LISTENER

Marcus Damanda

Woodbridge VA
  • 5
  • reviews
  • 6
  • helpful votes
  • 13
  • ratings
  • Donn's Hill

  • By: Caryn Larrinaga
  • Narrated by: Jessica McEvoy
  • Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39

After returning home from her father's funeral to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman, Mackenzie Clair is looking for a fresh start. She thinks she'll find it in her favorite childhood vacation spot, but returning to Donn's Hill awakens more than nostalgia. Mac regains a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead, and the poltergeist haunting her apartment is desperate to make her use that gift to find his killer. Aided by her new roommate - a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Haunting Story, Award-Worthy Performance

  • By Marcus Damanda on 08-05-17

Haunting Story, Award-Worthy Performance

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

Reviewed: 08-05-17

Mackenzi Clair is leaving home--or is she finally returning there? This is the unstated question that colors the rich beginning of a book that invites the reader to come home to Donn's Hill as well. Pull up a chair, put on some Chai tea, and grab a plate of lemon squares. But don't get TOO comfortable. This home has a history, and you're about to get a full serving of it.

Enter Mac's world--at twenty-seven years old, she's lost both of her parents and finally ditched that duplicitous boyfriend. She's completely adrift, and finds her focus by returning to the vacation home she remembers so fondly from childhood. Listeners get a complete tour of the place, and we come to love the people in it: the ghost hunting apartment neighbor Kit, Gabrielle the medium, Yuri the show runner, even the unaccountably and perpetually cantankerous deputy-mayor who's got it in for Mac from the start, for no reason at all. Or ... is there a reason after all?

Because there's a reason for EVERYTHING at Donn's Hill, and a complete story-unto-itself for every character. The listener may be lulled into a false sense of comfortably wandering security early in this book, but really, you're kind of being set up, here. Author Caryn Larrinaga knows exactly what she's doing from the start, and you don't want to miss any of the details.

Ghosts, hauntings, poltergeists, and murder--take THAT with your lemon squares, Listener. This book has a real tendency to lure you in and then unexpectedly scare the stuffing out of you, so without spoilers, fair warning.

But half of the dark and comfortably-scented magic of this whole experience is the performance of the young but veteran voice actor Jessica McEvoy. In this particular medium (see what I did there?), there's absolutely no one better. She has an uncanny knack for reading the story exactly as you might hear it in your head, whether the part in question being read is a narrator of her own generation and gender, a middle-aged Russian, a Spanish gypsy psychic, or a ... strangely intuitive cat. Yes. Cat. She plays a cat. And before you tune out, listen to me: she pulls it off. Seriously.

More importantly, Jessica McEvoy has a natural empathy with the full emotional range of the human condition, and she brings reality to situations that are beyond the scope of most people's experiences. Couple that with an instant relatability to the simple pleasures, disappointments, self-doubts and fears that we all feel and express--she draws you in with the authenticity of her voice and delivery. It's really amazing, every time. She's done it before, but it surprises me every time.

Donn's Hill is so, so worth the time and investment. To reveal any more here would be criminal. But do yourself a favor: check it out. Enjoy the experience. It'll be one you don't soon forget.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Lucy Was No Typical Serial Killer

  • By: Jeff Jeschke
  • Narrated by: Jessica McEvoy
  • Length: 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4

This is a short story about a 79-year-old angry, bitter old woman that liked to murder in a local park at night. Her weapon of choice is the ball peen hammer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ballpinning

  • By Jonas on 05-12-16

Vicious, Hateful, Murderous--Good Times

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

Reviewed: 01-09-16

If you could sum up Lucy Was No Typical Serial Killer in three words, what would they be?

Short, wicked, and memorable.

What did you like best about this story?

Lucy's character was fully realized in a very short space of storytelling. Credit both author and narrator for that.

Which character – as performed by Jessica McEvoy – was your favorite?

When Lucy screams profanity in her apartment, she dredges up the whole of the wretched, contemptible spirit that is Lucy. Just another tour de force from my favorite voice actress.

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

Oh, I laughed all the way through it. It was sick, malevolent. Such fun.

Any additional comments?

Well worth the three bucks!

  • Hide and Seek

  • By: Caryn Larrinaga
  • Narrated by: Jessica McEvoy
  • Length: 1 hr and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27

Agatha isn't looking forward to Christmas. While other eight-year-olds are hoping for a pile of presents, she just wants her evil stepsisters to leave her alone. Summer and Rain have a cruel idea of what passes for fun, and it always involves tormenting Agatha.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good story

  • By CRAZY4PEANUTBUTTER on 02-16-16

A Quick but Satisfying Christmas Chill

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

Reviewed: 12-25-15

Where does Hide and Seek rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's hard to compare, as this is more of a novella than a novel, but it's a complete story with a resolution sure to leave you with a wicked smile on your face.

What did you like best about this story?

Like any great story, the best part is its climax, which I won't ruin here. However, I really enjoyed some of the "old school" references along the way. It's clear the author is of my generation (the 1980s). :)

Have you listened to any of Jessica McEvoy’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I'm a major admirer of Jessica McEvoy's work, and this one surely does not disappoint. Wicked young people (and their prey) are her stock and trade. She does voices so well. No one could have done a better job on a story like this--no exaggeration. Honest opinion.

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

It made me laugh--but then, I'm a very sick individual.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended!

  • Love Rewards the Brave

  • By: Anya Monroe
  • Narrated by: Jessica McEvoy
  • Length: 5 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

Keeping her brother, Benji, warm, fed, and away from their father is Louisa's only goal in life. When the state steps in and places them in separate foster homes, her world falls apart. Louisa, in crisis, discovers slam poetry. The spoken word performances reveal people sharing pieces of themselves on stage for the world to hear. The transparency she sees frightens her but also holds the key to her future...if she's brave enough to give her story a voice.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Heartbreaking Yet Hopeful, Brilliantly Read

  • By Marcus Damanda on 12-21-15

Heartbreaking Yet Hopeful, Brilliantly Read

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

Reviewed: 12-21-15

If you could sum up Love Rewards the Brave in three words, what would they be?

Heartbreaking, Real, Wrenching

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love the protagonist, but I also liked those who try to help her: Miss F., Margot, and Jess.

Which scene was your favorite?

When her journals were returned to her.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Hope takes practice.

Any additional comments?

Loved it!

  • Unreal City

  • By: A. R. Meyering
  • Narrated by: Jessica McEvoy
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 16

Sarah Wilkes is desperate enough to do anything, even make a deal with the devil - or in her case, a familiar spirit. After her twin Lea is murdered, Sarah finds college life impossible and longs to escape. Everything changes when Sarah realizes a familiar spirit is stalking her and offers to transport her to the terrifying and fantastical realm of Unreal City.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing

  • By Kitty L. on 10-29-15

A Dream and a Nightmare

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

Reviewed: 05-17-15

What made the experience of listening to Unreal City the most enjoyable?

Be careful what you wish for, kids.
Readers who take on A.R. Meyering’s UNREAL CITY have no idea what they’re in for. I purchased the audiobook version of this novel (and so I hope you’ll forgive me if I misspell a character name or two), looking forward to what I expected would be a rather darker imagining of ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. And so it was.
Much darker. Just as good. Seriously.
Meet Sarah Wilkes, a young college-bound woman, separated for the first time from her family even as she wrestles with the recent murder of her beloved twin sister Lea. She’s not ready for this, but there’s really nothing else for it. Her friends have given up on her. Her mother waits obsessively for the awakening of Lea’s boyfriend from a coma, for answers that may never come. Real-world forces propel her from the ruined life she has known into a future rife with uncertainty.
Enter Felix. Yeah, he’s a cat. But not really. And he’s only “Felix” because that’s what Sarah names him. He has promises for Sarah, an invitation that cannot be denied. Feed me, Sarah, and I’ll make it all go away. Far away.
We know this is a bad idea. Readers and listeners alike scream at Sarah to back away (No—take it, Sarah, do it, DO IT), because we’re pretty sure this is going to a bad place. Oh, and it is. Real bad. So bad, in fact, that we want to be there ourselves. And the good news is, for the length of this book, we really are.
I don’t want to give too much away. That’s all I’m saying, in terms of plot. But I assure you, readers and listeners both, that here you will find a tale rich in character, from the real-world Sarah and her selfless college friend Joy, to the phantasms, gods, and devils of Unreal City itself: Mama Stella, Blanche, Poe, Felix, the Antler Man …
The thing is, this book will hurt you. For those of us burdened with unresolved grief and the anger that comes with it, the trip won’t be easy. To those of us young enough (or fortunate enough) to not have dealt with these issues yet, perhaps UNREAL CITY will provide some kind of creative preparation for its inevitability. Live long enough, and this pain will find you. A.R. Meyering understands this, controls it, and she articulates it in a complex tapestry of story art that will simply floor you.
And now, full disclosure: I might never have gone down this rabbit hole were it not for the fact that the audiobook is narrated by Jessica McEvoy. I’m so, so glad I did—don’t get me wrong—but it was only by this chance connection that I was even aware of UNREAL CITY. Anyone who has followed Ms. McEvoy’s readings on the award-winning NoSleep Podcast knows the strength and resonance she brings to her narration and character voices. In this instance, she adopts various accents to meet the global demands of UNREAL CITY—Spanish, Scottish, Russian, French, drunken Americana—but far more importantly, she brings to life the hope and despair, the humor and terror, of our existence. And death. Yeah. There’s that, too.
But those are just the “voices,” the characters. What I’ve always appreciated the most about McEvoy’s considerable talent is her narration. In this particular reading, the listener is treated to an anguished lullaby, a magic carpet ride across a landscape of dreams and nightmares, bridged by dark tunnels of bleak reality with only one hand reaching out from the black to guide us though.
Jessica McEvoy has an uncanny ability to channel the exact intended voice for whatever author has the wisdom and good fortune to benefit by her delivery. The creative marriage is perfect for UNREAL CITY.
The journey is cheap. The therapy will probably be expensive, though. Fair warning.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Felix. Of course. He's going to be everyone's favorite!

What about Jessica McEvoy’s performance did you like?

Be careful what you wish for, kids.
Readers who take on A.R. Meyering’s UNREAL CITY have no idea what they’re in for. I purchased the audiobook version of this novel (and so I hope you’ll forgive me if I misspell a character name or two), looking forward to what I expected would be a rather darker imagining of ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. And so it was.
Much darker. Just as good. Seriously.
Meet Sarah Wilkes, a young college-bound woman, separated for the first time from her family even as she wrestles with the recent murder of her beloved twin sister Lea. She’s not ready for this, but there’s really nothing else for it. Her friends have given up on her. Her mother waits obsessively for the awakening of Lea’s boyfriend from a coma, for answers that may never come. Real-world forces propel her from the ruined life she has known into a future rife with uncertainty.
Enter Felix. Yeah, he’s a cat. But not really. And he’s only “Felix” because that’s what Sarah names him. He has promises for Sarah, an invitation that cannot be denied. Feed me, Sarah, and I’ll make it all go away. Far away.
We know this is a bad idea. Readers and listeners alike scream at Sarah to back away (No—take it, Sarah, do it, DO IT), because we’re pretty sure this is going to a bad place. Oh, and it is. Real bad. So bad, in fact, that we want to be there ourselves. And the good news is, for the length of this book, we really are.
I don’t want to give too much away. That’s all I’m saying, in terms of plot. But I assure you, readers and listeners both, that here you will find a tale rich in character, from the real-world Sarah and her selfless college friend Joy, to the phantasms, gods, and devils of Unreal City itself: Mama Stella, Blanche, Poe, Felix, the Antler Man …
The thing is, this book will hurt you. For those of us burdened with unresolved grief and the anger that comes with it, the trip won’t be easy. To those of us young enough (or fortunate enough) to not have dealt with these issues yet, perhaps UNREAL CITY will provide some kind of creative preparation for its inevitability. Live long enough, and this pain will find you. A.R. Meyering understands this, controls it, and she articulates it in a complex tapestry of story art that will simply floor you.
And now, full disclosure: I might never have gone down this rabbit hole were it not for the fact that the audiobook is narrated by Jessica McEvoy. I’m so, so glad I did—don’t get me wrong—but it was only by this chance connection that I was even aware of UNREAL CITY. Anyone who has followed Ms. McEvoy’s readings on the award-winning NoSleep Podcast knows the strength and resonance she brings to her narration and character voices. In this instance, she adopts various accents to meet the global demands of UNREAL CITY—Spanish, Scottish, Russian, French, drunken Americana—but far more importantly, she brings to life the hope and despair, the humor and terror, of our existence. And death. Yeah. There’s that, too.
But those are just the “voices,” the characters. What I’ve always appreciated the most about McEvoy’s considerable talent is her narration. In this particular reading, the listener is treated to an anguished lullaby, a magic carpet ride across a landscape of dreams and nightmares, bridged by dark tunnels of bleak reality with only one hand reaching out from the black to guide us though.
Jessica McEvoy has an uncanny ability to channel the exact intended voice for whatever author has the wisdom and good fortune to benefit by her delivery. The creative marriage is perfect for UNREAL CITY.
The journey is cheap. The therapy will probably be expensive, though. Fair warning.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have, if I'd had the strength. It's very powerful, though. Too strong for one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Bravo, Jessica McEvoy!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful