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Karen

Philadelphia, PA, United States | Member Since 2011

39
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 22 reviews
  • 32 ratings
  • 107 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
4

  • Flight Behavior

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Narrated By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1656)
    Performance
    (1443)
    Story
    (1459)

    Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at 17. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media.

    mj says: "Tough Message Delivered in Silk"
    "Another great Kingsolver story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Let me start by saying that I am a Kingsolver fan. I'm not bothered by her liberal leanings and tendency to tackle social issues - in fact, it is part of what I love about her writing. Kingsolver is able to articulate some of the most important issues of our day in ways that are multifaceted. Furthermore, she explores them through characters we come to care about, that give the issues relevancy to lives, not just abstract theoretical value.

    So, does this book hammer home the need to pay attention to and try to do something to address and ameliorate the effects of climate change? Yes. But it is done in a way that calls up deep societal divides and differences regarding what that means - the cultural territories staked out by various sides - with empathy for the passion and urgencies of each faction.

    More importantly, it is a good story with compelling characters that pushes the reader/listener to reflect on her/his own position in the cultural ecology.

    I love listening to Kingsolver read her own work. I think her voice is perfect for the main character - although I think the few characters that required unusual accents stretched her skills a bit. It was not enough of a problem to distract me from the story.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • The Bone Clocks

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Mitchell
    • Narrated By Jessica Ball, Leon Williams, Colin Mace, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (357)
    Performance
    (321)
    Story
    (319)

    Following a scalding row with her mother, 15-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people," Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

    Melinda says: "Not Short Listed, This Time"
    "A must for DM fans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK - so David Mitchell's writing is not everyone's cup of tea. Some people don't care for the meandering style, non-linear plot development, sci-fi currents, etc. Those people should not read this book. But for those of us who have loved his other books, The Bone Clocks does not disappoint. Compelling characters, interesting unexpected plot with twists aplenty. And a bedrock of writing that is a pleasure to listen to. I enjoyed all of the various readers (and applaud the decision of having a cast, not a single reader). Mitchell is a genius at capturing different voices. His eye for detail makes for vivid imagery. Some may say that there were story tangents that were unnecessary and should have been edited out. Fair enough. But for me, it just makes the experience richer and provided an excuse to listen to more beautifully written story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ready Player One

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ernest Cline
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11618)
    Performance
    (10834)
    Story
    (10842)

    At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

    Julie W. Capell says: "I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book."
    "Loved it - and hadn't expected to..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was just a really FUN book - great story, likeable characters, very imaginative world. It was just a blast. As someone who has never been that much into video games, I was worried that too much of this would go over my head for me to really engage with the story. I was totally wrong. There were plenty of movie and TV and music and cultural references - and it turns out that I knew more about video games than I thought I did - or at least enough to "get it" enough that I felt thoroughly included. MANY laugh out loud moments. Wil Wheaton was THE perfect narrator for this and did an excellent job.

    I usually most enjoy books that would be considered "literature" as I love beautiful language. That was not the strength of this book - but the story was so compelling and engaging! Thoroughly enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dear Life: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Alice Munro
    • Narrated By Kimberly Farr, Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (137)

    A brilliant new collection of stories from one of the most acclaimed and beloved writers of our time. Alice Munro’s peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but always spacious and timeless stories is once again everywhere apparent in this brilliant new collection. In story after story, she illumines the moment a life is forever altered by a chance encounter or an action not taken, or by a simple twist of fate that turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into a new way of being or thinking.

    Gabrielle Britton says: "Not Munro's best"
    "so so"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my first experience with Alice Munro, which I chose b/c I figured someone who won the Nobel Prize is probably worth looking into. This collection did not knock my socks off. I'm encouraged by some comments here that suggest that there are other collections that do. I was also not thrilled with either narrator. I didn't feel their performances enhanced the stories, simply conveyed them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Cheryl Strayed
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3623)
    Performance
    (3191)
    Story
    (3202)

    At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

    FanB14 says: "Glad I Took the Trip"
    "Good, not great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Cheryl Strayed is a capable writer with an interesting story to tell. I liked how she wove her personal life / transformations in with the story of the trail time itself. From that perspective, the story was neatly constructed. This was assigned by my book group, and it was enjoyable enough... but a little fluffy for my reading tastes in general.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Tale for the Time Being

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ruth Ozeki
    • Narrated By Ruth Ozeki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (555)
    Performance
    (496)
    Story
    (495)

    In Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace - and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox - possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami.

    Karen says: "Engaging story beautifully read"
    "Engaging story beautifully read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved this book- Not all authors are good readers, but Ruth Ozeki does a marvelous job with this one. Interesting cultural and philosophical and generational contrasts. The story was very engaging in that I found myself glued to it wanting to know what would happen. I cared about the characters and how they fared. I appreciate the moments of magical realism, the mysteries that are left mysteries, the author's allowing the girl narrator to be both wise and shallow, as young people often are. The characters are more real for their flaws. The language is beautiful, the story well-constructed.

    One word of caution - there is a lot of discussion of, and exploration of suicide in this book. At times it is uncomfortable - and I imagine that for someone with close experience or unprocessed hurt around this issue, it may be intolerably so. But it is integral to the book and the story, and involves Japanese history and perspectives on this issue. The tension of Japanese and American ways of understanding suicide is part of the story. That the author elicits this in (American) readers is also part of it. So choose accordingly.

    For me it was well worth the read.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Ghostwritten

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By David Mitchell
    • Narrated By William Rycroft
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    Oblivious to the bizarre ways in which their lives intersect, nine characters - a terrorist in Okinawa, a record-shop clerk in Tokyo, a money-laundering British financier in Hong Kong, an old woman running a tea shack in China, a transmigrating "noncorpum" entity seeking a human host in Mongolia, a gallery-attendant-cum-art-thief in Petersburg, a drummer in London, a female physicist in Ireland, and a radio deejay in New York - hurtle toward a shared destiny of astonishing impact.

    Darwin8u says: "An Embryonic Version of Cloud Atlas"
    "Awesome, but not for the casual reader"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As other reviewers have said, this is kaleidoscopic in that it has several loosely (and sometimes surprisingly) linked stories - incredibly imaginative, very deep, unpredictable, fascinating and beautifully written.

    Do not read/listen to this expecting anything like a straightforward story or even, necessarily, a point. You immerse yourself in the experience, and just try to take it all in, while your jaw drops periodically b/c of an amazing bit of writing or way of exploring an idea. Being inside this book (like with Cloud Atlas) creates a kind of awe, and amazement that someone's mind works this way.

    If you like Mitchell's writing, you will love this. If you are looking for lighter entertainment, a neat story or anything like closure at the end, this may not be your cup of tea.

    The performance is remarkable, with the reader taking on and giving voice to a wide range of characters with precision and grace.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Beyond the Pale

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Elana Dykewomon
    • Narrated By Elana Dykewomon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    Beyond the Pale - winner of the Lambda Literary Award - tells the stories of two Jewish women living through times of darkness and inhumanity in the early 20th century, capturing their undaunted love and courage in luminous and moving prose. The richly textured novel details Gutke Gurvich's odyssey from her apprenticeship as a midwife in a Russian shtetl to her work in the suffrage movement in New York.

    Kelly says: "great historical fiction with a lesbian twist"
    "Love the story / performance mixed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this book years ago when it was first published, and I loved it then, and I love it now. Elana Dykewoman captures something essential about the immigrant experience - the cultural and political and emotional worlds they experienced, including unbearable trauma and tremendous joy. At the same time, her main characters are navigating the dynamics of belonging and exile and making new home in relation to learning how to be women-loving-women in a world where there is hardly even language and only the barest beginnings of community for them. It is about family and loyalty and being true to yourself in a changing world. And beautifully written.

    That said... having an author-read book is always a bit risky. Elana Dykewoman gets some things absolutely right. She has the Yiddish inflection and expressions and pronunciation that are absolutely required for the characters' voices to feel authentic. What she doesn't have is voice acting ability to create characters whose voices sound different on the recording. So there were times when dialogue that would be clear visually on the page became confusing when listing - hard to know who was speaking. Especially where there are changes in who is narrating. Also, there were far more than the usual number of editing glitches - not a huge deal, but noticeable.

    Because this book is probably thought of as "niche", I imagine there may not have been a substantial budget for hiring voice talent - so I'm glad Dykewoman made it happen anyway. Revisiting this story in a new way was wonderful, despite the less-than-ideal recording.

    It is a very moving and difficult and beautiful story. Well worth it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Olive Kitteridge

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (982)
    Performance
    (464)
    Story
    (460)

    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"
    "Imperfect people"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved this book - I appreciated the beautifully interwoven stories, which seemed to reflect how people bounce off of each others' lives, especially in a small town. I also love how the author shows all of these people in their messy imperfections - shaped and scarred by their own formative experiences and traumas and tendencies. Unlike some reviewers, I really liked Olive - yes, she's difficult, but also deeply caring and somewhat misunderstood. Imperfect, beautiful and awful and infuriating and full of grace all at the same time. As different angles of the same situation are shown, the reader is invited to have empathy for all the disparate characters' perspectives.

    I also really liked the reader. The only parts I found annoying were sometimes the voices she used for younger women were too childish sounding. But I loved the growly Maine accents and the crusty New Englandish presentation seemed pretty authentic to me.

    The characters linger with me, especially Olive and Henry.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Audiobook): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jon Stewart, The Writers of The Daily Show
    • Narrated By Jon Stewart
    Overall
    (3701)
    Performance
    (640)
    Story
    (632)

    Jon Stewart, host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show, and his coterie of patriots deliver a hilarious look at American government.

    Connie says: "Runs hot and cold..but when it's hot...it's hot"
    "peurile"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really like Jon Stewart, but this didn't stand up to my expectations of his wit and humor. Loosely organized as an American History class - the humor is geared at the lowest common denominator (e.g. adolescent and young adult males). While it does have some very funny moments, there was way too much casual sexism - with the assumption that the listener is a young male ready to nudge-nudge-wink-wink away the fact that what was just said was offensive. Add to that other phallocentric remarks, fart jokes (and other similarly sophisticated remarks) - and it was just not worth sticking with it for the funny moments.

    I was very disappointed. Stewart is a smart and talented man who can and should do better. But I will be returning this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5222)
    Performance
    (4814)
    Story
    (4819)

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Cynthia says: "Shadows Dissolved in Vinegar"
    "Delightful, but not Gaiman's best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Gaiman's stories. And I love how he reads them. And this was very much in line with his other work - in the same category for me as Coraline or The Graveyard Book. Imaginative story and beautiful prose. I thoroughly enjoyed it in that way. But...and here's the reason for 4 instead of 5 stars... it's almost too much like those other stories only not quite as good for coming after them.

    So - for the Gaiman enthusiast, you will get another great Gaiman experience, but don't expect anything really new.

    Honestly, I keep hoping for something more like Stardust with the intertwining plot lines that make for a really beautifully crafted story.

    But this isn't a criticism of THIS story, more of a hope for deeper stuff from Gaiman himself.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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