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Here-and-faraway

Sunny California | Member Since 2007

ratings
99
REVIEWS
17
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
11
HELPFUL VOTES
79

  • The Tiger's Wife: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Tea Obreht
    • Narrated By Susan Duerden, Robin Sachs
    Overall
    (805)
    Performance
    (526)
    Story
    (523)

    In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

    Howard says: "Left me unfulfilled!"
    "Good, Not Great"
    Overall

    There are some really great moments in this book, but it never really comes together as a whole. Obreht spins interesting stories, but they should have been stand alone tales, not woven together into a singular narrative. There's no question in my mind that Tea Obreht has talent, but The Tiger's Wife felt like it was written by an, as of yet, immature author who hasn't quite come into her own. I am interested in seeing what Obreht will write next.

    The narrator was adequate, but her voice often went into a sing-song cadence and, after the first hour or two of listening to the book, I grew tired of it.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The House at Tyneford

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Natasha Solomons
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (321)
    Performance
    (275)
    Story
    (278)

    It’s the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When Kit, the son of Tyneford’s master, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford - and Elise - forever. An irresistible World War II story of a forbidden romance in a great English country house.

    Emily - Audible says: "Mixed Opinion"
    "Strong Start, Weak Ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The House at Tyneford again? Why?

    Maybe. The writer does some impressive things with how characters capture memories onto paper. That said, I was very disappointed with the ending.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Natasha Solomons? Why or why not?

    Only if it got really strong reviews. While I think she's a very good storyteller, I was disappointed with the book.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I love how the narrator muses on memories.


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

    I was displeased with the ending. It was well written, but I wish the writer would have chosen to go another route. I think the fact that she foreshadowed what would happen so strongly throughout the novel hurt the book. I kept waiting for a surprise twist at the end and there wasn't one. You can pretty much tell what will happen to the characters within the first half hour of the novel.


    Any additional comments?

    For as much as I disliked the ending, the book did hold my attention and I hated to put it down. The pace of the novel is slow and lyrical, but also mesmerizing. The author is talented. I simply wish that she either would have not given the ending away so early in the book or surprised me. I finished the novel wondering what the point of it all was. Once again, it was entertaining, but the last half hour was painful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Swimming Pool Library

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Alan Hollinghurst
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    This novel centres on the friendship of William Beckwith, a young gay aristocrat who leads a life of privilege and promiscuity, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, who is searching for someone to write his biography.

    Aoife says: "Beautifully Written and Read"
    "Offers Insight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It depends on the friend. This book is NOT for everyone. It graphically describes the life of a promiscuous gay man. So if the topic of homosexuality or detailed sex scenes disturb you, then steer clear. Also, black people are almost like fetish objects in this novel. Many of the upper-crust, white British men in the novel are VERY attracted to Africans. Although the wealthy men are genuinely sickened by hate crimes, they also don't quite see black people as "human" either. It's like people from Africa are viewed as some sort of enchanted, mythological creatures to be sought after and adored. I don't want to give the impression that the book centers on race relations, but some of the ways that black people are described made me feel uncomfortable. I think that Hollinghurst purposely did this to further explore the idea of what it's like to be viewed as an "other" in mainstream society.

    I would recommend this book to a friend who loves beautiful writing and strong characterization. I would recommend it to a friend who enjoys thinking about things that they've never considered before. Before this novel, I never thought about how so much "homosexual history" was covered up, changed, or never recorded to begin with. Just like in Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child, the idea of what is forgotten and what is chosen to be remembered hangs heavily.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How it let me see the world through a new set of eyes.


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

    He is a fantastic narrator. All of his characters sound unique and he does a fantastic job with different dialects and accents. Perfect pacing, smooth voice, lovely narration, perfect execution of wit... I would love to hear another story read by him.


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

    Yes, but I don't want to spoil things for you... There's a part that will stick with me for a long time.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Teahouse Fire

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Ellis Avery
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (151)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (40)

    The fates of two women, one American, one Japanese, become entwined in this sweeping novel of 19th century Japan on the cusp of radical change and Westernization. The Japanese tea ceremony, steeped in ritual, is at the heart of this story of an American girl adopted by Kyoto's most important tea master and raised as attendant and surrogate younger sister to his privileged daughter, Yukako.

    Pamela says: "Captivating"
    "Thoughtful, Intelligent, A Window to Another Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Teahouse Fire in three words, what would they be?

    Very very good


    What other book might you compare The Teahouse Fire to and why?

    The Last Nude, another book by Ellis Avery. Like The Last Nude, Avery abandons her narrator in a strange land and lets the narrator see her new world through foreign eyes. What I really enjoy about both works is the strong sense of time and place AND the complex characters. No one is entirely good or entirely evil. Instead, Avery creates a world with flawed, but not unsympathetic people.


    Which character – as performed by Barbara Caruso – was your favorite?

    Yukako. That said, Caruso is one of those gifted narrators who makes each character have a distinct voice. I knew who was speaking without being told.


    If you could rename The Teahouse Fire, what would you call it?

    Nothing. The title fits the book perfectly.


    Any additional comments?

    Although not perfect, this is a very, very good story about an extremely interesting time in Japanese history - when the west invaded Japan. I've read and seen many stories about this time written by Japanese authors through a Japanese character's eyes. It was an interesting twist to see this moment in history described through a foreigner's eyes. Like other reviewers have pointed out, the narrator is a bit frustrating because she does little. Rather, she observes and analyzes what others do around her. Also, the story does droop in places. That said, the narrator makes very astute observations and the people she is around are very interesting. Whenever the story started to sag, it quickly reeled me back in. Aside from the strong sense of time and place, I really appreciate how well Avery (the author) understands human nature. Nothing in the story is cliche. Her characters are living, breathing, flawed individuals who do, not do what is expected of them, but rather what they want to do. Because of that, the story has some very surprising twists. The narrator did not end up where I expected her to be.Although the book felt VERY complete, I like how unanswered fragments are left behind, which is very much like real life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Stranger's Child

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Alan Hollinghurst
    • Narrated By James Daniel Wilson
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (30)

    In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate—a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance—to his family’s modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to.

    Here-and-faraway says: "I Hated For It To End"
    "I Hated For It To End"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Stranger's Child?

    I loved both its characters and the way the writer explores how and what is remembered.


    What other book might you compare The Stranger's Child to and why?

    I could loosely compare it to A.S. Byatt's Possession or Tennysons' "In Memoriam" (where the story got its title from.) Like Possession, we see biographers trying to unravel the mystery of what a famous poet was really like and who he was romantically involved with. Unlike Possession, the story isn't centered on "who dun' it" (although there are some surprising twists at the end), but rather who is remembered, how they are remembered, and who is forgotten. It's very poignant to see who and what is lost.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The ending left me with chills. I also listened to the first part of the story over and over again because it is so well crafted.


    If you could take any character from The Stranger's Child out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I adored Daphne, but would probably take Cecil out to dinner just to see what kind of mischief he would get himself into.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a beautifully written book. The author really knows his craft. The pace is set on slow burn. The book isn't about exposing one shocking revelation after another, but rather about how things are revealed and chosen to be remembered. You know that feeling when you finish a story and wish there was more? When you can't start anything else because what you just read was so good? When the story's over, but it still hangs like a veil over your daily life? That's where I am right now, after completing The Stranger's Child. It's definitely something I will listen to again.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Interview with the Vampire

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Anne Rice
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (973)
    Performance
    (783)
    Story
    (789)

    Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force - a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write. From the Paperback edition.

    James says: "Compelling, Simon Vance does it again!"
    "A Pleasant Journey Back..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Interview with the Vampire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I read the book over a decade ago and had forgotten how good it was. I'm a working mom and usually the only chance I get to listen to books is when I'm doing other things (cooking, watching my son at soccer practice, etc.). This book was very easy to listen to while I was doing other things. I don't mean that as an insult. It was so well written that I could glide between it and other things with ease. It was a pleasure to listen to.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The lyrical prose and soft narration.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I haven't. I enjoyed his performance. I agree that he does get a little "Bela Lugosi" at times, but I think it's pretty darn challenging to get an American accent with a native born French twist in it. As an American, his American accent was very poor, but forgivable, since it was rarely used in the story. I can't say what he did was perfect, but it was VERY VERY good.


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

    This book didn't make me laugh or cry, but it definitely reignited my interest in Anne Rice. Like other critics have pointed out, the dialogue does tend to get bloated with philosophical ruminations, but the writing is so soft and lyrical, that the shortcomings are easily forgiven. I will definitely get the other books in the series with Simon Vance as the narrator.


    Any additional comments?

    When a book really grabs me, I love to look up its publishing history. I couldn't believe that this title was originally released in 1976. I somehow had it filed away in my brain as a 90s novel. This book is well over 25 years old and does not feel dated. The author definitely deserves credit for its timelessness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • East

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Edith Pattou
    • Narrated By Lee Adams, Robertson Dean, Kirby Heyborne, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Rose is the youngest of seven children, meant to replace her dead sister. Maybe because of that, she’s never really fit in. She’s always felt different, out of place, a restless wanderer in a family of homebodies. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with it—in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family—she readily agrees.

    Here-and-faraway says: "Frmom an East of the Sun, West of the Moon Fan"
    "Frmom an East of the Sun, West of the Moon Fan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up East in three words, what would they be?

    A fun twist


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Troll Queen - everybody loves a good villain and boy she was one. Her narrator was also fantastic.


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

    About five characters narrate the story and each has its own voice actor. The cast was very good.


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

    How far would you go to right a wrong? How far would you go, for love?


    Any additional comments?

    I loved the "original" story of East of the Sun, West of the Moon when I was a little girl. Although the author kept the spirit and skeleton of the story, she gave the tale her own unique spin. I'm an adult and I rarely read books written for teenagers, but this one held my interest. The author did a great job giving each character their own voice and personality. It was enjoyable seeing the story from different points of view. I was a bit surprised by some of the choices the writer made, but it's fun to read a book that isn't predictable. I would recommend this title to fans of the original and to people who love stories with a fairy tale feel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Crown

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Nancy Bilyeau
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (164)
    Performance
    (141)
    Story
    (141)

    In this debut historical thriller, an aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father’s life and preserve all she holds dear. When novitiate nun Joanna Stafford learns her rebel cousin is condemned by King Henry VIII to be burned at the stake, she makes the decision to break the sacred rule of enclosure and flee her Dominican order in Dartford to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, Sir Richard Stafford, is sent to the Tower of London.

    Karen Holbrook says: "A real page turner!"
    "Is There a Sequel in the Works?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Crown the most enjoyable?

    The narrator did an excellent job. The story started out a bit slow for me, but once it got rolling, it held my interest. Generally I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I enjoyed this novel. It has a strong sense of time and place and interesting and likeable characters.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I liked Brother Edmund's complex and secretive nature.


    What does Nicola Barber bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    She's a first rate narrator. She really helped pull me into the story.


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

    There were so many places where I thought the author was going to go down a predictable path and I was happy to be proven wrong. There are a lot of fun and surprising twists.


    Any additional comments?

    While I wouldn't say the story had a cliff-hanger ending, it didn't feel complete. I'm guessing there is a sequel in the works. I tend to avoid series unless I know they are already completed. I AM looking forward to the next novel, but I don't know when and if it will be released.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Make Way for Ducklings

    • UNABRIDGED (10 mins)
    • By Robert McCloskey
    • Narrated By Melba Sibrel
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (21)

    Starting and ending with adorable ducklings, this 60-year old story is still as charming today as it was when Viking first published it in 1941. A true classic, Make Way for Ducklings is sure to win yet another generation of fans!

    Here-and-faraway says: "What My 5 Year Old Thinks..."
    "What My 5 Year Old Thinks..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    My five year old would recommend this to his friends. He loves listening to it in the car.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Make Way for Ducklings?

    My son loves hearing the names of all of the ducks. That's his favorite part.


    Any additional comments?

    If your child likes the original book then he/she will more than likely enjoy listening to this in the car. The narrator, sound quality, and production are solid.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Nude

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Ellis Avery
    • Narrated By Thérèse Plummer, Barbara Caruso
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    Paris, 1927, a day in July. A destitute young American named Rafaela Fano gets into the car of a dazzling stranger, the Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka. Struggling to halt a downward slide toward prostitution, Rafaela agrees to model for the artist. The relationship between the artist and her muse lasted less than a year, yet in 1980, just before Tamara died, she was working on a copy of Beautiful Rafaela. Author Ellis Avery imagines their affair from Rafaela’s point of view, and the final day of Tamara’s life from the painter’s point of view.

    Here-and-faraway says: "A Good Read"
    "A Good Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Last Nude again? Why?

    Maybe in a few years because of its poetic writing and strong narration.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The narration hooked and held me in. The story's protagonist, Rafaela, is a complex and sympathetic character. While I wanted the best for her, she enters into what looks like doomed romance. I kept listening to find out what would happen to her. Would she find true love or end up with a broken heart?

    The story itself, while very good, is not excellent. The villains are a little too campy for my taste. Rafaela (the protagonist) and the audiobook narrators do an excellent job holding the story together. Ellis Avery (the author) has a gift for descriptive writing.


    What does Th??r??se Plummer and Barbara Caruso bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration is what sucked me in. Brilliantly done.


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

    I wouldn't quite call the book a


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Among Others

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Jo Walton
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (692)
    Performance
    (598)
    Story
    (597)

    Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

    Eoin says: "Subtle Character Piece"
    "Great Start, Weak Finish"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like a lot about this book: the vivid characters, the strong narration, and enchanted settings. Jo Walton does a fantastic job creating a captivating world that's filled with characters who seem alive. She deftly builds up the plot, but the book's climax felt rushed and flat - like the author didn't know how to end it.

    Among Others was an easy listen and I looked forward to hearing it everyday. I'm not a science fiction fan, but even though there are multiple references to scifi titles it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. I'm guessing fans of the science fiction genre would appreciate the extra layer, but the book is enjoyable enough if you aren't.



    22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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