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Barbara

Kensington, CT, USA | Member Since 2005

49
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 27 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2014
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  • On Beauty

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Zadie Smith
    • Narrated By Peter Francis James
    Overall
    (531)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (117)

    Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.

    Sarah says: "two thumbs up"
    "Dull people in a dull book"
    Overall

    This book was wonderfully read--each individual voice was distinct without being exaggerated. But the book itself was deeply disappointing: a random series of encounters among a number of cliched characters. And then it ends without having come to any sort of satisfying (or even unsatisfying) conclusion. If I'd been listening to it on CDs, I'd have thought the last one was missing.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Little Stranger

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Sarah Waters
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (374)
    Performance
    (137)
    Story
    (134)

    The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline - its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at 20 to nine.

    Barbara says: "Riding a local train"
    "Riding a local train"
    Overall

    Listening to this book reminded me of riding a train with frequent local stops. No sooner do you seem to get moving when the train halts at a station. You sit there while people get on and off the train and thing happen at the station. Eventually the train gets underway again, but in no time pulls into another station. Fifteen hours later, at a station just like all the rest, the conductor announces, "End of the line; everybody off the train!" And there you are: surprised at the journey's end, because you really haven't gotten anywhere. The writing was stellar, the characters intriguing, the setting unsettling, the narration excellent--but I think because of the frequent and apparently important interjection of apparently preternatural occurences, the ending of the book seems abrupt and unsatisfying.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Longest Trip Home

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By John Grogan
    • Narrated By John Grogan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (13)

    In the highly anticipated follow-up to Marley & Me, John Grogan again works his magic, bringing us the story of what came first. Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy growing up in a devout Catholic home outside Detroit in the 1960s and '70s. Despite his loving parents' best efforts, John's attempts to meet their expectations failed spectacularly.

    bclmb says: "As real as it gets"
    "An obnoxious ittle punk"
    Overall

    I've rarely read a memoir where I disliked the writer as much as I did with this one. He was not a "gleefully mischievous boy." He was an obnoxious little punk. Despite being raised by parents who were (by his own admission) loving, caring, nurturing and trusting, John turned out to be a chronic liar who thought nothing of stealing, vandalizing or terrorizing an elderly neighbor. He was drinking and smoking by 10; at 12 or 13, he was growing marijuana in his bedroom and in the family garden. He repeatedly betrayed his parents' trust and thought nothing of it. When he had his own children and wrote that he intended to raise them as decent moral human being, I wondered how he'd do that, since he'd shown little sign of it himself when he was a kid. As an adult, he resented is parents' difficulty in acceting his atheism; but he constantly mocked their faith. His snarky wife wouldn't even allow his parents to say grace before meals in their own home! It was considered a generous concession on her part when she finally conceded to allow them to pray at their own table. Thie whiny self-indulgent tone of the narration did nothing to improve the presentation. The best thing I can wish for him is to have kids just like himeself.

    5 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Inkdeath

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Cornelia Funke
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (453)
    Performance
    (206)
    Story
    (212)

    The Adderhead has ordered his henchmen to plunder the villages. The peasants' only defense is a band of outlaws led by the Bluejay - Mo's fictitious double, whose identity he has reluctantly adopted. But the Book of Immortality is unraveling, and the Adderhead again fears the White Women of Death. To bring the renegade Bluejay back to repair the book, the Adderhead kidnaps all the children in the kingdom, dooming them to slavery in his silver mines unless Mo surrenders.

    Derek B. says: "My most liked fiction book series ever!"
    "Too many words!"
    Overall

    I read Inkworld and listened to Inkspell, enjoying both. Alas, I found Inkdeath to be a different experience. The basic storyline is intriguing, and the book comes to a splendid conclusion, with a few nice plot twists in the end. However, the author seems to have wanted to give her readers plenty of volume in the volume, padding it with prolonged and repetitious interior monologues--lots of mental handwringing on the part of the good guys, and excessive meditations on torture and painful means of execution on the part of the villains. If one is reading the book, one can skim over all that; but as a listener I found myself getting irritated and wishing they'd just get on with it. After the wonderfully voiced narration of Inkspell by Brandon Fraser (who might be a SilverTongue himself), the ponderous tones of the current narrator only added to the tedium. This is one I think would be better read than heard.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Inkspell

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Cornelia Funke
    • Narrated By Brendan Fraser
    Overall
    (769)
    Performance
    (294)
    Story
    (296)

    Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, the book whose characters became real. But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval world of his past.

    Vanessa says: "Inkspell indeed"
    "Narration that brings you THERE"
    Overall

    I have been listening to audiobooks for several years now, and I have never heard a book so excellently rendered at this one by Brendan Fraser. The trilogy centers around the ability of certain people to read so well that they can literally bring a world to life. For me, Fraser did that. The book itself is well written with intriguing flawed characters and a relentless pace. I was disappointed that, unlike Inkheart, the first book of the series, Inkspell did not have a satisfying conclusion that left an opening for a future book; it's just a pause before the next. That's about my only gripe...other than the fact that Inkdeath has a different narrator. To me, Fraser is the voice of the Inkworld.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Off Armageddon Reef: Safehold Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By David Weber
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1217)
    Performance
    (680)
    Story
    (686)

    When Earth herself lay under siege by an enemy humankind could not defeat, mankind undertook one last throw of the dice: Operation Ark. Earth's final colonizing expedition was meant to build a new civilization, on a planet so distant even the Gbaba might never find it, and without the high-tech infrastructure whose emissions might betray its location.

    Alison says: "David Weber always good"
    "Utterly tedious!"
    Overall

    If we hadn't been trapped on a 6000 mile road trip with no other book in the audiolibrary, we never would hve finished this one. The author may have been the darling of his creative writing teacher in middle school, but he hasn't advanced beyond that. Nearly all nouns had at least two-- sometimes three--adjectives; adverbs were liberally sown through the extended sentences. One had to wonder if the inhabitants of the planet had a genetic neurologic tic disorder: they constantly shrugged, grimaced, narrowed their eyes, and performed various antics with their eyebrows. The plot was advanced (by millimeters) through lengthy conversations about planetary politics and technology. One could almost see the author outlining the movie scenario. The main characters were stereotypes--the stalwart handsome prince, the noble king, the nefarious enemies, and the invincible hero. The latter had been the only female character, but was aparently forced by circumstance to become a robo-dude. The whole trip, I kept apologizing to my husband for having picked this one.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Apex Hides the Hurt

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Colson Whitehead
    • Narrated By Peter J. Fernandez
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    A small Midwestern town is having an identity crisis: should they have a new techno-savvy name or a name honoring the freedmen who founded the town? Or is the current name just fine? They call in a professional naming consultant, famous for naming Apex bandages, guaranteed to match any skin color. But even he is losing his faith in monikers.

    Barbara says: "Dull, dull, DULL!"
    "Dull, dull, DULL!"
    Overall

    A stultifyingly tedious book only made worse by insipid narration.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Husband of Zebra Drive: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Lisette Lecat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (633)
    Performance
    (262)
    Story
    (263)

    In the life of Precious Ramotswe, a woman duly proud of her fine traditional build, there is rarely a dull moment, and in the latest installment in the universally beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, there is much happening on Zebra Drive and Tlokweng Road. Mma Ramotswe is experiencing staffing difficulties. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni asks to be put in charge of a case involving an errant husband. But can a man investigate such matters as successfully as the number-one lady detective can?

    Joanne says: "#1 Ladies continued enjoyment"
    "Return visit with friends"
    Overall

    Listening to another book from this series is like spending a few hours with good friends. The reader's authentic accent with the dialog transports me to Botswana and makes me feel like I am listening to the characters themselves. A few simple mysteries get solved, but that's not the point: the point is spending time with these kind, wonderful people.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Labyrinth

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kate Mosse
    • Narrated By Donada Peters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (553)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (137)

    July 2005. In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery: two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth; between the skeletons, a stone ring, and a small leather bag.

    Thom Dodd says: "One of my Audible favorites"
    "A tedious tome"
    Overall

    This book would seem to have been written by a breathless teenaged girl eager to please her creative writing teacher. The author follows all the rules kids are taught in writing class: use at least one simile per paragraph; always use an adjective with every noun (two or three are even better); description, description, description! Alas, while this may work well to get a good grade on a high school short story, it makes for tedious reading in a novel. The author also seems to have had the movie rights in mind. During the long explanatory conversations, she practically provides stage directions. There was one towards the end of the book where the words, "He paused," were used so often that I wished I'd though to count them.

    The parallel stories are engaging. The characters, though two-dimensional and stereotypical (the plucky heroine, the stalwart father, the evil siren, the brave but doomed leader), are fleshed out enough to hold one's interest in the story. A ruthless but sharp editor would have made a very big difference in this book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Arthur and George

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Julian Barnes
    • Narrated By Nigel Anthony
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (203)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (77)

    Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's extraordinary real-life fight for justice. Arthur and George grow up worlds and miles apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh; George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur becomes a doctor, and then a writer; George a solicitor in Birmingham. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age; George remains in hardworking obscurity.

    Barbara says: "Excellent narration"
    "Excellent narration"
    Overall

    When the story moved, it was fascinating; all too often, though, it got bogged down in exploring and re-exploring Arthur's problematic love life (or lack thereof.) Detail of place and person was so meticulous that one felt as if one were part of the novel. The narrator was among the best I have ever heard--the reading was masterful. By the time the book ended, I was so absorbed in it--largely because of the finely tuned narration--that I felt as if I were taking leave of people I really knew.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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