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B. Westman


Maine | Member Since 2006

  • 10 reviews
  • 255 ratings
  • 364 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015

  • Olive Kitteridge

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.

    BeckyC says: "Absorbing collection of linked stories"
    "Not my New England"

    This novel was very difficult to "get into" at first. The stories seem to drift back and forth across a small Maine town, involving either Olive herself, or people who she has touched with her life.

    The book itself was, on the whole, quite good and the underlying message was extremely poignant. However, there were two things that kept this from being a 5-star entry:

    One was the reader. I have listened to Sandra Burr before and liked her fine, but she should stick to books with either very little dialog, or only one or two main characters. The "hokey" New England accent was horrible and the switch from narration to dialog was never smooth. This made the storylines difficult to follow.

    Second was the smattering of local references to Maine. They were disjointed, random, disconnected and misplaced. When a writer makes reference to a real place, it needs to BE a real place in the novel. I live near Cooks Corner. But my Cooks Corner is not the one in the book. Neither is my Moody's. Portland and Bangor are far enough apart that someone won't go from one to the other for a job with out a significant move. Rather than bring Maine to the story, it actaully had the opposite affect. It made the story take place nowhere. And that is sad because New England IS populated with people like Olive and Henry. This could have been so much better.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Jacob Tomsky
    • Narrated By Jacob Tomsky
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Jacob Tomsky has worked in hotels for more than a decade, doing everything from valet parking to manning the front desk. He's checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room service, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late check out, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your mini-bar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. And in Heads in Beds, he pulls back the curtain on the hospitality business.

    colleen says: "credit worthy"
    "Eye Opening"

    This book was entertaining and enlightening from the very beginning. The author uses a bit too much crude language for my liking, but he does a great job with the story and throws in lots and lots of little tips along the way. I will never ever check into a hotel the same again. I will never look at the front desk clerk the same again.

    For seasoned travelers, watch out, you might see yourself in this story! But if you pay attention at all, you should be able to improve your future hotel stays. This inside look at the hospitality industry is probably more gritty and detailed than the industry is comfortable having exposed, but that's what makes it great. Peppered liberally with doses of humor and a very light, quick paced storyline, this book was over far too soon. Very well done and if Jacob "Thomas" Tomsky wants to write "Heads in Beds 2", I'll be at the head of the line to grab it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Historian

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Kostova
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre, Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of: a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

    Branden says: "Phenomenallly detailed..."
    "For once, I choose Abridged"

    The abridged version of this book was my very first Audible purchase, the one I got free for joining all those years ago. At the time, I didn't know about abridged and unabridged versions on the site and so when I bought the title, I didn't know there were choices.

    Anyway, I listened to it and loved it. The story is spooky, historically captivating, and not at all your typical vampire story. The narration was excellent and the cast of characters really came to life.

    Years later, I found myself with spare credits and decided to upgrade to the unabridged version of this novel. I could barely wait to finish my current title so I could start this one. The narration is equally as exellent and the story of course, has the same basic plot, but in this one instance, I actually found the additional material to be dry and boring. It didn't really add any substance to the story and actually made the story just a hair too long. I lost interest. After the long, dry, wordy descriptions, I found that I no longer cared (or even remembered, sometimes) what was going on in the plot. I found myself mentally running to catch up all the time due to the fact that my brain would go numb waiting for the story to continue.

    In summary, Elizabeth Kostova's story is a great one, and well worth the read. My opinion is that there ought not BE an abridged/unabridged version of this book. The stuff that the abridged version omits should have been left on the editor's cutting floor in the first place. Get the abridged version and enjoy an excellent story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Anne Heche

    Anne Heche reads The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the story of nine-year-old Trisha McFarland who gets lost in the woods while on a walk with her family. Boston Red Sox closing pitcher Tom Gordon becomes Trisha's imaginary companion - and the key to her survival against an unidentified someone (or something) leaving death and destruction in its wake.

    Kim says: "Terrific storytelling"
    "Musical Interludes - All Wrong"

    While this book had all the fascination and description one expects from Stephen King, the production had a flaw that really detracted from the story for me. Rather than chapters, this book is broken into "Innings" (fits the story line). However; there is an unexpected, unappreciated, and ill-fitting small musical interlude at the end of each "inning". It totally breaks the flow of the narrative and frankly, I just found it irritating.

    As for the story itself, it is a very well written tale, told by a 9-year old little girl lost in the woods. Her constant ongoing internal dialog with friends, family, herself, and her beloved Tom Gordon (former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox) make up the crux of the tale. The narrator, Anne Heche, does a great job of capturing the inflection and occasional mispronunciation of a smart, but relatively average 9-year old.

    The story is a great one. I've read it in paper, and now I own the audio book too. It's not a long story, but a very lonely, scary one. It's worth a read, despite the poor musical interruptions.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Winter Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Susanna Kearsley
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    History has all but forgotten.... In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next best-selling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write. But then she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction....

    Martha says: "Get Out Your Hankies"
    "An Incredible Two-fer"

    This audio book is absolutely amazing. It is a book about writing a you get two stories for the price of one as the story's main character, a novelist, also tells the story she is writing. What is so incredible is the intertwining of two very different writing styles. There is the style of the author, but within that, the character author has a different style. Ms. Kearsley is quite talented to be able to pull this off. Additionally, the narrator, Ms. Landor, does an fantastic job with the multitude of voices in both story lines. She even uses a different "voice" to read the character's novel. It's difficult to explain, but profoundly well-done. This is definitely one that I think starts with an excellent plot and benefits all the more with an excellent narrator. A must-read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Family Fang

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Kevin Wilson
    • Narrated By Therese Plummer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist's work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents' madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents' strange world.

    B. Westman says: "Surprisingly Deep"
    "Surprisingly Deep"

    I grabbed this novel on a whim because it was featured on a banner ad when I came to the Audible site. I am SO glad I did. This story is very well written and the characters are unique and competently developed. The story is interesting and often unpredictable, which makes it enjoyable all the way to the end.

    And I have found a new narrator! Up until now, Davina Porter has been my favorite narrator due to her ability to really manipulate voices and bring a variety of characters to lfe with her voice. Therese Plummer is spectacular at this. She really breathes life into this already good novel and give you a cast of characters, each unique in their own voices. This book, unlike most that I've read or listened to, had a complete ending. When the story was over, I was done. I didn't have questions, I didn't wish it would go on...the story was over. And I liked that. It left me free to appreciate it and move on to the next book in my library with a sense of closure.

    This one is definitely worth the credit.

    12 of 12 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

    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.

    Anita says: "Must be me..."

    The reviews of this book were rather mixed, but I downloaded it anyway, and I am really glad I did. The story is absolutely haunting. I have listened to this story through twice now and I can't stop thinking about it. Room is disturbing in its concept... Imagine living with a small child for 5 years in an 11x11 room. But the telling from Jack's perspective is so different from what an adult would think of the situation and is therefore completely unique. Everyday that I listen to this story, it makes me more aware of the little things I've come to take for granted. Exceptional story, well read and thought provoking.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Help

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Kathryn Stockett
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: The most celebrated performance in all of Audible’s history, The Help has nearly 2,000 5-star reviews from your fellow listeners. We hear the print book’s not bad, either. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

    Jan says: "What a great surprise!"
    "A new favorite!!!"

    Oh my... this is one of the absolute BEST audio books I've ever listened to. This one goes in the stack to listen to again. You see, I am FROM mid-1960's Mississippi and this story is so perfect. The use of multiple readers for the different characters was brilliant and each of them did a spectacular job with their part. It was easy to distinquish the characters and before long, you began to feel as though you were sitting in the kitchen with Minny or Aibileen, or watching the Wednesday bridge game at Elizabeth's house.

    The underlying morals and racial truths depicted in this book are spot on. So is the fact that much of white Mississippi didn't understand them at the time. Skeeter's mother was so much like my own, that I often sat up straighter just listening to her.

    The best part about this book aside from the story itself and the readers, is the fact that although the "truths" were not pretty, the daily lives are told with a large helping of humor. I often laughed out loud and repeated quips and saying from the book.

    Overall, this is an excellent book that is just all the better when listened to. Well worth the credit! I'll be watching for more from Katheryn Stockett.

    29 of 31 people found this review helpful
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear: Earth's Children, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jean M. Auel
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Here is the saga of a people who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear; how they lived; the animals they hunted; the great totems they revered. But mostly it is the story of Ayla, the girl they found and raised, who was not like them. To the Clan, her fair looks make her different - ugly.

    Terri says: "Clan of the Cave Bear"
    "Worth an annual read"

    I love this book. This is my third time through it, once reading and twice listening. Sandra Burr reads a little fast at times and some of the "voices" are not quite right, but this is still a very enjoyable edition of this most wonderful story. Sadly, Audible is missing the MIDDLE book of the five-book series. This one ranks right up there with the Outlander Series for me.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Anna Karenina

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Davina Porter

    This is the story of the unhappy family of Anna Karenina. The novel contains much concerning Tolstoy's spiritual crisis and his search for the meaning of life. But it is also chiefly about marriage, and the growth and death of love.

    AnnaH says: "Even Better Aloud"
    "What am I missing?"

    I am an avid reader, having read hundreds of books in my lifetime. I love the classics, but I found this to be extremely boring, disconnected, and preachy. It seems that Tolstoy used every character's thoughts to portray his own political, religious, and economic views. Over and over and over, I lost track of the plot, wrapped up in some blathering soliloqy. Davina Porter was the one saving feature to this novel. She is one of the absolute best narrators and she did a fabulous job with even this boring dribble. I actually purchased this book simply BECAUSE Davina Porter was the narrator. She didn't let me down, but this book did. I had to push myself to finish it. Boring, boring, boring.

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful

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