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Susan

FRANKLIN, VA, United States | Member Since 2002

28
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 25 ratings
  • 575 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Henry Leyva
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (286)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (243)

    From New York Times best-selling author Sam Kean come more incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA. There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking.

    Traci says: "So much to think about!"
    "Most Congressmen don't know where their genes are!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A leading geneticist addressing congress began his talk by asking the assembly where they thought their genes were. Their answers seemed to indicate they had no idea. One person guessed in the brain someone else suggested in the gonads. You might remember from your high school biology class that genes are in cells so yes there are genes in your brain and everywhere else in the body. The scary thing is that the people responsible for making decisions about the patent-ability of genes and genomes don't seem to understand the basics about genes or genetics. While not the most entertaining anecdote in the book, it was one that stuck with me in this election year.

    Thanks to Sam Kean's book you don't have to be like a member of Congress. You can learn all about genes in this entertaining and informative book. Learn about gene mutation and why inbreeding is a bad idea. Discover how our genetic code indicates that human beings almost went extinct. Be astonished by the amount of virus DNA each human contains and why the whole idea of an Arian master race is not just racist, its unscientific.

    Kean's book really is entertaining. The book abounds in both educational facts and useless but entertaining information. Who knew Gregor Mendel was not just a monk but became a cigar smoking abbot who was so fat he had a difficult time working in his garden. After I listened to the book I may not have mastered the science behind genetics, but I do have a better understanding of DNA, RNA and how it makes me the person I grew up to be. It's pretty fascinating stuff.



    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alas, Babylon

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Pat Frank
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4164)
    Performance
    (3119)
    Story
    (3124)

    This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness....

    Evelyn says: "Excellent listen"
    "A Hopeful Post Apocalypse? How Disturbing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before reading Alas, Babylon, I read the non-fiction and now partially discredited book Last Train from Hiroshima. I imagine this has largely effected my reaction to Frank's fictional account of life in Florida after nuclear bombs are dropped on the U.S. The horrors that Charles Pellegrino describes in his factual account of the aftermath of the bombs that fell on Nagasaki and Hiroshima are unforgettable and the suffering inflicted on the survivors, almost unimaginable.

    Frank's story is much more removed from that sort of horror, which is fine. That's an artistic choice that makes this book more readable than Pelegrino's factual account. However, Frank ultimately seems to indicate that being forced into a lifestyle that largely resembles something from a different century might not be such an awful thing. The fussy, overly civilized types will all be wiped out as will the infirm and the impractical. The implication that there is an upside of nuclear holocaust was disturbing. Perhaps it is that sort of optimism that makes this book somewhat dated.

    The story is actually an engaging one, but the subtext is disturbing if one gives it much thought.

    "Last Train from Hiroshima" has been discredited because one of the sources, Joseph Fuoco, turned out not to have witnessed the bomb blast but was an impostor. It is sad because Pellegrinio's book aside from the parts Fuoco describes, is really excellent.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • What Is the What

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (818)
    Performance
    (363)
    Story
    (364)

    Valentino's travels, truly Biblical in scope, bring him in contact with government soldiers, janjaweed-like militias, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, disease and starvation, and a string of unexpected romances. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated.

    Susan says: "A Story Aching to be Told"
    "A Story Aching to be Told"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Since the title of the book doesn't give much away, all I knew about this book was that I kept saw it on several critics' lists of books everyone should read. It wasn't until I picked up a paperback copy and read the first few pages that I decided I had to read/listen to it. The first few pages in print swept me into the story of Valentino Achak Deng but the expert narration by Dion Graham made this not quite biographical, not quite fictional book come truly alive.

    This is a story about one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. I have met one of the Lost Boys and heard his story as he told it in around forty minutes. This is the story he might have told if he had days to tell about his life and not merely minutes.

    It doesn't matter whether the listener knows nothing about the civil war in Sudan or a great deal. It is ultimately a human story, one that needs to be heard. This is also America's story - about how the US appears to people half a world away and the things we can and cannot do for other nations. At times it is a heartbreaking story but it is so much more than that. The book may not be 100% factual; however it is completely true. It is true because it is never afraid to display the world as it is: wonderful, terrifying, unfair, generous, compassionate, horrifying and hopeful.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Ready Player One

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ernest Cline
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    Overall
    (10692)
    Performance
    (9957)
    Story
    (9961)

    At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

    Travis says: "ADD TO CART, POWER UP +10000"
    "Nerd Nirvana, Geek Heaven and Totally Fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ernest Cline does an amazing job linking a possible future with a post disco past. Technically, Ready Player One falls into the sci-fi genre. However since characters are obsessed with the 1980's, this book isn't just for fans of science fiction.

    It is a fun book to read. In the book there is a quest and like all good quests, those who embark upon it will discover Truth. The characters spend most of their time in a virtual world escaping reality but their virtual lives have real world consequences and this gives the story a page turning urgency.

    Anyone who lived through the eighties; evaded Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde; loved comic books, owned an Atari VCS or watched movies like Wargames and Monty Python and the Holy Grail should read/listen to this book for the fun of it all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • East of Eden

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1196)
    Performance
    (1027)
    Story
    (1041)

    This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

    Suzn F says: "Epic story of Love and Loss"
    "My Book Club Chose It, But I Loved It"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As he wrote East of Eden, Steinbeck declared that he would not rush the telling of the story and he didn't. The story unfolds as It follows two generations of two different families in the Salinas Valley from the time of the Civil War through World War I. The Hamilton family is based on Steinbeck's maternal grandparents and their children. The book deals with the human condition and our ability to choose evil over good or good over evil. The characters are fascinating and the choices they make push the story onward.

    East of Eden was published sixty years ago, but it never seems dated. Months after having read it the story still resonates and the characters are still strong in my imagination.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Road

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5787)
    Performance
    (2399)
    Story
    (2430)

    America is a barren landscape of smoldering ashes, devoid of life except for those people still struggling to scratch out some type of existence. Amidst this destruction, a father and his young son walk, always toward the coast, but with no real understanding that circumstances will improve once they arrive. Still, they persevere, and their relationship comes to represent goodness in a world of utter devastation.

    Darwin8u says: "My wife says he's that Cold Desert Writer I love."
    "A Dark Tale Well Told"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't an uplifting book. In fact this post-apocalyptic novel is probably one of the darkest I've read and yet in the end it is oddly satisfying. McCarthy raises questions about what we as a society value and what we would sacrifice in order to survive. It is visceral and unforgettable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • 72 Hour Hold

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Bebe Moore Campbell
    • Narrated By Pamella D'Pella
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (145)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (43)

    In this novel of family and redemption, a mother struggles to save her 18-year-old daughter from the devastating consequences of mental illness by forcing her to deal with her bipolar disorder. New York Times best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell draws on her own powerful emotions and African-American roots, showcasing her best writing yet.

    Kevin says: "Very interesting book on mental health..."
    "Painful but beautiful"
    Overall

    Campbell's book is beautifully written and almost painfully evocative of the suffering felt by parents coping with a mentally ill child. It is also wonderfully narrated by Pamela D'Pella.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Duma Key: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By John Slattery
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5053)
    Performance
    (1754)
    Story
    (1743)

    A terrible accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. When his marriage suddenly ends, Edgar begins to wish he hadn't survived his injuries. He wants out. His psychologist suggests a new life distant from the Twin Cities, along with something else.

    Amazon Customer says: "Play the Book and Let the Book Play You"
    "Deliciously Creepy!"
    Overall

    Just when I think Stephen King can't possibly think up new ways to scare his audience, he manages to cover new territory. The story unfolds slowly at the beginning but picks up speed along the way. Great characters, fun to listen too and very creepy. One of King's best in recent years.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Lisa See
    • Narrated By Janet Song
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1250)
    Performance
    (486)
    Story
    (487)

    Lily is haunted by memories of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower and asks the gods for forgiveness.

    Barbara A Danner says: "Disappointing"
    "Women's lives in China"
    Overall

    A fascinating story about women in China! I knew very little about Chinese culture when I began this book and couldn't believe some of what was said about foot binding. However,when I did some research of my own I found the book was very accurate on that aspect of the story.

    I've never read a book where my feelings about the main character changed so completely -- and then changed back. In the end this is a story about the redemptive power of love.

    A fascinating listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Glass Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Jeanette Walls
    • Narrated By Julia Gibson
    Overall
    (1446)
    Performance
    (276)
    Story
    (281)

    This extraordinary memoir from Jeannette Walls is a stirring and distinctive story that has won tremendous critical acclaim. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly applauds the author's "fantastic storytelling knack", saying, "Walls doesn't pull her punches...in this excellent, unusual book."

    Tracie says: "Stayed Awake Until 5 am to Finish!!!"
    "A Life Laid Bare"
    Overall

    The amazing thing about The Glass Castle is the affection that shines through this account of life in a dysfunctional family. It is a nuanced and disturbing portrait of life with two free spirited anti-establishment parents. It is also captivating and a great listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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