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Kathleen

Seattle, WA, United States | Member Since 2005

42
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 42 ratings
  • 299 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • Charles Dickens and the Victorian Child

    • NONE (1 hr and 20 mins)
    • By Robert Polhemus (Professor of English, Stanford University), Diane Wood Middlebrook (Professor of English
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In the process of creating some of the most famous children in literature, Charles Dickens revolutionized the storytelling technique by making children the focus of many of his novels. Until Dickens, most novelists featured adult characters who served as role models to the reader. Professor Polhemus shows how Dickens broke tradition by using children as a way of candidly reflecting the dynamics of society. In his discussion, Professor Polhemus, an expert on the 19th-century British novel, explains his theories by assuming the voices and interpreting the thoughts of Dickens characters such as Oliver Twist, Little Nell, and David Copperfield.

    Kathleen says: "Fascinating lecture, but audio quality so-so"
    "Fascinating lecture, but audio quality so-so"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I highly recommend this lecture for any fan of Victorian fiction (Dickens, Conan Doyle, you name it) -- it's a wonderful view of just how revolutionary Dickens' stories were for their time, and adds a psychological twist that borders on gothic (you HAVE to love those Victorians!).

    My only gripe is with the audio quality. It sounds like the lecture was recorded surreptitiously on a cell phone in someone's pocket... in their winter coat! Sheesh!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Joseph Conrad
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1572)
    Performance
    (1307)
    Story
    (1312)

    A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.

    Harold says: "From Civilization into Darkness"
    "Please, please, PLEASE -- more Branagh!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This audiobook should come with the following label:

    Warning: listening to this audiobook will permanently raise your standard for narration, and leave you disappointed at most other narrators.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Ghost Map

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Steven Johnson
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (490)
    Performance
    (220)
    Story
    (219)

    This is a thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London and a brilliant exploration of how Dr. John Snow's solution revolutionized the way we think about disease, cities, science, and the modern world.

    D. Littman says: "a entertaining polymath book"
    "A seriously entertaining history!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Don't listen to this in a public place, like the train station, or people will think you crazy -- since this narrative will drive you to shout "Holy COW!" and "Oh my GOD, are you KIDDING me?!" repeatedly. Don't listen to it during lunch, unless you have a seriously strong stomach.

    If you enjoyed the likes of Guns, Germs, and Steel, you will probably love The Ghost Map. It's shorter, quite a bit lighter, but is absolutely packed with jaw dropping details about Victorian London. If you enjoy Arthur Conan Doyle, you will likely love The Ghost Map, which reads like a Sherlock Holmes mystery in which Dr. Watson does the sleuthing while Holmes is on holiday.

    Johnson does a fantastic job of weaving a trainload of London history, sociology, and medical history into a narrative that feels more like a novel.

    The only criticism I have is that the last section feels a little soap-boxy, but it's a minor fault -- the sociological issues are sufficiently intriguing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Anthony Horowitz
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi
    Overall
    (1121)
    Performance
    (981)
    Story
    (984)

    Sherlock Holmes is the greatest detective in literary history. For the first time since the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a new Holmes story has been sanctioned by his estate, whetting the appetites of fans everywhere. Information about the book will be revealed as deliberately as Holmes himself would unravel a knotty case, but bestselling novelist and Holmes expert Anthony Horowitz is sure to bring a compelling, atmospheric story to life.

    GP says: "A disapointment"
    "Perhaps the best post-Conan Doyle Holmes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Every now and then I tip toe into Sherlock Holmes fan fiction -- desperate, as all Conan Doyle fans are -- for a new fix. Sadly, it virtually always ends badly...

    Not so with House of Silk -- with a few notable missteps, Horowitz does an *excellent* job capturing the voice and persona of both Holmes and Watson, and adds an interestingly convoluted plot.

    I'm not sure how this book comes off in print, but with Derek Jacobi's narration, it's a deliciously life-like faux Conan Doyle.

    The only flaws? I agree with Elias's comment -- the Dr. Moriarty appearance Just. Doesn't. Cut it. Horowitz needs to re-read the Moriarty parts, and then maybe a book on sociopaths.

    The only other flaw is perhaps more subjective, and that's the ending. No spoilers here, I just felt it jarred with the Victoriana -- it felt "too modern", topically and in treatment.

    Still, I hope this is the first of many by Horowitz.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Gilbert
    Overall
    (4899)
    Performance
    (1530)
    Story
    (1542)

    Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned 30, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be. To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. She got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world, all alone. This is the absorbing chronicle of that year.

    Kerry says: "Witty and Wonderful"
    "Gilbert's long vacation"
    Overall

    I waited a long time before listening to this book, since it had the potential to be something life-changing: a journey to insight and wisdom by someone with the literary skill to share it movingly with the rest of us. I waited, because it also had the potential to be a glorified travelogue by someone with the wherewithal and privilege to do the "year off" thing at mid-life, when the rest of us are supporting children, parents, or spouses. To my everlasting disappointment, I found only the latter. Although she hints throughout the book that she gained something deep and everlasting, I wasn't able to find it in her narrative. All in all, a charming travelogue, in lovely writing, that veers into off-putting narcissism from time to time. Recommended for the 'under 30' set.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anathem

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and others
    Overall
    (1953)
    Performance
    (945)
    Story
    (956)

    In celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.

    Brandon Barton says: "All hail Oralow"
    "Best Stephenson in a long time"
    Overall

    Best Stephenson since Snow Crash or Diamond Age. If you felt that Stephenson lost his stride, or his way, or just his editor, when his novels began stretching upwards of ten million pages, you'll be happy to learn that he's getting his groove back! A step beyond steampunk, Anathem is sort of monk-punk -- a delicious mashup of Olde Abbey and futurism. Lots of meaty issues, and crazy fun conceptual setups. Generally he does a great job of weaving the science and philosophy into dialog, though that can occasionally drag a bit (Stephenson is no Michael Crichton, in the best and worst senses). Overall this book was a fun and satisfying read and listen, and not since the Dune series has a novel stuck with me so long through "real life" after finishing it. The narration is excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost World

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By Matthew Rhys
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Here is the classic fantasy adventure of a lost prehistoric world deep in the Amazon jungle. Edward Malone, a reporter for the Daily Gazette, goes on a dangerous and adventurous assignment to impress the woman he loves. He is sent to interview Professor Edward Challenger, who has assaulted four or five other journalists, to determine if his claims about his trip to South America are true.

    Mary says: "An enjoyable adventure into the unknown"
    "The original steampunk?"
    Overall

    Scrumptious Victorian Science Fiction! Very slightly cheesy and wonderfully entertaining novel (novella?) by Arthur Conan Doyle. Subdued and authentically Victorian (more steam, less punk) compared to, say, Neal Stephenson's equally scrumptious Diamond Age.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jung: A Very Short Introduction

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Anthony Stevens
    • Narrated By Tim Pigott-Smith
    Overall
    (233)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (48)

    Anthony Stevens argues that Jung's visionary powers and profound spirituality have helped many to find an alternative set of values to the arid materialism prevailing Western society.

    Edgar says: "Very nice - will not be disappointed"
    "Utterly fascinating"
    Overall

    I had some familiarity with Jungian concepts going into this work, but zero knowledge of his life. What a fascinating biography! I couldn't put this down, and after finishing it craved to know more of Jung's relationship with Freud, and of Jung's life after their rift. Very entertaining, and Anthony Stevens' narration is fanTAStic!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Moonstone

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Wilkie Collins
    • Narrated By Peter Jeffrey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (435)
    Performance
    (242)
    Story
    (248)

    T.S. Eliot described The Moonstone as "the first and the greatest English detective novel". The stone of the title is an enormous diamond plundered from an Indian shrine after the Siege of Seringapatam. Given to Miss Verinder on her 18th birthday, it mysteriously disappears that very night. Suspicion falls on three Indian jugglers who have been seen in the neighbourhood.

    Lucie says: "An engrossing detective novel"
    "So perfect for these looonnnng winter evenings"
    Overall

    First, I'm a fan of Charles Dickens' novels, so historical fiction doesn't challenge me in the slightest, provided it has a plot. And The Moonstone has plot in spades, along with one of the most adorable characters I've ever encountered in all of literature (Gabriel Betteredge), and a wonderfully involved, somewhat gothic, mystery. If films like Gosford Park send you screaming, don't even dream of taking on this novel. But if you love English historical and gothic fiction, and enjoy an occasional mystery, this atmospheric gem will provide hours of guilty pleasure. Wilkie Collins was a contemporary (and friend) of Dickens, so expect similar pacing. Peter Jeffrey's narration was superb!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Titus Groan: Volume 1 of the Gormenghast Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Mervyn Peake
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (367)
    Performance
    (164)
    Story
    (167)

    Enter the fantastical world of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy, one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. Novelist C.S. Lewis called Peake's books "actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience."

    Benjamin L. Alpers says: "Count Me Among the Peake Fans"
    "Full disclosure: haven't managed to finish it"
    Overall

    I picked up this series after a glowing review in someplace like the NY Review of Books (should have known better). Egad. I have no problem with rambling and detailed descriptions, if they are delightful, ghastly, or entertaining. So, i love Dickens and Austen. I've read Mark Heprin's Winter's Tale four times and listened to Susanna Clark's Jonathan Strange twice. But the narration, characters, and endless (and seemingly irrelevant) detail in Titus Groan had me crying Uncle and flipping iPod "channels" after a few hours. Maybe this is one of those works where You Had To Be There when it was first published. I just couldn't find the discipline to slog through it. I would have to be trapped in an elevator or stuck in a foreign hospital with nothing but this series for entertainment to get through it all.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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