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KP

There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

Oakland, CA | Member Since 2012

99
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 108 reviews
  • 240 ratings
  • 540 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2015
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  • When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs)
    • By Gail Collins
    • Narrated By Christina Moore
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (49)

    An enthralling blend of oral history and Gail Collins' keen research, this definitive look at 50 years of feminist progress shimmers with the amusing, down-to-earth liberal tone that is this New York Times columnist's trademark.

    Mary says: "The book I have been waiting for!"
    "Interesting Recap of an Era!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I would never have read this book if it hadn’t been a book club pick, but I’m so glad I did! I thought that since I’d lived through the period of time covered in the book, I didn’t need to read about it. Wrong! Gail Collins really gave a lot of info and background that both added to and made all my memories come alive.

    For example, I knew Billy Jean King had played that “Match of the Sexes” with Bobby Riggs in 1973, but I’d forgotten who he was and how he’d first beaten Margaret Court. I turns out that I really didn’t know much about Billy Jean, either. So it was extremely entertaining for me, especially as a tennis player, to read about her upbringing, how she really was the genesis of women’s tennis as a pro sport on a par with men’s tennis, and then about this match. Billy Jean really knew how to play it up and make a satire of the whole Bobby Riggs’ challenge. The author said, “Whether women had strong backhands was secondary to whether they could stand up to people who wanted to make fun of them.” So when the producers proposed that she be carried in to the tennis court on a cheesy Egyptian style litter held up by 6 scantily clad young men, she said, “God, that would be great! “ She beat Riggs at his own game, literally, in front of 48 million TV viewers! Fantastic!!

    Collins talks about how the book Our Bodies Ourselves grew out of a group of women who got together in 1969 to discuss the shortcomings in the way doctors treated women in that era (paternalistic, judgmental, non-informative). Who doesn’t remember that book about owning our bodies and all sorts of things about the biology of being a woman that grew out of that group! I had a copy, that’s for sure. Then she tells about a woman who showed up for a meeting of the campus women’s group at Antioch and said, “We all got little mirrors and examined our cervixes.” Great quote from Nora Ephron, who said, “It was hard not to long for the days when an evening with the girls meant – bridge.”

    The book was very well researched and factual. Collins did a great job of treating all races and classes fairly and painting a full picture of the women’s movement. She really started before 1960 with background information that helped to put the coming changes into perspective. That early part was really interesting and helpful. Then, as she moved into the 1960’s and onward, I think she summed it up pretty well when she said that the post war economy, soaring expectations of the post war boom, the declining income of men in the 70’s, the birth control pill, and the civil rights movement which made women aware of their own lowly status all came together to form “a benevolent version of the perfect storm” and resulted in all the cataclysmic changes of the 60’s and 70’s. I found the beginning chapters that dealt with the years up through the 70’s were the most fascinating. I supposed the reason I only gave it 4 instead of 5 stars is because I felt the later sections on the 80’s, 90’s, and the new millennium didn’t have as much cohesiveness or drive as these earlier sections. At 480 pages/15 hours, it’s a long book, and perhaps this first part would have been enough – at least for me.

    Also, I felt like the titles of the short sections in the book were too cutesy and distracting. A more descriptive and academic way of naming the chapters and sections would help the reader – and especially the listener – to mentally organize the huge amount of information while listening.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Katherine Boo
    • Narrated By Sunil Malhotra
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (782)
    Performance
    (666)
    Story
    (677)

    Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption.

    Dr. says: "An Antidote for Shantaram"
    "Caught Between Genres"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have to admire the detailed research that went in to writing Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Katherine Boo shadowed so many people in the Annawadi slum of Mumbai for THREE YEARS. She does an amazing job of portraying their lives in all of their complexity. Her research didn’t end there, either. She evidently did much more intense document research as well. Her whole career has been spent examining disadvantaged communities in America and now India. She really opens up the eyes of the reader to what daily life is like and what the major issues are in Annawadi. Her website give a great overall look at how the book was written; I wish I had checked out the site before reading the book, actually. I think it deepened my appreciation for the task she undertook.

    What I came away with is the sense that in the Annawadi slums, as in all or most of India it seems, corruption is practically bred into people’s lives. For the poorest people who live in these slums, a corrupt life is the only way most of them can eek out a means of survival. The majority of these people don’t even feel bothered by their own total lack of ethics and morals; they are too poor and too overwhelmed with trying to simply survive. The widespread corruption gives the people a sense that they have lost control over their lives. The ground is always shifting under them due to the forces of corruption everywhere.

    The problem with the book for me is that it seems caught between two genres, creative non-fiction and the novel. I thought it would have been more interesting if Boo had just simply written a novel about the main characters in the book. Plenty of the factual info about their lives could have come across this way. As it was, the non-fiction tone and structure of the book got in the way of any enjoyment for me in the reading of it. It read like a catalogue of horrors and stories of corruption without enough glue to hold them together. Just when I finally learned the names of those that would become the main characters, the author would go off on a tangent to describe other characters and issues. The names became too many and after a while I didn’t really care. Luckily, the main characters finally came back into focus and the story carried on for a while, only to be derailed with more tangents which could illustrate more of the horrible issues going on in the Annawadi slums.

    So, my review is based on my enjoyment of the book, which was almost non-existent at most points. If I were to rate it based on value and importance of the message, then I’d give it a top rating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cutting Season: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Attica Locke
    • Narrated By Quincy Tyler Bernstine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (286)
    Performance
    (248)
    Story
    (247)

    Caren Gray manages Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation that sits between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the past and the present coexist uneasily. The estate's owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction, complete with full-dress re-enactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, a corporation with ambitious plans has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have been growing sugar cane for generations, and now replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the property.

    C. Telfair says: "Mystery + Atmosphere = A Definite Winner!"
    "Underwhelmed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The opening of the book was lush and held out much promise for an engrossing southern novel. However, the characters and the story didn’t live up to this beginning. I did enjoy the descriptions of a “living” plantation, Belle Vie, in this day and age. That part was fascinating. The main character, Caren, however, seemed unlikeable and I just didn’t care much about her. She makes some really stupid decisions. The relationship she has with her ex –husband just doesn’t ring true to me. In fact, all her relationships seem washed out or bland.

    In the end, the solution to the mystery just seems to pop up out of nowhere. Or did I miss something?

    Overall, I was underwhelmed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Storyteller

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Mozhan Marno, Jennifer Ikeda, Edoardo Ballerini, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3674)
    Performance
    (3210)
    Story
    (3225)

    Jodi Picoult's poignant number one New York Times best-selling novels about family and love tackle hot-button issues head on. In The Storyteller, Sage Singer befriends Josef Weber, a beloved Little League coach and retired teacher. But then Josef asks Sage for a favor she never could have imagined - to kill him. After Josef reveals the heinous act he committed, Sage feels he may deserve that fate. But would his death be murder or justice?

    Suzn F says: "The Baker, The Nun, The Virgin and The Monster"
    "All the Right Elements"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book had all the right elements for a great read: it was a good story that had many levels, the writing was good, there were lessons about history, as well as philosophical or ethical questions to ponder.

    I loved the way there were 3 different stories going on at once. First there is the story of Sage and her struggle with how to interact with Joseph Weber and her meeting Leo. Then there is Minka’s story of the Upior, based on an old Polish fairy tale. This was interesting as a parallel and a metaphor for many of the actions and horrors that occurred in the book. The third and, to me, the most dramatic story was that of Minka herself and her path into and finally out of two different German concentration camps. The author very skillfully weaves these 3 story lines together in such a way that each story line adds to and helps to develop the other.

    Spoiler alert here: I had trouble putting the book down! If I have any criticism, it’s with the ending. I’m not sure that the big switch in the character of Joseph Weber at the end was necessary or very well explained. Also, the idea that Sage pulls off her final act but seems to have no intention of sharing it or talking about it with Leo seems unrealistic. OR perhaps I’m unconvinced that she really could or would pull off this final decision. I feel like this final section was, perhaps, rushed or underdeveloped in relation to all that had come before. However, this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book overall.

    I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Orphan Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Christina Baker Kline
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5818)
    Performance
    (5142)
    Story
    (5159)

    Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" out of the foster care system. A community-service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse.... As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

    Kathi says: "Moving story of sharing and transformation."
    "Doesn't live up to the reviews"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book didn’t live up to all of its 4 and 5 star reviews. Although the story of the orphan trains itself is interesting, I found the book to be stereotyped and shallow.

    One example is the foster mother of Molly. The author threw in so many stereotypes which she obviously found to be “evil” but which don’t necessarily ring true to me as definitive markers of an evil person: she listens to conservative talk radio, she is NOT a vegetarian, she has an anti-abortion bumper sticker, etc etc. SO, the author is definitely prejudiced against conservatives, BUT I think there could have been a more skillful way to portray a person who is supposed to be as judgmental and uncaring as the foster mom. This author took a short cut, but it didn’t work.

    The book seemed like it should be categorized as a young adult novel. It was too oversimplified and moralistic for me. The ending packs a big emotional wallop, and did make me cry. I believe that is why it ended up getting such good reviews. As a whole, it is really not worth it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Trunk Music: Harry Bosch Series, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2573)
    Performance
    (1564)
    Story
    (1560)

    Back on the job after an involuntary leave of absence, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch is ready for a challenge. But his first case is a little more than he bargained for. It starts with the body of a Hollywood producer in the trunk of a Rolls-Royce, shot twice in the head at close range - what looks like "trunk music", a Mafia hit.

    Dan says: "Another Harry Bosch winner"
    "I like spending time with Harry B."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story



    ***SPOILER ALERT****
    I thoroughly enjoyed Trunk Music and would have given it my highest rating EXCEPT that the ending seemed so contrived and phony that I had to knock it down just a little. It seemed just wrong to have Victoria Aliso blurt out as she died to, “… save my daughter.” What daughter? That’s the first we hear of it. And really? Her daughter turns out to be Layla, the Las Vegas dancer that Victoria’s HUSBAND is having an affair with? As if that weren’t enough, THEN Bosch and Eleanor run across Layla when they leave L.A. and Vegas and begin their honeymoon in Hawaii on the very last page. That coincidence seems just way too contrived. If there had been a plot of some dimension about Victoria, Layla, and their histories, then fine. However, to just throw these two facts in at the very end does NOT work to make the book and the plot seem believable.

    Other than that, I found the book very readable and compelling, as with most of the Harry Bosch books. I’ll keep on reading about Harry Bosch. I wondered about the title "Trunk Music," and found what it means: ”...a wise guy saying outta Chicago.. when they whack some poor slob they say, “Oh, Tony Don't worry about Tony. He’s trunk music now. You won’t see him no more. “



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Doerr
    • Narrated By Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5631)
    Performance
    (4963)
    Story
    (4972)

    Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

    Sandra says: "Be prepared to love the characters."
    "Engrossing!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A very engrossing book! It’s a really good story, but the build up is a bit too long. I like the way the reader has a lot of sympathy for Werner. He is basically trapped his whole life, but he undergoes a transformation that is extremely heartwarming at the end, and the build up here makes the extra length of the book worthwhile.

    It seemed like the author is trying to show the reader how it feels to be blind, like the main character, young Marie Laure. This is admirable, however, I found all the minute descriptions from the mind of the blind girl to be too detailed. It was hard for me to appreciate them. Just like I didn’t enjoy reading a book where the narrator supposedly had Asperger syndrome, I didn’t really like seeing the world through the eyes of Marie Laure.

    Also, the chapters skip around chronologically, which I found somewhat disorienting, since I was listening to the book. This technique is a good one, but at some points it seemed to be over-used.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Euphoria: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Lily King
    • Narrated By Simon Vance, Xe Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (469)
    Performance
    (410)
    Story
    (403)

    English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe in the territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband, Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery.

    David says: "Anthropologists in Love"
    "Fascinating!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was fascinated by this book. Setting is big; it swept me away to another world, the world of New Guinea in the 1930’s. It wasn’t until after I finished reading Euphoria that I found out it was based on the life of Margaret Mead. (Ok, DUH :) As I was reading, I kept thinking that there had to be a real person like this. Sometimes an author’s research just comes through or seems obvious, and then the reader can tell that there WAS someone who did it like this. The same thing happened in “The Invention of Wings.” As I read along and saw so many specifics about various characters, I figured that it must be about someone REAL. (That was another DUH, since it’s on the back of the book! Hey, I listened to both of them :)

    Now that I read that Euphoria is based on Margaret Mead and a particular time in her life, I want to know more. There really was a love triangle (according to a review I read – see below) ! How juicy and exciting, AND it was exciting in the book, too. The author did such a good job of building up all the tension and revealing the facts of the situation slowly and in a somewhat mysterious way. I loved that about the book. The last 1/3 or so of it was the most exciting as all the pieces fell in to place. The ending obviously veers off from the life of Margaret Mead; I’d like to find out in what other areas the fictional character is different.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Jenna Miscavige Hill
    • Narrated By Sandy Rustin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (950)
    Performance
    (866)
    Story
    (867)

    Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

    Tim says: "The Despicable Truth Behind Scientology"
    "Eye Opening!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow! I think Scientology has to be one of the most messed up, horrible organizations I've ever heard of. I won't call it a religion; that would be a sham. The book was fascinating in that it opened my eyes to the reality and the inner workings of Scientology. At the same time, it was pretty boring in its details and the reality which seemed to go on and on. I've heard some bad things about Scientology, BUT now my eyes have been opened to the extent of the rottenness.

    As I was reading about the constant "auditing" (questioning sessions with an e-meter designed to elicit a certain result from the person being audited) and "sec-checks"(confessional given on an e-meter) , it made me think of North Korea in Orphan Master's Son! Seriously, that is how BAD it was. Well, they didn't hook the person up to a pain machine, BUT they did use constant belittling, questioning, humiliating, separation, isolation, and on and on to elicit the response they wanted. I also feel like this girl's parents were partly to blame for allowing her to be taken from them and to be separated from them and sucked into this horror. Of course, she was/is from a 3rd generation Scientology family, so they were ALL brainwashed, I guess.

    The book talks about how the celebrity Scientologists are treated differently, and the world never sees that horrible stuff that goes on in the background. The hypocrisy of Scientology is stunning in its breadth and depth.

    I've got to give this girl credit for getting out and exposing all this to the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Signature of All Things: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1605)
    Performance
    (1455)
    Story
    (1466)

    In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker - a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia.

    Molly-o says: "Don't miss this one"
    "Room for Miracles"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved reading this book! It appealed to me because of its compelling plot, but I also appreciated the spiritual aspects of the book. It took a look at how science and a love of the natural world interact with the aspects of life that can’t be explained scientifically, such as kindness, compassion, altruism, and self-sacrifice. Several of the characters in the book believe, “There is a supreme intelligence in the world that longs for a union with us and that nothing short of a divine being could have created the human mind.” The name of the book relates to this theme. “The Signature of All Things” means basically that “all the natural world is a divine code, containing proof of our Creator’s love.” This is why so many medicinal plants, according to this theory, resemble the diseases they were meant to cure, or the organs they were able to treat. For example, walnuts, shaped like brains, were supposed to be helpful for headaches. At one point Ambrose put it like this:

    “…and yet Boehme said that God had PRESSED Himself into the world, and had left markers there for us to discover.”

    The book is an exploration, through the life story of Alma Whittaker , of scientific values that still leave a sliver of room for miracles.

    I loved the sex parts, too ☺ That binding closet was a kick! And the scene with Tomorrow Morning was great!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Redbreast

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1176)
    Performance
    (918)
    Story
    (921)

    It is 1944: Daniel, a soldier, legendary among the Norwegians fighting the advance of Bolshevism on the Russian front, is killed. Two years later, a wounded soldier wakes up in a Vienna hospital. He becomes involved with a young nurse, the consequences of which will ripple forward to the turn of the next century. In 1999, Harry Hole, alone again after having caused an embarrassment in the line of duty, has been promoted to inspector and is lumbered with surveillance duties. He is assigned the task of monitoring neo-Nazi activities....

    David says: "Bravura writing"
    "Reaching His Stride"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes! With this #3 book in the Harry Hole series, Jo Nesbo has reached his stride and has written a tense and exciting thriller/crime novel. I particularly liked this book because the reader gets to see how Harry Hole meets Raquel (the woman he is so in love with in later books) and find out Raquel's "interesting" background. Having started with some of the later Harry Hole books, I was disappointed when I went back to the beginning with the #1 and #2 books (The Bat and The Cockroaches), but having enjoyed this book so much, I'm now ready to continue on to #4, Nemesis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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