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Janice

Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.

Sugar Land, TX, United States | Member Since 2010

1989
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 194 reviews
  • 251 ratings
  • 444 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
465

  • Gentlemen and Players

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Joanne Harris
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (145)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (56)

    For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than 30 years. But this year the wind of unwelcome change is blowing, and Straitley is finally contemplating retirement. He is joined this term by five new faculty members, including one who holds intimate and dangerous knowledge of St. Oswald's ways and secrets.

    Leslie says: "Wonderful read"
    "Diabolical cat and mouse"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a revenge story in the extreme. Seeking payback for years of being invisible and irrelevant, "Snide", now reinvented as a novice instructor at St. Oswalds private school for boys, sets about manipulating teachers, students and administrators in an inticately planned plot to destroy the school. Half the story is told through Snide's eyes, including the childhood history that set current events in motion. The counterpoint is the narrative of Roy Straightly, classics professor and the one instructor who has the best chance of figuring out and stopping the plot.

    This is not an action packed thriller, but a slowly paced, meticulouly detailed cat and mouse game in which the tension comes from knowing the POV of both the cat and the mouse. We don't know the current identity of Snide, so that becomes part of the guessing game. I actually did figure out who it must be about half way through, and from that point it was a matter of how to stop the cat from anihilating the mouse. Good twists, extremely well written and very well narrated. Small complaint that it got a bit talky at the point that Straightly confronts Snide - in the tradition of TV villians who give a monologue about why they have done what they've done. Wrapped up in an unconventional way that I'm not sure if I liked or not, but I do appreciate that the ending was not predictable.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • On Immunity: An Inoculation

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Eula Biss
    • Narrated By Tamara Marston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (151)

    In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment.

    Debbie says: "More than I Expected"
    "Falls short"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While striving to explain the complexities of the vaccination issue, this book has actually done little to satisfy either side. Because the author eventually (and seemingly reluctantly) comes down on the side of pro-vaccination, anti-vaxers call the book a promotion of big pharm and big government, ignoring what science was presented. For the pro-vaccination camp, there were too many emotion-fed anecdotes on motherly fears, including the author’s own obsessive fascination with vampires, which led to a Dracula metaphor being stretched beyond the breaking point. While I appreciate her attempts to show the rationale and concerns of those opposing vaccination, I have to wonder how many really think of Bela Lugosi coming through the window to consume their child’s life force. She was at her best when she stuck with science and history to make her points, but lost me when her politics got in the way, including diatribes against capitalism and the insistence that military metaphors are inappropriate to any discussion of fighting disease.

    Readers looking for a coherent discussion of the pros and cons of vaccination may find some useful information, but at the expense of muddling through multiple angst-ridden stories of her labor and delivery, blood transfusions (which just confuses the picture) and her ongoing fears of the contaminations her child must face in this world. I was hoping for a more reasoned presentation of the issues at hand, including suggested solutions to bring the camps together, but this book simply confirmed that the discussion continues to be clouded by emotions and prejudices, whether they are justified by science or not. Viruses and bacteria are shrewd survivors, evolving past the medications we have to treat them. I’m afraid we will have to face a full-blown outbreak of something terrible before people realize that prevention is the world’s protection.

    I'll round up to a 3 because the science that was presented was well described in terms that should be understandable to non-medical readers, and because the author does seem to have tried to make a balanced presentation of both sides of the vaccination questions. I just wish her editor could have convinced her to make it less of a personal confessional of parental angst.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jane Eyre [RNIB Edition]

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Charlotte Bronte
    • Narrated By Lucy Scott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (400)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (188)

    Jane Eyre remains a classic of 19th-century English literature and is the most famous and influential novel by Charlotte Bronte. Published in 1847, one of the most popular of all English novels, the story tells of the rise of a poor orphan girl against overwhelming odds. It is a work of fiction with memorable characters and vivid scenes exploring themes that have as much relevance today as in the time it was written.

    Tad Davis says: "Magnificent"
    "A heroine for the ages"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It’s been decades since I first read Jane Eyre, and I have since seen many of the film and BBC adaptations. What few if any of the filmed versions succeed in communicating is Jane’s strength and independence of mind and character. Too often she comes across as passive, even wimpy, when she was written with spirit and temper that she had to struggle to control. But her moral compass gave her the inner strength to be true to herself without compromising for expediency. For me she is one of the great heroines of English literature. It was wonderful to experience this classic again in its original form.

    Before choosing this audio version I listened to all of the samples of the Jane Eyre choices. I thought this one fit my mental image of her best, and I was not disappointed. Lucy Scott gracefully managed the wide range of Jane’s emotions, compelling me to root for her through her difficult journey. A good choice for anyone wanting to experience the story for the first time in audio.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Professor and the Madman

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Simon Winchester
    • Narrated By Simon Winchester
    Overall
    (1782)
    Performance
    (940)
    Story
    (953)

    Part history, part true-crime, and entirely entertaining, listen to the story of how the behemoth Oxford English Dictionary was made. You'll hang on every word as you discover that the dictionary's greatest contributor was also an insane murderer working from the confines of an asylum.

    Jerry says: "Perfect example of a quality audible book."
    "The power of words"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although I chose this title out of curiosity about the principle characters, what I ultimately found most fascinating was the process of creating the dictionary itself. I had never given any real thought to the significance of cataloging the entire English language, how it contributes to our understanding of our culture, how in a very literal sense it gives us a common language and therefore common understanding. The undertaking was heroic in scope and Murray and Minor were just two of the many volunteers who worked for decades for the remarkable outcome. Minor's prolific contributions not only advanced the progress of the dictionary, but likely preserved his own mental health as a form of occupational therapy. The stories of the politics and competition as well as the dedication of various player made for a stimulating read. Simon Winchester did an excellent job reading his own work. Well recommended for those who enjoy historical non-fiction.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • My Sunshine Away

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By M.O. Walsh
    • Narrated By Kirby Heybourne
    Overall
    (145)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (119)

    My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when 15-year-old Lindy Simpson - free spirit, track star, and belle of the block - experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Remarkable Retrospective on Becoming a *True* Man"
    "Creepy angst"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’m afraid I have to throw a wet blanket on the love fest over this book. For me there were just too many problems with how the story was rolled out.

    I was intrigued by the premise of an atmospheric (Louisiana) mystery mixed with coming-of-age in the face of tragic events. This story could have taken place in any upper middle class neighborhood in any city, any state. No atmosphere beyond frequent comments about mosquitos and an essentially irrelevant chapter comparing Baton Rouge to New Orleans that pretty much proved my point by describing Baton Rouge as the normal city compared to New Orleans’ exoticism. Having a narrator without even the hint of a southern accent put the nail in that coffin.

    The majority of the story is taken up with the un-named narrator’s pathetic angst over the object of his obsession. And the obsession goes beyond creepy even within the norms of hormone driven teenage fantasy. Much of his fantasizing is fairly explicit and bears no resemblance to love or even a recognition of right and wrong. A scene at a drunken party nearly made me quit the book altogether. For all of his apparent worship, the boy really just objectifies Lindy, leaving her an empty shell of a character. The first person narrative by a kid who has no insight or empathy means that we see everyone around him through his eyes – mean, selfish and emotionally disconnected.

    I could not buy into the notion that his erratic behavior and the fact that he himself was a suspect in the rape (not a spoiler – we learn that in the first pages) did not prompt more engaged action by his parents. This was a string left dangling by the author – when damning evidence that led to suspecting the boy were discovered, the only response we hear about is his mother constantly crying. No one followed up, nothing was done.

    Finally, the wrap up. Within the last hour of the book, suddenly all of the cookie crumbs are swept together into a pile and questions that should have been investigated years earlier are opened up, doors are unlocked and there’s the answer, and our narrator explains why this has made all the difference and he can see clearly now. I found it unbelievable and manipulative. And I don’t buy for one minute who he turns out to be writing his narrative to.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • A Pleasure and a Calling: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Phil Hogan
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    You won't remember Mr. Heming. He was the estate agent who showed you around your comfortable home, suggested a financial package, negotiated a price with the owner, and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key. That's absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine? The answer is; he has the keys to them all. William Heming's most at home in a stranger's private things.

    Janice says: "The Invisible Man"
    "The Invisible Man"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this selection as a refreshing change from the myriad police procedurals and crime thrillers that recycle the same old characters and the same old plots. William Heming is a true original, remaining completely invisible as he indulges his obsession to exist within the lives of those to whom he has sold homes – searching their photo albums, eating their food, sometimes even creating secret nesting places where he can hide and observe. Sinister and decidedly creepy, there is also surprising and welcome humor as Heming takes care of his community by dishing out his own style of justice to those who are less than model citizens. He cultivates an affable, easygoing but forgettable personality to maintain his invisibility, and it’s easy to be charmed by this façade. But through his first person perspective he reveals the darker side of himself. The flashback sections of his childhood were the most riveting for me, revealing the building of a sociopath through his own eyes – with a few convenient omissions he may or may not remember. This reminds me of the kind of stories seen on the old Alfred Hitchcock Hour – not gory or violent, but seriously twisted and impossible to look away.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Straight Man

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Richard Russo
    • Narrated By Sam Freed
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (508)
    Performance
    (215)
    Story
    (216)

    Russo's protagonist is William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the reluctant chairman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. In the course of a single week, Devereaux will have his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagine his wife is having an affair with his dean, wonder if a curvaceous adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits, and threaten to execute a goose on local television.

    Jeffrey A. Sherman says: "Shockingly good"
    "Goosed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Maybe if I didn't have such high expectations for Russo’s writing ability I would have enjoyed Straight Man better. And to be fair, the writing IS good – it’s the story that disappointed. Underachieving academics trying to survive their own mediocrity in an atmosphere of budget cuts and departmental backstabbing had potential and started out well, but the whining and self-pity got old and I just wanted to tell everyone to grow up. The choice of first person viewpoint didn't help, as supporting characters can only be known through the protagonist’s perceptions, leaving them somewhat flat. It seemed that Russo tried to fluff them up a bit through silly quirks, but it didn't work well for me. I much preferred the subtle ironic humor of “Nobody’s Fool” to the forced silliness of “Straight Man”. At one point Devereaux’s mother chided him for his literary laziness saying he had “become a clever man”. That line summarized my feelings about Russo’s effort here.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Jonah Watch

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jack Cady
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Psychologist Meredith Morgan understands the how and why of dreams. She understands that dreams are how our subconscious mind tells us things we are too busy to notice.

    Janice says: "Not the story in the Editors Summary"
    "Not the story in the Editors Summary"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The editor's summary describing The Jonah Watch is obviously the summary of another book. I have made it through half of this book and so far it bears absolutely no resemblance to the description. What I have been listening to is the story of the crew on a Coast Guard cutter, focusing slightly on a new sailor and his difficulties getting used to ship life. I have jumped ahead in my iPOD and later chapters just continue the sea story. There is no character named Megan, no dreams, nothing that matches the summary. Furthermore, I can't get into the story I'm stuck with because of poor writing and droning narration. I'm returning it today.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Neverwhere [Adaptation]

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Christopher Lee, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and others
    Overall
    (2292)
    Performance
    (2149)
    Story
    (2146)

    A BBC Radio six-part adaptation of Neil Gaiman's best-selling novel, starring James McAvoy as Richard and Natalie Dormer as Door. Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere....

    Gayle says: "Superb"
    "Don't start here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As you read through reviews for this offering, you'll see that those who already know and love the story through the full book version also enjoyed this dramatisation. I am one of these. But if you have never read or listened to the full book, it would be very hard to understand what's going on as the audioplay is essentially an abridgement of the story, losing a great deal of the character and plot development. That's the reason for the 3 star story mark - it just doesn't stand alone for the uninitiated. This really is a story that deserves a complete hearing. The voice actors are superb, especially McAvoy and Cumberbatch, but I did drop one performance star for the somewhat scratchy quality of the sound effects.

    Neverwhere (the book) was my very first Gaiman experience, and it got me hooked. If you are at all intrigued by the story premise, do yourself a favor and go to the source. Gaiman reads the entire story himself and does his usual remarkable job.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Nobody's Fool

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Richard Russo
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (603)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (225)

    Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemies redundant, Sully now has one new problem to cope with: a long-estranged son who is in imminent danger of following in his father's footsteps. With its sly and uproarious humor and a heart that embraces humanity's follies as well as its triumphs, Nobody's Fool is storytelling at its most generous.

    Steve says: "Russo is a genious."
    "A man among men . . . and it is a compliment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having seen (and loved) the movie numerous times, I have put off reading the book for a very long time, concerned that it would not live up to my expectations. Having Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy and Bruce Willis permanently etched in my mind’s eye as the main characters, it’s impossible to separate my response to the book from my feelings about the film. To my great delight, Sully in the book is every bit as ironic, rascally and endearing as Newman portrayed him, so my fears were groundless. The other residents of North Bath are fully developed, bringing in more characters than the film did, and significantly changing others.

    This is very much a character study. Don’t look for action, mystery, or broad comedy. What you will get is a well-paced slice of life, saturated with subtle and ironic humor, that illuminates what makes people tick in a small dying town. All of the characters are flawed, many to the point of being unlikable. But Russo gives them enough dimension to allow us at least some sympathy for what has brought them to where they are now. Fully understanding the story behind Sully’s relationship with his dad makes make you wonder why he is merely philosophically dysfunctional instead of stark raving mad. His humor and native intelligence makes him one of the best characters I have read in contemporary American literature. I would give anything to be able to meet him for a beer at the White Horse just to shoot the breeze. I suspect I would fall in love with him. As Toby observed, he’s a man among men. Only unlike her, I mean it as a compliment.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Breach of Security

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 28 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (102)

    When a bunch of neo-fascist thugs named The Bulldogs attack a Gay pride march in the sleepy country town of Lafferton, detective Simon Serrailler moves quickly to find the assailants. He’s already got his hands full making security arrangements for a memorial service to honour soldiers returning from Afghanistan. When anonymous threats come in, Serrailler wonders if the Bulldogs are behind these too - and worries that they know the Prince of Wales will be in attendance.

    connie says: "So glad I found this free story!"
    "Pros and Cons"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm familiar with Susan Hill for some of her ghost stories, and downloaded this free offering because I enjoy her writing. This is not an especially compelling story outside of the context of the main character's detective series. But the writing is very good, the narrator excellent, so based on this snack sized sample, I am interested in looking at more of the series. Thanks for the freebie, Audible.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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