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Barbara

Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.

Albany, NY, United States | Member Since 2005

ratings
61
REVIEWS
27
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
27

  • Tenth of December: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By George Saunders
    • Narrated By George Saunders
    Overall
    (437)
    Performance
    (385)
    Story
    (394)

    One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet. In the taut opener, "Victory Lap", a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In "Home", a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned.

    Molly-o says: "I could never have known"
    "A Familiar Place Like Nowhere You've Ever Been"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Saunders' characters struggle with issues we've all faced - or will face sometime in our lifetime: sorrow and loss, wanting to give more than we have to our children, conquering our deepest fears in order to do what we know is the right thing. But the settings of his stories are weirdly futuristic, and only somewhat recognizable. Saunders is a great narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Rosie Project: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Graeme Simsion
    • Narrated By Dan O'Grady
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1322)
    Performance
    (1205)
    Story
    (1205)

    Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a "wonderful" husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical - most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent - and on a quest of her own....

    Margaret says: "A fun listen"
    "Loved being immersed in Don Tillman's life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Loved this book! Everything was great: the plot and the characters. It is funny and touching. Enjoyed it all the way through.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lost Memory of Skin

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Russell Banks
    • Narrated By Scott Shepherd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (119)
    Story
    (120)

    Suspended in a strangely modern-day version of limbo, the young man at the center of Russell Banks’s uncompromising and morally complex new novel must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration. Known in his new identity only as the Kid, and on probation after doing time for a liaison with an underage girl, he is shackled to a GPS monitoring device and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather. With nowhere else to go, the Kid takes up residence under a south Florida causeway, in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders.

    Ellen says: "Amazing "Must Read" Tale of (In)Justice in America"
    "This book will get under your skin"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Lost Memory of Skin the most enjoyable?

    Banks masters the arts of character development and plot construction. Scott Shepherd's reading was spot-on.


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

    He read each character's voice exactly the way I would imagine them speaking, with just the right difference in tone or accent to make it clear who is talking. Even the female characters (of which there aren't many).


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

    Caught between a rock and a hard place.


    Any additional comments?

    I wasn't particularly drawn to reading a novel about the plight of America's convicted sex offenders but after hearing Russell Banks speak last summer, I decided to pick up the book. The story was gripping, the characters were fully drawn out, and Banks keeps the action and the suspense going until the very end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Half a Life: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Darin Strauss
    • Narrated By Darin Strauss
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (25)

    Acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey.

    Philippa says: "Penance Finally And Thankfully Meets With Peace"
    "In the wrong place at the wrong time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Eighteen year old Strauss was driving to a game of mini-golf when a girl on a bicycle swerved in front of his car. This book is a thoughtful, respectful, and unsparing reflection on his struggle to shape the rest of his life around that single, horrific event.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Karen Joy Fowler
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (189)
    Performance
    (176)
    Story
    (174)

    Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."

    Amazon Customer says: "Completely Beside Myself! Read This!"
    "'Monkey-Girl' Finds Her Way Out of the Closet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this story of a woman who has had to come to terms with her very unusual upbringing; how it has affected her relationships with her parents and her brother, and her own ability to establish significant connections with other human beings. The author has managed to give each character depth, even the peripheral ones, and even the not-so-nice characters are sympathetic. Well-told.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • What Is the What

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (797)
    Performance
    (344)
    Story
    (345)

    Valentino's travels, truly Biblical in scope, bring him in contact with government soldiers, janjaweed-like militias, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, disease and starvation, and a string of unexpected romances. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated.

    Susan says: "A Story Aching to be Told"
    "Gripping!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent and deserving story of a "Lost Boy" of Sudan. Dave Eggers does a skillful job of framing Valentino/Achak's story and inserts just the right amounts of foreshadowing, tension vs.relief, and humor. The only thing I take exception with is that he calls it "a novel". Eggers' explanation of why he does this makes sense, but for a story that is so clearly biographical, where the political and physical settings are real, I think there are other, better, ways of saying this story is based on one person's memories - and memories aren't always the most reliable of sources. In this case, it doesn't make the story any less true.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris
    Overall
    (2872)
    Performance
    (2616)
    Story
    (2600)

    From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new collection of essays taking his listeners on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences.

    FanB14 says: "Devout Fan Disappointed"
    "Nobody Narrates Sedaris Like Sedaris"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Typical David Sedaris: Honest, irreverent, touching and crude with lots of laugh-out-loud moments, read the way it was meant to be read. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2099)
    Performance
    (1655)
    Story
    (1654)

    The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

    Robert says: "Interesting but wandering"
    "Who Doesn't Like Jon Ronson"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even his name is friendly, slightly humorous, self-deprecating. This book gives the reader an interesting, funny and somewhat scary peek into the world of mental illness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Family Portrait: Four Short Stories about Domestic Life

    • UNABRIDGED (27 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    Overall
    (629)
    Performance
    (557)
    Story
    (566)

    Exclusive bonus stories from the best-selling author of Lost at Sea, Them, The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare at Goats.

    RaisinNut says: "Ronson's voice alone will make you laugh..."
    "So - what IS the worst swear word?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A great little compilation of Jon Ronson's self-deprecating, anxiety-ridden stories about family life. He's kind of a straight David Sedaris.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • See Now Then: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jamaica Kincaid
    • Narrated By Jamaica Kincaid
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (13)

    In See Now Then, the brilliant and evocative new novel from Jamaica Kincaid (her first in 10 years), a marriage is revealed in all its joys and agonies. This piercing examination of the manifold ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness unfolds gracefully, and Kincaid inhabits each of her characters - a mother, father, and two children living in a small village in New England - as they move, in their own minds, between the present, the past, and the future.

    Mrs. Susan K. Metzler says: "Could Not Listen to This One"
    "Talk About "Character-Driven""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Kincaid has done away with any real semblance of plot in this masterful, stream-of-consciousness "rant" about a marriage gone downhill. She has an endearing slant on southern Vermont and its inhabitants, and there's a lot of humor in this book, and some "ha ha" moments, even though the subject is actually sad and hopeless. Kincaid's narration adds authenticity to the narration. I enjoyed the story but by the end I'd had enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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