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Julie

San Jose, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

14
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 44 ratings
  • 235 titles in library
  • 36 purchased in 2014
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  • Navigating Early

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Clare Vanderpool
    • Narrated By Robbie Daymond, Mark Bramhall, Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (55)

    At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother's death and placed in a boy's boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains. Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can't help being drawn to Early, who won't believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war.

    Julie says: "Great Character Study"
    "Great Character Study"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like coming of age stories and this one was very good. The picaresque elements are satisfying as the two engaging main characters search for important answers. The fairly obvious allegorical use of the Pi story makes an interesting background, and I really enjoyed Mark Bramhall's reading of those elements. I think this would make an excellent vehicle for teaching the novel to the middle-school grades.

    1 of 1 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
    (3115)
    Performance
    (2909)
    Story
    (2898)

    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.

    Nicole K. says: "Good but flawed."
    "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
    (3880)
    Performance
    (3623)
    Story
    (3613)

    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
    (303)
    Performance
    (141)
    Story
    (144)

    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
  • Twelve Years a Slave

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Solomon Northup
    • Narrated By Louis Gossett, Jr.
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1135)
    Performance
    (1015)
    Story
    (1015)

    In this riveting landmark autobiography, which reads like a novel, Academy Award and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr., masterfully transports us to 1840s New York; Washington, D.C.; and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and 12 years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War.

    Fran H. Willingham says: "I've waited for this a long time"
    "Excellent book, well read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an excellent, first-hand account of slavery in the American south written by a man who was kidnapped from his home in New York State and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Solomon Northup's story is a heartrending story of a man's patient fight for survival and freedom. Even his fair portrayal of 2 kind masters cannot balance the years he suffers in unrelenting, back-breaking labor, the unfathomable cruelty and unbelievable brutality of several of his masters, and his constant deep longing for freedom and his family. Louis Gossett, Jr.'s narration is as expert as you would expect. It is not a "performance" read, which I think works well with a first-person point of view.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Rita Leganski
    • Narrated By Maggi-Meg Reed
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (35)

    Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows that Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance - a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound.

    RueRue says: "Unusual story, wrong narrator"
    "A darling, lyrical gem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I LOVE this book. It is a darling lyrical gem of beautiful language and gentle philosophy about how the characters deal with the currents in their lives. I remember thinking that the author must have had so much fun coming up with images for the things Bonaventure could hear. I am so glad I listened to the audible version; the narrator, Maggi-Meg Reed, was perfect and found distinct voices for the characters. I wish they had cast her to read the Hunger Games trilogy. I am adding this one to my favorites list and will look for more from Ms Leganski.

    One of the themes in this book is forgiveness, a favorite topic of mine. I especially like this passage, which comes toward the end of the book: "The words fell all around her then like a kind and curing rain: Father, forgive them; they know not what they do. Right there and then, Letice Arrow knew in absolute clarity that forgiveness is unconditional; it is complete in and of itself and always rises above the facts."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lost Horizon

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By James Hilton
    • Narrated By Michael de Morgan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (128)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (98)

    Celebrating the 70th anniversary of this magical and well-loved classic. Following a plane crash, Conway, a British consul; his deputy; a missionary; and an American financier find themselves in the enigmatic snow-capped mountains of uncharted Tibet. Here they discover a seemingly perfect hidden community where they are welcomed with gracious hospitality. Intrigued by its mystery, the travelers set about discovering the secret hidden at the shimmering heart of Shangri-La.

    Julie says: "Amazingly wonderful, a new favorite!"
    "Amazingly wonderful, a new favorite!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I knew about this book but had never read it, and I haven't seen the movie. I knew it involved a mystical place called Shangri-La, but that was it. I listened to the audible version, and enjoyed it very much. It's set post-WWI, an era I am drawn to, mostly because my grandfather served with the army in France. I wish I knew more about his experience, but he would never talk about it, even to my father.

    Lost Horizon features an interesting narrative structure in that the story is mostly told third hand by a neurologist who hears the story from a novelist (Rutherford) who got the story from the main character, Hugh "Glory" Conway. Rutherford discovers Conway (whose remarkable personal, academic, and athletic qualities create an indelible impression on everyone he meets) in a mission hospital in China. Conway originally is suffering from amnesia, but when he regains his memories, he tells his story to Rutherford, who writes it down and gives it to the narrator. Then Conway disappears. The novel's epilogue leaves an interesting question in the mind of the reader, and I have my own preferred "answer."

    When Conway and three companions are being evacuated from India during a revolution, their plane is hijacked and crashes in the mountains to the west of Tibet. The pilot dies, but the party is rescued and escorted to a lamasery, Shangri-La. I don't want to give away more of the plot, because it is so wonderful to discover it for the first time. I think I might have wanted to stay in Shangri-La, were I given the chance. I just love the philosophy of the monks: moderation. Nothing is particularly right or wrong, so there's little need for a crime-punishment mentality, which really bothers two of the kidnapped hostages. In my opinion, the treatment of time at the lamasery is the most fascinating aspect of Hilton's imagination -- especially in contrast with the experiences of people who survived WWI, escaped from a violent revolution, and lived through a plane crash -- and is the most remarkable feature of this novel.

    The reader of the audible book is fine, but it's not really a "performance" narration. It suited me, even though I did not like the voice given to Miss Brinklow -- one of the kidnapped evacuees. Other voices were subtly distinct and not distracting.

    I'm currently reading Hilton's book, Random Harvest, and am enjoying the similarities in the themes and characterizations. I especially like the material regarding the impact of WWI on the individuals who fought in the trenches and the way society dealt with the returning veterans.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman in White

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Wilkie Collins
    • Narrated By Josephine Bailey, Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1083)
    Performance
    (881)
    Story
    (883)

    One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White was a phenomenal best seller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Charles Dickens. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall audiences today.

    David says: "Gripping novel, excellent production"
    "Juicy Gothic mystery!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book and, even though I thought the readers were ok (I didn't really like the voice of Marion, and thought it almost sounded computer-generated at first), I really loved the whole thing. Some of the characters, especially Marion and the sinister Count Fosco, are just amazingly well portrayed. Poor Laura Fairlie, the central figure in the story, is just lovely, but frail and pale, and allows herself to be married to a creepy guy whose single-minded interest in her fortune becomes very clear before the wedding. Percival Glide, is SO easy to hate. The mystery of the woman in white and all the strands of the twisted plot are woven together a bit at a time. The keys to the mystery become revealed towards the end.

    The main narrator is Walter Hartley, a drawing master who falls in love with lovely Laura at first sight. But Laura is betrothed to Percival, a Baronet, in an arrangement made by her father before he died. Laura and her half-sister Marion live at Limeridge at the sufferance of their uncle Frederick Fairlie. Now there's a character! He is a petulant invalid who misuses his servants ("right now, he (the valet) is a drawing stand") and claims his nervous weakness as an excuse to selfishly disregard his niece Laura's situation, even when the family attorney tells him specifically that it's a startlingly poor deal. The reader has Fairlie's weak whiny quavering voice to perfection! Later, Walter refers to Uncle Fairlie's communications, but spoken and written, as "insolent politeness."

    There are many other wonderful characters and terrific twists and turns in the plot. I was just a bit disappointed in the "easy" ending. I would have liked to know more about how it all came about, although the irony of the ending was rather satisfying.

    Evidently, Mr. Collins gave Charles Dickens a run for his money back in the day. This novel is Gothic and juicy and wonderful. If you think you might not enjoy reading the sometimes convoluted Victorian narrative style, consider the audible version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Alan Bradley
    • Narrated By Jayne Entwistle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (742)
    Performance
    (508)
    Story
    (510)

    Flavia de Luce is a dangerously brilliant 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.

    L says: "delightful!"
    "Better Ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Once again, Jayne Entwistle brings Miss Flavia de Luce to life in the second book. The ending to this story did not disappoint me. It was much different than the first. If the author had used the same technique as he did in the first book, I would not be looking forward to listening to the next. As a sequel, this book provides another very interesting mystery and advances our knowledge and understanding of the de Luce family and their friends with character development and back story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Alan Bradley
    • Narrated By Jayne Entwistle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1624)
    Performance
    (1083)
    Story
    (1086)

    It is the summer of 1950 and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

    Midi says: "Terrific story...spot-on narration"
    "Wonderful story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book and loved it. The main character, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, is very interesting and entertaining without being too sweet at all. She's very intelligent and clever, but not too clever -- she needs help in solving the mystery she faces. I was a bit disappointed in the ending. It seemed way too contrived and easy as a method for wrapping up the mystery. I am hoping that the author uses a more plot-oriented (rather than narrative) ending in the second book.

    The reader, Jayne Entwistle, is wonderful. Her voicing of Flavia, the first person narrator, seems perfect to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Woodcutter

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Kate Danley
    • Narrated By Sarah Coomes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (209)
    Performance
    (196)
    Story
    (195)

    Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity. The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown. But quickly he finds that one murdered maiden is not the only nefarious mystery afoot....

    Charles says: "Pointless."
    "Fairy Tale Noir"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this book interesting enough to finish, so I gave it 3 stars. I like fantasy and mythology and enjoyed the weaving of traditional fairy tale characters into this mystery in which the Woodcutter plays detective, judge, and executioner based on an eternal agreement between him (and his paternal ancestors) and the Fay, the trees, and the earth. A subtle religious undertone erupts at the very end. The power of the earth, trees, and magic should have been sufficient to effect the happily-ever-after ending without invoking a resurrection. However, regardless of the plot, thematic, narrative flaws, it was the reading that was the worst aspect. This was truly a story to be read aloud, but the characters' voices, especially the woodcutter's, were forced and irritating.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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