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  • 26
  • helpful votes
  • 54
  • ratings
  • Wishes and Wellingtons

  • By: Julie Berry
  • Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle
  • Length: 9 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,384
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,120
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,111

Maeve Merritt chafes at the rigid rules at her London boarding school for “Upright Young Ladies.” When punishment forces her to sort through the trash, she finds a sardine tin that houses a foul-tempered djinni with no intention of submitting to a schoolgirl as his master. Soon an orphan boy from the charitable home next door, a mysterious tall man in ginger whiskers, a disgruntled school worker, and a take-no-prisoners business tycoon are in hot pursuit of Maeve and her magical discovery.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I didn’t want it to end

  • By Julia on 10-05-18

Of its type, an excellent story!

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

Reviewed: 03-11-19

My favorite kind of fantasy story as a kid — where the magic takes place among the real world. Listening to this really brought back that excited feeling. The lead character is a clever, likable tomboy in late Victorian Britain, whose observations and growing awareness of the world feels true for a 13-year-old girl on the cusp of the 20th century. The writing is sharp and evocative, and the narration of this audiobook is top-notch.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dodge & Twist

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Tony Lee
  • Narrated by: Matt Lucas, Stephen Mangan, Michael Socha, and others
  • Length: 4 hrs and 56 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,451
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,178
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,175

It’s rumoured that Dickens wanted to return to his classic novel Oliver Twist, to bring him back into a later book as an older character, but he never managed this before he died. However, if Oliver had returned, what would he have been like? Would the scars of his childhood affect the man he would become? And what of ‘Dodger’, sent to a land halfway around the world, his friend, mentor and master dead because of Oliver? Dodge & Twist is that story. The tale of two boys, 12 years later, returning into each other’s lives - for both good and bad.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Maybe not dickens but an exciting ride!

  • By Lillian T. on 02-11-19

Good acting. Godawful writing.

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

Reviewed: 03-06-19

Most of the cast does an excellent job. (The only complaint would be that some voices are too similar, so in some scenes of 3 or more, it’s hard to tell who’s speaking; I’d have sworn “Sally” and Fagin’s ghost were the same actor. Or that may just have been author Tony Lee upping Dickens’s original anti-Semitism with this new, even-more-evil Jewish villain. Yes, really.) The story itself is mostly badly written, especially in the latter half, with nonsensical turn after nonsensical turn, and the too-convenient plot twists hanging on people’s capricious whims and psychological states. And the writing, just as writing, is just bad. At one point, one Victorian character congratulates another for being “proactive.” The dialogue feels lifted from old Law & Order episodes: A henchman upon seeing another criminal’s body (despite sending other people to the undertaker on the regular): “I didn’t expect the…’deadness.’” Evil ringleader: “You should get out more.” Forget the ghost of Fagin. It’s the ghost of Jerry Orbach you’ll think you’re hearing, just with a British accent.

  • My Struggle, Book 3

  • By: Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don Bartlett - translator
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 14 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 171

A family of four - mother, father, and two boys - move to the south coast of Norway, to a new house on a newly developed site. It is the early 1970s and the family's trajectory is upwardly mobile: The future seems limitless.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Standing in the Twilight with Time

  • By Darwin8u on 12-09-15

A prequel to Book 1

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

Reviewed: 01-27-19

How Knausgärd can remember details like this from his early life — even after he humbly claims he can remember hardly nothing — either is amazing OR he’s applying maximalist fiction techniques (and fidelity) to actual memories. Either way, I grimaced throughout as Karl Ove does perfectly normal, even rational, things and has reasoned (or natural) reactions to situations — but we already know they will not work in this family, or in this society, or with these other children. No different than any other growing up in that regard, but here we get to do it alongside the author and honestly, inside his head.

I will say this book might be a tough listen for someone who grew up in a household where a parent’s narcissism and cruelty structured everything else about the family. But that’s why it serves so well as a flashback prequel to the first book, because we see the seeds of Karl Ove’s ambivalence toward his father’s death in his youth.

As usual Edoardo Ballerini *is* Karl Ove Knausgaard to me; his delivery and characterizations are perfect. For days later, I hear his sing-song style for such lists as I recount a string of tasks or errands to myself.

  • The Sea, the Sea

  • By: Iris Murdoch, Mary Kinzie - introduction
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance, Kimberly Farr
  • Length: 21 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81

Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Pure pleasure

  • By laurel on 06-07-17

Lesson: Actors in haste repent in leisure

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

Reviewed: 12-09-18

I found myself amazed at how long it took (about 70 pages in print, apparently) for this story to actually begin, but once the characters begin to appear, they all pile into the small, isolated seaside house, and come and go as energetically as in a drawing room comedy with slamming doors and quick entrances upon others' quick exits.

The vast middle of the book details the exhaustive, ill-formed plan of the protagonist, followed by its execution, failure, and examination from every angle by every character involved, whether in conversation or as our man Charles imagines them to be thinking.

Yet: I found myself captured and held by the narrator much as I disliked him and found him wrong-headed…not unlike his "victim" seems to regard him.

My biggest gripe is the various better endings Murdoch wrote us through only to pick up the story again, even including a resumption of the ill-formed plan. Still, it's amazingly well-written (it won the Booker Prize, of course), and this bizarre interpersonal plot and extensive narrator reflections is hard to turn away from, even if only to see how badly the retired actor will act toward his friends.

Skip the turgid introduction (not by Murdoch) with this audiobook, or wait until you've finished the book to listen to it — if only to compare Mary Kinzie's academic aridity with Iris Murdoch's fluency. As a masters thesis it may have worked, but it gives sway every major plot development and character's role and, as Murdoch already overlays her first-person narrator's voice with a great deal of Jungian analysis, it seems a pointless discourse on the symbolism of symbolic symbols — which the novel itself also explores.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Moonwalking with Einstein

  • The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
  • By: Joshua Foer
  • Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain
  • Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,668
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,934
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,926

Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives. On average, people squander forty days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Got the Ball Rolling

  • By Christopher on 03-17-11

Entertaining. Informative. And, ironically, forgettable.

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

Reviewed: 08-16-18

Joshua Foer writes well, and is a welcome player on the stage of first-person journalism (cf. A.J. Jacobs, Bill Bryson, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson). And this book is fun to read, no question. Many of the people drawn to its subject matter — memory tricks and mnemonic competitions — will likely want somewhat more detail in the form of a “How To” than Foer provides. Listening to the audiobook, however, I would have found such dry lists and detailed techniques hard to follow and frankly boring. On the other hand, even I felt that Foer gave short shrift to the techniques for memorizing texts, such as poems. (And, coincidentally, he avoids having to do so on his way to the top ranks of the the U.S. memory championship.)

He leavens a great deal of historical context (most of which is rendered clearly and quickly, without too many discursions) with the personalities he encounters among the memory experts, scientists, and especially his fellow “mental athletes.” He evinces a real fondness for this crowd, odd as they seem to everyone around them. He tackles the science mostly in his interviews with two “savants,” which has the added benefit of a mystery and philosophical conundrum that gets at the heart of the book’s thesis, which is: is your memory evidenced by how much you can remember or by how and whether you remember? (I can imagine that some readers would have also been interested in any implications the science has for dementia and Alzheimer’s, but he pays those nearly no attention, perhaps deciding they were too big and unwieldy as topics for a lighter look at who’s able to remember what how.

More impressive than any higher message he tries to impart — which, frankly, feels a little tacked on at the very end — is his organization of material, using the challenges and progress through his year of practicing memory tests as jumping off points for the research and history he has explored about the subject.

If one has even a passing familiarlity with memory techniques, the abridged lessons Foer shares will seem a waste of time. If one needs more explication, however, that will be missing. The history seems solid; the science (there’s not a lot) is easy to understand. The events and personalities he recounts are at times amusing...but he spends so much time on many of these (particularly the oddities of his friend and coach, Ed), they feel they were included at the expense of more instructional or technical details.

  • The Existentialist's Survival Guide

  • How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age
  • By: Gordon Marino
  • Narrated by: Joe Knezevich
  • Length: 6 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 41
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 36

While offering listeners a useful primer on existentialism as an animating body of thought, Marino distills and delivers the life-altering and, in some cases, life-saving insights Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and other existentialists articulate for becoming more emotionally attuned human beings. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good overview of Kierkegaard for modern minds

  • By RareReviewer on 05-29-18

Good overview of Kierkegaard for modern minds

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

Reviewed: 05-29-18

I’ve been wanting to learn more about the Christian existentialism of Søren Kierkegaard, and thought (based on the publisher’s description) this would be a good place to start. It was better even than I expected. While it is a general introduction to what existentialism has to say about our current, personal challenges — it does tease out some ethical teachings, as well, but Marino freely admits that the existentialists have been slim on the rights and responsibilities of societies and of individuals toward others — it depends heavily and foremost on the writings of Kierkegaard, and then uses Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, and Doesteeyvki to fill in or contrast Kierkegaard’s thought. But the book’s strength lies in approaching the issues of modern life —anxiety, depression and despair, mortality, faith — first (rather than as a straight survey of each philosopher’s teaching) and seeing what the existentialists have to offer as a lens or filter for our sojourn through this life, regardless of a life hereafter.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Man in Love

  • My Struggle, Book 2
  • By: Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don Bartlett - translator
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 21 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 310
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 273
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 269

In the second installment of Karl Ove Knausgaard's monumental six-volume masterpiece, the character Karl Ove Knausgaard moves to Stockholm, where, having left his wife, he leads a solitary existence. He strikes up a deep friendship with another exiled Norwegian, a Nietzschean intellectual and boxing fanatic named Geir. He also tracks down Linda, whom he met at a writers' workshop a few years earlier and who fascinated him deeply.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • i just cant get enough

  • By Jeremy on 05-31-16

Edoardo Ballerini is a master narrator

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

Reviewed: 03-30-18

Having now listened to two of Knausgärd’s My Struggle books, I’m as impressed by the narration as the writing. Ballerini manages consistent inflections intonations for each character — even going so far as to speak with a slightly more gruff and accented voice for Knausgaard’s character when speaking, but more natural and expressive when thinking. (And as it’s in the first-person, that’s a lot of it.) But it never becomes acting, really.
I’ve taken to listening to the next book in this series once a year, in the late winter when the weather seems to match the Nordic landscape. I’m not sure I could handle more than that with Knausgaard’s maximalist style. But as an annual dive into someone’s mind — and an immersion for several hours following that dive — it’s a mundane, yet somehow fascinating, account of one man’s life.

  • Meditations

  • By: Marcus Aurelius, George Long - translator, Duncan Steen - translator
  • Narrated by: Duncan Steen
  • Length: 5 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,510
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,977
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,926

One of the most significant books ever written by a head of State, the Meditations are a collection of philosophical thoughts by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 - 180 ce). Covering issues such as duty, forgiveness, brotherhood, strength in adversity and the best way to approach life and death, the Meditations have inspired thinkers, poets and politicians since their first publication more than 500 years ago. Today, the book stands as one of the great guides and companions - a cornerstone of Western thought.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excelent reading of an excellent classic

  • By David on 10-22-16

Some isolated nuggets of wisdom

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

Reviewed: 02-12-18

…but far too many sections where the mind is apt to wander. Nevertheless, I am seeking out a digital copy of the text, as I suspect it will yield further insights upon further reflection. (And once you have listened thereto, you too may end up writing your thoughts in like manner as these.)

  • Theft by Finding

  • Diaries (1977-2002)
  • By: David Sedaris
  • Narrated by: David Sedaris
  • Length: 13 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,946
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,509
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,471

For nearly four decades, David Sedaris has faithfully kept a diary in which he records his thoughts and observations on the odd and funny events he witnesses. Anyone who has attended a live Sedaris event knows that his diary readings are often among the most joyful parts of the evening. But never before have they been available in print. Now, in Theft by Finding, Sedaris brings us his favorite entries. From deeply poignant to laugh-out-loud funny, these selections reveal with new intimacy a man longtime fans only think they know.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A softer, sweeter Sedaris

  • By Pamela J on 05-31-17

"Man's Inhumanity to Man. Also Woman's. Sometimes David's."

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

Reviewed: 08-31-17

As perhaps our greatest (at least, most popular) living diarist, David Sedaris and his family, escapades and career are already a known quantity, and anyone who has been a fan will enjoy this as well. Part of his appeal has always been his distinctive delivery of his own material — since his earliest appearances on NPR with the original "Santaland Diaries" audio — so the audiobook of "Theft By Finding" should be a popular choice.

What makes this book stand out from his earlier published works is that this was written concurrently with them. So we don't, for example, hear a repeat of the "Santaland Diaries," but we hear the excerpts of those days that didn't make it into that book, as well as the events leading up to them and the days that follow, including his first appearances recounting his elf experience on NPR in 1992 (produced by some guy in Chicago named Ira Glass) and the subsequent period where his apartment-cleaning job still paid (some of) the bills as his writing work began to find a wider audience.

As with many successful people, his life as he recounts it provides more interesting situations and juxtapositions before he is famous — although slowing down, settling down and easing off is a near universal experience for anyone covering 25 years of life. The themes that appear in his other works — astonishment at people's nearly continuous lack of self-awareness or appropriateness; a delight in the absurd and in the absurdities of family, aging, emigrating, language, self-control, racism, sexism, animals, bodies and bodily functions; footwear and blisters particularly, for some reason — provide the fabric of this work as well, stretched over the arc of lives: his own career; his relationship with Hugh; his mother's death; his father's increasing irascibility; his siblings' successes and failings.

Unlike "Barrel Fever," "Naked," "Me Talk Pretty One Day," and his other collections of essays (that we now can see were largely diary entries to begin with), this book will likely not create many new David Sedaris fans, but it is a genuine plessure for those of us who have had his absurd sense of humor, his skewed predilections and prejudices, and especially his voice in our own heads for the past 25 years, as well.

  • Broken Open

  • How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
  • By: Elizabeth Lesser
  • Narrated by: Susan Denaker
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 396
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 267
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 263

In the more than 25 years since she co-founded Omega Institute - now the world's largest center for spiritual retreat and personal growth - Elizabeth Lesser has been an intimate witness to the ways in which people weather change and transition. In a beautifully crafted blend of moving stories, humorous insights, practical guidance, and personal memoir, she offers tools to help us make the choice we all face in times of challenge: Will we be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed?

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing

  • By Allya on 02-01-10

Couldn't finish it

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

Reviewed: 07-23-17

I rarely drop a book I've started, and I've found gems in the rough and suffered through just plain rough, but this one was not for me. By the time I got about 5 hours in, to where the author describes the "Phoenix experience" of the death of her (first) marriage as revealed to her by her affair with a "shaman lover" — well, I got through about 40 mentions of her "shaman lover" without retching, only to decide about an hour later that I didn't need any more of the overblown metaphors and self-indulgent pseudo-insights as she described the well-trod challenges of parenting, so I'm calling it quits. It might be to someone's taste, but likely mostly those who are into the more esoteric retreats on offer at the Omega Institute, cofounded by the author.