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  • Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By E. L. James
    • Narrated By Becca Battoe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

    Amazon Customer says: "Holy Crap minus the Holy"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the author was a better writer.

    Has Fifty Shades of Grey turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Absolutely. As a straight male in my mid thirties, I read this to "see what all the fuss was about" and tap into the zeitgeist. What I found was the horrific realization that this may be what it is like to be inside a woman's head. Perhaps instructive, but mostly painful.

    How could the performance have been better?

    The director on this book made a bad call: in the email exchanges between Annastasia and Christian, the narrator kept reading the To:, From:, Date and Time: lines in the emails, as well as the email signatures, something you would gloss over as a reader--this made these exchanges tiresome, not like they were meant which was more snappy and playful. Not necessary.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    By the end, I did want to have closure, and it did not come. Which means I will just have to ask someone else what happens in the next 2 books because I cannot endure another myself.

    Any additional comments?

    There are better ways to spend your Audible credits and time.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Daniel James Brown
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

    Janice says: "Do you believe in miracles??"
    "Worthy of the praise"
    Would you listen to The Boys in the Boat again? Why?

    As a general rule, I don't re-listen to books--there are so many other books to enjoy!

    What did you like best about this story?

    The fact that as a listened you know, right from the outset in the prologue, that the boys win the gold medal in rowing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and yet you are riveted all the while to the story of how they got there. I am not a rower, and this book made me appreciate, what an incredibly difficulty and deeply rewarding sport it is. I love books that open a new world to me and help me appreciate something I never considered before.

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

    I commute 2 hours a day, so being read to is my great solace. Being read to by such a masterful narrator is a delight.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I don't want to sit and listen to any book for 11+ hours straight. This is a silly question.

    Any additional comments?

    As a long time Audible fan, I often choose books where a lot of reviewers have reiterated the refrain: just listen to this one / you won't be disappointed / etc. This is one of those books. I was not at all interested in rowing or the Olympics in 1936, but the sheer mastery of the story, the writing, the narration, made this a delightful listening experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eclipse: The Twilight Saga, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Stephenie Meyer
    • Narrated By Ilyana Kadushin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

    Kirsty says: "Continues to Please"
    "The most painful one of the lot!"

    So I have both enjoyed and suffered through this book and the 2 previous books. This is definitely the most irritating one of the series so far, as in Bella is finally beginning to drive me crazy with her whining and whinging. She drones on and on "I'm the worst person in the world for hurting Jacob, blah blah blah" -- spare me! How this whole series could be so much better in the hands of a more talented author!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Twilight: The Twilight Saga, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Stephenie Meyer
    • Narrated By Ilyana Kadushin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    About three things I was certain. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him, and I didn't know how dominant that part might be, that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

    Mitch says: "My Not-So-Guilty Pleasure"
    "Not great literature but solid entertainment"

    First a disclosure: I am a straight, 30ish, educated man and yes, I enjoyed Twilight. As a high school teacher, I wanted to hook in to the zeitgeist by understanding what all the fuss was about this novel. Make no mistake this is not a well-written book, in fact the first 3 hours of this audiobook made me wonder if I could handle the whole listen. Stephanie Meyer lays out the heroine's first week of school with such protracted detail that I just kept saying "get on with it, already". Perhaps it is the whole appeal for many readers, the constant exploration of the minutia of a teenage girl's thoughts, especially in relation to every "chuckle", "smirk";, and eye movement of the Edward Cullen vampire character. His every facial tick is analysed and commented on in such detail it was bordering on painful. That said, around the 4 hour mark the book totally picks up, once the brilliant narrative crux is evident: here is a girl, irrevocably drawn to a boy that wants to eat her, and he in turn is fully drawn to her and wants to overcome his desire to drink her blood. This "star-crossed lovers"; theme is as old as the hills, but the vampire angle refreshes the refrain. The narrator is superb; all the comments in these reviews attesting to her abilities with this book (and the next one that I have started) are warranted. If you want an easy listen, and don't mind blowing two credits (I must say, the two credits seem unwarranted here), this will happily occupy some time while you commute or go about your while-listening business.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Middlesex

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By Kristoffer Tabori

    In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blonde classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them - along with Callie's failure to develop physically - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

    Christopher Allen walker says: "Great Pulitzer Winning novel!"
    "Superb listen--though what is with the music?!"

    There is no doubt this is a superb listen. Enough reviews have been written celebrating the wit and majesty of this book, I need not repeat.

    I will add in two points: once you start getting in to the book, be sure to read up more on the author. There is also a great video clip of him speaking about Middlesex on Oprah--I found this help me further contextualize the book. Just Google him and Oprah and you'll find it.

    One criticism: the producers felt the need to put in these odd musical overlays at certain parts of the story, some dramatic and some seemingly random. Not only was it intrusive and unnecessary, but the music itself sounded like some cheesy free-download classical mash. The narrator is superb (also check out his narration on a book about McCarthyism called 'The Age of Anxiety'—brilliant) and he rose above the hackneyed music that was sorely out of place.

    This is a great listen that will surely entertain and enthral.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Harriet Beecher Stowe
    • Narrated By Buck Schirner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Eliza Harris, a slave whose child is to be sold, escapes her beloved home on the Shelby plantation in Kentucky and heads North, eluding the hired slave catchers. Aided by the underground railroad, Quakers, and others opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act, Eliza, her son, and her husband George run toward Canada. As the Harrises flee to freedom, another slave, Uncle Tom, is sent "down the river" for sale. Too loyal to abuse his master's trust, too Christian to rebel, Tom wrenches himself from his family.

    Michael says: "excellent narrator"
    "Now I understand the horrors of slavery"

    Being Canadian, I have not been exposed to much detail regarding the history of slavery in the US. While I am sure many American students end up reading this in school/college/university, I would never have had occasion to read it had it not been referenced in Barak Obama's books (which, by the way, are an amazing Audible listen). Uncle Tom's Cabin is incredibly engaging as it makes the oppression and cruelty of slavery palpable, in turn helping the uninitiated understand the importance of this divisive issue in American history. I also just enjoyed the turns of phrase of the 150 year old written word--don't let the book's age turn you off, the archaic expressions help make it a fabulous listen.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Obama: From Promise to Power

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By David Mendell
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Since his headline-grabbing speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Barack Obama has come to represent the promise of unity among groups of all types: blacks and whites; Democrats, Republicans, and moderates; the upper, middle, and lower classes. In this groundbreaking biography, veteran journalist and Obama chronicler David Mendell gives an in-depth, comprehensive portrait of a man whose name has become a catchphrase for hope in a politically jaded society desperate for a new star.

    Myke says: "Good insight into Obama's rise to prominance"
    "Good insight into Obama's rise to prominance"

    I went through a bit of an Obama-fest with Audible, listening to Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope, and then this book. If you are looking for a book to read on the President I would strongly recommend reading his first book, Dreams from My Father (written in 1994) before this one. This book, Obama (unabridged), spends the first chapters basically reiterating 'Dreams'--and it is much better to listen to Obama reading his book himself rather than this paraphrase job. The great advantage to this book, Obama (unabridged), is that it covers what 'Dreams' and 'Audacity' do not, namely an in-depth coverage of his 2004 Senate race and then his superstar Africa trip 2 years later; the author spends 2+ hours of this audio book recounting Obamas trip. It is both a meditation on Obama's rise to celebrity status and one journalist's own experiences as a news professional 'on the stump'. Both elements are interesting, though the authors tendency to 'put himself in' is at times distracting. That said, this is a great snapshot insight into life of a campaigning politician, and it does discuss how Obama's usually unflappable persona got frayed at times through his meteoric rise to prominence. Worth a listen if you want more of the 'back story' to how Obama got to the White House.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In The Tipping Point, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in society happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a few fare-beaters and graffiti artists fuel a subway crime wave, or a satisfied customer fill the empty tables of a new restaurant. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.

    Marian Hanganu says: "Exceptional!"
    "There are better Gladwell Books"

    If you are fan of Gladwell, this book is more of the same: great stories distilled from studies by random social scientists. If you are looking for a first book of his to listen to, I would recommend 'Outliers' instead--it is more coheisive and an all around more compelling book. One thing about this version of the Tipping Point was the weird musical interludes at the end of each chapter--I have never heard anything quite as tacky in other Audible books. Some producer made a bad call on that one.

    14 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Khaled Hosseini
    • Narrated By Atossa Leoni
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss, and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them, in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul, they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.

    David says: "Somber but gripping"
    "A compelling listen!"

    This book came highly recommended to me, and having enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's other novel 'The Kite Runner', I thought I would give it a try. What a listen! Well narrated, good pace, and a compelling story about the life of two women in Afghanistan under both the Soviets and the Taliban. The tragedy and strength of everyday life during difficult times is lyrically portrayed. For me, a 5 star Audible book is one where, after my 1-hour commute home from work, I don't want to get out of the car right away as the story is so engrossing. This is one of those books.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Bible: A Biography: Books That Changed the World

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Karen Armstrong
    • Narrated By Josephine Bailey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As the work at the heart of Christianity, the Bible is the spiritual guide for one out of every three people in the world. It is also the world's most widely distributed book, having been translated into over 2,000 languages, as well as the world's best-selling book, year after year. But the Bible is a complex work with a complicated and obscure history.

    Gary says: "Great Listen"
    "Stay clear...unless you are a biblical scholar"

    I was interested in this book because I wanted to learn more about how the Bible came to be. Since the subtitle pens it is a 'biography', I thought (silly me) that it would be an engaging account of the history of the book. Instead, this was a dry, almost clinical, account of the minutia of ancient Biblical history. The author, Karen Armstrong, seems to take delight in throwing verbose grammar at the reader, to the point that it obscures the message. If I wasn't driving while listening to this book I would want a dictionary to go along with it. The narrator does not help things, as she reads this book like a scientific research paper: dry--no, make that arid. I would only recommend this book if you are already a Biblical scholar; Armstrong goes into such rapid fire detail about such a vast expanse of history that it is impossible to follow the thread of the book unless you have a good grounding in the subject matter already. There must be a better, more engaging narrative out there on how the Bible came to be.

    15 of 28 people found this review helpful

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