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Oakland, CA
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  • Before We Were Yours

  • A Novel
  • By: Lisa Wingate
  • Narrated by: Emily Rankin, Catherine Taber
  • Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,915
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,364
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,254

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge - until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I was rivetted, finished in three days.

  • By Lin Cloward on 06-26-17

Scandalous

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

Reviewed: 04-15-18

Based on the Tennessee Children’s Home scandal in the 1930’s – 1950’s, this story really caught my interest. It took a while to get into it, but then I was hooked. My only criticism of the book is that it is a little schmaltzy and overdone. I’ve read a couple other books recently that dealt with large scale scandals from our country’s past: Killers of the Flower Moon and Radium Girls. Those books were actually creative non-fiction, and this one is purely a novel. I enjoyed this one the most, despite my reservations above.

I liked the double perspective of the past, represented by Rill Foss, and the present, by Avery Stafford, in the book. It unraveled like a mystery, going back and forth between the two. Since the story is based on interviews and research, it would be hard to say that any of it was unrealistic – even if it seems unbelievable that people could be so cold hearted and cruel. I had to look up the history of this scandal to convince myself this could have happened! Even so, some parts just did seem overdone. Mainly I think it’s the parts about the various romances portrayed in the book and some of the flowery language that just struck me wrong. There was a lot of figurative language that I did like though, and I kept trying to figure out what, exactly, bothered me. I’m not sure I ever came up with an exact reason… so I’ll stick with “overdone and schmaltzy.” Still, it’s a great story and a good exposé of another disgraceful episode in the history of the U.S.


  • Nonviolent Communication

  • Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values
  • By: Marshall Rosenberg PhD
  • Narrated by: Marshall Rosenberg PhD
  • Length: 5 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,834
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,582
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,561

On Nonviolent Communication, this renowned peacemaker presents his complete system for speaking our deepest truths, addressing our unrecognized needs and emotions, and honoring those same concerns in others. With this adaptation of the best-selling book of the same title, Marshall Rosenberg teaches in his own words.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This is an amazing life changing book!!!

  • By Olesya on 08-03-16

Good Advice, Theoretically

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

Reviewed: 03-16-18

I did really like this book – with a couple reservations. You’ve probably heard of using “I” statements instead of blaming someone with a “You” statement (“You really make me mad etc.”)? Well, I always wondered how to get around the problem of an I statement ( I feel hurt when you…) without saying, “ I feel hurt when you act like an a***hole.”

THIS book tells you how to use those I statements more effectively through Marshall Rosenberg’s method of “nonviolent communication.” That is all great! The problem is that in real life it is really hard to figure out your own exact correct feelings vs needs vs wants, etc., etc., and then hard to put the method into practice and to figure out EXACTLY how to state it in the correct way.

I just finished the book yesterday. Later that evening I had a huge fight/argument with my ex. He is a tough case, but STILL… I had no idea how to turn around some of the things we were flinging out. SO… is it a good book? Theoretically yes! Practically… not so much.



  • Ender's Game

  • Special 20th Anniversary Edition
  • By: Orson Scott Card
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, Gabrielle de Cuir
  • Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,225
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,845
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,068

Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s easy to say that when it comes to sci-fi you either love it or you hate it. But with Ender’s Game, it seems to be you either love it or you love it.... The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 6 titles in the series so far

  • By Kapila on 01-29-03

Not My Thing

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

Reviewed: 11-15-17

I read it on a challenge. Sci Fi has never been my thing, and I don’t really get why this book is supposed to be SO great. One website mentioned that it had been called “the greatest sci fi novel ever.” Ok, well, it might be good sci fi, but I don’t think it’s really a good novel. The constant battle scenes made the plot fairly boring, and many of the characters were underdeveloped or one sided. Ender’s brother, Peter, and sister, Valentine were examples of flat characters who didn’t seem to really go anywhere. I kept waiting for some confrontation between Ender and his demonic brother, BUT… nothing ever materialized and his brother’s story just petered out (pun intended). It seemed totally unbelievable to me that the brother and sister could so totally influence the world as 10 and 12 year old Demosthenes and Locke.

I listened to a fairly long interview with the author at the end of the book. It was telling that Ender’s Game started as a story in a sci fi magazine that began when Ender after has already left his family and gone to space. When Card decided to turn it from a story to a book, he first added in the back-story about Ender’s mom, dad, sis, and brother. I feel like he never really fully figured out what to do with these characters. They seem tacked on, and, in a way, they are. And the ending of the book, after Ender’s biggest battle, seems so lame and unbelievable to me. Again, the character of his brother is virtually dropped. The life of Ender and Valentine in the colonies is very undeveloped and uninteresting. And the whole idea that Ender now feels protective of the Bugger “queen” and would actually give those creatures a new start is laughable. The idea that this is because of his wonderful compassionate nature just falls flat.

I liked Orson Scott Card’s joke about the differentiation between the fantasy genre and the sci fi genre. He said anything with smooth surfaces and rivets is sci fi and if it has forests and trees then it’s fantasy. Ha ha… good one.



  • Endurance

  • Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
  • By: Alfred Lansing
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,180
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,753
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,737

In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb in so many ways

  • By David on 01-19-14

Truly an Incredible Journey!

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

Reviewed: 11-13-17

I loved this book. The story of Ernest Shackleton’s incredibly difficult and unsuccessful attempt to cross Antarctica ends with the triumph of a will so strong that it is a searing reminder of all that we are capable of achieving under difficult circumstances.

Shackleton had to abandon his grand plan to explore Antarctica when the Endurance became stuck in the Antarctic ice where it remained for nine months. Instead the challenge now became getting the crew out alive! There were lots of details about their many travails which were interesting because of the way Shackleton and his crew mostly demonstrate such a hearty and positive attitude amidst all the horrible things that happen to them. The crew built “dogloos” for their treasured sled dogs; the camp photographer took photographs of which some survive today. On the whole, they had an adventuring and positive attitude, given their circumstances. As if that weren’t enough, the Endurance eventually sank, and then Shackleton and part of the crew had to leave that area to make what seemed like an impossible trek to get help. Another perilous journey ensued which saved him and his partial crew. The final coup de gras was when Shackleton returned to his stranded crew back near where the Endurance sank and rescued them! It had been a total of almost 2 years since they set sail. His “endurance” was incredible! The book is SO aptly named, not only for the ship but for this amazing man with the spirit of a hero and a will of iron.

Immediately after listening to this book, I began to adapt, in a very small way, his attitude into my life. On the tennis court, when I have a tough match or am getting tired, I now repeat my mantra, “I am Ernest Schakleton,” or now more fondly, “I am Ernest!” My friends know what I mean ☺ Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry




1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Little Fires Everywhere

  • By: Celeste Ng
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Lim
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,646
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,458
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,433

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Entertaining, Clever Novel

  • By Steve M on 12-01-17

A Good Read - A Bit Stereotyped

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

Reviewed: 11-06-17

I loved reading this book. The story was compelling, the writing was good, and it just had me hooked. In a certain sense it reminded me of “Big Little Lies” because it’s about a domestic scene and the lives of several characters in that scene… with secrets and problems. Also, the reading was just as fun and easy.

One thing I did not like is how the characters were too stereotyped. Mia was the WONDERFUL, free wheeling artist. Elena Richardson was the STIFLED artist and UPTIGHT suburban housewife. Shaker Heights was a stifling community… 100%. Hey, I lived next door to Shaker Heights in Cleveland, where the book was set, all through my youth. I knew lots of people from Shaker Heights. They are not all like that! In fact Mia, in this book, seemed pretty messed up to me! And IN GENERAL artists can be just as messed up as suburbanites. I don’t like it when authors employ stereotypes like that.

It was fun to read about places in Cleveland that I haven’t visited in years and to read about my college, Denison, where Elena went to school, too!

There's a good review in Salon, BTW.

Overall this was a really fun book to read.

SPOILER ALERT HERE !

The main thing I didn’t like about the ending is that Mrs. Richardson never found out the huge mistake she made in thinking that it was Pearl who had had the abortion. That mistake is, actually, what caused Izzy to go off the deep end and burn the house and what drove Mrs. Richardson to kick out Mia and Pearl. SO, of all the loose ends to tie up, you’d think the author would want to say something about that! I was waiting for it and am disappointed!

I did like the way that at the end she just alluded to Izzy meeting up with Mia in a day-dreamy way so it didn’t seem too clichéd. And the other loose ends, too, were not too neatly tied up, which made the book seem more realistic than a totally happy-ever-after ending.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

  • By: Al Franken
  • Narrated by: Al Franken
  • Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 14,485
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13,383
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 13,242

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was reading this when the allegations against Franken came out

  • By Fruitsalad200 on 12-10-17

Franken for Presidnt?

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

Reviewed: 10-19-17

Reading Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is like breathing fresh air after inhaling all the toxic political fumes blowing around in our country. I really didn’t know much, if anything, about him, but I came away liking and respecting him a lot. This is his memoir of growing up and his years so far in the U.S. Senate. It is fun to read about his time working for Saturday Night Live, and it is interesting to think of someone from that wild environment taking on the serious career of being a U.S. Senator. He is extremely smart and well educated ( a Harvard graduate) , so he was and is very well qualified from that standpoint. He became very politicized during the later years with SNL and afterward, and so that became his political education and his political qualification for the job when he got elected.

The part that feels so good about the book is how Al Franken takes his job seriously, wants to help people, enjoys connecting with his constituents and other Senators, and seems honest and above board in his dealings with people. It gives me a hopeful feeling for our country, even if that feeling gets blown away every time I turn on the TV news…. Still, this man makes me hopeful.

It was fun to read about a few of the politicians that I hear about in the news all the time and get the back story on what they are like from his viewpoint. Ted Cruz takes a drubbing, in part for his patronizing attitude toward Al Franken. Al had a great rebuttal for Cruz later on with this one: “When most people think of a cruise that’s full of s—, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.” Mitch McConnell comes out looking like a decent guy. Mitch and Al don’t agree on a lot, BUT Mitch ended up seeming like an ok guy overall.

In general, the book is a serious one, but with a sense of humor like Al’s, the book does not suffer from a lack of entertaining, humorous comments and anecdotes. He tells how he has had to clamp down on his humorous side in order to succeed at becoming a Washington Senator. I’m glad that he clamped down but did not extinguish it for this book!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Love Warrior (Oprah's Book Club: A Memoir)

  • By: Glennon Doyle
  • Narrated by: Glennon Doyle
  • Length: 7 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,531
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,823
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,798

The Newest Oprah Book Club 2016 Selection. The highly anticipated new memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage. Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out—three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list—her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incredible

  • By Leah B on 09-08-16

Glennon Doyle Melton Nails It!

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

Reviewed: 10-09-17

Love Warrior

I loved this book! It is a memoir about Glennon Doyle Melton overcoming bulimia, alcoholism, and sexual dysfunction, but it’s also a book about personal growth. If you don’t like new age spirituality or books about self help (although it’s NOT a self help book) then you might not like it. I certainly never had the severe type of problems that she had, but still I got so much out of this book as I followed along with her recovery! It has so much to do with women’s issues about not trusting their own minds to guide them to the right decisions for them. I love her ideas about unifying the body, mind, and spirit. I felt like she really nailed it.

I would like to make some of the changes dealing with men that she made, but some of the dramatic success she has feels like it is so dramatic that it couldn’t possibly apply to me (either that or it’s exaggerated – snark). Partly it seems that she had so far to come that the recovery becomes a more dramatic journey for her. I haven’t really had all those problems, but the changes I’d like to make seem… well, not likely to happen. When I think about it now, I feel like I could not be as brave as she is. However, listening to the book did make me feel that I could at that moment. I will say that! Maybe that is a start.

  • News of the World

  • A Novel
  • By: Paulette Jiles
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,046
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,697
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,682

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Heart as Big as Texas

  • By Mel on 10-17-16

It's Got Heart

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

Reviewed: 09-09-17

I was disappointed after listening to this book. It had such great reviews. While the story was interesting, there really wasn’t enough conflict to make it very compelling. Yes, at about ¾ of the way through, the action picks up enough to make one really take notice. BUT then the resolution happens too quickly with one of those summaries of what happens for the rest of the characters’ lives. It is very sweet the way the Captain becomes so attached to the little girl… and vice versa. BUT that alone does not make a plot.

I felt like the author wanted to pass on information she had researched about American frontier children who had been captured by Indians and then returned. The reader DOES come away with a sense of what the children went through and the psychology of dealing with them - but not with the sense of an exciting plot.

Many reviewers focus on the “heart” and “warmth” of the book. I totally agree with those aspects, but – again – that doesn’t make a good novel. Heart and warmth also need conflict and plot… 2 of the main elements of a novel. It’s in those 2 areas where the book falls short.

  • Nutshell

  • By: Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
  • Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,538
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,395
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,387

From the best-selling author of Atonement, Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master. To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Long Version, and the Short.

  • By Ilana on 09-19-16

Strange concept; Entirely entertaining!!

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

Reviewed: 08-09-17

Nutshell is so clever and well written. An 8-month-old fetus is the narrator, and McEwan manages to make this concept seem believable – and entertaining. The fetus/narrator tells the story of his unfaithful mother, Trudy, who is having an affair with his father’s brother, Claude. Claude and Trudy conspire to poison John, the father.

The narrator is funny, preternaturally smart, and well versed. This could come off as silly and unbelievable, but Ian McEwen is such a good writer that we go along with him to see how he can pull it off. It is brilliant. Claude is his rival for Trudy’s affections, and we see this rivalry up close. “Not everyone knows what it is to have your father’s rival’s penis inches from your nose…On each occasion, on every piston stroke, I dread that he’ll break through and shaft my soft-boned skull and seed my thoughts with his essence, with the teeming cream of his banality.”.


The plot is supposed to be a take off on Hamlet, and I can see how that does work. The fetus is like Hamlet in discovering the infidelity, feeling the need to avenge his father’s death, but being very ambivalent and in a moral quandary about what to do and about life itself.

It’s a short book, more like a novella, and thoroughly enjoyable.




  • Exit West

  • A Novel
  • By: Mohsin Hamid
  • Narrated by: Mohsin Hamid
  • Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,493
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,372
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,363

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet - sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors - doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Where to Live?

  • By David on 04-04-17

Notice the Doors

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

Reviewed: 03-31-17

Exit West was beautifully written. It seemed like an allegory about immigration. Although Saeed and Nadia were the main immigrants, Hamid beautifully captured the experiences of just about ALL immigrants. It is his contention, in this book, that we ALL are immigrants in one sense or another. He demonstrates this by interspersing very short anecdotes that are unrelated to the main plot. These anecdotes seem to add up to a picture of the scope and variety of immigrants and immigration. A couple of these anecdotes didn’t really make much sense to me, but if I view them ALL as examples of immigration pure and simple, then a picture of the vastness of his definition for immigration emerges. In fact, it seems that almost any movement in space and through a door or portal could be construed as immigration according to Hamid. He uses the symbol of a door throughout the book to stand for various movements both in and out of any situation… thus immigration. This inclusivity serves to make the reader feel a part of the situation involving immigration in the world today, which is what I think Hamid was trying to do.

Not only does he do a good job of making the reader aware of the vastness of the immigration situation, he beautifully conveys male/female relationships through the progression of Saeed and Nadia’s partnership. His descriptions of their relationship are achingly beautiful, I thought. In fact , his descriptions of other relationships throughout the book are beautifully conveyed, as well.

It is a well written book that also carries a very timely message.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful