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Helen

Great Cacapon, WV, United States | Member Since 2011

4
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 23 ratings
  • 112 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2014
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  • The Casual Vacancy

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By J. K. Rowling
    • Narrated By Tom Hollander
    Overall
    (2545)
    Performance
    (2228)
    Story
    (2240)

    When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it at first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.

    Darwin8u says: "Pagford upon Avon"
    "More than I expected!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    At first I found the characters to be too everyday...too ordinary. There were no heroes, no one was glamorous or brilliant. But, one by one, each character became part of a fascinating tragedy. Everyone had a public side. Everyone had a private side. And the ways in which the characters related to one another were always complex and often heartbreaking.


    What other book might you compare The Casual Vacancy to and why?

    I doubt if anyone else will think of Jane Austen, but that's what came to mind. J.K. Rowling simply wrote about ordinary people involved in everyday events. And what a tangled web she wove! The characters became quite compelling. I'm still thinking about them weeks after finishing the program.


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

    I liked the reader very much. He brought the voices to life without slowing the narrative.


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

    I once thought as I listened that an alternative title would be "The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother"


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Richard Matthews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6246)
    Performance
    (2110)
    Story
    (2117)

    Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.

    Corby says: "Very informative, fun to listen to"
    "Grand review of the natural sciences"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a retired science educator. As such, I easily remember most of the names dropped into this narrative....like old friends. But finding them in one sweeping overview of the natural sciences was like a thrilling journey. In the hands of master story teller Bryson, the history became a lively tale of what is known, what is probable, and what is left to be discovered. I loved the book, and I know that I will listen again. I can't stop thinking about the way the planet has and will continue to change.
    I think I might have responded even better had it been read by someone with a less of a formal lecture style. But Richard Matthews gave a flawless performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • March

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Geraldine Brooks
    • Narrated By Richard Easton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (441)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (186)

    As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.

    Paula says: "Great book, greatly narrated"
    "Better book than Little Women"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a girl, I tried...really tried...to like Little Women for my Mom's sake. I even received a set of dolls for Christmas, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth.I tried to treasure them like Mom did. Couldn't. The book was just too sweet and nicey nice.
    March was almost 180 degrees in the opposite direction. There was nothing "nice" about this character. He was kind of pathetic in his never ending lapses. He came close to being human, but seemed to lack the ability to get out of his academic, hopelessly idealistic dream world. Not even the interesting character Grace or his beleaguered wife Marmee (what an awful name!!!) could penetrate his shell.
    I thought the narrator adopted the perfect tone for March. While reciting the sometimes flowery phrases, he revealed the flaws that plagued him.
    Not my favorite book, but I'm glad I persisted. I liked the author's afterwords. Turns out she shared my feelings about Little Women. I'm grateful to her for bringing us March to improve my reactions to the entire package.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (5888)
    Performance
    (4253)
    Story
    (4273)

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Shannon says: "Word Thief"
    "This one will stay with me forever"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At first I resisted. I almost decided not to read yet another account of the misery of the great war. So much suffering, so much injustice and cruelty! Did I really want to go through this again from the point of view of yet another afflicted human being? But I stayed with it, and I am not only happy that I did, I am transformed by the narrative. The girl, the Papa, the cantankerous but loving Mama (who can forget the scene when Rose storms into the school to tell of Max's recovery?) and the Jew hidden in the cellar who clings to life for Liesel's sake...the characters will live on in my heart.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Faithful Spy

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Alex Berenson
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2094)
    Performance
    (740)
    Story
    (733)

    John Wells is the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover.

    Margaret says: "Faithful Spy"
    "Too Bloody for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like a good thriller, and I can take a good measure of "blood and guts". But this one was over the top. There were too many scenes involving blood, brains, and bones being splattered all over the landscape. When this kind of violence becomes routine....I bail out. Sorry. Couldn't get through it.

    I thought the narrator was perfect for this very rough ride.

    I'm sure many will enjoy the experience. Just not my thing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Portrait of a Lady

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Henry James
    • Narrated By John Wood
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (192)
    Performance
    (129)
    Story
    (133)

    When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to enjoy the freedom that her fortune has opened up and to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. It is only when she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the cultivated but worthless Gilbert Osmond that she discovers that wealth is a two-edged sword and that there is a price to be paid for independence.

    Linda says: "Brilliant reading"
    "Who are these people?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all I will say that the reader was very very good. Without his elegant and expressive cadence and with only a printed text, I would not have endured to the end. Second, on the plus side, I dusted off and vowed to use many antique vocabulary words..."desultory", "importune", "decorous", "prevaricate", "remonstrate"...to name but a few! The paragraphs were beautifully constructed and beautifully delivered by the reader.

    But! As I said in the title..."Who are these people?" They dined...but on what? Did they enjoy it? They died...but of what...and was there any pain beyond their melodramatic efforts to utter the final monologue? They fell in love...but no word of sexual attraction EVER entered the narrative. They spoke of beauty, but only of tapestry, statues, and interior decor. (Maybe an occasional sunset from the terrace). Were they ever too tired, too hot, too cold..? Isabelle has a child who died. All we hear about that was that she concluded mourning the child after 6 months and adjusted her wardrobe accordingly.

    I admit that I was finally swept up into their sterile lives and the utterly hopeless messes they made of them. I hoped for some kind of resolution for poor, pathetic Isabelle at the end, but when her "Mr. Darcy" in the person of Casper Goodwood finally planted a real KISS on her lips at the end (the first in the whole book)...she nearly fainted. The next day she hurried back to her horrid husband in Rome. The End.

    This novel makes anything by Jane Austen or Edith Wharton read like Lady Chatterly's Lover in comparison.

    All that said, I wouldn't have missed it for the World! Thank you for delivering this to me so elegantly, John Wood. I'll look for your narration again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Keeper

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2508)
    Performance
    (2140)
    Story
    (2150)

    England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

    Maria says: "Kate Morton (and Caroline Lee) does it again!"
    "Nice plot twist."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story captured me from the beginning. I have an affinity for WWII based novels since I had several close relatives involved in the fighting. I especially admire the courage and tenacity of the British during the London blitz.

    I loved the way this plot developed....What did Mom do during the war? Who are the people in these photos? Was she a villain or a victim? So many questions to be answered...so little time since she is dying. There is a breathtaking plot twist at the end that I didn't see coming!

    The reader did an excellent job. I liked the way she developed the characters one by one.

    Very enjoyable. I will look for more by Kate Morton. (already read The House at Riverton)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fatal Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Marie Force
    • Narrated By Felicity Munroe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (500)
    Performance
    (399)
    Story
    (402)

    Washington, D.C., Metro Police Detective Sergeant Sam Holland needs a big win to salvage her career - and her confidence - after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O’Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O’Connor’s friend and chief of staff...and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case.

    Lia says: "Wow! Suspenseful mysteries keep you riveted"
    "Not my kind of thrills"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read the description of the plot and thought it sounded promising....but it delivered very little in terms of interesting twists and good cop drama. In fact, I was amused by the very sensitive and elaborate "bodice ripper' scenes that provided the only interesting "thrills" in an otherwise pretty bland narrative. Guess I should have guessed when I saw that Harlequin was the publisher. If you are into steamy scenes and don't care much about the plot line....go for it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Headhunters

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By Steve West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (297)
    Performance
    (246)
    Story
    (250)

    Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II - and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft.

    PETER WADE says: "BETTER WEAR A SEATBELT FOR THIS ONE - GREAT STORY!"
    "Wicked Good Read!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I thought that it delivered a finely crafted story line with so much suspense that I was almost afraid to keep driving while listening to certain parts.


    What other book might you compare Headhunters to and why?

    I wanted to compare this with the other Jo Nesbo books (I've read them all!) I thought I would miss Harry Hole, but I didn't. Nesbo broke new ground by introducing fascinating and flawed characters, none of whom got a free pass. There was not a single "good guy" in the bunch. I liked the way the action was organized by stages of a perfect interview by which a head-hunter engages a candidate. In this setting, it became the stages by which a person becomes a murderer.


    What about Steve West’s performance did you like?

    He read it with the perfect degree of snobbery and disdain. At first, one thought that Roger would never dirty his hands with foul deeds. But, layer by layer, he became the sinister character that became more deeply involved in murderous crimes.


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

    The fall of the white queen.


    Any additional comments?

    My friends and I can't decide if Nesbo killed Harry Hole at the end of the last book. I hope not, but...sigh....even if that proves to be the end of my favorite character, I will stick with this author. Nesbo is the best out there.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13891)
    Performance
    (12261)
    Story
    (12289)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "Wierd but GOOD!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Yes! The drama was intense and the plot twists were well executed. I thought I could see what was coming a couple of times and I'm happy to say that I was wrong. This was a good yarn...well wrought!


    Have you listened to any of Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No....but the voices were superb. Especially Julia Whelan...her Amy was "amazing" on every level. At first you loved Amy....so sweet. Then you hated her. And on some crazy level...you admired her. Whelan got it just right.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unlikely Spy

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Daniel Silva
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (508)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (202)

    "In wartime," Winston Churchill wrote, "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." For Britain's counterintelligence operations, this meant finding the unlikeliest agents imaginable - including a history professor named Alfred Vicary.

    Brian says: "Riveting"
    "Best Daniel Silva to date"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Spy to be better than the print version?

    Yes! I think that the reader added a sharp edge to the experience. Audio books are usually kept in my car....this one came indoors. I guess that's the listening equivalent of "couldn't put it down".


    What did you like best about this story?

    I'm always drawn to World War II novels. There is something compelling about the pure low-tech genius of the conduct of wartime intelligence...radio signals, fires on the beach, photographed pages of documents, etc. And this story had characters who were all so vivid and approachable that, at times, you almost found yourself rooting for the bad guys...who weren't always so evil and who had backgrounds trapping them into the roles they carried out. Especially at the end of the novel, the lines between good and evil were blurred, and necessity emerged as the overarching motivation of conduct on both sides.


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

    Michael Page is a very good reader. I like that he doesn't over dramatize...just reads the parts clearly and honestly. And with this novel, the action rings through without a lot of hype!


    Any additional comments?

    My only negative reaction to what was a wonderful novel overall is to the way that it wrapped up with a bit too much explaining. The main character received a good deal of information about his role in the project by way of a final conversation. Some of this could have been more subtly delivered as the plot unfolded, allowing the reader to anticipate these important twists, turns and ironies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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