Curtis Sittenfeld does a good job of catching the somewhat ridiculous prep school culture, and, like J.K. Rowling and virtually every other YA author on the shelves today, he does a decent job of characterizing the almost absolute self-absorption of the teen years. But, as with many of these titles (I've read several lately, mainly I think, because there is simply just such a plethora of them), after a while, I long for another voice and a different perspective.
Julie Dretzin makes for a very credible narrator.
I loved this book, the tale of Hildy Good, a New England Real Estate Agent and alcoholic who after a stint of reluctant rehab, gradually slips back into addiction while steadfastly, vehemently clinging to her denial. I know, I know, it doesn't sound funny, right? But I literally howled with laughter at Hildy's piercingly accurate observations of the people around her. Author Ann Leary adeptly captures Hildy's self-righteous denials, her grumpy demeanor when she needs a drink and her near magical transformation after she's had a glass or two (or 3 or 4). For anyone who's trodden down this road, Hildy's exploits (like slipping vodka into her drink during a practically unbearable Thanksgiving) are both familiar and painfully funny. Leary accurately charts Hildy's scary descent into late stage addiction while keep her sympathetic and if not always exactly likable, entertaining nevertheless. As Hildy's backstory was revealed, I grew fonder and fonder of her. I liked the closet hero (whom I shan't reveal) and the ending was terrific.
And the narration was first rate! Some listeners have griped that Mary Beth Hurt's portrayal was a bit harsh to listen to, but to me it was pitch perfect.
Though this title kept popping up on lists from readers whose opinions I respect, I avoided listening to it for a long time because the cover looked so much like one of those silly "Shopaholic" books. The book turned out to be a lot less superficial than it looked, it was a fun story with enough depth to it to leave you with a little something to think about afterwards.
Overall, Kathleen Wilhoite did an excellent job of portraying the various characters. I'm slightly puzzled by Bee's "East Coast Tough Kid" tone - she sounds like she's from Philly, but it's a pretty minor gripe about an otherwise terrific voicing of the tale.
Definitely worth a listen!
This book is more or less a your basic "Twilight" rip-off, with an ultra-perfect teen narrator whose angst is driven by the fact that she is the chosen victim of the psychopath in whose home she lives. Think of Harry Potter's dislikable relatives, wrap them in a few extra layers of cardboard and voila! you have the narrator's aunt and uncle. There are a lot of slow-moving teen love stories out there, some of which I liked much better, including "Twilight" and "Amongst Others". While I don't wish to trivialize the the type of abuse portrayed here, I also find that I don't especially want to read about it and I sure as heck don't want a lengthy, nasty, implausible scenario to be the final pay-off. It's a bit like watching a horror movie - you know darn well that there's not a teenager in the universe who would actually go into that basement after hearing that scary sound! In that case, the slapstick violence provides a vicarious thrill because you know it's just plain silly, but here, it's all just so painfully serious and endlessly dreary. Sorry, but for me, "endlessly awful" plots are simply not my favorite form of fiction.
I got this title because I so loved Kate Rudd's narration of John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" - She does a decent job here, but the dismal content and limited cast of characters doesn't give her much to work with. If you want a great listen, stick with Rudd and Green.
I won't be listening to the rest of the trilogy.
I bought this book based on a recommendation from Audible after listening to the newest Chet and Bernie book. At first, it wasn't quite was I was hoping for, the humor is pretty deadpan, as is the narrator, but as I continued to listen, the story and the characters started to grow on me. By the end, I was hooked and have now bought the second book in the series.
I really enjoyed this tale and how it unfolded. The dialogue between the main characters was snappy and believable. Clines' narrative stays really tight most of the way, and if his logical underpinnings fall apart in places, I more or less forgive him because everything else was just so damn good. Can't help but think that this was written to be turned into film, the story has echoes of several other tales we know well: Bladerunner (the Movie) and The White City (The Book) come to mind. Ray Porter's narration was pretty great and he mostly succeeded in verbally distinguishing between the main minor characters. He could develop a bit more variation for his foreign accents, but his pacing, inflections and clarity of pronunciation were all top notch.
Overall a very enjoyable experience and well worth the purchase price.
This is a story that could be saccharine in someone else's hands, but Susan Wilson's characterizations really bring the story to life. She has a sharp eye for detail and her main characters are quite believable. Narrator Fred Berman is impressive! I enjoyed the listen a lot and actually have purchased the written version of the book for family members who aren't yet audiophiles.
The Young Woman surviving life in the Big City genre is pretty well established at this point. This isn't one of the better offerings (Try Brigit Jones Diary instead), but there is an occasional evil caricature that allows the reader to smirk in a morally superior sort of way.
We all know that the rich are different and that the silly treadmill of prepping East Coast kids for the Ivy Leagues is a game largely restricted to the 1 per centers What's puzzling is why people like this would employ the central character at all, especially as she seems to spend most of the book trying to justify in her own mind why she's so much more likable than they are. (I found this proposition debatable).
The narrator does a credible job.
Even though his central character is surprisingly obtuse (especially for a lawyer, how did this guy make it through law school?), Terry Brooks has a novel approach to fantasy that almost hangs together. There's a strangely insular feel to the books, like they are taking place inside a terrarium, instead of an alternate reality, but if you can swallow the premise, the story is reasonably compelling. I'd like more of the secondary characters and less of the main ones, and have come to feel that I know Ben better than I want to.
Dick Hill is a terrific narrator, though his female voices can be a bit fru-fru. He is fun to listen to and stays 'in voice" really well.
Connie Willis is a skillful author. The Doomsday Book is well-contructed and Willis allows the reader to keep just enough distance from the narration so that the story can be experienced, yet not lived. For some books, I really prefer being completely swept away and immersed so that I live the story right along with the characters. However, in this case, I am grateful for the deliberate symmetry and literary constructs that allow me to enjoy a tale that in another form might be unbearable. ( I think of "Year of Wonders" here which, in my view, was a more harrowing read).
Willis' vision of Oxford in the near future seems humorously accurate. Of course, we will still have academic squabbles, public transit, bars, Christmas traditions and church. Her sharp eye for detail is gratifying.
Jenny Sterlin's narration is quite good, my only grip being that the audio occasionally fades out for no reason.
All in all, this is a solid, well-written book for fans of SF and mystery who like having something left to think about after their reading is done.
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