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Diane

Louisville, KY, United States | Member Since 2010

527
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 107 reviews
  • 204 ratings
  • 789 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2015
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  • Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    Overall
    (746)
    Performance
    (679)
    Story
    (685)

    Jon Ronson is fascinated by madness, extraordinary behaviour and the human mind. He has spent his life investigating crazy events, following fascinating people and unearthing unusual stories. Collected here from various sources (including the Guardian and GQ America) are the best of his adventures.

    glamazon says: "Like a Collection of TAL Episodes"
    "Bizarre Bazaar"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jon Ronson is a master of the absurd which both surrounds AND is within us. Whether it is indigo children, alien abductees, Christian pentecostalism, SETI, Insane Clown Possee or Stanley Kubrick, Ronson probes into all that is weird and wonderful.

    Perhaps one of the best things about Ronson (and his delightfully appropriate narrative style) is that he eschews the superior tone characteristic of most skeptics in favor of a wryly self-deprecating humor which acknowledges his own (and by implication, our) attraction to these phenomena. Not all of it is light-hearted; there is a darker side to some of his subjects, such as the would-be school shooters in North Pole, Alaska. Throughout, Ronson has an extraordinary ability to sympathetically engage with his subjects while retaining his sense of gentle skepticism. His aim is not to ridicule but to understand and to be amazed and sometimes to be saddened--and he invites us to do the same.

    Ronson does not have an agenda. Don't be surprised if your own particular ox is gored; but in Ronson's hands the experience is humbling rather than enraging. To paraphrase Pogo, he reminds us that "we have met the crazies…and they are us."

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    Overall
    (581)
    Performance
    (489)
    Story
    (488)

    From the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most underappreciated forces: shame. 'It's about the terror, isn't it?' 'The terror of what?' I said. 'The terror of being found out.' For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work.

    Megan says: "You'll never look at public shaming the same way"
    "Pillories for the 21st Century"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Shaming--a practice that was abandoned by the judicial system as being overly cruel, has been re-invented by modern social media and in a form that makes the stocks of our ancestors look like child's play. We may think we have come a long way from the days when we picnicked and partied at public hangings, but that is far from the case as we revel in another's destruction, often with far less justification for our outrage at the misdeeds of the perceived wrongdoer.

    Inspired by a personal experience of his own, Ronson turns his unique talents to the modern phenomenon of shaming through social media. Once again, he challenges us to confront the question of who we are as individuals and as a society, in this case as demonstrated by the fact that we are evidently compelled to vilify and even destroy in the public eye those who have committed a wrong (not a crime)--either real or perceived. While Ronson offers few explanations as to why we are driven to publicly condemn these individuals often in the most stunningly virulent and misogynistic terms, he does look at the impact this has on the lives of those who are the objects of this outpouring of vitriol. If it is justice, it is a justice of the mob and an often unthinking and nasty justice at that.

    Ronson is the best narrator of his own work. In his hands, one can't help but wonder, often with dismay, at who we really are.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    Overall
    (622)
    Performance
    (554)
    Story
    (546)

    In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction--stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013--as well as "Black Dog", a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

    Jan says: "It Triggered Me to Stay Up Late and Listen"
    "Spotty"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed some of the stories, but was pretty bored by others. Be forewarned that a number of stories appear in other collections of Neil Gaiman's. Last story, "The Black Dog" is the best one that I had not heard before. Full of the mysterious otherworldliness that Gaiman is best known for.
    I would recommend either skipping the first section which tells about the origins of each story, or waiting until you have completed the book before listening to that section.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ghost Writer

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By John Harwood
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (57)

    In this tantalizing tale of Victorian ghost stories and family secrets, timid, solitary librarian Gerard Freeman lives for just two things: his elusive pen pal Alice and a story he found hidden in his mother's drawer years ago. Written by his great-grandmother Viola, it hints at his mother's role in a sinister crime. As he discovers more of Viola's chilling tales, he realizes that they might hold the key to finding Alice and unveiling his family's mystery - or will they bring about his untimely death, as they seem to foretell?

    Die Falknerin says: "A modern master of the Gothic"
    "Ghostly Cornucopia"
    Overall
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    Story

    If you're looking for a good ghost story for the Halloween season, this one is a good bet. Allusions to creepy literary spinsters—Henry James's Miss Jessel and Dickens's Miss Havisham—create the atmosphere for this gothic suspense novel.

    The protagonist grows up in Australia with a mother who refuses to speak about the details of her childhood in England. As he grows older, he becomes increasingly curious about his mother's reasons for leaving England and her reluctance to talk about her past. He returns to England and begins to piece together what might have happened, discovering short ghost stories written by his great-grandmother, Viola. These wonderfully spooky tales, filled with supernatural occurrences and séances, are interwoven into the main narrative and offer tantalizing clues about the family's history.

    The narrative can get a bit confusing at times, as we jump between Viola's stories and the protagonist's life, something that probably is a bit more of a challenge in the audio format. One must pay close attention to keep the characters straight or be prepared to rewind in order to keep track of the story--I had to rewind several times but actually welcomed the chance to do so because I really didn't want the book to end. The ending makes perfect sense but you really have to think about it. Happy hauntings!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Magician's Land: The Magicians, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lev Grossman
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1382)
    Performance
    (1232)
    Story
    (1235)

    Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can't hide from his past, and it's not long before it comes looking for him. Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of grey magic and desperate characters.

    Charles says: "And so, it ends."
    "Guess I've outgrown Narnia after all..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although not usually a fan of the fantasy genre, a large part of the appeal of this trilogy for me has been its inspiration from the Narnia chronicles of C.S.Lewis which captivated me as a child. How would those stories play out if the characters were allowed to mature and develop in the "real world"?

    I loved the first book of the trilogy, the second a little less so and the third (this one) not so much. At his best, Lev Grossman recreates in my heart the almost painful yearning I had as a child to enter the fantastical world of of Narnia (Fillory, in Grossman's rendering of that world). Descriptions of the imaginary world and its inhabitants are lush and evocative and sure to appeal to lovers of the genre. For me, however, the mystery of the first novel in the series was missing and I found it increasingly hard to care about what happened to the characters in a world so disconnected from our own.

    It makes me a little sad--I wish I could have gotten more into the spirit and summoned back to life the sense of wonder I had as a child. The stories have it right for most of us--once you grow up it is almost impossible to fully return to those lands of your dreams, whether it be Narnia, Fillory or Neverland...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Visionist: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Rachel Urquhart
    • Narrated By Ellen Archer, Peter Ganim, Ali Ahn
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (48)

    In this exquisite, transporting debut, 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father. She and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called The City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of "Visionist" and bringing renown to their settlements.

    Suzn F says: "Insight into the Stark World of the Shakers"
    "Mystery Cult"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having grown up a few miles from the original Shaker upstate NY settlement in the US and having visited several former Shaker communities in NY, Massachusetts and Kentucky, I was intrigued by the premise of this novel. The book does a great job of exploring the nuances of Shaker life as experienced from both the inside and outside, all in the context of an engaging story. While Shakers tend to be remembered today for their expert hand-craftsmanship, this was only one expression of their belief system, and while many of their beliefs seem bizarre, others have a startlingly modern ring, including the equality of women and a belief in the feminine aspect of God. Well worthwhile.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Smile of a Ghost

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Phil Rickman
    • Narrated By Emma Powell
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    Ludlow: exquisite medieval streets, an imposing ruined castle and a weight of history and legend. Wealthy, famous people come here to live. A sad teenage boy comes here to die...dramatically, at sunset, in a fall from the ruins. Accident or suicide? Either way, no great mystery. Or is it? Robbie Walsh was the nephew of former Detective Sergeant Andy Mumford, who calls on Merrily Watkins when his ailing mother becomes convinced that she’s still seeing her dead grandson in the town.

    Diane says: "Ghost or Not?"
    "Ghost or Not?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of the things I like best about Phil Rickman is his ability to walk the line between the supernatural and the mundane, all in the setting of a bucolic English countryside. He also understands the deep influence religion has upon us, whether or not we are "believers," predisposing us to accept or reject the supernatural, while the truth may lay somewhere in between. Perhaps that is "The Smile of a Ghost" referred to in the title. Another great installment in the Merrily Watkins mystery series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Place: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Tana French
    • Narrated By Stephen Hogan, Lara Hutchinson
    Overall
    (1556)
    Performance
    (1375)
    Story
    (1365)

    "The Secret Place", a board where the girls at St Kilda's School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

    Diane says: "Incredibly disappointing"
    "Boarding School Game of "Clue""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I keep hoping that Tana French will live up to the promise she showed in her earliest novels, but the last few have been disappointing and this one is no exception. Ms. French continues to write beautifully but the languid pace of this mystery tends to irritate rather than enthrall.

    The drama is set in a girls' boarding school, and much like the board game "Clue," we are placed in a contained environment with a dead body and 8 possible suspects. "Drama" is an appropriate descriptor here, as much of the story revolves around the angst of adolescent life. Even that, however, does not ring particularly true, at least in my opinion--the bad attitude of these teen-age girls, especially towards law-enforcement officials, seems to go way over the top given that a murder has occurred on campus. Occasional allusions to some sort of supernatural influences are intriguing but ultimately go nowhere. The sub-plot involving intra-office police department politics doesn't add much to the story except perhaps laying the foundation for a partnership in Ms. French's next novel.

    In the meantime, I'll keep listening and hoping.

    2 of 2 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
    (266)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (151)

    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.

    2 of 4 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
    (127)
    Performance
    (120)
    Story
    (118)

    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
    Performance
    Story

    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
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (804)
    Performance
    (706)
    Story
    (712)

    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....

    Anne says: "Timeless Romance, brought to life by Armando Duràn"
    "Plagued by Love"
    Overall
    Performance
    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.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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