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Chicago, IL, United States | Member Since 2013

  • 24 reviews
  • 568 ratings
  • 865 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015

  • Winesburg, Ohio

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sherwood Anderson
    • Narrated By Jonathan Lethem, Richard Russo, Tobias Wolff, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A timeless collection of short stories about an imaginary small town, unified by the presence of Winesburg Eagle reporter George Willard, Winesburg, Ohio is, as H.L. Mencken said upon it's publication in 1919, "vivid, so full of insight, so shiningly life-like and glowing, that the book is lifted into a category all its own."

    Shannon says: "Good stories, amateur narration"
    "Good stories, amateur narration"

    I had never heard of this book or this author, but found it on a college reading list and decided to investigate. The stories are about the people in a small town some time around the turn of the 20th century. The stories seem quite well-written, only somewhat dated, and many of the characters and events in one story will connect with the characters and events in another. The five story arc of "Godliness" is unforgettable. Unfortunately, it appears that the narrators (a different one for each story) were selected because they were authors, rather than because they had any talent for narration. None of them is good, many of them are adequate, some of them are barely tolerable. In another annoying move, the authors discuss the book and its stories, but the discussion is placed at the end of the book, and the authors frequently don't say which story they are discussing, which makes their comments ("My story really shows development of character") difficult to follow. I can't understand why the producers chose these readers, but since I see there are two other versions of this book available, I suggest you try one of the others.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Maltese Falcon

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Dashiell Hammett
    • Narrated By William Dufris

    Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade is hired to locate a client's sister by tailing the sister's companion. Spade's partner Miles Archer takes on the assignment, and quickly both Archer and the man he was shadowing are murdered. As Spade pursues the mystery of his partner's death, he is drawn into a circle of colorful characters, and they are all after a legendary statuette of a falcon that had long ago been made for King Charles of Spain. Encrusted with jewels, it is worth a fortune.

    Jim says: "A little overacted"
    "Good story, great narrator"

    I had seen the movie many years ago, and was in the mood for a little mystery noir, so I bought this book. Having forgotten most of the plot, I was easily caught up in this complex story of lies, liars and treasure. The narrator did an absolutely fabulous job of differentiating the characters by voice, and his Joe Cairo actually sounded like Peter Lorre! (Sam Spade did not sound like Humphrey Bogart, which I think would have distracted me.) I enjoyed the book so much that I listened virtually nonstop until I finished it. A wonderful book for a long trip or a rainy day at home.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Broadway Nights: A Romp of Life, Love, and Musical Theatre

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Seth Rudetsky
    • Narrated By Seth Rudetsky, Kristin Chenoweth, Andrea Martin, and others

    Stephen Sheerin was born to play on Broadway - or at least, under it. He's a musician, a conductor, and his dream is to music-direct a big Broadway musical. After years of toiling in the pit of some of the best-loved (and loathed) hits on the Great White Way, he's just been given his big break. Can life really be going that well? Of course not.

    Michael says: "A *must-have* for any fan of Broadway or humor!"
    "Love laughs and Broadway? This is your book!"

    I had never heard of Seth Rudetsky, but now I crave more of him. Coming from a family prone to burst into song at any moment (to the mortification of related teenagers) we love our Broadway musicals. This book provided lots of interesting behind the scenes details (I never gave a moment's thought to musicians or the allotment of dressing rooms or Broadway producers). The arcana is frosting on the delicious cake of Seth's cast of characters. The perenially depressed Stacy (a dead ringer for someone I've known 20 years). the annoyingly perky (and probably treacherous) francophile Francoise, and the world's cheapest Broadway producers, the sly and ancient Giesenschlags. Besides hilarity, there is romance, cunning and all-around enjoyment. I can't wait for Seth's next book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Microthrills: True Stories from a Life of Small Highs

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Wendy Spero
    • Narrated By Wendy Spero
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Raised in Manhattan by her overly protective, sex therapist mother who wore "seven layers of shoulder pads" and her two doting grandparents, life in Wendy Spero's world has never been dull. As a child, she passed the time organizing impromptu "garage sales" on city sidewalks, sniffing fruit-scented magic markers to intoxication, parenting dozens of high-maintenance stuffed animals, and seeking out other "microthrills", which she writes about in this hilarious book of odd but true stories.

    Austin says: "hilarious"
    "Very funny"

    I bought this book a while ago but never listened to it and couldn't remember anything about it. When I started listening, I was at first mildly amused by the author's essays describing of her life and family. As the book went on, I got a very good idea of her and her many, many frankly admitted foibles. Wendy seems to realize her own quasi-craziness and doesn't mind sharing it with us for laughs, but she also has a deep and abiding love for her family and her boyfriend Amos (who seems long-suffering and worthy of her devotion). Some of the essays at the end of the book were so funny that I embarassed myself by laughing out loud in a restaurant where I was dining alone and, later, in a public bathroom stall (I'm not sure if anyone else was in the bathroom). I'm a fan of David Sedaris, and Wendy will also be on my list of essayists to enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Timothy Egan
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region.

    Sara says: "A Fascinating History"
    "Difficult and nearly unbelievable"

    This book was incredibly difficult for me to complete. I had heard about the dustbowl but had no idea that people and animals literally suffocated and/or starved over time from the dirt that filled their lungs and bellies. I never knew that the dust clouds reached New York City and Washington, DC. It was also nearly impossible to believe that only 80 years ago, soil conservation was a totally unknown concept. I wanted to scream at the farmers who tore up the prairie "Don't do it! You're ruining your lives and the land!" Nevertheless, I couldn't help but admire the strength and courage of the people who endured. When I finished the book, I wondered when the mistakes we're making now may cause a similar environmental disaster.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Flory: A Miraculous Story of Survival

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Flory A. Van Beek
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter

    Like Anne Frank, Flory Van Beek was a young girl caught in the ruthless Nazi occupation of Holland. But Flory survived to recount her extraordinary story of persecution and survival. Flory and her husband, Felix, endured the sinking of a ship bound for safety in the New World, the increasing danger of the occupation, and finally a life in hiding. This inspiring account vividly captures the terror of the Holocaust while telling a poignant story of love and courage.

    D. Hurley says: "Inspiring Story"
    "An Amazing Story, Adequately Told"

    The writing in this book is not polished, but the story is so amazing that I wish everyone could hear it. Flory and her family suffered and survived horrifying Nazi cruelty during WW2. Even at the worst of times, however, there were kind, decent, courageous people willing to help save the Nazis' prey. Many times in the book, members of the Dutch underground describe themselves and others simply as "good citizens". Unexpectedly, this story of cruelty and evil was also a story of strength, kindness and good.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lightning

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Dean Koontz
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A storm struck on the night Laura Shane was born, and there was a strangeness about the weather that people would remember for years. But even more mysterious was the blond-haired stranger who appeared out of nowhere - the man who saved Laura from a fatal delivery. Years later - after another bolt of lightning - the stranger returned.

    Barry says: "One of Koontz' best, entirely enjoyable."
    "A Substandard Effort by Koontz"

    I've read and enjoyed many of Koontz's books, but this one reads like a first draft. I didn't connect with most of the characters, and actually laughed out loud when the hero's mysterious organization was revealed. After that, I found it very difficult to believe the rest of the book. I will give Koontz credit for an unusual idea, but he did not successfully carry it off.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Count of Monte Cristo

    • UNABRIDGED (47 hrs)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By John Lee

    Dashing young Edmond Dantès has everything: a fine reputation, an appointment as captain of a ship, and the heart of a beautiful woman. But his perfect life is shattered when three jealous friends conspire to destroy him. Falsely accused of a political crime, Dantès is locked away for life in the infamous Chateau d'If prison. But it is there that Dantès learns of a vast hidden treasure.

    Ramon says: "A true Time-machine"
    "Hours of entertainment and revenge"

    I bought this on sale, and it was money well spent. The book took a while to hook me (4 hours or so, IIRC), but then I couldn't put it down. I listened non-stop, even when I woke up in the middle of the night. There are so many sub-plots with the secondary characters that even as I was listening to one, I wondered what was happening in the others. Narration is very good, and the suspense builds as you wonder how each evildoer will be punished. I have loved listening to Dicken (_Nicholas Nickelby_, _David Copperfield_, _Oliver Twist_) and this book has the same epic feel, although the characters, except for the protagonist, are not nearly as memorable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Nicholas Nickleby

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The most gorgeously theatrical of all Dickens's novels, Nicholas Nickleby follows the delightful adventures of a hearty young hero in 19th-century England. Nicholas, a gentleman's son fallen upon hard times, must set out to make his way in the world. His journey is accompanied by some of the most swaggering scoundrels and unforgettable eccentrics in Dickens's pantheon.

    Robert says: "A knockout!"
    "Worth the wait"

    I've listened to many Dickens novels, and this is one of the best. My favorite (so far) is _David Copperfield_ (Frederick Davidson narrating), and this has many of the same qualities. A young man's adventures through life, a cast of interesting characters, wonderful narration. _Nickelby_ takes longer to capture your attention, but you do come to love Nicholas and the family, to curse the villains and rejoice with the lovers. It's a very good listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Mary Roach
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    For two thousand years, cadavers have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.

    Matthew says: "Darn funny if you're open to the idea."
    "Not for everyone, but I enjoyed it"

    Although this book verges on the macabre at some points, with extremely graphic descriptions of, say, bodies rotting in an empty lot, I found it fascinating. I liked the many uses for cadavers, the descriptions of the science of various specialities, and the history of anatomical and cadaver studies. The author has a quirky sense of humor, and many of her quips are things I would have thought myself. I also liked the narrator's voice, which was pleasant and not too serious. Unfortunately, neither the narrator nor the producer ensured that the narrator pronounced all the words correctly. Almost every chapter had at least one mispronunciation that jarred me. Among them "Oriana Fal-ah-see" (Oriana Fallaci - which I admit is not a common name), "Rooters" (Reuters), and "apokethary" (apothecary - which she pronounces correctly a few lines later.) This book has by far the largest number of mispronunciations of the seventy or so I've listened to. It is nonetheless an interesting, informative and strangely enjoyable listen.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes behind the Veil

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Deborah Rodriguez, Kristin Ohlson
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Most Westerners working in Afghanistan spend their time tucked inside a military compound or embassy. Not Deborah Rodriguez. Here, she tells the story of the beauty school she founded in the middle of Kabul and of the vibrant women who were her students. When Rodriguez opened the Kabul Beauty School, she not only empowered her students with a new sense of autonomy but also made some of the closest friends of her life.

    Becky says: "Thumbs down"
    "An intriguing view of a place in the news"

    I loved the descriptions of the Afghan women, their hardships and daily life. I also found the protagonist quite interesting, in a good-hearted but flaky way. She is obviously very kind and courageous, but she also seems to have poor planning skills, a reckless nature and little sense that her actions could put other women at risk, sometimes of death. There are many unanswered questions (why is Debbie so carefree about abandoning her sons for one) and except for friendships and language skills, Debbie doesn't seem to have learned much from her adventure. Still, the story moves quickly, some of the Afghan women are unforgettable, and it does seem that Debbie helped bring hope to a group of women who really needed it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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