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Lincoln, NE, United States | Member Since 2006

  • 2 reviews
  • 16 ratings
  • 253 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2014

  • Big Brother: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Lionel Shriver
    • Narrated By Alice Rosengard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at the airport, she doesn't recognize him. In the four years since the siblings last saw each other, he has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? Imposing himself on Pandora's world, Edison breaks her husband Fletcher's handcrafted furniture, and entices her stepson to drop out of high school. After the brother-in-law has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: It's him or me.

    Jacqueline says: "Well worth the credit--"
    "Interesting story idea, but lack of realism grates"
    What would have made Big Brother better?

    The premise of the story told in Big Brother sounded very interesting to me. A woman risks losing everything to help her obese brother lose weight. But the ridiculousness of the details...from last names like "Halfdanarson" and "Appaloosa" (seroiusly--even though it's a stage name?) to a jazz pianist who put the words "man," "cats" and "dig?" into every sentence....really soured the whole story for me. It was a good premise that ended up falling flat because it lost its realism for me and became very stilted. I couldn't focus on the story because those things grated on me so much.

    At the point that Pandora, the lead character, takes her obese brother Edison under her wing, I was also amazed by the idea that the two could just cold-turkey diet on protein powder drinks of a mere 500 calories or so a day. No exercise, God forbid. I kept wondering to myself...what does Pandora think that Edison is going to do once she helps him lose this weight? He won't have learned a thing because no one has taught him the importance of moderation and exercise. It just seemed so implausible to me.

    And then...there were the preachy sections that were inserted into the story. Long diatribes about obesity and food that seemingly came out of nowhere. Talk about interrupting the story's flow.

    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I think that Shriver needed to add a dose of realism to this story. I understand that she lost a brother due to complications of obesity, so it does surprise me that this book had so many unrealistic elements. Also, she needs to omit the long-winded speeches about food and obesity. I understand this was probably a cathartic exercise for her, but it didn't do the book any favors.

    What three words best describe Alice Rosengard’s performance?

    The narrator's performance was decent. I wouldn't say it was the best or the worst that I've ever read.

    What character would you cut from Big Brother?

    I don't think I would cut any characters from the book, as they all have their place in the story. However, Pandora's character was not very sympathetic. She goes from doormat to suddenly moving out of her house to live with her brother, risking her marriage--something she's tiptoed around for quite some time. And then Edison....I found myself wanting to kick him. I had a really hard time feeling sorry for someone who was so self-centered, even if he was grossly overweight.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Kitchen House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kathleen Grissom
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

    B.J. says: "Good, but with reservations"
    "Great, but the ending seemed rushed"

    I don't think of myself as a huge fan of historical fiction, but this book was really great. I agree that if you liked "The Help," you will also enjoy this book. The only flaw I could see was that the last few chapters seemed very rushed, without the tremendous attention to detail and character development typical of the vast majority of the novel. I still give it a big thumbs up! Unlike some historical fiction, the characters were so well drawn out that it was easy to relate to them even when living in an entirely different time. You understood their motivations, their hopes and their dreams. I will listen to this book again, I am certain!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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