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Julie

San Jose, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

14
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 29 reviews
  • 51 ratings
  • 255 titles in library
  • 6 purchased in 2015
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  • Lost Horizon

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By James Hilton
    • Narrated By Michael de Morgan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (139)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (106)

    Celebrating the 70th anniversary of this magical and well-loved classic. Following a plane crash, Conway, a British consul; his deputy; a missionary; and an American financier find themselves in the enigmatic snow-capped mountains of uncharted Tibet. Here they discover a seemingly perfect hidden community where they are welcomed with gracious hospitality. Intrigued by its mystery, the travelers set about discovering the secret hidden at the shimmering heart of Shangri-La.

    Julie says: "Amazingly wonderful, a new favorite!"
    "Amazingly wonderful, a new favorite!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I knew about this book but had never read it, and I haven't seen the movie. I knew it involved a mystical place called Shangri-La, but that was it. I listened to the audible version, and enjoyed it very much. It's set post-WWI, an era I am drawn to, mostly because my grandfather served with the army in France. I wish I knew more about his experience, but he would never talk about it, even to my father.

    Lost Horizon features an interesting narrative structure in that the story is mostly told third hand by a neurologist who hears the story from a novelist (Rutherford) who got the story from the main character, Hugh "Glory" Conway. Rutherford discovers Conway (whose remarkable personal, academic, and athletic qualities create an indelible impression on everyone he meets) in a mission hospital in China. Conway originally is suffering from amnesia, but when he regains his memories, he tells his story to Rutherford, who writes it down and gives it to the narrator. Then Conway disappears. The novel's epilogue leaves an interesting question in the mind of the reader, and I have my own preferred "answer."

    When Conway and three companions are being evacuated from India during a revolution, their plane is hijacked and crashes in the mountains to the west of Tibet. The pilot dies, but the party is rescued and escorted to a lamasery, Shangri-La. I don't want to give away more of the plot, because it is so wonderful to discover it for the first time. I think I might have wanted to stay in Shangri-La, were I given the chance. I just love the philosophy of the monks: moderation. Nothing is particularly right or wrong, so there's little need for a crime-punishment mentality, which really bothers two of the kidnapped hostages. In my opinion, the treatment of time at the lamasery is the most fascinating aspect of Hilton's imagination -- especially in contrast with the experiences of people who survived WWI, escaped from a violent revolution, and lived through a plane crash -- and is the most remarkable feature of this novel.

    The reader of the audible book is fine, but it's not really a "performance" narration. It suited me, even though I did not like the voice given to Miss Brinklow -- one of the kidnapped evacuees. Other voices were subtly distinct and not distracting.

    I'm currently reading Hilton's book, Random Harvest, and am enjoying the similarities in the themes and characterizations. I especially like the material regarding the impact of WWI on the individuals who fought in the trenches and the way society dealt with the returning veterans.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Oliver Sacks
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (103)
    Story
    (106)

    To these seven narratives of neurological disorder Dr. Sacks brings the same humanity, poetic observation, and infectious sense of wonder that are apparent in his bestsellers Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. These men, women, and one extraordinary child emerge as brilliantly adaptive personalities, whose conditions have not so much debilitated them as ushered them into another reality.

    Jeff says: "SACKS IS AN ABSOLUTE JOY !!"
    "Enlightening and Inspiring"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really like listening to Oliver Sack's books; the narrators help bring the anecdotes to life and present the drier explanations of neurological anatomy and science clearly (and allow me to drift a bit, without completely skipping material which is fascinating, but fairly difficult).

    This book focuses on the inspiring abilities of several individuals to live with and positively leverage potentially debilitating neurological disorders. While I've seen other material about Temple Grandin and Steven Wiltshire, I really appreciated the more in-depth and intimate information about how they and the other "Martians" in this book live, apply their exceptional talents, and face the existential challenge of being so very different in a society where "difference" is not understood, accommodated, or accepted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26277)
    Performance
    (23288)
    Story
    (23357)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "Not my cup of tea"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not my cup of tea; two stars because I finished it. I prefer books where I find at least one character, hopefully the protagonist, likeable in some way, and this book is entirely devoid of that. It's well written and cleverly structured, and the narrators were fine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Forgotten Garden

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5627)
    Performance
    (3350)
    Story
    (3396)

    Thirty-eight year old Cassandra is lost, alone, and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident 10 years ago, feels like she has lost everything known and dear to her.

    Robert says: "Six stars if I could"
    "How fairy tales work"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book, read by Caroline Lee, and loved it from the beginning all the way to the end. I could hardly stop listening to it, but didn't really want it to end. It's a wonderful story about how a woman (Nell) and then her granddaughter (Cassandra) researches Nell's family history. Back-story elements are woven throughout, but the plot lines are well structured and indicated by location and date. I enjoyed the gothic Victorian elements: invalids, orphans, and villains (oh my). A couple elements seemed to be underdeveloped, but I don't want to say more and spoil the mystery for anyone else. The book is romantic in a general way, but it is not a "romance" novel. I think of it as a wonderful fairy tale woven into a modern search for family and identity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neverwhere [Adaptation]

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Christopher Lee, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, and others
    Overall
    (2140)
    Performance
    (2010)
    Story
    (2003)

    A BBC Radio six-part adaptation of Neil Gaiman's best-selling novel, starring James McAvoy as Richard and Natalie Dormer as Door. Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere....

    Gayle says: "Superb"
    "Great story, cast of readers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed the audible production of this surreal story about an alternate universe under the streets of London. Richard Mayhew's good deed takes him, reluctantly, into an adventure where he is thrust from fearful mediocrity into the role of hero. The ensemble of readers helps the story come to life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • White Doves at Morning

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (43)

    In a startling departure, James Lee Burke has written an epic story of love, hate, and survival set against the tumultuous background of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Booklist calls White Doves "an epic filmed in tight focus, taking us from secession to Reconstruction at an intensely personal level."

    Justin says: "not his best"
    "Good Civil War Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a really good novel about the Civil War, focusing on the effects of the war on the characters. I really liked the complexity of the characters, who were, for the most part, well developed, interesting, and responding according to their personal backgrounds and motives. The usual, lower-level Civil-War villains tended to be flatter and a bit stereotypical, but this did not detract from the plot -- at least for me. Definitely well read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of Life: All Souls, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3909)
    Performance
    (3603)
    Story
    (3590)

    After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness's enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew's ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches - with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

    Loren says: "too many loose threads in this weaving"
    "Hoping for more..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved it, and it seems like the author left an opening for further adventures, but I won't hold my breath. I did find myself less happy with the reader. I thought the narration was a bit too whispery and almost kind of sing-songy, but not so much that I could stop listening for very long. The images and descriptions, especially involving Diana's transformation (a teaser, not a spoiler) made me hope for a movie or a really well-done graphic novel.

    I especially like, in all the books, the use of rural central New York State as one of the settings. I grew up near there and just love the Bouckville/Madison Antique Fair.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood: Outlander, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4680)
    Performance
    (4358)
    Story
    (4343)

    Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to 1743 Scotland, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for a young soldier, James Fraser.

    G. House Sr. says: "Eloquent Fabulous Historical - Grand Continuation"
    "Worth the wait; sorry it's over"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read all the books, but it's been a bit of a stretch since the last one. I did not go back and re-read any of the previous books, but have enjoyed watching the tv program on Starz for a great way to review the beginning. In spite of the intervening years, the structure of this book helped jog my memory for most of the important events. There is, however, a fair bit of recollecting from most of the main characters. I did not find that tiresome, but I imagine that some readers might (especially those who did reread the series from the beginning).

    I would have liked to have a bit more information about the ending (no spoilers here). As the final chapters ticked by, I kept waiting for more from the secondary storyline, and I was disappointed not to have at least some sense of the details, hence the 4-star rating on the story.

    I found the weight of the hardback (signed by the author at a lecture I attended) and the size of the font a bit too uncomfortable for reading, and am very happy with the excellent narration by Davina Porter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Enchanted April

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Elizabeth von Arnim
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (311)
    Performance
    (149)
    Story
    (152)

    This is a journey of both escape and discovery for four exquisitely different women, a month of bliss and privacy for four weary souls. Their refuge on the Italian Riviera provides the perfect backdrop for a story about the search for spiritual harmony within and without.

    Amazon Customer says: "Excellent book, excellent narrator"
    "Wonderful Details"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Enchanted April is one of my very favorite movies and I was delighted to hear all the details in the thoughts of the characters that cannot be communicated in film.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Twelve Years a Slave

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Solomon Northup
    • Narrated By Louis Gossett, Jr.
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1219)
    Performance
    (1093)
    Story
    (1095)

    In this riveting landmark autobiography, which reads like a novel, Academy Award and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr., masterfully transports us to 1840s New York; Washington, D.C.; and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and 12 years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War.

    Fran H. Willingham says: "I've waited for this a long time"
    "Excellent book, well read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an excellent, first-hand account of slavery in the American south written by a man who was kidnapped from his home in New York State and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Solomon Northup's story is a heartrending story of a man's patient fight for survival and freedom. Even his fair portrayal of 2 kind masters cannot balance the years he suffers in unrelenting, back-breaking labor, the unfathomable cruelty and unbelievable brutality of several of his masters, and his constant deep longing for freedom and his family. Louis Gossett, Jr.'s narration is as expert as you would expect. It is not a "performance" read, which I think works well with a first-person point of view.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Rita Leganski
    • Narrated By Maggi-Meg Reed
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (42)

    Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows that Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance - a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound.

    RueRue says: "Unusual story, wrong narrator"
    "A darling, lyrical gem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I LOVE this book. It is a darling lyrical gem of beautiful language and gentle philosophy about how the characters deal with the currents in their lives. I remember thinking that the author must have had so much fun coming up with images for the things Bonaventure could hear. I am so glad I listened to the audible version; the narrator, Maggi-Meg Reed, was perfect and found distinct voices for the characters. I wish they had cast her to read the Hunger Games trilogy. I am adding this one to my favorites list and will look for more from Ms Leganski.

    One of the themes in this book is forgiveness, a favorite topic of mine. I especially like this passage, which comes toward the end of the book: "The words fell all around her then like a kind and curing rain: Father, forgive them; they know not what they do. Right there and then, Letice Arrow knew in absolute clarity that forgiveness is unconditional; it is complete in and of itself and always rises above the facts."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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