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Beth

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  • reviews
  • 67
  • helpful votes
  • 126
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  • The Essex Serpent

  • A Novel
  • By: Sarah Perry
  • Narrated by: Juanita McMahon
  • Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 642
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 603
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 601

When Cora Seaborne's brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at 19, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive 11-year old son, Francis, and the boy's nanny, Martha.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Kind of 'Year in the Life of..' story.

  • By Midwesterner on 07-13-17

Narrator criticism UNFOUNDED!!

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

Reviewed: 07-24-17

Complex story with psychologically complicated characters. I felt the narrator was exceptional in capturing each one. The naysayers should perhaps have paid more attention to the story being narrated before offering such unjust criticism.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Grapes of Wrath

  • By: John Steinbeck
  • Narrated by: Dylan Baker
  • Length: 21 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,693
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,032
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,025

At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wish I could give it 10 stars!

  • By P. Minor on 07-18-14

What formed Steinbeck's sight of the human soul?

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

Reviewed: 02-15-17

Any additional comments?

Excellent production and narration. My father went to the principal to prevent my reading this when required in high school. What a disservice! Reading fiction and non- fiction has been my cure for every level of hunger since a child, I had continued in ignorance of the deep messages of Grapes of Wrath until age 54. Oh, how I wish I could have read this when I was in high school! But maybe the message would have been lost or clouded without the battering of life between then and now. Steinbeck takes you to places only vicariously experienced in post-apocalyptic works-except this is not imagination, it is history. While so many of these darker works leave you in dismay of the hopelessly depraved view of humanity under ultimate stress, Steinbeck somehow includes that depravity, while keeping in plain view the other extreme, i.e., the very highest of humanity, both collectively and individually. The highest inspiration demands a realistic and honest appraisal our experience to date. Inspiration motivates most effectively with the clearest view of the extremes of consequence flowing from our worst and best choices.

Finally, Steinbeck is outstanding as a master of character development. He leads you to initial scorn and disgust of the "preacher", and then develops him into an awe-inducing martyr for the highest causes, and humble clarion for the best distillation of religious and/or agnostic bases for hope and belief. The protagonist has murdered two men 3/4ths of the way through the book, but you know he also represents the highest plane of moral and ethical behavior toward friends and family. A previous reviewer indicated dissatisfaction for the ending, which felt unfinished and without a sense of resolution or comfort. Who or what ever led to the expectation that life lessons of any import were to be painless? What experience leads to the expectation that a happy ending is the most reasonable ending? With or without any accurate perception of our God, or the divinity of God the Son, it appears personally true that any important learning involves pain. My requisite tongue-in-cheek humor also demands-or maybe just results in-some deterioration into profane and vulgar expressions. Don't allow yourself to be distracted or turned aside by first impressions of this wonderful work. Do expect your comfortable generalizations to be confronted. Swallow the hard but mandatory lesson of, "But for the grace of God, go I", mixed into the marvel of what good people can graciously mean and do for one another.

Dive in, read, see, and leave much improved in the personal comparison to your previous Grapes of Wrath self: because you have waited too long to read and appreciate this GREAT work.

  • A Soldier of the Great War

  • By: Mark Helprin
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 31 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 537
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 377
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 377

On his last long walk, septuagenarian war hero, deserter, and professor Alessandro Giuliani shares his past with an illiterate young factory worker, spinning a remarkable tale of heart-stopping escapes, of loves unrequited and won, of madmen, dwarfs, and mafiosi. But overshadowing all is his most miraculous and terrible adventure, the Great War: a surreal parade of horrors that devastated and defined Alessandro, yet enabled him to experience fully the magic and beauty of the absurd human comedy called life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I love this guy

  • By Annette on 05-07-08

WOW, best read/listen in a long time!

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

Reviewed: 04-08-16

What did you love best about A Soldier of the Great War?

The writing was exceptional and wise. I love a work that stretches my edges, challenges my unperceived biases, and instructs in a manner that demands I reach my own conclusions rather than its rigid pedagogy. All that bound in two beautifully interwoven personal stories. The aged, remarkably tested, and wise imparts his mentoring on the young, inexperienced, and uneducated, with the real pressure of realization of accelerating mortality. Listen, read, remember, and absorb. You will exit a better creation!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Go Set a Watchman

  • A Novel
  • By: Harper Lee
  • Narrated by: Reese Witherspoon
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14,235
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,052
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 13,018

An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, best-selling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • To Kill A Mockingbird vs Go Set A Watchman

  • By Sara on 07-15-15

Wow!

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

Reviewed: 10-16-15

I almost made the grave mistake of not reading this book in the setting of the controversy involved in its publishing. I now fully understand why the original publisher directed Harper Lee to first go back and write the prequel. The world was not ready to read this book then, and I suspect that many are still not ready. What amazing courage is demonstrated in this confrontation of the unfathomable complexity of not only race relations, but indeed human relations, performed in the context of familial love and failing. I dare you to not read this in one setting!

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

  • A Novel
  • By: Fredrik Backman
  • Narrated by: Joan Walker
  • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,618
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,731
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,711

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is 77 years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus crazy. She is also Elsa's best and only friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing author

  • By Book Addict on 07-24-15

Starts slow, but you are going to love it!

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

Reviewed: 07-08-15

I read this as soon as I finished A Man Called Ove. Backman has an exceptional talent of description using the most incongruous elements which adroitly fill your imagination with exactly the image required (you laugh out loud despite the tears in your eyes with your identification with imperfect upbringings). This book first introduces you to the harsh and easily judgmental view of the characters that would be easily reached upon superficial evaluation, and then leads you to a far more mature and intelligent understanding of their foibles and their heroism, all told in the voice of a painfully precocious, "almost 8 year old" girl. Your understanding of the characters deepens, even as they themselves continue to develop with his talented hand. Though told in the voice of a child, do not mistake this for a children's book, even as you wish you would have read it far earlier in life!

50 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • A Man Called Ove

  • By: Fredrik Backman
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63,050
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57,689
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57,586

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon - the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him "the bitter neighbor from hell". But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I Laughed and I Cried

  • By Bill on 08-22-15

On my second trip through

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

Reviewed: 07-06-15

Any additional comments?

"Men are what they are because of what they do, not what they say." International best seller. I am on my second trip through it, I enjoyed it and was stretched that much, I don't want to have missed anything. Excellent insights into both human frailty as well as the beauty of each of our human uniqueness. Not to mention the complex tapestry each of us represents via the veritable crowd of people and experiences that have contributed to who we are.

  • Team of Teams

  • New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
  • By: General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and others
  • Narrated by: Paul Michael
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,724
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,286
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,286

Former general Stanley McChrystal held a key position for much of the War on Terror, as head of the Joint Special Operations Command. In Iraq he found that despite the vastly superior resources, manpower, and training of the US military, Al Qaeda had an advantage because of its structure as a loose network of small, independent cells. Those cells wreaked havoc by always staying one step ahead, sharing knowledge with each other via high-tech communications.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant

  • By Beth on 06-30-15

Brilliant

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

Reviewed: 06-30-15

Brilliant compilation of history, personal and collective experience, application of theory, and all fused together with wisdom. Excellent clarity, wonderful humility, and thought provoking perspective. How often the "system" responses to "error" events are inappropriate over-simplifications of the complexity of the process involved. The higher the complexity, the greater the necessity for nimbleness of the empowered team members who all share the same vision of the goal.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Light Between Oceans

  • A Novel
  • By: M. L. Stedman
  • Narrated by: Noah Taylor
  • Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,574
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6,771
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,732

In 1918, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes only four times a year and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Three years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel is tending the grave of her newly lost infant when she hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up on shore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful story.....terrible narrator.

  • By Sandra on 08-14-12

I loved the narration!

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

Reviewed: 12-31-14

Having read the harsh reviews of the narrator I feel compelled to strongly disagree. The narrator captures the spirit of Tom's essence brilliantly. The mild drop at the end of a sentence only increased the attention required to glean what he was so subtly offering. I felt it was a wonderful rendition of the complexities of a character reflecting traumas beyond his or anyone's understanding. Well done!

  • Gone Girl

  • A Novel
  • By: Gillian Flynn
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
  • Length: 19 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49,506
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44,077
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44,168

It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!

  • By Theodore on 01-20-13

Don't waste your time!

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

Reviewed: 05-11-13

What disappointed you about Gone Girl?

Remarkably inadequate ending, unbelievable coalescence of psychoses and bizarre exaggerations, and relatively poor writing. I finished it because someone recommended it-I wish I had followed my initial insight and not wasted my time. Life is too short to waste time on inadequate books!