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L. Barrell

Literary Lady

Maryland | Member Since 2012

ratings
379
REVIEWS
8
FOLLOWING
59
FOLLOWERS
2
HELPFUL VOTES
19

  • While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Wendy Wax
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (125)
    Story
    (125)

    When the concierge of The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and - even more unexpectedly - with one another.... For Samantha, Claire, Brooke - and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings - it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life's hardest moments - all of it reflected in the unfolding drama of Downton Abbey.

    Jean says: "Orlagh Cassidy makes this story a joyful read."
    "Delightful! A total blast!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about While We Were Watching Downton Abbey?

    The narrator was incredibly good. All the voices were distinguishable including the male characters. This book was such an enjoyable experience made even more so by the narration. Cannot stress enough what a fantastic job she did.
    My interest in the series Downton Abbey, was a big drawing point for me initially. Variety of characters that included many different backgrounds, personalities and so forth but the similarities of anybody, (woman or man, although this was very much about being a woman) became a primary theme of the story.
    How alike rather than different we all are regardless of our backgrounds or life experience was made more apparent as the story went on.


    What other book might you compare While We Were Watching Downton Abbey to and why?

    It is a good example of a light read but with substance and many plots that intertwined to give the entire book a cohesiveness. Easy to listen to and well written with just enough cliff hanging chapters that made me continue listening. Reminds me of Elizabeth Berg's novels and also Jennifer Weiner but with a serious side that balanced well with the humor infused within the story.


    What about Orlagh Cassidy’s performance did you like?

    Everything!!! Her portrayal of the concierge who arranges the Sunday night screenings was magnificent! This character set the scene up and provided the outline for the rest of the book. The narration of this character was the best of all the characters in the book. Amazed at the range and accents she is able to use. An incredible narrator. This is the first book I have listened to with this narrator but I will definately look for other books she has narrated.


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

    This book ran the gamut of emotions. Many smiles, occasional laugh out loud giggles with serious moments that made me think and question the individual characters. Each of the major characters had their own story with a central theme that all came together very nicely at the conclusion. Wish it was longer but really, the story was complete and finished. Would love a sequel.


    Any additional comments?

    Although this was not a heavy read, it was a joy to listen to. A well written and extremely well narrated book that I found appealing. As a fan of the Downton abbey series, the book was especially of interest and I could relate to and enjoyed the discussions by the characters about their reactions and questions each time they viewed an episode. The concierge who acted as host each Sunday night was very well developed as a person which added to the development of the others through his interaction with the other characters.
    All in all I would recommend this book. I felt entertained and enjoyed every moment!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The FREE multi-chapter sampler of Binary Cycle: Part 1: Disruption (Binary Cycle Saga 1)

    • UNABRIDGED (33 mins)
    • By W. J Davies
    • Narrated By Chris Patton
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    They escaped a ruined Earth, barely staving off extinction. Two-hundred years after arriving on the beautiful and bizarre planet of Taran, humanity is thriving once again. Until now.... When famous scientist Cassidy Walker uncovers evidence that the planet is teetering on the brink of disaster - a catastrophe that mankind will not walk away from - the countdown to the next great challenge in human history begins. And they might not survive this time.

    L. Barrell says: "What a surprise!"
    "What a surprise!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The FREE multi-chapter sampler of Binary Cycle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I can't rank it against any of the books in my library because it is unique genre and my first exposure to this kind of book


    What other book might you compare The FREE multi-chapter sampler of Binary Cycle to and why?

    I do not know but because I found this extremely interesting, I'm going to read more by this author and take it from there


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

    The story was alive as if happening right in my room. Fantastic narration. I became lost in the story so fast that I was no longer listening to the narration of a book but felt like the audience for a fascinating stage production.


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

    Immediately caught me off guard within a couple minutes at the very start of the first chapter.


    Any additional comments?

    I've never been interested in anything that was considered science fiction or fantasy and I must admit that i have never read anything from the science fiction arena, so I really didn't have any reason to completely shut out science fiction books. Just my ill conceived impression of what I wrongly assumed science fiction to be: totally unrealistic and thought of it like the horror movies on tv or without any basis in real life. Very narrow minded and ignorant I realize. I was aware of science fiction writers who are well respected and very popular as well as some within the classics. But I simply kept away from anything that even had a hint of science fiction in it. For years I've been told by many people who are avid readers that I am missing out on an awful lot of good books if I refused to read anything that is labeled science fiction. It had more to it than I imagined, I was told. Still I persisted for 70 years and now I have come to the conclusion that my stubbornness and somewhat snobby attitude regarding an entire genre of writing that most likely I have done myself a disservice. I plan to continue reading those writers and books I've read about and even had part of a literature course in college many years ago that included just how much the role of science fiction writing has had on literature throughout the ages and the influence it has had on some of my favorite writers.All I can say about this short book is that I found it fascinating, thought provoking and I enjoyed it immensely. My only complaint....it was only 33 minutes long and I did not want it to end! I am about to start reading the other story that goes next with this one and have also got The Runner downloaded to listen to as soon as I finish the second part of this story. I've certainly learned my lesson the hard way but am so excited to find an entirely new genre of books to explore. At my age I'd better get going as I have an awful lot of books in my library I'd like to read right now and I keep adding books all the time! The problem is this: every month new writers and/or new books are published and there will always be something new that sounds good. Now if I could just live a couple hundred more years........!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • We Are Water: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Wally Lamb
    • Narrated By Wally Lamb, George Guidall, Maggi-Meg Reed, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1196)
    Performance
    (1084)
    Story
    (1086)

    After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh - wife, mother, outsider artist - has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets - dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs' lives.

    Suzn F says: "Lamb writes Fine Literature/What a Book!"
    "Not Up To Snuff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up We Are Water in three words, what would they be?


    Disappointing
    Over analyzed
    Underdeveloped


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Disappointed. Surprised at lack of ending. Still had some wonderful writing but fell flat as a whole. Wally Lamb usually writes a well rounded story with a beginning, middle and end. This book was too long and lacked Wally Lamb's usual well developed plot lines. Hoping that his next book gives us the caliber and kind of writing we expect from Mr. Lamb. Nobody hits it out of the park every time.


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

    Narration really added to the book. I read the book as well as listen to it and the audiobook was much better.


    If you could take any character from We Are Water out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Orion Oh. Would like to ask him why he seemed like such a strong and honest man on one hand, but then contradicted himself with some of the actions and thinking he engaged in. I initially really liked this man but found myself wavering my thoughts about his character as time went on. Kind of a roller coaster like/dislike/ reactions I had as the story progressed. I could not decide how I felt about him until the last half when he seemed to give up and lost his strength and honesty. Not the man I thought he was.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was one I was looking forward to for so long and perhaps I am being too judgmental in my feelings about this book, now that I have finally been able to read/listen to it. It is a good enough book...just not on the level I expected considering that Wally Lamb wrote it.

    It started out well enough, got my interest initially but it became tedious and a bit boring after a couple hundred pages. I wish that Viveca played a bigger role in the story for one thing. Other characters that were initially introduced never really re entered the story, if at all, until the ending section. I usually love Lamb's descriptions and his ability to develop characters. You feel like you really get to know them and you care about them or not. And I've always felt invested in the characters. His books She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True are both outstanding novels. This characters in this book didn't really evoke the kind of emotional response that I usually expect when I am reading one of Lamb's books.

    There seemed to be an excess amount of psycho-babble that just didn't feel right. Although Orion is a psychologist, I felt as if all the characters were "analyzed" rather than developed as people with certain traits and characteristics that were written about and the reader got to know these people through the descriptions, conversation, actions etc. In We Are Water I felt as if everyone was presented as if they were all clients of a psycholigist or social worker.And as a result the characters never felt very real to me and it was hard to be very interested in some cases. There were times when I felt I got a glimpse of who someone was all about but somehow they ended up kind of two dimensional to me.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Tales of the City: Tales of the City, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Armistead Maupin
    • Narrated By Frances McDormand
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (364)
    Performance
    (327)
    Story
    (333)

    For more than three decades Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture...from a groundbreaking newspaper serial, to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of six novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales of the City is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.

    Nancy J says: "Sparkling, Witty and Touching!"
    "A Wild and Crazy Bunch in San Francisco circa 1967"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Tales of the City to be better than the print version?

    Yes, because Frances McDormand breathes real life into the characters and the entire story just pops. The vast diversity of the residents and friends that are a part of the house at 23 Barberry Lane make for a most interesting and rather hilarious look at life among the residents and their friends and lovers during a particularly unique time in the whole cultural scene going on in San Francisco, as well as the general flavor of this country as a whole. So much was going on in those days of civil rights, which blossomed into many other issues: gay and women's rights, the war in Vietnam, the period in my life when we really thought we were going to be a part of real changes for people in this country, that would focus on the rights of everyone and make equality and freedom a reality for all. And to a large extent, much did happen and new legislation enabled the inclusion of many folks given the civil rights and equality of everyone else. That is, to an extent. The mood in the country was one of unbounded optimism and it seemed the young people engaged people to talk about, discuss, protest!, and March for many issues. We were naive and wanted to believe that violence was not necessary in order to accomplish anything. A time of peaceful, nonviolence and protest marches to get the message out. This book takes place during the latter part of the 60's, when people were just starting to come out of the closet and San Francisco was the place to be no matter what your particular issue was. The general attitude of the citizens of this country during that time became more tolerant and open to new ideas and willing to at least tolerate discussion and activity that addressed civil rights for all, what freedom should or could or might mean. In general, people just seemed nicer. A kinder gentler America, especially in light of the state of affairs currently holding in Washington, which is representative of attitude of discord and division that has spread to an alarming degree. Times have changed certainly, and without trying to make a judgment call on life in these United States today, this book takes place during a period when the atmosphere and general attitude of the country was in a very very different place. Hope was very prevalent back in those hippie /dippie days, and as naive and silly it may seem now, it was a lot more pleasant place to be. People certainly engaged in debate and confrontation, but the meanness that seems so obvious today was nonexistent then. And this book gives the reader a wonderful story about a quirky, crazy bunch of folks that make this book a very pleasurable experience. The audio version of this book really brings all the various day to day experiences of the characters whether happy, sad, ridiculous, difficult or whatever life brings each day alive for me as I listen. It's a much fuller experience. I feel more emotionally attached and find myself more concerned about some of these characters. Listening to the narrator give voice to each person and does justice to Maupin's marvelous development of his characters . And the humor is not lost, nor the bitterness or irony either. In short, this was a great fun experience. I loved the characters, some more than others. But the overall experience gave me a much needed break from the reality of everyday living now. It was well written and the humor and innuendo added much. Highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a few hours of enjoyment as you meet and get to know an hilarious and absurd but also very honest and real group of people that are living their lives as best they can in San Francisco in the 60's.

    People are more alike than not, so it is said. Just seems to be more so when listening to this book. The ugly side of humanity has always been a part of us all. Now that side of the human condition seems to have taken hold for the moment lets hope that we can all think about what life felt like when "make love, not war" was our mantra. Unrealistic perhaps, but just a bit if that thinking could go a long way today if included in all our experiences since we were so young and foolish!


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Twelve Sacred Traditions of Magnificent Mothers-in-Law

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 18 mins)
    • By Haywood Smith
    • Narrated By Erin Novotny
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    A very Southern mother-in-law's humorous advice to mothers-in-law everywhere. From the multiple New York Times best-selling author of The Red Hat Club. Best-selling author Haywood Smith and her pals have lots of personal experience in the joys, sorrows, pitfalls and flat-out hysteria of Mother-in-Lawness.

    L. Barrell says: "Impossible Narration"
    "Impossible Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about The Twelve Sacred Traditions of Magnificent Mothers-in-Law?

    After just five minutes, I had to turn this book off. The narrator was so irritating and annoyed me so much that I had no idea what the book was about.The fake southern accent was so disconcerting that I could not even concentrate enough to hear the story.


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

    Fortunately I have a print copy of this audiobook and was able to read that. Although it was not the best of Haywood Smith's books I have read, it was ok. A short listing of the rules of etiquette for mothers-in-law, meant to be a humorous piece that was less than stellar. I would give it 3 stars tops The audiobook was spoiled for me by the narration


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Erin Novotny?

    Anyone else! My personal favorite female narrator is Kate Rudd, but I can imagine Fannie Flagg narrating this book and I know there are others who are terrific with southern dialects..


    Any additional comments?

    For me, the narration of an audiobook is a most important aspect of the listening experience. The narration can make or break my overall opinion of any book, sometimes regardless of the quality of the author's writing and the book as a whole. The narration is the additional aspect that I so enjoy when listening to a book. If it's good, the experience is enhanced by the narration
    Hopefully writers consider the narrators that are recording their book but sometimes I wonder. To me it is important and poor narration can result in a negative reaction to a book that may be very good. That means both the reader and the writer lose...readers miss a good book and the author does not get credit for their well written book. The majority of the narrators I have listened to were at least ok if not really good. Obviously it makes a big difference to me and I imagine other readers feel the same. Many times while listening to an audiobook it feels like I am part of an audience and the experience is similar to watching a broadway show. It is entertainment that I enjoy with the rest of the audience this is what I love about audiobooks. I feel as if I am being entertained and it's fun and I do not have to think about it like I do when reading a book and I will always enjoy reading a good book. But now I have a choice.
    Reading has always been a big part of my life and it has always been a wonderful experience. Audiobooks are relatively new to me and they give me a new and different way to enjoy a book. As an avid reader, both audio and printed books are equally enjoyable, but in different ways. My reading list is pretty much split between audio and the printed version. Some books I prefer to read, others I want to hear narrated. The feature called "whispersync" means I can read and/or listen to a book. It's pretty cool. If I leave off reading on a certain page, i can download my audible recording and it will continue from where I stopped reading the ebook. And vice versa. Love that option.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Interestings

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Meg Wolitzer
    • Narrated By Jen Tullock
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1244)
    Performance
    (1105)
    Story
    (1108)

    The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age 15 is not always enough to propel someone through life at age 30; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence.

    Tango says: "Needs a better title, but a good read (listen)"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The Interestings rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Ultimately, this audiobook lands at the bottom of my total library audiobooks in terms of overall enjoyment. Although it started out sounding like it would be an interesting story by about halfway through it started to feel like it was too long and I found myself wishing it would end.. The narration became tiresome, despite the speed of the narrator's reading. She read it so fast that it took a few minutes for me to adjust to it but within a short while I no longer had any problem following the story,


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The protagonist who is the main focus was an interesting enough character but rather predictable. Initially it was easy to relate to much of the friends and their subsequent lives from the summer they all met. As a teenager from the metropolitan New York City area myself, there were many references made that brought back memories from my own life.But after a while, there was simply too much predictable elements to the story and it became boring.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narrator sounded very rushed as if she could not read the words fast enough. But I quickly got accustomed to the fast pace although it was initially irritating. The irony is that by about halfway through the audiobook, I was wishing it would go faster! The narrator was still reading at the same speed, but the story was making it seem drawn out.


    Any additional comments?

    Perhaps the problem for me with this particular book is me and my personal opinion of this novel. Most people seem to have really enjoyed it but I just could not keep interested in the story or the development of the individual characters. I got impatient with it and simply lost interest. I do not want to give others who may read this review the idea that this was all that bad an audiobook. But frankly, the vast majority of the many audiobooks I have listened to in the last few months were on average, very enjoyable and quite a few have been outstanding. As my mother used to say "There's no accounting for taste". This book was not to my liking: "one man's meat is another man's poison" EB White said, I believe. It just was not for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Go the F--k to Sleep

    • UNABRIDGED (6 mins)
    • By Adam Mansbach, Ricardo Cortes (cover illustration)
    • Narrated By Samuel L. Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12049)
    Performance
    (7420)
    Story
    (7309)

    Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) rocks this mock bedtime story, capturing a hilarious range of emotions as the voice of a father struggling to get his child to sleep. Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland.

    Darwin8u says: "Read the F--king REVIEW!"
    "Perfect for parents after a really bad day"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Go the F--k to Sleep rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is in a class of its' own. As an "adults only" nursery rhyme/poem that is very short but vey funny, I have listened to it many times and it is pure genius. It is the only audio recording of its'' kind I own but I find it a special little extra in my library. It adds a nice punch to all the other titles in my collection of audiobooks.

    I cannot rank it with all the other audio books in my library because it is a unique one-of-kind experience. It's a perfect description of all the rituals, delay tactics and endless manipulation that all kids put parents through at bedtime.

    Samuel L Jackson's narration is perfect and the use of the "F" word entirely appropriate. Normally I get tired of the over usage of these four letter words so often seen in books today. I am no prude but I usually find these words crude and boring. They have come to mean anything and nothing at all in most cases. To me it shows a lack of imagination and a poor vocabulary on the part if a writer.
    But it works here and to perfection.

    .


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is short, to the point , and absolutely hilarious Anyone who has ever experienced the time that all kids hate: bedtime, and have struggled to get them to settle down for good will relate and appreciate this delightful little poem.


    Have you listened to any of Samuel L. Jackson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is my first narration by Samuel L Jackson but I will look into other audiobooks he has narrated. He did a fantastic job.


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

    This recording is read like a poem broken into stanzas and the build up to the last line of each stanza is great fun and completes it beautifully. Mr. Jackson's recording is perfect in this build up and makes the entire listening experience great fun. Turns any bad day just a bit better and you cannot help but appreciate this little poem.


    Any additional comments?

    This little recording is well worth the small cost of it because it is one that can be listened to over and over again I strongly recommend it to any parent who has kids and has encountered all the stress and frustration of getting their kids to bed. Actually anyone would find this a fun listen We have all been kids once and remember what happened when told it was bedtime. You will laugh out loud and it will bring back memories of your own childhood.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dracula [Audible Edition]

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Bram Stoker
    • Narrated By Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2799)
    Performance
    (2563)
    Story
    (2589)

    The modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.

    N. Houghton says: "Gothic Horror Never Sounded So Good"
    "What a wonderful surprise!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Dracula [Audible Edition] rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Way up on top. Very different than my usual audiobook.This was an incredible experience as my notion of Dracula was based on movies and television shows....Boris Karloff and so forth. I had never read the classic by Bram Stoker and this dramatization was so good that I have since read the original novel. What a difference between my idea of Dracula before listening to this audiobook (and consequently reading the original novel) than my former perception now.


    What other book might you compare Dracula [Audible Edition] to and why?

    I suppose Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is first to come to mind but this is probably because both are recognized "monsters" that we have seen as popular movie and film characters but people may be unfamiliar with the novels from which they originated and the background and historical setting that Dracula and Frankenstein come from. There is so much more to the story and I learned a great deal about the era in the mid 1800's when the novel was written. Hopefully more people (especially young people) listen to this dramatization of a classic novel. It certainly opened my eyes and gave me a whole new perspective on the character of Dracula and the entire story. Besides, it was a heck of an enjoyable listen!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Enjoyed the entire dramatization. At times it was so suspenseful that I almost wanted to speed it up...but of course I did not. The narration was too good to miss a single word.


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend this dramatization for several reasons. First of all, it was extremely well done and the cast did a marvelous job of setting the mood, and keeping me on the edge of my seat. I could not stop listening not only because of the "horror" aspect of it but this was certainly a big part of the entire production. The progression and development of the plot or story was a bit difficult to get used initially but very quickly my appreciation of the entire story just grew and grew. At times it felt like i was listening to a live theatre production. The entire group of narrators, or cast made each character come so alive that i could almost "see" the action on stage -not simply listening to it.

    All in all a very unique and enjoyable experience. Time well spent..

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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