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Anastasia Burke

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  • Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Geneen Roth
    • Narrated By Geneen Roth
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all. Geneen Roth's masterwork, Women, Food and God explores the relationship between how we eat and how we see ourselves in the world.

    Anastasia Burke says: "Couldn't put it down!!!"
    "Couldn't put it down!!!"

    Narrated in the author's gentle, warm voice, I bought this book last night and read the entire thing in one sitting. I am starting over again tonight, hopefully slower this time, as every paragraph is filled with wisdom and insight that will make you hit the "pause" button to go, "Ohhhhh...THAT'S why I do that."

    If you obsess about food, are skinny, are overweight, are white, black, red, or anything in between, if you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Sufi, or whatever, grab this book.

    By the way, in the midst of some revealing writing, I also found myself cracking up. A lot. Roth is a very funny writer.

    One caution: if you are Christian (and I'm thinking here of my evangelical sister), do not be put off when Roth briefly explains her own beliefs. She does not try to sway anyone to her way of thinking, and her views on the God-food connection work for any woman, from any cultural background and any religious persuasion.

    This book has already changed how I look at food, and it's been less than 24 hours. Worth every penny and more!

    93 of 94 people found this review helpful
  • And the Dark Sacred Night: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Julia Glass
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Kit Noonan is an unemployed art historian with twins to help support and a mortgage to pay - and a wife frustrated by his inertia. Raised by a strong-willed, secretive single mother, Kit has never known the identity of his father - a mystery that his wife insists he must solve to move forward with his life. Out of desperation, Kit goes to the mountain retreat of his mother’s former husband, Jasper, a take-no-prisoners outdoorsman.

    glamazon says: "Unfocused"
    "Phenough is back!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of And the Dark Sacred Night to be better than the print version?

    I cannot read the hard copy due to vision problems. So I can't answer this.

    What other book might you compare And the Dark Sacred Night to and why?

    Well, obviously I'm going to compare it to its predecessors. I loved THREE JUNES, and it was really nice to read yet another installment of in the ongoing family saga. It's like catching up with old friends.

    What about Mark Deakins’s performance did you like?

    There are a lot of characters in this book, both male and female, young and old. It must be difficult to put voice to all those people. Deakins did a nice job.

    If you could rename And the Dark Sacred Night, what would you call it?

    Along the lines of THREE JUNES...maybe TWO SUMMERS & A THANKSGIVING. This is why I'm not in the publishing business, naming books.

    Any additional comments?

    My only comment I guess is that I did not love this book as much as I have past Julia Glass novels, and I think this has to do with Kit. He has a compelling story...and I was happy to follow him on his quest for his identity...but he did not grab me as much as other Glass characters have. Still, well worth the read in this continuation of a great story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Doerr
    • Narrated By Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

    Hank Reads! says: "Completely absorbing!"
    "Time well spent"
    What made the experience of listening to All the Light We Cannot See the most enjoyable?

    As someone who is legally blind, I loved reading how Doer brought to life the world of a young blind girl. That is the thing that initially caught my attention when I heard the NY Times review of this novel.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Oh, I just adore the character of Etienne, the uncle who must decide whether to sink into the PTSD he incurred during The Great War--or whether to help his blind niece during WWII. His character is so intricate, so damaged, and so lovely. I really cherish the relationship he develops with Marie Luare (not sure If I'm spelling that right, because I can't see how the author spells it).

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

    Friendship across enemy lines.

    Any additional comments?

    The NY Times made a comment that Anthony Doer could be a literary writer. I already considered him so, and partly listened to this book to prove the Times wrong. Happy to say, I believe fervently that this is a very strong literary foray. I don't know what other category I'd put it in. Very strong story, strong writing, and good characters who develop and learn.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight in Europe

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Alan Furst
    • Narrated By Daniel Gerroll

    Paris, 1938: As the shadow of war darkens Europe, democratic forces on the Continent struggle against fascism and communism, while in Spain the war has already begun. Alan Furst, whom Vince Flynn has called "the most talented espionage novelist of our generation", now gives us a taut, suspenseful, romantic, and richly rendered novel of spies and secret operatives in Paris and New York, in Warsaw and Odessa, on the eve of World War II.

    Judith A. Weller says: "Arming Franco's Opponents on the Eve of World II"
    "Furst + Carroll = WIN!"
    What did you love best about Midnight in Europe?

    I love the noir espionage of this--and all of Fursts' fine books. Once again, Furst weaves distinct characters into a behind-the-scenes spy story. Beautiful writing. I can't wait for the next one!

    What did you like best about this story?

    I love that Furst writes literary espionage, along the lines of John LeCarre. He brilliantly evokes a lively Paris that hides dark doings, anxious citizens, and an complicated, likeable hero that we root for.

    Which scene was your favorite?

    The very last, which I won't give away. : )

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It has inspired me to go back and listen to all the previous Alan Furst books. The are so intricate and well-written and carefully paced, I've found I always find something new, even though I might have read any Furst novel previously. I'm looking forward to hearing more of the very brilliant Daneil Carroll.

    Any additional comments?

    Just want to toss out some kudos to narrator Daniel Carroll. He PERFECTLY captures the feeling of an Alan Furst novel. More, more, more!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Life After Life: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Kate Atkinson
    • Narrated By Fenella Woolgar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

    Diane says: "Life after life after life after life after life.."
    "Will read it again..and again"
    Would you listen to Life After Life again? Why?

    As noted by other reviewers, this book poses some very intriguing questions, primary among them--"If I'd made just one different decision, even a seemingly small one, what impact would that have had on the path my life took?"

    I'll also read it again to better examine the careful selection of language. It is no small feat to take a story that repeats itself in some ways over and over--and keep the reader hooked. Atkinson is skillful with even the least of syllables.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of Life After Life?

    Ursula, in all her many incarnations, offered too many memorable moments to select just one. I must say, I do really love how protective and "mama bear" she becomes with her daughter. Lovely scenes there.

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

    What changes...what remains the same?

    Any additional comments?

    Although I'm a Kate Atkinson fan, I avoided this book for a long time, thinking that the plot sounded a little too paranormal for my tastes. I'm so glad I read it. Literally, I couldn't stop listening.

    I think fans of Audrey Neffeneger, Sebbastian Faulk, Julian Barnes, and AS Byatt will get a lot out of this book.

    I must also say that the narration is simply outstanding. I will be nominating Fenella Woolgar for every audio award out there, And reading every book she has narrated. Just abrilliant, peerless performance, a beautiful voice, with excellent accents.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Longest Ride

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Nicholas Sparks
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty, January LaVoy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    91 year-old Ira Levinson is kept concious after a car wreck by visions of his late wife, Ruth, who recounts stories of their lifetime together. A few miles away, at a local rodeo, Sophia Danko, a senior at Wake Forest, meets a young cowboy named Luke. Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

    Hendie says: "I Understand!"
    "I'm not the right person for this book."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    It is wonderful that there are so many authors in the world, because it means there's something for everyone. There are many books that I've given five stars to, but which might make fans of Nicholas Sparks wrinkle up their noses and go, "Are you crazy?"

    I fell in love with Nicholas Sparks when I read, by accident, his deeply affecting autobiographical book, "Three Weeks with My Brother." I loved this funny, sweet recounting of the whirlwind trip around the world Sparks took with his brother. I gave it to my then-teenaged son, my husband, and to many friends, all of whom gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

    I have since read three Sparks novels, this being the third. None of which I've ever completed.

    I have huge admiration for his ability to craft a story. And I was excited that this one had horses and bull riding and art (how many authors can do that?).

    Still, I just couldn't get through it. I know the ending because I hit the fast-forward button.

    I have finally decided that I'm just not the right person for a Nicholas Sparks novel. That doesn't mean it's a bad book. It means it's the wrong book for me.

    I think this book probably works best for fans of Kristin Hannah, Nora Roberts, or Barbara Delinsky.

    What could Nicholas Sparks have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Suggested I re-read "Anna Karenina."

    Which scene was your favorite?

    I must confess I did like the horseback riding scenes. I also thought the bull riding descriptions were accurate and well-written.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Longest Ride?

    If I could play editor, I would hand this off to the person in my office who specializes in romance. Because turning it away would be a really stupid financial decision. But I would not be the appropriate person to handle it.

    Any additional comments?

    Fans of Sparks will love this book. And they'll be happy, because I know now not to try another one. I've given it a good shot and it's just not a good fit.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • One Summer: America, 1927

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country - a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge). It was the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and came of age in a big, brawling manner. What a country. What a summer. And what a writer to bring it all so vividly alive.

    Mark says: "Why 1927?"
    "Bryson hits it out of the park again!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

    I can no longer see well enough to read the hard copy version, so I can't answer that question. I will say, however, that my husband and I listened to "One Summer" while on a long car trip. We loved being able to listen to Bryson read his own work--and to put the right twist on his humorous asides. We also felt like we were getting a bit of a history class, but with a really funny professor. Last, being an aviation-oriented household, it was absolutely fascinating to hear about the dawn of flight, and all the fuss around Charles Lindbergh.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of One Summer?

    The thing about a Bill Bryson book is that there are always so many wonderful moments, it's hard to pick one. I will admit I still laugh, to this day, about the glass jars Bryson talked about in "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid." Oh, wait. Different Bill Bryson book. Okay, so this one has a little something for everyone--historic flights, natural disasters, inside info on one of most demonized's all there.

    Which character – as performed by Bill Bryson – was your favorite?

    As with any Bryson book narrated by the author himself (with his quirky, Iowan-almost-turned-Brit accent), it's all good.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Well, I could have. But there is so much intriguing information in here, you kind of want to listen and then maybe hit the rewind button and listen again, just to savor it. I haven't had exactly the what-will-happen-next feeling I had while reading "Seabiscuit," or "The Boys in the Boat." But I look forward to each moment I spend with this book.

    Any additional comments?

    Perfect for Bryson fans. Perfect for fans of "Unbroken," "Boys in the Boat," or any David McCullough books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Impersonator

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Mary Miley
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family's vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he's found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he's wrong. Orphaned young, Leah's been acting since she was a toddler.

    Anastasia Burke says: "Premise = good; Execution = not so much"
    "Premise = good; Execution = not so much"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I am pretty good at getting an audiobook and devouring it. I've had this book for about a month now and am still struggling to get through it. I love the era this book is set in and liked the premise--a hungry, down-on-her-luck vaudevillian gets tapped to play the role of her life--impersonating a likely-deceased heiress. And sharing in the millions, should the ruse work.There are elements of a light mystery, a gothic thriller, and a romance. But for me, I just haven't been able to get to the end, primarily due to the narration. I've listened with satisfaction to one other of Tavia Gilbert's work. But here, I just found her too breathy, too callow-sounding for a slick, street-wise 25-year-old actress, basically a grafter, who's agreed to pretend she's a younger someone else--for real.,

    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I probably would have encouraged Ms. Gilbert to change her interpretation.

    What didn’t you like about Tavia Gilbert’s performance?

    I'm starting to sound really mean. It just didn't work for me.

    Do you think The Impersonator needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I won't know the answer to that until I get through it. I think Mary Miley probably wrote a solid book, probably the only reason I've made it as far as I have.

    Any additional comments?

    Narration is in the ear of the listener. This one didn't work for me. But it might for someone else. I recommend that one do a preview listen before using that credit.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Helen Fielding
    • Narrated By Samantha Bond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Bridget Jones, the iconic character who sold 15 million books worldwide, inspired a major motion picture franchise, and became beloved as a Chardonnay-swilling everywoman, is back in this hotly anticipated third installment.

    Marci says: "Love this book for exactly what it is"
    "Falling in love with Bridget all over again"
    Would you listen to Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy again? Why?

    My title has a double meaning because "Mad About the Boy" reminds us why we fell in love with Bridget Jones the first time around--and we get to watch/listen to her flail about with love one last time.I don't know whether I so loved this book that I'd listen to it again. But it was bloody lovely to see Bridget trying to make it as a single mum, re-entering the dating world that has COOMPLETELY changed since she was last single. Anyone in their 50s will laugh out loud at how Bridget grapples with phones, x-boxes, remote controls, texting, and Twitter.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy?

    SPOILER ALERT: Okay, if you've been living under a rock and missed the headlines that Mark Darcy...SPOILER, I can't do it. If you don't know already, you'll have to read the book to find out. I loved the brilliant combination of tenderness and humor that Helen Fielding brings to Bridget's very real trials as a single mum of two young kids. I got a bit choked up at times. And then, just as my heart was touched, Fielding wrote something that made me laugh out loud.

    Which scene was your favorite? all of Bridget's great moments, the best comes near the end. And I'm not going to ruin it for potential listeners by describing it here.

    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was really touched by Bridget's interactions with her kids, and how hard she tries to hide her frustrations and sadness, and simply soldier on. There was a scene when her daughter splashes hot chocolate all over Bridget's brand new, never-been-worn, oh-so-chic white coat--and I just love the way Helen Fielding writes this sweet and simple moment--and how Samantha Bond sensitively narrated it. Perfection.

    Any additional comments?

    At the beginning of this listen, I was not thrilled with Samantha Bond's voice--it seemed too husky, too vaguely smoky or alcoholic. And then I realized, "But that's Bridget, always trying to quit smoking, always drinking a few more units of alcohol than what is perhaps best." Brilliant.And truly, Samantha Bond (whom Downton Abbey fans might know as Lady Rosamund Painswick) is the frosting on the cake of this clever, sweet book. She is absolutely pitch-perfect, her sighs, expletives, little kittenish moans, all of it worthy of an Oscar. Or Audie.It was really good to find out what Bridget is up to in her 50s. Like all previous Bridget books, it's a fairly breezy read. But it also addresses some very real issues. And in the end, you care about this character. Just the way she is.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Someone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Alice McDermott
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    An ordinary life - its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion - lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections - of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age - come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.

    Anastasia Burke says: "Each word chosen like a jewel"
    "Each word chosen like a jewel"
    Where does Someone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and "Someone" will be in my Top 15 for certain. I love language and it is apparent from the first paragraph that Ms. McDermott has carefully, lovingly selected each and ever word, the result being a miraculous description of a rather un-miraculous life.

    What other book might you compare Someone to and why?

    Alice McDermott's writing reminds me of Ann Patchett, and Colin McCann--it's that ability to make magical through prose something we see in everyday life. This book would be a very satisfying read for those who enjoyed McCann's enchanting "Trans-Atlantic."

    Which character – as performed by Kate Reading – was your favorite?

    I thought Ms. Reading did a fine job with all the characters, both female and male. The mark of a great narrator is, in my mind, that she compliments the story she is reading without overshadowing. Ms. Reading did exactly that. Having said that, I encourage everyone to hit the "preview" button to listen before buying. Like music, narrators are often in the eye/ear of the beholder.

    Who was the most memorable character of Someone and why?

    For me, Marie is the obvious choice, because this is her story. I just really like books, such as this, that show how someone who's not particularly beautiful, wealthy, brilliant, witty, or a standout in a way that might capture today's reality-TV-addicted world, can make a life of meaning, just by quietly putting one step in front of the other.

    Any additional comments?

    The genius of Ms. McDermott is that she has taken a rather ordinary woman, whose life is rather ordinary (heartbreaks, marriage, loss of parents--but no attempts to climb Mt. Everest, the corporate ladder, or the heights of Hollywood). Through her meticulous and lyrical words, she has brought importance to each and every moment of Marie's simple life. Most of us live these types of quiet lives--McDermott allows Marie's to shine. And through Marie, we all shine, as well.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Gavin Extence
    • Narrated By Joe Thomas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was 10 years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn't had the easiest childhood. But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged 17, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing....

    Beth Anne says: "expertly written coming of age novel."
    "Boy meets world"
    Where does The Universe Versus Alex Woods rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a simple book about a boy who is "different," and how he finds his way. It is along the lines of "The Case of the Dog in the Night," "Harold Fry," "About a Boy," and "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand," all British coincidently. But all of which gained an international audience, deservedly so. Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will also get a kick out of the all-Kurt Vonnegut book club and how this contributes to Alex's ability to navigate through life.

    What other book might you compare The Universe Versus Alex Woods to and why?

    Along with the list cited above, I might compare it to "Catcher in the Rye" for the fact that is about a teen, but should be read by YA and adult readers alike. Like RC Pallacio's brilliant book, "Wonder," you get to see the worst--and ultimately--the best in everyday life.

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

    At first, I thought Joe Thomas sounded too mature to narrate a book with a 17-year-old protagonist. But Mr. Thomas has a voice that is very easy to listen to, and I quickly was lost in the narration. He was really the perfect reader, able to capture the perfect, wry tone for those moments of understated humor. He handled tender scenes with a light touch, without getting maudlin. I will look for more of Mr. Thomas's work.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed. I cried. I loved. I am smiling now just thinking about the satisfaction I took in this listen.

    Any additional comments?

    Time--and a credit--well spent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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