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Rena Alisa

Los Gatos, CA, US | Member Since 2010

42
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 34 reviews
  • 114 ratings
  • 289 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2015
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  • Buddhism for Busy People

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By David Michie
    • Narrated By Nicholas Bell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (615)
    Performance
    (343)
    Story
    (353)

    In this simple, beautifully written book, David Michie opens the door to the core teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. With wry, self-deprecating humour, he shows us how he began to incorporate Buddhist practices into his daily life. He explains how he came to understand the difference between the temporary pleasures of ordinary life, and the profound sense of well-being and heart-felt serenity that comes from connecting with our inner nature.

    Jes says: "Great for beginners and experienced alike"
    "perdictable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Buddhism for Busy People to be better than the print version?

    For once, here is an author who can do a good job reading his own book.
    Much of the content was predictable, but I still learned -- or reaffirmed -- the main lesson.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Handmaid's Tale

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Margaret Atwood
    • Narrated By Claire Danes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4626)
    Performance
    (4158)
    Story
    (4190)

    Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name....

    Emily - Audible says: "My Top Pick for 2012"
    "Fanaticism makes strange bedfellows."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When this book first cam out I decided to skip it. It is not really science fiction -- just a weak "alternative future" tale. But I have been listening to the news lately and in many places religious fanatics are kidnapping women and girls and forcing them into unwanted marriages. This tale has become all too real. So I decided to give this book a try.

    It is a good "listen" and I am glad I spent time with it. The voice of the protagonist describes a thuggish takeover of part of the US by a group of right wing religious Christians. It is a military state -- ethnically cleansed and at constant war with all the non-believers. It is a nightmare dystopia where dissidents are murdered outright and everyone must conform to the religious standards in word and deed. Sounds a lot like ISIS -- although this book was written well before
    ISIS existed.

    The narrator is a woman who's husband and daughter have "disappeared". Because of very low fertility rates, she has been trained as a "handmaiden" and assigned to one of the leading politicians. Her job is to produce a child for the commander's wife. In this society, all women are completely subjugated to the service of men. They are not allowed to read or write or live or work on their own. They wear veils. Unmarried men are kept away. Men are only awarded wives when they complete military service.

    It is already happening all over the world. Could it happen here?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11966)
    Performance
    (10846)
    Story
    (10869)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Why is this a bestseller?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this book because
    1) It was selected for a book club I belong to.
    2) It is a bestseller
    3) I had just seen the hauntingly beautiful picture which is the title.

    Donna Dartt is an engaging writer, she is a vivid wordsmith and all of her descriptions of people and places are engaging. She is great at inventing lively character with whom I can identify. She is great at describing her protagonist (and narrator's) inner life. She writes well.

    On the downside, she does not know when to stop. Halfway through the book I began to get quite bored with the constant repetition of drugging episodes. By the end I was hoping our "hero" would just overdose and put us all out of our misery.

    I began by being very engaged and interested. I ended by wondering, "Why all the fuss about this book?" A good editor would have restored some balance and saved all the good parts.
    If you decide to listen to this book, fast forward through the last two hours and just pick up the end.ing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (58 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (636)
    Performance
    (586)
    Story
    (595)

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales are rightly ranked among the seminal works of mystery and detective fiction. Included in this collection are all four full-length Holmes novels and more than forty short masterpieces - from the inaugural adventure A Study in Scarlet to timeless favorites like “The Speckled Band” and more. At the center of each stands the iconic figure of Holmes - brilliant, eccentric, and capable of amazing feats of deductive reasoning.

    SantaFePainter says: "A Table of Contents & Audible Part/Chapter Notes"
    "Still a Masterpeice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read the complete Sherlock Holmes as a child. Now, at age 70, I listen with the same pleasure. No movie or TV version of these tales has ever come close to the original.
    Conan Doyle writes so simply. The power of these stories is a mystery to me.
    Beautifully narrated this book (actually many books) contain hours of listening pleasure.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2308)
    Performance
    (1507)
    Story
    (1513)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "Only a chemist could like this book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book seems like a good idea. Take each element in the periodic table and tell the reader something interesting about that element. This would work better if there were anly six or eight elements. Unfortunately, there are over 100 elements. This cleaver enterprise gets dull very fast. I like chemistry. But I do not like loads and loads of unrelated facts.

    There are no thematic ideas to tie this vast load of trivia together. It is like listening to the cards of Trivial Pursuit being read aloud. The first half dozen are interesting. After that you just tune out. Skip this book in favor of UNCLE TUNGSTEN by Oliver Sacks. That is a fascinating book with lots of chemistry in it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Macbeth: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Alan Cumming
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1519)
    Performance
    (1274)
    Story
    (1269)

    Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape in which they are played.

    Beverly says: "Narrator choice inspired"
    "A nice try"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If Shakespeare had written a novel instead of a play -- this might be close.. There are some nice descriptions to set the time and place. There is an additional character to tie things together and move the "history" along. If Giuseppe Verdi can turn Macbeth into a first rate opera, why not a novel?
    This book is interesting and well written, but I have seen the play and it is totally fantastic! You can't beat Shakespeare at the writing game. This book lacks -- well -- it lacks drama!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Planets

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Dava Sobel
    • Narrated By Lorna Raver
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (21)

    The sun's family of planets become a familiar place in this personal account of the lives of other worlds. Sobel explores the planets' origins and oddities through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. This intimate account is filled with fascination, beauty, and surprise.

    Ethan says: "Superb story of our changing views of the planets"
    "Dava Sobel misses"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Oh dear! I am a great Dava Sobel fan. I loved LONGITUDE so much that I went to Greenwich in England, just to see those clocks. I reread GALILEO'S DAUGHTER twice.
    Dava Sobel is a fantastic science writer.

    But this book is just silly. Starting with Mercury and moving outward she combines all kinds of unrelated drivel about each planet. No plot. No Theme. Nothing to focus on.
    A complete waste of a good credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Tamim Ansary
    • Narrated By Tamim Ansary
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (613)
    Performance
    (452)
    Story
    (442)

    Until about 1800, the West and the Islamic realm were like two adjacent, parallel universes, each assuming itself to be the center of the world while ignoring the other. As Europeans colonized the globe, the two world histories intersected and the Western narrative drove the other one under. The West hardly noticed, but the Islamic world found the encounter profoundly disrupting.

    David says: "A history of the world before the West mattered"
    "An Insider's view of Islam"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author, Tamim Ansary, is a devout Muslim. Born in the Middle East, he is now a professor of Islamic studies and history in the US. He lives in two worlds. In this lucid and well written book, he attempts to describe the history, sociology, and general world view of Islam. This is a tall order, but he does it well.

    In the author's view the values of the Islamic world are innately different than the values of the West. The central feature is the "Uma" -- the collective society. The aim of the Uma is to care for all of it's members. To do this requires unity and a traditional code of conduct. Women are supposed to be closeted and home oriented. Individuals are supposed to follow community rules for the good of all. Religion is the primary socializing force and so the religious leaders must be in charge.

    The author does not promote Islamic ideals over those of Western Democracy. He is just trying to explain how we arrived where we are today. I am writing this review during the Jan.8th 2015 hostage crisis in Paris. So this book is very relevant. Intellectually, Tamim Ansary seems totally in tune with the free values of his adopted country. Emotionally he seems to long for the social closeness and safety of his Islamic heritage. But you really cannot have it both ways.

    This book has helped me understand the current news much better. However it does not offer any solutions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Galileo's Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Dava Sobel
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (122)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (65)

    Galileo Galilei was the foremost scientist of his day. Though he never left Italy, his inventions and discoveries were heralded around the world. His telescopes allowed him to reveal the heavens and enforce the astounding argument that the earth moves around the sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced to spend his last years under house arrest.

    Jean says: "Eppur, si muove"
    "Geniuses have families too."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story of Galileo, the famous astronomer, is well known. Galileo had a companion whom he did not marry because she was "beneath" him in social status. They had three children together. The son was legitimized, but the daughters (ages 10 and 12) were sent to a convent and cloistered there for the rest of their lives. Galileo remained in close contact with his daughters and corresponded with his eldest Soeur Maria Cileste.

    Dava Sobel has reconstructed the life and character of Maria from the correspondence with her illustrious father. This is a double story. We are told a great deal about Galileo's discoveries, thoughts and writings. What is unique is that we also learn about the everyday life of these two remarkable people. Maria was a brilliant woman who was totally devoted to her father and her vocation.

    An absolute "must read". I have listened several times and enjoy it more with each retelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ben MacIntyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (548)
    Performance
    (286)
    Story
    (279)

    Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

    Scott says: "Intrigue and True"
    "Truth is stranger than fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I usually avoid both war stories and spy stories. If this book hadn't been selected for my favorite book club I never would have picked it up. It is a great read and I enjoyed every page. The Agent Zig-zag of the title was a double agent the British sent to spy on Germany in WWII. He began his career as a safe-cracker and thief. He was in prison when he was selected as a spy. I don't want to tell you the entire story -- get the book and listen for yourself. This is a true story. Most of the events could be made up. It is excellently written and beautifully read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • King Solomon's Mines

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Henry Rider Haggard
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (328)
    Performance
    (303)
    Story
    (300)

    One of the bestselling novels of the 19th century, King Solomon's Mines has inspired dozens of adventure stories, including Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan books and the Indiana Jones movies. Vivid and enormously action-packed, Henry Rider Haggard's tale of danger and discovery continues to shock and thrill, as it has since it was first presented to the public and heralded as "the most amazing book ever written."

    BJ says: "Purchase the Kindle book for free"
    "Dull, racist, and sexist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    How did this book become so famous? There were plenty of adventure tales -- both fictional and real. The plot is simple minded. The characters are uninteresting caricatures. You lean nothing about Africa. A total waste of time. The narrator is fine -- but he has nothing to work with. This book is also totally racist. The only woman in it is a witch.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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