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Susan C. S.

Eastern Pennsylvania, USA | Member Since 2004

98
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 40 ratings
  • 971 titles in library
  • 32 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
7

  • All the King's Men

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Robert Penn Warren
    • Narrated By Michael Emerson
    Overall
    (726)
    Performance
    (356)
    Story
    (352)

    The fictionalized account of Louisiana's colorful and notorious governor, Huey Pierce Long, All the King's Men follows the startling rise and fall of Willie Stark, a country lawyer in the Deep South of the 1930s. Beset by political enemies, Stark seeks aid from his right-hand man Jack Burden, who will bear witness to the cataclysmic unfolding of this very American tragedy.

    Eric Berger says: "Marvelously written and read"
    "How have I not read this book before?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    In a long life of reading, I have always known of this book, but thought it wasn't for me. Pegged as the Great American Political Novel, it sounded limited to me. If I want to read about American politics, I'll read non-fiction. I have had just the wonderful experience, at 69, of reading one of the most interesting novels of my life for the first time! And better yet, it comes from my own country, in my own language, and written not long before I was born. I'm saying all this to convey how personal this book feels. I feel my parents, myself, and my children in this book, even though our personal details have no similarity to anything in the book. And beware, there is NOTHING comforting here. What a book. And well read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's Downfall

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Drew
    • Narrated By Jo Anna Perrin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Unfolding over the course of a single year, from September 1973 to August 1974, Washington Journal is the record of the near-dissolution of a nation's political conscience - told from within. In this book, we see corruption in its most prosaic and grandest forms, along with occasional flashes of decency, ethics, and humanity, and other sights rarely witnessed in the wilds of the capital.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant reporting"
    "Fascinating history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I lived through the Watergate era and read Ms. Drew's writings at the time. Reading it again is even more fascinating and revealing. Never a dull moment in the entire book. It brings it all back, but with the changed perspective of knowing what has happened since then.

    I have to say, looking back at that time from the present, I am appalled almost to the point of despair, seeing the erosion of constitutional protections in our society in our current time. The level of spying perpetrated by the Nixon administration looks absolutely childlike compared with the universal blanket surveillance practices by the NSA. Not to mention the erosion of due process and rule of law that we now accept. And above all the limitless oceans of money that are now accepted as part of the political process.

    All of this makes the Watergate era look almost like a golden age of innocence, even though Ms. Drew has a very sharp eye for the deep significance of those events. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Divorce Papers: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Susan Rieger
    • Narrated By Rebecca Lowman, Arthur Morey, Kathe Mazur
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm's most important client....

    Susan C. S. says: "Singularly unsuited for audio."
    "Singularly unsuited for audio."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    It wouldn’t necessarily be a problem to transform an epistolary novel into an audio book, but this particular novel has a lot of drawbacks for audio. If you want to hear specific telephone numbers, addresses, zip codes, and office jargon read over and over with seriousness, it might work for you.

    Even worse, the novel depends heavily upon the presentation of financial accounting, so you get to hear the SAME sets of numbers read out in detail several times in succession, and then hear them again slightly altered, and repeated, later on. This goes on throughout the book. If you were reading with your eyes, you would get the point at once, and move on. You would not carefully read over each line of each document once you realized (which you certainly would) that the numbers and verbiage in each repeated document are the same. The author can't be faulted for this, since the book was certainly written to be seen on the page, not listened to. Whether it actually rises to the level of "novel" on the page, I can't say.

    An unrelated problem is an insufferably self-involved central character. I realize that this is supposed to be part of the point of the novel, but our poor protagonist is such a collection of predictable clichés as to be sort of sad. This is one of those novels where we’re expected to believe that our hero is so spectacularly brilliant that all opposition fades in the light of her talent, but of the talent we never see evidence.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Ladies' Paradise

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Emile Zola
    • Narrated By Lee Ann Howlett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Country girl Denise Baudu arrives in Paris hoping for a position in her uncle's clothing shop. However, her uncle's shop, along with other small shops in the area, is doing poorly. This is due to the large store across the street - The Ladies' Paradise - which is swallowing up the small specialty stores by offering 'one-stop shopping' at discounted prices. 19th Century Paris is experiencing the dawn of the department store. Despite her loyalty to her uncle, Denise is drawn to the progressive Ladies' Paradise and it's owner, the driven but charismatic Monsieur Mouret.

    Gaele says: "rich and layered use of description"
    "Narrator stands in the way of the book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    How could the performance have been better?

    This is an incomprehensible choice of narrator for this book. Ms. Howlett butchers the pronunciation of all the French proper names, place names, and particularly street names (which play an unusually large part in this narrative). I don't ask for perfection in pronunciation of French words in an English translation, but Howlett's pronunciation is so bad it's practically comic. Encumbered by this, she mangles the rhythm of the prose, even in English.

    In addition, she reads all of the younger women characters in a voice suitable for very young children. It adds a surreal element to the narrative that was certainly not intended by the author.


    Was The Ladies' Paradise worth the listening time?

    I found the story quite fascinating, but a struggle to follow because of the reader.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Visitation Street

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Ivy Pochoda
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (69)

    Summer in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Bored and listless, 15-year-olds June and Val are looking for fun. Val wants to do something wild and a little crazy: take a raft out onto the bay. Only Val survives, washing ashore in the weeds, bruised and unconscious. This shocking event echoes through the lives of Red Hook's diverse residents. In Visitation Street, Ivy Pochoda combines intensely vivid prose with breathtaking psychological insight to explore a cast of solitary souls, pulled by family, love, betrayal, and hope, who yearn for a chance to break free.

    Janet says: "Visitation Street - An odd place to visit"
    "A rare book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This is a rare book that becomes more interesting, more compelling, and more evocative as it progresses. Too often, it seems an author has a wonderful idea, but can't sustain it. I hope Ivy Pochoda has a long and fruitful writing life. She seems to have confidence in her reader, as well as in herself.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Anthony Marra
    • Narrated By Colette Whitaker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (274)
    Performance
    (247)
    Story
    (249)

    Anthony Marra transports us to a snow-covered village in Chechnya, where eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night, accusing him of aiding Chechen rebels. Across the road their lifelong neighbor and family friend Akhmed has also been watching, fearing the worst when the soldiers set fire to Havaa’s house. But when he finds her hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

    Ryan says: "A bleak, beautiful debut"
    "I'll need to read it again to do it justice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Every laudatory word in the reviews is deserved by this wonderful book. I'm not going to even try to describe or explain. Read it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • 2666

    • UNABRIDGED (39 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Roberto Bolaño
    • Narrated By John Lee, Armando Durán, G. Valmont Thomas, and others
    Overall
    (352)
    Performance
    (182)
    Story
    (189)

    Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño's life, 2666 was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of Santa Teresa - a fictional Juárez - on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Nancy Bauer says: "Brilliant"
    "Startled and happy to see this being headlined."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about 2666?

    I listened to this book twice, then bought the hard copy. I'm so glad to see that many other listeners reacted to it the same way I did. After a long lifetime of reading, it's not that often a "new" book enters my consciousness permanently the way this book has done. It seems timeless, yet absolutely focused on life as it is in our time. The readers are superb.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of Ebenezer le Page

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By G. B. Edwards
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Ebenezer Le Page, cantankerous, opinionated and charming, is one of the most compelling literary creations of the late 20th century. Eighty years old, Ebenezer has lived his whole life on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a stony speck of a place caught between England and France yet a world away from either. Ebenezer himself is fiercely independent, but as he reaches the end of his life he is determined to tell his own story and the story of those he has known.

    Kathy says: "My favorite audiobook of all!"
    "A brave and successful reading."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Takes a while to get into this book. One fears at first this may become a sentimental or overly nostalgic view of a lost way of life. After a while you realize you're in good hands with this author. I highly recommend the book, in audio or print.

    Roy Dotrice, the reader, performs a great service to the book, I think. I certainly don't know the subtleties of accent and intonation he's dealing with here. But he has made decisions about how he will read it and carries it out over a long span with perfect integrity. His reading turns the entire book into poetry, or even music. Here again you may feel at first that the voice will wear on you, but his skill is such that it carries the story along without fail.

    A perfect match of reader and text.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Canada

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Richard Ford
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (554)
    Performance
    (461)
    Story
    (464)

    When 15-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed. His parents' arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border.

    Susan C. S. says: "After the last word, went right back to beginning"
    "After the last word, went right back to beginning"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are only a very few books I've listened to twice in immediate succession. After I finished it the second time, I had to wait a couple of days before I could read any other book, in either print or sound This is not only one of the best audiobooks I've experienced; it's one of the best books I've ever read. I'll be buying a print copy to pass around my family.

    I've always liked Richard Ford (especially The Lay of the Land), and this book was something of a surprise. You can see the connections with his other work, but this seems to have sprung all at once (a very focused and intense book) from some rather different place. I wish Ford a long and productive life! And I thank him for this book.

    Also, an excellent reader.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Luminarium

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Alex Shakar
    • Narrated By Charles Carroll
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (9)

    Moving between the research hospitals of Manhattan, the streets of a meticulously planned Florida city, the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and the uncanny, immersive worlds of urban disaster simulation; threading through military listserv geek-speak, Hindu cosmology, the maxims of outmoded self-help books, and the latest neuro-scientific breakthroughs, Luminarium is a brilliant exploration of the way we live now, a novel that's as much about the role technology and spirituality play in shaping our reality as it is about the undying bond between brothers.

    Susan C. S. says: "A book by a human, and a writer at that."
    "A book by a human, and a writer at that."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this book fascinating and compelling throughout. Don't be put off by the fact that every review seems to mention The Matrix and Inception. I'm an old school reader (read elderly) who has no wish to see either of those movies a second time. This is very good writing on timeless human mysteries. I wish this author long life and many more books.

    I'm surprised to find myself giving the reader five stars, because there were some jarring almost dyslexic misreadings of particular words and syntax, but in the end it seemed the perfect voice for the book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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