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Susan

I've become an avid "reader" since I discovered audiobooks a few years ago. Also a cat lover - at left is Prince Harold

Marietta, GA, United States | Member Since 2010

ratings
206
REVIEWS
82
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
112

  • Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Yann Martel
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (218)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (81)

    When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and the epic journey they undertake together.

    S. Connors says: "Excellent writing and reading, but..."
    "Torture"
    Overall

    Reading this book, with the exception of some really interesting passages like the description of the pear, was torture. The graphic depiction of the torture of animals, metaphoric though it was, was just impossible for me to listen to once I saw where it was going. For those of us like me who read and enjoyed the quirky Life of Pi, and based on the somewhat whimsical nature of this book's cover art, this story unfolded in an unexpected and devastating fashion. I don't like putting the sort of images that Mr. Martel created into my head, where they will remain. I felt blindsided.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Time's Arrow: Or the Nature of the Offense

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Martin Amis
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcom
    Overall
    (52)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (40)

    Martin Amis turns to a tricky literary conceit to tell the story of an ex-Nazi, Dr. Tod T. Friendly. Friendly is possessed of two separate voices, one running backward from his death, the other running forward, fleeing his unsavory past.

    Darwin8u says: "A minor experiment from a very good author."
    "Clever time travel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Interesting concept - running time backward. From death to birth. I kept trying to find inconsistencies in the narrative, but could find few. An interesting read that reminds me of the movie, Memento, though the idea is different.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Eden: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Chris Beckett
    • Narrated By Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (194)
    Performance
    (181)
    Story
    (180)

    On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say - and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

    Amazon Customer says: "Hope to see a sequel soon"
    "Incredibly Creative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I finished this book about a month ago and it has stuck with me. Pieces of it come back to haunt me frequently. I would love more....don't know if a sequel is planned or not. I think I'd like one, but the ending almost precludes that, but then I'm not a creative writer, so maybe. I loved the way Beckett morphed language over time, and it definitely does change. I find myself saying things like, "boy it's hot hot today," or "I'm hungry hungry."

    I was captivated by the description of Dark Eden, on the rogue planet with no sun. It seemed absolutely beautiful, with the lantern trees and animals having evolved their own lanterns to provide light for themselves, and the "starry swirl" which was apparent at cloudless times. But for the marooned people there who longed for Earth and its sun, it was very sad. Also sad was the fact that their gene pool was very limited, everyone having descended from the original two humans who were marooned there. Predictably, birth defects abounded, "bat faces" and "claw feet.," and the people of "the family" knew and understood that. And they waited to be rescued. So a sadness pervades the book. I'm waiting for them to be rescued, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sisterhood

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Helen Bryan
    • Narrated By Laura Roppe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (94)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (83)

    Reeling from a broken engagement, adopted 19-year-old Menina Walker flees to Spain to bury her misery by writing her overdue college thesis - and soon finds herself on an unexpected journey into the past. The subject of her study is Tristan Mendoza, an obscure 16th-century artist whose signature includes a tiny swallow - the same swallow depicted on a medal that is Menina’s only link to her birth family. Hoping her research will reveal the swallow’s significance and clue her in to her origins, Menina discovers the ancient chronicle of a Spanish convent containing the stories of five orphaned girls hidden from the Spanish Inquisition.

    Kafwood says: "Implausible & schoolgirlish"
    "Boring Flat Characters; Terrible Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The characters were all stereotypes; Menina - the good girl, her parents - the hayseeds from GA, the nuns, ah the nuns! - all old lady nun stereotypes. And the narration. My first irritation was the adoptive parents' fake-y southern accents. If I'd been the Mother Superior at the orphanage, I wouldn't have approved the adoption, not because the they were Southern Baptists, though I think that would have given most Catholic nuns pause, but because they didn't seem quite bright.

    Lots of things happen to Menina that don't make sense - first of all, her name, which if I remember correctly was the middle name of some relative of her parents. Menina....really? I live in GA and I've never heard it as a given name.

    The narration also included lots of fake-y Spanish accents, some Castillian, some not. And everyone could always seem to speak another language if it moved the story along and be unable to if it didn't. Menina particularly, who apparently knew Spanish well but at one point was too tired to speak it.

    I guess I understand the use of a Spanish-y accent for people when they are speaking Spanish in the book, but I don't understand using it for the 3rd person narrative parts. It's an English book written for people who speak English.

    I also found jumping back and forth in time an annoyance - sometimes I didn't know which time I was in because the characters in both times were similar - young women and nuns in the same rickety old convent.

    All in all, it was a slow-go for me. I read about 2/3 of it and skipped to the (predictable) end and don't feel I missed anything.

    And what's up with the swallow?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Language A to Z

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (277)
    Performance
    (250)
    Story
    (243)

    Linguistics, the study of language, has a reputation for being complex and inaccessible. But here's a secret: There's a lot that's quirky and intriguing about how human language works-and much of it is downright fun to learn about. But with so many potential avenues of exploration, it can often seem daunting to try to understand it. Where does one even start?

    Jacobus says: "A genious Miscelany of linguistic topics"
    "Just Swell!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    That is, to use a term that I learned has almost dropped out of our language to describe something good. So many tidbits of interesting information. What it made me realize is the huge difference between spoken and written language and the relationships between languages that you wouldn't suspect. For instance Maltese, which apparently sounds very much like Italian and uses some Italian words, is more closely related to Arabic, though it uses the Latin alphabet.

    As others have noted, this does move very fast and I would probably have to listen again if there were a final exam and I wanted to pass the course. Fortunately, Audible does not have final exams! I may listen again anyway.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hominids: The Neanderthal Parallax, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Robert J. Sawyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1180)
    Performance
    (533)
    Story
    (539)

    Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. But it can't help his fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.

    Scott says: "Scicen Fiction Can Be Literature"
    "Sophomoric"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I did finish listening - the story was not boring. But the dialog was rather clunky and awkward to listen to, especially between Mary and Ponter. Lines from Gone With The Wind, ET, and The Wizard of Oz were shamelessly borrowed. The ending, even for SciFI, stretches credibility to the breaking point and I'm happy to leave the story at its end, though there is a sequel, which is previewed and advertised at the end of this recording.

    The narrators were good, though my usual criticism of males affecting female voices applies here - the females sound pretty much like, well, men trying to sound like women.

    The names of the Neanderthals didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason - did they all have surnames and if so, how were they derived? I didn't look up the characters to see their names in writing, but I enjoyed hearing them as I imagined them - Ponter's daughters, Jasmine, Jazz-bo, Jazmo or Jazno, and Meg-a-Meg, and many whose names I just couldn't figure out at all.

    I was annoyed at the continued put-down of human history/society and the elevation of the noble (and brilliant!) Neanderthal society. Of course there are things in human history that merit our shame, but I don't understand the purpose of the comparison in this book and its creation of a fictional "perfect" sentient species.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dinner: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Herman Koch, Sam Garrett (translator)
    • Narrated By Clive Mantle
    Overall
    (892)
    Performance
    (781)
    Story
    (788)

    It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families.

    Jane says: "Dining at its most distubing"
    "A very strange book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I began listening, the book was hilarious. Lots of sarcastic put-downs of pretentious people and a restaurant. I thought I was in for a funny ride. But the book does turn dark...very dark. We discover things about the characters that we didn't suspect. Many things. Getting pertinent information out of the main character and narrator is like pulling teeth - very frustrating but effective. He tells us many times of things he thought of saying in a particular situation....but then he didn't say them. We gradually learn many very relevant tidbits that we wouldn't have suspected that add to the development of the story. An interesting read, but I which Koch had stuck to funny.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent
    • Narrated By Dean Gallagher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2590)
    Performance
    (1914)
    Story
    (1953)

    When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed—a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back.

    Jill says: "Heaven is For Real"
    "I generally love these Near Death experience books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This one was compelling and earnest. I had thought that because the author (father) was a pastor meant that it would probably seem or be contrived. The recounting of Colton's experience when undergoing an appendectomy evolved over time. He was only 3 or 4 and didn't tell his parents at the time it happened, but gradually made statements about the experience which brought his parents to understand what had happened to him. The difficult part for me were Colton's seeing things in Heaven (monsters, Satan, Armageddon, battles, etc) that I have taken to be metaphorical at best. Colton's account pretty much sticks to Christian biblical orthodoxy, about which his father insists that Colton previously knew very little and none of the details. Most other accounts of near death experiences that I've read, like Anita Moorjani's "Dying to be Me" and Eben Alexander's "Proof of Heaven" really emphasize God's love for all of us, regardless of what we've been guilty of in earthly life. This book tries to present itself as proof that Christianity is the only "right" religion and pretty much the only way to get to heaven.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (48)

    Conventional wisdom suggests English is going to the dogs, that bad grammar, slang, and illogical constructions signal a decline in standards of usage - to say nothing of the corruption wrought by email and text messages. But English is a complicated, marvelous language. Far from being a language in decline, English is the product of surprisingly varied linguistic forces, some of which have only recently come to light. And these forces continue to push English in exciting new directions.

    Tony says: "Easy Introduction to Linguistics"
    "The "funnest" book on language ever"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Prof. McWhorter maintains that "funnest" is not a word you can use, but I'll bet he knows what I mean.

    Maybe the best thing I can say about this lecture series is that, like a very good and compelling novel, I found myself driving around the block or listening in the garage because I found it so engaging. On one hand, I didn't want it to end, but on the other, I did so that I could write a glowing review.

    So many interesting tidbits about English and other languages and how words and expressions evolved. He gives great examples - some very humorous. He explains the difference between spoken and written language; in all languages, spoken is much more casual and less rigid than written, which allows you to plan, go back and re-write and edit (as I'm dong now) what's being written. He maintains that language is always evolving and will always continue to, and that the new electronic ways of communicating - e-mail, texting, IM, are really more like speach than writing. He finds no linguistic problem with these forms nor does he feel that they will affect the written language in a bad way.

    He's very entertaining, easy to understand and skirts around socially offensive "bad" words without actually saying them, but in a very funny way.

    I'll mention the applause between lectures as I did for another of the Great Courses Lecture series. I think it should be done away with - it's distracting.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Myths of Nutrition and Fitness

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Dr. Anthony A. Goodman
    Overall
    (128)
    Performance
    (111)
    Story
    (110)

    We all want to live long, healthy, and happy lives. But the path to achieve this-fitness and nutrition-is fraught with popular yet dangerously misleading myths about personal wellness. How do you separate the fact from the fiction? How can you recognize when you're doing your body more harm than good? Scientific knowledge has greatly expanded our understanding of how the human body works, laying many previously held ideas about fitness and nutrition to rest.

    Markus P. Mayer says: "so and so"
    "Loved some of the De-bunked Myths"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For instance, that in addition to water, other liquids including coffee and tea can be counted as hydration. According to Goodman, they are very mild diuretics - otherwise they would be used as such medically. And that the sensation of thirst does not indicate serious dehydration (as many maintain} because thirst is the first indication of the need for liquid. Also, that it doesn't matter if you eat late at night - a calorie is a calorie no matter when you eat it. He also says that you should "listen to your body" re eating and drinking and do what it dictates.

    Much of this lecture series, however, is devoted to highly technical instructions about food and drink before and after strenuous exercise, like weigh yourself nude before exercising and then again after exercising (nude again, since your post-exercise clothes may retain sweat) to determine how much water was lost and drink a specific amount based on the difference in weight. This I suspect is aimed at very serious runners and workout artists.

    This is not me....My exercise is limited to 30 or so mins on an exercise bicycle or walking around a lovely wooded 3 mile path by the river. I try to do this daily, but am known to slack off sometimes.

    All of you marathoners will probably get a lot of good information from this book.

    Goodman's lecture style is good - he speaks clearly and animatedly and obviously enjoys his subject.

    A note on the production style of all the Great Courses: To me, the applause before and after each lecture is somewhat distracting. I don't think for a minute that these lectures are actually recorded in a lecture hall - the quality is too good for that. It's sort of like the laugh-track on TV comedies.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • John Dies at the End

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By David Wong
    • Narrated By Stephen R. Thorne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1683)
    Performance
    (1533)
    Story
    (1546)

    STOP. You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands. NO, don't put it down. It's too late. They're watching you. My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you'll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it's too late. You touched the book. You're in the game. You're under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why?

    Amazon Customer says: "Vulgar Funny. 4.95 Sale Win."
    "Think I'm in the wrong demographic for this book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to about an hour of this and its about the weirdest thing I've ever heard. Read some reviews - some of them glowing from folks who found it hilarious. Haven't seen hilarity yet, just grossness for no apparent reason other than to be gross. This reminds me of Saturday Night Live, which I used to find outrageously funny. My husband and I have followed it for 30 years or so and still look forward to it at 11:30 on Saturday night. We're always disappointed these days - it all seems very silly. Have we changed or has humor changed? Don't know, but I feel the same about this book. How anyone could give it 5 stars I just can't comprehend.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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