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Catherine

  • 22
  • reviews
  • 197
  • helpful votes
  • 35
  • ratings
  • Uncommon Carriers

  • By: John McPhee
  • Narrated by: John McPhee
  • Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 167
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 111
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 109

From Pulitzer Prize-winner John McPhee, author of The Founding Fish, comes the fascinating story of an often overlooked, yet vitally important part of America. This first-hand account of the transportation sector features evocative portraits of the men and women who deliver our consumer and industrial goods.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I love John McPhee -a National Treasure

  • By K Cornwinkle on 07-04-13

authors aren't necessarily good narrators

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

Reviewed: 01-02-16

I love John McPhee's writing. I've read every book he's published, several times each. The chance to listen to them seemed wonderful. But ... oh dear. As brilliant a writer as he is, he's a dreadful narrator. He sounds extremely self-conscious, like an amateur who was bullied into performing, and there's an awful mouth noise, like slipping dentures, at the end of nearly every phrase. It's unlistenable. I'm returning the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • City on Fire

  • A Novel
  • By: Garth Risk Hallberg
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman, Tristan Morris, Bronson Pinchot
  • Length: 37 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 635
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 572
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 578

The individuals who live within this extraordinary first novel are: Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city's largest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown's punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor; and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good story, poor choice of narrator

  • By k8tom on 12-22-15

Good story; wrong narrator.

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

Reviewed: 11-02-15

I wanted to like this book, and I tried, I really tried. I gave it two and a half hours. The characters are well written and the plot seems interesting. But the principle narrator is completely wrong for this book. She reads in the lilting voice used by most amatuer actors for Shakespeare. There's almost no variation in her rhythm: da-da-da-DA, da-da-DA-da-da, da-da-da-DA, da-da-DA-da, rinse and repeat. The lilt and the cooing sound are at odds with the plot and the characters: it's like listening to Winnie the Pooh read Tom Clancy.

I'm going to buy the hardback and enjoy this book the old-fashioned way.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Apple Tree Yard

  • A Novel
  • By: Louise Doughty
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 412
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 374
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 378

Yvonne Carmichael, renowned geneticist, public authority, happily married mother of two, sits in the accused box. The charge is murder. Across the courtroom, not meeting her eye, sits her alleged accomplice. He wears the beautiful pin-striped suit he wore on their first meeting in the Houses of Parliament, when he put his hand on her elbow, guided her to a deserted and ancient chapel, and began to undress her.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • No Scarlet 'A' in Apple Tree

  • By Mel on 02-04-14

exceptional

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

Reviewed: 08-05-15

Like this narrator a lot, and the writing is engrossing. One of my new favorites.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A Passionate Man

  • By: Joanna Trollope
  • Narrated by: Eleanor Bron
  • Length: 8 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Archie Logan, a country doctor, and his wife Liza lead an orthodox-seeming life, and everything is well until Archie's father, a widower for over 30 years, falls in love. His choice, a woman of powerful charm, has a profound effect on all the Logans, adults and children alike. The house and family turn from being a refuge to being a cage. Archie and Liza risk losing everything they have built.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Poorly produced

  • By Catherine on 07-12-15

Poorly produced

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

Reviewed: 07-12-15

I always like Joanna Trollope, and I'd listen to Eleanor Bron read the phone book aloud, so this looked like a sure thing. Alas, the production is so weak enough to take the edge off my enjoyment of this book. The sound is muffled and mushy, and too frequently I can hear extraneous background noises. It sounds as if Bron recorded the book at home, not in a studio. Very distracting, and not to the high standard I expect from Audible.

Also, Bron doesn't do children well. There's one child character, Imogen, a toddler, who is written as a spoiled, mouthy little brat. She should have been comic relief or possibly a foil to other characters, but Bron reads every line of hers in the same high-pitched whine. I wanted to reach into my mp3 player, grab the kid, and slap it silly.

The book is worth your time - a well written and engaging story - but be advised that the production flaws will take the edge off the experience. And that horrible little girl will make you wonder why the parents failed so miserably with her when their other children are three dimensional and believable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Paying Guests

  • By: Sarah Waters
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 21 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,621
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,375
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2,383

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Tedious

  • By Loretta R. Cooper on 10-14-14

I'm deeply ambivalent about this book.

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

Reviewed: 12-11-14

The good news: Juliet Stevenson is my new favorite narrator. She's brilliant. I'd listen to her read the phone book.

Other good news: the writing is superb. Sarah Waters' descriptions of emotional reactions, and the way they can ricochet like silver balls in a mad pinball machine, is subtle and brilliant. She has the gift of metaphor (”they embraced, and they felt their hearts beating like fists hammering on opposite sides of a closed door") and the good sense not to abuse it.

On the other hand. Oh dear. The actual story is pretty grim, and suitably enough, the characters are unsymapthetic and depressing. Frances is a doormat who thinks she's the hinges. Lillian is as dumb as a bag of hair. Leonard is a chauvinist pig from central casting. And the mother plays the entire Greek chorus in Schadenfreude minor. I'm telling you, there isn't a single sympathetic character in the whole long book. But yet the narrator ... the numinous writing ... well. You do see.

I'm giving it four stars for "overall" becasue the narration is a 5 and the story is a 3. so four is the average. But ... welll .. yeah, ok. Four. As I said, I'm ambivalent.

Other reviewers have mentioned the steaminess and the quantity of sex scenes. Yep, there's a lot of it. If that makes you uncomfortable, skip this one. If not, take the Juliet Stevenson and try to rise above the plot.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Amy and Isabelle

  • A Novel
  • By: Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by: Stephanie Roberts
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 268
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 250

With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Honest, tough and absorbing

  • By Catherine on 11-03-14

Honest, tough and absorbing

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

Reviewed: 11-03-14

This was my first Elizabeth Strout, and I'm looking forward to the next. The writing is precise and lyrical. Precise, in that there isn't a wasted word. Lyrical in that although there are few specific descriptions of places and things, you can "see" the rooms and settings clearly through the characters' dialog. The story is simple and urgently familiar to anyone who ever lived a limited life in a small town. My mental pictures as I listened were very Hopper: this is small town life, red in tooth and claw. It's not an easy listen but a worthwhile one.

I'm picky about narrators, and this one is pretty good. Occasionally a bit actor-ish, but generally authentic and without the overlay of her own opinions that spoils so many otherwise good audiobooks.

Another reviewer called it offensive. Well, a couple of scenes are quite explicit, but that was really necessary to evoke an adolescent girl's ignorance in the context of her first sexual encounter. Really poignant, the way she mistakes rutting passion for romance, and without that nuance the rest of the story wouldn't play.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • I Am Livia

  • By: Phyllis T. Smith
  • Narrated by: Joyce Bean
  • Length: 13 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 429
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 370
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 378

At the tender age of 14, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset - and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, "It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs," reminding Livia that - while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate - she must also remain patient and practical.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • If you loved I, CLAUDIUS. You'll love this book!

  • By Fun Lovin Lady on 05-08-14

I wanted to like it

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

Reviewed: 05-03-14

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No, the two hours I spent with this book are lost forever.

What didn’t you like about Joyce Bean’s performance?

The narration is a performance, not a reading. Children's voices are squeaky, men's voices are gravelly, and the narrator's voice is flat. There's a weird pause before "he said" or "I replied" almost every time (probably so the reader can adjust her voice). There's a strange rhythmic pattern to the sentences: two are read on a rising tone, one on a falling tone, and one is flat. Rinse and repeat.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Depending on the casting, yes I would.

Any additional comments?

I wanted to like this, I really did. But after two hours, I knew It was a waste of time.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Invitation to the Married Life

  • By: Angela Huth
  • Narrated by: Matt Wilkinson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

The married couples in this book have two things in common: a skill in the duplicity that flourishes even in happy marriages, and an invitation to the Farthingoes’ ball. In the months preceding the party, we learn something of their double lives: The faces that each one exposes to their spouses and to the world give little hint of their complex and secret tribulations. By the time they arrive at the ball, each clutching his or her different hopes and fears, and we have become familiar with their unsmooth paths.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator should be ashamed of himself

  • By Catherine on 01-05-14

Narrator should be ashamed of himself

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

Reviewed: 01-05-14

What would have made Invitation to the Married Life better?

A different reader

Would you be willing to try another book from Angela Huth? Why or why not?

Yes - the story is pleasant. Not earth-shakingly great literature, but a good story.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator does a perfectly acceptable job until he voices a female character. For all female voices, he uses a horrible music hall falsetto. It sounds like something out of Monty Python, and it's completely out of place. It's so bad, in fact, that I cannot finish the book. It ruins the listening experience altogether.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

As I said, a pretty good story. What a shame the narrator is more enamored of his drag queen voice than of the author's words.

Any additional comments?

Can I get a refund?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Marjorie Morningstar

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 28 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 316
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 270
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 266

Marjorie Morningstar is a love story. It presents one of the greatest characters in modern fiction: Marjorie, the pretty 17-year-old who left the respectability of New York's Central Park West to join the theater, live in the teeming streets of Greenwich Village, and seek love in the arms of a brilliant, enigmatic writer.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Missing final chapter

  • By bookbug on 07-05-13

Awful narration

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

Reviewed: 07-20-13

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator was really bad.

What did you like best about this story?

Complex and engaging plot.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Over-acting, over-pronouncing, and sing-song. Narrator is extremely self-conscious.

Was Marjorie Morningstar worth the listening time?

No.

Any additional comments?

Save your money.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Rise and Shine

  • By: Anna Quindlen
  • Narrated by: Carol Monda
  • Length: 10 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 361
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 105

It's Monday morning when Meghan Fitzmaurice blows her perfect life to bits. The host of Rise and Shine, the country's highest-rated morning talk show, Meghan cuts to a commercial break, but not before she mutters two forbidden words into her open mike. It's the end of an era, not only for Meghan, a household face who is not equipped to deal with disgrace, but for her younger sister Bridget, a social worker in the Bronx who has always lived in Meghan's long shadow.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Don't waste your time or credit

  • By Marie on 10-31-06

Disappointing narration

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

Reviewed: 05-04-12

I've read this book on paper and enjoyed it, and I usually like this narrator. But the narration here is very disappointing. The reader ends 2/3's of the sentences with the kind of lilt you associate with books for children. She reads "We had a conversation about genital mutilation" in exactly the voice one would expect for "Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy talked about Christmas." Moreover, she characterizes the voices inconsistently. The protagonist's boyfriend is sometimes from Brooklyn, sometimes from the deep South, and sometimes just gravelly. It's not so bad that I won't finish the book, but it's disappointing as heck.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful