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barbara

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  • 199
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  • 151
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  • Purple Hibiscus

  • By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 859
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 779
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 782

In Purple Hibiscus, she recounts the story of a young Nigerian girl searching for freedom. Although her father is greatly respected within their community, 15-year-old Kambili knows a frighteningly strict and abusive side to this man. In many ways, she and her family lead a privileged life, but Kambili and her brother, Jaja, are often punished for failing to meet their father’s expectations. After visiting her aunt and cousins, Kambili dreams of being part of a loving family.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Story

  • By Msafiri on 10-11-11

Deep, fascinating, beautifully written

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

Reviewed: 02-12-19

Although the main character and narrator is a severely abused and traumatized child, this book is laced with hope, color, and texture that move the reader far beyond the immediate and tragic circumstances of this child's life and the life of her immediate family. Her father is a sick and evil abuser, who uses religion to vent his misanthropic and twisted anger on those he loves. If there were ever a case for the twisted way religion can be used to harm people, this book makes it abundantly clear. It's a nuanced story, and a sad one, but it is not irredeemably depressing at all. Instead, one senses the hope lying just beneath the surface in the heart of the main character, and the many gifts she has been given despite the torments her family must endure at the hands of the very complicated madman, her father. It is also a portrait of Nigeria that sheds light on its growing pains from a traditionalist to a modern society.

The narrator was a very poor choice for this story. Not only does she swallow audibly throughout the entire book, which is very distracting and somewhat disgusting, but she voices all the males in the story with exactly the same intonation, so that the domineering and threatening father sounds exactly the same as the kindly brother, cousin, and priest. Also, I must say, why would Recorded Books choose a white narrator for goodness sake! She does a good job with the accents, but it's so clear that she's white, it's laughable, particularly since several of the characters in the novel make obvious points about wanting to reject the Britishness of Nigeria's history, yet here's this very British-sounding narrator telling the story. I know she's really South African, but she sounds like an upper-class Brit. Weird choice for narrator, and one I'll never comprehend. The good news is that the story is so powerful, it could not be diminished by this poor narrator.

  • An Orchestra of Minorities

  • By: Chigozie Obioma
  • Narrated by: Chukwudi Iwuji
  • Length: 18 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Set on the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigeria, and narrated by a chi, or guardian spirit, An Orchestra of Minorities tells the story of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer whose soul is ignited when he sees a woman attempting to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to express the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped her in her tracks. Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Deep, fascinating, brilliant, frustrating.

  • By barbara on 02-08-19

Deep, fascinating, brilliant, frustrating.

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

Reviewed: 02-08-19

This is a multi-layered story in which the protagonist's actions in life are narrated by his chi, or spirit, so the reader is seeing and experiencing Chinonso's life from two simultaneous vantage points: From the meta-level of the spirit, and from the interior world of Chinonso, as described by the spirit. One reviewer commented on how this narrative device keeps us at a remove from the inner workings of Chinonso's mind, and I agree with that, but since Chinonso is basically possessed by and obsessed with his lover, Ndali, the inner workings of his mind seem to run in an endless loop anyway, with only occasional glimpses of reality, so I think the narrative device works well. However, Chinonso's obsession frustrates his chi, and frustrated this reader as well. Have you ever read or watched Othello or Romeo and Juliet, for example, and had the strong desire to yell "Don't do it! Can't you see how stupid you're being?" There are moments like that in abundance in this book. There are long sections, particularly when Chinonso travels to Cyprus to attend college, in which the narrative moves along quickly and sparks with interest. There are other sections, particularly the final two hours of the audiobook, in which the narrative drags into a kind of grinding and painful repetitiveness, and I wanted the chi's observations to stick with the story, and quit with the spirit world stuff. But overall, Obioma's brilliance and energy and vision carry the day. However, in truth, I preferred his earlier novel, "The Fisherman," which was a tour de force. In both novels, the narrator is pitch-perfect and makes the listening experience pure joy.

  • The Fishermen

  • A Novel
  • By: Chigozie Obioma
  • Narrated by: Chukwudi Iwuji
  • Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 320
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 294
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 292

Told from the point of view of nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautifully written, heart-wringing tale

  • By jdukuray on 01-08-16

One of the best audiobooks ever

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

Reviewed: 02-03-19

This book and its narrator were excellent. The plot was detailed and sophisticated, the characters were beautifully drawn, the slice of life in Akure, Nigeria was exquisitely rendered. For this reader, this was one of the best and most compelling audiobooks I've ever listened to. I will immediately jump on the next Obioma book.

  • The Ask

  • A Novel
  • By: Sam Lipsyte
  • Narrated by: Sam Lipsyte
  • Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 164
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 74

Milo Burke, a development officer at a third-tier university, has "not been developing": after a run-in with a well-connected undergrad, he finds himself among the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is offered one last chance by his former employer: he must reel in a potential donor--a major "ask"--who, mysteriously, has requested Milo's involvement.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic

  • By Erica on 03-09-10

Overall tedious but occasional flareups of humor

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

Reviewed: 02-03-19

This book began with a bang...had me laughing out loud a couple of times. Then it seemed to get lost in the shuffle. The central character was hard to find amidst the shifting plot lines, and the plot was hard to find amidst the shifting characters. I wasn't sure where the author was trying to go, and in fact, I don't know that he really knew where he was trying to go.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Peace Like a River

  • By: Leif Enger
  • Narrated by: Chad Lowe
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 966
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 759
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 760

The quiet 1960s midwestern life of the Land family is upended when son Davy kills two marauders who have come to harm the family. The morning of his sentencing, Davy (a hero to some, a cold-blooded murderer to others) escapes from his cell, and the Lands set out in search of him. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and they cover territory even more extraordinary than the Badlands, where they search for Davy from their Airstream trailer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Poetic Coming Of Age Story

  • By Menno on 06-11-08

I love everything he writes

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

Reviewed: 02-01-19

This is my third Leif Unger book in three weeks...just gobbled up his writing and can't wait for more. He really knows how to tell a tale and develop interesting and unique characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Rip Crew

  • By: Sebastian Rotella
  • Narrated by: Sebastian Rotella
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 4

Valentine Pescatore, the dashing ex-US Border Patrol agent, finds himself back on American soil, investigating the merciless killing of a group of women in a motel room. At first, the crime seems to be a straightforward case of gangsters battling for territory. Soon, however, the motive is revealed to be much deeper and more sinister: a single witness who knows too much is being hunted, at any cost.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I loved it.

  • By barbara on 02-01-19

I loved it.

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

Reviewed: 02-01-19

I'm a big Rotella fan and found this book to be as exciting, interesting, and thought-provoking as his previous books. I loved it that the protagonist went to Italy, and worked with the Italian crime-fighting crew, and I enjoyed the plot twists involving the wealthy and influential family with powerful, crooked connections and the ability to silence their critics. Keep these books coming, Sebastian!

  • Little Fires Everywhere

  • By: Celeste Ng
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Lim
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,746
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,170
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,127

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Boring and Drawn Out!!!

  • By M. Ryder on 10-05-17

Interesting plot device, but heavy on stereotype

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

Reviewed: 02-01-19

I think I understand where Ng was coming from in painting the very opposite experiences of the protagonist's and antagonists' existence. However, I felt that she reduced the effectiveness of the device by overdramatizing both in ways that beggared belief. For example, would a teenaged daughter really submit to being uprooted time after time without complaint? My kids certainly didn't! Would a teenaged daughter really never have asked her mother about her parentage or extended family? Pearl, the daughter of the protagonist, and one of the central characters, seemed one-dimensional.

Yet I admired Ng's ability to spin a yarn, and to draw interesting parallels between the fates of the opposing forces. However, it seemed as though she couldn't resist overdoing the byplay between rich people and poor people, the poor people always coming up valiant and misunderstood, the rich people always coming up as heavyhanded, blind, and misguided. Isn't life more nuanced than that? I got tired of the obviousness of her characterizations. It's a concern when I can foresee exactly how a character is going to think, speak, and react. I said "oh please" more than once.

  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

  • A Novel
  • By: Ben Fountain
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,084
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 974
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 971

A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents - caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew - has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide victory tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of a Dallas football team, slated to be part of the halftime show.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fortunate Son

  • By W Perry Hall on 04-09-14

Would give 10 stars if I could

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

Reviewed: 01-28-19

I loved everything about this book...excellent writing, funny as heck, great narrator (off the charts, in my book), great pacing, great characters. This book is a huge winner all the way around.

  • Money

  • A Suicide Note
  • By: Martin Amis
  • Narrated by: Graeme Malcom
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 493
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 370
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 370

The story of John Self and his insatiable appetite for money, alcohol, drugs, porn, and more. Ceaselessly inventive and thrillingly savage, it is a tale of life lived without restraint, of money and the disasters it can precipitate.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Offensive as hell, insightfull, and brave

  • By Linda on 09-06-16

One of the best audiobooks ever

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

Reviewed: 01-21-19

A tour de force by both author and narrator. It took me three tries to get into this audiobook--at first, I found it glib and tiresome and I couldn't get into the flow. By the third try, however, something clicked in my head and I was amply rewarded by one of the funniest, most brilliant takes on modern culture that I've ever heard, and because it was written in the 1980s, it was filled with dated material that I found fascinating. I loved this book and will listen to it again, if only to hear the hilarious tennis game.

  • The Winter Soldier

  • By: Daniel Mason
  • Narrated by: Laurence Dobiesz
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 255
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 243
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 242

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a 22-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives - at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley of the Carpathian Mountains - he discovers a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains. But Lucius has never lifted a surgeon's scalpel. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Doctor's Story

  • By DJE on 09-21-18

Heavy on atmosphere, light on plot

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

Reviewed: 01-04-19

This book is well written and rich in detail and atmosphere, but its plot deficiencies leave this reader with a sense of frustration. It's basically boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy searches for girl (of course, I will not reveal the ending), and that thin premise is the through-line for the entire book. The reader must desire to lose herself in myriad details of the time, rather than be carried along by a compelling plot line. I did lose myself in myriad details, hoping the plot would unfold with delightful twists and turns, but in the end, I was disappointed.