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Mayita

Member Since 2006

3
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 59 ratings
  • 282 titles in library
  • 22 purchased in 2014
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  • The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (181)
    Performance
    (158)
    Story
    (159)

    In June 1867, Mark Twain set out for Europe and the Holy Land on the paddle steamer Quaker City. His enduring, no-nonsense guide for the first-time traveler also served as an antidote to the insufferably romantic travel books of the period.

    Cynthia Franks says: "Twain's Hidden Gem"
    "'Politically incorrect' but that's to be expected!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a romp! As a traveler myself, and to many of the places on the "innocents'" itinerary, it was a kick to hear Twain's take on the people and places and various travel annoyances, many of which haven't changed in the past 150 years. It was also great fun to get a picture of how international travel took place in those days, and left me wishing I had 5 months and a sponsor to send me following in their wake.

    Twain was not immune to the ethnic stereotypes and prejudices of the period, which can certainly make the more culturally sensitive among us cringe; however, I often suspected that many of his more outrageous and condescending remarks were just his way of satirizing their own (and our) ignorance of how the rest of the world lives. In any case, it was easy to just consider the source and appreciate the cleverness, if not always the content, and bear in mind that it is in fact possible to encounter the embodiment of our stereotypes from time to time.

    I very much enjoyed Grover Gardener's narration, as his tone sounded to me like what I would expect Mark Twain to sound like. In sum, a good time was had by all!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Golden Notebook

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Doris Lessing
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (117)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (90)

    Author Anna Wulf attempts to overcome writer’s block by writing a comprehensive "golden notebook" that draws together the preoccupations of her life, each of which is examined in a different notebook. Anna’s struggle to unify the various strands of her life – emotional, political, and professional – amasses into a fascinating encyclopaedia of female experience in the ‘50s.

    Victoria says: "Transcendent narration of a masterpiece."
    "Complex and compelling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There were many things I loved about this novel - above all it's a fascinating slice of post-war, pre-sexual revolution, cold war history through the eyes of a rule-bending middle class British woman (Lessing's alter ego?). The structure of the narrative provides a fragmented, prism-like view of Anna's life and times as it alternates between her various notebooks - listeners should be aware of this challenge in the beginning, until it becomes clear what each notebook represents and contains. Some of these (the Africa vignettes) were more interesting to me than others (the Communist Party deconstructions), and there were definitely times when Anna's difficulties and choices got a more than a little annoying, but ultimately it was an enlightening and unforgettable literary experience.

    And finally, a word about Juliet Stevenson, the narrator: I believe she could make a phone book sound lively and distinctive... She's one of the reasons I delved into this recording in the first place, and she did not disappoint; her ability to create characters is unmatched (in spite of a little awkwardness with the American accents), and I will always leap at books she performs. (She's such a fun actress, too - catch her in 'Emma', with Gwyneth Paltrow!)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lust for Life

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Irving Stone
    • Narrated By Steve West
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (53)

    Lust for Life is Irving Stone's biographical novel about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Largely based on the letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, the novel details the artist's difficult life, as well as describing the origins of many of his famous paintings, such as The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, and others.

    Jean says: "Great story"
    "Rich in detail..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book creates a wonderful backdrop for appreciating the work of Vincent Van Gogh, providing an understanding of his development as an artist, as well as giving insight into the popular perceptions of him as a quintessential starving artist and cutter of his own ear. The story was developed using Vincent's own words from his letters to brother Theo, which certainly lends credibility to the thoughts that Stone puts in Vincent's head, as well as to conversations between Vincent and the other Impressionists of the age.

    However, I think this may be one of those books best read rather than listened to...

    It's not the narration; Mr. West does a fine, measured job, especially attributing a sweet earnestness to Vincent, and I probably would never have gotten around to the written version before my travels to Amsterdam (where his museum lives) and Provence (where he did much of his painting).

    But Stone put so much effort into his descriptions of the places, people, clothing, food, the period in general, that it was often difficult to visualize them at the same pace they were being read - or maybe it's that I felt they deserved to be re-read and dwelt upon. It's strange that in the end, I felt that the hours of narration passed both too slowly because of the detail, and too quickly because I couldn't absorb all the detail!

    While I'm happy to have listened to this version of the book, I plan to find a real paper copy that I can search through for certain descriptions of paintings and settings, to bookmark and compare to the paintings that are now as beloved by the world as they seemed to have been by Vincent himself. (P.S. The Van Gogh Museum is worth a visit, especially when they keep it open late on Friday nights! The most fascinating part is where they compare the current colors in the paintings to what was originally put on canvas - many of the blues used to be purples...)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (9005)
    Performance
    (7092)
    Story
    (7129)

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Amazon Customer says: "Word Thief"
    "An Unexpected View of WWII"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love that this story was told largely from within the experience of 'ordinary Germans' during the war - what they experienced, the decisions they had to make, the hardships brought to them by both Hitler and the Allies.

    But there's so much more than that to love. The structure of the narrative is so unique - as is the narrator, of course. The flashes back and forward - as told by Death from both experience and his own book thievery - at first made it hard to get into the book and then made it hard to put down (or turn off, in the case of the audio version).

    What really makes the audio version exceptional, however, is the performance of Allan Corduner. While other narrators may be more adept at creating completely distinct voices for each person, Mr. Corduner excels at creating character and emotion. Between his narration and the writing itself, some parts of the book were truly heartbreaking in a way that I'm not sure they would have been if it was just the voice in my own head telling the story.

    If you've been having doubts about this book, put them aside and give it a try - I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Speaks the Nightbird

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robert McCammon
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2979)
    Performance
    (2660)
    Story
    (2642)

    The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies -- and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel's innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal....

    aaron says: "Dark, Twisted Period Piece with GREAT Characters!"
    "Farfetched, but fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'll say right up front that Matthew was just a little too smart, and the pieces fell together just a little too neatly, for my taste. However, that didn't keep me from enjoying the listen! In the end, I really did want to know how all those pieces dropped into place.

    The atmosphere of a colonial town on the frontier between English, Spanish, and native America was fascinating to visualize, and Edoardo Ballerini did a fine job of creating a variety of characters who on the surface all could have sounded exactly the same. He has a smooth and soothing voice (probably leading some to say "dull") that to me creates subtle characterizations and no little bit of suspense.

    In spite of this story's being rather heavy on coincidence, I enjoyed Mr. McCammon's writing well enough (and he does have a wonderful way with words) to be curious about how Matthew proceeds with his questioning and theory-generating personality into the 18th century and the big city. Give it a try!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • World Without End

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9090)
    Performance
    (3504)
    Story
    (3543)

    In 1989 Ken Follett astonished the literary world with The Pillars of the Earth, set in 12th-century England. Readers and listeners ever since have hoped for a sequel. At last, here it is. Although the two novels may be listened to in any order, World Without End also takes place in Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building their exquisite Gothic cathedral. The cathedral is again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge.

    Laura says: "Repetitive, but still enjoyable"
    "Definitely worth the time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've read/listened to "Pillars of the Earth", you've met many of these characters before: Machiavellian clergy, socio/psychopathic nobility, brutish in-laws, clever artisans, and the beautiful young woman who's always the smartest person in the room.

    However, once you get past that (if it even bothers you at all), this is one of the more enjoyable ways to absorb a little medieval history. And although I felt that the story drew to a close rather too quickly after all we'd been through, then end of one of the novel's villains was one of the most satisfying I've read in awhile. I was rather less happy with the resolution to the plot's one mystery point, which I gather was treated much differently in the film version - a good reason for me to revisit Kingsbridge yet another time.

    John Lee was marvelous, as ever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Darling

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Russell Banks
    • Narrated By Mary Beth Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (311)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (76)

    The Darling is Hannah Musgrave's story, told emotionally and convincingly years later by Hannah herself. A political radical and member of the Weather Underground, Hannah has fled America to West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends and colleagues of Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord and now ex-president of Liberia. When Taylor leaves for the United States in an effort to escape embezzlement charges, he's immediately placed in prison.

    Ellen says: "Complex and compelling"
    "Evocative and enlightening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can always count on Russell Banks to carry me completely into an experience I never would have expected to want in the first place! His imagination for characters and the twists and turns of their lives is unique and compelling. This book is a perfect example - who knew that Liberian history could come in such a package? The character of Hannah Musgrave is unlike anyone I've ever 'met' in literature, and this account of her attempt to come to terms with her dramatic, traumatic past had me enthralled. Banks also has great talent for evoking mood with his words, such that the feelings he creates can stay with you long after the story has ended.

    My only complaint in this case is with the narration. The dry, jaded voice Ms. Hurt has created for Hannah, laced on occasion with appropriate shame, self-loathing and regret, is on the one hand the perfect vehicle for such a story. On the other hand, it often became very weighty and difficult to listen to, and sometimes I longed to hear flashes of the impulsive energy that Hannah must have once had to get into this situation in the first place...

    Nevertheless, it was a wonderful listening experience that I highly recommend!

    1 of 1 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
    (1478)
    Performance
    (873)
    Story
    (885)

    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"
    "It Sneaks Up on You..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I admit, I was one listener who almost gave up at the beginning. The drug dealing scenes were so unpleasant to me - a high school teacher living in denial about how teens really live and think ;-) - that I was wondering what could come up that would make it worth my time to continue.

    But once we were really introduced to Skippy and his pals, I had my answer: the characterizations. I don't mean the narrations - which were fine though not remarkable in my mind - but the characters the author developed, both kids and adults. Murray's subtlety, his way of dropping crumbs of detail along with the big chunks of action and dialog, is what builds the bonds between reader and character, to the point that we even care about the ones we are repulsed by. The story itself was good, but in the end it was just a vehicle for introducing us to a world of people and perspectives that I, for one, would never otherwise experience.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Traveler's Wife

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Fred Berman, Phoebe Strole
    Overall
    (4444)
    Performance
    (1788)
    Story
    (1813)

    Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36. They were married when Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

    Scott says: "Epic Drama & Love Story through Time Travel"
    "Brilliant novel, so-so narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the premise of this novel, and Niffenegger does a masterful job of creating time-traveling "rules" that stay consistent throughout. Even when we're pretty sure how things are going to end, I was riveted to the narrative to find out how all the pieces fit together. Thankfully, Clare and Henry had their own narrators, which really helped keep everything straight. My only complaint (thus the 4 stars) is with performances of the readers. They weren't terrible - far from it - but William Hope particularly seemed to lack a spark (surprising, given the number of high profile books he's narrated). Also, they both made some odd pronunciation choices in a few places. But overall I found this to be an excellent audiobook, well worth "reading" to the very end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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