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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

17
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 22 reviews
  • 34 ratings
  • 106 titles in library
  • 36 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
    (280)
    Performance
    (252)
    Story
    (249)

    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
  • Free: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 15 mins)
    • By Washington Irving
    • Narrated By Tom Mison
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (95)

    In the secluded Dutch territory of Sleepy Hollow, nebbish schoolmaster Ichabod Crane competes with the town hero for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, the 18-year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. As Crane leaves a party at the Van Tassel's farm one autumn evening, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, an apparition said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper snuffed out by a stray cannonball.

    IHeartPublishing says: "Fantastic!"
    "TOM MISON AS NARRATOR? I'M IN!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What a lovely idea to recruit Tom Mison, who stars as Ichabod Crane on Fox TV's hit series Sleepy Hollow, to narrate Washington Irving's famous short story. And, he does a wonderful job! He reads with clarity and wit and makes the characters, especially Ichabod Crane, come alive.

    Very nice addition to the Audible library!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Outlander

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16400)
    Performance
    (10675)
    Story
    (10558)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: An all-time Audible favorite that mixes historic fiction, adventure, and romance with one of the most fascinating literary devices: time travel. Outlander introduces an exhilarating world of heroism and breathtaking thrills as one woman is torn between past and present, passion and love. In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. But their blissful reunion is shattered....

    Lulu says: "The Reason for the Existence of Audio Books"
    "Late to the Party but So Glad I Came!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I must've been living in a cave these past 20 years because I swear I had no knowledge of Diana Gabaldon or her Outlander series of books until the Starz series came on. But, after watching Episode 1, I decided to read the book and listen to the audio version simultaneously. Now I know what all the fuss has been about!

    The enduring love between Claire and Jamie is romantic and wonderful. The author writes of their friendship and then love with such care. And, the backdrop of 1943 Scotland as the Highlanders fight the British for freedom is visceral and all too real.

    While the book could be a tad shorter for some, I didn't mind the length as the author had me turning the page with rapt attention. In fact, I made a pact with myself that I would NOT go directly into Dragonfly in Amber (Book 2); that I would give my mind (and my eyes) a rest. But, that did not happen, oh no. I dove, feet first into the second book with enthusiasm. In fact, I'm rather glad I discovered this series so late...I don't have to wait for the next book to be published!

    Thank you, Ms. Gabaldon, for this treasure trove of Claire and Jamie stories!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Harper Lee
    • Narrated By Sissy Spacek
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (774)
    Performance
    (717)
    Story
    (725)

    Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep south - and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred, available now for the first time as a digital audiobook. One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages, sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the 20th century by librarians across the country.

    Alan says: "Stunning"
    "PURE GOLD -- SISSY SHINES"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's a classic for a reason. This book is a wonderful, compelling and searing slice of life in 1930s Alabama. The author's examination of prejudice is exceptionally told, without being preachy. The story, from the little girl Scout's point of view, is honest and true. And, by the end, every female reader will be in love with Atticus Finch while every male will want to emulate him. If you eschewed it during your school days, it's still not to late to read it. It's a timeless story that will stay with you long after you close the book.

    From the moment I joined Audible.com, I waited for this book to be available. It is an incredible artistic achievement by an Oscar-winning actress. Sissy Spacek reads the novel superbly, showing respect for every word on the page. It is a remarkable artistic achievement.

    Thank you, Audible, for finally getting this book to your listeners. It is an A+ listening experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Painted Girls: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Cathy Marie Buchanan
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell, Julia Whelan, Danny Cambell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (247)
    Performance
    (211)
    Story
    (207)

    Paris, 1878: Following the death of their father from overwork, the three van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without their father’s wages, and with what little their mother earns as a laundress disappearing down the absinthe bottle, eviction from their single boarding room seems imminent. With few options for work available for a girl, bookish 14-year-old Marie and her younger sister Charlotte are dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant seven francs a week, the girls will be trained to enter its famous ballet. Their older sister, stubborn and insolent 17-year-old Antoinette, finds herself launched into the orbit of Émile Zola....

    Tango says: "Great concept does not realize its full potential"
    "DREARY AND DEPRESSING"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are some things about this novel about poor sisters living in the slums of Paris in the late 1800s that I really liked. For example, the author paints a vivid picture of the place and time so we can almost feel what Marie and Antoinette are going through. When Marie works so hard to pass her ballet exam to move up to the cadre, the reader can feel the poor girl's fatigue. Basically, I liked the story (up to a point) and got caught up in their dramatic situations -- how they both had to work so hard for so little; how they had to deal with their father's death and their mother's alcoholism; how Antoinette is so in love with the loser Emile that you want to just shake her; and how Marie succumbs to her patron, Mr. Lefevre, which nearly ruins her life and almost destroys her future.

    The author's senses of verisimilitude of the time and place feels spot-on.

    But, there is no joy in this book and, most importantly, very little hope for these characters. It is dreary, depressing and dramatic. It is also somewhat repetitious, as you see similar scenes play out at different times again and again. If the book were shorter, the dreariness wouldn't feel quite so overwhelming. But, it is long and all-encompassing and soon becomes oppressive.

    The book is nicely written; the author's use of language is superb. And, she creates an environment that is realistic and characters that you feel for. But, eventually, it was too oppressive an experience. I wanted to like this more than I did...but I just didn't.

    The narration was superb, though. I really loved the voices of the two sisters; they were distinct and yet had similar tones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Turn of the Screw

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Henry James
    • Narrated By Simon Vance, Vanessa Benjamin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (75)
    Story
    (75)

    One of the world's most famous intellectual ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw is a haunting tale of suspected supernatural possession. A governess at a country house claims that Miles and Flora, two orphaned children in her care, are being controlled by spirits for some evil purpose. No one else can see the ghosts, and the children themselves are silent. Are they being dominated by spectral forces, or are they hiding something? Is the governess simply paranoid, or is something else going on?

    Darwin8u says: "Compelling, creepy and rich in its ambiguity"
    "NOT ENGAGING ENOUGH FOR ME"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked the setup, environment and even the ghosts but the language is so difficult that much of the story and characters are obscured. The main character is never really developed and neither are the children. The notion of the ghosts doesn't pay off (to me) and so I was never really engaged in the story. I suppose my sensibilities have changed with the times but the story of a governess who takes care of two children in a big country home that is haunted by the ghosts of the old governess and butler just didn't captivate me. It would seem that this setup is ripe for tension and terror but the language keeps the listener at such a distance that the emotions didn't ever heat up for me.

    In what could've been a terrific and haunting story with many layers and dimensions, instead, I found this to be a disappointment.

    On the other hand, the narrators were both excellent.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Richard Armitage
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (313)
    Story
    (313)

    It is a tale of ghosts, of madness, of revenge - of old alliances giving way to new intrigues. Denmark is changing, shaking off its medieval past. War with Norway is on the horizon. And Hamlet - son of the old king, nephew of the new - becomes increasingly entangled in a web of deception - and murder. Beautifully performed by actor Richard Armitage ("Thorin Oakenshield" in the Hobbit films), Hamlet, Prince of Denmark takes Shakespeare’s original into unexpected realms, reinventing a story we thought we knew.

    Robert says: "Fantastic whether you like Shakespeare or not!"
    "A SUPERB EXPERIENCE IN EVERY WAY"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I will admit that Hamlet is my favorite Shakespearean play and the idea of this book didn't sound appealing when I first heard about it. But, because I love the play so much and the narrations of Richard Armitage, I gave it a try and I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.

    In a word, this novel is EXCELLENT. It doesn't change any of Shakespeare's plot but it does offer a tremendous amount of added depth to the story and to the characters. For example, we get a glimpse into the depths of Ophelia's despair and depression so when her story is completed, we have a better understanding of what happened.

    The authors have done a masterful job of giving new life to well-known and much beloved material. This was a stunning and wonderful listening experience...which brings me to Richard Armitage, the book's narrator.

    Mr. Armitage is a fantastic narrator and I'm a fan of all the books he has read. But this could be the jewel in his crown. He does such a superlative job reading this dense, complex novel. The listener never gets confused, despite the myriad number of characters and accents required of the narrator. It is a phenomenal performance, one of the best I've ever heard in any genre.

    Thank you, Audible, for commissioning this novel. It was truly an exceptional listening experience.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cabin Pressure: Molokai (Christmas Special 2010)

    • UNABRIDGED (27 mins)
    • By John Finnemore
    • Narrated By Stephanie Cole, Benedict Cumberbatch
    Overall
    (218)
    Performance
    (205)
    Story
    (206)

    In this Christmas special 'Molokai' - It's Christmas morning, but when Carolyn schedules an extra stop-off to the Hawaiian island of Molokai, Arthur has just seven minutes to celebrate Christmas. Stephanie Cole, Benedict Cumberbatch & Roger Allam star in the second series of the hit sitcom about the tiny charter airline for whom no job is too small, but many, many jobs are too difficult.

    Siobhan says: "Funny, funny, funny!"
    "A LAUGH-RIOT"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Whenever I need a swift mood change, I immediately go to Cabin Pressure…it doesn't matter which season or what episode, the program never fails to disappoint me. Every episode is hysterical and well-acted and I laugh heartily at every line. I'm so disappointed that the show is over...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Fault in Our Stars

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By John Green
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11103)
    Performance
    (10191)
    Story
    (10248)

    Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

    FanB14 says: "Sad Premise, Fantastic Story"
    "REALLY GOOD...BUT REALLY SAD"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked this book quite a lot. The characters are fresh and the situation is all too real. I also like the way the kids not only interact with each other but with the adults...everything feels honest and true.

    I knew it was going to be sad but I had no idea just how sad. While the author's depiction of cancer is honest, it's not something I think I would have read had it not been such a popular novel.

    The narrator was excellent and made the experience even more enriching.

    But, life is difficult enough without reading about children with cancer!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Convenient Marriage

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Richard Armitage
    Overall
    (180)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (140)

    Horatia Winwood is the youngest and the least attractive of the three Winwood sisters. She also has a stammer. But when the enigmatic and eminently eligible Earl of Rule offers for her oldest sister’s hand – a match that makes financial and social sense, but would break her heart – it is Horatia who takes matters into her own impetuous hands. Can she save her family’s fortune?

    Tracey says: "Armitage did what he could"
    "ANOTHER DELIGHT FROM HEYER AND ARMITAGE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been living in a cave...but so glad I'm out of it now that I've discovered Georgette Heyer's Regency novels. After reading "Venetia" and "Sylvester: or the Wicked Uncle," I turned to "The Convenient Marriage" and was equally enchanted by her characters and the wild-and-woolly plot.

    In this story, The Earl of Rule, needing a good marriage, makes an offer to Lizzie, the eldest Winwood sister, but she is in love with someone else. Lizzie feels obligated to marry the duke to save her family's current destitute situation, so Lizzie's youngest sister Horatia steps up to rescue her forlorn sister. She makes Rule an offer: she will marry him in place of Lizzie to rescue the family's fortunes but will allow him to live his life as he always has (meaning, he may continue his affair with Lady Massey) and she will be left alone to live as she will.

    The deal is struck...and then all hell breaks loose as Horatia gets into one scrape after another, Rule realizes he is really in love with his wife, she feels like her antics have ruined everything and her gambling ne'er-do-well brother Pelham oddly enough tries to come to her rescue.

    It's a convoluted plot with lots of characters, masked bandits, sword fights, secret identities...but it's a delight -- funny, charming, enchanting and sweet. If you like Jane Austen's work, you will love Georgette Heyer's stories, which take place at a similar time but are infused with tons of humor and plenty of sweetness.

    A huge plus is the narration by Richard Armitage, who somehow manages to do all the voices and make them sound distinct. His narration is a major asset to this story. His voice is so spectacular, I would really, honestly, listen to him read the phone book. He transformed this story into something really engaging and fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Venetia

    • ABRIDGED (4 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Georgette Heyer
    • Narrated By Richard Armitage
    Overall
    (293)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (198)

    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

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