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Linda J. Westerschulte

  • 18
  • reviews
  • 59
  • helpful votes
  • 225
  • ratings
  • Return to Oakpine

  • By: Ron Carlson
  • Narrated by: David Aaron Baker
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24

Return to Oakpine spins a story of growing up and growing old as four high school friends and former bandmates reconnect 30 years after graduating. When they learn that one of them is dying, it feels like getting the band back together might be the most important thing they can do.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing

  • By Linda J. Westerschulte on 04-02-14

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 04-02-14

This book was a let down after reading Carlson's "Five Skies." It seemed the author pulled out all the tricks to make his characters interesting and poignant (small town kids with big dreams, painful family rifts that need healing, life-long friendships, illness, love gone wrong...) but it all ended up looking contrived and predictable. This is so unlike "Five Skies" where the characters really are interesting and poignant and the story is fresh and moving. Read that instead.

  • Restoration

  • By: Rose Tremain
  • Narrated by: John Franklyn-Robbins
  • Length: 14 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

Restoration is a panoramic novel of life in 17th-century England, from the restoration of vitality to the empire after the onslaughts of the London fire and the plague, to the restoration of purpose and wakefulness in the life of Robert Merivel, who places his faith in the greatest symbol of a forward-moving era - the King.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing

  • By Linda J. Westerschulte on 03-14-13

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 03-14-13

This historical novel doesn't deliver much either as history or as novel. It doesn't delve into political, economic or social details of the time, except for the broad strokes necessary to give the novel a setting. That might be okay if the novel itself were worth the candle, but it is not. The story of Robert Merivel is pointless from beginning to end, a story that never really gets going and peters out at the end. This was particularly disappointing after hearing Rose Tremain's intricately plotted and deliciously satisfying "Trespass." I would suggest you listen to that instead.

That said, I did very much enjoy John Franklyn-Robbins narration and his skill with the voices and dialects of the characters.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Tenth of December

  • Stories
  • By: George Saunders
  • Narrated by: George Saunders
  • Length: 5 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,271
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,145
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,151

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet. In the taut opener, "Victory Lap", a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In "Home", a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Be prepared for something different...but good!

  • By Mr. D on 02-21-14

Best book you'll read this year -NY Times Magazine

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

Reviewed: 02-14-13

I thought it was a little over the top for the New York Times to make that claim in the first half of January 2013, but having read Tenth of December I'm inclined to agree (even though it is still only February). I don't usually care for short stories because I like the slow reveal and the long involvement of a novel, but this collection is extraordinary. Saunders captures unique narrator voices that spring these unexpected characters to life in just the few pages allowed them. Pithy, relevant, economical, dark, and in the end fiercely hopeful. I won't say anything more. These stories are short and part of their glory is their punch, undiluted by even the faintest spoiler. Just do it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Polish Officer

  • By: Alan Furst
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 657
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 472
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 464

New York Times best-selling author Alan Furst is internationally renowned as master of the European espionage thriller. Unfolding in September of 1939 as Hitler's Wehrmacht ravages Warsaw, The Polish Officer reveals the daring mission of a Captain in the Polish underground intelligence service.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insight into a dark era

  • By Charles Lawton on 12-10-07

The Story Never Jelled

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

Reviewed: 08-27-12

This book was a disappointment to me after Night Soldiers and Dark Star. The story, set in WWII is told in episodes, a series of stories that start and are cut off. No relationship endures; people appear and they disappear. The title, which presents the protagonist as a nameless functionary, reflects the sense of dislocation that this episodic structure creates. I suppose this is Furst's intention, to demonstrate for the reader the isolating effect of war, with constant upheaval and violence destroying every relationship and every harbor just as it materializes. I didn't really enjoy listening to it. But then, I do not think I would enjoy war, either.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Zone One

  • A Novel
  • By: Colson Whitehead
  • Narrated by: Beresford Bennett
  • Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 386
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 354
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 351

In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tomorrow needs a marketing rollout.

  • By Annie on 01-06-12

Thinking persons super-gory postapocolyptic zombie

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

Reviewed: 08-16-12

David Rackoff (in Don't Get Too Comfortable) said people are "great sloshing superating bags of wet, prone to rupture, mortal messes just waiting to happen... and who wants to be reminded of that?" Well, Colson Whitehead is reminding us.

What differentiates human beings from other things? From, for instance, the oozing gut-splashing flesh-devouring walking dead? Is it our selfishness, our flashes of empathy, our betrayals, our moments of courage, or maybe our ceaseless craving for the familiar to deaden what we can of ourselves while we’re still alive? This book doesn’t answer any of those questions, but it raises them. If you read only one zombie book this lifetime, I recommend this one. But not while you’re eating.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Wolf Hall

  • By: Hilary Mantel
  • Narrated by: Simon Slater
  • Length: 24 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,877
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,950
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,956

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Divorced, beheaded, died...

  • By Tim on 09-30-11

Fabulous book, so-so narrator

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

Reviewed: 08-01-12

This is an exciting investigation into the life of someone you might have thought was just one more petty bad guy in the snakepit court of Henry VIII. But Thomas Cromwell emerges as uniquely fascinating: intelligent ruthless and yet ethical-in-an-odd-16th-century-way, operating in a very dangerous landscape. Mantel uses a minimalist touch to sketch the intense political maneuverings and treacheries and tragedies that made up daily life at the close of the middle ages. You have to pay attention and work a little, but the reward is that the world of her novel grows up around you, pulling you utterly in.

But, alas, Simon Slater's reading is not equal to the material. His voice carries the same sarcastic bite in every situation and for every character, whether they???re discussing cutlery or murder. The book is a little hard to follow and can be confusing, and although Slater does try to distinguish characters by changing his voice, unfortunately his tone - which I think is actually more important - never changes. The characters all sound like they have exactly the same personality: cynical and ironic, with a nasty little drawl. I gave up listening to it with my husband and I???m reading it aloud to him myself. I'm not a great reader but I can be straightforward and simple, which is a better choice for this marvelous book.

Bonus tip: two paintings mentioned in the book, the portraits of Cromwell and Thomas More by Hans Holbein are hanging facing each other in the Frick Collection in New York. After you've read Wolf Hall, it's a great treat to go see them.

  • Beautiful Ruins

  • By: Jess Walter
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 12 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11,037
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,742
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9,735

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • My mind wandered

  • By Ella on 11-25-12

Just wonderful

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

Reviewed: 07-26-12

Luminous prose, a story that is never formulaic and yet somehow achieves exquisite symmetry, three dimensional characters, a bit of time on the sun drenched Cinque Terre coast, an occasional delicious phrase in Italian, and a walk-on by Richard Burton. It's just wonderful.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Room

  • A Novel
  • By: Emma Donoghue
  • Narrated by: Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,346
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,385
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,357

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, but what she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Brought Room and the outside world to Life

  • By Daryl on 07-09-14

Stressful at times, but worth it

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

Reviewed: 07-15-12

I found this book to be completely engaging. I was nervous about listening to a book that I knew had abuse at its center, but it was short-listed for the Man Booker in 2010, so I decided to try it. Indeed, the story at times was so disturbing and suspenseful that I had to put my iPod aside to take a break. For me it was a page turner on steroids.

At least that was my experience - I see other reviewers rated it "tedious" or"grating." Perhaps it tried the patience of some listeners to see the world through a child's eyes, which is admittedly a constricted viewpoint. But I find it a gratifying mental exercise to build a story out of the understatements of a child observer and I found the voice of 5 year old Jack believable and charming, both as written by Emma Donoghue and as read by Michal Friedman on the audio book. I thought it worked great. I recommend this book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Way We Live Now

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 776
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 574
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 571

In this world of bribes, vendettas, and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'. But as vile as he is, he is considered one of Trollope's greatest creations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Long, but well worth it.

  • By Nardia on 03-03-10

Trollope the way I like him

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

Reviewed: 06-22-12

This is Trollope at his best. The personalities are multidimensional and clearly drawn, the story is acerbic and engaging, and no self-destructive heroines annoy us by interminable pining or by punishing themselves past the endurance of their families and their readers. (For an example of unbearable self-flagellation ad nauseum see The Prime Minister). I like Timothy West's reading very much. He has a handsome, deep voice that seems to relish Trollope's wit. He uses subtle changes of accent for some of his characters and he reads the women's voices in a natural tone.

  • The Newlyweds

  • By: Nell Freudenberger
  • Narrated by: Mozhan Marno
  • Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 241
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 214
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 214

In The Newlyweds, we follow the story of Amina Mazid, who at age twenty-four moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is an arranged marriage for the twenty-first century: Amina is wooed by - and woos - George Stillman online. For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life and a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You run into yourself in the darndest places

  • By Linda on 05-19-12

You run into yourself in the darndest places

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

Reviewed: 05-19-12

I am a middle class white lady with a most ordinary middle class white life behind me, and yet I found myself utterly landed in the experience of this young Bengaladeshi woman uprooted to an American marriage in Rochester New York. Almost nothing that happens in this book has ever happened to me, and yet it all seemed startlingly recognizable. I have not read Nell Freudenberger before but now I will seek out more of her books.
I liked the reading by Mozhan Marno: she kept it straightforward and simple and slipped easily into the gentle lilt of Bengaladeshi accents when called for.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful