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Rosemary

Alexandria, VA, United States
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  • 10
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  • Everything I Never Told You

  • A Novel
  • By: Celeste Ng
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8,994
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8,083
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,108

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet.… So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Character Novel

  • By colprubin on 07-16-14

Depressing

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

Reviewed: 03-12-18

What would have made Everything I Never Told You better?

Probably the most depressing book I have read, excepting Jude the Obscure. Yes, that depressing.

What was most disappointing about Celeste Ng’s story?

That someone with the writer's talent couldn't find a more hopeful story.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Terrible sadness, anger and despair.

Any additional comments?

Her writing is good and the characters mostly came to life. I just didn't like any of them, except maybe the younger daughter.

  • 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 7,780
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,293
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,253

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

Strange but wonderful

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

Reviewed: 03-05-17

Would you consider the audio edition of Lincoln in the Bardo to be better than the print version?

I really liked this very unusual book. It's definitely for the adventurous reader willing to accompany the author on a nonlinear and unresolved adventure.

I have it both audible and e-book formats, and I'm glad. I started listening to it first. Narration brings the characters to "life" (rather a misnomer for this book!) and helps distinguish between them as you get familiar with their voices - and great voices they are! OTOH, the print version helps clarify Saunders' singular vocabulary and use of language.

It was startling at first to hear all the annotations/sources for the historical information, but I came to appreciate it and found it didn't intrude on the story. Because of the narrator's distinctive voice, it was always clear they were footnotes.

What did you like best about this story?

The book offers a deep journey into the experience of grief -- not just Lincoln's but all the characters caught in the "bardo" - a liminal space between worlds. In Lincoln in Bardo, we confront the uncertainty of what lies beyond this mortal life.

Which scene was your favorite?

Spoiler: Toward the end, where Vollman (Offerman) and Bevins (Sedaris) conspire to rescue the boy from becoming like them, stuck in limbo. Though not exactly friends the "better angels of their nature" move them to take actions that will allow Willie to "go."

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Spoiler: The scene where Lincoln, bereaved and desperate, returns to his son's tomb and lifts the boy's body to his breast. This and another scene where Willie "goes in" to his father.

Any additional comments?


A few caveats: I would not recommend this book for anyone who has recently lost someone they love, or has lost a child at any time. That's not a blanket statement, it may be healing for some. But for me, it aroused such sympathetic grief that I would be wary of it for someone experiencing their own grief. If you have strong beliefs about what happens after death, you may also feel averse to the book's ambiguous tone.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest

  • A Novel
  • By: J. Ryan Stradal
  • Narrated by: Amy Ryan, Michael Stuhlbarg
  • Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 827
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 748
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 745

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is about a young woman with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the iconic chef behind the country's most coveted dinner reservation. When Lars Thorvald's wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine - and a dashing sommelier - he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He's determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter - starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So satisfying

  • By Laura Schnoor on 09-03-15

Light and enjoyable

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

Reviewed: 08-28-15

This novel, a set of stories by characters who tangentially relate to each other, kept me entertained but not moved. I listened to the book on audible.com, and that enhanced the experience for me. The character at the hub of each story is Eva Thorvald, whom I found a little too perfect. Gorgeous, talented, successful...even so I liked her. I appreciate that the author didn't tie each story up neatly, leaving readers to connect the loose ends. Forays into sophisticated food and wine inspired me as I ate my mac n cheese 😉
In its descriptions of the protagonist's exceptional palate, this book reminded me of Delicious! by Ruth Reichl. I would r

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Shannon

  • A Novel of Ireland
  • By: Frank Delaney
  • Narrated by: Frank Delaney
  • Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123

In the summer of 1922, Robert Shannon, a young American hero of the Great War, lands in Ireland. A Marine chaplain, he was present at the frightful Battle of Belleau Wood, and he still suffers from shell shock. His mentor hopes that a journey Robert had always wanted to make - to find his family roots - will restore his equilibrium and his vocation. Unbeknownst to Robert, a safety net has been spread beneath him: All along the banks of the river that bears his family name, a chain of support has been put into place.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Masterpiece

  • By Brian on 03-04-14

A Feast for Soul, Heart -- and Ear

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

Reviewed: 09-22-14

What did you love best about Shannon?

I can't remember when I've enjoyed a book this much. I had read Delaney's "Ireland" on Kindle and much enjoyed that, too. The fact that Delaney himself narrates this book enlivens and enhances it. No fake Irish accent here. Delaney's vocal switches with each character are subtle, never overdone, and suit the style of the book well. The characters are richly drawn, the plot is suspenseful and treats history respectfully, and the descriptions of the land and river are keenly vivid.

What other book might you compare Shannon to and why?

Ireland, also by Delaney. I'm trying to think of books that give The Great War and its effects such depth within a fictional work. How I wish it had been "the war to end all wars" - but Delaney recounts its horrors in a way far more compelling than a straight historical account.

Which character – as performed by Frank Delaney – was your favorite?

Besides Robert? (which is a given), I'd have to say Ellie Kennedy. Her strength, skill, intelligence, initiative, and humor will stay with me. I wish I had a friend like her.

Who was the most memorable character of Shannon and why?

Besides Robert? I'd have to say Vincent Patrick Ryan. Although he's the "villain," Delaney skillfully gives us enough back story that he becomes, if not sympathetic, at least complex. Without him, the story would have been much flatter.

Any additional comments?

I'll be looking for more in the same vein.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful