When Schuyler Rummel-Hudson was 18 months old, a question about her lack of speech by her pediatrician set in motion a journey that continues today. When she was diagnosed with bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria (an extremely rare neurological disorder), her parents were given a name for the monster that had been stalking them from doctor to doctor, and from despair to hope, and back again.
Yay!!! A shout of pure joy. That was my reaction, literally, when I learned that this book was finally on Audible. I first discovered Schuyler’s Monster in hardback shortly after its publication about a decade ago. Way back in 2008, there were still some independent bookstores, and the best ones put out little “Staff Picks” cards in front of certain titles to advertise staff members’ favorite selections. These little blurbs were usually in the employee’s own handwriting, and consisted of a few sentences explaining why they especially recommended this particular book.
Black Oak Books on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, California, is our setting. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I was in the city for some rare alone time without the kids after having lunch with an old friend in the Gourmet Grotto’s Epicurious Garden next door. The book’s gorgeous cover design (Schuyler, hands over her mouth as if stifling a laugh, surrounded by cascading alphabet letters) drew my attention, but so did the Staff’s Picks recommendation promising “a journey unlike any other” that would be sure to become an instant favorite of any reader who had “ever had a child, ever known a child, or ever been a child.” I picked up the book, read the unforgettable introduction, and was hooked. (The author had me at “Tyrannosaurus Rex.”) I bought the book, took it home, read it in two days, handed it off to my husband so he could read it, ordered five copies for friends and family and immediately began giving them away. Every friend who read it finished it within two or three days, as I had. Over the years I ordered many more copies and I always make sure to keep at least one copy at home and one or two copies at work to lend out to parents, friends, and other SLPs. I’ve made sure to keep up with the latest exploits of the author and his stellar daughter on Facebook and on the author’s fabulous blog, Fighting Monsters With Rubber Swords. Once I became an Audible member, I wrote to Audible periodically, requesting that the book be produced in audiobook format. The only time I wrote to Rob himself to ask when an audiobook might be expected, he wrote back saying something along the lines of “I think that ship has sailed,” but still, I never gave up hope.
And now I’ve been able, finally, to experience this journey again in audiobook format. I only wish I had known just a month or two sooner (way back when you could follow other reviewers on Audible, to see what people were reading) that it was here, so this review I’m writing now would have been emailed automatically to each of my 600 followers! Then more people could have discovered a new favorite. The writing is excellent, the story riveting and suspenseful, the author fully relatable, and the book just generally unlike any other. If I had to compare it to any other book, I’d say it comes closest to Lion/A Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierly...but a way jazzier, faster read, and with jokes. The narrator of this audio version is fan-frigging-tastic, absolutely first-rate, almost Sedarisian in his delivery, and a perfect match for Rummel-Hudson’s wry humor. I laughed out loud in my car many times; I cried along with Rob and Julie toward the end, during the Box Class chapter. Kudos to Rob, Schuyler, and everyone involved in the making of this book, and now, ten years later, this audiobook. If Audible ever restores the option of sending a particular book to one’s friends and family, I’ll send it to everyone I know and love.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Spinky is convinced that his family hates him and goes off to sulk in his hammock. His brother and sister try to make amends. His mom even brings him a beautiful tray of food. But nothing can get Spinky to stop sulking - not even a circus passing by on his street! Will Spinky ever cheer up?
This is a hilarious listen, partly due to the unconventional story (which begins with Spinky’s fit of sulking; the reader never gets to see/know exactly what caused it). The real treat, however, is Meryl Streep, whose can’t-miss narration makes this a delight for preschoolers, kindergarteners and adults alike. My only caveat would be that Spinky will be viewed by some parents as a spoiled kid, over-indulged and almost encouraged in his sulking by his doting, well-meaning but clearly very privileged family.
Still, it’s a winner. Worth the cost of a dollar or two.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
When you listen to this audiobook, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are listening to a story about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement - a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing. Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
It felt like we were wrestling an octopus.
—Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks, on dealing with such a complicated plot during the writing of The Wife Between Us
This book is kind of a confused and confusing mess, and during the conversation between the authors at the end, I finally figured out at least one reason why. It was the fact that there were two authors, with no single brain in charge of plot development, and the plot just spun out in too many directions at once. I, too, undertook a joint writing project with a partner, when I was an English major, but we did it as a satire of a book that already WAS a disjointed, crazy mess, so the fact that we each kicked sections back and forth to each other (each of us just taking the story forward from wherever the other had last left it) like a hilarious football was part of the goal and not a problem the way it is here. At one point in this book, I literally had to go back and study the previous few chapters because it felt like it was so nonsensical that I had to have missed something. Nope! It was just that badly written.
Add to that the fact that it’s basically just a tarted-up copy of similar recent domestic abuse thrillers like Behind Closed Doors, complete with weak female protagonists who somehow can’t muster the self-respect needed to just leave the abusive husband, and husbands so controlling they buy the house without consulting the wife, buy a dog without consulting the wife, and 86 the dog once the wife gets too attached to it...Well, I just can’t recommend it in good conscience. But if you enjoyed Behind Closed Doors, Girl Last Seen, and/or Baggage, you’ll probably love it.
The narrator is very good.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can't bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to 13 years ago. I've spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, with the right look, in the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.
I had to force myself to finish this book, and once I had completed it, all I was left with were questions because the ending made no sense. Heck, NONE of it really made any sense, from about the middle on. And the main character—in fact, EVERY character—is so weakly and incompletely drawn and so unlikeable that getting even to the halfway point felt like a Herculean chore. Plus, it’s absolutely sickening and disgusting in its themes and content. As in, ALL its themes and content. I agree with the other reviewers who called it utter trash with no redeeming qualities. If you spend a credit on this book, and if you actually finish it as I did, at the end you’ll just be left feeling infuriated and also dirty, like you need a shower. I would skip it if I were you. I wish I could go back in time and unread this.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
HBO's Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents the story of a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence - the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon's life is about to change forever....
Thank you so much, John Oliver, for supporting such a worthy cause and charity (The Trevor Project). This was a great listen but I do agree with the other reviewers who said the print version is even better because of the pictures. We got one for our grandson and he loves it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
At the top of his class at Harvard Law, he had his choice of the best in America. But he made a deadly mistake. When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. Mitch should have remembered what his brother Ray -- doing 15 years in a Tennessee jail -- already knew. "You never get nothing for nothing."
I bought this book in the mistaken belief that since the movie was great, the book would be great as well. I was wrong, although that didn’t become apparent until Hour Ten or so. This book started out as a 4-star listen, thoroughly entertaining and with interesting details that the film script omitted. By Hour Thirteen, it had sunk to a 3-star listen as details crucial to the coherence of the narrative were either minimized, glossed over or left out entirely. E.g., Mitch’s discovery that Eddie Lomax (the private investigator he hired to investigate the firm’s dead lawyers) has been killed, one of the pivotal and most chilling events in the story, IS NEVER SHOWN to the reader. Days or weeks later, when Lomax’s secretary asks Mitch if he heard about Eddie, he says “Yeah,” and when I heard that, I was so surprised that I’d missed it that I backtracked and listened to the whole last two chapters again, from Eddie’s death on. Nope, it just wasn’t there. Incredible. By Hour Sixteen, the entire story had unraveled to the point that it felt as if Grisham was just making it up as he went along, with no coherent plan whatsoever. SPOILER ALERT: The 3 McDeeres (Mitch, Ray and Abby), end up on the lam in Florida, with dyed hair, disguises and aliases...and they are pursued motel to motel by literally every lawyer in the firm. I only wish I were kidding. Since this ended up as a 2-star listen but had started out as a 4-star listen, I’m splitting the difference and giving it 3 stars.
Narrator Scott Brick, usually annoying, is at his most insufferably slow and melodramatic here. Try speeding him up to 1.5x normal speed; that makes him much more tolerable.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
He was deader than a dead duck up a dead end with a dead weight tied to his cold dead ankles. But his widow, sitting at his bedside, chafing his hand and talking softly to him, every so often bending over to kiss him, still didn’t seem quite ready to let him go. The doc caught the eye of the driver, hovering in the doorway with the body bag as his partner rolled the gurney along the hall.
I became interested in this author after hearing her interviewed on NPR a few weeks ago. I was hoping Audible would be offering her new book (the one she was being interviewed about), Scot Free, a cozy mystery set in California. Unfortunately, Audible does not have Scot Free, nor any of the author’s other books, but DOES offer this tiny short story. It’s very short—only 7 minutes—so don’t spend a credit on it, but it’s worth a couple dollars because it’s so good. It’s O. Henryish in nature, but I had to play it for my husband, an English teacher, to find out why it felt so familiar. He reminded me that it’s reminiscent of that old (1890s) Kate Chopin short story, The Story of an Hour, in which....
But no spoilers here. Read it for yourself! You won’t be sorry. It’s only seven minutes long, but it’s unforgettable. The narrator is perfect, too!
3 of 7 people found this review helpful
In his audiobook, A Higher Loyalty, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of powe, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.
This was the biggest surprise I have ever encountered in a book on Audible, and easily the best book I’ve read or listened to this year. I almost couldn’t have been more stunned by how different it was from what I had expected. I picked up this book out of sheer, morbid curiosity, expecting a train wreck, or at best a credibly written story about a train wreck...and instead discovered a riveting, suspenseful, highly instructive and moving page-turner, eighty percent of it NOT AT ALL about the current administration. It has many laugh-out-loud moments, as well! Simply put, this autobiography is a stunning achievement. I didn’t just like it; I loved it, played and replayed whole sections and chapters for friends and family, and started the whole book again the minute I finished it. Democrats and Republicans alike will be spellbound by the author’s stories, from his teenaged brush with death at the hands of a notorious criminal to his investigation and prosecution of everyone from Martha Stewart to Mafia bosses. Truly a must-read for all American patriots, and with an improbably hopeful, optimistic conclusion to boot.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO MY 600 FOLLOWERS: Thank you for following me! It’s been a privilege to be able to recommend books for your consideration these past few years. I hope I helped one or two of you discover a really memorable read.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO THE 90+ REVIEWERS I FOLLOW: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the excellent book recommendations through the years! Scrolling through my “Reviewers I Follow” page to see what all of you were reading was always the most fun part of being on Audible, and I’ll miss you all very much. I’ll especially miss all the great books you would have suggested I read, as well as your warnings re: the clunkers I should avoid! Special thanks to Cynthia in Monrovia, Mel, Gillian, Sara, Tad Davis, Kathi, Kathy in Davis (I want to have coffee with you sometime), C. Telfair, Janice in Sugar Land, W. Perry Hall, Rue Rue, R. Pontiflet in Fairfield, Diana in Antelope Valley, Jim, Mark in New Zealand, Lulu, Green Ice Cream Queen, Dubi in NY, Julie W. Capell, Wendi in Houston, Mark in Waltham MA, Calliope, Lori, W. Brooks in Seattle, Meg, NMWriterGal, Claudia H. in Philadelphia, Pamela J., Ilene, SydSavvy, M.Ryder, Dave in Whittier, Marilyn Armstrong, Mark in Reno, Wild Wise Woman in Atlanta, Getshotzi, Julia, David S. Matthews, Bree Salyer, Mark from Toney AL, Mark from Bettendorf IA, Emily in Portland, David from Stamford CT, Janet Katz, Thomas More, Rebecca J. L. In Ellsworth ME, Deborah Jacob, Michael Cox, Louis Macareo, Audio Gra Gra (née Grahame, I think) in Australia, Eric, Happy Woman, Brian Abel R. in St Louis, Felicia J, Erika Shaffer in Seattle, Kate in SF, and last but not least, Audible editors Emily, Laura and Doug. You’ll be sorely missed.
4 of 9 people found this review helpful
Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17. First, there was the childhood trauma she's never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date. A year later and a thousand miles away, Anna tries to find solace in the fresh start of a new job in a new place. She takes comfort in her outspoken cousin Jeannie, the confidant and best friend who's there whenever she needs help.
This deserves 3 1/2 stars just for being a page-turner up to the end, but the ending itself is so eye-rollingly silly that I was immediately reminded of a bad made-for-TV movie. Where had I seen this before, I wondered as the production credits rolled, hit by an intense feeling of deja vu. Was it the ending of an old Columbo episode I saw during my misspent youth? A Movie-of-the-Week? Wherever I saw something like this, it was cheesy as all-get-out, and should not have been repeated. Suspension of disbelief is a concept I understand and can even get behind, but not to this ridiculous extent. The flashbacks in time (scenes from the past alternating with scenes from the present, just to keep crucial information hidden from the reader until the end) will annoy some readers, and the conceit of the drunken female protagonist who may be either victim or killer is getting overused in the extreme in thrillers these days. Also annoying (at least at first, until you get used to her) is the narrator, with her cloying Valley-Girlish blend of overly precise consonants and lazy vowels (“complacks”/complex; “”Alice”/Ellis). Grade: C. Bechdel test: Pass.
2 of 8 people found this review helpful
Mary, a lonely orphaned girl sent to a Yorkshire mansion at the edge of a vast, lonely moor. At first she is frightened by this gloomy place until she meets a local boy, Dickon, who's earned the trust of the moor's wild animals; the invalid Colin, an unhappy boy terrified of life; and a mysterious, abandoned garden....
In my memory of this book, it was nearly the equal of the author’s masterpiece, A Little Princess. My memory turned out to be faulty. Where Princess features richly drawn characters, a plausible (within the bounds of the story) plot line and a story arc that is interesting and appealing to young readers and adults alike, TSG is cartoonish and underwritten, almost like a comic book. As my daughter pointed out, it almost would have worked better as a preschooler’s picture book. In TSG, a reasonable suspension of disbelief is insufficient; one has to accept a cartoonish alternate universe where, for instance, if a boy is gentle enough, squirrels will happily nestle in his shirt pockets while crows rest on his shoulders and foxes follow him about like puppies. Adults won’t love it; young children (5-8) will enjoy it most.
A special shout-out to the narrator, Susie Berneis, who is excellent. I purchased and returned several other versions, all of them with narrators too cloyingly affected or otherwise insufferable to endure, before discovering this one. Thank you!
2 of 10 people found this review helpful