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Paula

Milwaukee, WI, USA | Member Since 2005

153
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 97 ratings
  • 287 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • A Christmas Carol [Listening Library Version]

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (499)
    Performance
    (190)
    Story
    (193)

    This is Jim Dale's incomparable telling of the beloved A Christmas Carol, a "little book," as Charles Dickens himself called it, which has been treasured by generations since December of 1843. Listeners of all ages will be enthralled as they meet for the first time, or are reunited with, that miser of all misers, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.

    R. Adams says: "Jim Dale is a great narrator"
    "Wonderful! Make it an annual tradition!"
    Overall

    Harry Potter fans will know Jim Dale as the reader of the American edition HP audiobooks; he has also had a distinguished movie and Broadway career (Tony winner for "Barnum"). His audiobooks are always delightful. Diction clear and beautiful in the classic English style, great narration and characterizations.
    Dale's reading of "A Christmas Carol" is a wonderful way to reacquaint yourself with the Dickens original (after so many reworkings, still the best)- or introduce or kids, grandchildren, etc, to the classic.
    We often forget that, in addition to the heartwarming story of Scrooge's conversion, what a compelling plea for social engagement Dickens intended this story to be, and it's as relevant in today's America as it was in England of 1848.
    I suggest making it a yearly tradition in your home, just as Barrymore's radio "Christmas Carol" was a tradition in the 1930's.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Rick Perlstein
    • Narrated By Stephen R. Thorne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (387)
    Performance
    (195)
    Story
    (202)

    From one of America's most talented historians and winner of a LA Times Book Prize comes a brilliant new account of Richard Nixon that reveals the riveting backstory to the red state/blue state resentments that divide our nation today. Told with urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America's turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency.

    Frank says: "A 5-Star Book Injured by the Narrator"
    "Wholeheartedly agreeing with Jerrold"
    Overall

    I am really enjoying listening to this selection. It's a lively history of the turbulent years of the late fifties through the early seventies, with an emphasis on understanding how the Nixon presidency played on and widened the polarizations that are still gripping this country: gaps in education, race, social standing. How Nixon's own jealousies and resentments helped him play on the resentments of the people whom he named "The Silent Majority".
    The book is interesting, well written, never dry, and it's obvious the writer is completely engaged and passionate about his subject.
    OK, that's the book. It's great.
    I agree with Jerrold that the publisher of this audiobook should be ashamed of the shoddy job this reader did. Not only does he mispronounce many words, but more embarrassingly, names like Dean AY-chison, Sander VAN-oker, and more. Come one, these are people in history. How could an editor let this go by? It's tough not to find it a little distracting.
    Nonethless, I can almost wholeheartedly recommend this listen. The quality of the book is good enough to ignore the idiocy of the reader.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932 - 1972

    • UNABRIDGED (57 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (82)

    This great time capsule of a book captures the abundant popular history of the United States from 1932 to 1972. It encompasses politics, military history, economics, the lively arts, science, fashion, fads, social change, sexual mores, communications, graffiti...everything and anything indigenous that can be captured in print.

    Paula says: "Fabulous book, good narration, bad recording"
    "Fabulous book, good narration, bad recording"
    Overall

    This is a huge, sprawling, masterpiece of a book which chronicles the history of the US from the depression era through the early 70's. The writing is tremendous, very human, finely detailed and yet broad in scope. Concentrates much on biographies, but also enables one to understand economics, politics, wartime strategies, and more, through explanations that are very accessible to "lay readers". Extremely engaging, even thrilling.
    Frustratingly, the recording is of extremely bad quality, with many- and I mean MANY skips which I presume to be from the source discs. This makes several sections quite hard to understand.
    I am trying my best to keep going despite the terribly distracting skips. I don't want to tell you unequivocally to stay away, because it's such a fine work, and the narration is quite good too. But beware of this issue.

    25 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Alex Ross
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (243)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (92)

    The Rest Is Noise takes the listener inside the labyrinth of modern music, from turn-of-the-century Vienna to downtown New York in the '60s and '70s. We meet the maverick personalities and follow the rise of mass culture on this sweeping tour of 20th-century history through its music.

    Paula says: "Learned so much!"
    "Learned so much!"
    Overall

    I'm a professional musician and I spent an entire semester as an undergrad studying 20th century music, but there were many times during my listen to "The Rest..." when I went- hey, I didn't know that!
    Ross starts us out at the turn of the 20th century in the hotbed that was German late-Romantic music (Strauss, Mahler), and we walk through the remainder of the 20th century, not necessarily in chronological order. Instead, Ross deals with places and chunks of time, putting composers and the way they wrote into the context of social and political history: Weimar Germany, Nazi Germany, 20's Paris, New-deal USA, Soviet Russia, Post- WWII Europe, 60's NYC, and so on. The trick for the listener is to remember that this is world history seen through the lens of music history.
    Yeah, you're gonna learn quite a bit about what went on musically. But even if you already knew a lot about that, you're gonna understand what it was like to be a musician, why composers wrote music the way they did at certain times and places, and how people reacted to that music.
    I would caution the listener that it's a fairly musically sophisticated book. Ross hastens to assure us that he did not write it as a music history text, but as a guide for the educated concertgoer/ listener, and I think that's true. However, be prepared for some fairly advanced terminology. This is not for the newcomer to the world of "classical" music.
    It's taken me almost 2 months to wade through this book. It's long and dense, and I went back over some sections again because I just really wanted to absorb all the information. It's totally worth the work though, for a fine understanding of musical history and just-well- history. Ross also has a website connected with the book which is chock full of exerpted recordings of the pieces he discusses.

    Learn! Listen! Enjoy!

    43 of 43 people found this review helpful
  • The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By James Reston
    • Narrated By Marc Cashman
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    In The Conviction of Richard Nixon, Reston provides a fascinating, fly-on-the-wall account of his involvement in the Nixon interviews as David Frost's Watergate adviser. Written in 1977 immediately following those celebrated television interviews and published now for the first time, The Conviction of Richard Nixon explains how a British journalist of waning consequence drove the famously wily and formidable Richard Nixon to say, in an apparent personal epiphany, "I have impeached myself."

    Paula says: "Riveting!"
    "Riveting!"
    Overall

    Well written and well narrated story of the Frost/ Nixon interviews, now in the public consciousness again with the Broadway show "Frost/ Nixon" and next year's movie version. The story might remind one of "All the President's Men" or other political thrillers. A gripping account of the extensive research and uncovering of new information surrounding the Watergate robbery and coverup in preparation for David Frost's 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon (the author was on the team of researchers who prepped Frost), and how Frost, a "lightweight" in the world of journalism, was subsequently able to confront Nixon and get him to admit wrongdoing and culpability, something even Mike Wallace had failed to do.
    A fascinating chapter in recent history. Wholeheartedly recommended!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Jesus for the Non-Religious

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By John Shelby Spong
    • Narrated By John Shelby Spong, Alan Sklar
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (38)

    Writing from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian, sketched a vision of what he called "Religionless Christianity". In this book, John Shelby Spong puts flesh onto the bare bones of Bonhoeffer's radical thought. The result is a strikingly new and different portrait of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jesus for the non-religious.

    Robert says: "Compelling but ultimately disappointing"
    "Exhilaratng and ultimately frustrating"
    Overall

    I've read quite a bit of Bishop Spong's output over the past ten years or so. Most of his books function in this way: he spends a great deal of time debunking belief in reading the Bible in a literal way, going verse-by-verse and explaining its meaning in the context of a Jewish midrash reading. (metaphorical, not literal, and in many cases, NOT understanding the Hebrew Bible as prophesying the life of Jesus)
    OK, I get that, and it IS really interesting.
    But my frustration is this... I really don't see how Bishop Spong differs THAT much from, say, Richard Dawkins in his rejection of a personal god and his inability to cleave to "old time religion" in the face of the discoveries of modern science, especially evolutionary science. I get that, and I agree with him. But he keeps saying that, in spite of all this, he still sees Jesus Christ as his ultimate manifestation of the Divine, and is still able to call himself a Christian. I really would like to be able to take that final step with him, but he never explains how he does that. I was hoping that would be the subject of this new book, but he never does get there. It's yet another retread of the old de-bunking, not significantly different from his last book, "A New Christianity for a New World" (Where, incidentally, I also hoped he'd go there and didn't.)
    In short, I've about had it with Bishop Spong because he's all about the negative (this is NOT true) and none about what shape that new kind of faith would take. I'm now hoping to find some writers that will help me figure that out.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Absurdistan

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Arte Johnson
    Overall
    (165)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    Shteyngart's second novel (The Russian Debutante's Handbook, 2002, was the first) is a wild ride that follows its protagonist and narrator, Misha Vainburg, from St. Petersburg (or St. Leninsburg as he prefers to call it) to a tiny country in the Caucasus called Absurdsvani.

    Alan says: "True Footrest Posse"
    "Wow!"
    Overall

    I can't think of anything else I've ever read to which I can compare "Absurdistan". It has a bit of a superficial kinship with "Confederacy of Dunces"- it treads a little of the same political satire ground as "Catch 22"- but it is a truly original creation. Topically biting, endlessly entertaining, laugh out loud funny, yet it also has sweet moments; like any great fiction, you end up learning things about humanity.
    Beautifully performed by Arte Johnson. Another reviewer has faulted his inconsistent dialect and "old man" sound; what he DOES have is the impeccable comic instinct and timing necessary to deliver this comedic masterpiece.
    Wholeheartedly recommended!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Tales from The Tummy Trilogy

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Calvin Trillin
    • Narrated By Calvin Trillin
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Calvin Trillin proves that he is one of America's funniest food writers, while recalling his efforts to write a definitive history of the Buffalo chicken wing to his attempts to lure his older daughter back from California by finding an irresistible bagel.

    Paula says: "I agree with Laurie's review!"
    "I agree with Laurie's review!"
    Overall

    Let me preface this by saying that I LOOOOOOve Calvin Trillin's writing, have done so for the past 25 years. Both his food writing and his novels are always laugh out loud funny. It's impossible to understand why his narration of his own stuff is SO dreadful: monotone, no sense of comic timing or delivery.
    How can he write like that and yet read like that???
    I'm mystified. But my advice is, read his stuff, it's fabulous,...
    but DON'T listen to it!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • American Bloomsbury

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Susan Cheever
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    Here is a fascinating biography of those who were, in the mid-19th century, at the center of American thought and literature. It was an eclectic cast of characters. At various times in Concord, Massachusetts, three houses were home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry and John Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathanial Hawthorne. Among their friends and neighbors were Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and others - men and women are at the heart of American idealism.

    Paula says: "Decent intro to 1840's Concord"
    "Decent intro to 1840's Concord"
    Overall

    This is a well-publicized work by a well-known author (daughter of John Cheever); I picked it up after hearing a few interviews with the author on various NPR shows. It coincided with the interest I already had in the Transcendentalists.
    I would recommend this title with some BIG caveats. As many have pointed out, there are several quite glaring factual errors in the book. (Please see the Amazon.com reviews for this title if you'd like more details about this)
    The overall tone is light, chatty, even dishy and gossippy, and much more time is spent on the love lives and intrigues among the Hawthornes, Emersons, Thoreau brothers, Alcotts, Margaret Fuller, et al, than their lives of thought and literary output that was so profoundly influential to everything that followed in American culture.
    OK, that having been said, I do think Cheever gets right a very superficial overview of the Concord group. It's a decent introduction for the absolute beginner. It's also appreciated that she gives equal weight to the women of the circle (which some other even contemporary books on this subject do not).
    I hope the listener will use this selection as an intro in that way, then move on to other more scholarly works (Robert Richardson's bios of Emerson and Thoreau, Geldard's books on the spiritual teachings of Emerson) and then the works of the residents of Concord themselves, an amazing cluster of authors and thinkers.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Nora Ephron
    • Narrated By Nora Ephron
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (639)
    Performance
    (244)
    Story
    (239)

    With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.

    Kestrel says: "Don't make me get out of the car..."
    "Only mildly amusing"
    Overall

    This selection was entertaining enough to while away a trans-oceanic plane ride, but only just. We know Nora Ephron's reputation as a screenwriter ("Heartburn", "When Harry Met Sally").
    I was expecting more humor. What I got was a lot of New York rich white woman whining on a lot of subjects that many of us are never in a position to consider (rent-controlled luxury apartments with doormen, for instance), leavened with sone (but not enough) wry wittiness.
    The big disappointment comes toward the end, when Ephron begins to wax very negative and pessimistic on the subjects of aging and death. Very depressing, without so much as the relief of a smile!
    Not awful, but not wonderful either.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Wake Up, Sir!: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jonathan Ames
    • Narrated By Jonathan Ames
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (9)

    Alan Blair, the hero of Wake Up, Sir!, is a young, loony writer with numerous problems of the mental, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and physical variety. He's very good at problems. But luckily for Alan, he has a personal valet named Jeeves, who does his best to sort things out for his troubled master. And Alan does find trouble wherever he goes.

    Kathleen says: "Too Dark for me!"
    "Read it, DON'T listen to it!"
    Overall

    I think this is probably going to be a very entertaining book to read. It's a spot-on recreation of the style of P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" stories, set in modern day.

    BUT... why do authors think it's a good idea to do their own audiobooks?? What a dreadful reading this is! Monotone, boring, no vocal characterisations, no inflections at all! Ames could be reading stock quotes, it's so tedious.

    So my recommendation is, get a copy of the book, read it, and imagine Jonathan Cecil or Martin Jarvis narrating it. You'll have a much mroe enjoyable experience.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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