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Nicole Del Sesto

  • 21
  • reviews
  • 27
  • helpful votes
  • 27
  • ratings
  • The Hazel Wood

  • By: Melissa Albert
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Soler
  • Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 475
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 442
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 441

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice's life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice's grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away - by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • dark and modern fairytale

  • By Stephanie on 02-02-18

Fun

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-17-18


This was a fun book. Dark fairy tale mishmash which put me in mind of Ready Player One and the Thursday Next books. Some clever ideas and very entertaining.

The narrator on the audio was really good. Nothing obnoxious, which is always a bonus.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

  • A Novel
  • By: Haruki Murakami
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas
  • Length: 26 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,257
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,056
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,060

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.... Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great story. Make narrators "female voice" incredibly distracting

  • By Benjamin E. Flashman on 03-19-17

Narrator almost ruined the book

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-18

I really messed myself by trying to do this book on audio. The audio was awful, and yet somehow I made it 75% of the way through. The narrator was a British/Australian voicing his Japanese characters with American accents. Worse, there was one (frequent character) who sounded like a South Park character, and the end of the audio for me was a Gilbert Godfrey voice. The guy just overdid every character.

I picked up the print version for the last 25% of the book and I wish I'd read the whole thing.

As far as the story goes, I liked it OK. Didn't love it. So much of it was dreams or dream like. And a lot of those dreams were wet dreams (Sorry.) There's a cat and a wife, a neighbor and a well. Random war stories, a politician brother, and psychic sisters Malta and Creta. I didn't "get it".

I think if this is your first Murakami it could be great and could really grab you because it is unique, but I've read a lot of Murakami and it just didn't do anything for me. I think I'm done with Murakami for now.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

  • A Novel
  • By: Chiara Barzini
  • Narrated by: Carlotta Brentan
  • Length: 10 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

Mere weeks after the 1992 riots that laid waste to Los Angeles, Eugenia, a typical Italian teenager, is rudely yanked from her privileged Roman milieu by her hippie-ish filmmaker parents and transplanted to the strange suburban world of the San Fernando Valley. With only the Virgin Mary to call on for guidance as her parents struggle to make it big, Hollywood fashion, she must navigate her huge new public high school, complete with Crips and Bloods and Persian gang members, and a car-based environment of 99-cent stores.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Nobody walks in LA

  • By Nicole Del Sesto on 01-29-18

Nobody walks in LA

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-29-18

This book was on a number of "best of" lists for 2017.

It caught my attention because I was a young adult in So Cal during the period this book took place. It started pretty strong - a family moves from Italy to the US to "make it" in Hollywood. Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Grandma. The book is told from POV of sister, a high school aged girl. There were some really fun reminders about time and place (and some not some fun reminders ... Rodney King, the Northridge earthquake, the OJ car chase.)

I finished this a couple weeks ago and I can't remember the girls name, but she is trying to find herself, and she makes some really odd decisions. The book just kind of fell apart. I think it may have been autobiographical, not really sure but it just wasn't very good. I was glad when it ended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Power

  • By: Naomi Alderman
  • Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh
  • Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,268
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,101
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,096

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: There's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A necessary read

  • By Grace on 11-22-17

Corrupts absolutely

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-29-17

I think you can pretty much count on this review to be spoilery.

There are a lot of pros and cons to this book. When I first started it I was all yeah, girl power, sisters are doing it for them m'fing selves, you go girl, etc. And then it went a direction and while it was at times very clever, I was disappointed in the direction it went.

Which begs the question - does gender matter? Or is Power alone the issue. This book has it at Power and because of that, as a woman, I felt less empowered. Which will only make sense for those who have read it, I guess and ruin it for everybody else. Haha. I did warn you. Though this book was relatively the anti-Handmaid's Tale, ultimately both books left me feeling the same.

The structure was clever, particularly the end. The author nailed condescension. I liked the museum interludes, though I was at times perplexed about when this was supposed to take place. It felt futuristic, but there was mention of iPads and such, so I'm assuming it was now and the "cataclysm" was 1000-2500 years ago?

I would have liked to have seen a book where the women didn't ultimately just become men, and see how that would have turned out. Would definitely have been less clever, but perhaps we could feel a bit more hopeful at the end of it.

Great fodder for discussion.

I listened to this and the narrator drove me up a tree. She's actually a great narrator, but there were just TOO MANY ACCENTS god, woman, I get it, you think you are good at all accents. Well, I have news for you, you sound like caricatures not characters. I keep walking around my house doing her "Russian" accent and am now driving myself nuts.

Worth reading for sure. Thought provoking, but ultimately left me feeling hopeless.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Fantasyland

  • How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
  • By: Kurt Andersen
  • Narrated by: Kurt Andersen
  • Length: 19 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,399
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,255
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,246

A razor-sharp thinker offers a new understanding of our post-truth world and explains the American instinct to believe in make-believe, from the Pilgrims to P. T. Barnum to Disneyland to zealots of every stripe...to Donald Trump. In this sweeping, eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen demonstrates that what's happening in our country today - this strange, post-factual, "fake news" moment we're all living through - is not something entirely new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character and path.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book, but...

  • By Synthpulse on 11-15-17

Food for thought

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-03-17


I didn't 100% buy the thesis of this book, but found it a very interesting look at the history of some of the more fantastical elements of life in the US. Meaning, everything. There was a large focus on religion, and it was well explored. Talking about how different aspects of various religions sort of religions came to be. i.e speaking in tongues and faith healing, for example. It talked about the beginning of Calvary Chapel of which I was a part of in its very early days, and that was illuminating. Later about Marianne Williamson and A Course in Miracles, which I was also involved in.

It tackled so many topics: Vegas, Homeopathy, Oprah, Bigfoot (I think haha), Disneyland (naturally), Salem witch trials, and other types of hysteria (on and on) ... Does anybody remember the McMartin pre-school scandal, I think early 80s? I don't remember how he explained it all, but bottom line is one person accused these people of sexually assaulting the children and more people dogpiled on and there was something about a satanic cult and the police weirdly interviewed the children, getting them to confess to stuff that didn't happen and the school was closed. It was the longest most expensive trial in US history at the time, and ultimately I don't think anybody was convicted (which I didn't even realize until reading this book.)

Anyway, the basic premise of the book is that as a result of Americans fascination with all things fantastic - your truth is your truth and facts don't matter and that's how we got into this predicament the country is in. You know the one where 14 is the age of consent.

Like I said, I'm not sold on the conclusion but it was really interesting and I was surprised by how many various mini-hysterias/fantasylands I'd participated in. It's been a couple weeks and I'm still trying to process it. Worth a read/listen (I did audio) and perhaps even worth a re-read. There's a lot of important ideas there.

Read by the author, he was fine.

AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

  • A Novel
  • By: Cherise Wolas
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman, Michael Dickes
  • Length: 19 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 51

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin's delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family. Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A bit too long - but a great piece overall

  • By Jennifer R. on 10-04-17

A Little More Than It Needed to Be

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-17

I got an email from Goodreads, but they said it was from A.M. Homes telling me I needed to read this book. I love her, so I listened. I knew it was a marketing ploy, but A.M. Homes!

She had this to say:

"stunning debut...reminds me of my most favorite authors: J.D. Salinger, Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, Joan Didion."

I NEEDED to spend Audible credits and it was 19 hours, a perfect storm for book selection. Only, it wasn't. Salinger? AM (can I call you AM?) ...

I got through this book in like 3 days, so I can't say I wasn't engaged. But holy moly it was flawed. And there was a lot going on. A writer has a couple of short story collections which just wow the world and she wins awards, and is this lauded famous author. Many of her short stories show up in the book, and I have to tell you. I didn't get the attraction, I mean they weren't bad, but not mind blowing.

She meets a guy (brilliant famous eye surgeon) and on like their first date she tells him, her writing comes first and she's never having kids. Well, I don't need to tell you what happens. They fall in love, get married, oops, she gets preggers. She rushes to finish her first novel, (to me the most interesting idea IN this book) and after she has the baby she decides the book isn't good enough and destroys it, and puts a pin in her career and naturally has another baby because there was never going to be just one.

There are other stories she knocks about to get her writing again, which we hear all about and when the boys are in elementary school she finally writes a (boring sounding) novel that we get to hear all about, and it's good and she knows it, and then one of her sons it turns out is a 13-year old computer whiz, and needs to run a billion dollar company from her house, so she puts the book in a box in the garage because you can't be an author and have a son running a billion dollar company out of your house.

Then something treacherous happens with the book, and she goes to India to have an Eat Pray Love moment, where she writes another novel we get to hear all about which again is not that interesting.

I didn't hate it, but there were some things I just couldn't get past ... like how famous this short story writer was. How many famous short story writers do we know? George Saunders. Even authors, I mean, you don't get to the level of celebrity this author portrayed J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin, Stephen King -- sure, but they all have TV or movies to back up their books. It just wasn't real. And then there's the stories and novels themselves. Like the author knew she was only ever going to publish one book so she put everything she ever wrote in it.

She's a good storyteller, but the writing and the ideas themselves were mostly average.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Solar Bones

  • By: Mike McCormack
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 9 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26

It is All Souls Day, and the spirit of Marcus Conway sits at his kitchen table and remembers. In flowing, relentless prose, Conway recalls his life in rural Ireland: as a boy and man, father, husband, citizen. His ruminations move from childhood memories of his father's deftness with machines to his own work as a civil engineer, from transformations in the local economy to the tidal wave of global financial collapse. Conway's thoughts go still further, outward to the vast systems of time and history that hold us all.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Super

  • By Denis on 04-09-18

Life

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-19-17

This is a special book which I think may have been a bit hampered by the "gimmick" of being a single sentence. It didn't need the gimmick, it stands on its own. The structure suited the book perfectly, I think the "press" about it just blew it out of proportion. (Though I listened, I also went through some parts in the print version.)

It's a beautiful story of a man reflecting on his simple, complex life. Aside from the structure of the novel, there was nothing particularly original about the story - it was just so deftly told.

Reading stream of consciousness writing is not my thing at all so I decided to listen to this one on audio. Part of me wishes I'd read it, but I'm not sure I would have made it through. Aside from that, this was a STELLAR audio. It's one of those books that was made for audio and the narrator was absolutely perfect.

I finished 36 hours ago and it's still kicking around in my head. As I think about it in relation to the other Booker short listed books (as much as I loved all of them) I do still feel a bit surprised this didn't make the shortlist.

A worthy book I never would have read had it not been for the Man Booker.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Martian

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 151,960
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 140,219
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 140,076

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • LOOK BOOBIES

  • By Jim "The Impatient" on 07-07-14

Stranded on a planet ... branded a fool ...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-17

While this isn't a 5-star book, it was a 5-star story and I was totally entertained, so I'm giving it 5-stars.

Good for Weir! I love these success stories of self-published authors who make it big. The writing was a bit rough at times, and yes, way too much science detail, but in spite of that it was a fun, fast-paced, funny adventure.

"I'm the first person to be alone on an entire planet."

Indeed.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Beak of the Finch

  • A Story of Evolution in Our Time
  • By: Jonathan Weiner
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 287
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 227
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 228

Rosemary and Peter Grant and those assisting them have spend 20 years on Daphne Major, an island in the Galapagos, studying natural selection. They recognize each individual bird on the island, when there are 400 at the time of the author's visit or when there are over a thousand. They have observed about 20 generations of finches - continuously.Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating in-depth look at evolution in action

  • By Philip on 05-15-11

There. Will. Be. Beaks.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-17

This book is literally about the beaks of finches in the Galapagos. And it's also about natural selection, but as it relates to these finches. The first 25% I thought I'd lose my mind if they talked about the beaks of these finches anymore, but then I got fascinated.

The patience these scientists have is amazing. Years and years of work to understand these microscopic developmental changes. It's pretty mind blowing. What I think I found most interesting was the birds reactions to drought and El Nino.

Shortly after I finished this I started Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and in a million years, I wouldn't have thought the two were in any way related, but it turns out that (among other things) Jared Diamond is an evolutionary biologist, so "Beak" laid a very good foundation for what I've heard so far in this new book.

Who knew science could be interesting?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Into Thin Air

  • By: Jon Krakauer
  • Narrated by: Philip Franklin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,887
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,170
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,190

The definitive, personal account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed journalist and author of Into the Wild. Read by the author. Also, hear a Fresh Air interview with Krakauer conducted shortly after his ordeal.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incredible. Horrifying. Amazing.

  • By karen on 06-06-16

Shiver in me timbers.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-17

Avoidable tragedies bum me out, and this certainly falls into that category. But it was really hard not to get caught up in the excitement and adventure of this story.

Being neither an outdoor person or a person who can tolerate the cold, I cannot IMAGINE in a million years wanting to do something like this. But I understand the mind of a collector and a collector needs to have them all, and Everest was one of the missing for these people.

Both entertaining and sad, it was hard to put it down once I started.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful