligent and independent woman, lives in comfortable seclusion in rural Yorkshire with her precocious brother Aubrey. Her future seems safe and predictable: Either marriage to the respectable but dull Edward Yardley, or a life of peaceful spinsterhood. But when she meets the dashing, dangerous rake Lord Damerel, her well-ordered life is turned upside down, and she embarks upon a relationship with him that scandalizes and horrifies the whole community.

    Judith says: "Great, but too bad it is abridged"
    "ABSOLUTELY ENGAGING -- THE BOOK AND THE NARRATOR!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is utterly engaging, one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Charming and funny but with important underlying themes concerning true love, expectations and appearances, this book was a delight from beginning to end.

    I loved Venetia's strength of character -- how good and honest and trustworthy she is -- and how Georgette Heyer plays with that character by having Venetia do what she can to destroy her own purity in the name of true love.

    While I will admit to being a fan of Richard Armitage, this is the first time I've listened to him narrating a book and his reading was captivating and so entertaining. His various voices were pure gold and none of them sounded like the other (how does he do that?!). I was completely charmed by his narration which made the experience so much more fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wuthering Heights

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Emily Bronte
    • Narrated By Janet McTeer, David Timson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (632)
    Performance
    (262)
    Story
    (271)

    When Mr. Earnshaw brings a black-haired foundling child into his home on the Yorkshire moors, he little imagines the dramatic events which will follow. The passionate relationship between Cathy Earnshaw and the foundling, Heathcliff, is a story of love, hate, pity, and retribution, the effects of which reverberate throughout the succeeding generations.

    Stephanie says: "Classic"
    "PERFORMANCES ARE SUBLIME!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Heathcliff and Catherine survives the cruel tests of time, I found myself perplexed by the lack of likability of these two protagonists. Catherine is flighty and immature while Heathcliff is surly and mean. They both did things to hurt each other; is that true love? The fact that they love each other through the difficulties of their lives doesn't assuage the hurt they cause each other during their lifetime.

    The setting is certainly luscious and the supporting characters are interesting. But, rather than find Heathcliff's undying love for Catherine as overwhelmingly romantic, I couldn't get past how cruel he was to everyone around him. It made me sad.

    As a young woman, I was thoroughly entranced by Heathcliff's dark, brooding and romantic nature. But he is much less attractive to me now.

    I know I will be cast aside as a renegade and maybe even a fraudulent English major. But, there are more intriguing protagonists who are brooding and romantic in literature that I found more likable -- Mr. Darcy and John Thornton, for example.

    The narration by Janet McTeer and David Timson was luscious and wonderful, particularly Ms. McTeer's. It was a delight to the ears and I loved hearing every second of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Husband's Secret

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liane Moriarty
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    Overall
    (1878)
    Performance
    (1674)
    Story
    (1686)

    Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive....

    FanB14 says: "Soap Opera Digest"
    "ENGAGING AND DRAMATIC"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    4.5 Stars. I wasn't quite sure what to think when I began this book -- it was three disparate stories that I knew were going to connect but couldn't figure out how and, I wasn't sure I wanted to know as the characters seemed so ordinary and even somewhat superficial. And then, in a split-second, the book took off and I was hooked!

    While some may look at this as a piece of women's fiction, I believe it runs deeper than that. To me, it is a treatise on guilt: how people live with this very strong emotion and how their feelings about guilt affect those around them. It begins with the perfectly ordered life of Cecilia and John-Paul and their perfect little family of three beautiful girls; it continues with Tess whose husband Will is leaving her for her close-as-a-sister cousin Felicity, causing Tess to engage in a wild affair of her own; it ends with Rachel whose daughter Janey was found murdered decades before yet she can't get over the pain, especially when she uncovers evidence that -- to her -- shows incontrovertible proof that someone she always suspected must be guilty of the crime.

    The author moves between the three stories with ease until they all coalesce. And, despite the plethora of characters, they are all treated with care and seriousness.

    This was a good read -- engaging, involving, dramatic and entertaining. I very much enjoyed Caroline Lee's narration. She hit all the right notes with her reading and captured the emotion of the characters extremely well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Frankenstein

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Mary Shelley
    • Narrated By Dan Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (126)
    Story
    (123)

    Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.

    Nancy says: "A great listen"
    "SUPERB IN EVERY WAY"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I never had the opportunity to read Mary Shelley's classic horror story but listening to the incredible narration by Dan Stevens was a fantastic way to experience this masterful piece of writing. The book is at turns exciting, action-packed, sad and dramatic. Dan Stevens' nuanced performance captures every mood from every character. Three months after listening to this book and I'm still thinking about it. This could be my favorite Audible book of all time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cabin Pressure

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By John Finnemore
    • Narrated By Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch
    Overall
    (320)
    Performance
    (283)
    Story
    (279)

    John Finnemore (Dead Ringers & Mitchell & Webb) has written this brilliant new sitcom starring Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam & Benedict Cumberbatch. Cabin Pressure is set in a small airline business. The flipside of the glamorous world of international airlines.

    Dawn says: "Fly away on MJN air with these lovable characters-"
    "WAY TOO FUNNY!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listening to Cabin Pressure while driving, I found myself laughing so hard that I'm sure people driving near me thought I had gone mad. Well, I had...I went mad with laughter at this well-written, well-acted and hilarious show that spoofs private airline travel. I'm working my way through the whole series and hope this troupe continues to record new episodes forever. Yes, it's that entertaining!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ben MacIntyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (437)
    Performance
    (190)
    Story
    (182)

    Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

    Scott says: "Intrigue and True"
    "FASCINATING STORY...AND IT'S COMPLETELY TRUE!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Maybe it was the time period (WWII), or the location (Channel Islands), but mostly likely, it is Eddie Chapman himself who makes his story of being a double agent (for England and Germany) so arresting and compelling.

    Eddie is little more than a petty criminal with a strong knowledge of how to perform these acts of crime when he is pulled from prison in the Channel Islands (which have been taken over by the Germans) and forced into becoming an agent for them. They like the fact that he's a criminal with a past...it helps them keep him in line.

    After months of training, Eddie's first assignment is to go back to England and blow up one of their factories. He parachutes into his homeland and goes directly to the authorities, offering to become an agent for England. After days of questioning by British officers, they accept his offer. Eddie is now an official double agent.

    The book goes into detail about the training Eddie received from both countries and explains how good he was at memorizing names, faces and places. We learn about the relationships he had with both the German and British officers. And, we learn plenty about Eddie's personal life -- he was pretty good at charming the ladies.

    I found the book -- and, particularly, the subject of the book -- quite fascinating. It was interesting to see the strategizing and behind-the-scenes plotting going on between the two countries. And, it was particularly intriguing to see how this one petty criminal became such a successful double agent.

    The narrator was fantastic -- easy to understand and good with the different accents. A real tour de force performance.

    I enjoyed this book tremendously.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pride and Prejudice

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Lindsay Duncan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (904)
    Performance
    (422)
    Story
    (433)

    Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighbourhood, the lives of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down.

    Louise says: "excellent reading"
    "A CLASSIC FOR A REASON!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't my first time with Jane Austen's classic and it definitely won't be my last. This book is so wonderful, smart, witty and romantic, it's no wonder it is considered one of the best novels ever written.

    The story of Elizabeth Bennet and her hate/love relationship with Mr. Darcy is the basis for every romantic-comedy written since Austen's book was published. Even after all these years, after the thousands of books and hundreds of movies that have used Pride and Prejudice as their base, this book remains a glowing reminder of how difficult it is to find true love...but, how glorious it can be when you do.

    This version, narrated by Lindsay Duncan, is just wonderful. She reads Elizabeth as a grounded, serious young woman rather than as a flighty thing (saving those flourishes for her portrayal of Mrs. Bennet) and, despite there being five Bennet sisters, you can always distinguish which sister is which with Ms. Duncan's narration.

    I was riveted by this audiobook and highly recommend it, not just for the narration but for the joy of hearing the love between Elizabeth and Darcy blossom all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Me Before You: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Jojo Moyes
    • Narrated By Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1977)
    Performance
    (1798)
    Story
    (1804)

    Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life - steady boyfriend, close family - who has never been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life - big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel - and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy - but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected.

    Bonny says: "Will & Louisa - each has what the other one needs"
    "ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITES"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this book last year and loved it so much that I bought the Audible version so I could revisit the lives of Will Traynor and Louisa Clark. Despite knowing the book and being familiar with the story, I got caught up in it all over again and was overcome with emotion at their unconventional love story.

    This book works on many levels. It's not only a love story and a coming-of-age tale but a deeper examination of the value of life.

    I recommend this book -- in any version -- to any and all!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Divergent

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Veronica Roth
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11540)
    Performance
    (10405)
    Story
    (10468)

    In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

    Grant says: "It's not for me. Loved it anyway."
    "Not Another Dystopian Young Adult Novel...!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Why, yes, it is! Somewhat similar to The Hunger Games in that young people are trained to be superior physical beings and often must fight each other for supremacy, the first book in this trilogy spends much of its time on the training regimen facing Tris, an "initiate" into the "Dauntless" faction. In Roth's world, humans are split into five different factions, according to aptitude tests they take when they're sixteen. At the "Choosing" ceremony, they may select whatever faction they want. Tris' tests show her to be "divergent," meaning she has several different factions to her personality. Born into "Abnegation," the selfless faction that now runs the government, she opts to leave them and become a Dauntless.

    The Dauntless are just that and training is not the easiest for the initiates. Tris finds comfort in friendships with some other initiates and finds herself bullied by others. She also experiences love for the first time in the person of Four, the training master of Dauntless.

    But, what is all this training for? Tris soon finds out when she happens upon a plot betwen the "Erudite" faction and the Dauntless. Will she be able to stop it?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman in White

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Wilkie Collins
    • Narrated By Roger Rees, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (296)
    Performance
    (223)
    Story
    (226)

    Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall ever since. From the hero's foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collins's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.

    JGrace says: "Another multi-cast winner"
    "Extraordinary Book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know how this book escaped me all these years (and me...an English major!) but I am so glad I finally got to it. Written in 1859, this is the type of mystery-thriller that isn't attempted anymore. It is a complex and detailed story that combines nefarious and mysterious behavior while ultimately proving that love conquers all.

    This is the story of Walter Hartright, a common artist who finds a woman in dressed in white on a solitary London road at midnight, begging for his help. It describes the quagmire Walter falls into because of his kindness to this woman -- a quagmire that takes him across the land to uncover the mystery of the woman in white. Along the way, he encounters an evil count, a greedy baronet, a beautiful lookalike, a handsome older sister and many other intriguing characters.

    It's long and involved, sometimes convoluted, with a large cast of characters and lots of moving pieces...but everything works with a rhythm that hums perfectly from page 1 all the way to the end. And, even if you think a character or an action will have no bearing on the story, think again! Considered one of literature's first mystery novels, Wilkie Collins carefully plotted and planned each movement of every character so all the puzzle pieces coalesce into a perfect whole.

    It's exciting and fun, somewhat challenging at times, but well worth the effort. In addition, the audio performances are wonderful...this was a real treat to listen to and I was so sorry when it ended.

    If you love mysteries, if you love villains, if you love love...you'll love The Woman in White.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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