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Laura Van Slyke

Antioch, CA United States | Member Since 2006

35
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 23 reviews
  • 527 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 52 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
148
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  • Dark Matter

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Michelle Paver
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    Overall
    (258)
    Performance
    (204)
    Story
    (202)

    January 1937. Jack Miller has just about run out of options. His shoes have worn through, he can't afford to heat his rented room in Tooting, and he longs to use his training as an specialist wireless operator instead of working in his dead-end job. When he is given the chance to join an arctic expedition, as communications expert, by a group of elite Oxbridge graduates, he brushes off his apprehensions and convinces himself to join them.

    Madeleine says: "Incredible!"
    "Beautifully narrated; thoughtfully moody."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hard-core horror fans may not be enamoured with this story, as the fear slowly simmers without really boiling over. Just enough detail to imply horror, and lots of beautifully written tension. The placement of this story post-WW2 aids several plot points and adds to the feeling of displacement, or disorientation, the reader may experience. The main character is nicely developed and likeable. His story is told in an intimate, journal style. The book takes it's time getting to the "creepy parts," but the quiet, moodiness of the writing, and the character development is, in it's own way, suspenseful. Possibly not the most thrilling ending, but really, the story wraps up nicely and the denoument is quite satisfying. Definitely a mood piece. And...WOW, the narration is INCREDIBLE!!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The God Engines

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (204)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (161)

    Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this — and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given....

    L. A. Loman says: "I love Scalzi's writing but not this book"
    "Ummmmm...Dark."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not what I'm used to from Scalzi. No humor or quick repartee here. I could see this interesting concept being developed into a longer novel, but for me, this short(er) story was dark and left me feeling a bit empty - kind of icky, actually.

    Has hints of "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Miller and "Origin" by Konrath, and several other books. Themes of conquest, religious zealotry...a bit of The Inquisition

    This is *I think* kind of a horror story. There are a couple short, graphic, descriptive violent scenes, and a bit of torture. Not overly done (whatever that means, haha) so they are probably palatable for the somewhat squeamish.

    Good writing; creepy narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Irritability Cure: How to Stop Being Angry, Anxious and Frustrated All the Time (Anger Management)

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 16 mins)
    • By Doc Orman MD
    • Narrated By Matt Stone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    When you eliminate negative thoughts and energy from your life, you'll feel a sense of calm an inner peace like you've never felt before. But this is the power of negative thinking - when you turn your negative thoughts around, you actually create more energy and power that moves you into the direction you want to go in your life faster than you've ever moved before. We argue to protect our viewpoint when we could just as easily let the argument go and be happy. Learn how to reprogram your mind and subconscious habits and never have another unnecessary argument again!

    Marie A says: "Short but very helpful"
    "Some good Info, but not worth the price"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This little pamphlet essentially advises you to be mindful of what you are feeling. That's always good advice, but this presentation is poor: Very little advice or examples on how to put his idea into practice, very repetitive ( all this info could have been on 1 page - in fact, he sums it up on an index card that he suggests you write up), and for some odd reason he insults The Affordable Care Act, out of nowhere. If the author put some meat into this, it might have been a more helpful purchase. When listening I felt like I was sitting at a timeshare sales pitch in exchange for free ski lift tickets. Not recommended.

    Try Pema Chodron ( any book ) or the RAIN meditation by Tara Brach .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wisdom of Self-Acceptance: Overcoming Anxiety About Imperfection

    • ORIGINAL (43 mins)
    • By Tara Brach
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    What would life be like if we lived wihtout anxiety about our imperfections? Is it really possible to accept ourselves so fully? Tara Brach answers an emphatic "yes" in The Wisdom of Self-Acceptance. Join this clinical psychologist and Buddhist meditation teacher as she shows you how to free yourself from the grip of insecurities about being good enough.

    Laura Van Slyke says: "Wonderful, but you might want to buy the full book"
    "Wonderful, but you might want to buy the full book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My two cents: if you like Tara Brach, you might as well buy Radical Self-Acceptance instead of this. I bought both, and learned right away that this little gem is almost word-for-word the opening of the other book. But, if you just want a little gem, this is great!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Spirit Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Rachel Aaron
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (749)
    Performance
    (631)
    Story
    (631)

    He's not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age - and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he’s going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start with somethingsmall. Something like a king....

    Bronwyn Soell says: "Entertaining light fantasy"
    "Potential, but falls short."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are some fun bits here. Interesting world of magic with rules I haven't seen before. The story is somewhat lighthearted, with some fairly descriptive "evil" parts that might make young listeners uncomfortable. The climax is underwhelming and yet goes on and on and on and on....and on.

    Helpful tip: for those of you who like one story per book, be warned that this book gives only a small amount of closure to the story. Here we have another attempt at a series that should really be just one book. After investing your time in this tale, you may feel a bit cheated. Don't read unless you want to pay-as-you go for your storyline.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Remaining

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By D. J. Molles
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel
    Overall
    (2450)
    Performance
    (2286)
    Story
    (2292)

    In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 20 feet below the basement level of his house, a soldier waits for his final orders. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace. The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed. Someday soon, the soldier will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his mission....

    G Wallace says: "Die Hard Meets 28 Days Later"
    "No ending."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well, there is a new take on the zombie story here, but just be warned that the book follows the disappointing trend of being an ENTIRELY incomplete story, requiring the reader to buy another book just to get even the smallest closure.

    Many authors have the skill to write books in a series, others ( or their publishers ) have one story, and break it into several books. I think it's a cheap ploy. I may think the story is moderately interesting, but not enough to buy the next book when listening to the first gives no reward for the effort.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • At Home: A Short History of Private Life

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2828)
    Performance
    (1531)
    Story
    (1537)

    Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.”

    Tina says: "Another wonderful Bryson"
    "Delightfully Tangential"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like Bill Bryson, you will like this offering, as well. Bryson brings attention and life to glossed-over ( or never-mentioned ) aspects of history. I found it difficult to stop listening to this entertaining and fascinating ( and sometimes wonderfull icky -see chapter 11) ) book.

    The structure of the book was not as I expected, being less tightly anchored to the room-by-room history adventure I anticipated from the publisher's summary. But if you are not too picky about tight structure, and don't mind ~occasionally~ not having the threads of the narrative tied together a bit more, then you will enjoy this wandering trip through some of the foundations (no pun intended) of why our homes ended up designed and built the way they are. If you are familiar with and like the old PBS television series, Connections, you are probably someone who will devour this book.

    Bryson continues to introduce us to a trove of people in history who deserve credit ( both good and bad ) for the contributions and sacrifices they made to engineering and invention that lead us, sometimes circuitously, to many of the comforts of home we take for granted today. You can expect to hear more about the men and women who deserve more credit than most historical writings give them, and we learn of many poor individuals who were left penniless and forgotten in spite of their immense contributions. Bryson's research and distillation of information makes history , even that previously considered mundane, richly interesting. His talent makes history more relevant and real than any other history book you read in school. We are not just told who invented what, but are treated to tidbits of fascinating information about the private lives of these individuals, which makes the stories even more inviting and memorable.

    Get ready to find out why most early homes didn't have second stories, why dining forks have 4 tines, where the word "boardroom" comes from, and how a bizarre experiment gave us strong steel.

    If Bryson decides to keep writing on this topic, I will definitely keep reading. There are many more items in the home that need a delightful back-story brought to life . Yay for Bryson!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pines

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Blake Crouch
    • Narrated By Paul Michael Garcia
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3092)
    Performance
    (2778)
    Story
    (2784)

    Wayward Pines, Idaho, is quintessential small-town America — or so it seems. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrives in search of two missing federal agents, yet soon is facing much more than he bargained for. After a violent accident lands him in the hospital, Ethan comes to with no ID and no cell phone. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into his colleagues’ disappearance turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he make contact with his family in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what’s the purpose of the electrified fences encircling the town? Are they keeping the residents in? Or something else out? Each step toward the truth takes Ethan further from the world he knows, until he must face the horrifying possibility that he may never leave Wayward Pines alive…

    Linda B says: "Well done story"
    "Engrossing. Finished in one sitting."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I want to say "ditto" to all the other positive reviews of this book: definitely creepy, atmospheric and adrenaline-pumping. I am still kind of bouncing around after just finishing this book ( which I could not stop listening to until I finished it early this morning.)

    This author has done a magnificent job of making the reader wonder what the heck is going on. At one point he describes a figure that is pursuing the protagonist, and with an economy of descriptors which makes the object even more unsettling, Crouch made my heart stop. You are really THERE with the protagonist, caught up in his struggle, and then you see what he sees...hmmm, something is not quite right with that figure....and then....wait for it... WTF?! ( Haha! Loved it! So awesome...)

    Just to be helpful, here are a couple notes others have touched on, as well, that some readers may want to know about before deciding to purchase.
    1) There is a recurring torture scene in this story. It adds tension, and I believe it may be included to act as a red herring and also to help explain some of the other characters' actions toward the protagonist. But torture makes me squeamish and I want to warn others. I will say that Crouch manages to get the creepiness across without being overly graphic.
    2) I am left wondering, a bit, about some of the uber-violent behavior of the townspeople, en masse, when they seem otherwise normally benign and confused, themselves. Although, this is somewhat elaborated on at the end, and maybe there is a better reason for it than I can currently see.

    Many stories start with a mystery for the protagonist to slowly unravel, but few can explain themselves well in the end. This author manages to do it. I did NOT find myself let down after all the titillating clues got my hopes up; I could "buy in" to the ending.

    This book has elements of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and several other recognizable movie and book classics - but if I name them, it might be too spoiler-ish! (But I would love to list them so you could get an idea of the flavor and scope of the book.)

    This was my first exposure to Crouch, and I will definitely buy another book from this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dinosaur Lake

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Kathryn Meyer Griffith
    • Narrated By Johnnie C. Hayes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (40)

    Ex-cop Henry Shore has been Chief Park Ranger at Crater Lake National Park for eight years and he likes his park and his life the way it's been. Safe. Tranquil. Predictable. But he's about to be tested in so many ways. First the earthquakes begin, people begin to go missing, then there's some mysterious water creature that's taken up residence in the caves below Crater Lake and it's not only growing in size, it's aggressive and cunning and very hungry.

    Kim Venatries says: "Good Escape Listening."
    "Make sure to listen to the sample."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I hate to insult the narrator - who reads aloud nicely - but I think this story would sound better read by someone who can add energy to an action novel. No disrespect intended, honestly, but this story's execution is fairly weak, and suffers so much more from the lackluster narration. IMHO the listening experience is exactly like hearing your grandpa read aloud to you. The rare action scenes are almost entirely softened and flattened by the friendly, folksy reading.

    The naive, Mayberry-esque characters are also a distraction from what could be a solid story. The writing seems oriented to an audience who knows little of geology or dinosaurs. Give the characters some edge, remove the "character development" which feels like filler written by a 12-year-old, add more science, and you could have a fun short story. As it is, Dinosaur Lake is a long-lost episode of The Andy Griffith Show: the one where they find a big monster in the mud pond, a "woman reporter" gets eaten alive - and haha - it's no big deal. No need to involve anyone besides Andy and Barney Fife. They can handle it.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Turning

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Francine Prose
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Grover Gardner, Amy Rubinate
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Jack is spending the summer on a private island far from modern conveniences. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, no one else on the island but a housekeeper and the two very peculiar children in his care. The first time Jack sees the huge black mansion atop a windswept hill, he senses something cold, something more sinister than even the dark house itself. Soon, he feels terribly isolated and alone. Yet he is not alone. The house has visitors - peering in the windows, staring from across the shore. But why doesn't anyone else see them...? And what do they want?

    allison says: "I'm not a "teen” but I really enjoyed this book"
    "It gets better as you go along."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At first I disliked the flat narration of the main character. Later on I saw what the narrator was attempting to do. So, if you like the story but find the narration lackluster, just keep with it. It took me a bit to realize that this book seems to be an attempt at homage to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Not great, not horrible. A middle of the road suspense/ghost story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sociopath Next Door

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Martha Stout
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    Overall
    (2935)
    Performance
    (1891)
    Story
    (1889)

    We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people, one in 25, has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath.

    Taryn says: "Reinforces what you have already known"
    "Seems like something we should all learn about..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Fascinating and creepy - I couldn't stop listening. The author does a great job of introducing the average person to this type of individual, and she seems to do so without prejudice or overblown dramatics. She explores the question of what benefits could be gained, in terms of evolution, of having a conscience, and not having a conscience. She clearly and deftly defines, in historical and scientific context, what conscience is. She uses case studies and plenty of examples to illustrate concepts, and even provides some invaluable information designed to help recognize sociopaths - but it's not easy. Imagine getting sabotaged at work, bringing a complaint to your boss, and no one believing you, or worse, blaming you. Even if you prefer fiction, you will find this book captures your attention, especially if you like thrillers and mysteries.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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