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Iris Pereyra

Addicted to books, but especially to audiobooks!


  • Forbidden Fantasies

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Jodie Griffin
    • Narrated By Lola Holiday
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    After 15 years of marriage, Jessica Meyers's sex life is, well, a little predictable. Her handsome husband turns her on, but missionary style once or twice a week? It just can't compare to the hot new world she discovers in the pages of erotic romances. Her fantasies fuel the fire of her desire, adding a new spark to her and Alex's lovemaking. But Jess is afraid to tell her husband what she really wants in bed - and her secrets start coming between them.

    Ebony says: "Some Things Should Stay Forbidden"
    "Pleasantly surprised for this genre & price!!"

    I wasn't expecting too much from this book considering the genre & price. I have to say that the story was surprisingly insightful, while at the same time providing some very hot scenes!!!
    Perhaps because I could relate to the main character (married to the same man for many years, looking to "spice things up" between the sheets, etc) the story sounded pretty authentic to me.
    The protagonist finds herself looking to push some new sexual boundaries, but she's afraid that her husband my react negatively and might reject her. As you might expect, he's more willing to be convinced to try new things than she realizes...
    Just a quick, short, hot story that provides some insight into what seems to be a pretty common situation for couples these days: what happens when we come to have different expectations and the consequences of not being able to properly communicate them to our partner...Cheers & Happy reading!!!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • On Immunity: An Inoculation

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Eula Biss
    • Narrated By Tamara Marston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment.

    Debbie says: "More than I Expected"
    "A Provocative Set Of Essays On Immunity"

    Eula Biss, the author of "On Immunization: An Inoculation" is the daughter of a poet and a doctor. She is herself a poet and a renowned essayist, this creates a seemingly absurd but interesting background that I think allows her to bring a unique perspective to an issue that could be otherwise tedious and dull.

    Before reading this book, I never considered that the subject of immunizations was as complex and vast as it is. But as I discovered our seemingly never ending argument about vaccines is not only a health issue, it is also a political/economic/philosophical/ theological and bio-ethical debate.

    "On Immunization: An Inoculation", provides a very comprehensive, rational and thorough research of vaccines and their history, how they are developed, why they are so controversial and why we feared them so much. Bliss's takes a nuanced approach on the issue and although she comes strongly on the side that favors the widespread use of vaccines, she seems to make a a point of being respectful of people that are on both sides of the so called "vaccination debate".

    The rise of the anti-vaccine movement in the United States, has created an unusual (and from my point of view dangerous) alliance across some extreme ideological political lines. On the left side of the spectrum, we have liberals skeptic of pharmaceuticals companies that developed, patent, manufacture and aggressively market vaccines, on the other side there are conservatives and libertarians that held a cynical view of government and its involvement in monitoring, distributing and regulating them.

    As the mother of a boy who was diagnosed with Autism at 2 1/2 years-old, I experienced a fair amount of apprehension when deciding whether or not my child should continue receiving all his immunization shots and if so, if he was to get them on the schedule recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and his pediatrician.

    It was a difficult and unnerving experience because back in 2007, there was so much to learn about the whole Autism spectrum, its causes, best treatments and whether or not we had reliable studies confirming or denying a link between the MMR (stands for Measles, Mumps & Rubella) vaccine and the outbreak of Autism we were facing.

    So I did my best to research the issue, discussed the matter with my child doctors and ultimately decided to err on the side of caution: when outweighing the risks of not being immunized vs. the non-proven risks that linked Autism to the MMR vaccine, the former was scarier than the latter.

    The book reads as a collection of essays and at it starts with Bliss's interesting connection of Greek mythology (Achilles was " made immune to injure but not to heal") and Gothic horror (Dracula demonstrates our deep fears of contagion) with the overall theme of our fears over the practice of immunization. The idea of contaminating our children with the very hazard with hope to avoid sounds indeed almost mythological.

    The author looks at our unease with immunization as a metaphor that reflect on the larger fears and anxieties we have regarding government intervention, unethical medical and pharmaceutical companies and our overall predisposition to distrusts the injection of anything that doesn't feel "natural" into our bodies. And I do believe that these fears are particularly enhanced when it comes to making decisions that affect our children.

    Bliss also makes an important moral and social argument in favor of Immunizations: vaccines protect not only those that have been immunized, but also those that for different reasons, sometimes very valid and justifiable reasons, are unable to do so. This include people with impaired immune systems, pregnant women and people that are too young or too old, to name a few.

    This was a really enlightening book to listen and read to (I bought the Kindle version of the book as well).

    Tamara Marston was a perfect choice to narrate this book. She has a pleasant voice and modulates it in a way that does not distract the listener from concentrating on the content of the book. Really a great narrator especially for Non-fiction books!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Kind Worth Killing

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Peter Swanson
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller, Karen White, Kathleen Early, and others

    On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that's going stale and his wife, Miranda, who he's sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start - he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit - a contrast that once inflamed their passion but has now become a cliché.

    Iris Pereyra says: "A Truly Masterful Psychological Suspense Novel!"
    "A Truly Masterful Psychological Suspense Novel!"

    “The Kind worth Killing” by author Peter Swanson, is full of sociopathic, vengeful and backstabbing characters. It is a highly gripping, addictive and brilliantly executed psychological suspense novel.

    The novel is told from the perspective of alternative narratives between the main characters and it truly takes you on a very twisted and wild ride. Although there’s bloodshed the author does not relishes in providing lots of gratuitous and gory details.

    One of my pet peeves is when people complain about a book because it has “unlikable characters”, I am pretty convinced that “unlikable characters” are far more interesting to read (and I am guessing write too) about. And these are truly unlikable and unreliable characters, so if you are with me on this point you are on for a treat!

    It has been mentioned that the author wrote this book to pay homage to Patricia Smith’s “Strangers on a Train”. As the story opens, our main character, Lilly Kintner, a beautiful and mysterious redhead, is in fact sitting at a terminal at Heathrow airport reading a book by Smith, although instead of the well-known classic mystery, the one she has is the lesser known “The Two Faces of January”, and she points out is “not one of her (Smith’s) best”. This is where she accidentally encounters rich businessman Ted Stevenson (he’s not quite Mr. Grey but close enough), who like Lily is on his way to Boston. Over drinks they start a conversation that would definitely not pass the “just small talk with a stranger” test.

    Thanks to a delay in their flight, the certainty that they’ll never see each other again and several Martinis, their exchange becomes much more candid. Later on during their night flight to Boston, Ted mentions that Miranda, his bohemian artist, gorgeous wife, is having an affair with Brad, their contractor and half-seriously reveals that what he’d really want to do is kill her. Rather than being shocked by this revelation, Lilly’s reaction is not only to be sympathetic to this idea but to actually offer to assist on the plotting and execution of the scheme.

    The title of the novel refers to Lily’s almost nonchalant comment that Miranda,seems like “the kind worth killing”. She rationalizes that “we are all going to die sooner or later ”so what difference does it makes “if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended”. Apparently this is all the moral support Ted needed to take this from: crazy idea in my head to let’s get together to come up with an actual plan. Really crazy!

    Although this scene sounds outrageous and farfetched, Mr. Swanson very aptly draws the psychological background, particularly for Lily, that helps the reader understand this exchange and the events that follow.
    As the connection between Ted and Lily deepens, they start planning the demise of Miranda and her lover and how to get away with it.

    The first part of the book focuses on Lily’s backstory. That includes a legacy of murder that goes back all the way to her own troubled childhood. Through the use of flashbacks, we have a chance to glimpse into her past as well as the other's characters.
    Although I don’t always enjoy how many authors use this technique, I felt that in this case, Mr. Swanson’s did a masterful job at using past narratives to provide details, previous connections and clues. At the same time, he managed to hold back enough specifics to keep you guessing on how everything is going to end.

    The 2nd part of the book delves deeper into the plotting to kill Miranda. It also adds the narrative perspective of two of the other main characters, Miranda and Brad.

    The 3rd part of the book becomes sort of a police procedural, albeit a low-key one, with a detective that although determined to find the truth, is part of a police force that seems a little bit too inept. Don’t want to give much more about the plot, but the ending was well done and I thought nicely wrapped up with a satisfying conclusion.

    I have a few minor criticisms of the novel:

    * The author has a tendency to over-explain the characters motivations to the reader, this to me felt a little redundant and unnecessary sometimes.

    * At points some of the characters (especially Miranda and Lily) sound very similar in their inner-dialogue. They both fit into the role of "femme-fattale" a little bit too neatly.

    *Perhaps this was premeditated, but at times it’s difficult to know if the author wants the reader to empathize with Lily or to loathe her. Sometimes I like a clearer moral compass in my reading. Let’s just say that I felt awkward whenever I caught myself rooting for one of the bad guys/gals (and I say this as someone that enjoy all 7 seasons of Dexter!).

    As for the comparisons with Gone Girl, which seem inevitable these days, is fair to say that yes there's a similar story structure: a marriage unraveling in front of our eyes, a female character with Sociopathic tendencies, and to a certain extend, unreliable narrators.

    But whereas Gone Girl focuses more on Amy Dunne's bitterness and sense of betrayal after Nick falls fart short of her expectations as a husband, and later on the conflicting stories as seen through their eyes, "The Kind Worth Killing" does not follows such a tight chronological timeline. It also relies not on two but three narrators. Ah and lest I forget this important detail: there's a higher body count here!.
    And as astonishing as this sounds, Lily Kintner is a much more cold-hearted, manipulative and emotional unattached figure that Anne Dunne.

    In my opinion, “The Kind worth Killing” is not a literary thriller, don’t read this book looking for beautiful, profound prose, however if you are interested in a well written tale of revenge, lust and betrayal with some intriguing psychological nuances, I would definitely recommend it.

    Contrary to the opinion of other fellow listeners, I thought that the multiple-narration on this audiobook worked really well for me.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Bryan Stevenson
    • Narrated By Bryan Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit.

    Jean says: "Thought Provoking"
    "Inspiring, Riveting & Inspirational Memoir"

    “I…believe that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth… I actually think, in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice… Ultimately, you judge the character of a society, not by how they treat their rich and the powerful and the privileged, but by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated. Because it's in that nexus that we actually begin to understand truly profound things about who we are.” –excerpt from Bryan Stevenson’s 2012 TED Talk

    Bryan Stevenson has written an extraordinary memoir in which he describes his career as a lawyer and activist. For more than 30 years, Mr. Stevenson has taken on the mantle of defending the poorest among us. On this book, he skillfully chronicles his relentless fight to raise public awareness of the biases and racism that are so embedded in the United States Justice system, a system that at times seems unable or unwilling to correct even its most glaring mistakes.

    His clients include prisoners in death row, neglected children prosecuted as adults and placed in adult prisons as well as mentally disabled people unable to receive attention to their special needs.

    This book might shock and upset you, it might even make you mad, but by the end it'll also leave you with a sense of hope and optimism, after you learn how activists like Stevenson are tirelessly working in improving and helping correct important aspects of the legal system in the United States.

    After reading some of the cases described on this memoir, it would be easy to let cynicism and bitterness set it, but as the extended title of the book suggests, this is also a story of Justice and Redemption. The author explains how in the middle of finding so many indignities and injustices, as well as plenty of obstacles and hostility towards his cause, he's also found compassionate and sympathetic people willing to help in surprising and unexpected ways.

    For a book that’s non-fiction, “Just Mercy” it’s a real page turner. It is written in simple, accessible language and although it’s categorized as a memoir, Stevenson spends little time on the book talking about himself or his background. The majority of the book is dedicated to recounting the details of some of the cases he’s been involved in throughout his career.

    The book stars in 1983, when as a 23 years-old, Harvard Law student Stevenson takes an internship at the Atlanta-based Southern Prisoners Defense Committee. It’s there where he’s first introduced to death row prisoners and these first experiences helped propelled his decision to become an advocate instead of choosing a more profitable career path.

    There’s a passage in the book where Stevenson recounts how, after recently moving to Atlanta, he was questioned by the police just for sitting in his car listening to music in front of his apartment. He actually ended up with a gun pointed to his head and was let go only after proving that this was his place of residency.

    In 1989, he moved to Alabama, a state with some of the harshest,most severe capital laws in the United States. He then founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit organization where he still serves as its Executive Director today.

    Although “Just Mercy” details more than a dozen cases, it focuses in particular on Stevenson’s fight to free Walter McMillan, an African-American man, who was falsely accused and convicted of killing Ronda Morrison, a young store clerk white woman.

    McMillan’s crime was basically having an affair with a white married woman. When the community grew impatient with the lack of developments in the case of Morrison’s death, the police found in McMillan, who was a married himself, a perfect suspect. They ignored the fact that he had not connection or knew the victim, had an alibi in the form of several people that were with him at the time of the crime, and was, the romantic affair non-withstanding, a well-liked and exemplary citizen with no criminal record.

    Ironically, these events took place in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. It’s almost poetic (in) justice. Walter McMillian’s trials and appeals took place in the 1980's and 1990's, not in the 1930’s, but one can’t help drawing parallels between Bryan and Walter and their fictional counterparts Atticus and Tom. Unlike Harper Lee’s fictional character and fortunately for McMillan, Stevenson did win the case to free him. But the road to get there was certainly a long and painful one.

    During the next few years, Stevenson and his colleagues investigated the McMillan case and, in the process exposed how corrupted authorities at every level conspired to build a false case against him.

    Here’s a sample of some of the many rules and laws that were broken in the case of McMillan:

    •McMillan was placed in death row 15 months before his trial even began.
    •Police officers coerced witnesses into fabricating false testimonies in order to build a case.
    •The Jury selection process was clearly racially discriminatory.
    •Prosecutors failed to provide defense lawyers with crucial exculpatory evidence.

    Even in the face of these new evidence, the trial Judge denied Stevenson’s motion requesting a new trial.

    It wasn't until CBS's 60 Minutes and other national news outlets called attention to the story, that the State Prosecutor decided to open his own inquiry. After re-examining the case, the investigators concluded that “There is no way that Walter McMillan killed Ronda Morrison”. Six weeks later the Alabama Appeals court reversed McMillan's conviction and shortly after dismissed all charges.

    It would be easy to dismiss the case of Walter McMillan as something of an anomaly, but as the case of McMillan unraveled throughout the book, Stevenson also exposed the disgraceful ways in which our Justice system treats minors.

    Here are some interesting facts about the execution of juvenile offenders in the US***

    •Beginning with the first in 1642, at least 366 juvenile offenders were executed. Twenty-two of these occurred during the current era (1973-2005), constituting 2.3% of the total of the 949 executions during this period.

    •Of the 38 death penalty jurisdictions in the United States (37 states and federal), 19 jurisdictions have expressly chosen a minimum age of 18, 5 jurisdictions have chosen an age 17 minimum and the other 14 death penalty jurisdictions use age 16 as the minimum age.

    •Essentially every other nation in the world has joined international agreements prohibiting the execution of juvenile offenders, with only the United States refusing to abandon its laws permitting the juvenile death penalty.

    •Roper v. Simmons was a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court held that execution for crimes committed at an age less than age 18 is prohibited by the United States Constitution.

    ***Source: “DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECUTIONS FOR JUVENILE CRIMES” by Victor L. Streib Ella and Ernest Fisher Professor of Law -Ohio Northern University-2005

    Stevenson points out how as a society, and with the help and advances in Developmental Psychology and Neurology, we have come to the understanding that kids and teens are not responsible enough to vote, drink or smoke, and yet in plenty of cases, we still allowed for the Justice System to charge minors as adults.

    In “Just Mercy”, Stevenson also chronicles the stories of many minors, some of whom are guilty of committing serious crimes, including homicide. But he makes a very convincing argument that many of these kids are themselves victims of neglectful and abusing parents, rape, mental disabilities and a lack of access to a decent education system.

    Although we have stopped the practice of putting teens in death row, the number of minors that are in jail for life due to crimes other than homicide is still staggering.

    Walter McMillan died in 2013, only 10 years after he was exonerated from death row.
    He was in bad health but as Stevenson’s remarks “He remained kind and charming until the very end, despite his increasing confusion from the advancing of dementia”.

    Stevenson is today, along with his mentor, Stephen Bright, one of the nation’s most influential and inspiring advocate against the death penalty. He and his EJI colleagues have obtained relief for over one hundred people on Alabama’s death row, and won groundbreaking Supreme Court cases restricting the imposition on juveniles of sentences of life without parole.

    Several times while reading this book, I broke down in tears, sometimes due to a deep sense of empathy with so many people that have endured so much pain for so long, the realization that probably many have died without having a chance at receiving justice, but also shame at my own ignorance and indifference to these issues.
    And yet reading this memoir gave me hope. As Stevenson’s says “No one is as bad as the worst thing they've ever done”, it is that kind of perspective that makes this such an inspiring read.

    At the end of the book, there’s a note where the author provides a link to the EJI’s web site for people that might be interested in working with or supporting his organization.

    Here is the link:

    This book is recommended for anybody who is interested and cares about Equality, Reconciliation and Racial justice in the United States.

    As a final note, Bryan Stevenson does a wonderful job at narrating his Memoir.
    It truly enhanced the experience for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Jeanette Winterson
    • Narrated By Jeanette Winterson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Jeanette Winterson’s bold and revelatory novels have established her as a major figure in world literature. This memoir is the chronicle of a life’s work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser drawer; about growing up in a north England industrial town in the 1960s and 1970s; and about the universe as a cosmic dustbin.

    glamazon says: "The Title Says It All"
    "Truly Touching & Unforgettable Memoir!!"

    I usually don't read lots of memoirs and biographies, in general I prefer fiction or non-fiction when it pertains to issues that interest me, I must say thought that this is one of the most genuine and emotional memoirs I've ever read.

    Jeannette Winterson was born in Manchester, England, and grew up in Accrington, Lacarshire, after being adopted by Constance and John William Winterson in the early 1960's.

    This book recounts her quest for her identity, origins, her (birth) mother and ultimately for love and acceptance.
    It's a different kind of memoir in that is doesn't follows a chronological structure. She jumps back and forth between different periods in her life, but to me that's one of the reasons why the book sounds so authentic, you almost feel that you are sitting down with a good friend while she is telling you her story.

    The author comes across as a clever, witty, and as a person in search for answers. At times her writing sounds urgent and almost desperate. It's feels that she's running out of time and want to explains things to you, she wants to make sure you understand her history. Which l suppose is one of the reasons why people write these type of books, I imagine that this process provides for many, some sort of satisfying and emotional closure.

    She also has a great sense of humor and it a wonderful conversationalist. Throughout the book she takes some time to explain some of the cultural, religious and political ethos of the time.

    There are also quite a few extremely funny anecdotes. I love that in the middle of such a difficult upbringing, the author has the capacity to laugh at some rather crazy circumstances.

    The center theme of the memoir is her descriptions of her very peculiar Pentecostal upbringing, and her tumultuous relationship with her adoptive mother, whom she call through most of the book "Mrs. Winterson".

    Mrs. Winterson is described as an "out of scale, larger than life" woman, who at times sounds pretty much deranged. A woman opposed to any sort of intimacy, sexual or otherwise,she casts a huge shadow on the Winterson's household, and little Jeannette doesn't feel loved by either parent. Her father is a withdrawn, simple man who has been belittled by his wife and is incapable of standing up for himself, let alone for his adoptive daughter.

    Little Jeannette is abused, both emotionally (her mother constantly alludes that in her adoption process “The Devil led us to the wrong crib”) and physically, she is beaten, left to sleep outside of the house, and pretty much left to her own devices since a very early age.

    In Mrs. Winterson's ultra fundamentalist version of Christianity, there's not room for reading secular books, so she forbids Jeannette from reading anything other than the Bible. Jeannette doesn't obeys, of course, and when Mrs. W discovers dozens of books hidden under Jeannette's matters, she burns them all. This was to me a truly disturbing passage of the book.

    Later on, Mrs. Winterson discovers that Jeannette is attracted to women and has in fact started a relationship with a girl that also attends her church, this sets in motion a series of events, including the spectacle of a 3-day exorcism performed by the pastor who tries to, to put it on contemporary terms "pray the gay away".

    When Jeannette is 16 years old, she is evicted from her home after Mrs. B discovers and 2nd girlfriend, initially she lives in her car, but shortly after she gets under a roof, when a sympathetic teacher takes pity on her and allows her to stay in her house.

    Jeannette stars reading English Literature in Prose A-Z, there's a very good public library in her town, and she's determined to read all the authors available in alphabetical order. "A book is a door,” she discovers “You open it. You step through.”

    Later on she applied “to read English at Oxford because it was the most impossible thing” she could think of; she graduates; she writes books and becomes a well known and successful author.

    The memoir then makes a big jump, and for whatever reason the author decides to take us 25 years later, when she has just broken up with her girlfriend of 6 years. This is when the book becomes more introspective, a search to connect the past with the present.
    By now, Mrs. B has passed away and Jeannette has managed to maintain an almost normal relationship with her father.

    Jeannette then begins the search for her birth mother, which is perhaps where the reader can feel a deeper sense of empathy and connection with her . She is desperate to find that final link to her past, yet she's also petrified by fear of what she might find. Who can't relate to that feeling?

    After jumping many hoops throughout the inept and insensible bureaucracy that apparently rules the adoption system in the UK (I suspect, the same is true in the US and many other Western countries), she manages to find Ann, her birth mother, makes peace with her and her decision to give Jeannette away.

    Of course, this being real life, there's not exactly a happy ending, not in the strict sense of the word anyway, so after her first meeting with Ann, she quickly comes to the painful realization that the instant connection she might have been anticipating does not come.

    I think that what saves Jeannette Winston is that she possesses both a very clever and inquisitive mind as well as an indomitable and defiant personality.

    By the end of the book, she appears to have accomplish an exorcism of her own: what stars as a detailed and painful description of the horrible mother, ends with a sense of closure and forgiveness.
    When referring to a discussion she had with Ann, she says "I notice that I hate Ann criticizing Mrs Winterson. She was a monster but she was my monster". We humans are full of contradictions, aren't we?

    Jeannette Winterson is the narrator of her memoir, I am for the most part, not a fan of authors reading their own audiobooks and I do preferred that they live this to the professionals, with that said, Winterson really did a wonderful job. Perhaps because of the 1st person narrative and her writing style is so intense, I don't imagine anybody else being able to narrate this book as well as she did.

    I truly enjoyed this wonderful book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Mohsin Hamid
    • Narrated By Satya Bhabha
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with a suspicious, and possibly armed, American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting. Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by Underwood Samson, an elite investment firm. He thrives on the energy of New York. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned.

    Vahe Kassardjian says: "Disappointed"
    "Eerie and powerful book!!"

    I seem to be reading lots of books about immigrants lately. I've had this audiobook in my shelf to read for a while now. For some reason I decided to download it this weekend and couldn't stop listening until the end.

    I also think that writing a good review about The Reluctant Fundamentalist is way above my paygrade, so I am going to use a few adjectives to describe the book and my reaction to it as best I can:

    About the book: Enigmatic, elegant, nuanced, relevant, thoughtful, bitter, powerful...

    About my reaction to it: Ambivalent, enchanted, spooked, surprised, cautious,mesmerized...

    In short, this was a very powerful read/listen....

    Satya Bhabha the narrator, was superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Family Life: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Akhil Sharma
    • Narrated By Vikas Adam

    In his highly anticipated second novel, Family Life, he delivers a story of astonishing intensity and emotional precision. We meet the Mishra family in Delhi in 1978, where eight-year-old Ajay and his older brother Birju play cricket in the streets, waiting for the day when their plane tickets will arrive and they and their mother can fly across the world and join their father in America. America to the Mishras is, indeed, everything they could have imagined and more: When automatic glass doors open before them, they feel that surely they must have been mistaken for somebody important.

    Shantanu Sharma says: "Honest and touching"
    "Profound and Moving Immigrant Family Story"

    ***Warning, this review contain spoilers*****

    For such a short read this novel was very intense and powerful. This novel is elegant and beautiful. It’s also dark and tragic, but it has its share of light and funny moments.
    Indian-American author Akhil Sharma has been described as a “supreme storyteller” and after listening to this novel I can see why. This is story about immigrants,religion and traditions, tragedy, race, and ultimately about the pursuit of happiness gone wrong.

    Family Life begins in the present moment and then flashes back .The novel is written in 1st person narrative, Ajay, the younger of two brothers, is the narrator.
    There’s not strong plot on this book, it mostly narrates events as they happen.

    At the beginning of the book I got a little confused and thought that perhaps I was listening to a memoir and not to a work of fiction. Later on I read an article that mentions that Mr. Sharma indeed wrote this book as a semi-autobiographical account of his own family experience coming to America.

    The novel follows The Mishras, an Indian family that emigrated to America in the late 1970’s.
    When we first meet the family, they are still in Delhi, waiting for their planes tickets to arrive so they can start their new lives in America.
    When they arrived in New Jersey, their father is waiting for them. At the beginning, both 8 year-old Ajay, and his older brother Birju, are amazed at what they find in their new country: elevators, doors that open automatically, they even find carpets thrilling. America is all they had expected and more.

    Our narrator Ajay is smart, and inquisitive. He can also be, stubborn and even mean sometimes. But it is in Birju, the older of the two brothers, where the family has put their expectations for a brighter future. When Birju is accepted into a prestigious high school, everything seems to be going well as this confirms their hopes that Birju is destined to do great things.

    What happens instead is that tragedy strikes when Birju hits his head diving into a pool. He is severely brain-damaged and his future is changed forever all within the span of 3 minutes. He’ll never recover and fulfil his dreams. He’ll never talk, walk or recognize anybody.
    At first 10-year old Ajay doesn’t seem to realize the gravity of the situation and he casually muses, that if Birju were dead, “I would get to be the only son.”

    After this horrible incident occurs,the dynamic of the family is completely shaken. Ajay finds himself extremely lonely as his parents, and especially his mother, is consumed with the idea that her son will somehow recovered. Besides Ajay, Mrs. Mishra is the most important character in this novel. She is a resilient, strong woman, we can sense her profound grief, and how she chooses to deal with it. She insists that Birju is in a “coma”, because she’s not ready to accept the reality that her son is brain-dead.
    She invites numerous “miracle workers” with the hope that one of them will perform a miracle and bring her lost son back. It’s heartbreaking to see her get lost and her identity in the process.

    Times passes and life for the Mishras revolves around taking care of Birju and attending and providing for his medical needs. The parents fight a lot. The father becomes an alcoholic.
    Ajay has conversations with God; he feels guilty for being the one person of the family that still seems to have luck on his side. I found these ruminations he has with God, charming, funny and authentic. He tries cajoling God into making deals to improve things for his brother and himself.

    Ajay also discovers literature, this serves as a saving grace for him in the middle of such much despair. I found the passage where he studies Hemingway’s style of writing truly wonderful and poignant.
    This novel shows how unsettling experiencing a tragedy such as this can be to any family, and how it can make any family deeply dysfunctional. But there are also beautiful moments, especially between Ajay and his mom, in which they put aside hostility and hurt and come together to take care of Birju and each other.

    I found admirable to see how the Mishras enjoyed the support of other Indian families. Their immigrant community plays an important role in helping them throughout the years.
    And of course, Ajay grows up; falls in love, applies for college, makes plans for his future. When he eventually leaves his home, he gets a chance to at least try to have a normal life.

    Ajay and his family continue to assimilate more and more into the American way of life. He becomes an investment banker and accomplishes financial success. But towards the end of the novel we see how very broken he is. At the end the question is, was the prize for his success too high? We have a strong feeling that something didn't go the way it was supposed to.

    Family Life ends when Ajay, in the present, comes to a strong, very sudden realization. As to whether or not I found the ending of the story satisfying , As to whether or not I found the ending of the novel satisfying, I believe the author put it best when he said ““to me, the book still feels undone”.

    Whether or not you are an immigrant (like me) or not, I think that many will relate with this story and the difficulties of adjusting to a new life, a new place, a new language, a new beginning. In that sense,this is a pretty universal story.

    The Narrator of the audiobook, Vikas Adam did a great job bringing this novel and all its characters to life for me. He was particularly skillful at switching between Indian and American accents, both for female & male characters, which can be quite tricky.

    1 of 2 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

    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"
    "Heart-wrenching YA but also lovely"

    I am not going to go into the whole discussion on whether or not adults should read books written about or for young adults. I think that's a very silly argument, in my view it's for everyone to decide what they want to read.
    Personally I am way past the age where I decide what to read based on what someone else thinks about it.
    Much has been said about this story so I won't bored you with details you already know.

    This story is about young love and how devastating it's to see young people dying.
    But it's also about the human spirit and our desire to be relevant and leave a mark during the short period of time we have on this earth..

    Kate Rudd is a wonderful narrator, I have several titles on my library where she's the narrator and she never disappoints....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kiss the Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Melissa Brayden
    • Narrated By Felicity Munroe

    Twenty-eight-year-old Brooklyn Campbell is having a bad day. A speeding ticket, a towed car, and a broken heel are all working against her laid-back vibe. To top it all off, her birth mother, whom she's never met, has requested contact. The only bright spot is an impromptu date with a beautiful and mysterious brunette. Jessica Lennox is what you would call a high-powered executive. She's the head of a multimillion-dollar advertising firm in New York City, and it didn't happen by accident.

    rick says: "Too Many Shortcuts"
    "Lesbian version of Mad Men!!"

    I don't expect too much from these types of romances (let's face it we buy these novels as a way to escape and a to enjoy a quick guilty pleasure), so that's why I was so pleasantly surprised when I listened to this audiobook.

    Melissa Brayden has written a charming book with two wonderful, very down to earth characters, Brooklyn & Jessica, they both come across as normal people with virtues and flaws.
    There's quite a cast of secondary characters, mostly Brooklyn's friends. They've been friends since college and they are partners on a small advertising firm. Jessica is the head of a larger firm, and this brings an interesting dynamic in which our two heroines are competing for the same clients. You can say that this is a lesbian version of Mad Men!

    Contrary to what happens to many books on this genre, this story seemed pretty plausible to me. The dialogue sounded sensible and normal, and the reactions and emotions of the characters are not at odds with their personalities. And the author was able to achieve this without making the story sound boring or too predictable.

    As with any romance novel, the main characters have lots of emotional baggage and issues that need to be resolved before they can start their happily ever after, but the story keeps you involved and overall it's is actually a pretty entertaining, well written book.

    There are also quite a few very funny scenes, there's a particular one that happens while two of the characters are at Starbucks that was hilarious!!

    Since the story involves the lives of 4 close friends, I am looking forward to what's next for the rest of the gang!!

    Felicity Munroe did a wonderful job with the narration, I don't believe that I heard previous audiobooks narrated by her but I'll make sure to see if I can find more here in Audible...

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Euphoria: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Lily King
    • Narrated By Simon Vance, Xe Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe in the territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband, Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery.

    David says: "Anthropologists in Love"
    "Euphoria is wonderful and unique!!"

    Please be aware that my review contain what could be considered spoilers!!!!

    I read somewhere that Euphoria is a novel of ideas. At its center, the novel follows three young anthropologists and the very strange romantic triangle that takes place between them in the early 1930’s during a short period of time when their lives and careers intersected along the Sepik River in New Guinea.

    Lily King based the main three characters, Nell Stone, Fenwick Schuyler & Andrew Bankson, on the lives of pioneer Anthropologist Margaret Mead and her 2nd and 3rd husbands, Reo Fortune & Gregory Bateson.
    Nell is an American, who is already well known for having published a rather controversial book called “Children of the Kirakira”, her husband Fen is an Australian, who’s very envious of his wife’s accomplishments, and Bankson is a British anthropologist who has survived a suicide attempt.

    Bankson is the main narrator, but Nell’s diary entries are intertwined as part of his narrative and somehow the author makes this work beautifully. If anything this structure enhances the suspense and sense of foreboding that are present from the beginning of the book.

    I adored the characters of Nell and Bankson. When they met, there’s an immediate connection between them, both romantically and intellectually. They seem to complement and respect each other, something that Fen is unable to provide for Nell, since he feels constantly threatened by his wife’s success.

    There are times when if sounds as if Nell believes that a relationship with Bankson could help balance her broken marriage, although I am not sure that is clear how exactly this was supposed to work. She is also obsessed with the idea of becoming a mother, so this also plays an important part of her psyche and motivations.

    Euphoria gave me the opportunity to learn a little bit about Anthropology at a time when it was an emerging science, so to me the most fascinating part of the book is to be there as new theories and ideas take form in the minds of these young scientists. When it comes to Anthropology, these people were developing theories while observing human behavior, and nothing had been written yet.
    And what a delight it is to experience the passion and dedication they show while observing these tribes with different traditions and social structures, compare to our Western way of life.

    You should know that this is not a scientific book of course, but science provides the tapestry where the novel develops, and the character’s ambitions and pursuit of fame are intrinsically tied to the story at large and its tragic conclusion.

    Euphoria’s title comes from Nell’s description of “that moment two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the place,” inevitably “followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything”. There are a couple of times in the book where Nell, Fen & Bankson, work very well together, they have these brainstorming sessions that feel so intense, it’s almost as if they are in a trance.

    So I love everything about this book, from its cover and title, to the characters, the sensual tension, the feminist undertones and its poignant portrait of a time when scientists were sort of celebrities and were much more part of pop culture. Achieving success as a scientist provided a path to glory, fame and immortality in a way that I believe no longer describes how society looks at them today (with a few exceptions of course).

    Finally I should say, that I enjoyed both narrators immensely, I believe that their performances only served to enhance the story.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Bishop's Wife

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Mette Ivie Harrison
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter

    Linda Wallheim is the mother of five grown boys and the wife of a Mormon bishop. As bishop, Kurt Wallheim is the ward's designated spiritual father, and that makes Linda the ward's unofficial mother whose days are filled with comfort visits, community service, and informal counseling. But Linda is increasingly troubled by the church's patriarchal structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in the ward.

    Jonathan says: "One Non-Misogynist Man's Opinion - Worth Reading"
    "Decent Mystery, but not entirery fullfiling..."

    This book is well written and I found the explorations and description of the Mormon culture and customs fascinating.

    A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was intrigue with the unusual setting of the story. This is the first adult novel by Mette Ivie Harrison, who apparently is already well known in the world of young adult fantasy romance.

    Linda Wallheim, who is the title character and narrator of the book, is a 50 something mother of 5 boys and the Bishop's wife. Kurt, her husband is an accountant and the Bishop of their ward(congregation).

    The book is both a mystery novel, that deals with the investigation of two murders that, at times seem pretty implausible, as well as a window into the Mormon church, its culture, doctrine, rituals and practices.

    As a mystery, the story seems to stretch far longer than necessary and the way the plot(s) develop are not in my opinion, intriguing enough to consider it a "page turner".

    Linda becomes very involved in the investigation over the mysterious disappearance of Kelly Helm, a young wife that is part of her ward after Kelly's husband pays Linda a visit. This is one of the two crime stories that are explored throughout the novel.

    There are several characters and subplots, most of which include very chauvinistic men, that are in one way or another involved in the mistreatment, abuse, rape and even killing of women. My guess is that many Mormons, particularly men, might find the book's characterization of the male genre perhaps too one-sided.

    The novel also provides lots of details into Mormon culture, traditions and rituals. These descriptions might be culturally chocking for many readers, including me. I have to acknowledge my own bias, since as a someone that was raised within a Protestant tradition, I was taught that Mormonism was a not part of what is considered "mainstream Christianity". This perception appears to be changing somehow in the last few years as more high profile Mormons become part of our culture, politics, etc. and I think this is all for the better.

    Linda herself seem to acknowledge this characterization and sometimes appears to be conflicted about her faith and they way Mormons are perceived by many in our society.
    I also appreciate the fact that the author allows this character to show doubts about her beliefs, and even once in a while show some sense of humor by acknowledging how odd some of these beliefs might appeared to someone outside of her church (Special Underwear alert!!). Personally I don't think this is unique to the Mormon faith and most of us can probably find "quirky" practices on any religion.

    Also on the positive side, the book explores important social issues that are still so relevant today and that obviously not limited to Mormon culture, such as domestic violence, rape and anti-gay sentiments.

    At times Linda can be obnoxious and very bad a reading people!, her inner dialogue through the book drove me crazy sometimes, but she is also a wonderful wife and mother, loyal friend, supportive and a generous spirit.

    Linda still aches for her(stillborn) daughter and is very emotionally affected by this loss. But now that her youngest son is about to finish high school and probably leave the nest for good, she is a middle age woman looking ahead to the next chapter on her life and perhaps finally learn how to put aside this painful chapter of her life.

    I noticed that the book is described as a "Linda Wallheim novel", which seems to suggest that this is the first book in the series.
    I haven't made up my mind yet as to whether or not I'll give the author another try but I suggest that readers that are interested in Mysteries with a different flavor might want to give this one a try.

    I should also add that Kristen Potter, the audiobook narrator did a wonderful job as usual.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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