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Melissa

Upper Marlboro, MD, United States | Member Since 2010

8
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 10 ratings
  • 57 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2014
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  • Sitcom Mom

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Janet Louise Hubert
    • Narrated By Janet Louise Hubert
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    For over 20 years Fresh Prince fans have asked the question why were there two moms on the hit TV series starring Will Smith. Finally the answer in Janet Hubert's own word. With music and song she narrates to the reader her story of just how words can kill. Her intense personal journey from the hell of Hollywood, to finding love, peace and contentment.

    Melissa says: "I don't know what she accomplished with this book"
    "I don't know what she accomplished with this book"
    Overall

    [I wrote this review for my goodreads account]

    11/1: So I've always wondered why there were two mom's on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and didn't realize that there was drama associated with the switch. Apparently Janet Hubert was railroaded out of Hollywood because of the split up. She certainly has no love lost for Will Smith. I definitely preferred the show when she was the mom, and it will be interesting to hear her take on why she was removed. I'm listening to this as an audiobook where she's the narrator and it's excellent so far. She reads it exactly as I remember her acting. I'm definitely enjoying it so far.

    11/4: So I'm sorry I used one of my free audible credits on this book. It would have been better borrowed from the library. It's hard to critique someone's memoir - it's kind of like saying "I don't like your life", but the person's life is what it is. :-) But by the end of the book I was tired. She whined a lot, I felt. She was indeed "done wrong" by Smith and the studio - if you accept her version of the story - and a lot of awful things happened to her as a result of getting kicked off the show, but some of it was the result of crazy decisions she made. And she kept flip-flopping throughout the book - she hated what the cast did to her, but she's always wondering what they're doing. Really? The book is also a bit disjointed in places as she jumps back and forth between stories, but she said she wanted to tell the story "in her own words" without any editors or publishers telling her what to say.

    Anyway, I'm she was able to get her life back under control, but this book didn't really do anything for me. You kind of want memoirs to inspire you or at least make you think. She confirms that Hollywood is a crazy place, but we already knew that. :-)

    I think you can safely skip this one. There's also quite a bit of swearing in it, if that bothers you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Painted Veil

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By W. Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (581)
    Performance
    (231)
    Story
    (229)

    First published in 1925, The Painted Veil is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

    Kevin says: "A Joyous Realm"
    "Interesting story"
    Overall

    I bought this as part of an Audible sale (can't remember why exactly I picked it), but I ended up enjoying it. The story of an unfaithful wife, the lengths to which her husband went to punish her, and her search for redemption. Quite a few interesting characters. Kitty makes you want to smack her several times during the book, but you end up rooting for her to make the right decision (and you totally agree with her self-loathing after her mistake the second time around); eventually she comes around. Waddington is a gem, as are the nuns in the convent. Not a very long read/"listen" and it moves along well. I enjoyed the narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mudbound

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Hillary Jordan
    • Narrated By Ezra Knight
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (459)
    Performance
    (237)
    Story
    (242)

    Hillary Jordan's mesmerizing debut novel won the Bellwether Prize for fiction. A powerful piece of Southern literature, Mudbound takes on prejudice in its myriad forms on a Mississippi Delta farm in 1946. City girl Laura McAllen attempts to raise her family despite questionable decisions made by her husband. Tensions continue to rise when her brother-in-law and the son of a family of sharecroppers both return from WWII as changed men bearing the scars of combat.

    Betty says: "May this South never rise again."
    "What a great book! Totally enjoyed the narration"
    Overall

    I had to read this book because it was selected by my book club, but I really wasn't looking forward to reading another novel about the Deep South and racism. Boy, am I glad I did. This was a gem of a book. Having the voices all read by different narrators was brilliant and I totally enjoyed my listening experience.

    Hillary Jordan doesn't waste a word. There are no random personal musings on the color of the sky or whether there's going to be rain - everything that is in here is essential to the story. The characters are enjoyable. And I was totally shocked when I realized who'd "done the deed", but I laughed out loud and did a "pump fist" as I was driving along. Good for him! :-)

    You shouldn't be disappointed with this one. It is definitely one of my favorites for the year.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Columbine

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Dave Cullen
    • Narrated By Don Leslie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1818)
    Performance
    (847)
    Story
    (858)

    Over the course of this gripping narrative, Dave Cullen approaches his subjects with unrivaled care and insight. What emerges are shattering portraits of the killers, the victims, and the community that suffered one of the greatest - and most socially and historically important - shooting tragedies of the 20th century.

    Book reader says: "Truth and heartache"
    "Easy listening + lots of detail. Worth a credit"
    Overall

    I was trying to remember why I wasn't riveted to the television when the events at Columbine happened, and I recalled that at the time, I was a self-absorbed 20-something who didn't have much time to spend on things not directly related to me. Fortunately, Dave Cullen has done some excellent research and put together a book that recreates the tragedy and takes you deep into the lives of many of the people affected by the tragedy. The book looks at the events leading up to the shooting at the school, the aftermath, and explores how the incident was handled by the local authorities (they were a mess) and the media (also a mess). He's done a really good job and you should enjoy this. If you wanted to know "why", this will provide some insight.

    The only small "quibble" I had (and this may be a spoiler - sorry) was that the story is not told in chronological order. He jumps around, giving viewpoints from different people involved, and because it's not a book (where you can flip back to see "who is this person again?"), it can sometimes take a minute to re-orient yourself to who is talking now and what role they are playing.

    He also takes some time to delve into what a psychopath is and current treatment plans available. A good use of a credit for a non-fiction title.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Room: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Emma Donoghue
    • Narrated By Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4544)
    Performance
    (2020)
    Story
    (2010)

    To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, but what she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

    Kathleen says: "A truly memorable read"
    "Loved it!"
    Overall

    [I wrote this review for my goodreads account]

    Loved this book! The premise behind the story was very interesting - mom and her son living in a room (as you read, you'll find out why they're in there and if they get out, and that's the whole point of the story) - and it kept things going. There are lots of things to think about if you just live in one room - I can't say much more without starting to give things away, but you definitely will sometimes think "Yeah, that's true - that would happen if I lived in a room..."

    The characters were great - even the minor ones, and Jack - you gotta love Jack!! The reactions of folk who came into contact with Jack and Ma - Officer Oh, random people on the street (the crazy ladies in the department store); the reactions of their family members; Jack's reactions to everything - most were very believable in my opinion, and that gave the story its strength. The only thing that might have been a bit of a 'quick fix' was Ma's recovery from her 'incident' - that might have been a little optimistic, but hey, it still worked for me.

    I'd definitely recommend this one. I should say that I listened to this as an audiobook from audible.com and the recording was fantastic - they used different people to do the different voices and the result was great.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Jamie Ford
    • Narrated By Feodor Chin
    Overall
    (1934)
    Performance
    (863)
    Story
    (862)

    In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

    Christopher says: "Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet"
    "An enjoyable 'read'"
    Overall

    1/18/2011: this is my current audiobook. enjoying it so far.

    1/31/2011: I'm almost half-way through this and am definitely enjoying it. I've not read a whole lot about how Japanese Americans were treated by white Americans during WWII, and this is definitely an eye-opener. Imagine packing up all of Washington DC and sending the residents to California, allowing each person to just take two suitcases. The book isn't just about the Japanese internment, but I'm glad I'm learning about it.

    2/17/2011: Finished this early in February. I really liked it. The story line was sweet and you gain some insight into two cultures you might not normally be exposed to. The author jumps back and forth between World War II and 1986, but it works well. There's a bit about the Seattle jazz scene thrown in too, and Seventh-day Adventists and Walla Walla, WA get an honorable mention! :-). I wondered whether 13-year-olds might actually have had such deep feelings for each other, and Samantha is slightly too perfect, but overall it works. ;-). An enjoyable, quick read/listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Still Missing

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Chevy Stevens
    • Narrated By Angela Dawe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1313)
    Performance
    (691)
    Story
    (701)

    On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old Realtor, had three goals: sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

    Richard Delman says: "A singular voice; a horrendous story."
    "Didn't do it for me"
    Overall

    I probably should give this book three stars but I read it too soon after reading 'Room' which I liked a lot. My fault for not thinking - this girl's basically stuck in a room too. As stated in the book description, a realtor gets kidnapped at the end of an open house and spends a year locked away on a mountain with the kidnapper. The book is written as her telling her story to a psychiatrist whom she's visiting to 'talk it out' (at first she wants to help from the psychiatrist, but later it appears that she starts to take some advice). This was an interesting concept/way of choosing to write the book. As Annie is visiting the psyc, her case continues to be investigated - they're trying to figure out who kidnapped her and why. So sometimes the book goes back and forth between the time on the mountain and the present.I don't know what it is that just didn't do it for me. Maybe it was the ending, which was a bit of a stretch. Or how, after being so meticulous about everything else, the Freak managed to get himself killed (sorry, bit of a spoiler there). I think the author did a good job making you feel for Annie while she was up on the mountain - but once she got down, I just felt kind of 'blah' about it and wanted it to just end. I read some reviews on here where people couldn't put this book down. That wasn't my case and not just because I listened to it as an audiobook. :-)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Await Your Reply: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Dan Chaon
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (54)

    Three strangers who are trying to find their way in the wake of loss become entwined in an identity theft scheme, which has a resounding impact on them all. A gorgeously written psychological study, and a meditation on identity in the modern world, this is a literary novel with the haunting momentum of a thriller.

    Scott says: "Beautifully Written, Beautifully Read"
    "So-so"
    Overall

    (I wrote this as my review for goodreads) I listened to this as an audiobook so please excuse any mis-spellings. This review also has spoilers.

    The only reason I kept going with this book was because I wanted to see how all of the characters would 'meet' or how the story would resolve, but the author didn't quite do that, and I was disappointed.

    The book starts off really well, but then it drags for most of the middle, picking up again for the last third, then hitting you with an ending that is a real let down. The book description gives the impression that all of the characters are going to be related or come to some 'a-ha' moment together, but that isn't the case. There is one consistent character throughout all of the stories, (you don't realize this until the end though), but to me that isn't the same thing.

    I really didn't care for any of the characters except Ryan, and at times even he got on my nerves.

    The ending was really annoying because we have no idea why or who the last three folk are. We can guess that some identity or money stolen affected them, but there's no closure. It's like a Kay Scarpetta novel my book club just read - the entire book is about searching for a serial killer and then the killer turns out to be some random person that we were only introduced to when we were told he was the killer. I personally don't like stories like that - the killer/bad guys should be part of the plot, in my humble opinion, else what's the point? True, this book wasn't about the three Russians, but why couldn't we know what had been done to get them riled up and looking for Hayden?

    I think early on we got the point that it's really easy to steal folks' identities; it's the rest of the story we were waiting on

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Thomas Hardy
    • Narrated By Pamela Garelick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (126)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    Rooted in an actual case of wife-selling in early nineteenth-century England, the story builds into an awesome Sophoclean drama of guilt and revenge, in which the strong, willful Henchard rises to a position of wealth and power, only to achieve a most bitter downfall. Proud, obsessed, ultimately committed to his own destruction, Henchard is, as Albert Guerard has said, "Hardy's Lord Jim...his only tragic hero and one of the greatest tragic heroes in all fiction."

    Biggar Thomas says: "Fabulous"
    "Take a chance on this - you'll like it!"
    Overall

    Henchard, Henchard, Henchard - poor Henchard. Is he the villain or a victim of circumstances? Should you feel empathy for him, or does he deserve everything that happens to him? That's the beauty of this book, I think. I read the synopsis and assumed that the book would build up to the sale of the wife, and so when that happened much earlier than I expected, I wondered what else could be left. Boy - was I wrong. This book had so many twists and turns - every time I thought it was going in one direction, it veered off again. Several times I found myself saying, "No, he didn't!" or "No, she didn't!" My feelings about the characters changed time and time again - sometimes I liked them, and sometimes I didn't, or thought they were stupid - there wasn't one "winner" throughout the entire book - but that worked really well!

    ***I'm spilling some of the beans here, so don't read on if you plan to read the book.*** I was ambivalent about Elizabeth and Donald ending up together. I wanted something nice to happen to Elizabeth, but after the way Donald "dumped" her for Lucetta, I wasn't sure that I wanted him to be the something nice. But I guess Hardy thought he had to write it that way to throw yet another curve ball at Henchard.

    I think you should give this a try - it's an interesting foray into the ups and downs of human nature. I definitely liked it and am interested in picking up some more of Hardy's fiction.

    This was my first audiobook with Pamela Garelick as the narrator, and I thought she did a great job.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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