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Diane

Louisville, KY, United States | Member Since 2010

429
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 100 reviews
  • 197 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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83

  • To Dream of the Dead

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Phil Rickman
    • Narrated By Emma Powell
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (25)

    Late December and the river is rising. The Herefordshire village of Ledwardine has not been flooded in living memory but in these days of climate change nothing is certain. Merrily Watkins, parish priest and diocesan exorcist, has learned that one of the incomers is an author who is a figure of hate for religious fundamentalists. Meanwhile, the Hereford police make a gruesome discovery linked to the Dinedor Serpent, a unique prehistoric monument.

    MerylB says: "More more more!"
    "A Murder Mystery Wrapped Up in Rational Mysticism"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I very much enjoy Rickman's skill in creating an intriguing (but grisly!) murder mystery and using that setting as a vehicle for exploring the boundaries between rationalism and mysticism and the perils of fundamentalism whether of the religious or materialistic variety. His generous view of the open-ended potentialities inherent in the Christian and other faith traditions lend a thought-provoking philosophical tone to his books without being too heavy-handed. We are never far from the central story--a murder investigation arising from the discovery of a decapitated head suspended in the window of an ancient chapel.

    I have listened to a number of books in this series, although not in order (probably helpful, but not necessary). I particularly enjoyed this selection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Alexandra Horowitz
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (224)
    Performance
    (118)
    Story
    (116)

    With more than 52 million pet dogs in America today, it's clear we are a nation of unabashed dog lovers. Yet the relationship between dogs and humans remains a fascinating mystery, as no one really knows what goes on in the canine mind. Now, in Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz fuses her perspectives as both scientist and dog owner to deliver a fresh look at the world of dogs - as seen from the animal's point of view.

    Chris says: "Not so bad"
    "It's a Dog's World"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book, recommended to me by another dog lover, is an odd combination of relatively dry discussions of the biology and psychology of dogs and treacly anecdotes about the author's dog, "Pump." As such, it does not work very well on either level.

    The book has its moments on topics such as dogs' eyesight and sense of time, and a critique of the skewed (by human assumptions) conclusions of some studies on dog behavior. Notwithstanding these bright spots, much of the material will already be familiar to any dog-lover, and the frequent and cutesy descriptions of Pumps's behavior, while apparently intended to make the book a bit more "personal," came across as an irritating effort on the part of the author to convince us of her own dog's particular specialness.

    The narration is slow (try it at 1.25 speed, at a minimum) which doesn't make the material any easier to get through. I am giving it 3 stars because it does contain a lot of information which may be unfamiliar to some readers. Still, if you're looking for a book to help you better understand your dog, I would recommend "The Wolf in the Parlor" by Jon Franklin.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Ghost Bride: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Yangsze Choo
    • Narrated By Yangsze Choo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (85)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (78)

    Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lims' handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

    Janice says: "Fell just a little short of my expectations"
    "Frommer's Guide to the Chinese Underworld"
    Overall
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    It is the time of year when I find myself in the mood for a good ghost story, but unfortunately, this isn't one of them. The premise is intriguing, involving dead and half-dead characters who exist on their own plane and sometimes interact with the living, most often in dreams. Plenty of potential here for eerie suspense and exploration of dimensions of human existence beyond the worldly. Sadly, this potential is wasted and what we have instead is combination of vapid romance novel and tedious travelogue of the traditional Chinese afterlife. There are aspects of Chinese mythology and culture which are of interest but they can't compensate for the predictable plot, 2-dimensional characters and cloying narrative style. Guess I'll still be searching for a good ghost story.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Love in the Time of Cholera

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gabriel García Márquez
    • Narrated By Armando Durán
    Overall
    (243)
    Performance
    (209)
    Story
    (215)

    From the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude comes a masterly evocation of an unrequited passion so strong that it binds two people's lives together for more than half a century. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs - yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral....

    Darryl says: "Marquez is great, awaiting 100 Years"
    "Plagued by Love"
    Overall
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    Story

    This book has been sitting on my shelf unread for many years, so I welcomed the chance to listen to this audio version. I usually find classics well-worthy of their reputations as such, but I confess to being disappointed in this one. Perhaps that is the pitfall of having such high expectations.

    The novel is an exploration of the many facets of love from the heterosexual male point of view. The female characters serve mainly as foils--as the objects of male attention, intention and obsession. Even the main female protagonist, Fermina, seems rather 2-dimensional--her actions mainly serving as the impetus for the actions, thoughts and feelings of the men who are drawn to her.

    The cholera of the title is not accidental. Episodes of this plague occur at various points throughout the book, but more important are the parallels drawn between cholera and love. Love is likened to a disease--mercilessly consuming its victims and typically causing far more torment than pleasure. While certainly containing elements of truth, it is a fairly oppressive view of the nature of love.

    The prose is beautiful--evocative of time and place, if at times slow-moving. The translation serves the work well as does the narration. It is certainly a book worth reading once, but I doubt I will want to return to it anytime soon.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Them: Adventures with Extremists

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (336)
    Performance
    (312)
    Story
    (310)

    Them began as a book about different kinds of extremists, but after Jon had got to know some of them - Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen - he found that they had one oddly similar belief: that a tiny, shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, Jon sets out, with the help of the extremists, to locate that room. The journey is as creepy as it is comic, and along the way Jon is chased by men in dark glasses, unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp, and more.

    aaron says: "Dated but VERY Good... and FUNNY!"
    "Conspiracies R Us"
    Overall
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    Although it has been more than a decade since this book was written, it remains as mind-boggling as when it was first published. Here, Ronson delves into Islamic fundamentalists, David Icke with his theories about reptilians in control of the planet, the Bilderberg Group and the shenanigans at Bohemian Grove.
    We are often left wondering who the real extremists are: Is it David Icke who maintains that world leaders are really reptilians in disguise or members of the JDL who insist that "reptilian" is code for "Jewish" ("No, he really means 'reptilian'" Ickes' followers claim)? Is it the Weaver family holed up on Ruby Ridge or the quasi-military force that took them down (a very sad episode)? Part of what makes Ronson's writing (and excellent narration) so compelling is the way he juxtaposes the ordinariness of every-day lives of these people with the often bizarre extremist views they hold.
    A both informative and very enjoyable listen.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • 1Q84

    • UNABRIDGED (46 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)
    • Narrated By Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3699)
    Performance
    (3222)
    Story
    (3194)

    The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

    A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....

    Amanda says: "WOW, WOW, WOW."
    "Proust on Acid"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is both very strange and VERY slow (both in content and narration). The allusion to Proust is apt as it originates in the book itself which contains repeated references to Proust’s 7 volume “In Search of Lost Time,” best known for its obsessive preoccupation with even the most trivial minutia of daily life. A variant of Proust's style is employed in this work to describe a parallel fantasy world of 1984 Japan in which there are 2 moons, the world is controlled by undefined "little people" who emerge from the mouths of dead animals and humans to create doppelgangers of existing people, and in which immaculate conceptions can occur. Despite overly frequent references to genitalia, sex, menstruation, etc., erotic is the last thing this book can be described as.

    To be charitable, my guess is that this book does not translate well--either figuratively from a cultural standpoint, or literally, as the language often seems clumsy and stilted. Although there are frequent allusions to Western culture, the feeling of the book is more akin to that of the highly stylized form of Japanese Kabuki theatre--the characters seem to be stand-ins intended to represent concepts or principles rather than real people and it's difficult to empathize with them or care about their fates. There were probably some symbolic references which could have been gleaned from the various facets of the fantasy world, but frankly I was too exhausted from the book’s ponderous verbiage to have the energy to figure them out.

    If you still think this book might appeal to you, I would recommend playing it at 1.5 speed. I did this for the last 3 sections—it helped me keep from tearing my hair out over its excessively slow pace and actually enabled me to finish listening to it.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Madness of Mary Lincoln

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Jason Emerson
    • Narrated By Steven Roy Grimsley
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    In 2005, historian Jason Emerson discovered a steamer trunk formerly owned by Robert Todd Lincoln's lawyer and stowed in an attic for 40 years. The trunk contained a rare find: 25 letters pertaining to Mary Todd Lincoln's life and insanity case, letters assumed long destroyed by the Lincoln family. Mary wrote 20 of the letters herself, more than half from the insane asylum to which her son Robert had her committed, and many in the months and years after. The Madness of Mary Lincoln is the first examination of Mary Lincoln's mental illness based on the lost letters in 20 years.

    Douglas says: "Long overdue vindication..."
    "And now for the rest of the story..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For those who have a long-standing interest in Lincoln/Civil War history, or for those who saw the film "Lincoln" and wondered what happened to Mary after her husband's assassination, this book provides a fascinating coda to the Lincoln saga.

    There are many accounts which attest to Mary's erratic and tempestuous behavior during the course of her marriage. After her husband's assassination in her presence, she managed to more or less hold things together until the adolescent death of her son,Tad, finally sent her over the edge. Anyone familiar with Lincoln lore knows that Mary, though totally devoted to Abraham, was never the most stable of individuals--but during the course of her life she was subjected to a degree of tragic loss that would unbalance many far less fragile than she.

    My only complaint about the book is that its thrust seems to be a defense and justification of Todd Lincoln's conduct in having his mother involuntarily committed. I don't necessarily disagree with the author's conclusions, but I do think his interest in exonerating Todd does at time skew his analysis. Nevertheless, the book provides a valuable addition to our understanding of the Lincolns, 19th century women's history and the state of 19th century mental health care.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • AFRAID - Tidbits of the Macabre

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Massie
    • Narrated By Rebecca Clark McHugh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (4)

    AFRAID opens the collection with a new poem, "Afraid," which plays with the question, "Why do we read horror?" The 13 stories that follow include darkly light-hearted tales such as "Donald Meets Arnold," "Sweet Kitty," and "Sink or Swim," the graphically terrifying "Pit Boy" and "Los Penitentes," the darkly sinister "Brazen Bull," "Flip Flap," "Triptych of Terror," "Bargain Basement," "Now I'm With the Invalids," "Next Door Collector," and "Thundersylum," and the other-worldly and introspective "Beggars at Dawn."

    Diane says: "Gallery of Grotesques"
    "Gallery of Grotesques"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A rather disappointing collection with predictable plot-lines and few original ideas. Narration was mediocre at best. Generally left me feeling sleepy rather than creepy.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Visible Man: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Chuck Klosterman
    • Narrated By Annabella Sciorra, Scott Shepherd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (101)

    Therapist Victoria Vick is contacted by a cryptic, unlikable man who insists his situation is unique and unfathomable. Vick becomes convinced that he suffers from a complex set of delusions: Y__, as she refers to him, claims to be a scientist who has stolen cloaking technology from an aborted government project in order to render himself nearly invisible. Unsure of his motives or honesty, Vick becomes obsessed with her patient....

    Amanda says: "Hillarious & Disturbing In (almost) Equal Measure"
    "Are You Being Watched?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike other reviewers, any intended humor in this work largely eluded me. To me the most appropriate adjectives describing this book would include dark, sad and frightening. What is disturbing about "Y," the "visible" (really invisible) man of the title, is the same thing that is disturbing in the idea of a ghost--that is, the idea of an intelligent, invisible presence following, watching and at times interacting with us in our most private moments. What makes the character of Y additionally loathsome is his sanctimonious arrogance in assuming his right to act as he does.

    I confess that I am genuinely puzzled as to what others found funny in this book. I can only imagine it consists of the sections detailing the private behavior of those Y chooses to watch in the seclusion of their homes. I found these sections more sad than amusing since they show human beings at their most vulnerable--letting down their guards and casting off the persona they assume for the benefit of the rest of the world. Y's conduct in these circumstances is nothing short of despicable.

    There are interesting ideas suggested in this book but ultimately none of them are really developed satisfactorily. Neither of the 2 main characters are at all likable,which makes understanding just what makes them tick that much more difficult. I'm giving this book three stars overall because it is well-written and did hold my interest, but I admit that it left me feeling slightly nauseated--perhaps what the author intended but not really my cup of tea.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris
    Overall
    (2449)
    Performance
    (2229)
    Story
    (2217)

    From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new collection of essays taking his listeners on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences.

    FanB14 says: "Devout Fan Disappointed"
    "Gem Collection"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Fans of David Sedaris rejoice--this is his best collection of essays since "Me Talk Pretty One Day"--at least in the humble opinion of this reviewer. Sedaris is in top form here on topics ranging from airline travel to the pitfalls of foreign language instruction (Japanese, German, Chinese) to the casual everyday cruelty of children--and of adults, for that matter. The tone is in turn poignant and sarcastic, and always unflinchingly honest.

    Sedaris' humor has an edge to it and he doesn't spare himself from its blade, but he unfailingly finds the comedy in his experiences and invites us to do the same. His turn of phrase manages to state truths while at the same time being very funny--one example I can't get out of my head is his observation that Americans see Australians as "Canadians in a thong."

    While one or two of the essays had a familiar ring to them (perhaps from a version appearing on an episode of This American Life?), the material is almost all new as far as I can tell.

    Sedaris' deadpan delivery style greatly enhances the listening experience--this is certainly an instance where the audio surpasses the print version. Highly recommended!

    29 of 52 people found this review helpful
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By Graham Joyce
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (206)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (185)

    Twenty years ago, 16-year-old Tara Martin disappeared from a small town in the heart of England. Now, her sudden return and the mind-bending tale of where she’s been will challenge our very perception of the truth. For 20 years after Tara Martin disappeared, her parents and her brother, Peter, lived in denial of the grim fact that she was gone for good. Then suddenly on Christmas Day, the doorbell rings at her parents’ home, and there, dishevelled and slightly peculiar looking, Tara stands. It’s a miracle, but alarm bells are ringing for Peter. Tara’s story just does not add up.

    Amanda says: "Extremely Well Done"
    "Spirited Away"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What do fairy tales tell us about ourselves as human beings? Graham has written a deeply mysterious novel about a 15 year old girl, Tara, who goes missing for 20 years and then suddenly reappears without seemingly having aged more than a few months.

    The story draws upon fairy tales, folk-lore and psychology in seeking some sort of explanation for Tara's strange disappearance and reappearance. It is a modern re-telling of the classic story of claimed abduction and missing time and raises the question of why tales like these are such a perennial aspect of human culture--whether the claimed abductors are fairies, demons or UFO aliens.

    The title of the book says it well; it really is "some kind of fairy tale" and it will leave you wondering...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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