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Toby

Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

Portsmouth, NH, United States | Member Since 2010

67
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 49 reviews
  • 49 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 102 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
4

  • Note to Self

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Alina Simone
    • Narrated By Aimee Castle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Anna Krestler is adrift. The Internet has draped itself, kudzu-like, over her brain, which makes it even more difficult to confront the question of what to do when she is dismissed from her job as a cubicle serf at a midtown law firm. Despite the exhortations of Leslie, her friend and volunteer life coach, Anna seeks refuge in the back alleys of Craigslist, where she connects with Taj, an adherent of a nebulous movement known as Nowism that occupies the most self-absorbed fringes of the art world.

    Karen says: "Vapid, but the actress who read it was great"
    "Original and quirky look at social media"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Note to Self to be better than the print version?

    Given that I am legally blind, I can only listen to books.


    What other book might you compare Note to Self to and why?

    Perhaps some of the better British chick lit books, but this is not necessarily a chick lit book.


    Have you listened to any of Aimee Castle’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. I was impressed by the reader and will look for more by her.


    Who was the most memorable character of Note to Self and why?

    Anna. You just fall in love with her and want to know more. She is not a boring character.


    Any additional comments?

    I hope this author will write more and perhaps it could become a series. It is not so unlike Sophie Kinsella's shopaholic series, but the focus is on social media. Well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Courtney Maum
    • Narrated By Sam Deveraux
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to appreciate his fortune. But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne, has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life - just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair.

    Toby says: "A tremendous romp through the Paris art world"
    "A tremendous romp through the Paris art world"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is up near the top. A most enjoyable read and my short headline does not say it all as the book is clearly more than a romp through the art world of Paris.


    What other book might you compare I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You to and why?

    One other does not come readily to mind. Perhaps, along the lines of India Knight and Ian Moore.


    What does Sam Deveraux bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The reader was wonderful and never did that over-acting, shouting thing that is so annoying in some audible books.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I liked the scene where the artists videotaped his parents in the kitchen of the seaside house in England.


    Any additional comments?

    There are many levels to this novel and all work well together. I would read more by this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Death in Cyprus: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By M. M. Kaye
    • Narrated By Julia Farhat
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Twenty-year-old Amanda Derrington is on an extended cruise with her uncle when she decides to make a short trip to the sun-washed island of Cyprus. But even before the ship arrives in the port, there is a suspicious death. Once the passengers reach the island, it soon becomes clear that the death was in fact an act of murder. What Amanda had meant to be a pleasant excursion quickly takes a turn for the worse in this classic novel of suspense and romance by one of our most celebrated writers.

    Maureen says: "Timeless story, great author"
    "Now I know why I've never read this author before"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. I kept thinking it would improve and didn't have another new book on hand. The lack of descriptive prose, given this was Cyprus, was unbelievable.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    That it was set in Cyrpus. The characters, except for the southern american and the eccentric old woman, were boring and predictable.


    What three words best describe Julia Farhat’s voice?

    not too awful


    Could you see Death in Cyprus being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Given that I never watch tV because it is so banal, juvenile and boring, then yes. This would probably do nicely.


    Any additional comments?

    This read like a juvenile book. Makes some of Gerogette Heyer's romances seem positively Booker prize quality.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All Fall Down

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Jennifer Weiner
    • Narrated By Tracee Chimo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (65)

    Allison Weiss is a typical working mother, trying to balance a business, aging parents, a demanding daughter, and a marriage. But when the website she develops takes off, she finds herself challenged to the point of being completely overwhelmed. Her husband’s becoming distant, her daughter’s acting spoiled, her father is dealing with early Alzheimer’s, and her mother’s barely dealing at all.

    Michelle says: "Love Jennifer Weiner!"
    "The beginning leads one to expect a bit more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I did listen to the entire book as I have long been a fan of Jennifer Weiner. The reader was very good. That said, I felt that the last 1/3 of the book became just a tad predictable and not so interesting. The major issues of sexism, class divisiveness, etc. bode well, but then something happened. I also felt the husband was not portrayed as fully as he could have been. He wasn't developed enough as a character - or, perhaps this was the point.


    Would you recommend All Fall Down to your friends? Why or why not?

    I do not have any friends that would read this book as they tend to not read what the media continues to call "chick lit." While I do not agree with this labeling, I do understand their point. In Ms. Weiner's earlier books, the sharp humor and fast pace was very different from this book. I kept wanting a bit more and more descriptive prose.


    Which character – as performed by Tracee Chimo – was your favorite?

    I think the daughter, actually.


    Any additional comments?

    I was unhappy that I felt let down. I was sad that I felt compelled to read to the end because I had such high hopes for this book. I don't know what happened, but somehow the core got tangled. The overly long descriptions of the rehab place became tedious and repetitive.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (666)
    Performance
    (618)
    Story
    (615)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    linda says: "Cormoran Strike in London's Literary World"
    "A Sensational, quirky mystery full of character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Silkworm to be better than the print version?

    N/A as I am visually impaired and cannot read in print.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The detective and his assistant. The way they play off each other is masterful and classic of the great duo sleuths throughout time. There is always that tease of a developing romantic interest.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Difficult to say. One would be the birthday dinner party Strike's sister gives him when he shows up with an unexpected date.
    The drive when a near accident is averted ...`


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listened over the course of two days. It was riveting, but then I am a fan and loved the first book in this series.


    Any additional comments?

    The descriptive and atmospheric prose is wonderful. The portrayals of the diverse cast of characters rings true. If I had one negative to make, it would be that I skipped over the graphic descriptions of the murdered body. That was a bit too much for me.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Nantucket Sisters: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Nancy Thayer
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    When they meet as girls on a beach in Nantucket, Maggie McIntyre and Emily Porter become fast friends - though Emily’s well-heeled mother would prefer that she associate with the upscale daughters of bankers and statesmen rather than the child of a local seamstress. But the two lively, imaginative girls nevertheless spend many golden summers together building castles in the sand, creating magical worlds of their own, and forging grand plans for their future.

    Toby says: "A predictable Tale that doesn't develop much"
    "A predictable Tale that doesn't develop much"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. I bought this one because I used to live on Nantucket and wanted to hear local color, etc. I had read some of Ms. Thayer's earlier books. This one was so cliche-riddent and predictable. I felt as if it could be a young adult book. There was almost no plot twists or originality in the development.


    Has Nantucket Sisters turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I will not read any more. There are very few american women authors I find as rewarding as the British writers. I could name them for you, but anyone who reads my reviews knows who they are and what I like.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kate Rudd?

    This reader was very annoying. Her male voices, in particular, were alienating. Yet again, the male characters were so stereotypical and underdeveloped, she didn't have much to work with, did she?


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    A sadly disappointing book. I skipped about 1/4 after the half because it was already too obvious how it would end. And end as I predicted it did. Sad that the females were so darn stereotypical. The most interesting character in the book, Frances, was not given enough space. Also, almost nothing about Emily's parents.
    A letdown on most fronts, even the descriptive prose.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Susan Jane Gilman
    • Narrated By Susan Jane Gilman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street. Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck.

    Toby says: "Don't sue me! I loved every minute of this novel"
    "Don't sue me! I loved every minute of this novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Only one-third into this book, I was tweeting about it and telling friends. The story was captivating and the characters complex and interesting. Also, the historical aspects were brilliantly placed and informative.`


    What other book might you compare The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street to and why?

    Perhaps the author's earlier book, Hypocrite int he Pouffy White Dress. Her style is her own, so comparisons are a bit meaningless.


    What does Susan Jane Gilman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The early years of the immigrant in lower Manhattan and the struggles to survive, succeed and thrive -- with humor.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I never answer this question because I think a novel is a novel and a film is a film It's a silly comparison.


    Any additional comments?

    This book made me laugh, think and cry a little, too. It was so rich in detail and characterization. I wanted to be there and be a friend to Lillian. I also thought the social commentary of this period of American history was so well done and thoughtful. I can only hope that Ms. Gilman is working on her next novel. I know I'll buy it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By John Waters
    • Narrated By John Waters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (48)

    John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "I’m Not Psycho", he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?

    yolie contreras says: "Hilarious"
    "New and vintage - a romp with John Waters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. More especially if the friend is as familiar with John Waters as I am . I do not think you have to be a John Waters fan to enjoy this book, but it does add to the narrative if you are familiar with the references.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The juxtaposition of real, good and bad trips. It goes without saying that the dark humor was stellar.


    What does John Waters bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Having heard Mr. Waters before, it was almost cozy-felling to have him read his own tale. He is a good reader.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    At one point, I was lying in bed while listening to this book and began to laugh out loud. Loudly. It cracked me up as well as making me sad for the sorry state of this country.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't like the notion of a book being a summer or beach read, but if pressed -- then this one would fit that bill. Hilarious.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Susan Jane Gilman
    • Narrated By Susan Jane Gilman
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them. Best-selling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes. In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job.

    Toby says: "If only this book had NOT been abridged!"
    "If only this book had NOT been abridged!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven the most enjoyable?

    The conciseness, prose and reality. The social commentary and intense descriptive prose of some very real, but difference, characters.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven?

    I cannot narrow it down to one single moment. There were many.


    What about Susan Jane Gilman’s performance did you like?

    The easy tone and NOT over-emotionalism which is often the case with americans who read their own works.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Several, but I can say the most moving was when she went BACK on her travels to learn and explore more. Not staying insular in the USA.


    Any additional comments?

    I read this book by accident as I normally NEVER read any book that has been abridged. I am only sadder now that it was abridged. How much more enjoyable and pleasing the read would have been if it was read in its entirety.
    Abridged books should be banned. My opinion, of course, but I want to read all that the author says and not have some other entity decide what to cut. Bad.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • That Summer

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Lauren Willig
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn't been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house - with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas - bits of memory start coming back.

    Toby says: "An interesting puzzle initially, but ..."
    "An interesting puzzle initially, but ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes, in the beginning, but then I lost interest and did not finish. The opening had so much promise, but then it faltered. Too much back history and not enough character development of the main character If she was so smart as a financial analyst, let us learn why she is so naive and stupid in her interpersonal relationships.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Mostly expected. Again, I did not read all the way because I like smart heroines to be smart heroines.


    What about Nicola Barber’s performance did you like?

    It was okay enough. I thought the voice used for the americans was pretty lame and shrill. The British voices were better performed.


    Could you see That Summer being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I was sad that this book just petered out in a slow and boring way. There was so much promise in the beginning. I wish some of the peripheral characters had been more fully developed to add a richness to the plot and prose. Natalie was interesting, despite the set-up scenes, but ...
    It stretches credibility that the main character would be so smart and yet she can't talk straight and then lets "the man" take over. This is not realistic or even pleasing to read. If you set a book up as having a smart woman, then follow through. The era of the stupid female must surely be almost over.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Vacationers

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Emma Straub
    • Narrated By Kristen Sieh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (44)

    For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan.

    RueRue says: "Bland"
    "Engaging beginning, but interest declines"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I am not an editor, but I wish the initial narrative lived up to the rest of the book. I did not finish this book. I read too much to ask for a return credit. I kept hoping it would pick up and develop, but it only got more boring as it went along.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Emma Straub? Why or why not?

    I probably would, as I liked the descriptive prose of Majorca and travel in general. I just wish the main character had sustained the initial interest.


    What aspect of Kristen Sieh’s performance would you have changed?

    The reader was okay enough, given the lameness of the last half of the book. I wish it could have concentrated more on the main character's career and food, etc.


    Could you see The Vacationers being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Not relevant. I do not watch movies.


    Any additional comments?

    I had very high hopes for this novel. I love novels that take place in other countries. I just fel that about halfway through, the author gave up or something and did not follow through with the character developments. Such good characters, too! It just was not adequately completed. I would have liked more about the gay couple, for example. It was hard to see why the older gay man even liked the married woman so much s she was pretty boring and unlikeable.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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