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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

1323
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 165 reviews
  • 209 ratings
  • 373 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014
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399

  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Fannie Flagg
    • Narrated By Lorna Raver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (235)
    Performance
    (170)
    Story
    (172)

    Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Here is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women - of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth - who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.

    Janice says: "Better as audiobook"
    "Better as audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I read this book many years ago and recently saw the movie again on TV, which prompted me to look for it as an Audible title. Of course the story in the book is SO much richer than the movie - more enjoyable as an audiobook because of the wonderful reading by Lorna Raver - a very authentic old Southern lady's voice. I felt like Evelyn Couch sitting with Ninny, hearing her tell of Ruth and Idgie. This was a real treat, but I will caution readers not familiar with the story that there is racial content relevant to the early part of the 20th century that may be hard for some to take. If you can handle the social issues, this is a worthy read.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Blacklight Blue: The Enzo Files, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Peter May
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (35)

    Enzo MacLeod, a Scot teaching in southwest France, has confidently bet that he can crack seven notorious murders described in a book on cold cases. He has, in fact, solved the first two crimes, but the third is far from his mind right now. He's just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and he's become the victim of someone who seems intent on destroying his credit and his relationships - and getting him arrested for murder.

    Dave says: "Absorbing!"
    "Ready for the next in the series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The most definitive comment I can make about this book and its series is that Peter May knows how to write a damn good story. I devoured his Lewis Trilogy and am impressed with his Enzo series, this one better than the first. May has perfected the character driven thriller, creating characters that drive the action rather than action that defines the characters. Enzo himself is a marvelous creation – a very smart man who is ruled far more by his heart than his head where his loved ones are concerned. In this outing his worries are for himself as well as for his daughters and friends, obscuring the truth and keeping the villain in the lead for much of the story. I admit that I found holes in the plot that helped push the story on the path the author had constructed. But when scoring the overall experience, one thing trumped all – I stayed in the parking garage at work and in the driveway at home to prolong the listening. That’s worth 5 stars.

    Simon Vance deserves a huge measure of the credit for the quality of this series. Not only does he work magic with the myriad voices and accents, but he strikes exactly the right emotional note throughout the narrative, knowing when to be subtle and when to heat things up. I can’t imagine any other voice for Enzo.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Psalms

    • ORIGINAL (16 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Dr. Bill Creasy
    • Narrated By uncredited
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    The Psalms have been the prayer book of Israel for the past 3,000 years and the prayer book of the church for the past 2,000 years. The Psalms explore every possible response we can have to God, from the highest awe to the deepest love, from the darkest despair to icy anger. In the Psalms, we join David as we plumb the very depths of our hearts in our relationship with God. Join Logos Bible Study as Dr. Bill Creasy explores the Psalms, a journey through the poetry of experience.

    Charles says: "I love the PSALMS!"
    "The stories behind the songs"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As familiar as so many of the Psalms are, this study enhanced both their beauty and meaning by telling the backstories of who wrote each, and in many cases (especially those by David) the historical context that inspired them. Dr. Creasy also broke down the poetic structure of some of the more elegantly written ones, revealing a new perspective what it took to create these spiritual works of art. Old favorites shine brighter, lesser knowns have been elevated. Great study.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The War of the Worlds

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By H. G. Wells
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (205)
    Performance
    (156)
    Story
    (157)

    First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, "No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's."

    Katherine says: "So much for the modern SF reader to enjoy"
    "Ants"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Since scifi is not my preferred genre, I’m rarely tempted to use a valuable credit for space invasions. But the Daily Deal encouraged my curiosity about this classic and I was very well rewarded.

    I haven’t seen any of the movie adaptations, but I suspect that any updating of the story to modern times would take away one of the things that made this story so chilling to me, and that was the slow dawning of realization that came over the humans as they faced the unimaginable. Such an invasion today would be instantly blasted from phone to phone around the world in seconds. The tension builds as the understanding of the danger occurs to the residents of the English countryside – blooming from amused interest to disbelief, blustery bravado and finally outright panic as the impersonal ruthlessness of the tripod warriors destroys all hope of escape. The description of man wiping out ants was chillingly apt.

    Well’s acute understanding of human nature comes through as he vividly describes the heroics and villainy of panicked mobs, the reliance on or loss of faith, and the strength of will and resourcefulness to survive. And for anyone who has tried to actually wipe out ants – it’s never been done. This human insight makes the story timeless though written well over a century ago. Vance’s reading made it all the more personal and wonderful.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Weight of Blood: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Laura McHugh
    • Narrated By Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Shannon McManus, Sofia Willingham
    Overall
    (169)
    Performance
    (158)
    Story
    (156)

    The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see.

    John S says: "Not too bad but you have to pay attention."
    "Nancy Drew in the Ozarks"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author had an interesting premise for a mystery with a potentially atmospheric setting. But she failed to fulfill that promise through uneven pacing and mediocre character development. Using the mother-daughter narrative lines to relate two separate disappearances allowed us to experience the mysteries of both, but also formed a relentlessly symmetric feel to the whole, right down to the father-boyfriend connections. These four characters were so similar as to be interchangeable, and all of the supporting characters remained flat. There was no sense of time passing because the two story lines sounded exactly alike. Clues dropped too early placed the reader so far ahead in the plot that the effect was of impatience for the characters to catch up rather than feeling the tension of a plot thickening.

    There should have been a much darker tone to a story filled with such nasty goings-on in a region that is close minded and superstitious. Especially since the community supposedly thought of the first vanished woman as a witch, just because she appeared from the exotic planet of Iowa. But the tone was not dark, and the residents of the small town just came across as rude, not fearfully superstitious. At one point as Lucy is digging into her mother’s mystery, she made a “Nancy Drew” reference to herself, and that encapsulated what I found wrong with this story – a YA level plot trying to be grown up. I pushed through to the end, but it felt like a push with an ultimately disappointing ending.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Shotgun Lovesongs: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Nickolas Butler
    • Narrated By Scott Shepherd, Ari Fliakos, Maggie Hoffman, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (38)

    It’s a place like hundreds of others, nothing special, really. But for four friends—all born and raised in this small Wisconsin town—it is home. And now they are men, coming into their own, or struggling to do so. One of them never left, still working the family farm that has been tilled for generations. But others felt the need to move on, with varying degrees of success. One trades commodities, another took to the rodeo circuit, and one of them even hit it big as a rock star. And then there’s Beth, a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives.

    Janice says: "Thirty-Something angst"
    "Thirty-Something angst"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think our mid-thirties may be the time of our lives (other than our teens) when we are most likely to take ourselves too seriously. Worried about how we have defined and sought success, wondering if we made mistakes and if it’s too late to take them back and start over. That seems to be where the five friends of Shotgun Lovesongs are in their lives. Probably because I am two decades older than they are and have already been through the twenty year college reunion that proved that we all grew older if not wiser, that I was able to find many gentle smiles of recognition as these friends work through the beginnings of their mid-life angst. I did like all of them because they seemed nicely and not so nicely real. There was plenty of humor along with the worries, and Butler was able to infuse small town sensibilities into the narrative as if Little Wing was another character. Sometimes the prose got a bit overdone - like too much frosting on a cake - but I was willing to forgive.

    This love song was fine up to the point of The Conflict, when a secret is accidently let out, putting two friends at odds with each other in a way that may be impossible to repair. How Butler chose to resolve The Conflict lost the authenticity of the story. The final scenes, essentially in the final hour of the book, he went a bit off the tracks and I turned off my IPod kind of shaking my head. Perhaps guys really would behave that way and as a woman I just don’t get it. But I’m doubtful. Anyway, a star fell off the rating as the final credits rolled.

    3/5s of the narration was excellent – Henry, Leland and Kip being very real and natural. Beth and Ronny tried too hard, like catching an actor in a movie working at staying in character. The harder they try, the more you are aware of the acting. Not awful, but broke the spell enough to drop from 5 to 4 stars.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Worst Ideas Ever: A Celebration of Embarrassment

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Daniel Kline, Jason Tomaszewski
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (338)
    Performance
    (312)
    Story
    (313)

    From memorable disasters such as New Coke, the XFL, and Tiger Woods’ marriage to less-remembered failures such as Yugo, Cop Rock, and Microsoft’s BOB, Worst Ideas Ever revisits history’s biggest blunders. Whether it’s a pop culture failure or a political one, Worst Ideas Ever uncovers the ridiculous stories behind mistakes so huge, you’ll have to constantly remind yourself that they actually happened.

    Peter says: "This book was one of the worst ideas every"
    "Factoids better suited for a bathroom book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dry narration of anecdotal stories of ideas that maybe really weren't as bad as they tried to portray. The New Coke story is predictable and has been worn into a cliché. Other stories are of variable interest, but absolutely nothing laugh-out-loud funny. Not entertaining to listen to, perhaps of mild interest to keep the book in the bathroom to grab a couple of factoids in short sessions.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • We Used to Be Kings

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Stewart Foster
    • Narrated By Tom Lawrence
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Six years ago Tom's brother died. The next day he came back. It's Tom and Jack's 18th birthday, but it isn't a cause for celebration. For the past three years they've been in a care home for troubled children, a place where Dr Smith tries to silence the voice of Jack in Tom's head. But Tom doesn't want that. He's already lost his brother once, he's not going to lose him again. And so, when they go in front of the review board, they will have to pretend Jack has gone so they won't be sent to the Young Men's Institution or they'll have to escape.

    Janice says: "A gathering storm"
    "A gathering storm"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have had a very hard time finding the words to review this book. It is so well written with characters that travel in your head even when you’re not listening. Traveling with Tom who carries Jack in his head as they get away from their care home to try to find their dad. And, through Tom’s thoughts, going back to the times before everything went wrong, seeing a warm and close family where the young boys felt safe and loved, but with a shadow already gathering overhead. Throughout the story you have the inescapable dread of how that shadow would spread, of how well intentioned decisions to shield the boys from sad, hard truths actually set disastrous events in motion that could never be taken back.

    The narration could have been very tricky, but was handled brilliantly. Shifting constantly between Tom’s 18 year old voice and Jack’s 10 year old voice as they competed to tell the story, and as Jack tried so hard to be heard in spite of Tom’s efforts to restrain him. Their interactions defined Tom’s struggle between maintaining old delusions and facing tragic truths. This is not a light story. It has weighed on me over the several days since I finished it. But if I can’t say I enjoyed it in the entertaining sense, I can say that I admire its bravery and uniqueness.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • FREE: The Jester (A Riyria Chronicles Tale)

    • UNABRIDGED (54 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    Overall
    (587)
    Performance
    (533)
    Story
    (539)

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A thief, a candlemaker, an ex-mercenary, and a pig farmer walk into a trap…and what happens to them is no joke. When Riyria is hired to retrieve a jester’s treasure, Royce and Hadrian must match wits with a dwarf who proves to be anything but a fool. Difficult choices will need to be made, and in the end those who laugh last do so because they are the only ones to survive.

    Robin says: "Short story with no shortage of events"
    "You have chosen wisely"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The write-up for The Jester assured me that no prior knowledge of the characters or their previous stories is necessary to enjoy this short story. So for free and less than an hour it seemed like a good bet to test drive what sounded like interesting new (to me) literary territory. And what a ride. From the first words, thrown top speed into action that had already started and never let up, yet caught the reader up on the events with clean direct writing. To survive, they need to solve a puzzle that reminded me of Indiana Jones having to choose the right cup in the "The Last Crusade". Loved the characters and the narration. If the author hoped to attract new readers, he certainly attracted me. I'm adding to my Wish List now.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Homesman: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Glendon Swarthout
    • Narrated By Candace Thaxton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (51)

    Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman is a devastating story of early pioneers in 1850s American West. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of: the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by a life of bitter hardship. A "homesman" must be found to escort a handful of them back East to a sanitarium. When none of the county’s men steps up, the job falls to Mary Bee Cuddy - ex-teacher, spinster, indomitable and resourceful.

    Kathi says: "Tribute to the sacrifices of pioneer women"
    "Riding into a different sunset"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For the greater part of this story I was sure I knew where it was going, and felt a bit disappointed that it was going to be another “feisty woman paired with truculent man on a difficult trek across country” kind of western. We all know how it turns out before the credits start rolling. The back stories of the four women whose minds and spirits broke in the face of unbearable hardships and in some cases sorrows, were touching and heartbreaking. But on the journey itself, through the silence of their brokenness (none of them can talk), they have little impact on the narrative, making them nearly invisible. That leaves Mary Bee and Briggs to carry the drama, and for 3/4 of the story, it was pretty standard western movie stuff.

    Then with two hours left to read, a wrecking ball hits and all bets are off. Suddenly we are forced to reevaluate our perceptions of both Mary Bee and Briggs, and realize that the clues were there all along. Mary Bee was the more fully created of the two characters – Briggs remains somewhat of an enigma through to the end. But I expect that was the point - perhaps even he didn’t fully understand himself. The twist, as shocking as it is, fits. In my opinion, that’s where this story finally rises above the “off into the sunset” westerns.

    The writing throughout is descriptive and visual. The wagon they travel in almost becomes one of the characters. But the dialogue is less effective, feeling stiff and forced. In fairness, that may be more of a factor of the narrator. There was always that hearty frontierswoman sound that failed to capture the more subtle, complex moods and emotions of the characters. I was always aware of being read to. Dropped a point off the overall enjoyment.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Truman Capote
    • Narrated By Michael C. Hall
    Overall
    (230)
    Performance
    (217)
    Story
    (218)

    Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote's masterstroke about a young writer's charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the "American geisha" Holly Golightly. Holly - a World War II-era society girl in her late teens - survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist.

    FanB14 says: "Michael C. Hall in Your Ear + Capote = Bliss"
    "Never love a wild thing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When a book has been made into an iconically famous film, and when that film is playing through your head as you listen to the book, your reactions to the book can be a bit confusing. On the one hand, the film got the story all Hollywooded up, fleshing out the narrator character to give him more to do, and adding some artificial sweetener to Holly to make her more palatable the audience. The callousness of the real Holly was a bit disconcerting with dear Audrey in my mind’s eye.

    In spite of movie scenes floating through my head, I was able to appreciate the sharpness of Capote’s writing, and the enigma that is Holly Golightly who so carefully hides who she is, possibly even from herself. She expects to be taken care of but also to have things her own way, envisioning herself as a 'wild thing'. Without the Hollywood dressing Holly’s behavior is more consistent with her character, infusing the story with cynicism, poignancy and a sense of lonely inevitability. The outcome is a story much more organic than the film.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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