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Travel & Adventure > Essays & Travelogues

Essays & Travelogues

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Melinda

Melinda UT Member Since 2009

So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

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  • "Drawing Strength from an Empty Well"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I always feel that when reviewing a memoir you have to stick to rules that don't dishonor the author that is so bravely sharing a part of their soul. It is safe to say that Amanda shares hers with a restraint I respect, focusing on the surface events and the space within herself from which she drew the will to survive. She shows a surprising element of understanding towards her captors, and her partner Nigel, that I don't think I would have had the grace with which to do so. Accepting responsibility for her plight (which she does admirably) shows that this is a woman not wanting to waste her precious time placing blame or wearing the victim label.

    The book gives the right amount of background story, is well written and edited, and refrains from manipulating the reader. I am still processing many aspects of the story, both the fascinating psychology involved, and the global politics. The hatred directed at the West, the treatment of women, then the reverse desire to have a Western education...but I don't want to tread into the politics. (The events that involved the ex-boyfriend have me still scratching my head...I would love to have that discussion with other readers.) I watched Amanda's interview with 20/20, and have since watched several other interviews she has given. The book is an extended version of those interviews. Amanda's story shows that she has learned to draw a positive power from the trauma, using it as the impetus to reach out to others; she is an empowered survivor whose courage and determination could not be beaten.

    More

    A House in the Sky: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett
    • Narrated By Amanda Lindhout
    Overall
    (234)
    Performance
    (210)
    Story
    (212)

    Amanda Lindhout reads her spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into 15 months of harrowing captivity in Somalia - a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace. In August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia - "the most dangerous place on Earth." On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted.

    Eric Schurr says: "Incredible story! Very well written and delivered"
  • "The Original Canned Cheese"

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    Story

    My husband doesn't understand how I can sit in front of the TV watching people preparing food; I tell him we're even because I don't understand how he can sit and watch two men pummeling each other with their gloved fists. This conversation came about as I watched *Cheese Slices'* Will Studd hiking through a little Spanish hillside in Castile to a remote village called Guzman in pursuit of a rare sheep's milk cheese preserved in olive oil. A cheese made throughout history by one family and prized among turophiles. Fellow Foodies will understand this passion. On a personal note, I am of Castilian/French ancestry, so I felt some connection to this particular cheese hunt and was intrigued -- to which my husband countered, "My grandfather was a boxer." Days later, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge... appeared on Audible and I realized the "Piece of Cheese" was the same Páramo de Guzman I had seen Will Studd search out and hedonistically enjoy.

    That cave was the "Telling Room", a family's bodega or "el contador," once used as a place to age the precious cheese, and to count and record the farmer's harvest. Later, the rooms were used as a gathering place to tell stories and drink copious amounts of the local wine. It is from this Telling Room that Paterniti draws out the tale of a family's cheese and two friends that battle over that cheese, lusted for by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Gorbachev, Reagan, and called by Harrod's of London, "the world's greatest piece of cheese."

    Paterniti, who has an MFA in Creative Writing, is a skillful storyteller that writes with intense passion. He claims the research for this book changed his life, which is obvious in his almost loving attention to detail. (Apparently the book contains page after page of footnotes.) His own obsession with the tale of the cheese seemed like an engrossing tale -- until he introduces the reader to Ambrosio. As someone once said, "I thought I liked the chamber music until the orchestra started to play." Ambrosio is a character of Shakespearean dimensions, fueled by his love for his land, gossip and legends, and gallons of wine. His zest for life is exhilarating (even a very funny, but not irreverent, rustic soliloquy on defecating), everything becomes a shadow to his simple radiance. The story takes on a romantic fairy tale-like quality in his presence. "My name is Ambrosio Melinos de las Heras. You stole my cheese; prepare to die!"

    The contrasting stories of an American journalist researching an article, and a Spanish farmer bent on revenge are tightly entwined. The book is verbose and became a little cumbersome as Paterniti painstakingly laid out his family's step by step acclimation to Spain and their personal story thread. The author uses whole chapters to tell a few paragraphs of a story, and I found myself rushing ahead to the villages of Spain and Ambrosio's story. A case of an author writing a character so well that he is outshone by his own brilliance. Readers who love the written word will enjoy...Foodies should at least look for an abridged edition. Not truly a food-themed book, hence the love, betrayal and revenge, but still enjoyable, and executed with talent and heart.


    [**As for the cheese? Paterniti described the taste to the Chicago Tribune's Bill Daley: "The cheese was carrying so much metaphysical weight, it was such a product of the land. It connected me to the place....It was such a strong cheese. I didn't expect it. I couldn't eat any more of it. It was overpowering. It was such a reflection of who Ambrosio is." (You can experience his verbosity in this answer.)
    *I was unable to find the cheese at any deli nearby for a tasting. The World of Imports has this description: "Páramo de Guzman is an innovative raw sheep's "cheese in a can." It is made on the banks of the Duero River in central Spain. Aged for 12 months for a piquant, sheepy flavor and a firm, slightly granular texture, it is them preserved in extra virgin olive oil -- in a can, no less. The yellow-green oil soaks into the pores of the cheese, giving it a bright olive tint and easy eating texture. From this oil come a typical Mediterranean aroma along with a citrus edge in the flavor profile. Currently sells for $22 lb."]

    More

    The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Michael Paterniti
    • Narrated By L.J. Ganser
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (88)

    In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room”. Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets - usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese.

    Melinda says: "The Original Canned Cheese"
  • "He Not Talk So Pretty"

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    Performance
    Story

    The first time I heard Sedaris, I thought I was listening to the funniest, most clever and original humorist since the early years of George Carlin and Steve Martin, whose live performances had you leaning on complete strangers to help support your racked-with-laughter body to keep you off the floor. Forget polite sophisticated chuckles--these were open-mouthed, tears down your cheeks, ugly-faced guffaws. You never finished a drink before the carbonation went flat...you knew there'd not be even one safe second to swallow before an explosive laugh might send that sparkly beverage spraying out your nose. Sedaris even had the added unique ability to get you laughing at those never before funny, tough memories we all share--those growing up rights of passage moments that elicit laughter through tears. He was (and is) that good at observing life and the ridiculous humor in the everyday.

    Maybe I've lost my funny bone, but it seemed like something was missing with this latest collection. I never felt the urge to rewind and listen again, and at times found myself giving an obligatory chuckle out of respect for a comedic genius that has shared better comedy. He is still observant and witty; several of the pieces were great, but there was not much that seemed new and crisp, nothing to catch you off guard and slap you silly. There's a dusty air of reflection, even melancholy, in a few of the pieces that set a tone that stayed with me, in spite of some sunnier funnier bits. But then, maybe unfairly, I always compare his latest to his greatest, the one that had me afraid to drink a Coke even alone at home--Me Talk Pretty One Day; several guffaws better that hooting it up here with the owls.

    Fans of Sedaris will still enjoy this, and will probably get plenty of laughs that make it worth the price of admission. Anything that can lift our spirits, give us a little enjoyment, and make us smile is worthwhile, afterall. *Worth mentioning: not a great or consistent production. As usual, there are live bits which you expect to be a little tougher to listen to, but even the studio recorded pieces are tinny and inferior.

    More

    Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris
    Overall
    (2893)
    Performance
    (2636)
    Story
    (2620)

    From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new collection of essays taking his listeners on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences.

    FanB14 says: "Devout Fan Disappointed"
  1. A House in the Sky: A Memoir
  2. The Telling Room: A Tale ...
  3. Let's Explore Diabetes wi...
  4. .

A Peek at elevena's Bookshelf

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Louisville, KY 1 REVIEWS / 1 ratings Member Since 2012 0 Followers / Following 0
 
elevena's greatest hits:
  • Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca?

    "Enchanting Alpaca Adventure"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca??

    This was a wonderful, funny & touching story. A grand adventure by an English couple as they learn the ups & downs of becoming rural farmers in a new country. As an alpaca farmer myself, still in the beginning of my alpaca odyssey, I fully appreciated all the highs and lows of their tale.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I so enjoyed hearing from the perspectives of the animals on the farm as well as the humans! Quite fun. But the people in this story are beautifully flawed, and willing to persevere through all their obstacles. And what obstacles!


    What about Nigel Patterson’s performance did you like?

    Well done. Clearly read.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Truly wished I could have! As it was I finished in just a couple of days.


    Any additional comments?

    I hope more audiobooks are forthcoming about these intrepid farmers!

Joshua Kim

Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

mostly nonfiction listener

HELPFUL VOTES
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  • "Clear Reasons to Read"

    3 of 3 helpful votes

    I just read Vowell's new book, The Wordy Shipmates, and loved it so much I immediately picked up the The Partly Cloudy Patriot. If Assassination Vacation was available unabridged at Audible I read that next.

    Partly Cloudy Patriot is good fun....but nowhere near as smart or well developed as her latest book. You can see her maturity as a writer between the books, as Vowell is finding her voice in Patriot. In Shipmates, Vowell moves from a humorist (or essayist) to a historian.

    Still....I enjoyed spending a few hours with Vowell - and came away feeling better about my own geek, history loving cred.

    More

    The Partly Cloudy Patriot

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Sarah Vowell
    • Narrated By Sarah Vowell, Conan O'Brien, Seth Green, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1559)
    Performance
    (363)
    Story
    (363)

    Sarah Vowell travels through the American past and investigates the dusty, bumpy roads of her own life. Her essays confront a wide range of subjects, icons, and historical moments: Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton; Canadian Mounties and German Filmmakers; Tom Cruise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address, the State of the Union, and George W. Bush's inauguration. The result is an engrossing audiobook, capturing Vowell's memorable wit and her keen social commentary.

    Erik says: "A great listen"

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    Everyone wants to escape their boring, stagnant lives full of inertia and regret. But so few people actually have the bravery to run - run away from everything and selflessly seek out personal fulfillment on the other side of the world where they don’t understand anything and won’t be expected to. The world is full of cowards. Tim Anderson was pushing 30 and working a string of dead-end jobs when he made the spontaneous decision to pack his bags and move to Japan.

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    Story
    (366)

    In the first of three essays included in this audiobook, Bill Bryson decides to move his wife and kids back to his homeland, the United States, after nearly two decades in Britain. But not before taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. The result is a hilarious social commentary.

    Annette says: "My second of three (so far) Bill Bryson books"
  • Made in America (






UNABRIDGED) by Bill Bryson Narrated by William Roberts

    Made in America

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By William Roberts
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (209)
    Story
    (214)

    In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up, as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question, and Dr Kellogg of cornflakes fame.

    Thomas S Kovacs says: "Bryson OK Roberts not so much"
  • Assassination Vacation (






ABRIDGED) by Sarah Vowell Narrated by Conan O'Brien, Stephen King, Dave Eggers, Jon Stewart

    Assassination Vacation

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Sarah Vowell
    • Narrated By Conan O'Brien, Stephen King, Dave Eggers, and others
    Overall
    (1996)
    Performance
    (486)
    Story
    (478)

    Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other, a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

    Rachel says: "extremely entertaining and informative"
  • Deep Survival: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death (






UNABRIDGED) by Laurence Gonzales Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki

    Deep Survival: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Laurence Gonzales
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (521)
    Performance
    (205)
    Story
    (205)

    After her plane crashes, a 17-year-old girl spends 11 days walking through the Peruvian jungle. Against all odds, with no food, shelter, or equipment, she gets out. A better equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sits down and dies. What makes the difference?

    Betty says: "I'm not sure it can get better than this"
  • Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places (






UNABRIDGED) by Tim Keesee Narrated by Lloyd James

    Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Tim Keesee
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    China, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq...God is at work. Christians are testifying. The gospel is advancing. In this captivating travelogue, a veteran missions mobilizer leads listeners to experience global Christianity, exploring the faith and lives of Christians living in some of the world's most perilous countries. The incredible accounts recorded here - stories that span the globe from China to Afghanistan - highlight the bold faith and sacrificial bravery of God's people.

  • Alaska: Travelogue by State, Experience Both the Ordinary and Obscure (






UNABRIDGED) by Amber Richards Narrated by Kris Price

    Alaska: Travelogue by State, Experience Both the Ordinary and Obscure

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 48 mins)
    • By Amber Richards
    • Narrated By Kris Price
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (1)

    More than just travel guides, these state-by-state editions, dial-in to the locales, the events, the goods, the foods, sights, sounds, and characters you must experience if you want the right to say, "I've been there!" It is not a typical travel guide, in the sense that the focus is not about where to eat and where to stay, but rather on where to go and what to experience to get an authentic sense of Alaska. In this edition, Amber collaborates with a local Alaskan to pop the cork on America's true wild frontier.

  • Fright Night on the Can't Miss (






UNABRIDGED) by Larry Jarboe Narrated by Ward Paxton

    Fright Night on the Can't Miss

    • UNABRIDGED (17 mins)
    • By Larry Jarboe
    • Narrated By Ward Paxton
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    What could go wrong when two young couples join a charter boat full of senior citizens on a trip to visit Fort Jefferson in the Florida Keys?

  • Under Asian Skies: Australia to Europe by Motorcycle - an Enthralling Journey Through One of the World's Most Colourful and Diverse Regions (






UNABRIDGED) by Sam Manicom Narrated by Sam Manicom

    Under Asian Skies: Australia to Europe by Motorcycle - an Enthralling Journey Through One of the World's Most Colourful and Diverse Regions

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Sam Manicom
    • Narrated By Sam Manicom
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In Sam’s second book, Under Asian Skies, you'll find yourself immersed in an enchanting mix of drama, majesty, laughter, mystery, love, and his usual disasters. Sometimes a traveller's plans simply don't work out as intended, but for Sam every mishap is the beginning of a unique adventure; silver linings do exist. You'll travel on a journey across the vastness of Australia, through the twists and turns of New Zealand, and on up into the exotic lands of Southeast Asia.

    Jim Foreman says: "A charming and insightful tale of motorbike travel"
  •  
  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park: Rancho of General Mariano Vallejo  by Patricia L. Lawrence Narrated by J. D. Streeter

    Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park: Rancho of General Mariano Vallejo

    • ORIGINAL (28 mins)
    • By Patricia L. Lawrence
    • Narrated By J. D. Streeter
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    (0)

    Audio Journalist Patricia Lawrence explores Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park in Petaluma California, the early 19th century Mexican rancho and primitive factory of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. General Vallejo is a prominent figure in California's Mexican history. A California State Historical Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

  • Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin, Montana: 19th -Century Life in Rural America  by Patricia L. Lawrence Narrated by J. D. Streeter

    Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin, Montana: 19th -Century Life in Rural America

    • ORIGINAL (28 mins)
    • By Patricia L. Lawrence
    • Narrated By J. D. Streeter
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Audio Journeys from Travel Radio International, exploration into destinations around the world. Patricia Lawrence is exploring Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin, Montana. Located in what was once a major wheat producing region, the expansive living museum keeps history alive with 26 historic buildings, tools, farm equipment, barns, and thousands of other artifacts from 19th-century Anglo-Saxon life in rural America.

  • Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center: Where Rescued Wildlife Receives Care  by Patricia L. Lawrence Narrated by J. D. Streeter

    Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center: Where Rescued Wildlife Receives Care

    • ORIGINAL (28 mins)
    • By Patricia L. Lawrence
    • Narrated By J. D. Streeter
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
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    (0)

    Audio journalist Patricia Lawrence tours the Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center near Pendleton, Oregon, with Lynn Tompkins, founding director of the educational nonprofit, where injured wildlife are given veterinarian treatment and lovingly cared for. The center is an important source of education and information about western wildlife.