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Fred

Mequon, WI, USA | Member Since 2003

30
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 56 ratings
  • 203 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The House on Mango Street

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Sandra Cisneros
    • Narrated By Sandra Cisneros
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (79)

    Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong, not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become.

    Fred says: "Spare yourself"
    "Spare yourself"
    Overall

    Dear God. The narration fits the book quite well, by which I mean Cisneros comes across as trying very hard to sound like a child and fails at making it seem natural. I'm unimpressed by this book as a book (and yes, I do "get it," I just think other authors have made the same points in less predictable, more nuanced, more compelling ways) but Cisneros' simpering little-girl voice grates on your ears and makes the 2 hours of this book feel like 20.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Something Missing

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By Matthew Dicks
    • Narrated By Jefferson Mays
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (19)

    In this quirky debut novel from author Matthew Dicks, career criminal Martin uses his OCD to pilfer items from his victims' houses without being discovered. It helps that he only takes things the homeowner would never notice are missing - like a roll of toilet paper or a bottle of maple syrup. Martin has spent so much time snooping through homes he feels like he knows the owners, but when he starts meddling in their personal lives, his precise world turns to haos.

    james says: "Parrot Sketch Partially Included"
    "Desperately in need of shortening"
    Overall

    This book could have been an engaging and interesting novella, but at nine hours it's about five hours too long.

    The first half of the book is so tedious that I nearly stopped listening. In that first segment, there is almost no human interaction - just descriptions of what Martin, the main character, does for a living, and how he goes about that job. Plus Martin's thoughts - lots and lots of his thoughts. A good author could have established Martin's character and quirks in an hour or less; here it took five.

    When Martin actually does interact with somebody, even in his memory, the book becomes temporarily more interesting. But the story quickly reverts back to Martin's inner monologue - and believe me, it's one boring monologue.

    The book becomes more interesting once some other people enter the story, but all the characters share the same flaws: they are shallowly developed and just not very believable.

    In short: interesting premise, lousy execution. Whoever failed to edit this book didn't do Matthew Dicks - or us - any favors.



    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • City of Thieves

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By David Benioff
    • Narrated By Ron Perlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1455)
    Performance
    (722)
    Story
    (718)

    A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds. Lev Beniov considers himself "built for deprivation." He's small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building.

    Paul says: "Stunning Tale. Great Narration."
    "Engrossing and fast-paced"
    Overall

    I couldn't stop listening to this book - it was one of my most enjoyable "listens" all year.

    The plot was interesting and full of unexpected moments; it held me captive throughout the book. The characters fleshed out and became likable - I'm still laughing at some of their dialogue. And the narrator was very good - a semi-gruff voice perfectly suited to a war-time tale.

    I had never heard of the book, but I'm glad it was on Audible's list of 60 five-star books from 2009. Very good book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (904)
    Performance
    (247)
    Story
    (255)

    When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers - with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

    A User says: "What a waste"
    "A little disappointed"
    Overall

    I loved "Time Traveler's Wife" and was really excited to get this book when it came out. I was less excited by the time I finished the book.

    "Her Fearful Symmetry" started off well - interesting characters, a mysterious conflict, unusual demands in a will. By the end, however, things had become so preposterous that I was peeved.

    It wasn't the supernatural elements that were preposterous - like "Time Traveler's Wife", the not-real-life (paranormal) setup was good. If you were willing to suspend disbelief for a little, the situation was believable.

    What didn't make sense were the choices the characters made. For example, and without giving away too much, the huge dissatisfaction that one of the main characters experienced pretty much came out of nowhere - and the character's idea for resolving it was just nuts.

    On the other hand, the narrator was really good. Her switching between accents was surprisingly good and her characterizations were very believable.

    On balance, I guess I enjoyed the book - there were enough good parts to it. I am disappointed that it didn't stick together well enough in the last third, but I like Niffenegger's writing enough that I'm sure I'll read her next book.

    12 of 13 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
    (568)
    Performance
    (192)
    Story
    (195)

    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."
    "I wish it had kept going!"
    Overall

    "Nobody's Fool" sure doesn't sound very promising. It chronicles roughly five weeks in the life of a 60-year-old semi-crippled man with money, legal, family, friend, and lover problems. Other than that, life is pretty good.

    What a story, though! It's full of richly-developed characters, plenty of smiles and laughs, and is wonderfully paced. To me, the story never felt long, even through a 24-hour listen.

    The book was made even better by the narrator (Ron McLarty, who also wrote and read "The Memory of Running" - yet another great listen). Though the book is full of characters, McLarty keeps them separate through distinct and seemingly-accurate accents. He's got to be one of my favorite narrators.

    This book won't give you fast action, exotic locales, or skimpy characters. It will give you real people (some of whom actually learn something about themselves) and a sense of place so real you'll swear you've lived there. I loved this book and the more I listened to it, the better it got.

    I'd put "Nobody's Fool" on a par with some of my other favorite listens from Audible. If you liked any or all of the following books, I'm sure you'll like this one:
    The Secret Life of Bees
    Middlesex
    Life of Pi
    Time Traveler's Wife
    The Falls

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Life of Pi

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Yann Martel
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10543)
    Performance
    (5784)
    Story
    (5829)

    Pi Patel has been raised in a zoo in India. When his father decides to move the family to Canada and sell the animals to American zoos, everyone boards a Japanese cargo ship. The ship sinks, and 16-year-old Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra with a broken leg, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon it's just Pi, the tiger, and the vast Pacific Ocean - for 227 days. Pi's fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they reach the coast of Mexico, where the tiger disappears into the jungle.

    Theresa says: "Best audio of the year for me"
    "I shouldn't have waited - I loved this book"
    Overall

    I almost didn't listen to this book. The somewhat mixed reviews in here scared me off. Even worse, a friend whose tastes I usually share didn't like it. She stopped listening to the book after about an hour. So, even though I had downloaded the book, I waited six months before I listened to it.

    What a mistake to wait, though - this was a GREAT book. It hooked me from the start. Part of the joy was the narrator. It didn't feel like I was listening to a book - I was listening directly to Piscine (Pi) tell me his story. And what a story! Far-fetched though it occasionally became, it was entrancing and gripping.

    The book had some very funny parts. I particularly enjoyed Pi's early experiences discovering the great religions and the consequences thereof. Even Pi's earnestness at times is very funny, as when he instructs the reader on how to tame a wild animal in rather unusual circumstances - as if we'll ever need the expertise he is so intent on passing on.

    As much as I liked it, I have a couple of small caveats. I found the book a bit gruesome when describing the deaths of several different animals. It also felt a little long to me, even though I was very sad when the book ended.

    What can I say? This is a really good book that I highly recommend. After it ended, I couldn't even start another book for a couple of days - I wanted to continue to bask in its glow. I also called my father right away to tell him to get it - something I rarely do. And as for my friend who didn't like it? De gustibus non est disputandum! But I am urging her to re-listen to it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Traveler's Wife

    • ABRIDGED (12 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Maggi-Meg Reed, Christopher Burns
    Overall
    (2587)
    Performance
    (343)
    Story
    (358)

    Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six. They were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry was thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future.

    Herve Bronnimann says: "My Favorite Audiobook so far"
    "A rich story, wonderfully read"
    Overall

    What an incredible book ? a wonderful story about love, life, and time. The characters are appealing, flawed, interesting, human. The story was engaging, even engrossing. By the end the characters felt like good friends I had known all their lives. I also really enjoyed the two narrators, male and female, and thought their reading added tremendously to the believability of the book.

    I?ve listened to some great books through Audible (?Middlesex?, ?Secret Life of Bees?, etc.) but I don?t think I ever sat as long in my garage, unwilling to turn off the story and go into the house. Often I would drive the long way to work just so I could hear more of the story.

    The book is not perfect. The middle third or so I found a bit slow and I wished the pace would pick up again. But the beginning got me hooked right away and the ending was great. As is the case with most good books, I wished this one would not end.

    An earlier reviewer complained about the graphic sex. While there are a few scenes that are somewhat explicit, they?re not long or gratuitous and didn?t bother me. However, those descriptions might be offensive to some people. You may not want to listen to those three or four brief sections with your 10-year-old child.

    One thing is for sure - don?t be fooled into thinking this is a science-fiction book. While it may sound like it, since the central premise involves time travel, it?s not. The time travel is incidental to the character development and just adds a sense of fun and uniqueness to the story.

    All in all, I loved this book and have recommended it to several people already. Get this book and enjoy it!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    Overall
    (2313)
    Performance
    (393)
    Story
    (397)

    In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson takes his ultimate journey - into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It's a dazzling quest, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.

    Brent says: "This audio edition is abridged!"
    "Engaging overview of all things scientific"
    Overall

    Engaging book and narrator/author. The book is an interesting overview of scientific thinking and knowledge, both historical and current. My knowledge of science is not deep, but I enjoyed the presentation and feel I learned a lot. While listening to the book, I was amazed at the number of newspaper articles I saw that related to something the book had just covered - made me feel like a much smarter human!
    The book bears repeated listening - I'm sure I missed things the first time around. But much of what I heard has stuck with me. Even now, a month after I've finished the book, I keep referring to it in conversations and bringing up interesting tidbits from it.
    Nice overview, interesting narrator - all in all a worthwhile book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Da Vinci Code

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    Overall
    (2966)
    Performance
    (195)
    Story
    (200)

    While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, a baffling cipher found near the body. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, sort through the bizarre riddle, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci, clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

    Jonas says: "Overall Good"
    "Disappointing and cliched"
    Overall

    I had very high expectations - great reviews, etc. However, the plot was at times ridiculous, at other times highly transparent. The narrator's accents drove me nuts.
    Still, it held my interest enough to want to know what happened next. But I wouldn't recommend it - there's got to be better stuff out than this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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