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Pandora

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | Member Since 2011

17
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 27 ratings
  • 363 titles in library
  • 37 purchased in 2014
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  • Moby Dick

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Herman Melville
    • Narrated By William Hootkins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (223)
    Performance
    (152)
    Story
    (155)

    "Call me Ishmael." Thus starts the greatest American novel. Melville said himself that he wanted to write "a mighty book about a mighty theme" and so he did. It is a story of one man's obsessive revenge-journey against the white whale, Moby-Dick, who injured him in an earlier meeting. Woven into the story of the last journey of The Pequod is a mesh of philosophy, rumination, religion, history, and a mass of information about whaling through the ages.

    Jessica says: "Excellent, EXCELLENT reading!"
    "Best Book I Have EVER Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Since joining Audible a year ago I have chewed through the classics and contemporaries like a wood chipper.

    That being said, I say this:

    Moby Dick is not just a great book, it is the best book I have EVER read.

    None too familiar with it before tackling the read, I'd always for some reason thought it would be stuffy, dusty, old world reading. Nay, my friend. It was saucy, salty, and American.

    The subject matter is absolutely riveting to the imagination. The deep inner thoughts of the characters are poetic and stirring. The manic, unresting, hungry intelligence of Ishmael illuminates a world I'd have never known existed, the intimate inner workings of an industry, and the beauty of the experiences had by men who might be dismissed as uneducated and rough. The stories are so spectacular, so grippingly entertaining, I'd often stop what I was doing while listening, hands stilled in their motions, and half smiling and wide eyed, waiting to hear what came next. And sometimes all I could say was, "No, freaking, way."

    Treat yourself to Moby Dick.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest

    • ORIGINAL (19 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Jennifer Paxton
    Overall
    (192)
    Performance
    (179)
    Story
    (175)

    These 36 lectures tell the remarkable story of a tumultuous thousand-year period in the history of England. Dominated by war, conquest, and the struggle to balance the stability brought by royal power with the rights of the governed, it was a period that put into place the foundation of much of the world we know today. As you journey through this largely chronological narrative you'll see key themes emerge, including the assimilation of successive waves of invaders, the tense relationship between kings and the nobility, and the constant battles over money and taxation.

    Jake says: "I was happily surprised!"
    "Could Have Been Better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am someone who has read dozens of books on other cultures and necessarily their religious practices, and done extensive studies into the Abrahamic traditions. I also realize fully the integral role Christianity played in Medieval Europe. But I am an atheist, and the obvious and overwhelming bias in favor of the church, enormous amount of the book spent discussing the minutiae of the church, and the value judgement inherent in the frequently used terms "sins of the flesh" and such made for an uncomfortable reading experience. At one point Paxton even mentioned taking care to "tread lightly" as after all the figure in question was a saint. I'm sorry, but that absolutely should not matter in the objective academic discussion of events and deeds. Even Ghandi can be, should be, and is criticized by rational adults. Other Great Courses featured professors who treated religion in terms of historicity, and this personally would have made for a much improved experience.

    This aside, the information was interesting, the lives were memorable individually, and I appreciate my deeper understanding of the greater geopolitical context. I would have loved if the topics could have been delved into more deeply.

    Not the best Great Course but a decent primer.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Industrial Revolution

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Patrick N. Allitt
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    From electric lights to automobiles to the appliances that make our lives easier at work and at home, we owe so much of our world to the Industrial Revolution. In this course, The Great Courses partners with the Smithsonian - one of the world's most storied and exceptional educational institutions - to examine the extraordinary events of this period and uncover the far-reaching impact of this incredible revolution.

    Quaker says: "Incredibly entertaining, balanced, comprehensive"
    "And Excellent Read for Broader Historical Context!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For anyone educating themselves in history, this book as a great source of historical context, and a wonderful illumination of the threads that connect the past with today.

    Allitt could go a little too far into details, dates, and specifics at times, information that no one but real enthusiasts will easily remember, and my mind would start to wander. However, I thought I had, as I think most people do, a reasonable grasp of the industrial revolution, and this course enlightened me to quite a lot of new insights.

    It was fascinating to hear the revolution split and contrasted by region, Britain versus the United States, and again versus India and China. What was also very insightful was the the course carried on much longer than I had anticipated, from wrought iron to microchips, drawing a continuity between two revolutions that I'd never considered. Attill does well in demonstrating the importance of certain tiny elements, like standardized threads on screws, to the workings of the whole industrial machine. The information was also quite holistic, illustrating many different factors from cultural attitudes in antiquity to geopolitics.

    Allit is clearly an advocate of industrialization, and makes a number of provocative anthropologically based arguments, but does not flinch from the hardships and controversies.

    All in all, while this course could occasionally stray into droning, I would recommend it. It taught me much about something I thought I knew, and definitely enriched and deepened my understanding of history and the world today.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Robert Garland
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Garland
    Overall
    (1154)
    Performance
    (1037)
    Story
    (1024)

    Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

    Mark says: "Tantalizing time trip"
    "One of the Best Things I've Ever Had from Audible!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As the title indicates, this is unequivocally one of the best listens I've ever had the delight of finding here on Audible!

    Knowing a thing or two about anthropology, I had one or two very minor quibbles with one detail or another, (specifically whether pre-Neolithic Revolution life was characterized by fear and suffering, where fossil evidence shows the rampant rise of malnutrition and disease afterwards indicating a lower quality of life for several millennia) but there are always debates in this field. These are, however, far, far, over shadowed by Garland's profound humanity, conscientiousness, and care. There were a number of times his heartfelt compassion for right's of men, women, children, and the disadvantaged literally brought tears to my eyes. There were a few times I think Garland had tears in his eyes! His critiques of the discriminations of ancient attitudes towards sexual identity, culture, class, etc., are canny, and obviously informed by a genuine empathy and open mindedness. They are not the natural insights of someone who is posturing these qualities, and it was refreshing to hear.

    Garland himself has a staggered sort of way of speaking, one brought on I think by fervour, and which I found quite charming. He is entertaining and articulate.

    The course often employs a second person narrative, and this walkthrough of ancient life was almost like a dramatic exercise or hypnosis. It draws you right along, puts you right in the shoes, and is very effective, absorbing, and quite fun.

    The information fed my curiosity for the minutiae of day to day ancient life, while also providing enlightening geopolitical context. It was also lovely to hear such up to date information, including homonids like the recently unearthed Homo Floresiensis.

    This course was engaging, educational, entertaining, inspiring and insightful. I can say something of this series which I think to be the truest compliment, that is that I've learned so much by it. I've come away with more from this course than many of the myriad books I've read collectively, and never felt my mind stray for a moment. Garland has only two courses here on Audible, the other of which I gobbled up immediately, sincerely cannot wait for his next.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • One Second After

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By William R. Forstchen
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5542)
    Performance
    (3509)
    Story
    (3541)

    Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon - the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States.

    Sara says: "A terrifying story"
    "Enjoyable, Interesting, Intriguing, Melodramatic"
    Overall
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    Story

    Enjoyable listen!

    I was happy to read about a scientific phenomenon, the EMP, so rarely discussed. The scenario depicted in the book, the collapse of our technological infrastructures, is a real danger that we expose ourselves to increasingly everyday, and one I have often found myself thinking about.

    My only complaint is that the melodrama did seem buttered on pretty thick at times. While those in need of special medication would indeed be imperilled, I simple can't quite buy that the tragedy would be a societal devastation on a greater order than a Black Plague. A little heavy handed, a little sappy, caught myself saying "Oh brother..." once or twice, but it was kind of part of the fun. Would have to agree with a fellow reviewer on the TV movie of the week feel.

    As a hopeless, helpless, unrepentant addict of every technology, device, and media, I know I'd go out of my mind in seventy-two hours. So on that, and many other levels, it was indeed an effectively frightening tale.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Human Language

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (314)
    Performance
    (288)
    Story
    (285)

    Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.

    Saud says: "You'll Never Look at Languages the Same Way Again"
    "Exactly what a primer should be!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Exactly what a primer should be! Linguistics is of course a highly specialized field, just the thought of the world's six thousand individual languages is mind numbing, but John McWhorter does a wonderful job at selecting the really fascinating key points. Stimulating, comprehensive, and funny!

    I had the pleasure of recognizing McWhorter's voice from Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and he is clearly a master. He is charming and a little nerdy. I sense he seems to think he can be terribly wicked, when really he's about as devious as Ned Flanders.

    This was a wonderful primer in being, again, so comprehensive. The lectures covered the genesis of language, but also the extinction of language, artificial languages, creoles, etc.

    I am a tour guide by profession, sharing information in long format over days, and I know just how easy it is to lose an audience getting too far into specifics, dates no one cares to know or remember, etc., which is another reason I really tip my hat to McWhorter.

    A great read!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (2775)
    Performance
    (1882)
    Story
    (1902)

    First appearing in print in 1890, the character of Sherlock Holmes has now become synonymous worldwide with the concept of a super sleuth. His creator, Conan Doyle, imbued his detective hero with intellectual power, acute observational abilities, a penchant for deductive reasoning and a highly educated use of forensic skills. Indeed, Doyle created the first fictional private detective who used what we now recognize as modern scientific investigative techniques.

    David says: "mouth watering"
    "An Absolute DELIGHT!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I downloaded these because I was bored and in desperate need of something to fill the silence, but all the while harbouring the honest feeling that Sherlock Holmes was a little culty and geeky and I'd never really get into it. So wrong.
    What a joy this series was. Engrossing, exciting, perplexing, funny, and, in the later years, even a little racy! I truly felt drawn into the world of the 19th century and actually feel like I learned more than I ever expected to about an era gone by.
    The performance is phenomenal; Griffin can fulfill any accent, any character.
    Holmes has enjoyed a real spike of popularity in the past decade and I often overhear debates over the "best Sherlock ever." I can honestly now say that the best Sherlock ever, WAS Sherlock, no updating or sexifying required. There's a reason these books are still favorites.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Bossypants

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Tina Fey
    • Narrated By Tina Fey
    Overall
    (19047)
    Performance
    (14818)
    Story
    (14764)

    Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey's story can be told....

    Warren says: "Tina Fey broke my new SUV"
    "Not as Funny as I'd Hoped"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was surprised to discover I didn't find Tina Fey's book as funny as I thought I would. As a formerly obese adolescent truly versed in what it is to be loathsome and outcaste, I didn't really buy her self deprecating humor, and all the stories and characters she seemed to take as knee slappers and whacky, were just kind of not all that special. There were parts that were motivational, and the book really picked up once she got into the SNL years, but if you're REALLY looking for a tears running down your cheeks, aching at your sides hilarious read, go read anything by John Hodgeman.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Harriet Jacobs
    • Narrated By Lisa Reneé Pitts
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (50)

    Published in 1861, Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an autobiographical account of the author's experiences as a slave in 19th-century North Carolina, from her relatively happy childhood to the brutality she experienced as a teenager and young woman to her eventual escape to the North.

    carol says: "WELL WORTH YOUR CREDIT!"
    "A joy!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Lisa Reneé Pitts' voice is so sweet, and the writing so lush, this story became what I looked forward to most about getting home! As someone with hardly one cultural tie to speak of with African American history I found this a real education, and as such an impassioned first hand account, made it incredibly relatable. Would absolutely recommend!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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