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Iris Pereyra

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  • Lincoln in the Bardo

  • A Novel
  • By: George Saunders
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and others
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6,979
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,550
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6,517

The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented. February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A Mixed Bag

  • By Thomas More on 02-24-17

Groundbreaking Novel Made Even Better by Audio

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

Reviewed: 05-11-17

Lincoln In The Bardo is a novel that exists in two different realms. One is tangible and corporeal the other one is abstract and ethereal. One is confined by the laws of physics, the other one isn't. One is based on historical, albeit limited, facts, the other one is the product of the fertile imagination of George Saunders. Admittedly, the first few chapters were challenging and confusing but soon my initial reaction went from "What the heck did I get myself into?" to "This is a reading experience like no one I had before!"

The novel opens on February 1862. The Civil War is in its infancy but it has started to dawn on the President and the country at large that this will not be a short conflict. Although widely criticized for doing so, the Lincolns are hosting a lavish reception at the Blue Room in the White House. In a room upstairs, Willie, President Lincoln's beloved 11-year old son, is fighting for his life after succumbing to typhoid fever. The family doctor has predicted that the boy will recover and so that night the party goes on. In spite of the optimistic prognosis, Willy dies a few days later.

It is here that the supernatural dimension of the story becomes more baffling. Willy joins a chorus of ghosts that at once welcome him while at the same time urging him to move on to the next place. It is strange and surreal and yet as you read along, you begin to understand what motivates these tortured souls: they are holding on to an old notion of themselves and seem willfully ignorant of the fact that they are dead.

President Lincoln, almost paralyzed by sorrow, find himself struggling to accept the death of his young son. But if death is the great equalizer, the one thing that levels the playing field, war is a close second. And so, at a time of so much anxiety over the increasing number of war casualties, the nation holds its breath and prays that the president can soon recover and reassume his official duties. Meanwhile, at the bardo, an epic fight for the soul of young Willie begins in earnest.

I think Audio was the ideal medium for this novel but because of its unconventional, somehow disjointed format, I'd highly recommend having access to the written book, at least the first time you listen to it.

Bardo is indeed everything you've heard: bizarre, irreverent, heartbreaking and surreal. A profound meditation on grief, on the incomprehensible loss of unrealized young lives, on how painful it is to let go of the things we hold dear, the people we love and life itself. A remarkable book made even better by a groundbreaking, extraordinary audiobook production and cast.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Women in the Castle

  • By: Jessica Shattuck
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,761
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,526
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,524

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined - an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times notable book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Skating On The Thin Ice Of Life

  • By Sara on 04-29-17

A Thought-provoking Work of Historical Fiction

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

Reviewed: 04-26-17

There's something about learning history through the eyes of fictional characters that engages our senses and crystallizes the impact world affairs have had in humanity in ways no history class ever could.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our obsession with WWII novels. The scale of that tragedy is so unfathomable that there's always hope that one more story could help us make sense of it all. In The Women In The Castle author Jessica Shattuck offers a nuanced perspective of Post-war Germany told through the lives of three unique female characters.

The story begins on November 9th, 1938 in Burg Lingenfels, a beautiful isolated Bavarian castle. Marianne von Lingenfels is hosting the annual harvest party thrown by her husband's Albrecht aunt, an elderly countess known for her rebellious spirit and anti-German views.

Albrecht Lingenfels and Connie Fledermann, Marianne’s childhood friend, are part of a group of German men involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. As they conspire, they make Marianne promise that if the plot fails, she must do everything she can to help the wives left behind, including Benita, Connie's soon to be young wife.

The Women in the Castle is at its core a complex moral story but is also a tale of resilience and survival. It narrates how three widows, from very different backgrounds, become the most unlikely of friends trying to navigate the tumultuous, confusing aftermath of WWII.

Thus, mostly forced by their extraordinary circumstances, an unlikely alliance is forged and the castle becomes a temporary refuge for these women and their children, as they painfully and slowly attempt to put their lives back together.

I think the author gets many things right, especially that sense that for many ordinary Germans, the rise of Hitler and Nazism had a slow-boiling kind of feeling and so, by the time many people realize what was happening it was already too late. This is not to absolve those that were directly or indirectly involved, but this novel certainly provides a more nuanced perspective on how the Germans allowed for the Holocaust to occur.

Cassandra Campbel is a seasoned, talented narrator and she proves it once again on this remarkable performance.

Recommended for anyone looking for an engaging, thought-provoking work of historical fiction.

51 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Letters to a Young Writer

  • Some Practical and Philosophical Advice
  • By: Colum McCann
  • Narrated by: Colum McCann
  • Length: 2 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 32

Intriguing and inspirational, this book is a call to look outward rather than inward. McCann asks his listeners to constantly push the boundaries of experience, to see empathy and wonder in the stories we craft and hear. A paean to the power of language, both by argument and by example, Letters to a Young Writer is fierce and honest in its testament to the bruises delivered by writing as both a profession and a calling. It charges aspiring writers to learn the rules and even break them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable comments on being a writer

  • By eclectic reader on 05-23-17

A Powerful and Moving Manifesto for Young Writers

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

Reviewed: 04-19-17

These fifty-two essays are short in length but full on passion and even if you are not are a writer or plan on becoming one, McCann's zeal for his craft is so contagious that if you are anything like me, you would find yourself inspired by how beautifully and intimately he describes it.

Aspiring young writers will also find quite a bit of advice. This ranges from the purely utilitarian and practical ("Write wherever you feel comfortable","Read Aloud,"Carry a notebook), to the more essential ("To MFA or Not to MFA", "Language and Plot", "How to get an agent"). Still, the author's goal seems to be to sustain his readers aspirations and inspirations, rather than to provide a laundry list on how to become a successful writer.

Although I am obviously not part of the book's intended audience, I still found quite a few helpful philosophical nuggets and practical advice: There are moments when you just have to rely on your instincts; In life, just like in writing, there are no manuals and sometimes rules have to be broken and last but certainly not least, don't be a dick!

As for the author's audio narration, what can I say? There's something about the expression "Just keep your arse on the chair" that sounds much better with an Irish accent. Pure perfection.

A moving, inspiring and powerful manifesto. Highly Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • News of the World

  • A Novel
  • By: Paulette Jiles
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,591
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,188
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,174

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful story....but not True Grit

  • By DenGig on 04-14-17

A Wonder Of A Novel

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

Reviewed: 04-16-17

At 72, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a widow and a veteran of several wars, is living a relatively quiet life. He has found a creative way to make a living, one that combines his love for the printing press and his interest in keeping abreast with the news of the world.

But the quiet, solitary life the Captain has been living takes an unexpected turn when Britt Johnson, a free black man, asks him to deliver a 10-year-old white girl to her relatives in San Antonio. Johanna Leonberger has been rescued from the Kiowa Indians who four years earlier, kidnapped her and killed her immediate family. Having been so young when this event took place, she has completely forgotten the English language and assimilated the dialect and customs of the tribe.

The trip to San Antonio is a dangerous undertaking, as there are raids happening all over the country and plenty of travelers have lost their lives and so the Captain is hesitant at first. Ultimately he accepts the mission and.uses part of the fifty-dollar gold piece he received to finance the trip to buy a spring wagon. The idea is to make the long journey from Wichita Falls to San Antonio as comfortable and as safe as possible.

The trip and adventures that follow are gripping and dramatic, but for me the most memorable passages are those that describe how Captain Kidd and Johanna find ways to communicate with each other, an impulse initially born out of their need to survive, but later a reflection of the authentic bond that comes to tie the unlikely pair.

The brilliance of this novel is, I think, the contrasting effect of encountering such an honorable, kind hearted and humble protagonist as Captain Kidd is, against the backdrop of the very harsh world he inhabits. He is a hero, but he is an unassuming one.

As a reader of fiction, I am all for exploring stories with morally ambiguous characters but once in a while, it feels good to know, unequivocally, who the good guy of the story is.

Grover Garners's narration is absolute perfection. This is all around, a top-notch audio production. Highly recommend it!

  • Exit West

  • A Novel
  • By: Mohsin Hamid
  • Narrated by: Mohsin Hamid
  • Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,905
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,749
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,739

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet - sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors - doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Where to Live?

  • By David on 04-04-17

We Are All Migrants Through Time

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

Reviewed: 04-13-17

Exit West is a wonder of a novel. Hamid stunning writing flows elegantly and beautifully and, in spite of its obvious political undercurrents, this is not an overtly political story. Instead, the author strives to take a more universal, existential and ultimately hopeful view on the issue of the refugee crisis and how the global community is reacting to it.

There is also a romance here but this is far from a conventional love story. We first encounter Nadia and Saeed in their mid-20s, just as they meet while attending a business workshop. The country and city where they live remain nameless, but we learn from the start that this is a place on the brink of political and social upheaval. A civil war between the government and local Islamic militants is all but imminent.

Eventually, the militants succeed in taking control of the city, forcing many, including Saeed and Nadia, to flee the country. It is here that Hamid inserts a rather unconventional literary device: mysterious “doors”, which can be used as portals to travel from country to country, begin to appear everywhere, effectively allowing people to become instant immigrants.

The novel's first chapters are devoted to the "leaving" part of the immigrant experience. Hamid explores the agonizing process people go through once they decide to leave their country of origin as well as the many concerns they have to live with: Will I survive the journey? Will I ever see my country and family again? How soon will I adapt to this new place? Will I be and feel welcomed?

Unlike the characters in this work of fiction, real life refugees don't have access to magic doors to escape their predicament. Exit West offers a sensible, often nuanced take on what it means to be displaced, of the distribution of our planet's limited resources and, in these times of Brexit and Trump, ask us to consider, what if we were to try another approach to the current refugee crisis?

Although far from a professional narrator, Hamid does a decent job at narrating his novel.

  • Lab Girl

  • By: Hope Jahren
  • Narrated by: Hope Jahren
  • Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,395
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,213
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,211

Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she's studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book might have been a revelatory treatise on plant life. Lab Girl is that, but it is also so much more. Because in it, Jahren also shares with us her inspiring life story, in prose that takes your breath away.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A paradigm-shifting perspective on plant life

  • By Elizabeth on 05-20-16

Hurray for Lab Girl!

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

Reviewed: 02-05-17

I think something really special happens when a scientist has the ability to use the written word to successfully communicate and explain to the rest of us what they do. In Lab Girl, Hope Jahren does that and she does it beautifully.

As the daughter of a father who was a physics and earth science teacher and a mother who instilled in her a love for literature, Jahren charmingly blends both of those passions in this remarkable memoir.

I have never heard a scientist of any field, speak so passionately about what they do as Jahren does here. She captured my imagination and I now have a new sense of respect for geobiologists, as well as for plants, what they mean for us and the viability of our planet.

Although her narration felt a little flat at first, she increasingly grew on me specially towards the 2nd and 3rd parts of the book.

Lab Girl was educational, enlightening, quirky and pretty funny.So here's hoping that many young women read this book and get inspired by Hope Jahren's life and her devotion to science.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

  • A Novel
  • By: Kathleen Rooney
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 610
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 559
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 553

It's the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk. As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents to be in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest paid advertising woman in America - a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazingly well written

  • By Suzanne K on 03-21-17

Lillian takes a stroll down memory lane!

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

Reviewed: 01-29-17

The year is 1984, Manhattan, New Year's Eve. As the last hours of the year elapse, 85 year-old Lillian Boxfish takes a 10-mile walk around the city, and brings us right along with her. While she encounters old acquaintances and makes new ones, she reminisces on her life, past and present. Observing the dramatic changes that have taken place in the place she has called home for more than 50 years brings a certain level of nostalgia and sadness.

It wasn't until after I finished the novel that I realize that Kathleen Rooney's inspiration for this character was a real person. Like her fictional counterpart, Margaret Fishback was a poet and copywriter for R.H. Macys during the 1930's, becoming highly successful in both roles.

As she makes her way through the streets of the city, our protagonist recalls her best moments: the publication of her first book, meeting Max (the man she eventually marries), giving birth to her son. And her challenges: struggling to adjust to married life, going through a severe bout of depression, her painful divorce, losing her best friend.

Watching a character grow old is so interesting because it underlines the fact that getting older doesn't erase the essence of who we are. That's why for me, experiencing Lillian's zest for life, her sense of curiosity and sharp mind, and seeing how consistent those traits remained throughout her life, was so very refreshing.

Rooney's writing is witty and illuminating and I admire her ability to write a novel so intimate that at times it almost reads like a memoir. To me Lillian Boxfish belongs in the canon of characters representing a generation of women that were so ahead of their times they were feminist icons before that was even a thing.

I became a fan of Xe Sans listening to her narration of Euphoria and The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty. After you've been listening to audiobooks for a while, you can tell when a narrator has done her homework and has prepared well to perform a story rather that just "read" it. I think Sans’s evocative, sultry voice was the perfect match for this novel. The conversation between the author and the narrator at the end of the audio, was a unexpected but wonderful bonus!

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Everything You Want Me to Be

  • A Thriller
  • By: Mindy Mejia
  • Narrated by: Caitlin Thorburn, John Moraitis, Jeff Harding
  • Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 441
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 397
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 390

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she's found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small-town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good Story with One Terrible Narrator

  • By Molly on 01-05-17

A superb and engaging mystery murder

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

Reviewed: 01-09-17


At 17 Henrietta (Hattie) Hoffman is one of those precocious teenagers who, in the cusp of adulthood believe they have everything figured out. On the surface Hattie appears to be a typical teen about to graduate high school, she is talented, popular and looking forward to starting her life after school pursuing her dreams of becoming a professional actress.

But Hattie has two very notable character traits: she is a masterful manipulator and is capable of transforming herself into anyone and anything people want her to be. It is not surprising then that chooses acting as her future career and that the theater provides the ideal platform to use and develop her talents.

By the time the second chapter starts though, we learn that Hattie's promising life has been tragically cut short. Her body is found in an abandoned barn, only a few hours after her last performance as Lady Macbeth at her high school auditorium.

The novel is told in the form of flashbacks narrated by its three main protagonists.Sheriff Dell Goodman is in charge of investigating the murder, he is also an old friend of the Hoffmans. Peter Lund is Hattie's literature and drama teacher and someone with whom she becomes involves via a web chatting room. Hattie herself is the third narrator.

The challenge for a whodunit is keeping readers engaged once they know what the outcome of the story is. But as suspects emerge, new theories are considered and more secrets get revealed, Mejia does a great job at keeping the story flowing and our interest piqued.

Everything You Want Me To Be is one of those deliciously twisted stories that allow us to vicariously indulge our morbid tendencies without feeling guilty about it. Kudos to Mejia for writing a highly addictive crime mystery that manages to entertain without insulting our intelligence.

All three narrators were new to me but I thought they did a pretty decent job narrating the story. Particularly the two male narrators. The novel's easy-to-follow format and fast pace made for a breezy and enjoyable listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Atomic Weight of Love

  • By: Elizabeth J. Church
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Van Dyck
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 694
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 630
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 628

For Meridian Wallace - and many other smart, driven women of the 1940s - being ambitious meant being an outlier. Ever since she was a young girl, Meridian had been obsessed with birds, and she was determined to get her PhD, become an ornithologist, and make her mother's sacrifices to send her to college pay off. But she didn't expect to fall in love with her brilliant physics professor, Alden Whetstone. When he's recruited to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to take part in a mysterious wartime project, she reluctantly defers her own plans and joins him.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing

  • By ilene on 06-14-16

A novel with strong feminist undertones

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

Reviewed: 12-16-16


The Atomic Weight Of Love is a work of historical fiction that follows the life of Meridian (Meri) Wallace. We first meet her in the 1940's, as a naive 17 year old studying to become an Ornithologist at the University of Chicago and someone who by all accounts, has a promising career ahead of her.

At the university she meets and shortly marries her teacher Alden Whetstone, an eminent Physicist who would eventually become involved in the development of the atomic bomb.

At its center, this is a classic story of a woman searching for that perfect balance between fulfilling his intellectual and emotional needs. For a short while Meri believes that in Alden, she has found that wonderful partner that can satisfy both. She admires her husband's intellect and aspires to be his equal.

Soon those expectations are badly shattered.This is not surprising considering the 20 year age-gap that divides them. Alden's direct involvement in a highly secretive government program and his detached personality certainly doesn't help. After their move to Los Alamos, the relationship quickly deteriorates and you have a sense that this was a marriage doomed from the very beginning.

Bored and left out from Alden’s work, Meri immerses herself in exploring her landscape and channels her academic ambitions into observing a family of crows and keeping detail journals of their behavior.

For Meri, the catalyst for challenging her status quo comes in the form of a handsome, young geologist named Clay. He's a hippy, veteran of the Vietnam War who quickly falls in love with the much more mature Meri. This new relationship brings an understandable level of guilt and inner-conflict, but I appreciate that the author gave our protagonist some license to discover her very unexplored sexuality and allowed her to live a little.


l I found this to be a well-crafted, engaging debut novel. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy a character-driven story told from a strong feminist perspective.

The narration from Jennifer Van Dyck, was one of the best I listened to this year.

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 96,151
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 89,055
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 88,637

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

A moving and very thoughtful memoir

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

Reviewed: 12-13-16

By the time Trevor Noah was born in 1984, Apartheid, the system that institutionalized segregation and racial discrimination in his native South Africa, was already in its last throes. But young Trevor still got to experience plenty of the negative effects of that horrific system.

The relationship between his black African mother and his white Swiss father, was legally prohibited by the 1927 "Immorality Act", a crime that could carry up to 5 years in prison. These laws were not a mere abstraction, they were actively enforced by the authorities.

There are plenty of funny moments and hilarious anecdotes on Born a Crime, so it would be tempting to categorize this as just a rag-to-riches, pull up by your bootstraps kind of story.

In reality though, Noah has written a profound account about his humble beginnings, the pervasive presence of violence both inside his home and in his country at large as well as candid details about his own racial identity crisis, the result of having been born in a place where the reaction to a person of mixed race was astonishment, contempt or a mix of both.

The fact that Noah was able to overcome such a difficult upbringing it almost miraculous and reason enough to read his story. But I think his views on poverty, racism, domestic violence are also worth listening to, mainly because he has the emotional scars to prove his credentials as a believable storyteller.

On a final note, Noah's narration is top notch. Nobody could've done a better job at recounting his own story.

This is a moving memoir that will probably make you laugh and cry, but I trust that it will also leave you with a good dose of hope and optimism.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful