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valerie

Member Since 2011

36
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 20 reviews
  • 500 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 56 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
18
FOLLOWERS
3

  • All Clear

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Connie Willis
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren, Connie Willis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1531)
    Performance
    (992)
    Story
    (1013)

    Three time-traveling historians are visiting World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Rescued by the second half"
    "Somehow it transcends its faults"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I ended up completely immersed in this book, despite at times being annoyed by its faults. Most of the criticisms others have made of this book are at least partially accurate and yet it manages to be a wonderful experience. Katherine Kellgren is a very accomplished narrator, and although once in a while her pronunciations were a little disconcerting, she differentiates the characters very well and her voice is lovely to listen to. This book has given me many happy hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Herb Silverman, Richard Dawkins (foreword)
    • Narrated By Herb Silverman, Richard Dawkins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    In this deeply revealing and engaging autobiography, Herb Silverman tells his iconoclastic life story. He takes the listener from his childhood as an Orthodox Jew in Philadelphia, where he stopped fasting on Yom Kippur to test God's existence, to his adult life in the heart of the Bible Belt, where he became a legendary figure within America's secular activist community and remains one of its most beloved leaders. Never one to shy from controversy, Silverman relates many of his high-profile battles with the Religious Right.

    valerie says: "Quirky"
    "Quirky"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I noticed that some other reviewers didn’t enjoy the author’s reading style so I felt compelled to write a quick review to say that I came to rather like it as the book progressed. I’m not from the US, and that may be why I often don’t connect with US narrators. To generalise rather broadly, I haven’t come across many who can convey a good range of accents and voices, and some narrators that rate highly with USans sound to me as though they’re auditioning for a super hyped up commercial. Cultural difference probably, and I could well change my mind as I consume more audiobooks. Professor Silverman’s reading style has the great virtues of being deliberate and clear, and I’m not at all sure it would have been better read by a professional. The book’s content is engaging and thought-provoking, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Metro 2033

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Dmitry Glukhovsky
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (52)

    The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct and the half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind, but the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms.

    Amazon Customer says: "A soulsearching adventure with horror"
    "Men with Guns"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got through about a third of this audio book before I got terminally bored. The book has a very interesting premise but it is not well realised, and for my part I absolutely refuse to listen to a book that appears not to have a single female presence. I've enjoyed plenty of books with male protagonists where women don't play major roles, but Metro 2033 is ridiculous. Artyom is male, his friends are male, he travels through the Metro and meets more males. Maybe women feature later in the book, but I had already waded through hours with barely a mention and I lost faith that the author had ever actually met any. The only mention I can recall at this point was a dismissive comment between two males. Maybe some future reviewers who get through the whole book will correct my rather negative impression.

    On the plus side, the book is beautifully narrated. Rupert Degas is one of the best narrators around and I almost kept listening to the book just to hear his voice/s.

    2 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Hard Way: Jack Reacher 10

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Jeff Harding
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (58)

    Late at night in a New York café army-cop-turned-drifter Jack Reacher orders coffee in a cup made of foam, not china, so that he can move on at a moment’s notice.He owns nothing, carries less, has never encountered a female colleague he can’t bed, or a case he can’t solve.But now Reacher is confronted by a situation so disturbing and deceptive that the truth eludes him.Has he painted targets on the good guys’ backs?So Reacher starts over at square one. He sweats the details and works the clues.

    Lynda says: "Excellent - couldn't put it 'down'."
    "Good Story, Excellent Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've nothing much to add about the plot or character, and if you like Lee Child in general then this one won't disappoint. But I think this is the first Lee Child book I've listened to when I realised just how talented a narrator Jeff Harding is. His voice is quite distinctive and in earlier narrations I didn't warm to it 100%, but now that I am more accustomed to it I am starting to appreciate his abilities. He does an excellent job of the various accents required by this book, to the extent of providing credible regionally distinct British English accents as well as the more common (in Child) American accents. Unlike rather many others, Harding doesn't sound like an American doing a fake British accent, and I wanted to hug him for it. The hardest requirement for a male narrator in this book is a husky voiced female, and even that one wasn't bad. So I'd say that Harding brought this from a 4 to a 5 star book for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bossypants

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Tina Fey
    • Narrated By Tina Fey
    Overall
    (260)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (221)

    Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.

    Before 30 Rock, Mean Girls, and 'Sarah Palin', Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

    Claire says: "No PDF??"
    "Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'd never heard of Tina Fey before listening to this audiobook, and I don't own a TV so I had no idea about any of the shows she is talking about. Even with these disadvantages this was still a very enjoyable few hours. She has a knack for anecdote and a superb grasp of the punchy aside.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Winifred Watson
    • Narrated By Frances McDormand
    Overall
    (1129)
    Performance
    (578)
    Story
    (578)

    Miss Pettigrew is a down-on-her-luck, middle-aged governess sent by her employment agency to work for a nightclub singer rather than a household of unruly children. Over a period of 24 hours, as she becomes caught up in the life of Delysia LaFloss, her own life is changed - forever. This charming, funny, light-hearted 1938 novel was a bestseller on its first appearance. Read by Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand, who stars in the 2008 film as Miss Pettigrew.

    Holly C. Salley says: "Adorable"
    "Story Fair, Narration Weak"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are many positive reviews of this title, so I will try to explain why I didn't much like it. I wasn't bothered by the plot which is pretty much a standard wallflower to belle of the ball transformation, condensed into a day. It isn't brilliantly done but if you like light romance then it's fine. A bit quirky. I was taken aback by some comments about nationalities/races other than the English, and I'm not sure if I imagined it, or misunderstood (Italians? Jews?). But my main problem was with the narration.

    Most reviewers seem to love the narrator, whereas for me she pretty much ruined it. To my ears Frances McDormand delivered a very intermittent approximation of an English accent, sometimes almost right, but frequently dropping back into what sounded to me like a version of an American accent. It got so that I couldn't help listening for the vagaries of her accent instead of listening to the story. I didn't find that she differentiated the characters at all well, either by accent or register, so I doubt a listener would ever be able to tell which of them were speaking unless there was a "said ... " in the text. So fine actress though she is, McDomand pretty much killed this audio book for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Maria Semple
    • Narrated By Kathleen Wilhoite
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (57)

    Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she's his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she's a menace. To design experts, she's a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend, and quite simply, mum. Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a compulsively readable, irresistibly written, deeply touching novel.

    valerie says: "If you like the genre, this is first rate"
    "If you like the genre, this is first rate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The primary narrator is a kid (mid teens). Significant parts of the story come in via emails from her mother, and from parents from her school. So I suppose it's partly a family drama and partly teen fiction, and it's an epistolatory novel. There's drama, back stabbing, infedelity and other bad behaviour, but also redemption for everyone - it has a happy ending. If you can stand all of that, this one is the best I've read in a long time. Very nicely done.

    The narrator is good and the book is well served by her ability to differentiate accents, ages and tones of voice. I can't help mentioning that her attempt at a kiwi accent made me wince, but then I'm a kiwi and I know the difference. Probably if you come from anywhere else in the world you won't be bothered and it's a very small part of the book anyway. I'm impressed enough by her abilities to have already looked up other books she's narrated.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5395)
    Performance
    (5030)
    Story
    (5025)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Ken says: "It's all about the codas"
    "... and yet, I listened to the whole thing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't get immersed in this book and felt irritated often, and yet I stuck with it and I have to admit it had many good moments. Scalzi is competent in his style, it's just not a style I warm to in general. I'd say his approach is to go for the humour and clever cultural reference rather build characters of any particular depth. I find his writing rather ho-hum but it may also be that I don't "get" all of the humour.

    Scalzi's plot device is out in the open from the beginning, so there's not a lot of suspense in the narrative, merely a question of how he will resolve it. In general the Codas improved the novel considerably. I especially enjoyed the internet coda, the back and forth of the blogger and the commenters.

    The moral (don't kill us off without a good reason) seemed, well. Trite.

    Sometimes it's hard to tease out whether the features that detract from a book are the fault of the writer or the narrator, and this is no exception. I'm not convinced Wil Wheaton is an especially good reader as all the voices sounded the same to me - except for the K character when he was drunk. Wheaton did a great job of that scene. I suspect that Wheaton had some issues to deal with in terms of making parts of the book sound interesting. There were what seemed to be pages of "he said" "he said" "she said" dialogue towards the beginning of the book that must have been difficult to render well.

    I did think several times that I wouldn't bother finishing this one, and there have been plenty of audiobooks that I've abandoned after a few chapters. However I never quite abandoned this one, so it's got to be worth at least 3 stars.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Devotion of Suspect X

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Keigo Higashino, Alexander O. Smith
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (535)
    Performance
    (256)
    Story
    (258)

    Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor.

    Howard says: "Devoted tale of kindness and unknown friendship."
    "Quality writing, interesting plot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a quality experience, despite the fact that I wasn't thrilled with the end. There are plenty of real life scenarios where no one wins, but to be honest I avoid books that embrace that approach. If you don't mind an ending which is more wrenching than satisfying, then there is a lot in this book to enjoy, and it kept me interested all the way through, even when I could see the end coming.

    The story involves two characters of very high intelligence, both of whom are accustomed to wrestling with highly intricate and complex academic issues. One attempts to establish an unsolvable mystery, the other attempts to solve it. Standard scientific approach, except that this is a murder. There were twists and turns and logical deductions aplenty, and just enough surprises along the way to keep me motivated.

    I did note on the way through that the clever characters are male while the few female characters are victims and fairly weak, and this was disappointing. I'm not sure whether to put that down to cultural difference, historical difference, or blatant sexism. I seem to be finding a bit to criticise so I must emphasise that I enjoyed the book over all and I have felt confident to recommend it to friends, who have also said they enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Walking with the Wounded: The Incredible Story of Britain's Bravest Warriors and the Challenge of a Lifetime

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Mark McCrum
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas, Martyn Ellis, Andrew Wincott, and others
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    In April 2011, four soldiers set out on a challenge that even an able-bodied athlete would balk at: a 200-mile trek, unsupported, to the North Pole. It was the culmination of a journey that began long before, when two friends decided to mount an expedition that would demonstrate how remarkable our armed forces are and raise funds for the rehabilitation of injured service men and women. Little did they know that their idea would ultimately gain global attention.

    valerie says: "The synopsis is probably enough"
    "The synopsis is probably enough"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This didn't live up to my expectations, which might say more about my expectations than the book itself. If you are okay with stories of male bonding via killing, drinking, and physical challenges then you might enjoy this more, but I didn't ever feel particularly engaged. They produced the event (walking to the North Pole) to raise money for injured soldiers which seems worthy, and yet somehow the book comes across more as a piece of slick promotion than an engagement with adventure and tough issues. The narrators are good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Alfred Lansing
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1870)
    Performance
    (1227)
    Story
    (1232)

    In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

    russell says: "Endurance"
    "Gripping, every moment of it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of my sisters recommended this book to me years ago but I had never found the time to read it. When I saw it on audio I decided to give it a go and despite my sister's recommendation I didn't expect it to be as gripping as it was. I stayed up listening to it for hours as I knew I would never be able to sleep while this group of men were stranded on an ice floe in the Weddell Sea, gradually starving and getting blown about by Antarctic gales etc. I kept thinking I would stop listening when they reached a bit of calm, but unfortunatey they seemed to get flung from one situation of extreme peril to another. Eventually it got so late I just had to turn the audio book off, even though the ice floe they were on was cracking around them and no channel through the pack ice seemed available. I had a terribly disturbed night's sleep and had to work all the next day worrying about what happened next, and the insane thing about this feeling of worry is that I already knew they survived because my sister had told me. There's no accounting for the human mind (or mine, anyway). Anyway, I was very relieved to get to the end of the book with everyone safe. I must say I don’t think I’ve ever reached the end of a book feeling quite so exhausted before. As well as exhilarated.

    The book is well put together, using extracts from many of the diaries kept by the men. The narrator does a very fine job, even doing fairly credible accents for the New Zealand and Australian crew members, as well as the various regional UK accents. Overall a very fine read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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