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  • 11
  • reviews
  • 34
  • helpful votes
  • 64
  • ratings
  • Reliance, Illinois

  • By: Mary Volmer
  • Narrated by: Sandy Rustin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Reliance, Illinois tells the story of a young woman faced with choices that will alter the course of her own future, and offers a brilliant window into American life during a period of tumultuous change. Illinois, 1874: With a birthmark covering half her face, 13-year-old Madelyn Branch is accustomed to cold and awkward greetings, and expects no less in the struggling town of Reliance. After all, her mother, Rebecca, was careful not to mention a daughter in the Matrimonial Times ad that brought them there.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging journey into another world and time.

  • By Kindle Customer on 08-16-16

Engaging journey into another world and time.

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

Reviewed: 08-16-16

Any additional comments?

I never lacked the right to vote. I never had my body controlled or owned by a husband or father. And, I’ve never experienced being separated from others by a shocking physical difference.

Until, that is, I spent several hours in Reliance, Illinois, in the 1870s, experiencing life as a fatherless, indeed motherless, young girl with a face-to-torso port-wine birthmark. The audible version, brilliantly read by Sandy Rustin, was an amazing journey into another world and time.

An Interesting, and interestingly flawed, cast of characters weave their way through a gossamer web of secrets in a time often glossed over as not as dramatic as some others, while sewing the seeds of changes to come. For the eleven listening hours, Maddy, Miss. Rose, Rebecca, William, Handley … all were family and will stay with me for a long time.

  • Island of a Thousand Mirrors

  • By: Nayomi Munaweera
  • Narrated by: Priya Ayyar
  • Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61

Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, social hierarchies, their parents’ ambitions, teenage love shape Yasodhara and her siblings’ lives, and, subtly, the differences between Tamil and Sinhala people; but the peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara's family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara's life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl's.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Powerful, heartbreaking story. Beautifully written

  • By Kindle Customer on 07-24-16

Powerful, heartbreaking story. Beautifully written

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

Reviewed: 07-24-16

Any additional comments?

This is not an easy book to read. The story vividly describes horrific tragedies of the Sri Lankan civil war where hatred for the other came with birth. It is a dance of light and dark, love and hate, joy and despair, beauty and the beast.

The author never flinches, taking us deep into the darkest wells of human nature without ever losing the connecting power of love and family and home. Richly detailed from both sides of the conflict, there is no hero other than the resilience of the human spirit and the healing power of love, no villain other than the mindset of “us and them” and the willingness to think violence is a solution.

This must have been a gut-wrenching book to write. It is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time as I wonder, “Could it happen here?” I highly recommend the audible version brilliantly read by Priya Ayyar.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Girl on the Train

  • A Novel
  • By: Paula Hawkins
  • Narrated by: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
  • Length: 10 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 130,939
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115,570
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115,440

Audie Award, Audiobook of the Year, 2016. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • I hated this book!

  • By nikki on 04-11-18

Slow Descent into Hell

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

Reviewed: 05-05-16

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Several years ago I decided to severely limit my exposure to dysfunctional people. After three hours into listening to this book I've decided to include book characters in that restriction. I don't think it serves me or my well-being to spend time with people who are on a slow descent into hell and who may never find their way back. This is a well-written book. It might be a great story but I'm never going to find out.

Would you ever listen to anything by Paula Hawkins again?

The reader was good.

  • The Invention of Wings

  • A Novel
  • By: Sue Monk Kidd
  • Narrated by: Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye, Sue Monk Kidd
  • Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,920
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,438
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,442

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world - and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection. Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Historical Fiction - beautifully quilted!

  • By Jan on 01-09-14

Made me question myself

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

Reviewed: 09-05-14

SMK is a fine writer with a delightful mastery of the language. She is also an excellent storyteller. That would have been enough, however, when I learned that this story was based on the lives and work of two real sisters, it took everything to a much deeper level.

I couldn't help ask myself ... would I have been that brave? Would I have seen the evil in a common practice accepted by everyone in my world? Would I have risked jail and the hatred that were unleashed by speaking my beliefs?

It also makes me ask: what is it in my world today that is calling for that type of courage?

Thanks to SMK for introducing me to the Grimke sisters. And, thanks to the Grimke sisters for all they did to change our world.

  • The Goldfinch

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: David Pittu
  • Length: 32 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,117
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22,808
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 22,833

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow

  • By kurdis teed on 05-28-17

Too long ... too boring ... too long

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

Reviewed: 12-30-13

It's always hard to give a really good writer a bad review but this book is just too much ... too long, too depressing, too long, too one dimensional, too long ...

I've listened to about 14 hours of Theo being the good-but-stupid kid. I don't think it's worth another 18 hours of my life, especially when the opening told me Theo is still in the midst of self-destructing. If this is so Dickensian, I might as well go back and read Dickens.

I want to reach out and hug Theo, take him home and comfort him ... but I also want to shake him silly. He made a friend in Hobie and then just lets it go. I want a book to have an arc ... this one just seems to be one long, joyless ride to nowhere.

While some have complained about the narrator, I thought he did a great job and probably kept me listening several hours longer than I would have otherwise.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • The Signature of All Things

  • A Novel
  • By: Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 21 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,654
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,240
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,249

In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker - a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't miss this one

  • By Molly-o on 12-27-13

Remarkable!

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

Reviewed: 11-25-13

A truly remarkable book! Listening to the recorded version was a journey that opened up like an unknown flower. I never knew where it was going or what color it would reveal. Alma Whittaker feels like a member of my family, a treasured friend, a remarkable mentor. I feel like Oliver standing with my hands out, begging, "More, please!"

  • Loving Frank

  • By: Nancy Horan
  • Narrated by: Joyce Bean
  • Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,360
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 864
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 876

I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating

  • By Eva Gannon on 12-29-08

Powerful and Thought Provoking

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

Reviewed: 05-18-12

I am a FLW fan so I didn't expect to be so surprised and engaged by this book. The underlying questions of love, responsibility, family and freedom stimulated a lot of thought and conversation with friends. Mamah was a remarkable woman forced to make a decision that I'm thankful I never had to contemplate in my own life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sacre Bleu

  • A Comedy d'Art
  • By: Christopher Moore
  • Narrated by: Euan Morton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,109
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,876
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,886

In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his life... and then walk a mile to a doctor's house for help? Who was the crooked little "color man" Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue? These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent's friends who vow to discover the truth of van Gogh's untimely death.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Is Nothing is Sacre'?

  • By Mel on 05-07-12

Powerful and Thought Provoking

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

Reviewed: 05-18-12

I am a FLW fan so I didn't expect to be so surprised and engaged by this book. The underlying questions of love, responsibility, family and freedom stimulated a lot of thought and conversation with friends. Mamah was a remarkable woman forced to make a decision that I'm thankful I never had to contemplate in my own life.

  • Saving Ceecee Honeycutt

  • By: Beth Hoffman
  • Narrated by: Jenna Lamia
  • Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,069
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,653
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,672

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Comfort Food For The Soul

  • By Karen on 02-17-10

Mind-numbing beginning ...

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

Reviewed: 05-18-12

With an 8-hour drive in front of me, I was looking forward to listening to this book. After an hour, I turned it off. Maybe it got better ... I'll never know. It was so full of cliches and a story that didn't hold together, that silence was a better option. The narration was fine, it was everything else that was slow torture.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Lay Down My Sword and Shield

  • By: James Lee Burke
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,164
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 938
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 926

Against the backdrop of growing civil rights turmoil in a sultry border town, the hard-drinking ex-POW attorney Hackberry Holland yields to the myriad urgings of his wife, his brother, and his so-called friends to make a bid for a congressional seat - and finds himself embroiled in the seamy world of Texas powerbrokers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • sets the stage for all of JLB's books

  • By Stevon on 08-12-13

Only Burke could have gotten me into this book.

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

Reviewed: 02-06-12

Any additional comments?

This is a hard book to listen to and Burke walks the knife's edge through the horrors of war both abroad and at home. He puts you into places of terror without ever glorifying the violence. His books always make me feel like I've been some place real and met people I would otherwise never meet. Will Patton's reading brings the story alive.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful