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Rochelle

Dunedin, New Zealand | Member Since 2010

ratings
137
REVIEWS
54
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
4
HELPFUL VOTES
32

  • A Tale for the Time Being

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Ruth Ozeki
    • Narrated By Ruth Ozeki
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery. In a small cafe in Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyber-bullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place - and voice - through a diary.

    Rochelle says: "Being Now"
    "Being Now"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

    This book is a beautiful concept under a masterful narrative. The 2 narrating characters (not the reader) lives touch in a meaningful way, although they will never meet.

    An American novelist, Ruth, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the beach of the island she lives on in Canada. It contains the diary of Nao (a bullied teenager in Japan), some letters and a watch. A lot of the story is the diary, where Nao reveals the secrets she is sharing with no-one else.

    The other half of the book is Ruth's attempt to to find out more about Nao and her family. Nao appears to be in danger. While Ruth & her husband wonder whether the lunchbox might have washed across from Japan in the drift following the 2011 tsunami, it's also clear that the Nao's bullying & her father's attempted suicide is leading her to seriously contemplate her own suicide.

    Buddhism, western philosophy & environmentalism are some of the themes that flow throughout this beautiful creation, but most of all it is about being now. It is this that makes this book something you want to read in one sitting. And what makes you want it never to end.

    Booker short listed, this is an exceptional piece. Get it, you will love it. It has found it's place among my all time favourites & I am sure it will be the same for many other readers.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Ishmael Beah
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (24)

    At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they're beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town's water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires.

    Rochelle says: "A dark story, beautifully told"
    "A dark story, beautifully told"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ishmael Beah has an excellent "voice". If Radiance of Tomorrow is an example of contemporary Sierra Leone literature I look forward to discovering more.

    The book has the feel of a folk tale & is conveyed perfectly in audiobook format. By this I don't mean it is a "simple" story, but the telling conveys something of the culture of the characters in the book. The style of the writing adds depth to the story being told.

    If you've read Ishmael Beah's memoir "A Long Way Gone" his novel will seem a lot more personal than many standard works of fiction. If you haven't read his memoir you probably ought to. Regardless, Radiance of Tomorrow stands alone as an incredible work.

    The narration is superb. Overall a remarkable book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Collector

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 1 min)
    • By John Fowles
    • Narrated By James Wilby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (57)

    Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

    Erica Smith says: "Perfect Performance"
    "Creepy!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story starts out creepy & stays that way right until the end. John Fowles has done a brilliant job of creating these characters, particularly Frederick, who seems as though he ought to be as harmless as the butterflies he collects - but who is anything but.

    "Gripping" would be a good adjective for this one. It is a remarkably well written story, my favourite so far of the Fowles books available on the Audible book store. It's compelling from beginning to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Minimalists: Essential Essays

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus
    • Narrated By Simon Whistler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    At age 30, Joshua and Ryan both left their six-figure corporate jobs to pursue more meaningful lives. Minimalism: Essential Essays highlights essays from the first nine months of their journey into minimalism. Minimalism: Essential Essays is an edited collection of 29 of The Minimalists' favorite essays about living a more meaningful life with less stuff. This collection also contains a special forward by Joshua and Ryan, as well as two bonus essays you can't find anywhere else: "Dealing with Overwhelm" and "Focus On What's Important."

    Rochelle says: "Amateur self-help"
    "Amateur self-help"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listen to the sample before choosing this book. The narrator has a pompous, sing-song tone that sounds like he's got auto-tune permanently switched on.

    If only the narrator was the worst thing about this book.

    The book sounds like a poorly written blog converted into a book - which it is. The authors ought to have practised minimalism in their writing, with particular regard to their sentence structure. They use the most amount of words to convey the least meaning.

    One of the authors notes he hopes we won't think the advice is "banal platitudes". The choice of term is apt because that's exactly what the book contains. It is superficial & the writing demonstrates a lack of self awareness. It's negative, patronising, judgemental & evangelical.

    Several years ago I read about minimalism in an engaging & inspiring blog (not by these authors). I bought this book hoping to find that again & was disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lucky: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Alice Sebold
    • Narrated By Alice Sebold
    Overall
    (333)
    Performance
    (111)
    Story
    (108)

    In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones) reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an 18-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. "A rueful, razor-sharp memoir," raves Vogue, "funnier than you'd think was possible. Sebold tells what it's like to go through a particular kind of nightmare in order to tell what it's like - slowly, boldly, triumphantly - to heal."

    Samantha says: "Very raw"
    "A frank account of rape"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had to pause to come up for breath several times in the first few minutes of this book. But once started there was no way to put it down. I have a great deal of respect for Alice Sebold for being able to share this part of her story in such a frank manner.

    Despite having described what happened to her many times to officials and friends the immediacy is replicated here in such a way that it winds you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Levels of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Julian Barnes
    • Narrated By Julian Barnes
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    'You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...' Julian Barnes's new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. One of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize described him as 'an unparalleled magus of the heart'. This book confirms that opinion.

    Rochelle says: "Stunning essay on grief"
    "Stunning essay on grief"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A beautifully written tribute to the grief Julian Barnes feels over the death of his wife. The thoughts he shares are keen. He is eloquent on the loss we fear most.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • When the Stars Fall to Earth: A Novel of Africa

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Rebecca Tinsley
    • Narrated By Holly Villaire
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (63)

    When the Stars Fall to Earth is the story of five young Darfuris trying to make sense of their changing world in a time of war. Their lives come together in a tale of love and loss, self-reliance and courage, fear and violence. They overcome the ultimate challenge: to become proud survivors with a future rather than defeated victims, despite the tragedy enveloping them.

    P. Burdge says: "International Disgrace: Our Disinterest in Darfur"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really wanted to read this to learn more about the situation in Darfur. I enjoy supplementing news & non-fiction with fiction stories as they can provide wonderful perspective when the author has spent time in the country as Rebecca Tinsley has.

    This was listed under literature, which it certainly isn't. The language used to tell the story seems childlike - not simple in a good way. In fact sometimes there is too much.

    I felt unable to relate to any of the characters, or to feel anything for them. All I felt was annoyance with the author for having done such a poor job of telling their story. Her characters deserved better from her.

    The issues the book is dealing with are incredibly important & need to be told. But this is not the author for the job. For good examples I'd suggested Katherine Boo (non-fiction), Khaled Hosseini and Anthony Marra.

    The sound quality of the recording was fine. The voices chosen for the characters were not great. Some of the voices sounded so unrealistic it made connecting with the character even harder. It distracted even further from the poor writing. From both a story & narrative perspective it felt like listening to a children's book.

    Overall this was a particular letdown as I am not aware of any other fiction based around the issues in Darfur. This is it & it doesn't live up to expectations.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Passage to India

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By E. M. Forster
    • Narrated By Sam Dastor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (302)
    Performance
    (190)
    Story
    (187)

    What really happened to Miss Quested in the Marabar Caves? This tantalising question provides the intense drama of racial tension at the centre of Foster's last and greatest novel.

    Diane says: "Extraordinary!!"
    "Poor sound quality"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is a problem with the sound quality on this version of the book. It begins in chapter 2 & is very intrusive. I'd advise bypassing this version until Audible can get a quality recording.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Heft

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liz Moore
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
    Overall
    (1327)
    Performance
    (1205)
    Story
    (1206)

    Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.

    Deborah says: "Mesmerizing Performance"
    "Extraordinarily touching"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The publisher's description of the story did little to inspire me to read this book, I picked it up on sale & was blown away.

    Arthur is on first meeting, not terribly likeable. I could pity him, but there is a sense of dishonesty because he is dishonest. He doesn't like who he is & is unwilling to let others know what his life is, to the point of putting on a shirt & tie to answer the door to the grocery delivery man so he can pretend he has been working all day, while in reality he is housebound, completely alone & does little more than eat and watch daytime television.

    We begin to see through him though & what follows is a deeply moving story of loneliness.

    Kel, the popular athletic teenager is equally lonely & his story is heartbreaking from the beginning as he does his best to care for his alcoholic mother without any outside support.

    The two stories are told in parallel until their connection becomes apparent.

    Some audio books I find I can become involved in doing something else while listening. In the case of this book I didn't want to. I found I quickly became emotionally invested in the stories of the two main characters (and the other characters also).

    My only regret is that I didn't pick this book up earlier. It is absolutely a wonderful read.

    The narration is spot on.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (Dramatised)

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 57 mins)
    • By Oscar Wilde
    • Narrated By Judi Dench, Miriam Margoyles, Martin Clunes
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (52)

    Ever since the first night at the St James' Theatre on 14 February 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest has been recognised as one of the world's finest comic dramas. Now Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell leads an outstanding cast in this superb new production of Wilde's masterpiece, mounted to celebrate the centenary of the first performance.

    C. Telfair says: "Funny and Classic"
    "Perfection"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the easiest review I've ever written.

    If you're going to read The Importance of Being Earnest this is the copy you want. The performance is incredibly delightful & there is no way you'll have the same experience simply reading the text. I have read the text & loved it but there really is no comparison. Short of seeing it performed at the theatre this is it.

    The story itself is a hilarious "romp", it keeps your attention 100% and is wonderfully amusing.

    I'm already looking forward to listening to this performance again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Shadow of the Crescent Moon

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Fatima Bhutto
    • Narrated By Riz Ahmed
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (6)

    Set over the course of one morning in a small town in Pakistan's tribal regions, close to the border with Afghanistan, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is the story of three brothers living through a world on fire. Two women – the beautiful Samarra and the unsettling Mina – are at the heart of the novel and through them unfolds a story of love, of loss, and how the backdrop of continuous war forces the individual to make terrible choices; to choose hope over love, the future over the present.

    Rochelle says: "Well crafted, enchanting story"
    "Well crafted, enchanting story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this story greatly. It is beautifully written although I felt it stumbled at one or two points. It's easy to connect with the characters & the descriptive prose is delightful - neither over or under done. It was easy to read in one sitting as the story is a compelling one.

    The stumbles were very small & barely detract from the story - a short cheesy kiss scene, and a brief but dated description of a mobile phone. It's a shame as without those two extremely minor points I felt the story could almost sit beside Khaled Hosseini's work (The Kite Runner). If you enjoy Khaled Hosseini's work you will probably enjoy this book as well. In spite of my comment about these stumbles they really were the only weak points in an otherwise great novel.

    From this book I learned about the diversity that exists in the young country that is Pakistan. It added a further & fascinating dimension to news coverage & other stories I've read about the area.

    It is a beautiful debut novel & I look forward to seeing more from Fatima Bhutto.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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