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Stephanie

PASADENA, CA, USA

19
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 5 reviews
  • 14 ratings
  • 38 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The Lay of the Land: Frank Bascombe, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Richard Ford
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (152)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    With The Sportswriter, in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that, 10 years later, after Independence Day won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, was hailed by The Times of London as "an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the 20th century itself." Now, a decade later, Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), and more acutely in thrall to life's endless complexities than ever before.

    Daniel says: "Richard Ford, get out of my mind!"
    "A Wonder of a Book"
    Overall

    After an 11-year hiatus, the Pulitzer prize-winning author revisits his most enduring character, Frank Bascombe, a former sportswriter turned real estate agent. Bascombe, now 55 years old, newly divorced, battling prostate cancer, has reached the Permanent Period: "the time of life when very little you say comes in quotes, when few contrarian voices mutter doubts in your head, when the past seems more generic than specific, when life's a destination more than a journey and when who you feel yourself to be is pretty much how people will remember you once you've croaked. . . ." It's Thanksgiving week, and Frank Bascombe narrates with an armchair philosopher's appreciation for everything from the route he drives to work to the grandest themes in everyday life as he navigates the highways and byways of the Garden State. His two grown children (his "reformed" lesbian daughter and his emotionally removed son who pens greeting cards for Hallmark), his Tibetan business associate, Mike Mahony, and his ex-wife Sally, all come under his highly entertaining scrutiny. Although the book could be criticized for taking pages to describe the simplest interactions, with detail that can be overwhelming numbing, the very notion of this novel is that the drama is in the details of our non-dramatic lives. The audio format lends itself to such expository story-telling, and the narrator -- who sounds like I envision Frank Bascombe sounds -- enhances the tale.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Nineteen Minutes

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Carol Monda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2311)
    Performance
    (922)
    Story
    (941)

    Jodi Picoult delivers the riveting tale of one small town's entanglement with high-school violence.

    New York Superior Court Judge Alex Cormier is assigned to preside over the case of the alleged Sterling High School shooter. Lawyer Jordan McAffee represents Peter, the boy who, on the day of the shooting, was found in the corner of the gymnasium holding a gun to his head with a shaky hand. Detective Patrick DuCharme has one star witness, but her story keeps changing. And then there's the biggest problem of all: the star witness happens to be Judge Cormier's daughter.

    Suze says: "Mesmerizing"
    "Unexceptional"
    Overall

    "Nineteen Minutes" is typical Jodi Picoult in that it addresses a contemporary topic. Like her earlier "My Sister's Keeper," which wrestled with the ethics of a "designer" baby conceived for the purpose of saving a life, "Nineteen Minutes" details the aftermath of a high school shooting. What makes the story unique is that Picoult provides the reader with enough background about the shooter Peter Houghton -- whose small stature and propensity for speaking "Martian" render him an outcast from kindergarten -- that we sympathize with the character notwithstanding the heinous nature of his crimes. Picoult, as usual, crafts a workmanlike tale, but there are better novels that address this subject matter, such as Lionel Shriver's chilling, "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Marisha Pessl
    • Narrated By Emily Janice Card
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (616)
    Performance
    (241)
    Story
    (246)

    This is a darkly hilarious coming-of-age novel and a richly plotted suspense tale told through the distinctive voice of its heroine, Blue van Meer. After a childhood spent moving from one academic outpost to another with her father, Blue is clever and possessed of a vast lexicon of knowledge. But when a drowning and the shocking death of a teacher lead to a confluence of mysteries, Blue is left to make sense of it all with only her gimlet-eyed instincts and cultural references to guide - or misguide - her.

    Jeanie says: "Over 21 Hours of Bliss..."
    "Wryly Amusing"
    Overall

    Pessl has not met a metaphor, simile or obscure literary reference that she doesn't like, and she liberally sprinkles her novel with literary and pop cultural references. This mystery/coming of age tale, narrated by the precocious teen, Blue van Meer, follows a clique of popular students and their glamorous and mysterious film studies teacher. Although amusing, the novel becomes a bit tedious towards the middle, but is saved by a tongue-in-cheek "final exam" that puts into question all of Blue's conclusions. The narration is fabulous -- the reader sounds exactly as one would imagine Blue to sound.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Gilbert
    Overall
    (4901)
    Performance
    (1531)
    Story
    (1543)

    Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned 30, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be. To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. She got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world, all alone. This is the absorbing chronicle of that year.

    Kerry says: "Witty and Wonderful"
    "Charming"
    Overall

    Having survived depression spawned by a painful divorce,Elizabeth Gilbert takes the listener on a charming journey of self-discovery and reflection as she enjoys pasta and gellato in Italy, finds God in an ashram in India, and learns at the feet of a medicine man in Bali (where she also gains a new love interest). Although I was skeptical that this could be a memoir that was a tad Birkenstock and carrots and granola in baggies for my taste, I found that I was completely absorbed by Gilbert's experiences in these exotic locales and, more particularly, by the various (and always amusing) people she befriended on her travels. As an extra bonus, because Gilbert narrates her memoir, the listener knows exactly the emotions she is trying to evoke, whether it is wry, sarcastic, or sincere.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Suite Francaise: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Irene Nemirovsky
    • Narrated By Daniel Oreskes, Barbara Rosenblat
    Overall
    (440)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (101)

    Irene Nemirovsky was arrested soon after completing the second part of Suite Francaise. Ten days later, on August 17, 1942, she died of typhus in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her husband, Michel, perished in a gas chamber on November 6. Their daughters, Denise and Elizabeth, survived, hidden in safe houses and convents, carrying a suitcase packed with clothes, photographs, and their mother's manuscript written in tiny letters to save paper.

    Robert says: "The best book I've read all year"
    "A Must"
    Overall

    This moving and powerful book, authored by a published writer in France who perished at Auschwitz, presents two parts of a planned multi-part suite which were recently discovered by the author's surviving daughters. The first, "Storm in June," relates the tale of disparate denizens of Paris fleeing to the countryside steps before the Germans. The second, "Dolce," depicts the German occupation of a French village and the strained relations between the soldiers and their reluctant hosts (some of whom were introduced in the first part). This novel is beautifully wrought, with profound insights into human nature -- greed, corruption, grief, fear -- and told with a sly wit and humor. Expertly read with just the right dramatic punch. As an added bonus (for those of us who are bereft of foreign language skills), was the opportunity to listen to a correct pronounciation of the various French names and locations.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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