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Jessica

Emeryville, CA, United States

ratings
17
REVIEWS
12
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
2
HELPFUL VOTES
41

  • The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Maggie O'Farrell
    • Narrated By Anne Flosnik
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (149)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (57)

    Iris Lockhart is busy tending to the everyday business of her vintage clothing shop and her complicated love affairs when she receives a stunning phone call. Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never even knew existed, is being released from a psychiatric hospital where she has been locked away for over 60 years.

    Jessica says: "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox"
    "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox"
    Overall

    An amazing book. The many threads come together brilliantly at the end. I found the narration helpful in distinguishing the character's voices; unlike the previous reviewer, I felt that each voice was distinct. Of course, since the printed version supplies no such clues, it puts us a little ahead of the game. The language is both precise and beautiful, the characters fascinating, and the end result stunning.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7389)
    Performance
    (6776)
    Story
    (6781)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "One ruinous moment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was bedazzled and enchanted by this novel, and I enjoyed the fairly low-key narration of the audiobook. I have no need to repeat what knowledgeable reviewers have said regarding the quality and impact of The Goldfinch. I do have a personal comment on just one thing, and it has to do with the production, not the book itself: After immersing myself completely in the 32 hours of its reading, allowing the author's craft to lead me along, inch by inch, to the very moving conclusion, my savoring of the last words was shattered by the sudden intrusion of a ridiculous crescendo of music, as though, after all that brilliant writing, I needed help "feeling" the book. What an insult to the art of writing and the intelligence and sensitivity of the reader! I'm going to be wandering into a local bookstore soon just to read those last words to myself, in silence, free from the influence of any marketing expert's ill-conceived attempt to program my reactions to them. Audible, feel free to be frivolous with frivolous books, but please, let serious works of fiction stand on their merits; they need no heavy-handed assistance in performing their magic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lovers

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Vendela Vida
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Twenty-eight years ago, Peter and Yvonne honeymooned in the beautiful coastal village of DatÇa, Turkey. Now Yvonne is a widow, her twin children grown. Hoping to immerse herself in memories of a happier time—as well as sand and sea—Yvonne returns to DatÇa. But her plans for a restorative week in Turkey are quickly complicated. Instead of comforting her, her memories begin to trouble her.

    Jessica says: "A quiet novel that lingers"
    "A quiet novel that lingers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What can we learn from a widow who, in late middle age, decides to vacation where she had her honeymoon many years before? Something about how our perceptions shape our beliefs and how we carry past family problems deep within ourselves, using them as a filter against current realities.

    The pace is easy and gentle, kind to the protagonist, but the novel pulls no punches when it's time to make a point. It's old-fashioned in a way, I suppose, resembling the way people "used to" write novels. I'm all for literary invention, but sometimes I just want to read a story that starts at the beginning and ends at the end, and this is a good one.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Maria Semple
    • Narrated By Kathleen Wilhoite
    Overall
    (2270)
    Performance
    (2035)
    Story
    (2034)

    Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

    Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle - and people in general - has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands.

    S says: "One of my top 10 listens of the year!"
    "Improbable but funny"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's a bit of a silly story--sort of young teen fiction of the sort that existed before such books became so, well, adult--but a few of the scenes were so funny I laughed out loud. I guess I expected a bit of depth to this novel, given the amount of positive attention it's received, but I found none to speak of. Still, any novel that can bring us laughter while the world is in the mess it is has great value: it gives us breathing space.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By David Suchet
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (100)

    Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks in the middle of Yugoslavia. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for this time of year. But by morning there is one passenger less. A "respectable American gentleman" lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.... Hercule Poirot is also aboard, having arrived in the nick of time to claim a second-class compartment - and the most astounding case of his illustrious career.

    Jessica says: "An exquisite mystery"
    "An exquisite mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book was as satisfying now as it was back in the '60s, when I first read it. Even though I knew how it ended, it was a joy to be immersed in its tangled threads and Monsieur Poirot's elegant untangling of them. If you long for an entertaining and absorbing mystery with lively characters and without explicit sex or gratuitous violence, I recommend you start here. Ms. Christie has a lot to offer in this and in her numerous other mysteries. Don't worry about her work being dated; she understands human nature, and that stays constant across the generations.

    David Suchet gives us Poirot incarnate.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Nemesis

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By Rosalind Ayres
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (38)

    The sharp-witted spinster sleuth Miss Marple, living a quiet life in St. Mary Mead, is saddened to hear of the death of Jason Rafiel. She is greatly surprised by a summons to the dead man's solicitor, where she receives a bizarre challenge in the form of a posthumous letter. According to Mr. Rafiel, a crime has been committed. But what crime, and who was involved? Left literally without a clue, can the ever-observant Miss Marple succeed in solving the most impossible case of her life?

    Jessica says: "Another great Christie mystery"
    "Another great Christie mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a perfect reading of a clever and entertaining mystery. It's just what one expects from Christie--sly observations, the scattering of fair-play clues and red herrings, and the presence of Miss Marple, whose fluffy white hair and pink knitted wrap conceal a razor-sharp brain. I'm revisiting all of Christie after many years away, and I couldn't be happier.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 4:50 from Paddington: A Miss Marple Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By Joan Hickson
    Overall
    (169)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    For an instant, the two trains ran side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth McGillicuddy witnessed a murder. She saw the body crumple. Then the other train drew away. Everyone but Miss Jane Marple was willing to dismiss her friend's distraught report. Diligently studying train routes, timetables, and tracks, Miss Marple imagines where the body might be. Her detective genius includes playing the little-old-lady card and, ultimately, winning the challenge of wits.

    Carl Smith says: "Love Joan Hickson"
    "Impeccable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What fun to revisit Miss Marple after many decades away! Agatha Christie's mysteries are always fair, always tricky, and always full of entertaining characters. This one is no exception. Is it for younger readers? Miss Marple would be the first to say that no matter where you are, human nature is the same. I think that must be true no matter when you live, too; some of the characters may well remind you of people you know.

    Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple in the PBS series, couldn't be a better match of narrator with the material.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Arcadia

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Lauren Groff
    • Narrated By Andrew Garman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (95)

    Lauren Groff’s acclaimed debut novel The Monsters of Templeton was short-listed for the Orange Prize. Her second novel, Arcadia opens in the late 1960s with a group of young idealists forming a commune in western New York State. Into this group is born Bit, who grows into a quiet, distant man. Over the course of 50 years, Bit witnesses the utopia crumble and the world change in unimaginable ways.

    Kathleen says: "Luscious prose, intimate and realistic"
    "Wonderful novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought this was a terrific novel--a clear story line with layers of tales under the surface. It spans decades, from the '60s to the not too distant future, and left me contemplating my own future in a new light.

    The novel is really beautifully written, the language rich enough to drown in. The characters, with their inevitable flaws, are developed sympathetically. Arcadia is the story of a boy who grows up away from the "real world," in a gigantic commune, where pot, poverty, and extravagant dreams and hopes are constants, and what happens when, inevitably, he must join the rest of the human race.

    My criterion for narration is simple: a clear, modulated voice that doesn't overpower the music of the words themselves, as the author wrote them. I had no complaints with this novel.

    I wish I had it to read over again--and of course I do, and I will!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Sense of an Ending

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Julian Barnes
    • Narrated By Richard Morant
    Overall
    (835)
    Performance
    (702)
    Story
    (697)

    Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour, and wit. Maybe Adrian was more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

    Melinda says: "'Something Happened'..."
    "Don't bug me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    'll write reviews when I feel like it. Please don't send me e-mails trying to guilt-trip me into doing work I don't necessarily want to do. I owe my opinion to no one, unless it's the author of the book I'm reading.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Gabrielle Hamilton
    • Narrated By Gabrielle Hamilton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (649)
    Performance
    (422)
    Story
    (425)

    Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Above all she sought family, particularly the thrill and the magnificence of the one from her childhood that, in her adult years, eluded her. Hamilton’s ease and comfort in a kitchen were instilled in her at an early age when her parents hosted grand parties, often for more than one hundred friends and neighbors.

    Melinda says: "A Little Prickly--But Yummy"
    "Tedious narration"
    Overall

    The story promised to be interesting. However, listening to the author read it made me feel like someone trapped, at a dinner party, next to a stranger who droned on and on. I gave up with relief after the first half of the book. It probably works better on paper; I might even have enjoyed it that way.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Changed Man

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Francine Prose
    • Narrated By Eric Conger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (13)

    Vincent Nolan, a young neo-Nazi, walks into the Manhattan office of World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights foundation headed by a charismatic Holocaust survivor, Meyer Maslow. Vincent announces that he wants to make a radical change in his life. But what is Maslow to make of this rough-looking stranger who says that his mission is to save guys like him from becoming guys like him?

    Loyd Phillips says: "A Changed Man is unpredictable"
    "A Changed man"
    Overall

    In this wonderfully crafted book, Ms. Prose manages to let us both look in, with sympathy, on her characters and look out from their eyes. I think the key to the story--and I admit it pretty much hits the reader over the head--is the duffel bag the ex-skinhead drags around with him, whether on the run or in a seemingly safe haven. We all have baggage, of course, and it always comes with us, whether we reveal it, don't reveal it, or just leave it sitting around until someone discovers it. The characters' thoughts are arrogant one moment, slipping toward humility the next, soft with love the next--ideas as bouncy, biased, and contradictory as those in our own heads. The narrator did a really good job of expressing these inner workings of the characters.

    When I had to leave the world--or should I say worlds--of Bonnie and her kids, Vincent and his cousin, and Maslow and his institution, I was left to ponder my own rationales, irrationalities, and beliefs with some tenderness. I think the novel shows us we are always changing, and we are never entirely changed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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