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Jana Bouc

El Cerrito, CA USA

13
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 51 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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  • Lone Wolf

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Natalia Payne, Louis Changchien, Celeste Ciulla, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1085)
    Performance
    (908)
    Story
    (915)

    In the wild, when a wolf knows its time is over, when it knows it is of no more use to its pack, it may sometimes choose to slip away. Dying apart from its family, it stays proud and true to its nature. Humans aren’t so lucky. Luke Warren has spent his life researching wolves. He has written about them, studied their habits intensively, and even lived with them for extended periods of time.

    Elle in the Great NorthWest says: "Typical Jodi Picoult plot, chik lit but good"
    "The very definition of "Formula" writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If there was a dictionary entry for "formula writing" this book could be used for the illustration. I already knew that Jodi Picoult's books all follow the same formula: a moral and/or environmental issue, family drama and then courtroom drama. This book had all of those plus some interesting information about wolves that was hopefully based on fact and research.

    Even so, the plot was both preposterous and predictable. Definitely not one of her best books, not even remotely convincing on any level.

    But it worked great as a "palate cleanser" between good books. As was discussed recently on the great podcast, "Books on the Night Table" -- sometimes we just need a book we have low expectations for to read after we finish a truly remarkable book to kind of cleanse the palate before tackling another really good book to avoid comparisons.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Dear Committee Members: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Julie Schumacher
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels.

    Robin says: "Quirky format"
    "Too short and light to be worth a credit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Told through sarcastic letters of support written by a professor for his mostly lackluster student to prospective employers, graduate programs and academic colleagues, the premise sounded like a fun read. I was disappointed by how short the book was and also how slim the "plot" was. There is a story that gradually unfolds, but it isn't much. The book is mostly cleverly worded rants and complaints, kind of fun, but I hoped for more substance. If I'd looked more closely and seen it was under 4 hours (most audio books I listen to are 15-30 hours) I wouldn't have used an Audible.com credit for it. Seems like it would have been better as a short story in the New Yorker.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Child 44

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Tom Rob Smith
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1804)
    Performance
    (685)
    Story
    (684)

    It is a society that is, officially, a paradise. Superior to the decadent West, Stalin's Soviet Union is a haven for its citizens, providing for all of their needs: education, health care, security. In exchange, all that is required is their hard work, and their loyalty and faith to the Soviet State. But now a murderer is on the loose.

    Melvin says: "Terror from all sides."
    "Cruelty, Horror, Torture Warning"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wish I could unread this one. Bleak, depressing, a cat and many children are killed. Once the story got underway after the first confusing couple of chapters it was suspenseful, with many close calls and impossible escapes.But the scenes narrated by the sick serial killer as he stabs and guts a small child with great excitement were nauseating. I kept listening against my better judgment because I assumed, given the good reviews, that the ending would make it worth it. But it wasn't. The plot twist at the end is completely absurd and as a result the whole plot made no sense. Big waste of time immersed in despair amidst despicable people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Billy Crystal
    • Narrated By Billy Crystal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1654)
    Performance
    (1510)
    Story
    (1506)

    Billy Crystal is 65, and he's not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like ""Buying the Plot"" and ""Nodding Off,"" Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, and his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Listeners get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever ""test positive for Maalox""), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion (""the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac""); grandparenting; and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal's reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived.

    Pamela says: "Growing up with Billy Crystal"
    "TMI about Billy Crystal's genitals"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Billy Crystal is a nice man, a loving husband and father and grandfather, a good friend to many. Got it. But I did not enjoy this "book" which is more of a series of standup routines than chapters of a book (and in the audio version much of it is actually presented as a stand-up routine before a live audience).

    I found myself cringing often throughout the book because of the TMI problem (too much information about his genitals and sexual urges that was meant to be funny but mostly wasn't--maybe it's a guy thing and male readers would enjoy it more) and because of the ageist humor. Despite his own aging, the book is full of stereotypes about aging, most of which really aren't even true of him: he and his wife are athletic and healthy. I also cringed at some of the humor based on Jewish stereotypes.

    I finished the book respecting and appreciating Billy Crystal but this book not so much. Maybe I'm just the wrong demographic for it?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8666)
    Performance
    (7949)
    Story
    (7955)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Best Audiobook ever!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The best audiobook ever and one of the best books I've read. Even at around 33 hours I was sorry when the book ended. I loved it! The writing is exquisite but never pretentious with not a dull word. The descriptions of New York, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam made me feel I was there. Wonderfully drawn characters, mysteries and plot twists made it compelling and (mostly) enjoyable to keep reading (it wasn't exactly enjoyable feeling the despair the characters are mired in from time to time, but still compelling).

    The narrator was absolutely fantastic, amazingly switching accents and tonalities of voice and gender from character to character, with each perfectly clear and different from the others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Skippy Dies

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Paul Murray
    • Narrated By Nicola Barber, Fred Berman, Clodagh Bowyer, and others
    Overall
    (1456)
    Performance
    (855)
    Story
    (867)

    This touching and uproarious novel by author Paul Murray made everyone’s best fiction of 2010 lists, including The Washington Post, Financial Times, Village Voice, and others. Why Skippy dies and what happens next is the mystery that links the boys of Dublin’s Seabrook College (Ruprecht Van Doren, the overweight genius obsessed with string theory; Carl, the teenager drug dealer and borderline psychotic; Philip Kilfether, the basketball-playing midget) to their parents and teachers in ways that no one could have imagined.

    Laura says: "Funny, touching, entertaining"
    "Like Happy Days Moved to Ireland Minus Happiness"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you moved the old TV show Happy Days to Ireland but replaced the soda shop with a doughnut shop, innocence and hope with cynicism and despair, and added drugs, sad sex (including pedophile priests and porn), and the worst of current pop culture instead of the best of 50s pop culture, you'd have an idea of why not to read Skippy Dies.

    Skippy (playing the part of the Richie Cunningham character on Happy Days) is the only mildly likeable character but he dies on the first page. Squiggy has become a psychopath drug dealer, the Fonz (or maybe Potsie?) a pathetic science geek. All of their hopes and dreams are squashed as the book progresses.

    The adults in the book (teachers, school administrators, and their spouses) are equally sad and hopeless and are unable to help themselves, let alone the young people.

    So why has this book garnered rave reviews? Beats me. I'd read that the audiobook was the best way to read it because of it being read aloud by multiple actors with wonderful accents. That was a plus but still found it to be not an enjoyable read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Defending Jacob: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By William Landay
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4054)
    Performance
    (3462)
    Story
    (3457)

    Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

    Kelli N. Perkins says: "Still Thinking About This Tale Weeks After"
    "Good courtroom dramas and mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a sucker for courtroom dramas and well-written mysteries so this book appealed to me. There were enough surprises to keep me questioning the outcome and I found the characters (a D.A., his wife, and their teenage son) fairly believable, though not quite enough to give it 5 stars. There were a couple disturbing scenes relating to animal cruelty that I had to plug my ears to get past (if I was reading rather than listening would have just jumped a page or two ahead). It's hard to say more without giving away the story so I'll leave it at that.

    0 of 0 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
    (6901)
    Performance
    (4868)
    Story
    (4857)

    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"
    "Great story and narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this book and thought it was both well-written and very well read aloud in the audio book. It was interesting to read after a recent listen to both Gone With the Wind and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration.

    It's a bit of an American Upstairs Downstairs story on a southern plantation with the twist of a white Irish girl whose parents died aboard the plantation owner's ship and so was brought back to be raised by his slaves and to work as an indentured servant at the age of 7.

    Great story, great read (or listen in this case). The narrator did a great job.

    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
    Overall
    (4062)
    Performance
    (3547)
    Story
    (3516)

    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"
    "Could have been half as long"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about 1Q84? What did you like least?

    It was a good deal in that it was very long for the 1 book credit. On the other hand, it wasn't all that great. If Murakami wasn't such a famous author I would guess an editor would have cut out half of the book. It was repetitive and the story was pretty silly.


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

    I enjoyed the strong female character but felt the whole story was was pretty ridiculous.


    Could you see 1Q84 being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I'm sure it could be made into a movie--it read like it was written to be ready to be a movie.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm glad I was listening and not putting in the hours reading the actual book! I would have really felt like I wasted my time if I had.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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