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Kestrel

Oregon | Member Since 2006

205
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 149 ratings
  • 842 titles in library
  • 28 purchased in 2018
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
7

  • Magic Study

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Maria V. Snyder
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2401)
    Performance
    (1399)
    Story
    (1413)

    With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways, and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better....

    Arnold says: "Magic Study"
    "As good as Poison Study, perhaps better"
    Overall

    Please tell me there is going to be third book in this series. The story is far from finished, and the end of this book is wide open for another whole story. We need to see Yelena in her new career, and I'm dying to see her take her heart's love to meet her family.

    As with Poison Study, the first book in the series, I had a hard time getting out of the car at the end of my commute because I wanted to hear more of the story. Maria Snyder has created a set of fully-realized characters and a twisting plot that remains unpredictable all the way to the end. More! I want more!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Pickpocket's Apprentice

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Sheri Cobb South
    • Narrated By Joel Froomkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (196)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (184)

    When magistrate Patrick Colquhoun orders a habitual thief and ne'er-do-well transported to Botany Bay, he doesn't realize a 14-year-old boy has been left behind to follow in his father's footsteps - not until young John Pickett is hauled into Bow Street for stealing an apple from the produce market at Covent Garden. Feeling to some extent responsible for the boy, Mr. Colquhoun prevails upon Elias Granger, a prosperous coal merchant, to take him on as an apprentice.

    korinka says: "Delicious language, wonderful narrator"
    "Not a convincing protagonist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Maybe it was because the last book I listened to was Angela's Ashes, a tale of a real child raised in poverty, that the protagonist of this tale just didn't ring true for me. Too naive by half to have survived on the streets, too good to be true. The writing and narration are fine, but this prequel didn't excite me enough to go on with the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Why Migraines Strike: Scientific American

    • UNABRIDGED (23 mins)
    • By David W. Dodick, J. Jay Gargus, Scientific American
    • Narrated By Mark Moran
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (23)

    Biologists have solved the mystery of one of our most misunderstood, poorly recognized, and inadequately treated medical disorders. This article was published in the August 2008 edition of Scientific American.

    Kestrel says: "What we know -- and don't know -- about migraines."
    "What we know -- and don't know -- about migraines."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This audio is an article from Scientific American magazine summarizing the state of migraine research as it was in 2008 when the article was written. As such it isn't prescriptive -- you won't find advice on what to do about migraines. What it does do, and does well, is describe the current best-supported hypotheses about what a migraine is and what its causes are. Migraine, as any migraineur can tell you, isn't just a headache. It's a brain storm, a whole body response. As it turns out, migraine with aura has some physiological similarities to epilepsy, which might explain why some people get relief from anti-seizure medicine. If you enjoy scientific research, you'll enjoy this article. If you're looking for a diagnosis or cure, get off the internet and go see your doctor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Jodi Taylor
    • Narrated By Zara Ramm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5824)
    Performance
    (5366)
    Story
    (5362)

    Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History.

    Sires says: "Action Adventure Time Travel Novel w/ Good Reader"
    "Time travel, action, adventure... wait, history?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say upfront that 1) I’m having trouble finishing this book, though I eventually will, having gotten through at least 2/3rds of it so I might as well finish, and 2) Connie Willis has spoiled me for time travel novels.

    So yes, after finishing Connie Willis’ four lush, richly-depicted time travel books, and being hungry for more, I looked around for others writing in the genre. The reviews of this book sounded good. Time travel? Check. Humor? Sounded like. Action and adventure? Yep.

    But… this is definitely a whole different flavor of story. High action? Yes. Sex and violence? In spades. History… weeeellll… a disappointingly small smattering, shallowly researched.

    Science? Oh, dear. Oh, dear, dear, dear.

    Jodi Taylor sounds like she’s had some experience with high-maintenance academics. Or at least imagines them pretty well. That’s one thing she gets spot on in the novel. Not that every academic is as egotistical, eccentric, and backstabbing as the historians in Mrs. Taylor’s world, but… they exist. The world of St. Mary’s is constructed like a cyberpunk version of Hogwarts, with intensive training for the would-be time-hopping trainee conducted in a well-hidden, secretive school that no one knows about, despite the number of hopefuls who don’t make the cut.

    The main character, Madeline Maxwell, or Max as the others begin to call her, is fairly well drawn and fleshed out. She has a difficult past that she rarely talks about, stands up for herself, fights her own fights, makes as many bad decisions as good, owns her mistakes, and can flip from being Woman In Charge to charmingly naive at a moment’s notice. She seems, however — and this may be partly the fault of the narrator’s bland delivery — a bit cold. I found it hard to get into her, to empathize with her.

    As for the others — one piece of writerly advice I’ve had is to write the secondary characters as though they believe the story is about them. I’m not seeing that here. In fact, I had trouble telling some of the characters apart from one another. Again, it may be the reader’s delivery, but this is one of those books that, if I had it in hand, I’d be flipping to earlier pages going, “Who is this again?” Too many are mere caricatures (the Uptight Bitchy Friendless Woman Who Can’t Let Her Guard Down For A Moment, for example, and The Eccentric Professor Who Nearly Blows Himself Up With Perfect Aplomb). Some exist merely to move the story along. Others are just… flat.

    Strangely, for a time travel book, the passage of time wasn’t well-depicted. I had a hard time following how much time went by in the trainees’ training period. In the narrative, it seemed like months. Only later did I find it had been several years. On an assignment into the past, the narrative seems to suggest the characters have been out for a few days, when in fact weeks or months have gone by. Too much is glossed over — and therein lies one of the deepest disappointments of the book: almost no actual history. If I’m reading about time travel, I want to read about the times in which people are traveling, as well as see fully-fleshed-out characters working to understand and exist in the times where they are working. I want to vicariously live in those times, deeply, richly. That just wasn’t happening in this book.

    Instead, there was action. The body count is high in this book, and if it’s ever made into a movie, expect at least an R-rating for the amount of violence, dismemberment, and splattering gore. An X-rating if the sex is depicted just as it’s written in the novel. Characters go at it like rabbits on Viagra, dozens of times in a day in all possible positions. Another place where reality takes a vacation. Do real people do that?

    As for the science — if you insist on story science that’s actually grounded in real science, you might find yourself tempted to hurl this story against the wall. For example, I’ve spent enough time as a field biologist to know that just because you settle down by a lakeside doesn’t mean all the animals in the vicinity come running to be photographed, regardless of what time period you’re in. The time period to which the characters travel looks a whole lot like the painted scenes in a picture book I had as a kid, but sadly not very much like the scenes would have actually looked in that time.

    I may finish this, as I said. Right now I’m on a hiatus because the level of cruelty to animals inflicted by the villains was not what I needed, and I had to turn it off.

    Overall, I’d say if you like action and Time Travel Lite, you may like this book. But for me — not my cup of tea.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lady Fortescue Steps Out: The Poor Relation, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2435)
    Performance
    (2197)
    Story
    (2199)

    Life is not easy for the poor relations of England’s upper crust, but fate and clever schemes bring them together. Lady Fortescue and Colonel Sandhurst hatch a plan: What if they were to transform her decrepit Bond Street home into a posh hotel, offering their guests the pleasure of being waited upon by nobility? With the help of other down-and-out aristocrats, they do just that, and London’s newest hotel, The Poor Relation, is born. The establishment is an immediate hit with London’s most illustrious citizens, save the Duke of Rowcester....

    Clare says: "Charming Regency Fun - Romance & Adventure"
    "Delightful fluff piece of pseudo-Regency fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    As others have noted, this book is a fluff piece -- short, easily digestible, fine for lolling on the couch at the end of a hard week. Davina Porter is delightful to listen to as always, and the writing draws you right in.

    The story opens with a scene not atypical of the Regency era: a woman of good birth but small means, trying to keep her townhouse going with herself and just two servants without having to sell and retrench.

    It's when she watches an elderly man faint in the park, and draws it out of him that he's faint from hunger, that we wander astray of Georgian conventions. She invites him to live in her house. True, they set about inviting every other poor relation that they can find in Hyde Park to live with them, too, and it's the collection of characters and the grand decision that they make to support themselves that drives the story, but that very act of inviting complete strangers of mixed genders to live with her tells us that Lady Fortescue is a character of modern sensibilities dressed in Regency costume.

    This is the prime weakness of every book in the series: anachronisms abound. The events are anchored somewhere in the Regency, but customs and costumes are plucked from the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras with great liberality.

    But do try to forgive all that and accept that this is a candy-like fluff piece of pseudo-Regency fantasy, farcical as a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, because the characters are what make this series. Though a little puppet-like at times, especially when first introduced, the characters do flesh out into people that draw the reader's sympathy. Even when engaged in grand larceny, they delight us enough that we want them to succeed.

    Each book in the series highlights one of the Poor Relations, for whom the series is named. Each has a romance (though not necessarily involving the poor relation), and each has a main plot aside from, but intertwined with, the romance. The outcomes are predictable, the good guys win, boy gets girl, but we get the fun of watching the characters overcome obstacles, often in creative ways, while knowing that their efforts will be rewarded in the end.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Martin Seligman
    • Narrated By Jesse Boggs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (519)
    Performance
    (404)
    Story
    (403)

    This book will help you flourish. With this unprecedented promise, internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman begins Flourish, his first book in 10 years - and the first to present his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for 15 years, is different - it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition.

    M. Shults says: "A rambling tease."
    "Too much sizzle, not enough steak"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I listened to Authentic Happiness and found it a truly useful book for my own personal development. I saw Flourish advertised as the next great thing. Happiness is not enough, the author says. We need to learn to flourish. Okay, I thought, tell me more. I bought the book to learn more.

    The first segment does give us a teaser -- the PERMA concept: Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement. However, the author breezes through these, out of order, and while giving us a taste of how these could be achieved. But only a taste. There are a few personal exercises that the reader can try out, but far too few.

    Instead, the bulk of the book is a detailed accounting of the many groups that Seligman applied his principals to and all that they achieved. As I listened, I felt first a growing sense of unease, then anger. Each group was made up of elite people: wealthy high-achievers who were carefully selected from a large pool of applicants to take a very expensive course from Seligman and company; more wealthy high-achievers who came to Seligman with their own projects; a boarding school in rural Australia, which sounded promising, until we learn it's an exclusive boarding school for children of the uppermost of upper crust, including English princes. Each group tried out Seligman's Flourish principle, and to no one's surprise, they all flourished.

    As I heard story after story of privileged people who paid large sums to be allowed to take part in Seligman's program, I kept thinking, "Lovely, but what about the rest us? What about the poor slobs like me, commuting to work every day, who spent good money on this book? What do you have for us? Are we allowed some part of your program? Some hint of how to improve ourselves beyond a couple of exercises at the start of the book?"Apparently not. We only get to hear how other people, with wealth enough to buy Seligman's time, get the details of this new Flourish program. The rest of us are only allowed to watch from a distance.

    While Authentic Happiness is worth picking up, I don't advise spending time or money on Flourish.

    I'd also like to issue a challenge to Dr. Seligman: Try your Flourish program on another school. Let's try a tiny rural high school, or an inner city public elementary, or an underfunded community college, or an school on Reservation lands in the U.S. Try this with everyday people struggling to make ends meet in a stagnant economy. Will they flourish, too, Dr. Seligman? Will they ever have the chance to find out?

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Regency Etiquette: The Mirror of Graces (1811); or The English Lady's Costume

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By A Lady of Distinction
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    This book, written by a woman who wished to remain anonymous, covers the social customs and manners of her time, the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the times of Jane Austen and of Napoleon. It is devoted in large part to the "English lady's costume" but also covers deportment, movement, the correct dances, propriety, and aids to beauty and health.

    Kestrel says: "A treasure for scholars and writers"
    "A treasure for scholars and writers"
    Overall

    Those who are hoping for a modern narrative will be disappointed. But for listeners who want to understand the Georgian era, this is a valuable little book from the period, which reveals more about social and religious thought than it does about etiquette and fashion. Like many of the "conduct books" written at the time, this book exhorts women to be modest above all and in all things. The author gives guidelines for young women concerning dress, deportment, and many other aspects of life in the upper classes, all with strong messages about social duty, deeply rooted in religion. Be prepared for a writing style that sounds stuffy and pretentious today, but was a model of refinement in its time.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Poison Study

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Maria V. Snyder
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3449)
    Performance
    (2102)
    Story
    (2112)

    About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace, and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster.

    A says: "Fantasy, with a touch of romance."
    "Drew me in"
    Overall

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, and I hoped it wouldn't be yet another romance in a fantasy setting. It wasn't. I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity and of the story and how compelling the plot and characters were. While there were a few characters -- a pair of guards in particular -- that somehow didn't quite ring true, most of the characters were well-developed and engaged the reader's sympathies.

    Unlike some female romantic fantasy authors that I could name, this author isn't afraid to let her characters suffer for their mistakes, to allow "bad" people to gain the upper hand, to have dislikable people be on the "good" side or likeable people to be on the "bad" side, or to have even smart people make dumb mistakes. The world she has built is not forgiving of mistakes.

    The romantic angle was subtle and developed slowly and convincingly. In fact, there's not so much as a kiss between the two romantic leads until near the of the book. The heroine has a nasty past that she must get over before she's ready for a relationship of any kind.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Stumbling on Happiness

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Daniel Gilbert
    • Narrated By Daniel Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3124)
    Performance
    (1671)
    Story
    (1653)

    A smart and funny book by a prominent Harvard psychologist, which uses groundbreaking research and (often hilarious) anecdotes to show us why we're so lousy at predicting what will make us happy, and what we can do about it.

    Terril Lowe says: "Great Book!"
    "A fascinating look at the human psyche"
    Overall

    If you're looking for a self-help book about becoming happy, don't bother with this one. It contains very little advice, and what advice it has to offer, you probably won't take. Go find some other books that will tell you how to be happy.

    And when they don't work, come back to this book to find out why.

    "Stumbling on Happiness" is not a self-help book. It doesn't claim to be a self-help book. Instead, it provides an in-depth look at human character and why we have such a hard time finding happiness, though we are always chasing after it. From the "tomorrow will be pretty much like today, but with rocket cars" ideas about the future, to our own highly fallible memories, Daniel Gilbert takes the reader on a tour of human happiness, self-awareness, metacognition, and memory to explain why the bliss we seek always seems to be just around the corner, but never quite within grasp.

    13 of 13 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
    (1188)
    Performance
    (708)
    Story
    (698)

    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..."
    "Don't make me get out of the car..."
    Overall

    ...I'm still listening to "I Feel Bad About My Neck."

    It took me a little while to get used to Nora Ephron's narration of her own work. Her reading style reminds me of a kindergarten teacher who reads slowly, pronouncing each word carefully, to help her students learn to read. Not quite how I imagine her voice in my head when I read her work. Her voice trails off at the ends of some sentences, and I had to reel back and turn up the volume to catch some key phrases.

    But once I got past that, the book itself was wonderful -- alternately hillarious and touching. I listened on my commute, and I was sorely tempted sometimes to just keep driving so that I could hear more about Ms. Ephron's views of growing past that "certain age" in America -- more about hair dyes and nail jobs, more about face creams that promise everything and deliver a big hole in your wallet, more about beige couches and cooking, more about Bill Clinton, Ms. Ephron's confessions about JFK, and a final essay on the one inevitability in life.

    With some audiobooks, I get in the car and think, "Oh, yeah, I guess I should listen some more." With this one, it was, "Oh, hey, gotta get in the car and listen to that Nora Ephron book again!"

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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