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lesley

Member Since 2005

57
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 321 ratings
  • 1058 titles in library
  • 93 purchased in 2014
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5

  • Help for the Haunted: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By John Searles
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (125)
    Story
    (128)

    It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation: helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet something in Sylvie senses that this call is different from the others, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town.

    Melinda says: "Fuzzy on the Haunted Part"
    "Flawed but gripping"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I don't usually like books in which a precocious pre-teen/teen is the main character, but in this book it works, especially with the excellent reading by Emma Galvin. I grew more squeamish about the parents and their weird life but kept reading because the mystery was compelling. Did not like the ending...culprit came completely out of left field which I think is cheating for a mystery writer. Also, Mr. Searles has a wonderful writing style but seems to have problems with past participles of some verbs and it's kind of jarring..."she sunk", "we snuck" (really?!), "he spit".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wayfaring Stranger

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By James Lee Burke
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (402)
    Performance
    (372)
    Story
    (373)

    It is 1934 and the Depression is bearing down when 16-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends as Weldon puts a bullet through the rear window of Clyde’s stolen automobile. Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland and his sergeant, Hershel Pine, escape certain death in the Battle of the Bulge and encounter a beautiful young woman named Rosita Lowenstein hiding in a deserted extermination camp.

    Marci says: "Near perfect. One of Burke's Best."
    "A bit disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a suspenseful book, as you would expect from James Lee Burke. I may be a bit slow but I thought the ending was somewhat vague as to how the two main characters got out of the trouble they were in and how they spent the rest of their lives. The newspaper article solved some problems but I felt some loose ends still dangled. Again, it may just be me.
    For my taste Mr. Burke gets a bit purple with his prose..."meretricious" is a favorite word...but it may also be that Will Patton has a habit throughout Burke's books of pausing before delivering one of these mouthfuls and pronouncing every-letter-and-syllable-very-distinctly. So maybe the purple quality is less apparent in a print version of these books. Lots and lots of references to epic poems and ancient gods and myths.
    Again, I loved most of the characters especially Grandfather, but found the hero a bit too virtuous to be believable. Also wonder what happened to a villainous relative of the protagonist's. Not sure if he is just meant to throw the reader a curve or if he's a character whose purpose wasn't sufficiently thought-out.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Kevin Birmingham
    • Narrated By John Keating
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (11)

    Literary historian Kevin Birmingham follows Joyce's years as a young writer, his feverish work on his literary masterpiece, and his ardent love affair with Nora Barnacle, the model for Molly Bloom. Joyce and Nora socialized with literary greats like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot and Sylvia Beach. Their support helped Joyce fight an array of anti-vice crusaders while his book was disguised and smuggled, pirated and burned in the United States and Britain.

    Annette says: "a great book about a great book"
    "couldn't get past this narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Very interesting subject, probably well-written...but I couldn't listen longer than 90 minutes. John Keating has also ruined the Quirke books by Benjamin Black/John Banville. He has a bouncy inflection that never changes from paragraph to paragraph, character to character, or book to book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • After Henry

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Joan Didion
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Hess
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    In her latest forays into the American scene, Joan Didion covers ground from Washington to Los Angeles, from a TV producer's gargantuan "manor" to the racial battlefields of New York's criminal courts. At each stop she uncovers the mythic narratives that elude other observers: Didion tells us about the fantasies the media construct around crime victims and presidential candidates; she gives us new interpretations of the stories of Nancy Reagan and Patty Hearst; she charts America's rollercoaster ride through evanescent booms and hard times that won't go away.

    lesley says: "get this narrator a dictionary!"
    "get this narrator a dictionary!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    not sure...I'm normally an enthusiastic Joan Didion fan


    Has After Henry turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    What didn’t you like about Elizabeth Hess’s performance?

    Where to begin? She reads in a weird hushed tone as if reading a baby to sleep. Not well-suited to Didion's gritty style. If a reader is lucky enough to be hired to record a book, one would think s/he would look up all proper nouns and any words that are unfamiliar. Mispronounced words: Point Hueneme ("Port Wanamay"), centrifugal, seismological, realtor (really??? a two-syllable word is too difficult???), anecdote, ancillary, Eli Broad (rhymes with road, not odd), and on and on. Really no excuse.


    What character would you cut from After Henry?

    n/a


    Any additional comments?

    Joan Didion should get more input as to who records her books. Maybe I would have enjoyed these essays more in print. I certainly love her other works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C. S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Alister E. McGrath
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (89)

    In honor of the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis' death, celebrated Oxford don Dr. Alister McGrath presents us with a compelling and definitive portrait of the life of C. S. Lewis, the author of the well-known Narnia series. For more than half a century, C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series has captured the imaginations of millions. In C. S. Lewis - A Life, Dr. Alister McGrath recounts the unlikely path of this Oxford don, who spent his days teaching English literature to the brightest students in the world and his spare time writing.

    Jeff Anderle says: "God's Glory Revealed in an Earthen Vessel"
    "Excruciating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This is clearly a book for C.S. Lewis aficionados. Whether he experienced his conversion in 1929 or 1930 takes up endless time. Did it take place on a trip to the zoo with his brother, or a trip to the zoo by himself? I'm sure some people care, but I don't. If you're writing a thesis or dissertation on Lewis, you would be able to use this book. If you're a listener who wants to go right to the heart of what made Lewis tick, this may be too slow and scholarly for you. It was for me.


    Which character – as performed by Robin Sachs – was your favorite?

    Robin Sachs was a treasure (I especially love his Harry Hole readings) but the plodding quality of this prose did not give his wonderful range as an actor anything to work with.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Country Girl: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Edna O'Brien
    • Narrated By Edna O'Brien
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (19)

    Edna O'Brien's family encouraged her to attend pharmacy school but she left before finishing, to marry an older writer, give birth to two sons, and publish, in 1960, her first novel. The Country Girls so scandalized the O'Briens' local parish that the book was burned by the priest, her family disgraced. Country Girl comes 21 books later, a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that imprint upon and enliven one lifetime.

    CLD says: "Needs a Professional Narrator"
    "Scheherazade"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Country Girl to be better than the print version?

    Yes...but you will also want the print version to underline and note beautiful phrases and passages..


    What did you like best about this story?

    Her openness to life and what she calls, "the trampoline of love"


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Impossible to choose...many ties for first place.


    Any additional comments?

    I heartily recommend this book. At first, I was distracted by O'Brien's noisy S's, but that would be a silly reason not to dive into this book. She's a wonderful reader/storyteller. Her love of place (and not just Ireland) and her love for people both draw out her powerful gifts of description. Although there are many stories including famous people, I did not pick up any sense that O'Brien considers herself superior. In fact, some of the small cameos of nameless people are the most wonderful, like the night watchman in an Irish castle who passes the time by reciting classical soliloquies. You will catch yourself cringing, thinking, "Don't do it!" as the author makes mistakes that seem predictable, but she conveys the fog of love so well, you realize we've all made mistakes like this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Richard Rohr
    • Narrated By Richard Rohr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (229)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (188)

    In the first half of life, we are naturally preoccupied with establishing ourselves; climbing, achieving, and performing. But as we grow older and encounter challenges and mistakes, we need to see ourselves in a different and more life-giving way. This message of falling down - that is in fact moving upward - is the most resisted and counterintuitive of messages in the world's religions. Falling Upward offers a new paradigm for understanding one of the most profound of life's mysteries: how those who have fallen down are the only ones who understand "up".

    William says: "Life Changing Once You Are Ready"
    "Should be a pamphlet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Falling Upward better?

    If it were 75% shorter, if the author didn't belabor his points, and if he hadn't name-dropped throughout the book (by all means,share the pithy or wise remark made by a famous person but in the spirit of St. Francis' humility, leave out the irrelevant detail that the remark was made to you in person). Author comes across as having Workshop Presenter Personality Disorder, a narcissism that leads him to believe that every random, banal thought he has is original (this book has no originality) and profound. Save your book credit and pass this one by.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Biography Of Edward Curtis


    What didn’t you like about Richard Rohr’s performance?

    It was adequate but had a stagey kind of false intimacy.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyance. I was looking forward to some fresh ideas about the second half of life. Nothing profound here. Could have used a good editor.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Sister

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Rosamund Lupton
    • Narrated By Juanita Mahon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (124)
    Performance
    (79)
    Story
    (77)

    Their bond was unbreakable. The truth was unimaginable. When Beatrice receives a call to say that her sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home. But as she learns about Tess’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life. Everyone around her accepts they have lost Tess, but Beatrice refuses to give up, embarking on a dangerous journey to discover the shocking truth, whatever the cost...

    Lynn Diener says: "Kept me guessing and kept pulling at my heart."
    "tremendous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gets off to a slightly slow start, but keep listening! The story is a tightly woven mystery with vivid characters (could do without the mother) and the ending is outstanding. Better writing than usual in a mystery novel...especially the ending.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Erik Larson
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2343)
    Performance
    (1715)
    Story
    (1714)

    The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another....

    Patrick says: "compelling father-daughter story"
    "ruined by narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    get this wonderful book in print. Stephen Hoye reads every sentence, every paragraph, every page in the same tone of voice with an identical, monotonous rhythm. Doesn't matter if he's reading about a Nazi atrocity or a beautiful day in the country...same inflection.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Janny Scott
    • Narrated By January LaVoy
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (34)

    Barack Obama has written extensively about his father, but little is known about Stanley Ann Dunham, the fiercely independent woman who raised him, the person he credits for, as he says, "what is best in me." Here is the missing piece of the story.

    darswords says: "What a Woman!"
    "Excellent!"
    Overall

    A three-dimensional portrait of this unusual woman. A tip: through either a production error or a hyper-caffeinated narrator, the reading of this book is much too fast...and I found it annoying. If you listen on your ipod, I suggest going to Settings and changing the speed to Slower. There's a bit of an echo but for me it was less irritating than the ridiculous speed of the reading on 'normal'.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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