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Jenny Jenkins

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  • reviews
  • 56
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  • 52
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  • Set the Boy Free

  • The Autobiography
  • By: Johnny Marr
  • Narrated by: Johnny Marr
  • Length: 9 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 242
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 228
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 227

An artist who helped define a period in popular culture, Johnny Marr tells his story in a memoir as vivid and arresting as his music. The Smiths, the band with the signature sound he cofounded, remains one of the most beloved bands ever and have had a profound influence on a number of acts that followed - from the Stone Roses, Suede, Blur, and Radiohead to Oasis, The Libertines, and Arctic Monkeys.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best autobiography I've ever read!

  • By Lulu P. on 01-24-17

One of the Great Rock and Roll Memoirs

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

Reviewed: 07-12-18

Like Patti Smith's "Just Kids", Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", Bob Dylan's "Chronicles", and Keith Richards' "Life," Johnny Marr's "Set The Boy Free" is the story of a young kid discovering himself as an artist by falling in love with music, sitting up late at night listening to the records he loves over and over, struggling to re-create what he hears on a guitar and, in failing to replicate what he heard, creating a new musical voice and vision. (I am pretty sure they also all loved the great American girl groups of the early 1960s and I think we still need to wait for that great book.)

Listening to Johnny Marr's thoughtful, Manchester-inflected voice, I could envision all that he experienced. The first time I listened to the book, I was on a long car ride and wasn't able to pause and listen to the music he references in the book. This time around, I took all the time I wanted. I listened to the obscure, the forgotten, the never-heard, and the much-loved: the early Everly Brothers his mother fell in love with and listened to over and over, Mott the Hoople, The Smiths' first single "This Handsome Man," and Johnny's latest album as a solo artist.

I had bought the book as a one-time Smiths fan and was astonished to find that I had become a Modest Mouse fan at the same time that Johnny Marr joined the group. In these days where I listen to music on iTunes and Spotify, I no longer have the close read of the album cover that helped me learn the names of every member of a band. But now I know why I loved those Modest Mouse songs: that twangy, driving force of Johnny Marr's guitar that is both percussive and melodic. Imagine being professionally defined by the band you were with for a few years in your 20s! Such seemed to be Johnny Marr's fate after The Smiths broke up. Yet this is a story of constant self-discovery and discovery of new forms and music, without denigrating or shortchanging The Smith years, which were great ones. Johnny brings to life the thrilling connections he and Morrissey made once they'd found each other and worked with the kind of inspired complementary partnership of Richards-Jagger and the other great songwriting teams that makes you feel that there might be a God or that music might be God itself with inspiration being that light yet powerful touch that makes all the pieces fall in place after years of struggle. Anyone who has been an artist or writer will recognize and connect with Johnny in his description of those early moments of stumbling into and onto the sound you had always wanted to make without realizing it. Like great poems, a great song is familiar and new at the same time. As Morrissey writes in a much later, post-Smiths song, "Let The Right One In," "You have every right to say, what kept you so long?" (Sorry, Johnny!)

I have read some criticism of Johnny's emphasis on clothes and what he wore. In every city around the world, young working class people express their creativity, their refusal to be stifled and suppressed, their insistence on asserting their individuality, their originality and ability to transform everyday materials through their clothes. This was true in the 1970s punk world I lived in, the 1980s hiphop world, in Lagos, in Japan -- clothes are the art form of young people without money, without a government-sanctioned, society-encouraged voice, the way to be seen, to be heard, and yes, to be admired as beautiful young people should be celebrated and admired. And for Johnny Marr and the girl who would become his wife, Angie, clothes and the way they transformed and wore them became means for being seen and heard that led to their lives as artists.

This book is also about Johnny's ability to grow and evolve as a person -- all the while remaining the person of integrity, kindness and love of music he has always been. That he remains married to the girl he fell in love with at first sight and helped forge a life with as a teenager -- well, in these sometimes dark days, I will always love a great love story. More love, less hate, more music, more openness, more growth, more pride without arrogance, appreciation for the creativity and art of others, hard work as the condition in which inspiration makes itself known: this is what "Set The Boy Free" is really about. I am so glad Johnny Marr not only wrote it, but read it.

  • The Right Stuff

  • By: Tom Wolfe
  • Narrated by: Dennis Quaid
  • Length: 15 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 872
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 809
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 803

Millions of words have poured forth about man's trip to the moon, but until now few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure: namely, what went on in the minds of the astronauts themselves - in space, on the moon, and even during certain odysseys on earth. It is this, the inner life of the astronauts, that Tom Wolfe describes with his almost uncanny empathetic powers that made The Right Stuff a classic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Righteous Book, Righteous Narrator, Righteous MEN!

  • By Gillian on 02-08-18

Great Story, Great Reporting and Great Reading

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

Reviewed: 05-20-18

Dennis Quaid reads this great tale of modern America with verve, humor, inspired pacing. Loved the movie but the book gives you the behind the scenes decision making that the film, otherwise so spot on, could not include. One of the best audio books ever!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • L'Appart

  • The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
  • By: David Lebovitz
  • Narrated by: Graham Halstead
  • Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 63

When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his apartment in his adopted home city, he never imagined he would encounter so much inexplicable red tape while contending with the famously inconsistent European work ethic and hours. Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner, Romain, peppering this renovation story with recipes from his Paris kitchen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • delightful!

  • By bet on 01-12-18

A Paris Sans Delights

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

Reviewed: 02-15-18

This book is a gift to francophiles who have fantasized of moving to Paris and know they never well because the author will make you feel relieved for avoiding that fate.

First and very important: The reader is top notch: genial, naturalistic, and able to speak the French terms and phrases correctly as far as my high school French expertise can detect.

But halfway through this story of a torturous renovation of a Parisian apartment, I realized I was listening to a truly miserable story masked by a pleasant narrator and well read recipes read at the end of each chapter and a few tossed off rueful wry comments as though it's all a humorous experience. But clearly it is not. Parisians appear grumpy, lacking in humor, perpetually in a state of annoyance and discomfort because of stores and institutions that make life as difficult as possible. Apart from the boulangeries and markets, who would want to be in this city? New York seems warm and fuzzy in comparison to his Paris.

Most of all it is plain as day that the contractor working on the apartment is a liar and a crook -- no spoiler alert needed since I came to this conclusion one third of the way in and so will you. Why did the author stay with him? It was almost like reading a battered wife's delusions: "But he told me it would be all right and I believed him again." And I have never read a book with so many deceitful, lazy characters that wasn't a thriller or mystery. So I was glad to say au revoir and will seek out other books read by this narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Verdict

  • By: Nick Stone
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 21 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,149
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,698
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,676

Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk desperately trying to get promoted when he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite. The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, is not only someone he knows but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry's career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of THE best audiobooks ever!

  • By Sarah on 05-22-16

Better Narrator Than Mystery

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

Reviewed: 11-27-17

Many of the premises of the plot were obvious or outlandish. And the protagonist continually seemed to be saying that he hadn't realized things that the reader saw all along -- in fact the protagonist seemed to be something of a dimwit or certainly no smarter than the average reader. The narrator, though, brought much of the story to life. Not sure about the accents -- sometimes the glottal stops of the protagonist's working class accent reminded me of Mick Jagger when he was trying to seem streetwise -- but the shifts in emotion and pacing and tone were excellent. The author got lucky! A fun ride and good for amusing you during those boring workaday chores but far too often I wound up saying aloud, "Oh, come on! You didn't see that coming, Terry?" while my husband gave me one of those "quiet down, crazy lady" looks from the other side of the kitchen.

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 82,883
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 76,862
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 76,509

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book and perfect narration

  • By Marilyn Armstrong on 12-15-16

One of the Best Audio Books Ever

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

Reviewed: 03-20-17

This memoir far exceeded my expectations: Moving, enlightening, funny. Trevor Noah is an excellent writer, inspired reader and storyteller, and his memoir sheds light on growing up in South Africa at the twilight of apartheid. Sheesh, he has lived a lot for one so young -- born only in 1984! Most of all, this memoir is a portrait and tribute to Trevor Noah's mother, exceptional and human and fallible and funny and grave, and the great devotion and love of a mother and son. I love it and look forward to Noah's future books. I know he will not stop just at this one. He has a lot to say about his own experiences and the world around him. I hope he takes his time and produces many more books and audio books as engaging, thoughtful, entertaining and moving as this one.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Murder on the Links

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 6 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 679
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 613
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 616

An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course. But why is the dead man wearing his son's overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Story

  • By Sylvia L. on 01-26-17

Good Fun, 1920s Style

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

Reviewed: 03-04-17

Hugh Fraser turns in his usual superior performance in this somewhat creaky Hercule Poirot (from 1923). It's especially old fashioned in the stilted dialogue that takes place during action scenes, along the lines of, "Mon dieu, Hastings, my suspicions have been confirmed!" (I'm sure Agatha C's original lines were far better even if they were a bit dated sounding!)

But with so much of the plot spelled out, these mysteries are perfect accompaniment for chores such as cleaning the garage when your mind might wander or you have to make a bit of noise. You don't need to catch every line to understand what's going on. And a great new mystery writer like Tana French is too scary for me to listen to alone at night (Audible should have a category of Mysteries for Scaredy Cats).

Agatha Christie's female characters are lively and well drawn here, not quite the paper dolls they can sometimes seem to be. An amusing listen, all in all.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Christodora

  • A Novel
  • By: Tim Murphy
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell, Christa Lewis, Suzanne Elise Freeman, and others
  • Length: 17 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,157
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,088
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,087

In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan's East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbor, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly and Jared's lives in ways none of them can anticipate.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ambitious and Important

  • By Laura - Audible on 11-21-16

Shifting Narrators Distract Rather Than Enhance

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

Reviewed: 01-30-17

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The novel tracks a group of characters from the early 1980s to the present as they navigate the rise of AIDS, the hazards of drugs, and the gentrification of the East Village in New York City. Having lived through this period in New York, I was impressed by the accuracy of the details and the characters' experience of these challenges. The novel is structured by sections of the book jumping back and forward in time. It's as if the author didn't trust himself to use a straight chronology. It wasn't confusing; it just seemed unnecessary and a false way to build suspense, of which there wasn't much otherwise.

As for the narration: A different reader would narrate the sections dominated by one of the characters, even though the novel is never written in the first person point of view. I thought that was a disaster. Some of the narrators were exceptional, especially the actor -- who I cannot name since it wasn't apparent on the app -- who read the sections featuring Mateo. But some of the narrators were annoying, with a self-conscious drawl to their reading. They did not seem lost in their characters but seemed always to be calling attention to themselves, like bad actors on stage who do a lot of "business."

The producers of the audio book should have had more faith in the power of an excellent reader. Loyal audio book listeners like myself are amazed by how great readers can inhabit all the characters, whatever the age or gender. Narrators also seem to understand each scene and character better and better as the novel goes on. When you jump around from narrator to narrator, though, the readers never have the chance to become fully absorbed in the novel. Instead they seem to seize their chance to shine -- to the detriment of the reader having an absorbing, engaging experience.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Christodora?

Readers of the book should be aware that there is "inappropriate" behavior on the part of the characters -- the novel is about people who take drugs and have unprotected sex in New York City, after all! That did not bother me, though I did have to turn down the volume in the car as I drove into the supermarket parking lot, for instance. ;)

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

I will try to find the names of those narrators I did like and seek out their work. But ... oooh! There were some narrators I really actively disliked. I would actually abandon listening to the book during their sections and read the book on my Kindle. (I must be Jeff Bezos's dream Amazon/Audible customer.)

Could you see Christodora being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I could envision this as a HBO series! I don't think stars should be in the roles at all, but new, authentic actors found.

Any additional comments?

There are so many positive reviews here for this audio book. I realize I must seem like a cranky minority. I have even wondered if the reviews here are from friends of the many readers hired to do the audio book! In any case, I do hope the audio book producers steer clear from these multiple-reader efforts and allow one great reader to commit themselves to the book and its characters, and bring a good novel like this one to life.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • After the Funeral

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 6 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 331
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 304
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305

When Cora Lansquenet is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard's funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard's will, Cora was clearly heard to say, "It's been hushed up very nicely, hasn't it.... But he was murdered, wasn't he?"

In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hugh Fraser Forever!

  • By MAGJAG on 08-20-14

Weak Tea from Agatha Christie

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

Reviewed: 12-10-16

I have greatly enjoyed other Agatha Christie mysteries read by Hugh Fraser. He is usually a gifted actor, shifting between accents and personas deftly and seamlessly. And I do not need to tell anyone about Agatha Christie's extraordinarily entertaining gifts as a writer. This audiobook is the exception to the rule. Both the plot, characters, and narration seem to have been phoned in. A kind of weariness underlies Hugh Fraser's narration which somehow imparts a "been there, done that" feeling to the whole affair. And perhaps that lack of excitement stems from the book itself. Hard to tell in an audiobook!

With so many other Agatha Christie novels and Hugh Fraser narrations to choose from, my advice is to save your Audible credits and let this one pass.

  • Chaos Monkeys

  • Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley
  • By: Antonio Garcia Martinez
  • Narrated by: Dan John Miller
  • Length: 15 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,388
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,140
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,138

Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a data center powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this "chaos monkey" to test online services' robustness - their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society's chaos monkeys, disruptors testing and transforming every aspect of our lives from transportation (Uber) and lodging (AirBnB) to television (Netflix) and dating (Tinder).

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Wanna Save 14hrs of Your Life??? Read This.

  • By John J. on 05-21-17

Silicon Valley Memoir: Well Written, Well Told

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

Reviewed: 10-30-16

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

If you're interested in tech start-ups -- how start-ups get financing, how the tech sausage is made -- and you're not expecting an uplifting tale of soaring creativity and ethical behavior, this is the book for you. The author's view of Facebook, where he eventually lands, consists of two core truths: the culture there is exceptional, committed, truly dedicated to the creation and maintenance of a network that connects people all over the world. It is also just another corporation run by people who know how to cozy up to the inner circle who run things, who fear competition, who spend months studying reports to make a decision, then make a decision in the last five minutes based on some whim or gut feeling. It's like watching the ideas behind Thinking, Fast and Slow come to life before your eyes.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author is -- he's the first to tell you -- super-smart, quick, obnoxious, arrogant, self-deprecating, strategic, with an eye on the exit at all times. He is also funny, well-read, perceptive and cynical. I've read reviews where people complain about the author's personality and the obnoxious (mostly) men who occupy this world of $15,000 bikes and $150,000 Teslas. If you're going to get in a state of high dudgeon about these people, just do not read this book. If you want to know what this influential world that is re-shaping society in unimaginable ways is really like, then read the book.

Which character – as performed by Dan John Miller – was your favorite?

Dan John Miller was exceptional. Apart from a few mispronunciations of French words*, Dan John Miller made every word ring true. I always felt that the voice reading the book really was Antonio Garcia Martinez. His emphases and intonations were spot on -- and periodically I got the sense that he was really enjoying and finding funny some of the wilder moments in the book. Excellent job. Will definitely look for other books Dan John Miller has narrated.

* Audible, wake up! How hard is it to have a producer or assistant to look through the book and check for pronunciation of foreign words? It's a constant critique in these reviews -- often the only criticism! And you can find the proper pronunciation on line!

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

I was saddened that in the end, there seemed to be so little change in how business is run in America. I also appreciated Facebook's culture of trying to protect the user and user experience from full-on exploitation, and trying to strike a balance between censorship and maintaining Facebook as a somewhat safe place where people can feel free to roam. The author is balanced in his critiques of the management structure and his appreciation for the staff trying their best to keep that balance right.

Any additional comments?

Great title -- but actually has very little to do with "chaos monkeys" -- those random invaders that challenge a system to see how the system will respond. But maybe I should think a bit bigger and more metaphorically!!

  • Right Ho, Jeeves

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
  • Length: 6 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 523
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 409
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 417

All the zany Wodehouse characters are here: Bertie, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, and Aunt Dahlia. All the humorous chaos of misunderstandings, puns, and pranks are present: someone must hand out prizes at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School, a lovers' spat finds Bertie engaged to Madeline, and a hunger strike causes the cook to give notice. The inevitable rescue by Jeeves, brilliantly conceived and executed, averts disaster and saves nitwit Bertie Wooster.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Classic Bertie and Jeeves

  • By Paul Norwood on 02-04-13

Jonathan Cecil Brings These Stories to Life

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

Reviewed: 09-28-16

If you could sum up Right Ho, Jeeves in three words, what would they be?

Great farce, fantastic narration, laugh out loud funny

What other book might you compare Right Ho, Jeeves to and why?

Of course, you would compare this with all the other PG Wodehouse tales of Bertie Wooster and his world of upper class toffs and spirited aunts -- but the timing and pacing on this one are comic masterpieces thanks to the spot-on gifts of the narrator, actor Jonathan Cecil, who came from an upper class English family and understands all the intonations, subtext and the like. He jumps into the characters' voices and attitudes with pitch-perfect intonation with split-second transitions. Almost miraculous that these books are narrated by just one man. What an actor!

Which scene was your favorite?

When Gussie Fink-Nottle has too much to drink and addresses the boys at a prize day ceremony, I had to pull the car over because I was laughing so hard.

Any additional comments?

Some other Wodehouse novels can be borderline offensive, especially with the use of the n-word, which appears just once here ... But such is not the case here, unless you are super sensitive regarding gender roles -- in which case, you will be hard to find a book from before the 21st century that does not offend!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful