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Lafayette, IN, United States | Member Since 2011

  • 4 reviews
  • 32 ratings
  • 140 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015

  • Travels in Siberia

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Ian Frazier
    • Narrated By Ian Frazier

    Ian Frazier trains his eye for unforgettable detail on Siberia, that vast expanse of Asiatic Russia. He explores many aspects of this storied, often grim region. He writes about the geography, the resources, the native peoples, the history, the 40-below midwinter afternoons, the bugs. The book brims with Mongols, half-crazed Orthodox archpriests, fur seekers, ambassadors of the czar bound for Peking, tea caravans, German scientists, American prospectors, intrepid English nurses, and prisoners and exiles of every kind....

    Sara says: "I Loved This Book"
    "Would have benefitted from maps and pictures"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Travels in Siberia?

    I was most fascinated by the historic flashbacks, such when he writes about Genghis Khan, the development of the Russian aristocracy and the Decemberists. The travel writing is not so interesting, although Frazier certainly has a gift for storytelling. I haven't finished the book and might not ever because, so far (perhaps 2/3 in) not much has happened. I think for the most part, he relies too much on the reader having a strong idea of what Siberia is like. He tends to play against such assumptions, but since I had so little understanding of the difference between Siberia and Western Russia, much of the impact fell flat for me. I hope that the hardcopy book contains maps and photographs. The endless listing of places doesn't work particularly well in an audiobook format and, while he describes locales fabulously, there are plenty of you-had-to-be-there moments which slowed down the pace.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Half of a Yellow Sun: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Narrated By Robin Miles

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Adichie’s brilliant historical novel follows the fortunes of five characters living through the tumultuous 1960s—a time when the Biafran-Nigerian War raged in southern Africa.

    Alla says: "Horrifyingly human - mandatory reading"
    "Overlooked history through compelling characters"
    What made the experience of listening to Half of a Yellow Sun the most enjoyable?

    I actually bought this book because I was so impressed with Robin Miles' reading of The Warmth of Other Suns. I had heard good things about Adichie, so it seemed like a good fit. Miles continues to impress. The only drawback of the audiobook is that the book has a strange structure - midway through it has an odd chronological jump that perhaps would make more sense in the print version.

    What did you like best about this story?

    As the characters were being introduced, I kept trying to anticipate their fatal flaws, the thing about them that would lead them to wrong others or some other tragedy. But Adichie masterfully both evokes and evades such stock character tricks. In the end, this is a book without villains (which are my favorite kind). It's a book not about minor cruelties, but about a world gone mad and the way people come together to endure atrocities.

    Have you listened to any of Robin Miles’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    As mentioned above, I love Robin Miles and would like to listen to more of her work. She handles changes in gender, class and regional accent well, making each character distinctly memorable. In the other book, The Warmth of Other Suns, she does marvelous things with American accents. In this book, she does Nigerian and British, as well as speaking occasional Igbo.

    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    This story could not be told in film format. It would end up trite and moralistic, which is precisely the opposite of what makes Adichie's writing so good.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Marriage Plot

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

    FanB14 says: "Esoteric, Vapid, Trite"
    "Eugenides writes boring characters beautifully"
    What did you like best about The Marriage Plot? What did you like least?

    Eugenides writes with astounding compassion. He allows us to sympathize with all of his characters, no matter how devastating they are to one another. In writing about three intellectuals and grounding his text in a college campus, he has depicted the passions which so often motivate academics without falling into the common traps of the academic novel (horny, over-entitled, middle-aged, white men trying to sleep with younger women and feeling tragic and angsty about it).

    Any additional comments?

    Despite his compassion, however, in this novel, Eugenedes fails to make me care about any of these obsessively self-indulgent characters. Maybe this is why he so often write about late adolescents, because the character flaws of that age so powerfully appeal to him. Unfortunately, the book left we wondering why I should care about any of them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Erik Larson
    • Narrated By Tony Goldwyn

    Two men embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the 20th century: Daniel Hudson Burnham, the brilliant director of works for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair; and Henry H. Holmes, who used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths.

    SST010 says: "Enthralling part - its true!"
    "Lurid tale, average writing, solid reading"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The link between architecture and homicidal insanity is unconvincing. Both the story of the World's Fair and the story of America's first serial killer are fascinating, but they don't match-up together as well as Larson would have us believe. The story necessitate some fascinating moments, but those moments are often told poorly. Larson clearly wants to build tension, leave his readers longing, and deal with the most grotesque moments with restraint and respect. He ends up instead sounding like he simply didn't complete his research, although I have no doubt he provide every available fact. I suspect that a touch of creative license would have made the book far more coherent and compelling. Larson also would have been better off if he had not picked up quite so many loose threads. While many of the side stories are interesting, they're so brief, and occur so sparingly throughout the main two plots, that they feel like incomplete distractions. Which is a shame, really. I would have loved to learn more about the worker's strike.

    Would you recommend The Devil in the White City to your friends? Why or why not?

    Absolutely. The book capture a fascinating moment in history quite vividly, and a few of the figures described even manage to wrangle a personality out of Larson.

    Could you see The Devil in the White City being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    This would make an exquisite visual text. There is so much imagery and essential architecture that I wish they'd make a mini-series out of it. Without a doubt, Cilian Murphy would make an excellent Holmes and wouldn't it be fun to have Stephen Rea play the detective who doggedly pursues him? As for the architects, I didn't get much of feel for any of them, nor did I for any of the female characters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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