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Alison

Washington, DC, United States

ratings
125
REVIEWS
28
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
6

  • Her: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Christa Parravani
    • Narrated By Christa Parravani
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (54)

    Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, gifted and beautiful twin sisters Christa and Cara Parravani were able to create a private haven of splendor and amusement that they shared between themselves. They earned their way into a prestigious college, established careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively), and entered young marriages. But plagued by their father's early rejection of them and further damaged by being raped as a young woman, Cara veered into depression, drugs, and a shocking early death.

    karyn says: "Great Story Bland Reading"
    "Jumbled and Depressing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Her: A Memoir?

    I like memoirs, and I'm usually attracted to somewhat dysfunctional storylines (like "The Glass Castle," "Beautiful Boy," "Wild," etc.) but this one made me realize what made those other books special: the writing. Apparently I'm not just interested in a trainwreck of a story - it needs to be well constructed and skillfully told. I'm not saying this author doesn't have talent - perhaps she does - but it felt like she was still too closely tied to the events in her story to approach them as a writer rather than simply a grieving sister.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Christa Parravani again?

    Potentially. She may be a good writer, but she needs to write about something less freshly personal - or employ a better editor to keep it on the rails.


    What three words best describe Christa Parravani’s performance?

    melodramatic, unsympathetic, personal


    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
    Overall
    (928)
    Performance
    (842)
    Story
    (838)

    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!"
    "All the right elements..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was prepared to love this book. So many elements hit me precisely the right way: The language was great; the premise was alluring; the idea of wooden model villages appealed to the quirky collector in me; the details about the radio transmissions fascinated me; and the characters were all intriguing. And yet, I found my brain wandering as I listened. Even though I loved this book on many levels, I struggled to stay focused on it, which is rare for me. I'm not sure if that's because it toggled between different storylines and timelines so quickly, or if the same quirkiness that I loved about it left me feeling a bit scattered, but for whatever reason, I never felt like I really LANDED in this story.

    Don't get me wrong - it's well written, a jewel of a premise, and rather well executed. It just fell flat for me. Because so many elements were right, I plan to re-listen to it in a year and see if it was simply a case of bad timing on my part. Despite my reservations, I encourage you to check it out and see what you think. There's a lot to love here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Secret Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Shilpi Somaya Gowda
    • Narrated By Soneela Nankani
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (291)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (223)

    Debut novelist Shilpi Somaya Gowda pens this compelling tale about two families, worlds apart, linked by one Indian child. After giving birth to a girl for a second time, impoverished Kavita must give her up to an orphanage. The baby, named Asha, is adopted by an American doctor and raised in California. But once grown, Asha decides to return to India.

    Stephanie says: "A Must Read"
    "Great read for a book club!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Color me impressed. I went in with low expectations because this was a first-time author, but I was quickly hooked. The writing was solid, the story well-told and the characters well-developed. There were a couple chapters about 3/4 of the way through when I felt like I'd been duped and it was a book with an agenda (trying to help adopted children stop asking questions about their birth families), but that was fleeting and then quickly dismissed. This was engaging and a fast listen, yet I found myself teary-eyed at the end, which means I cared about the characters. If all debuts could be this solid, we'd be spoiled. I plan to recommend this to my book club, because it's great fodder for discussion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Mercedes: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4174)
    Performance
    (3900)
    Story
    (3914)

    In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

    Joyce says: "Love this style of King!!!"
    "Dark & twisted - and I mean that as a compliment!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Disclosure: I'm not a pure Stephen King fan. I haven't read any of his long series and sometimes he loses me when things get a bit too other-worldly. That said, in recent years he's cranked out some books that I'm unable to put down, that I anticipate with the same salivation I normally reserve for fried ice cream. Mr. Mercedes falls into that category.

    When King dies, I hope he leaves his body to science so they can autopsy his brain because I'd like to know how someone can have such a dark imagination without being a sociopath himself. In this book, he does a fantastic job writing from the perspective of a killer who takes joy in mowing down innocent civilians waiting in line for a job fair, then plots a very dark game of cat and mouse with a retired detective.

    The thing that made this book different than some of his others is that the crimes seemed like they were pulled from the headlines. Unlike my challenge with some of King's other books, this plot line and characters were very much of this world. As it turns out, we just happen to live in scary times.

    Definitely recommend this if you're looking for a good summer suspense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wicked Girls

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Alex Marwood
    • Narrated By Anna Bentinck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (781)
    Performance
    (715)
    Story
    (704)

    On a fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they will both be charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a seaside vacation town when her investigation leads her to interview carnival cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it's the first time they've seen each other since that dark day so many years ago. Now with new, vastly different lives - and unknowing families to protect - will they really be able to keep their wicked secret hidden?

    Lesley says: "I didn't want to like these girls..."
    "Not my thing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book had a lot of darkness to it, which I enjoyed. And the author is a solid writer with a big imagination. And who can argue with a murder mystery set at an amusement park?

    And yet, something prevented me from really getting into it. It might be that the characters didn't come to life for me, or that there was too much "coincidence" in terms of the crossing of paths, or that there was really only one fully sympathetic character in the lot, or that the ending could've been so much more powerful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Casebook: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Mona Simpson
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (40)

    From the acclaimed and award-winning author of Anywhere But Here and My Hollywood, a powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. And even then he can’t stop searching.

    Alison says: "Just OK."
    "Just OK."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really wanted to like this. I was hoping for an adult version of Harriet the Spy, told from a boy's perspective. Instead, I got a front seat for the end of a marriage told through one boy's love for his mother. The story itself would be fine if the title didn't gear me up for a sleuth-like tale. The spying felt a bit forced, as if it were an after-thought or a device introduced to filter the narrative. Don't get me wrong - the book gathers steam as it goes and the second-half is better than the first, though I think part of that was my willingness to shift focus and accept the story for what it was rather than what I wanted it to be.

    So in summary: it's a fine story if you're looking for a book about the complexity of relationships. If you're only buying it because you liked the cover or title - skip it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Keeper

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3019)
    Performance
    (2596)
    Story
    (2608)

    England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

    Maria says: "Kate Morton (and Caroline Lee) does it again!"
    "A fun escape!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first Kate Morton book, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Bottomline: Based on this one, I'll check out another. If you're looking for great literature, you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a mystery that doesn't follow the traditional mold, then you'll enjoy this. I would call it a beach read, but it's a bit longer than your typical vacation book. The story toggles between WWII, the early 1960s and present day, and between narrators - yet it isn't confusing and the pacing doesn't feel contrived or annoying. This is a story of loss, love, second chances, deception and atonement. The narration seems simplistic at times, but it's easily forgiven if you allow yourself to go with the fun of the mystery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Chris Hadfield
    • Narrated By Chris Hadfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (235)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (221)

    Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield's success - and survival - is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst and enjoy every moment of it.

    Ann says: "Bought this three times, worth every penny"
    "Real life rocket man"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    If you've ever been curious about space travel and all the work that goes into it, then you'll find this to be a well-written, interesting true story by a recently retired astronaut. Hadfield is at his best when he's describing the experience since it's as close as I'll ever come to space. The "life lessons" imparted throughout don't really strengthen the story and make it a bit preachy. I think he would've been better served if he'd simply focused on his bio without the take-aways. That said, it's still a great read. It made this week's launch of the Soyuz (and its delay in connecting with ISS) really come to life for me. He seems like a solid human, and I was glad to see that he realized his life's dream.

    0 of 0 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
    Overall
    (1290)
    Performance
    (1169)
    Story
    (1153)

    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?"
    "If only Bryson had been my history teacher..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    If Bill Bryson wrote history textbooks, my knowledge on the topic would likely be improved ten-fold. He’s such a great storyteller, he’s able to suss out the interesting details that make people, places and times come to life.

    In One Summer, he specifically focuses on the events of 1927, though - in honesty - it seems like that’s kind of an excuse for him to write about whatever he found interesting in the first quarter of the century, since he often backtracks to provide back-story leading up to the events of 1927. Regardless, it’s a great ride. One of the reviews I read criticized the book for being disjointed because Bryson hops from topic to topic without a clear plan. That might bother some people, but I didn’t find it distracting.

    This book touches on:


    * Babe Ruth
    * Lou Gerhig
    * Charles Lindbergh
    * Aviation
    * Henry Ford (in general, but also the Model T, the Model A and - most interestingly - Fordlandia)
    * The mafia (specifically Chicago and Al Capone)
    * Prohibition
    * Hollywood

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight Bayou

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By James Daniels, Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1147)
    Performance
    (943)
    Story
    (945)

    Declan Fitzgerald had always been the family maverick, but even he couldn't understand his impulse to buy a dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans. All he knew was that ever since he saw Manet Hall, he'd been enchanted - and obsessed - with it. So when the opportunity to buy the house comes up Declan jumps at the chance to live out a dream.

    Phyllis S. Mike says: "Not the Norm"
    "Couldn't even finish it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This was my first Nora Roberts book. I've long avoided her because I thought she primarily penned formulaic romances. So when this popped up as the Daily Deal, I read the reviews and the majority of them focused on the mystery-aspect of the plot, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to check her out.

    I swear, I really did go in with an open mind. But I couldn't even make it half-way through the book before abandoning. The premise was interesting enough and the writing wasn't horrible... but I just find romance/bodice rippers to be lame. Eventually that part of the story outweighed the good and I felt I was wasting my time listening to trash. (Lest you think I'm prudish or anti-sex - I'm not. I just appreciate it being a thin vein of the story as opposed to its main artery.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Invention of Wings: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Sue Monk Kidd
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye, Sue Monk Kidd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5900)
    Performance
    (5362)
    Story
    (5354)

    From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world - and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection. Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

    Jan says: "Historical Fiction - beautifully quilted!"
    "History with a heart"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Whenever I start a book of historical fiction, I find often get frustrated because the author is so busy trying to construct the setting, that s/he neglects the characters and delivers two-dimensional paper dolls. Not Sue Monk Kidd. This book did a great job establishing very vivid characters and using their personal plights to illuminate the reality of that time period. While it's certainly an exploration of slavery and the morality of "owning" other humans, the real theme is independence - both what it means for slaves, and what it means to the daughter of a prominent southern family. This book doesn't resonate as emotionally as "The Secret Life of Bees," but it's well-written and thought provoking, with characters you can't help but root for.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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