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Abby Arnold

Santa Monica, CA
  • 15
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  • 20
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  • 100
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Waste of time and waste of a credit

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

Reviewed: 03-13-18

What do you get when you combine an over-wrought, overly-dramatic narration with a trivial and unbelievable plot? Answer:,Six Years by Harlan Coban. This is not one of Coban’s engaging characters; there is no one likable because just when you think a character might be interesting, he (always he) gets all romantic and knightly.

The book is further ruined by Scott Brick’s dramatic narration that is way...to....slow.....

Whether it was the plotting, the writing, or the narration, I never figured out who the bad guys were, and why they were after this mighty band of self-appointed marshalls. There were mafioso, drug cartels, and cheating college students mentioned, but I missed what they had in common.

I do think they are smart enough to search faculty photos to find people who are in witness protection, especially since they end up in New Mexico, like the witnesses on that TV show about witness protection.

Sorry, Harlan, I miss Myron Bolitar.

Please remind me to bypass any book narrated by Scott Brick. Ugh.

Excellent story of a tragic childhood

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

Reviewed: 11-28-16

You don't need a license to become a parent, but the story of the Walls family demonstrates that love and resilience can sometimes overcome parenting that would, in my neighborhood, get the kids removed to foster care. Jeannette Walls' love for her hopelessly flawed parents is a testament to their innate good intentions, despite alcoholism, narcissism, mental illness, and laziness. Most heartbreaking were the stories of children raising themselves while finding money to support their parents' addictions, including the dad's attempt to pimp his 13 year old daughter at a hillbilly tavern. An excellent performance of a compelling story.

Sibling webs that ring true

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

Reviewed: 08-08-16

I thought I had reached my limit for contemporary novels about angst-ridden New Yorkers, but I enjoyed The Nest much more than I thought I would. Those readers with large sibling cohorts will appreciate the exploration of selfishness and entitlement within families. The story has some fun detours and surprises, such as the subplot about a sculpture missing since 9/11, that made me wonder what the first draft included that was edited out by a New York editor with her own issues. Definitely a good listen.

Bitchin book!

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

Reviewed: 07-24-16

I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, but this story held me throughout. From his earliest days as a young teen in Southern California and Hawaii, through his current OG days, Finnegan must have kept detailed notes on nearly every day of his surfing life. We join his development as both a writer and a surfer.

With elegant descriptions of the science, techniques, and architecture of waves, Finnegan teaches us to understand the ocean in the ways we know our own neighborhood. At the same time, we feel the fear, physical stress, and exhilaration of catching, and sometimes mastering, a challenging wave.

If surfing alone isn't enough for you, Barbarian Days is also a world-wide travel book, taking the reader to remote beaches on every continent. Finnegan and his friends spent lengthy periods in beach towns and villages around the world, camping and living rough. They learn from these people, some of who have never seen surfing, and when there is a local surfing community, we follow Finnegan's bonding with its members.

Finnegan lived in San Francisco for a period, and he describes the surfing scene there, where the waves are freezing cold and gigantic and rough. As he develops a writing career, he continues to live at the center of surfing culture, keeping journals that must have been the basis for this book.

The parallel story is about growing up a middle class baby boomer in a time of nearly perfect freedom, in a world that was accessible in new ways. Although I am not a surfer, I think Barbarian Days is one of the best stories about my generation that I have ever read.

We have the privilege of narration by the author himself. Finnegan's voice adds to the power of this memoir---an outstanding and memorable performance.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Torture porn

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

Reviewed: 07-22-16

If you like graphic descriptions of torture, this is the book for you. The sections in which the victim is isolated for months in captivity are so painful, I have trouble understanding why this book was published. I listened to it more than six months ago, and I don't remember the detective parts at all. It is only the horrible torture scenes that remain with me, and that should warn you off.

Changed my attitude toward the legal system

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

Reviewed: 06-21-16

Moving story about a fight for justice and the lack of it in the legal system. Good performance by the author.

Lifestyles of the rich and tortured

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

Reviewed: 02-14-16

This is a story about four college pals who become very wealthy and privileged in New York City. Two of them (the main character, Jude, and a less central friend, JB) remain deeply miserable throughout their highly successful lives. Of course, both of them are gay. The other two, Willem and Malcolm, try really hard to make Jude (and to some extent, JB) happy, to no avail.

Jude has a horribly, horribly miserable childhood and adolescence that is revealed slowly throughout the story. The torture and abuse he suffered is beyond imagination and it is hard to believe that child protective services, police, or a nosy neighbor somewhere did not intervene. For those who enjoy graphic descriptions of torture and sexual abuse, you will like these parts of the book. For the rest of us, it is deeply disturbing.

That said, Jude grows up to be a highly successful trial lawyer. The narrator does not give any idea of how this might be, with the consistently whining tone of Jude's dialogue. How can this whiny, miserable, deeply unhappy person be strong and convincing in court? We have to use our imagination, for the narration fails to make this at all believable.

Willem, a major movie star, acknowledges his bisexuality by falling in love with Jude and trying to make him happy. It is a hopeless quest, for Jude will never be happy. Perhaps if Jude got into deep therapy it might help, but Jude refuses to engage in therapy, using self-mutilation instead.

Which brings me to Andy, another inauthentic character, who gives free care to Jude throughout his whole career, and does not follow through on insisting that Jude get therapy. I can't believe that a doctor would give this much free care to someone who can fully afford to pay for it, with work-based health insurance on top of a salary that is enough to buy and furnish fancy apartments (a Manhattan apartment with a private swimming pool!) and vacation homes, and pay for exotic travel. To top it off, Jude is so unappreciative of Andy's devoted care that when Andy decides to retire, Jude becomes even more abusive. Jude never shows any caring for his devoted friends, or for his law school professor and his wife who adopt Jude in order to prove to Jude that he can receive unconditional love after all.

Perhaps the point is that no one really ever loved Jude, even his adoring friends and adoptive parents. And how could no one at his law firm notice the cutting?

As a reader, I felt terribly for the evil Jude experience in childhood and adolescence. However, if good storytelling is based on an arc of character development, A Little Life fails since Jude never changes, never transforms, and never appreciates the financial and spiritual wealth he obtains as an adult.

The story of JB would have been an interesting one to pursue--the child of a single mother of Haitian heritage who becomes a noted artist and battles substance abuse. Nope, JB is just one more person who is mean to Jude.

It is not my place to recommend edits that would make this a good book. Many have commented on the writing, but I found the rhythmically repetitive lists upon lists upon lists to be a tedious convention. I wish I had read this book on a Kindle so I could count the number of times the word "Sorry" was used----way too often, detracting from the writing and reinforcing the helplessness of this supposedly hard core litigator. The story flipped back and forth between present and future tense. By then last quarter of the book, I continued to read so that I would be able to write this review, and encourage other readers to take a pass on this one.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

An engaging and satisfying audiobook

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

Reviewed: 02-08-16

A rare perfect listen--story, characters and performance shine. Speaks the Nightbird is a mystery set in 1699. A smart magistrate's clerk unravels the intrigue in a settlement filled with memorable characters, ably voiced by Mr. Ballerini. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, though the prospect of a series is a bit daunting!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Best for putting you to sleep!

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

Reviewed: 09-23-14

The story was ok, not one of Coben's best, but the narration was a total snooze. Truly, I fell asleep every time I listened to this. Scott Brick droned on and on. I couldn't listen to it when I was driving! It did the trick for getting me to sleep each night, though.

Coben's characters had potential, but I had to suspend disbelief a bit. Could anyone get into college, yet alone become a university professor, with an assumed identity? Could a private investigative agency cause as much havoc as the one in this story? As with many of Coben's stories, logic was stretched in an entertaining and engaging way.

Pick up this listen if you are looking for the perfect replacement for sleeping pills. It works, and you won't be groggy in the morning!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

I am DONE with Scott Brick!

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

Reviewed: 09-23-14

This is a good story, well written, with lots of plot twists that keep the listener engaged. However, I wish Audible would find better narrators than Scott Brick. This is the second book in a row that he ruined for me. The last book I listened to was read (Brick again) way too slowly and dramatically for the content. This time he mispronounced well-known San Francisco names like Moscone --- jeez, the guy was the President Pro Tempore of the California Senate, then the Mayor of San Francisco, and was assassinated in a famous slaughter that included his ally Harvey Milk, who became a gay martyr. Moscone was a real person, for whom the San Francisco Convention Center was named. Why couldn't Brick pronounce his name correctly? This is really sloppy. Ditto for the neighborhood Noe Valley, which everyone who knows anything about San Francisco knows how to pronounce. It is Mosco-NIE and NO-IE. Take a cab or a Lyft in San Francisco and learn how to say the place names!

By the way, I have never lived in San Francisco or anywhere in the Bay Area, but I know how to pronounce these names.

Time for some new narrators, Audible!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful