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  • The Witch Elm

  • A Novel
  • By: Tana French
  • Narrated by: Paul Nugent
  • Length: 22 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,864
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,536
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4,521

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life - he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden - and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Anti climactic

  • By tally shopper on 10-21-18

plot hole theater

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

Reviewed: 10-28-18

The real-life story of the body found in that Witch Elm with a severed hand nearby that Tana French borrowed from is riveting. Google "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?" to read about it. This book, however, is a head-scratcher. There isn't one believable character in it--no one acts or reacts like anyone would in real life. The plot (is there a plot?) is slow and disjointed, featuring bizarre unrealistic event heaped upon bizarre unrealistic event duct-taped together with shoddy continuity. Characters drop out and/or show up with little or no explanation or reason. The scenes intended to be most dramatic made me laugh because of the giant plot conveniences driven by the author; the characters' motivations for doing most of what they do are unimaginable. Toby, Melissa, Susannah, Leon, Shawn, Hugo, and just about every character in this book are chess pieces being moved around artlessly to bring their fragmented, preposterous, mean-spirited, lazy plotlines to a close. I have read her other books and enjoyed them. They're not exactly high-brow literary fiction, but they're not pretending to be--and they're fun and entertaining and clever on several fronts. But The Witch Elm just leaves me wondering, why? What's the point?

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • The Interestings

  • By: Meg Wolitzer
  • Narrated by: Jen Tullock
  • Length: 15 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,287
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,012
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,025

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age 15 is not always enough to propel someone through life at age 30; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Top Listen for 2013 - A+++

  • By Beth Anne on 05-24-13

mostly uninteresting

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

Reviewed: 06-30-18

OK, so one of the characters just happens to be the son of a Joan Baez-like folk singer, and as a child, he was drugged with LSD on numerous occasions by another famous folk artist so that this famous folk artist could steal the kids' songs. That's really plausible, right? But wait: there's more. The child genius songwriter just happens to go to a snotty summer camp with a child genius cartoonist, who grows up to create a Simpsons'-like world entertainment juggernaut and becomes filthy rich. The child genius cartoonist grows up and marries a brilliant and beautiful playwright (or someone who is just told she's brilliant?) who went to the same summer camp. With odd specificity, she is a feminist playwright. Meaning she writes feminist plays? And she cannot stop talking about the book Drama of the Gifted Child. Another of the camp friends is a child genius ballerina. Alas, she has giant boobs. If only she didn't have those boobs! is the constant refrain throughout the book. They are described in so many ways throughout the book that I began to roll my eyes in embarrassment for the author and for the inattentive person who edited this book at a certain point. There is so much ground that gets covered, then re-covered, and then re-covered again in this book, lest the reader have forgotten in the space of 20 pages that, say, Kathy has "pendulous breasts" and "sturdy hips" that destroy her dreams of dancing. So the child genius ballerina is raped early on in the book--or is she raped? It's not clear, but what is clear is how creepily this character is treated in this book. She is really slut-shamed thoroughly, for what? Having a large chest? Being a sexually active teen? But the worst character is Julie/Jules, also a summer camp alum but pointedly not a child genius, who is perpetually described as unattractive but whom the child genius cartoonist Ethan remains hopelessly in love with for life, despite being married to the beautiful, sweet, "brilliant" child genius and gifted child feminist playwright. That would be believable if Jules had some redeeming characteristics. But for too many scenes the author has driven in with a sledgehammer, the driving force of her life is generally petty jealousy, social climbing, and that snotty kids camp. Everything comes back to summer camp nights with the child genius folk signer LSD victim, the thwarted child genius architect aka the sexy rapist (whom Jules stays wildly attracted to despite his rapey ways), the child genius cartoonist, the child genius playwright, the DDD-chested child genius ballerina who may or may not have faked her own rape, and the comically cardboard cutout couple who runs the camp. I can't finish the book. I'm so close, but I know what's going to happen, and I'm too angry at myself for listening this long.

  • Ruthless

  • Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me
  • By: Ronald Miscavige, Dan Koon
  • Narrated by: Harvey Betancourt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 676
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 610
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 608

The only book to examine the origins of Scientology's current leader, Ruthless tells the revealing story of David Miscavige's childhood and his path to the head seat of the Church of Scientology, told through the eyes of his father. Ron Miscavige's personal, heartfelt story is a riveting insider's look at life within the world of Scientology.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ruthlessly Honest ~ An Engrossing Read!

  • By susan rios on 05-05-16

Never thought I'd feel sorry for David Miscavige

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

Reviewed: 05-17-17

What would have made Ruthless better?

Having a sympathetic person writing/dictating it. Ron Miscavige comes across as extremely unlikeable: narcissistic, boastful, delusional. This is a self-serving tale of a self-serving guy who takes every opportunity to slag his poor dead wife. Google the author: he's a bully and a wife beater! I never thought I'd feel sorry for David Miscavige, but I do after getting a taste of his shit dad. I'd sign a billion-year contract with a huckster cult leader just to get as far away from this man as possible, too!

Would you ever listen to anything by Ronald Miscavige and Dan Koon again?

I wish I'd never bought this book and am sorry if any money went into Ron Miscavige's pocket because of my purchase.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I guess.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Rage Is Back

  • A Novel
  • By: Adam Mansbach
  • Narrated by: Danny Hoch
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 20

Kilroy Dondi Vance is an 18-year-old mixed-race Brooklynite who deals pot and goes to prep school on scholarship, all while growing up in the shadow of his absentee father, Billy Rage, a legendary graffiti writer who disappeared from New York City in 1989 following a public feud with MTA police chief Anastacio Bracken. Now it’s 2005. Bracken is running for mayor of New York City. And who should Dondi discover on a rooftop in Brooklyn but his father, newly returned to the city and ready to settle the score.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Magic!

  • By Hana Q. Feit on 10-26-16

impressive wordsmithing, brilliant narration

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

Reviewed: 06-20-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The voice actor narrating this largely stream-of-conscious book is out of this world. Entertaining, convincing, likable.

What other book might you compare Rage Is Back to and why?

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks. Can't help but love the young men in both of these stories.

Which character – as performed by Danny Hoch – was your favorite?

Dondi, the narrator.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The author has an intimidating command of the written and spoken word, and the words fly at the reader/listened fast and furious, a masterfully crafted tornado of Shakespeare, graffiti lingo, philosophy, drug references, urban lore, lush description of epic hallucinogenic trips, magic realism, and the verbal markers of class, race, power, authority, authenticity. . . . I was overwhelmed by the relentless passion of the language at times. There is never a let up.

Any additional comments?

The ending was a bit pat in some ways, but then other story arcs seemed to disappear completely.

  • Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish

  • A Novel
  • By: David Rakoff
  • Narrated by: David Rakoff
  • Length: 2 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 448
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 415
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 410

From the incomparable David Rakoff, a poignant, beautiful, witty, and wise novel in verse whose scope spans the 20th century. Through his books and his radio essays for NPR's This American Life, David Rakoff has built a deserved reputation as one of the finest and funniest essayists of our time. Written with humor, sympathy, and tenderness, this intricately woven novel proves him to be the master of an altogether different art form. Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish leaps cities and decades as Rakoff sings the song of an America whose freedoms can be intoxicating, or brutal.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stunning Farewell

  • By Brooks on 09-27-13

Hours of rhyming couplets

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

Reviewed: 01-05-16

I couldn't get through 15 minutes. Rakoff was so brilliant, obviously, but for me this is unlistenable.