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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

30
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 34 reviews
  • 70 ratings
  • 331 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • Tenth of December: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By George Saunders
    • Narrated By George Saunders
    Overall
    (482)
    Performance
    (427)
    Story
    (436)

    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
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Ann Patchett
    • Narrated By Ann Patchett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (184)
    Story
    (181)

    Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto examines her deepest commitments: to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Together, these essays, previously published in The Atlantic, Harper, Vogue, and The Washington Post, form a resonant portrait of a life lived with loyalty and with love.

    Bonny says: "Entertaining, engrossing, and elucidative essays"
    "Staying True to Yourself; Essays"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In these collected essays, Ann Patchett writes about people and events that have informed her writing. I found them relate-able and thoroughly enjoyable. Was sorry when the book ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Invention of Wings: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Sue Monk Kidd
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye, Sue Monk Kidd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6400)
    Performance
    (5812)
    Story
    (5806)

    From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world - and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection. Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

    Jan says: "Historical Fiction - beautifully quilted!"
    "Kidd finally gets it right"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sue Monk Kidd has finally written a great book. I hated "Mermaid's Chair" and felt annoyed at "The Secret Life of Bees" but was persuaded to give this one a try. I'm really glad I did. This is a fictionalized account of Sarah Grimke and her sister, real-life abolitionists and feminists from 19th century Charleston. Kidd really did her research - of the time period, of slavery, and of quilting. Gripping.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Dorothy Gilman
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    Overall
    (981)
    Performance
    (853)
    Story
    (857)

    Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. This first in the series sends Emily on her first case after she successfully persuades a skeptical CIA recruitment officer that she is the best person for the job.

    Barbara says: "Barbara Rosenblatt: THE Voice!"
    "A Fun Escape"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A woman finally realizes her dream of becoming a spy - and gets in deeper than she ever imagined. Unrealistic, a bit bloody, and a lot of fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Syrie James
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (224)
    Performance
    (199)
    Story
    (197)

    From Syrie James, the best-selling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, comes a novel that captures the passionate heart and restless soul of Charlotte Brontë—the author who gave the world Jane Eyre while longing for a soulmate.

    Victoria says: "WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR DREAM"
    "Historical fiction at it's best."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Enjoyed this story of the lives of the Bronte siblings. Life before antibiotics sure was fragile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Instructions for a Heatwave

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Maggie O'Farrell
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (52)

    Gretta Riordan wakes on a stultifying July morning to find that her husband of forty years has gone to get the paper and vanished, cleaning out his bank account along the way. Gretta’s three grown children converge on their parents’ home for the first time in years: Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, with two stepdaughters who despise her and a blighted past that has driven away the younger sister she once adored; and Aoife, the youngest, now living in Manhattan, a smart, immensely resourceful young woman who has arranged her entire life to conceal a devastating secret.

    Cariola says: "Another Gem from O'Farrell"
    "Three siblings meet to find their missing father"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    O'Farrell writes sympathetic characters, and that's an important issue for me. I have to be able to identify with at least one in any book. Here, each one - even the unlikable, has some redeeming characteristic. A good depiction of adult family relationships just as each is reaching a crisis point in his or her life. There was only one thing I had trouble believing: One sister is illiterate. By now she's figured out how to hide it. But is it really possible that she made it all the way through her school years without anyone ever suspecting she might have a learning disability - or discovering that she never learned to read?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wonder

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By R. J. Palacio
    • Narrated By Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd
    Overall
    (1115)
    Performance
    (1012)
    Story
    (1011)

    August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school - until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?R. J. Palacio has crafted an uplifting novel full of wonderfully realistic family interactions, lively school scenes, and writing that shines with spare emotional power.

    Jay says: "A Beautiful Story"
    "This book lives up to all the great reviews"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book because of the great reviews. And it lived up to all of them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Looking for Alaska

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John Green
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1417)
    Performance
    (1208)
    Story
    (1226)

    Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words - and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

    Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another.

    FanB14 says: "Humorous YA for Adults"
    "Good, but not my favorite John Green"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A YA novel about kids at a boarding school. Engaging and interesting, great characters, a tiny bit predictable.

    0 of 0 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
    (1763)
    Performance
    (1608)
    Story
    (1609)

    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.

    1 of 1 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
    (151)
    Performance
    (122)
    Story
    (124)

    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
    (31)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (27)

    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

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