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Steve M

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  • Conversations with Friends

  • A Novel
  • By: Sally Rooney
  • Narrated by: Aoife McMahon
  • Length: 8 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 265
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 246
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 245

Frances is a cool-headed and darkly observant young woman vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend and comrade-in-arms is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, Frances and Bobbi catch the eye of Melissa, a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into Melissa's world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman's sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband, Nick.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting point of view; glad I listened!

  • By Amazon Customer on 08-23-17

Beautifully Written and Insightful

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

Reviewed: 12-06-18

This book is written in crisp, precise sentences that beautifully evoke some aspect of being young and unfocused and, no matter how intelligent and insightful about other people, still clueless about oneself. The main characters are pretty compelling, even if their behavior is at time infuriating and/or ill advised. The male love interest is a rarity among male love interests in fiction--an almost completely passive, submissive heterosexual man. Not sure if that's good or not (not so much for the heroine) but interesting and usual. It's beautifully read here. At times, it feels as repetitious as real life, but it's still gripping.

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?

  • Memoirs of a Literary Forger
  • By: Lee Israel
  • Narrated by: Jane Curtin
  • Length: 2 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 85
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 83

Before turning to her life of crime - running a one-woman forgery business out of a phone booth in a Greenwich Village bar and even dodging the FBI - Lee Israel had a legitimate career as an author of biographies. But by 1990, almost broke and desperate to hang onto her Upper West Side studio, Lee made a bold and irreversible career change: inspired by a letter she’d received once from Katharine Hepburn, and armed with her considerable skills as a researcher and celebrity biographer, she began to forge letters in the voices of literary greats.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Potential to be so much better

  • By Angela Dieckman on 12-06-18

A fast, fun listen. (The movie is better.)

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

Reviewed: 12-06-18

This is a fun, fast listen. Lee Israel is a terrific writer with lively, vivid descriptions and wonderful turns of phrase. It's amazing how closely the movie follows this book. With, of course, some added material and relationships. Israel quotes extensively from her own phony letters. A little of this goes a long way. It's clear she was (justly?) proud of her cleverness, but after a while, enough is enough. She certainly is unrepentant, which is almost admirable, except she was, after all, ripping people off. The movie is superb, makes Israel a more likable person, and gives the same info. I guess this functions mainly to fill in some details and as a cultural curiosity. Jane Curtain is swell--the right amount of annoyance and swagger--but annoyingly pronounces Noel Coward like the American way of pronouncing the holiday. I've never heard his name pronounced this way.

  • Reckless Daughter

  • A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
  • By: David Yaffe
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 135
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 121
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 119

Joni Mitchell is a cultural touchstone for generations of Americans. In her heyday she released 10 experimental, challenging, and revealing albums; her lyrics captivated people with the beauty of their language and the rawness of their emotions, both deeply personal to Mitchell and universally relatable to her audience. In this intimate biography, composed of dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrific retrospective

  • By Barb Stewart on 10-27-17

A rich, heartbreaking book!

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

Reviewed: 08-17-18

As a Joni Mitchell fan for 40 years, through every phase of her career and album, I thought I knew all about her. Wrong! This book has a ton of new and fascinating information. It's written in a lively, first-person style that centers on the author's multiple interviews with Mitchell, and the narrative structure is shaped around album releases. Yes, Yaffe IS a sycophant, as many here and elsewhere have observed, but Mitchell IS a true genius. And he allows others (Larry Klein, for example) to fill in details about her more complicated, less admirable personal qualities. The trajectory from revered singer-songwriter goddess to "runaway from the record biz" is pretty heartbreaking, but Mitchell's amazing contribution lives on and will only grow in stature over time, and listening to this book got me to cue up ALL of her work once again, even the stuff I tend to listen to less.

As for the narrator, Xe Sands has a lovely voice, but uses this "hip," world-weary intonation in ways that are irritating and sometimes silly. Also, in the beginning to the book especially, she tends to drop off at the ends of sentences. For the first two hours, I was driving with a friend and we kept turning to each other and saying: "What did she say?" About the third hour in or so, I got used to is and just went with it.

Overall, a GREAT listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The World Broke in Two

  • Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature
  • By: Bill Goldstein
  • Narrated by: Bill Goldstein
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 57

A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of revered authors Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best non-fiction Audible book I've heard

  • By Brian on 09-20-17

Wonderful Book

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

Reviewed: 04-11-18

I started reading this on the page and got so hooked, I downloaded the audio version for a long road trip. I thought I knew a lot about these writers, but Goldstein's book, with its focus on 1922, brought to life many elements of their personal and private lives that I didn't know. Somehow, by weaving together the lives of these four, Goldstein makes the book gripping. You develop an inside look at their creative processes. I didn't want to put it down. I was happy to have listened to some of this book. Goldstein's voice is fantastic - warm, expressive, intimate, and very clear. I'd happily listen to anything else he reads and will happily read anything else he writes!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Little Fires Everywhere

  • By: Celeste Ng
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Lim
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,923
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,332
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,290

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

An Entertaining, Clever Novel

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

Reviewed: 12-01-17

The triumph of Celeste Ng’s novel is the clever weaving together of multiple storylines and a large cast of characters. Her use of omniscience is impressive and effective. The story becomes increasingly tense and suspenseful and she ties everything together thematically without answering all questions raised. I can see why the book is such a hit. Thoughtful and intelligent, but also a good entertaining read. Jennifer Lim’s reading is perfection. Clear, swift, nuanced but subtle. I wish she had recorded more books.

62 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Citizen

  • An American Lyric
  • By: Claudia Rankine
  • Narrated by: Allyson Johnson
  • Length: 1 hr and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 341
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 303
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 298

Claudia Rankine's bold new audiobook recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in 21st-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV - everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Important Work But Audio Is Missing a Lot

  • By Steve M on 08-30-17

Important Work But Audio Is Missing a Lot

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

Reviewed: 08-30-17

Citizen is an important work, sadly more relevant with every passing day. The audio book is well produced and the reader is exceptionally skilled.

However, Rankine's book includes photos and art work that are not mere illustrations but integral parts of the whole. The same is true of the layout of the book with lots of blank pages and empty space. (To give the reader time to rest and absorb, Rankine has stated.)

For these reasons, the audio book should be considered a companion to the print edition, not a substitute for it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Queen Lucia

  • By: E. F. Benson
  • Narrated by: Miriam Margolyes
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

England between the wars was a paradise of calm and leisure for the very, very rich. Into this enclave is born Mrs. Emmeline Lucas—La Lucia, as she is known—a woman determined to lead a life quite different from the subdued formality of her class.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant and Charming

  • By Steve M on 08-03-17

Brilliant and Charming

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

Reviewed: 08-03-17

The Mapp and Lucia series by EF Benson comprises some of the most silly, charming, and utterly delightful novels in the English language. It's hard to know why they're so appealing. The characters are venal, unimaginably petty and spiteful, and their activities are mainly gossiping and plotting against each other for low stakes status. Still, Benson's authorial voice is shrewd and witty, and his awful, appalling fools have a warmth and underlying psychological truthfulness that raises all of this to the level of art. Almost a century after their first publication, they still feel fresh. Within a few paragraphs, you find yourself anticipating the nutty antics ahead with the same delight you might feel upon catching a mouthwatering whiff of the meal you're about to be served at someone's house.

The novels don't have plots, but incidents that unfold over several chapters. Think of them as episode in a very sophisticated sitcom.

Miriam Margolyes is so good at voices, you almost can't believe there's only one narrator. On the other hand, her astonishingly precise articulation is unmistakable throughout. And with all of that, she manages to make each character a real person.

Having read this novel on the page, it was a little alarming to hear the abridgment. Around half of the book was trimmed. The events are all here, but phrases and whole sentences have been clipped from every paragraph. Too bad, but the pruning was so artfully done, it never sounds as if you're missing anything. And if you plan to listen to the whole series, these versions might be a more realistic time commitment.

If you (or you and a friend) are going on a long drive, you can't find much better light (but not pointless) entertainment than this series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Island of the Lost

  • Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
  • By: Joan Druett
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,287
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,038
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,029

Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death. In 1864, Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captain Musgrave inspires his men to take action.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the Best Stories Ever Told!

  • By Tiffany on 04-10-16

Great Adventure Story

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

Reviewed: 07-03-17

This is a well-researched true story of the almost unimaginable hardships faced when a small boat shipwrecks on the remote Aukland Islands, south of New Zealand. It's a great and triumphant story that reveals much about the human spirit and the virtues of community and cooperation. The narrator was straightforward and clear. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Girls in their Married Bliss

  • By: Edna O'Brien
  • Narrated by: Edna O'Brien
  • Length: 5 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

Kate and Baba are in London, playing out the tragicomedy of their married lives to its surprisingly level-headed conclusion. Kate, feeling trapped in her grey stone house with her increasingly cold husband, tearfully looks for her dreams of romance elsewhere. And when Eugene takes terrible, implacable revenge, she naturally turns to her brazen friend Baba for help.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Devastating Final Chapter

  • By Steve M on 06-17-17

Devastating Final Chapter

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

Reviewed: 06-17-17

This third and final volume of O'Brien's celebrated trilogy alternates point of view between the two "girls." It starts out with the spiky mix of rueful comedy and earned anger over the oppressive expectations for Irish women of the first volumes. It has some fantastically funny set pieces, and Baba continues to be a tremendously witty, hard-edged foil to more passive and earnest Kate. As the book progresses, things turn darker, and the epilogue is so sad and bitter, at times it's painful to listen to. I think some readers felt betrayed by the sadness of the final installment, but it exposes the reality of life for women raised in deeply Catholic countries and living in a society that keeps them in inferior roles, surrounded by men addicted to alcohol and misogyny. O'Brien's narration is riveting!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • North and South

  • By: Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 18 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,981
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,577
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,595

Written at the request of Charles Dickens, North and South is a book about rebellion that poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. Gaskell expertly blends individual feeling with social concern and her heroine, Margaret Hale, is one of the most original creations of Victorian literature. When Margaret Hale's father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience she is forced to leave her comfortable home in the tranquil countryside of Hampshire....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful

  • By Sally on 01-04-10

Gaskell + Stevenson = Literary Dream Team

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

Reviewed: 06-13-17

Another astonishingly great performance by Juliet Stevenson. She does an amazing variety of accents, attitudes, and moods, and brings everything to life with such precision, I felt as if these characters were people I knew. This is one of Gaskell's best novels, both a wonderful love story and a deeply insightful analysis of labor and class divides. It was interesting to listen to this after Gaskell's Mary Barton and note the way her craft and confidence as a writer had developed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful