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Gillian

SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

Austin, TX, United States | Member Since 2015

215
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 76 reviews
  • 76 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 111 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
7

  • Persuasion

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (124)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (102)

    Anne Elliot is a young woman of perfect breeding and unwavering integrity. Austen wrote of her, "She is almost too good for me." Persuasion is the story of Anne and Captain Wentworth and their long awaited union. The world of country gentry in Regency England serves as a setting while portraying the many aspects of proper society - its failings and humor.

    caroline donahue says: "Jane Austen Comes Alive in Audio"
    "WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?"
    Overall
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    Dearest Michael Page, the respected narrator,
    I love you, really I do. Your work in "The Lies of Locke Lamora," where you elevate the interjection/expletives of "Sh**!" and "F***!" to veritable art is amazing. And I'm totally enjoying your narration of "Ivanhoe."
    So when I saw that, after purchasing "Persuasion," my favorite Jane Austen, on kindle for free would get me your version of it for .99 on Audible, it was a no brainer. And that was the problem. It's my fault, really it is: I should've used my brain.
    WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?
    A man? Doing Jane Austen?
    No disrespect, and you do well, so well, with the general narrative, but really! Your female voices, and with J.Austen there are many, many of them, are dreadful. You've warped them into general caricatures, some whiny, some laughably imperious. Only Anne is delivered as a normal person, but her level-headedness comes off as masculine.
    It's my fault, and I'm so sorry.
    But I just couldn't finish this.
    Maybe Anne should say sh** and f***?

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Jackson Galaxy, Joel Derfner
    • Narrated By Jackson Galaxy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (222)
    Performance
    (208)
    Story
    (210)

    In this book, Galaxy tells the poignant story of his 13-year relationship with a petite gray-and-white short-haired cat named Benny, and gives singular advice for living with, caring for, and loving the feline in your home. When Benny arrived in his life, Galaxy was a down-and-out rock musician with not too much more going on than a part-time job at an animal shelter and a drug problem. Benny's previous owner brought the cat to the shelter in a cardboard box to give him up.

    Dawn says: "10 Stars!!!"
    "2 Broken Souls, A Whole Lotta Love & Profanity :)"
    Overall
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    Story

    But seriously, this book is totally worth the profanity. Like, who the hell cares, right? People are who they are, and Jackson Galaxy rocks in my book. This is one incredibly messed up man who I can completely relate to, having made some pretty poor choices in my time. (It's hard out there! It's hard in here! It's hard!) He gives us, the reader/listener complete access to his life, no excuses, well, plenty of the excuses he made at the time, knowing how totally full of it he was (is that bravery, honesty, or what?), and let's us walk/stagger along in his shoes. It's quite a journey. Especially when we get to the two, what my husband and I call, God Moments:
    He applies, and gets a job at an animal shelter.
    He offers to foster, then adopts a horribly injured cat named Omni (OMNI, for gosh sakes! Whatthehell?!?)
    The book up until Omni/Benny is pretty great. Because Galaxy's got the gift o' the gato. If you love cats, you'll be reassured of some of the things you've been using already, and you'll learn a few more things. I remember this one cat I worked with after Hurricane Katrina: It was so terrified in its cage, would NOT sleep. I crouched away from it, did the gentle blinking, softly stroked the blanket by the opening of its cage and whispered rhythmically until I could get it to fall asleep. Took 1hr. 15mins. and I stayed there so it could have 20 mins. REM sleep and I was in PAIN. But as Galaxy says (and demonstrates) over and over through this wonderful, marvelous book: Screw all that! They are SO worth it!
    The real wonder of the book comes with the arrival of Benny because Benny is an eye opener, a game changer, the best damned cat ever.
    Benny's the kind of cat that makes you swear you'll write a book about
    Benny's the kind of cat that makes this an, oh-so worthy listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Hal Herzog
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (150)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (104)

    Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is a highly entertaining and illuminating journey through the full spectrum of human-animal relations, based on Herzog's groundbreaking research on animal rights activists, cockfighters, professional dog show handlers, veterinary students, and biomedical researchers. Blending anthropology, history, brain science, behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy, Herzog carefully crafts a seamless narrative.

    Fara says: "Thorough and beautifully written"
    "Started As A 4-Star Review ...But..."
    Overall
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    I realized that, while I thought Herzog was being even-handed with his research and presentation, he actually wasn't. We all know that we can find research that backs up ANY point of view, and Herzog did that a couple of times. I felt that was okay for the most part as he would later clarify a more reasoned position. It turns out I have a really big problem with this for a few reasons: 1) Starting off an argument with unsound reasoning. It detracts from anything worthwhile. Vegans and vegetarians run the risk of becoming anorexics and bulimics? Blah, blah, blah. Oh, wait! Actually, the REAL study says that ANOREXICS and BULIMICS sometimes turn to veganism/vegeterianism. BIG difference, Mr. Herzog. 2) Just plain wrong. A gazillion percent of practicing vegetarians admit to eating meat within the past 24-hrs. Huh? This is where I think you can dig up any sort of sample to to get any sort of answer you want from your research.
    Finally, the lack of a fourth star is because I truly, truly, truly wonder if people are so stupid? They'll call themselves vegetarian but will eat chicken and fish? They'll be against cockfighting but will eat chicken?
    And Mr. Herzog? You think it's cruel the way chickens are raised but a rooster raised to be slaughtered by claws and blades is okay? And it's okay to spout histrionic studies first, relatively sane studies last? Oy, you give me a headache...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By David Grimm
    • Narrated By Graham Hamilton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (43)

    In this fascinating exploration of the changing status of dogs and cats in society, pet lover and award-winning journalist David Grimm explores the rich and surprising history of our favorite companion animals. He treks the long and often torturous path from their wild origins to their dark days in the middle ages to their current standing as the most valued animals on Earth. For pet lovers or anyone interested in how we decide who gets to be a “person” in today’s world, Citizen Canine is a must-have. It is a pet tale like no other.

    Gillian says: "Cats and Dogs Unite!"
    "Cats and Dogs Unite!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Seriously, every now and then this book tried getting a bit political and I kept thinking that Grimm was going to force Unionization upon our favorite four-legged friends. Thankfully however, he stopped short of this, and let me just take this opportunity to get the "political" aspect of the book out of the way. There's quite a bit of back and forth about whether animals should legally be granted "personhood," should be granted rights. This is ticking off veterinarians (malpractice suits), agribusiness (livestock/meat industry), and laboratories (Oh, hell, what are we gonna cut up now?). ALL of them are squawking about not giving animals those rights: it'll ruin their business, slow production, set science back, etc. etc. And most people are against it too because oddly enough, in a lot of states, it would give animals more rights than people. To this I say, animals need more protection in businesses--they suffer far too much. I'm not saying stop using them, just, jiminy h. cricket, can't we be more humane?!? Also, do we always have to drop to the least common denominator? How about, instead of continuing to deny rights to animals, let's elevate rights for humans also?
    Okay, that was my rant about that part of the book, and that's not what the whoooole book was about. There was plenty of great stuff in here. A few ick bits, as D. Grimm goes on an "Animal Cops"-type ride along to find the severed heads of two dogs (and hallelujah, at least we're in a day and age where that's legally taken seriously). But some great visits to rescues, and sanctuaries are here also. Ditto with the histories of our beloved furbags.
    I really enjoyed this book, thought it was credit-worthy and the narration, if not inspired, was more than adequate.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Chris Rose
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    1 Dead in Attic is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrated as a local treasure and heaped with national praise, Rose provides a rollercoaster ride of observation, commentary, emotion, tragedy, and even humor - in a way that only he could find in a devastated wasteland. They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair.

    Gillian says: "Still Makes Me Hurt"
    "Still Makes Me Hurt"
    Overall
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    I got involved with animal rescue after Katrina hit, was a nutcase by the time Rita swept through (even though I hadn't been there yet, but the images, my imagination, the extent of my caring about the horror were enough), and had full blown PTSD by the time I came back after two weeks in New Orleans helping out when the state was kicking out all out-of-state rescues. The place, ALL of those parishes, are dear to me. I HAD to get this book because the title: 1 Dead in Attic was pretty much something you saw everywhere (along with 4 dogs DOA, 3 cats DOA in Bathroom, things like that.)
    I still grieve.
    But I felt like I was given a little piece of "home," if you will, when I listened to Chris Rose's book. It's a series of his articles, all the happenings, all his thoughts, things that went on after Katrina, for over a year, the horror, the heartache, the struggles and triumphs. The depression and sense of loss. The rebirth (sometimes with meds needed).
    I guess this might not be everybody's cup of tea. Katrina no longer holds the nation's attention, but it's a wonderful book in its own right, a touching one worthy of a listen.
    And Bronson Pinchot? He has just grown into one of the most fearless narrators I've ever had the pleasure of listening to! Anger, exasperation, humor, tenderness, robotic depression, gentle love, all tones and expressions seem so easy for him to convey.
    Wow to this book.
    Simply:
    Wow

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Writing Life

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Annie Dillard
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (49)

    With color, irony, and sensitivity, Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that is the writer’s life. As it probes and exposes, examines and analyzes, The Writing Life offers deeper insight into one of the most mysterious of professions.

    Virginia says: "Loved Annie Dillard"
    "How Odd--How Poorly Written?!?"
    Overall
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    Story

    If you can weed through the flowery language, the endless adjectives and adjectives, you might find something here. I, however, feel that this was a waste of time. This had more the feel of a "reality check," which, okay, writers sure as hell need from time to time, but there was little wisdom offered in its place.
    This is a very short work, not a lot of money, but still. The only thing worse than a waste of money is a waste of time. Save both of yours; go for a longer, more in-depth work for real education, real inspiration, real guidance.
    Avoid the adjective/adverb exhaustion

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Into That Forest

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Louis Nowra
    • Narrated By Lisbeth Kennelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (65)

    Two girls survive a terrible flood in the Tasmanian bush and are rescued by a pair of Tasmanian tigers who raise them in the wild. Their story of survival is remarkable, as they adapt to the life of the tiger, learning to hunt and to communicate without the use of human language. When they are discovered and returned to civilization, neither can adapt to being fully human after their extraordinary experience. Totally believable, their story will both shock and captivate listeners as it explores the animal instincts that lie beneath our civilized veneer.

    Bridget Niki says: "When tigers are better parents than your own ..."
    "Excellent Narration of a Dramatic Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, let's just get the narration out of the way. I totally get twitchy about narration that drags, so I usually listen to all my books at x1.25 speed. This book, however, really shines at x1.50. The story becomes passionate, breathless, zips along and carries the listener with it. Lisbeth Kennelly gives a fearless and touching performance, and I have nothing but good things to say about her.
    The book itself starts out with a Young Adult flair, I thought, but soon I began to pick up the universal essences from the narrative: loss, fear, loneliness, a need to belong. Things of that ilk. And by the time the two young protagonists, Hannah and Becky are "rescued," things really hit the fan, and readers of all ages will be able to relate to their dilemmas--how do we bend to society's will and still be ourselves? How do we let go of the best parts of our lives, do what's "right?" How do we live with grief? Very provocative.
    Wonderfully written too. Nowra writes some gorgeous prose here. Sometimes metaphors and similes tick me off (Sorry, just have a "thing" about 'em at times), but this book is full of some really breathtaking comparisons. And I gotta say, one of the things I looooove about reading/writing, is that the written word can go ANYWHERE the writer wishes to take us. Love, loyalty, brutal betrayal, friendship, remorse, things that can never be forgiven; all surprises when handled deftly by a skilled author.
    This is a great book (especially since it has tigers, and anyone who's EVER read a review of mine knows I think animals rock!), and the ONLY reason I'd be hesitant about recommending using an entire credit for it is because of how short it is, even though it's really quite a stellar work. If you're twitchy, wait for a half credit sale, Daily Deal, kindle bundle, whatever.
    You'll discover your inner "beast" and will like it...

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee - A Look inside North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Jang Jin-sung
    • Narrated By Daniel York
    Overall
    (327)
    Performance
    (305)
    Story
    (309)

    As North Korea's State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.

    David says: "Stop browsing and get this Book"
    "An Edge of Your Seat Thriller!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jang Jin-sung starts the book with his life inside North Korea as a poet and quickly becomes disillusioned. Finally, he is forced, no options, to run for his life with a friend. "Dear Leader" gives a view into North Korea that only "Nothing to Envy" does more painfully, and every step of the way, we the readers, hold our breaths. Because we know, as Jang knows, as his friend knows, bad, bad, bad things will happen if they get caught trying to escape to China.
    One of the things that I liked about this book, however, was that, through the doom and gloom, there were some mighty good people, willing to risk their lives (yeah, sure, maybe a couple of them asked for a pittance, but money or not, they were risking prison/death just the same) to help the young men out. So many times, books/stories of this nature have no bright spots. I was so happy to listen to people caring. I'm not sure that I'd have that kind of bravery when it came down to it, especially since Jang and everyone can NEVER relax; escaping North Korea is bad enough, but China is no picnic either.
    You will bite your nails with this book. You will gasp with horror and surprise. You will pace as you listen (instead of doing things you need to do like, oh, say laundry 'cause the washing machine is too loud and you won't be able to hear the book over it...)
    If you're looking for an exciting, enthralling, if appalling/horrifying read, "Dear Leader" definitely is it!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Beloved Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Alana Terry
    • Narrated By Kathy Garver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (277)
    Performance
    (249)
    Story
    (250)

    In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. Catastrophic floods have ravaged her countryside. But it is her father's faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha's well-being. Is Chung-Cha's father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter? Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labor.

    Annie Douglass Lima says: "Deeply Moving"
    "Kinda Over-The-Top, But Fairly Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a jolly good book (wait, maybe jolly isn't the proper word for a book like this...?), but it's a bit over-dramatic. I don't for a second doubt the human rights abuses, the camps, the torture, the religious persecution; I think it came down to Kathy Garver's excessive snarling and growling of men/"bad guy" voices. And there are sooooo many of those that it throws the narrative and flow off.
    But this is a good listen, an enlightening listen, and while I sorta had a knee jerk response when I discovered that I just purchased something that could be considered Christian literature (I know, I'm a narrow-minded toad; no offense to toads meant), I was quite pleased that the characters in the story lived their faith more than preached it. That's the way I was taught to live and I found it refreshing and inspiring.
    While I thought the ending was abrupt at the time, after thinking about it for a time (and trust me, this book is good enough that you will truly think about it quite a bit), I realize that it ended the only way it could.
    Read this book if you get a chance, but only as a Daily Deal, or a discount. Or do a kindle unlimited/audible bundle deal. This is a story that will get to you-if you're interested in North Korea/human rights/survival of the human spirit. Even love.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Elisabeth Tova Bailey
    • Narrated By Renee Raudman
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Elisabeth Tova Bailey tells the intimate and inspiring story of her year-long encounter with a snail. While an illness keeps her bedridden, she becomes an astute and amused observer of the snail's surprising nocturnal adventures as it lives in a flowerpot on her nightstand. Intrigued by the snail’s clear decision making abilities, hydraulic locomotion, mysterious courtship, and molluscan anatomy, Bailey takes the listener deep into the life of this tiny amazing animal. With wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating recounts a remarkable journey of human and gastropod survival and resilience, and shows how the natural world illuminates our own human existence. Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Nonfiction, the John Burrough Medal Award for Natural History, and a National Outdoor Book Award. If you enjoyed Wesley the Owl, The Guest Cat, and Marley & Me, you'll enjoy this unique interspecies audiobook listen.

    Gillian says: "3.5 Stars—But Quite Enjoyable"
    "3.5 Stars—But Quite Enjoyable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I kinda feel bad that I gave "Until I Say Good-Bye" the ALS good-bye letter 3-stars and I'm giving this precious little ditty 3.5, but it's like this, see? Susan Spencer-Wendel wasn't alone in her illness but Elizabeth Toya Bailey was.
    It's easy to find joy, love, beauty when it's all around you because people you love are taking you places.
    It's harder than hell to find it when you're immobilized by illness in a single room and can't even roll over.
    I found so much wonder and joy in listening to this book; so much delight and humor. Raudman narrates with a growing curiosity, a liveliness, a sincerity that only the best narrators have. She does a really great job bringing the words to life and makes it seem as there is a (Ha!) growing friendship, I kid you not, developing between woman and snail.
    When I listened to "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating," I couldn't help but think of Corrie Ten Boom and "The Hiding Place." When Corrie is imprisoned for helping hide Jews, a little ant comes to see her every day, and she sees the wonder in that, is grateful for that.
    That's what really made my heart sing with this book. Someone finding wonder in something they might overlook otherwise, finding pleasure, finding grace.
    And the only reason it's not a better rating? TOOOO much dry information. Really? Can you manage to make snail sex boring? Seeeeriously?!? I wound up blushing AND yawning...
    But a charming book, all in all

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Martin Pistorius
    • Narrated By Simon Bubb
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged 12, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within 18 months he was mute and wheelchair bound. Martin's parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and fewer than two years to live.

    Gillian says: "Emerging From Darkness"
    "Emerging From Darkness"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't a perfect book, but it certainly is a perfect experience. You loved seeing past the pain and terror of mental illness to the true genius that "A Beautiful Mind" portrayed? How about the beauty, the lyricism that came with "My Left Foot?" "Ghost Boy" comes from those depths, reaches those stellar heights, and you'll probably, if you have even a single sensitive bone in your body, cry before you've finished listening to this book.
    What I love about this book is that Martin is by no means bitter, despite having every right to be. The years he's lost, the illness/debilitation, the abuse he's suffered—he'd have every right to hold on to these horrible, horrible things that have happened to him. Instead, he approaches every thing, every day as though he's breathing a hope and a prayer. This is not a negative, downer of a book and Pistorius is an extraordinary human being.
    Years ago I worked with a severely-disturbed teen-aged girl with multiple impairments, no vision, and no language. Sometimes through the day and night, she'd jab her chest hard with her finger, over and over, while tiny tears trickled down her face, and of course, she had no words to go with this. I always wondered if she was feeling, or trying to say something like, "Me. I'm here." I'd hug her, but she'd still keep jabbing, still keep crying, and I'd wonder.
    Now, after reading this amazing, funny, inspiring book by Mr. Pistorius, I feel like I can close my eyes and at least send out a little prayer to that girl (No, now a woman), and say, "Yes. You're here."
    Thanks for the book, Martin

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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