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Jo Ann

Berkeley, CA, USA | Member Since 2014


  • Water for Elephants

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Sara Gruen
    • Narrated By David LeDoux, John Randolph Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Some books are meant to be read; others are meant to be heard – Water for Elephants falls into the second group, and is one of the best examples we have of how a powerful performance enhances a great story. Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It's the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

    Kindle Customer says: "Great Narration!!"
    "The elephant in the room"

    Although this book has been well-received, I found it so boring that I lost interest in all the characters. About midway, I completely stopped caring about them. It seemed too contrived to me; also trite. The invisible elephant in the room for me is that this book is not worth the accolades. Plus, the elephant should have been a larger (pun intended) presence in the story.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire: The Millennium Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Stieg Larsson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered.

    David says: "irritatingly engrossing"
    "A flawed book in this fascinating series"

    I am an avid listener but I do not like intense and graphic violence. It often seems superfluous and manipulative - hyping up the emotional response. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The author has created characters and relationships that I deeply responded to and cared about. That is why I was eager to read the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire, which continues with the same fascinating cast of characters along with the violence. It also illuminates more of the background information about their lives in surprising and believable ways. However, the resolution at the end included some plot elements that were ridiculous and so incredible as to destroy much of the momentum and enjoyment of the story. I would give the ending one star, but had to rate the whole book as 3 stars because I can't say that I didn't like it. The narrator contributed greatly to my enjoyment, as well. Simon Vance is an excellent, riveting reader. So I will listen to the next book. Still, prepare to be disappointed at the end.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Barack Obama
    • Narrated By Barack Obama

    In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father, a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man, has been killed in a car accident.

    Kathryn says: "A wonderful, insightful, non-political story"
    "Profound, moving, beautifully read"

    Obama reads the book himself and he turns out to be an excellent reader. His life's story is fascinating and extremely varied; he had a remarkable range of experiences, from his boyhood in Hawaii to the ethnic enclaves and streets of Chicago, to Malaysia, to Nairobi, and further into undeveloped lands in Kenya. Though at times I found the transitions disjointed or nonexistent, his observations and comparisons between all the different places he's seen are astute, instructive, and often provocative. This recording ends with some of his most memorable political speeches. I highly recommend this book as a timely and worthwhile listen.

    2 of 3 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

    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"
    "Poignant wisdom delivered with humor"

    I enjoy every recorded book written by Alexander McCall Smith and read by Liset Lecat. Mr.(Dr.?) Smith, a teacher of medical and legal ethics at the University of Edinburgh, is brilliant at presenting complex ethical situations in the context of the small yet poignant issues of everyday life. The author and reader are a perfect match. She understands how to deliver his humor as well as the compassion and meaning embedded in the narrative of these lovable, very human characters. The mysteries that Mma Ramotzwe, the Lady Detective, are intriguing right up to the end. I never fail to laugh, to cry, and to be thoroughly engaged in this book as well as the whole series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Toru Okada is going through a difficult time. He is without a job, his cat has disappeared, and his wife is behaving strangely. Into this unbalanced world comes a variety of curious characters, a young girl sunbathing in a nearby garden; sisters who are very peculiar indeed; an old war veteran with a violent, disturbing story. Okada retreats to a deep well in a nearby house. And the story unfolds.

    Shelley says: "Bizarre"
    "Extremely worthwhile"

    I had read this book in hard copy. I enjoyed it even more listening to this audio version. The reader is brilliant, as is the novel. Be prepared for a surreal yet vivid, intriguing experience.

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • S is for Silence: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Sue Grafton
    • Narrated By Judy Kaye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Thirty-four years ago, Violet Sullivan put on her party finery and left for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. She was never seen again. In the small California town of Serena Station, tongues wagged. Some said she'd run off with a lover. Some said she was murdered by her husband.

    Amazon Customer says: "B O R I N G!!!!"
    "S is for Stereotype and sophomoric"

    I really enjoyed the earlier Kinsey Milhone books, especially in audio form. Judy Kaye is a good reader. But the characters in this episode were shallow and artificial. Violet is so typical as a sexually-irresistable vamp, and all the men fall like dominoes at her feet. She is the typical portrayal of the calculating woman with no other dimension or interest. Yet she is the catalyst of the story.
    I like graphic sexuality if it is well-integrated. Here, it just seemed gratuitous. I was quite disappointed in this book.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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