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KP

Oakland, CA
  • 148
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  • 293
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  • The Only Story

  • A Novel
  • By: Julian Barnes
  • Narrated by: Guy Mott
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 117
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 108
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 112

One summer in the 60s, in a staid suburb south of London, Paul comes home from university, aged 19, and is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. In the mixed-doubles tournament he's partnered with Susan Macleod, a fine player who's 48, confident, ironic, and married, with two nearly adult daughters. She is also a warm companion, their bond immediate. And they soon, inevitably, are lovers. Clinging to each other as though their lives depend on it, they then set up house in London to escape his parents and the abusive Mr. Mcleod.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing

  • By the baz on 05-08-18

The Only Story

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

Reviewed: 09-21-18

I really loved Julian Barnes’ previous book, The Sense of an Ending. This book, The Only Story, seems a lot sadder and more depressing, which is saying a lot since The Sense of an Ending wasn’t the happiest book around, anyway! This one also has to do with a love affair between a younger man and a much older woman, but it is more simply a look back by the younger man, who is now 50+, in order to examine what went wrong with the affair and to try to make sense of his life.

I enjoyed that the couple met on the tennis courts playing doubles, since that’s my game. Some tennis symbolism in the book is interesting, too. While they are playing tennis, Susan who is then 45 warns Casey Paul, all of 19 years old, to watch out for the middle of the court where players can most easily win a point by dividing their opponents with a good shot down the middle. It’s a common strategy in doubles tennis. THEN when Susan and Casey go to bed together soon after, Susan whispers, “Never forget, the most vulnerable spot is down the middle.” This rings true at the start of their relationship and proves to be a potent symbol of a weakness in it later on: the space between them, the differences between them. And I laughed when, on their very first sexual encounter, as they look down at the bed in front of them, Susan says, “ Which side do you prefer? Forehand or backhand?” I’ll remember that one ☺

I do think Barnes is a good writer! One technique in this book that I loved is how he starts out the book from the first person perspective of the young man, Casey Paul. Barnes writes, “And first love always happens in the overwhelming first person. How can it not? Also, in the overwhelming present tense. It takes us time to realize that there are other persons, and other tenses.” In the second section, Barnes writes in the second person. It’s almost like the story is becoming so tragic and complicated that the writer is retreating to the second person as a way to show distance that is developing between the two lovers. And then by the third section, there is a further retreat to the third person. The author writes, “But nowadays, the raucousness of the first person within him was stilled. It was as if he viewed, and lived, his life in the third person. Which allowed him to assess it more accurately, he believed." I appreciate how the writer’s voice echoes the deterioration of the relationship. Interesting.

The relationship between Susan and Casey should have been a fling. The fact that they kept it going on and on seems to have ruined both of them! That is the tragedy. In the beginning, Casey likes the idea of the relationship because it was so against what his parents and society would condone. He condemns people like his parents as “furrow dwellers” living out a boring existence for decades from which there is “no escape, no turning back.” By continuing his relationship with Susan for decades, he ironically succumbs to the same fate in a sense, although his fate is really more tragic in its outcome. Still Casey says about himself and Susan toward the end, “… still they hadn’t been defeated by practicality.” Hmm. Better to be practical than to end up with the fate of those two, in my opinion.

  • The Hate U Give

  • By: Angie Thomas
  • Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 24,032
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 22,348
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 22,265

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This Book Changed My Entire Perspective

  • By Wendi on 01-14-18

T.H.U.G.

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

Reviewed: 07-23-18

I generally don’t like the young adult genre, so I probably shouldn’t have listened to The Hate You Give (T.H.U.G.) Maybe for a YA book it is good, but to me it just seemed stereotyped, predictable in its positive outcome, and heavy handed on the morality lessons it presents. I find this to be the case with most YA fiction. I had to finish it for my book club. Otherwise, I might have just put it on my “did-not-finish” shelf.

The good things about the book are the racial issues that it brings up. That makes it important. It is somewhat controversial as well. Is it appropriate for young people to read, given the language and the violence, etc? There is debate online about that. I do know that where I used to teach junior high, that book would never have made it past the committees and censors, etc. It might make it onto a high school list, but I feel like it’s caught in between the two age groups: the language and content make it high school age appropriate, but the stereotyped and predictable nature of the book seem more suited to junior high.

Hey, I see it’s going to be a movie. I’m afraid it will be another one of those “Hallmark Special” type films that are very overly dramatized and overly schmaltzy because, well, that’s the nature of the book. We’ll see.








1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Before We Were Yours

  • A Novel
  • By: Lisa Wingate
  • Narrated by: Emily Rankin, Catherine Taber
  • Length: 14 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38,906
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35,462
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35,329

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge - until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I was rivetted, finished in three days.

  • By Lin Cloward on 06-26-17

Scandalous

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

Reviewed: 04-15-18

Based on the Tennessee Children’s Home scandal in the 1930’s – 1950’s, this story really caught my interest. It took a while to get into it, but then I was hooked. My only criticism of the book is that it is a little schmaltzy and overdone. I’ve read a couple other books recently that dealt with large scale scandals from our country’s past: Killers of the Flower Moon and Radium Girls. Those books were actually creative non-fiction, and this one is purely a novel. I enjoyed this one the most, despite my reservations above.

I liked the double perspective of the past, represented by Rill Foss, and the present, by Avery Stafford, in the book. It unraveled like a mystery, going back and forth between the two. Since the story is based on interviews and research, it would be hard to say that any of it was unrealistic – even if it seems unbelievable that people could be so cold hearted and cruel. I had to look up the history of this scandal to convince myself this could have happened! Even so, some parts just did seem overdone. Mainly I think it’s the parts about the various romances portrayed in the book and some of the flowery language that just struck me wrong. There was a lot of figurative language that I did like though, and I kept trying to figure out what, exactly, bothered me. I’m not sure I ever came up with an exact reason… so I’ll stick with “overdone and schmaltzy.” Still, it’s a great story and a good exposé of another disgraceful episode in the history of the U.S.


  • Nonviolent Communication

  • Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values
  • By: Marshall Rosenberg PhD
  • Narrated by: Marshall Rosenberg PhD
  • Length: 5 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,310
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,985
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,959

On Nonviolent Communication, this renowned peacemaker presents his complete system for speaking our deepest truths, addressing our unrecognized needs and emotions, and honoring those same concerns in others. With this adaptation of the best-selling book of the same title, Marshall Rosenberg teaches in his own words.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This is an amazing life changing book!!!

  • By Olesya on 08-03-16

Good Advice, Theoretically

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

Reviewed: 03-16-18

I did really like this book – with a couple reservations. You’ve probably heard of using “I” statements instead of blaming someone with a “You” statement (“You really make me mad etc.”)? Well, I always wondered how to get around the problem of an I statement ( I feel hurt when you…) without saying, “ I feel hurt when you act like an a***hole.”

THIS book tells you how to use those I statements more effectively through Marshall Rosenberg’s method of “nonviolent communication.” That is all great! The problem is that in real life it is really hard to figure out your own exact correct feelings vs needs vs wants, etc., etc., and then hard to put the method into practice and to figure out EXACTLY how to state it in the correct way.

I just finished the book yesterday. Later that evening I had a huge fight/argument with my ex. He is a tough case, but STILL… I had no idea how to turn around some of the things we were flinging out. SO… is it a good book? Theoretically yes! Practically… not so much.



  • Ender's Game

  • Special 20th Anniversary Edition
  • By: Orson Scott Card
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, Gabrielle de Cuir
  • Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35,588
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,133
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,361

Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s easy to say that when it comes to sci-fi you either love it or you hate it. But with Ender’s Game, it seems to be you either love it or you love it.... The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Enderverse

  • By Joe on 06-13-05

Not My Thing

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

Reviewed: 11-15-17

I read it on a challenge. Sci Fi has never been my thing, and I don’t really get why this book is supposed to be SO great. One website mentioned that it had been called “the greatest sci fi novel ever.” Ok, well, it might be good sci fi, but I don’t think it’s really a good novel. The constant battle scenes made the plot fairly boring, and many of the characters were underdeveloped or one sided. Ender’s brother, Peter, and sister, Valentine were examples of flat characters who didn’t seem to really go anywhere. I kept waiting for some confrontation between Ender and his demonic brother, BUT… nothing ever materialized and his brother’s story just petered out (pun intended). It seemed totally unbelievable to me that the brother and sister could so totally influence the world as 10 and 12 year old Demosthenes and Locke.

I listened to a fairly long interview with the author at the end of the book. It was telling that Ender’s Game started as a story in a sci fi magazine that began when Ender after has already left his family and gone to space. When Card decided to turn it from a story to a book, he first added in the back-story about Ender’s mom, dad, sis, and brother. I feel like he never really fully figured out what to do with these characters. They seem tacked on, and, in a way, they are. And the ending of the book, after Ender’s biggest battle, seems so lame and unbelievable to me. Again, the character of his brother is virtually dropped. The life of Ender and Valentine in the colonies is very undeveloped and uninteresting. And the whole idea that Ender now feels protective of the Bugger “queen” and would actually give those creatures a new start is laughable. The idea that this is because of his wonderful compassionate nature just falls flat.

I liked Orson Scott Card’s joke about the differentiation between the fantasy genre and the sci fi genre. He said anything with smooth surfaces and rivets is sci fi and if it has forests and trees then it’s fantasy. Ha ha… good one.



  • Endurance

  • Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
  • By: Alfred Lansing
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,323
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,814
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,802

In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb in so many ways

  • By David on 01-19-14

Truly an Incredible Journey!

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

Reviewed: 11-13-17

I loved this book. The story of Ernest Shackleton’s incredibly difficult and unsuccessful attempt to cross Antarctica ends with the triumph of a will so strong that it is a searing reminder of all that we are capable of achieving under difficult circumstances.

Shackleton had to abandon his grand plan to explore Antarctica when the Endurance became stuck in the Antarctic ice where it remained for nine months. Instead the challenge now became getting the crew out alive! There were lots of details about their many travails which were interesting because of the way Shackleton and his crew mostly demonstrate such a hearty and positive attitude amidst all the horrible things that happen to them. The crew built “dogloos” for their treasured sled dogs; the camp photographer took photographs of which some survive today. On the whole, they had an adventuring and positive attitude, given their circumstances. As if that weren’t enough, the Endurance eventually sank, and then Shackleton and part of the crew had to leave that area to make what seemed like an impossible trek to get help. Another perilous journey ensued which saved him and his partial crew. The final coup de gras was when Shackleton returned to his stranded crew back near where the Endurance sank and rescued them! It had been a total of almost 2 years since they set sail. His “endurance” was incredible! The book is SO aptly named, not only for the ship but for this amazing man with the spirit of a hero and a will of iron.

Immediately after listening to this book, I began to adapt, in a very small way, his attitude into my life. On the tennis court, when I have a tough match or am getting tired, I now repeat my mantra, “I am Ernest Schakleton,” or now more fondly, “I am Ernest!” My friends know what I mean ☺ Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry




1 of 1 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 22,637
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,487
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,436

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

A Good Read - A Bit Stereotyped

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

Reviewed: 11-06-17

I loved reading this book. The story was compelling, the writing was good, and it just had me hooked. In a certain sense it reminded me of “Big Little Lies” because it’s about a domestic scene and the lives of several characters in that scene… with secrets and problems. Also, the reading was just as fun and easy.

One thing I did not like is how the characters were too stereotyped. Mia was the WONDERFUL, free wheeling artist. Elena Richardson was the STIFLED artist and UPTIGHT suburban housewife. Shaker Heights was a stifling community… 100%. Hey, I lived next door to Shaker Heights in Cleveland, where the book was set, all through my youth. I knew lots of people from Shaker Heights. They are not all like that! In fact Mia, in this book, seemed pretty messed up to me! And IN GENERAL artists can be just as messed up as suburbanites. I don’t like it when authors employ stereotypes like that.

It was fun to read about places in Cleveland that I haven’t visited in years and to read about my college, Denison, where Elena went to school, too!

There's a good review in Salon, BTW.

Overall this was a really fun book to read.

SPOILER ALERT HERE !

The main thing I didn’t like about the ending is that Mrs. Richardson never found out the huge mistake she made in thinking that it was Pearl who had had the abortion. That mistake is, actually, what caused Izzy to go off the deep end and burn the house and what drove Mrs. Richardson to kick out Mia and Pearl. SO, of all the loose ends to tie up, you’d think the author would want to say something about that! I was waiting for it and am disappointed!

I did like the way that at the end she just alluded to Izzy meeting up with Mia in a day-dreamy way so it didn’t seem too clichéd. And the other loose ends, too, were not too neatly tied up, which made the book seem more realistic than a totally happy-ever-after ending.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

  • By: Al Franken
  • Narrated by: Al Franken
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 14,858
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13,726
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 13,584

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was reading this when the allegations against Franken came out

  • By Fruitsalad200 on 12-10-17

Franken for Presidnt?

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

Reviewed: 10-19-17

Reading Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is like breathing fresh air after inhaling all the toxic political fumes blowing around in our country. I really didn’t know much, if anything, about him, but I came away liking and respecting him a lot. This is his memoir of growing up and his years so far in the U.S. Senate. It is fun to read about his time working for Saturday Night Live, and it is interesting to think of someone from that wild environment taking on the serious career of being a U.S. Senator. He is extremely smart and well educated ( a Harvard graduate) , so he was and is very well qualified from that standpoint. He became very politicized during the later years with SNL and afterward, and so that became his political education and his political qualification for the job when he got elected.

The part that feels so good about the book is how Al Franken takes his job seriously, wants to help people, enjoys connecting with his constituents and other Senators, and seems honest and above board in his dealings with people. It gives me a hopeful feeling for our country, even if that feeling gets blown away every time I turn on the TV news…. Still, this man makes me hopeful.

It was fun to read about a few of the politicians that I hear about in the news all the time and get the back story on what they are like from his viewpoint. Ted Cruz takes a drubbing, in part for his patronizing attitude toward Al Franken. Al had a great rebuttal for Cruz later on with this one: “When most people think of a cruise that’s full of s—, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.” Mitch McConnell comes out looking like a decent guy. Mitch and Al don’t agree on a lot, BUT Mitch ended up seeming like an ok guy overall.

In general, the book is a serious one, but with a sense of humor like Al’s, the book does not suffer from a lack of entertaining, humorous comments and anecdotes. He tells how he has had to clamp down on his humorous side in order to succeed at becoming a Washington Senator. I’m glad that he clamped down but did not extinguish it for this book!

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Love Warrior (Oprah's Book Club: A Memoir)

  • By: Glennon Doyle
  • Narrated by: Glennon Doyle
  • Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,960
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,217
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,192

The Newest Oprah Book Club 2016 Selection. The highly anticipated new memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage. Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out—three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list—her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incredible

  • By Leah B on 09-08-16

Glennon Doyle Melton Nails It!

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

Reviewed: 10-09-17

Love Warrior

I loved this book! It is a memoir about Glennon Doyle Melton overcoming bulimia, alcoholism, and sexual dysfunction, but it’s also a book about personal growth. If you don’t like new age spirituality or books about self help (although it’s NOT a self help book) then you might not like it. I certainly never had the severe type of problems that she had, but still I got so much out of this book as I followed along with her recovery! It has so much to do with women’s issues about not trusting their own minds to guide them to the right decisions for them. I love her ideas about unifying the body, mind, and spirit. I felt like she really nailed it.

I would like to make some of the changes dealing with men that she made, but some of the dramatic success she has feels like it is so dramatic that it couldn’t possibly apply to me (either that or it’s exaggerated – snark). Partly it seems that she had so far to come that the recovery becomes a more dramatic journey for her. I haven’t really had all those problems, but the changes I’d like to make seem… well, not likely to happen. When I think about it now, I feel like I could not be as brave as she is. However, listening to the book did make me feel that I could at that moment. I will say that! Maybe that is a start.

  • 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 5,583
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,183
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,169

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

It's Got Heart

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

Reviewed: 09-09-17

I was disappointed after listening to this book. It had such great reviews. While the story was interesting, there really wasn’t enough conflict to make it very compelling. Yes, at about ¾ of the way through, the action picks up enough to make one really take notice. BUT then the resolution happens too quickly with one of those summaries of what happens for the rest of the characters’ lives. It is very sweet the way the Captain becomes so attached to the little girl… and vice versa. BUT that alone does not make a plot.

I felt like the author wanted to pass on information she had researched about American frontier children who had been captured by Indians and then returned. The reader DOES come away with a sense of what the children went through and the psychology of dealing with them - but not with the sense of an exciting plot.

Many reviewers focus on the “heart” and “warmth” of the book. I totally agree with those aspects, but – again – that doesn’t make a good novel. Heart and warmth also need conflict and plot… 2 of the main elements of a novel. It’s in those 2 areas where the book falls short.