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Julie

San Jose, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

14
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 31 reviews
  • 53 ratings
  • 264 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2015
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  • Cloud Atlas

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By David Mitchell
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Kim Mai Guest, and others
    Overall
    (3586)
    Performance
    (2735)
    Story
    (2748)

    A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation: the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history.

    Elizabeth says: "thoroughly enjoyed"
    "Challenging, but worth it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to Cloud Atlas and think it's a 5-star book with 5-star narration. That said, I don't think it's likely to please everyone. In fact, now I need to read the book to put some things together that went by too quickly in the spoken version. The novel is structured as a series of loosely related stories, which start, are interrupted, and then conclude. The characters are very interesting, and some appear more than once. My favorite character is Zachry, an islander living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Some of the characters/stories are a little tiresome. For me, those are the Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish and Letters from Zedelghem. A movie adaptation is supposed to be released in late October this year.

    You might want to read the wiki article for a non-spoiler roadmap before you tackle this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Confederacy of Dunces

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By John Kennedy Toole
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2281)
    Performance
    (1266)
    Story
    (1273)

    The hero of John Kennedy Toole's incomparable, Pulitzer Prize-winning comic classic is one Ignatius J. Reilly, "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter". His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures.

    Jon says: "Well Done"
    "Not my favorite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Oh.My.GOD!! I finished it -- mostly because the reader was excellent. Halfway through, I had to talk with my husband about this book; he loved it and highly recommended it. My cousin Lisa ranks this among her favorites, and she's really smart, well educated, hip, talented, etc., etc. I can recognize the genius in the writer -- his creativity and skill is undeniable; it won a PULITZER, fer cryin' out loud.

    However, I have an underdeveloped sense of humor; I've suspected it for a while, and now I'm certain. I did not find much about the book to be amusing, although I do admit to laughing a few times. Ignatius J. Riley is the most unlikeable creature I believe I've ever run across, and he is just the worst (ok, the far worst) of an entire cast of unlikeables.

    I usually rank books based on how well I enjoy them; however, in this case, three stars is in recognition of the author's accomplishment and the narrator's skill (except one minor character who was supposed to be Latina sounded Asian). Now I can check this title off that list of 100 books you're supposed to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: Flavia de Luce, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Alan Bradley
    • Narrated By Jayne Entwistle
    Overall
    (465)
    Performance
    (404)
    Story
    (403)

    Flavia de Luce - "part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (The New York Times Book Review) - takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times best-selling author Alan Bradley.

    Tomgotsue says: "A little disappointing"
    "Flavia in Canada"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It was wonderful visiting Flavia again. I was a little disappointed in the ending; I don't like it when someone else has to explain (or partially explain) the solution to the mystery. I can't say too much, because I don't want to spoil it for other readers. I think this episode in Canada starts to move Flavia out of childhood and helps establish her connection and attachment to her family. Her confusion and dismay over her loosening grip on her emotions, due to shifting hormones and homesickness, is very endearing. At this point, I am so fond of Flavia that I don't consider myself an objective reviewer, and I certainly hope that Ms Entwistle will continue to read these books as long as Mr. Bradley keeps writing them. I'm looking forward to the next.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Oliver Sacks
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (116)

    To these seven narratives of neurological disorder Dr. Sacks brings the same humanity, poetic observation, and infectious sense of wonder that are apparent in his bestsellers Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. These men, women, and one extraordinary child emerge as brilliantly adaptive personalities, whose conditions have not so much debilitated them as ushered them into another reality.

    Jeff says: "SACKS IS AN ABSOLUTE JOY !!"
    "Enlightening and Inspiring"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really like listening to Oliver Sack's books; the narrators help bring the anecdotes to life and present the drier explanations of neurological anatomy and science clearly (and allow me to drift a bit, without completely skipping material which is fascinating, but fairly difficult).

    This book focuses on the inspiring abilities of several individuals to live with and positively leverage potentially debilitating neurological disorders. While I've seen other material about Temple Grandin and Steven Wiltshire, I really appreciated the more in-depth and intimate information about how they and the other "Martians" in this book live, apply their exceptional talents, and face the existential challenge of being so very different in a society where "difference" is not understood, accommodated, or accepted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28717)
    Performance
    (25358)
    Story
    (25430)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "Not my cup of tea"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not my cup of tea; two stars because I finished it. I prefer books where I find at least one character, hopefully the protagonist, likeable in some way, and this book is entirely devoid of that. It's well written and cleverly structured, and the narrators were fine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Forgotten Garden

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5761)
    Performance
    (3469)
    Story
    (3514)

    Thirty-eight year old Cassandra is lost, alone, and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident 10 years ago, feels like she has lost everything known and dear to her.

    Robert says: "Six stars if I could"
    "How fairy tales work"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book, read by Caroline Lee, and loved it from the beginning all the way to the end. I could hardly stop listening to it, but didn't really want it to end. It's a wonderful story about how a woman (Nell) and then her granddaughter (Cassandra) researches Nell's family history. Back-story elements are woven throughout, but the plot lines are well structured and indicated by location and date. I enjoyed the gothic Victorian elements: invalids, orphans, and villains (oh my). A couple elements seemed to be underdeveloped, but I don't want to say more and spoil the mystery for anyone else. The book is romantic in a general way, but it is not a "romance" novel. I think of it as a wonderful fairy tale woven into a modern search for family and identity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neverwhere [Adaptation]

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Christopher Lee, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and others
    Overall
    (2276)
    Performance
    (2135)
    Story
    (2132)

    A BBC Radio six-part adaptation of Neil Gaiman's best-selling novel, starring James McAvoy as Richard and Natalie Dormer as Door. Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere....

    Gayle says: "Superb"
    "Great story, cast of readers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed the audible production of this surreal story about an alternate universe under the streets of London. Richard Mayhew's good deed takes him, reluctantly, into an adventure where he is thrust from fearful mediocrity into the role of hero. The ensemble of readers helps the story come to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • White Doves at Morning

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (44)

    In a startling departure, James Lee Burke has written an epic story of love, hate, and survival set against the tumultuous background of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Booklist calls White Doves "an epic filmed in tight focus, taking us from secession to Reconstruction at an intensely personal level."

    Justin says: "not his best"
    "Good Civil War Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a really good novel about the Civil War, focusing on the effects of the war on the characters. I really liked the complexity of the characters, who were, for the most part, well developed, interesting, and responding according to their personal backgrounds and motives. The usual, lower-level Civil-War villains tended to be flatter and a bit stereotypical, but this did not detract from the plot -- at least for me. Definitely well read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of Life: All Souls, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4277)
    Performance
    (3919)
    Story
    (3911)

    After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness's enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew's ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches - with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

    dmey says: "Story: Eh....; Narrator: NOT a fan!"
    "Hoping for more..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved it, and it seems like the author left an opening for further adventures, but I won't hold my breath. I did find myself less happy with the reader. I thought the narration was a bit too whispery and almost kind of sing-songy, but not so much that I could stop listening for very long. The images and descriptions, especially involving Diana's transformation (a teaser, not a spoiler) made me hope for a movie or a really well-done graphic novel.

    I especially like, in all the books, the use of rural central New York State as one of the settings. I grew up near there and just love the Bouckville/Madison Antique Fair.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood: Outlander, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5169)
    Performance
    (4805)
    Story
    (4794)

    Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to 1743 Scotland, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for a young soldier, James Fraser.

    G. House Sr. says: "Eloquent Fabulous Historical - Grand Continuation"
    "Worth the wait; sorry it's over"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read all the books, but it's been a bit of a stretch since the last one. I did not go back and re-read any of the previous books, but have enjoyed watching the tv program on Starz for a great way to review the beginning. In spite of the intervening years, the structure of this book helped jog my memory for most of the important events. There is, however, a fair bit of recollecting from most of the main characters. I did not find that tiresome, but I imagine that some readers might (especially those who did reread the series from the beginning).

    I would have liked to have a bit more information about the ending (no spoilers here). As the final chapters ticked by, I kept waiting for more from the secondary storyline, and I was disappointed not to have at least some sense of the details, hence the 4-star rating on the story.

    I found the weight of the hardback (signed by the author at a lecture I attended) and the size of the font a bit too uncomfortable for reading, and am very happy with the excellent narration by Davina Porter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Enchanted April

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Elizabeth von Arnim
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (313)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (154)

    This is a journey of both escape and discovery for four exquisitely different women, a month of bliss and privacy for four weary souls. Their refuge on the Italian Riviera provides the perfect backdrop for a story about the search for spiritual harmony within and without.

    Amazon Customer says: "Excellent book, excellent narrator"
    "Wonderful Details"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Enchanted April is one of my very favorite movies and I was delighted to hear all the details in the thoughts of the characters that cannot be communicated in film.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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