Category Archives: audio review
Tennessee. Early 1800′s. James Richardson, a man who has fought his way to the top to build up his own wealth and status finds himself looking for some strong male slaves to help him keep up with his ever-growing property. He is surprised when his eyes fall on a proud looking woman slave, although Richardson is not in the market for female help, he finds himself purchasing her, Mena, anyway, almost before he realizes what he is doing.
Richardson puts Mena to work minding his kitchen and as time passes he realizes she is pregnant with child. What a bargain Richardson had for purchasing a pregnant slave. Soon, Mena gives birth to Wash. As Wash grows into a man, he holds the same strong confident will that his mother does. When Wash is a young man, Richardson, who is struggling financially, notices how the female slaves watch Wash. Richardson gathers his neighbors and offers Wash as a stud service (for a small fee) to go to their properties and lay with their women to create babies that will grow up to be strong like Wash which is of course, more slaves for the lot of them.
And so it begins.
Told in the alternating voices of Wash, Richardson, Thompson, Thompsons son Eli, and Pallas who is the woman who Wash really wants to be with.
When I read the synopsis of Wash I was thrilled with the story line. I had never thought of slaves breeding slaves (I don’t know why – I am sure now that it must have happened) but it felt to me both repulsive and brilliant on the landowners part. I mean that in no disrespect – but instead setting myself in the time period in which this story unfolds.
Wash is incredibly likeable. I pictures him as strong and quiet but knows how to hold his own and protect his own when he has too. Wash’s mother taught his right and as he grows he is able to get a better understanding to the messages she had given him in his younger years.
Narrated by a cast of different voices this audio plays our nicely as each voice is its own. There are times the multiple narrator-ed books are not appealing to me but this one flows nicely. Each time a chapter changed perspectives of who was talking I looked forward to hearing their part of the story.
As a whole, Wash is a powerful and captivating read. I found his situation unfathomable and yet I had to know his story… how do you love one, but be with another because you have to – sent out to stud much like a horse….
Wash is truly worth your time.
Successful real estate agent Hildy Good (age 60+) has lived in the Boston area for well, all her life. She considers herself not only a wonderful agent, but also a good friend, mother, grandmother, and confidant. Why if Hildy were to tell you, she would say that she is the center pulse to the town and all things start and stop with her.
Of course, the occasional drink is a must in order to celebrate, social occasions, or wind down, or help her sleep, or calm her nerves, or just to take the edge off… or….
after having gone to treatment thanks to her families prodding and an intervention, “meddling” would be Hildy’s words…
“if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday, run for your life” ~ Hildy
…she no longer drinks, going late to party invites just in time to grab a bite of food make small talk and leave as dessert is served. Yes, Hildy no longer drinks.
Or… more accurately, Hildy no longer drinks in public.
There is still her hidden wine stash in the cellar at home and who is she really hurting by having a glass or two in the privacy of her own home, or finishing off a bottle because it just doesn’t make sense to re-cork it when there is only a partial glass left, or a glass and a half…
and really, so what if she occasionally passes out in her living room in a chair, or has no recollection of the previous nights events, or phone calls her friends “claim” she made, or the occasional drive in her car that she can not remember where she went or what she did…
no, really – if people would all just mind their own business. Really mind their own business, because as Hildy knows all to well, there’s a lot of things going on in this little town of hers… things that people would not be too keen to have spread around…
The Good House was a book I listened to on audio and right from the start of Mary Beth Hurt’s narration I knew I was in for a treat. I absolutely loves the voice of Hildy, she was matter of fact, a story-teller, an observing person, and 100% in denial. Her story is engaging as she observes those in her town as they move in and out of the houses she sells (or hopes to!) Seeing the world from the eyes of a realtor was a treat – from the inside (“the holes in the walls and the stains in the carpet… it would be a miracle if she would ever be able to sell it!”) to the outside people coming in (“since they moved into town they were by far the richest family in the area – at least as far as money goes…”)
I laughed along with Hildy’s antics and excuses of why she just needed that one drink – just a sip and how irritating it was when people arrived who just by being there delayed her chance to relax with just one glass of wine… just one…
My only tiny thought that does not fall in the “love it!” category is that at some points it seemed to go on and on in a side direction that seemed overly unnecessary.
While the Good House is full of funny moments, it is also surrounding a serious subject and after a while I no longer found Hildy funny, but a little pathetic – however that is not a negative. I think as the reader (listener) we should come to that conclusion that Hildy’s excuses for drinking are tiresome and wearing… and in that case, the author hit this subject dead on.
I would recommend The Good House, I had recollections of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series, but with a harder edge to it.
If you have not yet had the pleasure of listening to or reading David Sedaris, you are truly missing out.
A book or audio of short humorous stories of David’s explorations as he travels around the world. Absurd and laugh out loud worthy, this book is sure to keep you picking it up time and again.
A couple of weeks ago I was in a car coming home from a conference in the cities. I was in the back seat listening to our Library Director and our Out reach librarian chat away in the front seat. Their conversation was going like this:
Oh my gosh did you get to the chapter yet about his sister in the chlorine water?
Yes, I loved that…. I am at the point now where his dad is hounding him about a colonoscopy.
Oh yeah! I laughed so hard at that. He really is good.
I popped my head up to the front seat and asked one of my favorite questions, “What are you reading?” They both responded that they were reading David Sedaris’s new book, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. I admitted I had never read him and they assured me I was missing out. “I bet he would be wonderful on audio” Jolene said. And so I downloaded this book on audio the very next day.
While never a fan of short stories, this book is filled with delightful true stories of David’s life. From childhood memories to present life I found David for the most part to be laugh our loud funny.
“Drawing attention to Gretchen’s weight was the sort of behavior my mother referred to as ‘stirring the turd,’ and I did it a lot that summer.”
“Neighbors would pass, and when they honked I’d remember that I was in my Speedo. Then I’d wrap my towel like a skirt around my waist and remind my sisters that this was not girlish but Egyptian, thank you very much.”
“If there’d been anything decent in the house, anything approaching real ice cream, it would have been eaten long ago. I knew this, so I bypassed the freezer in the kitchen and the secondary freezer in the tool shed and went to the neglected, tundralike one in the basement. Behind the chickens bought years earlier on sale, and the roasts encased like chestnuts in blood-tinted frost, I found a tub of ice milk, vanilla-flavored, and the color of pus. It had been frozen for so long that even I, a child, was made to feel old by the price tag. “Thirty-five cents! You can’t get naught for that nowadays!”
No subject is safe around David he touches on politics, crying babies, doctor visits, his fathers lack of love, you name it, he has discussed it. There is a section (fiction) where he tells stories from other persons views that comes off a little disgruntled and was my least enjoyable part of the book. However, I mostly found myself listening in wonder of this mans quick wit, and finished the audio while mowing my lawn and laughing out loud, surely the neighbors must think I have lost my mind, all the while contemplating what next to listen to of his.
From other Sedaris fans I have heard this is not his best writing, but for me, a newcomer, it was rather good and enough to make me want to know more about this funny witty man.
Christina and Cara Parravini were identical twins. Raised in a poorish home by a single struggling mother the girls made their own world between themselves eventually making their way to college, careers, and marriages. While Christa kept moving forward, Cara seemed to get stuck in the past. Unable to shake the happenings in their younger home life of revolving door “father figures” and rape, Cara struggles with depression, drugs, and inappropriate relationships with men. Eventually her self-destructive behavior spirals out of control causing Cara to die at a young age.
As Christa deals with her sister’s death, she wonders if she too will fall into the same destructive behavior that took her sister. She had battled so long and hard to keep her sister moving forward that without Cara to care for now, she hadn’t noticed that she had the same demons to fight.
*sigh* I have really struggled with this review. First let me say I can not imagine the bond between twins and especially twin girls. I in no way mean to discount that, or the fact of the immense crushing loss of someone you are so close too. I lost a sister when she was 5 years old and I know that pain, so I can imagine that losing someone you were with from the moment of birth into adult hood sharing so much has to be all that much more painful and for that, I extend my deepest sympathy.
I listened to Her on audio, which is narrated by the author, Christa Parravani. I found the narration to be very monotone. Very matter of fact and never really changing throughout the entire book.
As far as the book itself, I struggled immensely with the self-destructive behavior not only in Cara, but eventually in Christa too. The whole thing was extremely depressing like I could never catch a full breath as I waited for something light-hearted to happen – between the monotone narration and the all-consuming sadness of the book, it never came – or if it was there, due to the monotone narration, I missed it as “exciting” or “moments of lightness and humor” are not things you would say to describe this book. In fact I would find myself using words like: heavy, depressing, overly sad, confusing….
I wish I could say something more positive, There was really nothing I enjoyed about this audio. I remember thinking I was so glad I was an upbeat, fairly well-adjusted happy person as if I was a person prone to depression and read this book I think it would have been overall too much to handle. In fact, it almost was.
Now please do not take only my opinion on this book/audio. Amazon and Audible.com both have great reviews posted about it. It was just not a fit for me.
creating The Kill Order.
Before the Glade and The Maze of Maze Runner ever existed… Thomas knew there was something else… he has seen the images of memory flicker across his mind; always fleeting, always unable to grasp….
what was the world like he has come from?
A disease has come into the world. It comes quickly as if from nowhere but the results are devastating. Those in contact with this virus feel as though there is something crawling within their mind… they become monstrous in action and no one is safe… possibly crippling out world as we knew it forever.
Mark and Trina feel there is a way to save those yet infected… and as they are about to find out – they will give it all to succeed.
The Kill Order is the new(ish) prequel to Maze Runner. Having recently listened to Maze Runner on audio and loving it… I went this direction and listened to this one next – not following up (yet) with the two remaining books.
Coming fresh off Maze Runner, it was interesting to read about what those in the Maze Runner kept eluding too… a world they longed for but at the same time had memories that things were not so great of where they came from. James Dashner writes a brilliant prequel that I felt filled in the mysterious gaps left in Maze Runner.
Well written, fast paced, and wonderfully narrated by Mark Deakins again.
While Suzanne Collins had kids fighting kids to the death in The Hunger Games, James Dashner had kids fighting for their lives in a world they did not understand in Maze Runner.
Thomas has no idea how he got here… or where he came from. When he awakens in the lift he is surrounded by other kids about his early-teen age all curious about him and welcoming him to the Glade.
As Thomas tried to make sense of things he realizes about all he does recall is his name. The Glade, he learns, is a protective area that surrounds the Maze… and the Maze is dangerous. The Glade is surrounded by a protective stone wall that opens on its own accord during the day and closes at dusk. You do not want to be outside the Glade and caught in the Maze when the doors close.
Just as Thomas is trying to process the details of this new and scary home that apparently delivers a new boy (only boys) every 30 days by the same life that Thomas arrives in…. things change.
The next day the lift delivers another person – 29 days earlier then it ever has before and this time…
it is a girl.
And she comes with a message “this is the last one.”
As everyone scrambles to figure out what all this means, Thomas has this eerie feeling that he knows this girl from somewhere in his past. He also gets the feeling that id he shared this information with the boys he has met so far in the Glade it would not serve him well.
As days progress ans things continue to change in the Glade everyone starts looking at Thomas as for two years things have been exactly the same and now, with his arrival things have become different. For starters – no one goes out in the Maze overnight and lives to tell the story, but one night, Thomas finds himself outside the stones walls, no way to get back in until morning…
and Thomas learns quickly why no one goes into the Maze overnight as there are creatures that want nothing more than to end his life and everyone else inside The Glade.
Ever since I went to the Book Expo last year and met James Dashner I knew I wanted to read him. When an author comes across as witty and funny as he does, you want to know if they write in the same manner.
For the record… he does.
Maze Runner evoked images of Hunger Games. While Maze Runner is not kids fighting each other for survival it is kids fighting an unknown force, and I felt that same sense of awe and anticipation as I wondered what would happen next and who would be the victor.
While I really enjoyed the story line and how right from the start you are filled with questions… “How did Thomas get the Glade? Where was he before he arrived? Why are everyone’s memories wiped when they arrive? Are people families looking for these boys? What really is the Maze?” I have to say that the characters were not as developed as I typically like. I like to get a real feeling for who they are and while Thomas did come close, the rest felt more gingerbread man flat and I could not work up and extended emotions for them as I would have liked.
While the book has been on my shelf for years, shortness of time pushed me forward into listening to this one on audio. Mark Deakin did an excellent job with narration.
I can not say I absolutely loved the book, I did however like it very much and think it would make an interesting movie. Set to be a movie in 2014, this is one I would want to see.
Highly engaging (and addicting) I am looking forward to the second book in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials.
Raven Boys was so different than what I had expected… different good. This is a different writing for Maggie Stiefvater, a more complex and engaging writing.
At sixteen, Blue knows her life is different than others her age. For starters, her family are psychics. This alone would be enough to make her stand out – and she is told that her presence in a room helps her family see into others lives more clearly although Blue sees nothing.
Until one day while Blue and her mother are waiting in the graveyard to see the spirits of those who will die in the next twelve months. And this time, Blue sees something. At first it is a flicker in the air, nothing you could put a shape too… but then.. she could. It is a boy and his name in Gansey and now Blue knows he will die within the year….
Blue is told…
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue. Either you’re his true love…or you killed him.”
And days later when this same boy arrives at Blue’s door step for a reading… Blue knows she is in deep. Warned by her family to stay away from Gansey and his friends known as the Raven Boys, Blue does what any sixteen year old girl would do when confronted with an ultimatum and a chance to hang out with some interesting boys… she starts sneaking around and helping then with their mission… to locate a line of energy that could connect them to a Welsh King, Glendover…
I admit that Raven Boys wasn’t what I thought it would be. I have read Maggie Steifvater before with her Shiver series and enjoyed them finding then very YA, very Twilight like… good fun easy reads. So when I put myself into Raven Boys I was surprised to find something deeper and more involved than I had bargained for.
Maggie Steifvater takes her writing to a whole new level in Raven Boys. It is more detailed than her past writings that I have read, it is a meatier read and it took me a while to wrap my head around it. Yet once I did, I couldn’t stop.
The character of Blue takes on an interesting twist as she brings a little something to the party that most can not. With her abilities through her psychic family… she is an asset on the Raven Boys Team. But for me, the Raven Boys themselves trump Blue 100 fold. They are well developed… the story line as they figure out clues to a past they are unsure of id truly impressive. As I followed along I kept having these, “What the!” and “Oh…. awesome!” moments.
There are many story lines that are left open and hearing this is a 4 book series (the second coming out this fall) I imagine that the teasers of this book… opening doors that we do not yet get to walk through, will lure this reader for sure, on to the next book… and probably the next after that.
I listened to this book on audio and narrator Will Patton did a wonderful job with the cast of characters he was working with.
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. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.
~As seen on Amazon
A couple years ago a good friend of mine brought me this book. Her book club had just finished reviewing it and she said it was a “must read!”
The book went to the shelf and although I totally planned on reading it, there is always more books then there is time and two years later that book still is say on my shelf. Recently, I found ‘Loving Frank’ on audio and thought that this may be the way to go on this one.. and I am so glad I did.
Joyce Bean narrates and does a masterful job with the different voices on Mamah (pronounced May – mah), Frank, and the others who gather around their lives.
Frank’s story of his life and his long affair I am ashamed to admit, was all news to me. I had no idea of the mans life beyond his name and the architecture he is known for. I admit, I found his life to be quite interesting. Although he fathered six children with his wife, Frank did not seem to have a paternal bone in his body. Yet more interesting than even Frank, was Mamah. Having left her own husband and children for Frank I think has to be extremely had in that day and age, (not that it would not be now as well.) Beyond that Mamah believes a woman has a right to her own life and not just as a wife and mother. She is years ahead of her time in the feminist movement and something about her odd convictions made me want to know more about her.
Loving Frank is engaging and the best of historical fiction when it is done right. I enjoyed the book and was blown away with the ending which has my Googling like crazy to find out more.
What is The Storyteller about? Is it about a baker? Is it about a scar? Is it about revenge? Is it about forgiveness? Is it about the Holocaust? Is is about a vampire? Yes.
Sage Singer is a baker who works the night shift, sifting and creating delicious concoctions, basking in her world alone. She bears a scar on her face that she tries to hide, much like herself, behind her hair, behind her mother death….
And then one day at a grief support group meeting, Sage means Josef an elderly man and they form an unlikely friendship. When Josef confesses to Sage a horrific past that involved the deaths of many people, he asks for her to do the unthinkable, to kill him, to make him pay for the crimes of his past.
As Sage is still reeling from this unthinkable request, she finds out that Josef and her lives may be closer than anyone could have imagined…. through her grandmother comes a story…. a story so painful that it has never been spoken of.
Just moments ago, I finished listening to The Storyteller on audio. By moments, I may mean minutes ago, or I may mean a little longer because as I finished listening to this powerfully engaging read I think I held my breath…and as I listened to those closing words and my mind rushed along the conclusion, I may have lost minutes to my thoughts…
wow. If you have read Jodi Piccoult before I can say this is Piccoult at perhaps her finest. It is her, and it isn’t her. This book is different. It is more… real. It is certainly more powerful and more painfully attentive to details than any other book I have read by her, and if you have read her before you know her books can pack a powerful punch (Nineteen Minutes comes to mind.)
The Storyteller is…. complicated. Sage is not an “I will take a bullet for you!” character, I liked her well enough… but doubt if we would ever be friends. I think a more compassionate, more likable Sage, may have given a different feel to this book – and I have to say, I think “a distant Sage” may be just what this book requires…. after all, we are dealing with topics, that are painfully real, but for more of us, a distance from our own lives today… I wonder if loving Sage as a character would have taken away from the real topics… the real protagonist, which in my opinion, is her grandmother, Minka. Minka makes up for what her granddaughter lacks, she is real, she is compassionate, and she has fire within her as a survivor.
All being said, I did find The Storyteller to be engaging and powerful. I have enjoyed Piccoult’s books in the past but this one with its historical fiction content speaks to me at a little deeper level than her previous books and I have a feeling I will be recommending this one to others for a long time to come.
Elizabeth Shore used to love to paint and was considered to be possibly good with a little direction and training. Yet, at a young age Elizabeth met and fell in love with Jack and dreams of painting went to the wayside as they raise two beautiful daughters, and follow Jack around to wherever his sports career will take them.
When the girls are raised and off to college, Jack struggles to keep his career afloat and when an opportunity to jump-start that career is offered, Jack jumps at the chance to take it, once again disrupting their lives for his needs without consulting Elizabeth first. No longer having the buffer of her daughters, and worrying about her ailing father, Elizabeth decided enough is enough. She is tired of feeding Jack’s ego while her dreams wash away. While Jack goes on and on about what HE wants and what HE needs… Elizabeth wondered if he even has a clue of what she would like or need.
Elizabeth decided its time for her to find the woman she lost within herself and asks Jack to move to New York without her for his career while she takes time away. She goes to their isolated beach house to discover a wonderful womans groups, a link to painting again, and a connection with her step mother she never had before.
Finding herself seems to also open doors to discovering who she is without Jack and leading up to doors opening before her she never dreamed were there and the ultimate decision of choosing a life with or without Jack.
Kristin Hannah has a formula in her writing of couples and families in crisis, separating and them finding happiness again. Yes it can be predictable, but you know what? It can also be fun. Hannah’s characters jump off the pages and I truly felt for Elizabeth’s loss of identity and she for years spent time in her husbands shadow.
What I liked about this particular book is that you do not only get Elizabeth’s side, but Jack’s too. I liked reading that Jack was surprised when the woman he has loved all his life stands up and says “enough”. I liked watching his reevaluation of his life and decisions as well, coming to the ultimate decision that could either make or break his connection to his wife.
Distant Shores is a lovely read of love and loss and the possibility of starting again. Its beautifully written, engaging, and filled with hope.