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  • The Couple Next Door

  • A Novel
  • By: Shari Lapena
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12,261
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 11,093
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11,052

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all - a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Plot twist overload

  • By RueRue on 10-12-16

Wasted Potential

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

Reviewed: 10-30-16

This book started off well. I thought it would compare the beginning to the book Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois. Cartwheel was a fictionalized version of the Amanda Knox story/trial and kept me guessing whether or not the main character had committed the crime.

At the beginning of this book, I thought the author was going for a fictionalized version of the Jon Benet Ramsey murder. Here are two parents, both with a lot of secrets to hide, and suddenly their daughter goes missing and may be dead.

Unfortunately, instead of keeping readers guessing or at least SHOWING us what happened, about an hour or so in the author bluntly TELLS about a major part of the crime. There is no guessing or mystery to solve from that point on. The end is a disappointment as the author again TELLS instead of SHOWS a second and third "twist" that 1. I had guessed hours before and 2. Were rushed through with little explanation or description.

It's a kidnap for ransom story the type of which you can see on NCIS or CSI or Criminal Minds just about any day of the week. I did listen to the whole thing, and as a thriller it's not horrible. But it's not original either, and I was disappointed for what could have been a great tale.

  • Finding Audrey

  • By: Sophie Kinsella
  • Narrated by: Gemma Whelan
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 883
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 803
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 805

An anxiety disorder disrupts 14-year-old Audrey's daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother's gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she's never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I chuckled for six hours straight

  • By GH on 07-27-16

Don't Believe the Hype

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

Reviewed: 10-04-15

I do not know why this was rated so high. I can only guess that some of the lower reviews were suppressed and not posted. I love Sophie Kinsella books, but this book is neither funny nor well-written. The first half doesn't even deal with the title character. So, if you want to listen to a shrewish mother screaming at her sullen teenage son about how he plays too many video games, then this is the book for you. AND if you want to believe that mental illness can be cured by finding a cute boyfriend, then again, this is the book for you.

As someone who has actually dealt with anxiety and depression, I found this book ridiculous and repugnant. If the audience is the young adult crowd, then Kinsella is sending younger girls the message that boys can fix anything! Just find a boyfriend and you'll be cured. You'll like yourself again and you'll be happy, and your anxiety attacks will magically disappear!

However, the book isn't written for young adults. Audrey's mother is more of the main character than Audrey herself, and the unfunny plot is more about Audrey's parents dealing with her brother than with Audrey. Because the bullying incident that precipitated Audrey's anxiety and agoraphobia is never described or explained, you get the idea that her problems are caused by her parents... because they should be blamed for everything, apparently.

Further complicating the listen is that the majority of the book is read by one actress. However, there are occasional breaks featuring Audrey's "film" where other people read. The difficulty is that the film transcript portions don't differ in tone at all from the rest of the first-person narration. In these portions, there are different voices reading, except that the woman doing the primary narration reads the "screen directions," but does not seem to read for Audrey and the brother's voice is deeper than the father's, which is bizarre, since he's supposed to be a younger teen. The film transcript portions are exceedingly annoying. I don't like full cast recordings, typically, and I wish this had been listed because the device does not work.

12 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • The Single Girl’s To-Do List

  • By: Lindsey Kelk
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Harwood
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 168
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 151
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 151

A hilarious and romantic standalone novel from the bestselling author of the I Heart series, Rachel Summers loves a to-do list: Boyfriend – Flat - Great job. NOT on the list: Being dumped - Best friends Emelie and Matthew ride to her rescue with an entirely new kind of list – The Single Girl’s To-Do List.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fun read

  • By Mistress of Romance on 03-07-18

Fun Story, Boring Narration

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

Reviewed: 08-08-15

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend the book to friends who like chick lit, but the actual written book-- not the audio book. The narrator read the book without any type of energy or flair. I think it could have been a great book if she had not half-slept through the performance.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Single Girl’s To-Do List?

Some of the actual items on the list were fun. It was quite predictable, but the sort of fluff I was looking for.

Would you be willing to try another one of Cassandra Harwood’s performances?

NO. She has a great voice, honestly, but she had no energy. Everything was very flat.

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

Probably. I think with a few edits and a focus on the actual to-do list instead of the predictable romance, it could make for a funny movie. I think the movie, if edited correctly would be funnier than the book

Any additional comments?

If you're looking for fluff chick lit, pick up the book and skip the audio version.

  • Enna Burning

  • Books of Bayern, Book 2
  • By: Shannon Hale
  • Narrated by: Cynthia Bishop
  • Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167

It’s been two years since Enna was swept up in a heart-pounding court adventure. Now, having returned to her old life in the forests of Bayern, she is growing restless. When a strange force takes possession of her brother, Liefer, she returns to the capital to seek the help of her friend Isi, Bayern’s princess. But Bayern is tottering on the verge of war with neighboring Tira. When endowed with the terrifying gift that destroyed Liefer, Enna takes herself to war - only to embark on an epic journey of discovery and betrayal that will force her to come of age.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not the Same Enna

  • By MC on 06-06-13

Not the Same Enna

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

Reviewed: 06-06-13

Would you consider the audio edition of Enna Burning to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version, but I'm not a huge fan of a "full cast recording," especially when one of the main readers, the boy who plays Finn has a speech impediment. His s is overpronounced and sometimes pronounced with an sh sound so that "yes" comes out "yesh" or "yeth." It was incredibly distracting.

What did you like best about this story?

I don't really know how to answer this. The Goose Girl is based on a fairy-tale and I think that format helps Hale quite a bit. When departing from the fairy-tale, she sometimes becomes lost. This book had a lot of battles and therefore a lot of repetition. Once Enna is captured by the enemy, the story becomes much more personal and interesting. However, I still did not enjoy it as much as the Goose Girl or the Princess Academy series. I don't know whether I'll get the third and fourth books in the Bayern series. I might read them from the library instead since this book was a slight disappointment and only multi-cast recordings are available.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I would rather have listened to a narrator instead of a full-cast recording. A good narrator can create characters. 10-15 people aren't necessary and they're more distracting than anything. I do think this detracted from the story.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

*Contains Spoilers*
The descriptions of the fire calling to Enna to burn. I liked the fact that she saw what happened to her brother and thought she could do the same, but come off unscathed. The author's descriptions were very similar to explaining an addiction.

I also thought the parts with her lover were particularly moving. If anyone has been in a relationship with a manipulative person, or if you've ever read about Stockholm Syndrome, you can relate to what she went through.

Any additional comments?

*Contains Spoilers*
If you read or listened to Goose Girl, you remember Enna as a strong and loyal friend. For most of this book, she's a traitorous wench who hops into bed with the first smooth talking man she comes across. It's disgusting to see these changes, particularly because she completely gets away with it in the end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Girl with Glass Feet

  • By: Ali Shaw
  • Narrated by: Heather O'Neill
  • Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 45

Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Haudas Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts, a mainlander who has visited the islands only once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A little too transparent

  • By Jenny on 05-21-13

Beautiful, but Slow and Hollow

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

Reviewed: 05-13-13

Overall, I did not like this book. The book is beautifully written. However, it is horribly sad. The depressing plot wouldn't have put me off completely, but in the book, not much is explained, and it moves at a snail's pace.

There are two main characters: Ida and Midas. This is their love story. Then, there is a character who used to be in love with Midas' mother and a character who used to be in love with Ida's mother. This characterization seemed redundant.

Nothing is fully explained. Ida is turning to glass. There are tiny bulls with moth wings. There is a creature that turns every being it sees pure white. None of these phenomena are explained. I don't expect things to be fully explained in a fairy tale, but some explanation is necessary, particularly when all the characters are scrambling to stop Ida from turning to glass completely.

Beyond the explanation, there needed to be more plot. The book felt like a short story that the author kept trying to expand. There are just not enough exciting incidents. Instead, what we get is talking and apologizing and explaining and sitting around talking some more. This book had so much potential, and the story basis could have gone in a lot of different directions. Instead, it just went nowhere, leaving me depressed and disappointed.

  • The Kitchen House

  • A Novel
  • By: Kathleen Grissom
  • Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy, Bahni Turpin
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,597
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,155
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,149

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This is a must!

  • By AB on 09-04-10

Depressing

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

Reviewed: 03-17-13

Abuse, drug addiction, insanity, alcoholism, disease, death, rape, incest, pedophilia, and the horrors of slavery. If these topics are up your alley, you will love the Kitchen House. I did not. It is a depressing horrible story. I kept waiting for it to get better, and it got worse at every turn. Between the multiple themes, problems, and tragedies and the one-note flat characters, I will hopefully be able to return this book, which for no apparent reason was one of the "editor's picks" a few weeks back. Save your credits for something a little more uplifting and a little bit more well-written.

  • Smitten

  • By: Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and others
  • Narrated by: Pam Turlow
  • Length: 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 76
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 76

Welcome to Smitten, Vermont. With the help of four friends, it's about to become the most romantic town in America. The proposed closing of the lumber mill comes as unwelcome news for the citizens of Smitten. How will the town survive without its main employer? A close-knit group of women think they’ve got just the plan to save Smitten.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great smalltown story.

  • By Linda on 04-05-12

Reads Like a Hallmark Movie

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

Reviewed: 03-16-13

The book has a lot to do with faith and love. I really like Kristin Billerbeck's other books. Also, I got it for a lighter read, and it did not disappoint in that area. However, the reader is too sickly sweet, and that hampered the book for me. (For example, there is a 12 year old who sounds like she's 4 or 5). I enjoyed the stories, but there was a bit too much repetition.

Essentially, you're getting 4 stories where a woman doesn't think she can be with a man because they're "just friends" and then all of the sudden, she has feelings for him. The thing is, these women are 30 not 13. By that age, you get over that idea and just talk to a man honestly. So, in that sense, the book did not ring true, and it was like hearing the same story 4 times.

I would have instead liked to hear just one story-- the third one in the book. It had a lot of potential-- a divorced father and a damaged woman, both now Christians after their mistakes and both looking for love and grace. But, with the constraints of this episodic novel, there just isn't enough time to fully explore their stories, so everything with them feels very rushed. Whereas the second and fourth stories don't have enough going on and feel very drawn out.

Overall, good for a lighter Christian read, but not as well written or narrated as it could have been. I may check out the second book in the series, but not until summer when another lighter read is in order.

  • Tender at the Bone

  • By: Ruth Reichl
  • Narrated by: Ruth Reichl
  • Length: 6 hrs and 3 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 272
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 150
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 148

Tender at the Bone is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by unforgettable people, the love of tales well-told, and a passion for food. In other words, the stuff of the best literature. The journey begins with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known forevermore as the Queen of Mold, and moves on to the fabled Mrs. Peavey, one-time Baltimore socialite millionairess, and, for a brief but poignant moment, retained as Reichl's maid.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Michelle on 09-22-03

This is Why Authors Shouldn't Read Their Own Books

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

Reviewed: 12-30-12

Would you try another book from Ruth Reichl and/or Ruth Reichl?

I really like Ruth Reichl's books. I've read this one before, as well as Comfort Me With Apples and Diamonds and Sapphires. However, I do not recommend this recording. Reichl reads her own work and her tone is dull, even though the material isn't. So, you end up thinking that this is a boring book, when quite the opposite is true.

Additionally, it's abridged, so there are characters who seemingly pop up out of nowhere and others who disappear. One can only assume that they leave or arrive in the expurgated sections.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Tender at the Bone?

There are great scenes here-- some involving her mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder, others overseas in France and Italy, and still others in the hippy age at Berkeley. All are funny and touching, while satisfying the needs of bibliophilic foodies.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ruth Reichl?

Anyone! The sound recording itself is bad, which could be part of the problem. This sounds like it was taken from a tape in the 1980s. Bernadette Dunn does a terrific job on the UNabridged version of Garlic and Sapphires (Reichl, unfortunately reads the abridged-- check both samples and see which you like better, though Reichl is more animated there than she is here). This book needed a professional actress to carry the story along.

Could you see Tender at the Bone being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I could see it being made into a movie, but they would need to include Comfort Me With Apples for a more clear picture of the scope of this woman's very interesting life.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Labours of Hercules

  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 150
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111

A dinner party guest compares Hercule Poirot to the Greek hero Hercules. Proving his skill, Poirot takes on 12 monumental cases corresponding to the 12 labors of Hercules. Includes The Nemean Lion, The Lernean Hydra, The Arcadian Deer, The Erymanthian Boar, The Augean Stables, The Stymphalean Birds, The Cretan Bull, The Horses of Diomedes, The Girdle of Hyppolita, The Flock of Geryon, The Apples of the Hesperides, and The Capture of Cerberus.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Must not miss

  • By C. Speer on 08-16-11

Fraser's Narration

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

Reviewed: 01-30-12

I really liked this group of 12 short stories from Agatha Christie, but there is something a bit lacking in Fraser's narration.

I used to have a few of these abridged on CD and they were read by David Suchet, who also reads "Poirot Investigates," which can be found on this site. Fraser brings a level of gravitas to the stories that some may enjoy, but I missed Suchet's lighter, almost campy take on the detective.

As a result of Fraser's reading, the mystery is at the center of the story-- not the funny little mustachioed detective. Overall, it is still an enjoyable book, and the short stories are, in my opinion, better than many of Christie's longer works, where she has trouble sustaining the story.

  • The Cider House Rules

  • By: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 24 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,752
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,343
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,341

From one of America's most beloved and respected writers comes the classic story of Homer Wells, an orphan, and Wilbur Larch, a doctor without children of his own, who develop an extraordinary bond with one another.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Patti on 07-02-07

Dreadful

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

Reviewed: 12-01-11

I liked the movie The Cider House Rules, and thought I'd check out the book, since the book is almost always better than the movie. This is one case where sadly that is not true. After listening to 8 hours of this horribly depressing story, including at least 30 minutes devoted to a picture of a woman having intercourse with a horse, I gave up.

Irving's purpose seems to be to take every good nostalgic thought you have about the past and cut it open to show you not only its dark side, but it's innards as well. In some of his works, this is revealing and interesting. Here, it serves only to shock and disgust. I wish I hadn't wasted my credits on this dreadful disgusting book.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful