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Bohemian Bon Vivant

Bohemian Bon Vivant

San Francisco, CA | Member Since 2011

ratings
54
REVIEWS
26
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
1
HELPFUL VOTES
21

  • Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Ann Mah
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    When journalist Ann Mah's diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post - alone. Suddenly, Ann's vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down.

    So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city.

    Bohemian Bon Vivant says: "Enough with the Whining"
    "Enough with the Whining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I can't imagine anyone enjoying this other than the author herself. Enough with the whining, moping, and so on. This incessant complaining, moping, whining about her loneliness after separation from her husband because of job reasons can be of interest to no one. Do we want to read how she's so bored she spends her mornings wasting her time on Facebook or Skyping with her husband? If she'd stuck to the other parts of the story about foods and travels and so on this would have been an okay read (it's kind of dull and humorless even then), but as it reads now it's just like reading her diary entries and little else.


    What could Ann Mah have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Written with more life and humor and cut out all the ENDLESS, repetitive personal stuff about her marriage and loneliness and boredom. If she's bored, we're even more bored.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mozhan Marno?

    The narrator wasn't the problem here, it was the author (and really the author's editor).


    What character would you cut from Mastering the Art of French Eating?

    Not applicable.


    Any additional comments?

    I tried. I really did. But this was just terribly, terribly unengaging. Every time I was interested in the subject of a chapter I found myself getting frustrated with the incessant droning on and on (and on and on) about how miserable the author was.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Coquilles, Calva and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair wtih Real French Food

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By G.Y. Dryansky
    • Narrated By Jean Brassard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    A culinary memoir that brings to life some of the most fascinating, glamorous food years in France and reveals gastronomical treasures from gifted artisans of the French countryside. From small cafes in Paris to Normandy, Alsace, the Basque country, and beyond, Dryansky takes us on a sweeping sensory journey, with a voice as thoughtful as Kingsolver, as entertaining as Bourdain, and as cogent and critical as Pollan.

    Bohemian Bon Vivant says: "Uggh. So Shallow and Full of Name Dropping"
    "Uggh. So Shallow and Full of Name Dropping"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If only he had stuck to the food.

    Overall, VERY boring, and absolutely FULL of name dropping (to the point you wonder if these stories being relayed really even happened, or if the author's inventing his memories). He also keeps referring to a female companion or wife and kids but tells us nothing about her/them (at least not up to the point I simply had to quit reading).

    Because I thought there might be interesting pictures, I also bought a hardback copy of the book, but the pictures in the book are as boring as the text in the book, almost an after thought, and often just generic proprietors awkwardly standing in front of food.

    It's hard to make this subject matter boring, but the author excels at it. This is lifeless on the page (or in the earbuds).

    Knowing what I know now, I'd absolutely pass on this title; and I couldn't recommend it to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Luke Barr
    • Narrated By John Rubinstein
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery.

    Bohemian Bon Vivant says: "Superb Narration, Engrossing Tale"
    "Superb Narration, Engrossing Tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Provence, 1970 to be better than the print version?

    I'd consider them equal, depending on one's preference. The narrator is mostly quite good.


    What other book might you compare Provence, 1970 to and why?

    Reflexions by Richard Olney would be a good companion read to this.


    What does John Rubinstein bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    A very good narrator, I just wish men would learn not to attempt women's voices, as Rubinstein does to a small degree when speaking M.F.K. Fisher. I never like this. It always reminds me of Norman Bates speaking as his mother to some degree. To Rubinstein's credit, it's a small degree of annoyance, nothing that matters much as some others do (listen to the narrator of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt released on the same day -- much worse [in that case I decided to forego the audiobook as a result]).


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, but it enriched my understanding, gave a different perspective somewhat, and showed these people such as Julia Child more humanly than their public personas allowed.


    Any additional comments?

    It's the first audiobook that makes me want to start all over after I've finished.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Julie Powell
    • Narrated By Julie Powell
    Overall
    (376)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (91)

    With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.

    Elizabeth says: "A good laugh"
    "Unlikeable Author / Tiresome Profanity Throughout"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Julie and Julia better?

    A good editor and a few years of psychotherapy for the author.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Anything not remotely associated with Julie Powell.


    What didn’t you like about Julie Powell’s performance?

    The repeated swearing, the negativity, jadedness, and cynicism trying to pass for breezy hip and cool, the mis-prononunciation of everything French, and the self-involvement of the author, whom I found most unpleasant to spend time with.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    A sense of wasted opportunity.


    Any additional comments?

    What a great book this could have been if it weren't for Julie Powell writing it (and if it had a good editor insisting she clean it up with all the unnecessary and annoying and off-putting foul language).

    No wonder Julia Child and Judith Jones were so turned off by it.

    Yes, people speak like this sometimes in real life, but real life isn't a book, and yes, one can see at times that Powell is trying to be flippant or channel Erma Bombeck and her ilk, but it comes off here as perhaps a bit too true. Frankly, we just don't like the writer, and so we disengage from trusting in her as she spins what could have been a very interesting story.

    Worse, one can see through references, allusions, and so on that Powell is obviously intelligent, but what a waste she has to muck it up with all the language. It just gets hard to take, page after page (and listening from Audible, the mispronunciation of everything French hurts the experience as well).

    I bought this book the day it hit store shelves, just found it, no review first. It's now eight years later and I'm just finally forcing myself to get through it. I've tried. It's just so off-putting in so many ways.

    While I might cook a recipe from Julia Child regularly, I would never invite Julie Powell to any of my dinner parties.

    Julia will live on in print, and the film version of Juie & Julia (wisely cleaned up for the masses by Nora Ephron, et al.), long after Julie Powell is just a bad memory, like a bad taste that lingers, long after you think it should be gone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The End of Eternity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Isaac Asimov
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1101)
    Performance
    (774)
    Story
    (787)

    This stand-alone work is widely regarded as Asimov's best science fiction novel. Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of the elite of the future. One of the few who live in Eternity, a location outside of place and time, Harlan's job is to create carefully controlled and enacted Reality Changes. These Changes are small, exactingly calculated shifts in the course of history, made for the benefit of humankind. Though each Change has been made for the greater good, there are also always costs....

    C. A. Milus says: "Superior Time Travel Story"
    "Tried at Least Five Times and Just Couldn't Go On"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about The End of Eternity?

    I'll never know because I never made it past the first chapter -- all five times I tried.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Isaac Asimov again?

    Doubtful.


    How could the performance have been better?

    As another reviewer wrote, "The narrator's ability to very deliberately speak each word as if it stood on its own rather than in the flow of a sentence is maddening." That pretty much sums up how I felt. Why would anyone choose to speak like this instead of naturally as one might when in front of another person? Who is it serving? It was very distracting and didn't add to the story at all, only got in the way.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Frustration. I never made it beyond the first chapter. I couldn't relate to anything at all I was hearing.


    Any additional comments?

    It might have been the end of the eternity, but it seemed to go on for an eternity. I've had this for over a year or so and tried and tried but just could never get into it at all. It was finally with a very swift decision that I decided to delete it and move on. I can live with not knowing. I just couldn't imagine sitting through this torture for hours on end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Michael Steinberger
    • Narrated By Stephen McLaughlin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (23)

    France is in a rut, and so is French cuisine. Twenty-five years ago it was hard to have a bad meal in France; now, in some cities and towns, it is a challenge to find a good one. For the first time in the annals of modern cooking, the most influential chefs and the most talked-about restaurants in the world are not French. Within France, large segments of the wine industry are in crisis, cherished artisanal cheeses are threatened with extinction, and bistros and brasseries are disappearing at an alarming rate.

    Melinda says: "Decline and Fall of the Culture of Gourmandism"
    "Great Insight into the Decline of French Food/Wine"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Au Revoir to All That?

    The insights I gained into the decline of France's leadership role in food and wine and some of the reasons for it, most of which I wouldn't have guessed at. It's a great bridge to cross from the idea of France we have as the world leader in food and wine compared to today.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Au Revoir to All That?

    The influence (and later decline in influence) of the Michelin Guide -- mainly because the author covered it a few times too often. :) It was also interesting to get insight into the people behind the names we've come to recognize (Paul Bocuse, et al.).


    Have you listened to any of Stephen McLaughlin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The narrator was excellent. In fact, I could change the speed to 1.25 or 1.5 and still follow it beautifully -- a first.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The best France we know exists in our minds and is already gone.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm glad I read this. The price is an absolute bargain. It's definitely changed my outlook and understanding of a world I thought I knew but had perhaps romanticized.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Thomas McNamee
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    From the bestselling author of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse comes the first biography of the passionate gastronome and troubled genius who became the most powerful force in the history of American food - the founding father of the American food revolution.

    Bohemian Bon Vivant says: "Not Much Story Once Claiborne Achieves Success"
    "Not Much Story Once Claiborne Achieves Success"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The narrator.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The build of Craig Claiborne finding his way in life, coming up with a dream, and achieving it. Once he has it, though, the momentum is lost, Claiborne becomes a mostly still functional alcoholic, and it catches up with him. End of story. Not much there. No great payoff or life lessons learned.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dick Hill?

    Anyone. Honestly, what was the guy thinking? What was his producer thinking? Who were they narrating for, did they think? Thankfully, after the first hour or two the narrator tones it down noticeably from what you hear on the sample, but still, just about anyone would have been better.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Probably not. I don't enjoy spending time with nasty, mean-spirited drunks in life nor in art.


    Any additional comments?

    It was interesting to learn about how Claiborne's work, like that of Julia Child, shaped America's interest in better food and ultimately in foodie pursuits. It was also interesting to learn how Pierre Franey fit into the equation. I'd read it just for this aspect, but with the understanding that it's truthful and doesn't have a nice payoff like fiction might.

    To his credit the author writes it well and also gives aside notes to clarify things. Well done an appreciated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Jennifer L. Scott
    • Narrated By Amy Rubinate
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (30)

    Each chapter of Lessons from Madame Chic reveals a valuable secret Jennifer learned in Paris - tips you can incorporate into your own life, no matter where you live or the size of your budget. Embracing the classically French aesthetic of quality over quantity, aspiring Parisiennes will learn to master the art of eating (deprive yourself not), dressing (the 10-item wardrobe), grooming (le no-makeup look), and living à la française.

    Mary says: "Do people really not know most of this stuff?"
    "Pretentious Beyond Belief"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I honestly don't get this book. The IDEA of it is one thing, but what we have here is nothing more than an outsider looking in and saying I want to emulate those people so I'll copy what they do -- never realizing that they themselves aren't copying anyone, they're feeding their souls and their own inner natures and priorities.

    Page after page we're told to emulate them, not be true to ourselves.

    Turns out, I didn't need a book to be like them. I have always sought out new experiences, new foods, used the good china and silver (several sets by now), made cafe au laits in bowls, enjoyed the clink of a tea cup when it meets its saucer, enjoyed exploring the worlds of tea and coffee thoroughly starting in 1986, driven a convertible because it makes me happy (the experience, not what others think of my experience, of which I could absolutely care less).

    Who cares about a book telling you the advantages of being like someone you're not. Find what please YOU and be THAT.

    Terrible. This is the most pretentious and soulless work I've come across in years -- perhaps ever.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Napa

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By James Conaway
    • Narrated By John Morgan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    James Conaway's remarkable bestseller delves into the heart of California's lush and verdant Napa Valley, also known as America's Eden. Long the source of succulent grapes and singular wines, this region is also the setting for the remarkable true saga of the personalities behind the winemaking empires. This is the story of Gallos and Mondavis, of fortunes made and lost, of dynasties and destinies.

    carolyn says: "History of the people and issues that built Napa"
    "Excellent But Marred by Non-Stop Mispronunciations"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Napa in three words, what would they be?

    Reader Needs Help


    What did you like best about this story?

    The general overview of the changes in the Napa Valley into the Napa Valley we know today.


    Did John Morgan do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    It wasn't really necessary in this book since he's narrating, not acting the parts.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No, it was just good backstory and overview to the Napa Valley from sleepy little farming valley to internationally acclaimed wine-producing region, including the players who helped to make it that way.


    Any additional comments?

    I've been visiting the Napa Valley regularly since 1983 and am familiar with many of the players in this book and the events being shared here. Unfortunately, the narrator doesn't seem to be from the area, nor familiar with wine, and he constantly mangles the pronunciation of literally almost everything, even nearby towns like Vacaville, famous wines like Petrus, the mansion at Spring Mountain Vineyards (Miravalle, which is pronounced Mihir-uh-vye-ay but that he mangles as Mihr-uh-valle), and so on, even among the famous names that most anyone knows. It's both funny and distracting, but overall the story makes up for it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Gregory Maguire
    • Narrated By John McDonough
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4297)
    Performance
    (1980)
    Story
    (2005)

    Heralded as an instant classic of fantasy literature, Maguire has written a wonderfully imaginative retelling of The Wizard of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's point of view. More than just a fairy tale for adults, Wicked is a meditation on the nature of good and evil.

    Suzn F says: "I was not sure for a while then......."
    "Extremely Amateurish, Convoluted, Poorly Plotted"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Has Wicked turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No.


    What does John McDonough bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    John McDonough was the one saving grace of listening through the tedium that is Wicked. His narration is both entertaining and masterful, and far better than the material he was given.


    Any additional comments?

    What a terrible, poorly constructed and thought out hodgepodge of notions and little more, all glommed together inartfully, in search of a story, a plot, and of universal and resonant themes that never come.

    The book starts out well and is mesmerizing in the beginning chapters when the witch is a baby. After that, it's a complete mess, and not particularly satisfying on any level.

    To say it's half-baked would be generous.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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