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Bonny

ratings
209
REVIEWS
121
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FOLLOWERS
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HELPFUL VOTES
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  • The Woman Upstairs

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Claire Messud
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (548)
    Performance
    (475)
    Story
    (486)

    Nora Eldridge, a 37-year-old elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who long ago abandoned her ambition to be a successful artist, has become the "woman upstairs", a reliable friend and tidy neighbor always on the fringe of others' achievements. Then into her classroom walks Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale. He and his parents - dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar and professor at the École Normale Supérleure; and Sirena, an effortlessly glamorous Italian artist - have come to Boston for Skandar to take up a fellowship at Harvard.

    Beth Anne says: "Disturbing, Frustrating, Messed Up and AWESOME!"
    "The woman should have been relegated to the cellar"
    Overall
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    If you're interested in a book with unlikeable, unreliable characters, hints of possible drama, obsession, and betrayal, melancholy and whining, endless run-on narrative from the main character, a plot that bogs down completely, and a rushed ending, then have I got the book for you! I decided to read The Woman Upstairs after hearing an interview with Claire Messud on NPR; the book was touted as a "saga of anger and thwarted ambition". While there was plenty of anger, I couldn't find the ambition part. Unmarried, childless, elementary school teacher Nora Eldridge thinks, “It was supposed to say ‘Great Artist’ on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say ‘such a good teacher/daughter/friend’ instead.” She becomes infatuated with the whole Shahid family, and because of this association she resumes some of her own artistic endeavors, only to let them get crowded out due to her obsession.

    There is a possibility that I didn't 'get' this book because I'm not terribly sophisticated and don't understand "Great Artists', but it seems to me that adjusting our aspirations is something every single one of us has to deal with as we grow older. I hope I'm dealing with it in a more mature, productive, and reasonable way than the deluded and angry Nora.

    13 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jason Fagone
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (540)
    Performance
    (492)
    Story
    (486)

    In 1912, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the US government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the Adam and Eve of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told.

    deb says: "Intriguing title and phenomenal woman!"
    "Fascinating book about someone you never heard of!"
    Overall
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    I would bet that only a few people know about cryptography, and fewer still are familiar with the names and work of those who developed the science, like Turing, Shannon, and Friedman. Even if you have heard of William Friedman as one of the founders of the National Security Agency, you most likely have never heard of his wife Elizebeth and her work. Thanks to Jason Fagone, we can finally read her fascinating story in The Woman Who Smashed Codes.

    She was first hired by eccentric George Fabyan to work at his Riverbank Laboratories to prove that Francis Bacon had written Shakespeare's plays. Over time, her skepticism about the project grew, but she was developing new cryptographic techniques and working with the man she would eventually marry, geneticist William Friedman. She went on to solve codes for the Navy, Treasury Department, and the military during World War II. Fagone explains the difference between working on paper codes and machine codes (such as Enigma), and Elizebeth excelled at all of them. I had never heard of her, but the author has written a riveting biography, one that makes us all aware of Elizebeth, her curiosity, talents, and accomplishments, gives her long overdue credit, and is a wonderful read.

    (I can't help wishing that Jason Fagone would also write a book about Riverbank Laboratories. George Fabyan sounded like an rich, crazy, eccentric, but I'm curious about what other research he was funding there, and what may have come out of that research. I think the topic may be worthy of another book, Mr. Fagone!)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Holidays on Ice: Featuring Six New Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris
    Overall
    (2060)
    Performance
    (1687)
    Story
    (1683)

    David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); and what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow").

    Dave says: "Best When In SantaLand"
    "SantaLand Diaries is great, but as for the rest .."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Holidays on Ice contains a few five-star, laugh out loud, must-read pieces, like the classic SantaLand Diaries and Six to Eight Black Men. I found much of the rest of the book to be just average, sad, dispirited, and even disturbing (but that's David Sedaris for you).

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World

    • ABRIDGED (2 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Mark Williams, Danny Penman, Jon Kabat-Zinn (foreword)
    • Narrated By Mark Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn
    Overall
    (490)
    Performance
    (410)
    Story
    (397)

    Everyday life is so frantic and full of troubles that we have largely forgotten how to live a joyful existence. We try so hard to be happy that we often end up missing the most important parts of our lives. In Mindfulness, Oxford professor Mark Williams and award-winning journalist Danny Penman reveal the secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful, and exhausting life.

    Khaled ElSherbini says: "Buy the book"
    "The best mindfulness meditation book I've found"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read various mindfulness meditation books over the last several years, and tried their mindfulness meditation suggestions with uneven results, but THIS is the book I was looking for. The authors stress evidence and explain cognitive behavior therapy, which kept me from rolling my eyes at any hippie mystical aspects of mindfulness. I jumped right in to listening to the introductory chapters on the hows, whys and benefits of mindfulness, and have been using the guided meditations on a daily basis for the last few weeks. There have been some stressful events in my life during this period, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much these meditations have helped. I had some expectations before I started this book that meditating was going to be a difficult and time-consuming task, but that has not been the case at all. Eight to ten minutes daily has made a significant difference in my life. I have been using whatever guided meditation I chose at random, but I'm now going back to the beginning and actually following the book's eight-week plan. Focus, awareness, acceptance, compassion, coping with negativity and the chaos that is life are all skills that I'm beginning to learn with the help of Mindfulness, and I'm very grateful to have finally found THE mindfulness book for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Power

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Naomi Alderman
    • Narrated By Adjoa Andoh
    Overall
    (1632)
    Performance
    (1511)
    Story
    (1508)

    In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: There's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

    Grace says: "A necessary read"
    "Does power tend to corrupt?"
    Overall
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    "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority." - John Dalberg-Acton

    Does power tend to corrupt? Are great men almost always bad men? How about great women? The Power will leave you considering those questions and many more. Naomi Alderman has written an excellent book - one that may make you initially gratified to read about women fighting back against their oppressors, then recoiling in horror at the ab/use of power, and thinking about the characters and the premise of the novel for a long time. The book is unsettling, but it's also beautifully written, and well worth reading. I can't pronounce that I've already read the best book of the year in January, but I know that I'm going to be thinking about The Power throughout much of the year ahead.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Joe Biden
    • Narrated By Joe Biden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2806)
    Performance
    (2537)
    Story
    (2524)

    In November 2014, 13 members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past 40 years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before.

    Jean says: "A Sad Memoir"
    "To do, to love, to hope for"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Promise Me, Dad gave me interesting insights into Joe Biden as a person and politician, even while his grief was sometimes almost too much to listen to. He has led an extraordinary life, filled with tragedy, profound grief, and triumph, but has still maintained his humanity and hope. In the book, Biden cites Immanuel Kant's "Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for", and he is working hard in numerous ways to make sure that he has those things in his life. As citizens of the United States, I think we're lucky that he has spent much of his career in politics as a decent caring person helping others also be able to attain some of those pieces of happiness.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Caitlin Doughty
    • Narrated By Caitlin Doughty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2868)
    Performance
    (2638)
    Story
    (2627)

    Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty - a 20-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre - took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. With an original voice that combines fearless curiosity and mordant wit, Caitlin tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters, gallows humor, and vivid characters (both living and very dead).

    Ren says: "Ms. Frizzle Takes the School Bus to a Morgue"
    "Honest details about mortality can help"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a quirky, slightly odd memoir that is exactly what the title says. I think the author's basic premise is truthful, that we are out of touch with our own mortality, and reading this book with its intimate details of death and decay may help lessen that denial. I would advise being sure you want to read about those sometimes disturbing but truthful details of what happens after death, how corpses are prepared for traditional funerals, and what exactly happens during cremation. I welcomed the honesty, but I know that others might not.

    While I appreciated the parts about working in the crematory and current funeral practices, some of the author's writing about her personal life was disjointed and felt out of place with the rest of the book. Her contemplation of suicide and obsession with Luke bothered me more than decomposition and sweeping out the cremation machines. When I told a friend I was reading this, she thought it sounded morbid and ghoulish, which illustrates Doughty's point fairly well. Death will happen for all of us, and it won't be morbid or ghoulish if we learn more and talk about it. This book can help with that.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Little Fires Everywhere

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Celeste Ng
    • Narrated By Jennifer Lim
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10632)
    Performance
    (9640)
    Story
    (9613)

    In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons.

    M. Ryder says: "Boring and Drawn Out!!!"
    "Conformity vs. thinking for yourself"
    Overall
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    Celeste Ng covers a lot of ground in Little Fires Everywhere - conformity vs. thinking for yourself, motherhood, relationships, secrets, lies, culture, ethnicity, creativity, economic safety vs. barely getting by, family dynamics, and privilege. There really are little fires everywhere, both literal and figurative. Like Everything I Never Told You, this story opens at the end and then the author tells an engrossing tale to explain how it all unfolded. Ng has an extraordinary ability to make the reader consider a story from different perspectives through her well-developed and complicated characters. Even the setting of Shaker Heights, planned, manicured, and with rules for everything, contributes to the narrative.

    Some of the parts that I found most exceptional were the descriptions of Mia Warren's art. The character captured so much in her photographs, and Ng captured so much in her writing about them. I'm going to be thinking about this book and those photographs for quite a while.

    49 of 58 people found this review helpful
  • Sourdough: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robin Sloan
    • Narrated By Therese Plummer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (992)
    Performance
    (937)
    Story
    (935)

    Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her - feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

    Lylo says: "Delicious!"
    "Robin Sloan writes about things I wish existed!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Robin Sloan writes books about things that I wish existed, like secret societies, book and/or food-based adventures, clubs based on your name (the Lois Club is real!), the double spicy Combo, and these things are all present in Sourdough. It's a fun, quirky read, full of adventurous paths for Lois Clary and the reader. Sourdough culture does exist, and I've now got one started on my kitchen counter so I can bake some sourdough bread of my own. If I'm lucky, it might unclench my stomach, and then my brain (just like Lois).

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Essays of E. B. White

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By E. B. White
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (17)

    Legendary author and essayist E. B. White writes, "The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest." Covering a large number of subjects, this classic collection features 31 of White's most memorable essays.

    Bonny says: "E.B. White writes honestly, fearlessly and clearly"
    "E.B. White writes honestly, fearlessly and clearly"
    Overall
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    I am continually amazed by and incredibly appreciative of E.B. White's writing, no matter whether his subject is spiders, pigs, roofing the barn, hurricanes, or war. He started writing essays around 1930 and continued for decades; his children's fiction was published about 70 years ago, and his writing is still relevant today with so much to offer current readers.

    "Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth. They accept, almost without question, anything you present them with, as long as it is presented honestly, fearlessly, and clearly."

    White expressed himself that way, honestly, fearlessly, and clearly, in all of his writing, and I always find something new in his honest clarity.

    "We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or doing laundry."

    Reading E.B. White's writing, whether it is essays, letters, or fiction, gives me joy and hope.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Magpie Murders: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Anthony Horowitz
    • Narrated By Samantha Bond, Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (4842)
    Performance
    (4454)
    Story
    (4432)

    When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the best-selling crime writer for years, she's intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan's traditional formula has proved hugely successful.

    Sara says: "A British Whodunit"
    "Initially compelling, but two plots are too many"
    Overall
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    Story

    I owe Anthony Horowitz a debt of gratitude. When I worked in a middle school library, and boys wandered in, downcast, saying that their teacher had told them to come get a good book, I could almost always rely on Horowitz's Alex Rider series. These books always seemed to provide the fast-paced action and adventure that adolescent readers were looking for. (After they finished the series, I recommended a really special author, Gary Paulsen, but that's a different story.)

    So I was excited to read Magpie Murders, and expected a fast-paced plot with plenty of action. The clever story within a story idea was initially compelling, along with the idea that it was a homage to Agatha Christie, and things started out well enough. I really enjoyed the embedded Atticus Pünd novel, and read quite happily, wondering whodunnit. The abrupt return to present day with editor Susan Ryeland and the remainder of the novel with her trying to solve things is where it bogged down for me. There were pages and pages of her talking to every possible suspect, and on each page I wondered why these people would divulge alibis and details to a stranger that knocked on their door. Neither Miss Marple nor Susan Ryeland is an investigator, but Miss Marple employed the shrewdness and resourcefulness that Susan Ryeland lacked. I really just finished the book out of curiosity.

    I think this book would have been much better with some good editing and less cleverness. Agatha Christie's plots and characters were intelligent and clever, but Magpie Murders tries to introduce wit in the form of anagrams, name-dropping, and too many red herrings. I would like to read other novels in the Atticus Pünd series if Mr. Horowitz ever writes them, but I think one well-written story line at a time would make for a more satisfying read.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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