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Valerie

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Member Since 2002

4
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 7 reviews
  • 34 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
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  • The Tortilla Curtain

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By T. C. Boyle
    • Narrated By T. C. Boyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (70)

    Topanga Canyon is home to two couples on a collision course. Los Angeles liberals Delaney and Kyra Mossbacker lead an ordered, sushi-and-recycling existence in a newly gated hilltop community: He is a sensitive nature writer, she an obsessive realtor. Mexican illegals Candido and America Rincon desperately cling to their vision of the American Dream as they fight off starvation in a makeshift camp deep in the ravine.

    Julie says: "What a talented author & narrator!"
    "Who Said Writers Shouldn't Narrate Their Own Work?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    With rare exceptions, writers should stick to the keyboards and leave the microphones to the pros. But T.C. Boyle does a great job with this story of two Mexican illegal immigrants who find life on our side of the boarder to be a dangerous and hungry place. During a time when "Illegals" are blamed for everything from rising health care costs to unemployment, "The Tortilla Curtain" exposes the actual economic dependencies we Americans share with our Mexican neighbors.

    As did "The Help's," sixties-era maids, the Illegals in this story live and work without the protections and rights afforded other American workers and so are often exploited by everyone from employers to "coyotes" to imported Mexican criminals.

    Even open minded, educated and well-intended individuals can be influenced by the attitudes and prejudices prevalent in their culture and victim blaming is an all-too-common justification for those attitudes. The book explores the psychology of power as the well-to-do Californians in the story struggle between their sympathies, their territorialism, and their simple desire to have their lawn mowed cheaply.

    As with all of T.C. Boyle's works, this is a compelling story with engaging protagonists who are at once frustrating and endearing. Boyle always seems to put a great deal of research into his subject matter and so "The Tortilla Curtain" accurately depicts both the economic and interpersonal complexities of the cultural mash-up called California.

    A thoughtful read with great narration. Highly recommended.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Trustee from the Toolroom

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Nevil Shute
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    Overall
    (403)
    Performance
    (360)
    Story
    (360)

    Keith Stewart, a retiring and ingenious engineer, could not have been happier in his little house in the shabby London suburb of Ealing. There he invented the mini-motor, the six-volt generator, and the tiny Congreve clock. Then a chain of events sweeps him into deep waters and leads him to his happiest discovery yet.

    Marc says: "Favorite book in ages!!"
    "Inspiring Story of Rewards For a Life Well Lived"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On the surface, this is the story of a big adventure for an unobtrusive man who has deliberately lived a quiet, adventure-free life. But as the tale unfolds, what we are hearing is how good deeds and a life well lived can sometimes reward us in surprising ways. Sometimes good things happen to good people because, well, they've earned it.

    The engineering speak, along with a slightly dolorous-sounding narrator, can become a bit tedious but hang in there. It is a charming story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Signature Performance by Elijah Wood

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Elijah Wood
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2368)
    Performance
    (1855)
    Story
    (1839)

    A Signature Performance: Elijah Wood becomes the first narrator to bring a youthful voice and energy to the story, perhaps making it the closest interpretation to Twain’s original intent.

    James says: "Worthy "signature" premiere"
    "Elijah Wood Made Huck Finn Worth a Revisit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even if you read Huck Finn before -- and, who hasn't? -- Elijah Wood did such a terrific job with the narration of this classic that it was a very enjoyable revisit. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • And One Last Thing...

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Molly Harper
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2685)
    Performance
    (2044)
    Story
    (2040)

    Lacey Terwilliger's shock and humiliation over her husband's philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike's company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike's family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend", Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town and a media punch line....

    Ducky says: "For me this was such a HOOT!!!"
    "Amusing Albeit Predictable Romance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you are expecting something other than a rather standard romance novel, you'll be disappointed. It was an amusing premise, however, and the narrator did a good job with it — although I found her slightly edgy voice trying after a long listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 1Q84

    • UNABRIDGED (46 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)
    • Narrated By Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3893)
    Performance
    (3401)
    Story
    (3369)

    The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

    A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....

    Dr. says: "Slow, Strange, and (ultimately) Satisfying"
    "What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Haruki Murakami can always be counted on to take his readers out of the realm of "The Normal." His stories tend to be slightly but plausibly supernatural and "IQ84" is no exception. I love Murakami's ability to give his readers a glimpse of some other reality flitting by just behind a gauzy curtain or just up a stairway by the interstate.

    "IQ84's" characters are as complicated in their motivations and histories as the story line itself and all three narrators do a great job of giving them added depth. You can cheer for the protagonists without necessarily approving of them and really dislike the villains while harboring just a little pity and hope for their salvation.

    Invest a credit and jump on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. You'll enjoy the trip.





    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Kitchen House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kathleen Grissom
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6689)
    Performance
    (4670)
    Story
    (4655)

    Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

    B.J. says: "Good, but with reservations"
    "NOT 'The Help' But Not 'Roots' Either"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Many reviewers have compared this book with "The Help" although the only thing it has in common with that wonderful book is the broad subject matter of indentured servitude/slavery. This book takes a more stark view of the characters' oppressed lives than does "The Help," but without the raw brutality and cruelty described in "Roots."

    Throughout the story, one never feels that the protagonists will see a positive outcome as no part of their lives is under their own control — a condition pervasive during this time period for not only slaves but, to a lesser degree, women.

    I felt the characters lacked depth: The "good guys" are so predictably good and the "bad guys" are so predictably bad that it became a little too easy to anticipate the next turn of the continually anxiety-ridden events.

    Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin were excellent and breathe life into their characters. For me, they made the difference between a mediocre and a good listen.

    While I would recommend this book for the great narration and a story that seems historically accurate and interesting, don't download it if you are expecting the light-handed and humorous approach with which oppression is treated in "The Help."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sisterhood of Dune

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (360)
    Performance
    (331)
    Story
    (334)

    It is 83 years after the last of the thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. Great changes are brewing that will shape and twist all of humankind.

    Clydene says: "This is the First Need to Listen for 2012"
    "Leaves Ya Hangin'..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After a rather meandering story and unfocused plot, the book abruptly ends leaving the listener looking for the concluding chapter. While I don't mind books that make you look forward to the next in the sequence, this one is truly "half a book."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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