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Publisher's Summary

Velva Jean Hart, the fiercely independent heroine of Jennifer Niven's spectacular debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, returns in a captivating adventure that literally sends her soaring. Bristling at the limitations faced by a woman in rural Appalachia and fueled by the memory of her late Mama telling her to "live out there," Velva Jean hits the road to pursue her dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. But after a string of auditions, she begins to lose hope - until her brother pays her a surprise visit and treats Velva Jean to a flying lesson that ignites a brand-new dream: to become a female pilot. Funny, poignant, and utterly unforgettable, Velva Jean Learns to Fly will have fans cheering all over again.

©2011 Jennifer Niven (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Besides creating a gutsy heroine, who, despite the repressive times, never becomes bitter, Niven's writing shines overall. Cheers to Niven, Velva Jean." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    51
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    15
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    4
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Performance

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    46
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    30
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    16
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    7
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    4

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Why change the reader?

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I liked the way Jenna Lemia read the first book in the series, and I felt like I was now a part of Velva Jean's family, rooting for her so much that I wanted to hear her next adventure, but this the new reader (Emily Durante) was so different, I was very disappointed. I felt as if my baby was switched at the hospital. The book is so well written, but the new reader obviously hadn't read the first book and didn't know the story line, so her interpretation was flat. Bummer.Regarding the story, I loved it, but I felt at one point, there was a forced event - when Gossy ended up on the same plane Velva Jean was piloting into history. The story didn't need it and I didn't buy it for a second that Gossy would put up with the military and vice versa. Also, the way it ended makes me feel that there's so many loose ends, there's gotta be another book soon.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Velva Jean Learns to Fly?

I love the way Jennifer Niven weaves a tale. I also like the way she's paints the landscape of discrimination, prejudice and how women were (are) treated. Good for Velva Jean!

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Emily Durante?

Jenna Lamia.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jbug
  • Atlanta, GA
  • 12-02-11

VJ Drives Better Than She Flies

VJ Learns to Drive was one of my favorites, the performance 5 stars. VJ Learns to Fly was barely bearable. Had I not been on bed rest I wouldn't have gotten through it. I did enjoy learning about the WASP's roll in WWII. Everything in the story was just too contrived. The narrator was horrible. I would have given her a zero if I could have. She is particularly bad in the first 1/4 of the book. She gets tolerable in the last 1/3. I really got tired of VJ going through the same old list of friends, experiences and lessons every time she faced a problem. The character just wasn't believable through this narrator or the story. VJ's life's dream goes from singing at the grand ole opry to flying bombers for the air force? Too big a leap. Even the "rise above it syndrome" doesn't explain this turn around in her to the point she is willing to die to fly. I would highly recommend VJ Learns to Drive, then she needs to stay on the ground! The book ends with hints at a sequel "VJ Learns to Fight."

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I wish Jenna Lamia had narrated the entire series.

What did you like about this audiobook?

Great story and characters

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

Yes

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

Lots of detail on my hometown, Nashville. Love the characters!

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

Not a bad narrator, but Jenna Lamia was better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Dawn
  • Delran, NJ, United States
  • 11-14-11

Enthralling!

If you enjoyed Velva Jean Learns to Drive you are in for a treat. This book is even better. I can't wait for the next one. Hope the author doesn't make me wait to long. I am dying to know what happens next.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Changing narrators was a mistake.....but

I almost didn’t finish this book...who has a yankee narrate a book about a lil hillbilly gal? The narrator was just flat. In an audible book this makes or brakes. A book! I am a hillbilly from Arkansas and I could have done a better job than Emily did. I don’t think Emily Durante did her homework and the producer should be fired! It is too good a book to settle for this! Great book, although it is unbelievable but that is what fiction is and I love the series.

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Missed Jenna's Pixy Dust!

I loved the story and can't wait to listen to the next book, but it took me awhile to get over the change from the narrator of the first book to this one. Jenna Lamia is one of my favorite narrators and her phrasing and expertise are bar none. It was still a beautiful 'read' and I still highly recommend this book. Just be prepared to go through a bit of heartache & loss as you make the shift from Jenna's magic to this narration.

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Another good story

If you could sum up Velva Jean Learns to Fly in three words, what would they be?

interesting, different, southern

Have you listened to any of Emily Durante’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I do wish that Jenna L was the narrator again, I fell in love with her voice and narration in THE HELP. I still enjoyed the story, I found it very believeable.... with several twists and turns ... and I am looking forward to the next book

  • Overall
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took awhile to adjust to the new narrator.

I still enjoyed the book but missed the original reader. will look for more Velva Jean books

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Nice story

Would you listen to Velva Jean Learns to Fly again? Why?

No

What did you like best about this story?

Story gives great incite into WW2 and female pilots.

What does Emily Durante bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Nice to hear the voices of the characters.

If you could rename Velva Jean Learns to Fly, what would you call it?

Good title.

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Don't Let Your Expectations Fly Too High

What would have made Velva Jean Learns to Fly better?

If I hadn't listened to the Velva Jean Learns to Drive first, my reaction may have been slightly more positive, but only slightly.

What could Jennifer Niven have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Ms. Niven filled the first book in this series, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, with warm, human characters that you could actually care about. Sadly, this installment, brings only paper-thin remakes of the original characters.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Granted, Emily Durante had a hard row to hoe as she attempted to pick up where the talented Jenna Lamia left off as the narrator of the first book in this series. Gone was our heroine's rich, endearing mountain drawl. I was jarred upon first hearing this Velva Jean voiced at the pace of New Yorker mixed with the broad sounds of a Minnesotan.

What character would you cut from Velva Jean Learns to Fly?

I don't have any objections to various characters in Velva Jean Learns to Fly. There were a lot of them though as the story moved from place to place and time to time pretty quickly.

Any additional comments?

Maybe if Jenna Lamia had continued narrating the Velva Jean character, this story might have held my attention and gained my sympathies. I found the subject matter of the first women pilots and how they were perceived by their male counterparts very interesting. And I always enjoy learning about history. It was primarily my love of historical novels that kept me listening to the end.