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Pam

Science writer in America's heartland

United States | Member Since 2007

290
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 71 reviews
  • 215 ratings
  • 377 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
31

  • How to Read a Book

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren
    • Narrated By Edward Holland
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (242)
    Performance
    (157)
    Story
    (162)

    How to Read a Book, first published in 1940, is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader. Now it has been completely rewritten and updated.

    Lulu says: "If You Read Books, You Must Read This"
    "Good Info; Not an Easy Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's somewhat ironic to listen to a book about how to read a book, isn't it? This book is about maximizing our skill at reading printed material, and an important tip from the author is to pay close attention while reading. The funny thing was, I found that I had to pay very close attention while listening. When I tried to multitask (driving, cooking, etc.), I found that I often lost track of the more complex ideas and had to rewind. I did find the instruction on how to annotate books very useful. I just think I didn't get nearly as much out of this book as I would have, had I read it instead of listening to it.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Silver Witch

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Paula Brackston
    • Narrated By Marisa Calin
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    A year after her husband's sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat's death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her - a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she's near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision.

    L.W. says: "Thoroughly Entertaining"
    "A story about a Welsh witch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like the Stevie Nicks song "Rhiannon," this is the story of a Welsh witch. (Actually, two Welsh witches, one long dead and one her modern-day descendant.) The point of view switches between the two women in alternating chapters, so that the story from a thousand years ago seems just as real—and the dangers just as urgent—as the one from today. There's also an undercurrent to the story about what it means to be different, both now and in the time of the ancient Celts, and how being different can be a source of strength. This is the first book of Paula Brackston's that I have read, and now I am sure that I will read the others.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Steal Across the Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Nancy Kress
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    The aliens appeared one day, built a base on the moon, and put an ad on the Internet: “We are an alien race you may call the Atoners. Ten thousand years ago we wronged humanity profoundly. We cannot undo what has been done, but we wish humanity to understand it. Therefore we request 21 volunteers to visit seven planets to witness for us. We will convey each volunteer there and back in complete safety. Volunteers must speak English. Send requests for electronic applications to witness@atoners.com.”

    John says: "Doesn't live up to potential"
    "Good -- could have been great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book takes us to two faraway planets that are richly described with carefully crafted cultures, and that is the best part of the book. Once the humans figure out what the aliens are atoning for, the book changes focus to the fallout of that realization back on Earth. That half of the book seemed to be building toward a major event that never happened. I thought that maybe the end was contrived to enable a sequel, but there is none.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fledgling

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Octavia E. Butler
    • Narrated By Tracey Leigh
    Overall
    (247)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (151)

    Fledgling, Octavia E. Butler's final novel, is the story of a young amnesiac girl whose inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: she is in fact a genetically modified 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must learn who wanted to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself.

    Gabriele says: "Octavia Butler is a genius"
    "Unique perspective on technology and race"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Octavia Butler was such an amazing author, with several series of works that explored elements of race, sexuality, and technology. This book—sadly, her last—was clearly meant to be the start of a new series, as the ending is not completely resolved. Instead of using aliens as proxies for various aspects of humanity as she'd done before, Butler chose to populate this book with vampires who live among humans in bisexual polyamorous communes. Those aspects of the book are certainly provocative, but the true theme centers on genetic engineering, and the prejudice that the main character endures as a result of being made "different." Had Butler been able to write a sequel, I definitely would have wanted to read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ophiuchi Hotline

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By John Varley
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (85)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (37)

    The invaders came in 2050...they did not kill anyone outright. They said they came on behalf of the intelligent species of Earth - dolphins and whales. The invaders quietly destroyed every evidence of technology, then peacefully departed, leaving behind plowed ground and sprouting seeds. In the next two years, 10 billion humans starved to death.

    Nigel says: "My Favorite Science Fiction Author"
    "Engrossing and complex"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Though the publisher's summary suggests that this book is about aliens, the true focus is on humans—specifically, the trans-humans who have cloned themselves and altered DNA for their own purposes, some of which are nefarious. (possible spoilers ahead) The main character, Lilo, is cloned repeatedly and against her will, so that she is forced to exist in many places at once. Time travel is also involved, so things do get very complex. But I found myself rooting for Lilo, and caring about what what happened to her.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Brilliance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Marcus Sakey
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1949)
    Performance
    (1727)
    Story
    (1733)

    In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible. They’re called "brilliants," and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in.

    Charles says: "Slow to Start"
    "Written like a movie script"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's my understanding that this book may be made into a movie. If so, it won't require much editing to turn it from a book into a script. The plot is predictable, as some other reviewers have said, but if it came out as an action movie, I would definitely go see it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ben Waggoner - Translator
    • Narrated By Ray Chase
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Although based on historical persons from the ninth century, Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons are the subjects of compelling legends dating from the Viking era. Warriors, raiders, and rulers, Ragnar and his sons inspired unknown writers to set down their stories over seven centuries ago. This volume presents new and original translations of the three major Old Norse texts that tell Ragnar's story.

    Pam says: "If you like the History Channel's "Vikings"..."
    "If you like the History Channel's "Vikings"..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...Then you'll probably like this. It's a retelling of three surviving stories from Old Norse texts. Some of the characters from the show are there as viewers would know them; Others take different forms from story to story, but all have fates intertwined with Ragnar and his children. The seeds of the television show are definitely here, and Ragnar is no less enigmatic and entertaining than he is on television.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Speak Like a Leader: The Definitve Guide to Mastering the Art of Conversation and Becoming a Great Speaker

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Andrian
    • Narrated By Gregory Diehl
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    The great secret of our time is that you can actually reach a very competent level at any skill just by harnessing the power of your most important asset - your brain. In Speak Like a Leader, self-growth pioneer and social chameleon Andrian focuses on fundamental principles that define our speaking ability and presents the most impactful but extremely attainable ways to improve dramatically this inherited but quite neglected skill.

    Pam says: "Some good info here"
    "Some good info here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm torn between thinking that this book is too short or too long. There are some really interesting scientific analyses of effective communication, including a good bit about the comedian Russell Brand and what makes him so compelling as a speaker. There are also some very specific tips on how to speak properly, including effective breathing techniques and proper use of vocal cords. But at 3 hrs and 35 min, the author can't go too deeply into any of the psychology, sociology, and philosophy that underpins his advice. I would almost rather just have the tips with no exposition at all, or lots more exposition. Still, there's good information here, especially if you're looking for a fast "read."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Superposition

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By David Walton
    • Narrated By LJ Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Jacob Kelley's family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker - apparently murdered the night he appeared at Jacob's house. Jacob is arrested for the murder and put on trial.

    Pam says: "Frankenstein for the modern age"
    "Frankenstein for the modern age"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Many of us Audible listeners are multi-taskers, right? Ever had one of those moments where an audiobook is so intensely interesting that you cannot multitask, but have to just sit and listen? This is one of those books.

    I'm a science writer (non-fiction) and have been writing about physics for 20 years. I can say with confidence that this book attempts something extremely ambitious—and pulls it off. I can't imagine explaining quantum mechanics this thoroughly and this entertainingly, but Walton does it. It's the classic "scientists-take-things-too-far" theme found in Frankenstein and so much sci-fi since, but here the dangers come from contact with parallel universes.

    Whether you have a background in science or not, this is a thrilling murder mystery, and I highly recommend it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Invisible Library

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Genevieve Cogman
    • Narrated By Susan Duerden
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (73)

    Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant, Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission: to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

    Pam says: "Steampunk Heaven"
    "Steampunk Heaven"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This enthralling book mixes steampunk tech (zeppelins, pneumatic tubes, etc.) and spy intrigue with vampires, werewolves, fairies, and even dragons. And somehow it all works! I didn't want to stop listening, and am very much looking forward to future installments. The narrator has a lovely British accent but spoke a little slowly for my taste, so I ran the story at 1.25x speed. Perfect!

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Pacific Edge: The Three Californias Triptych, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    North America, 2065. In a world that has rediscovered harmony with nature, the village of El Modena, California, is an ecotopia in the making. Kevin Claiborne, a young builder who has grown up in this "green" world, now finds himself caught up in the struggle to preserve his community's idyllic way of life from the resurgent forces of greed and exploitation.

    The final volume in Kim Stanley Robinson's Three Californias triptych, Pacific Edge is a brilliant work of science fiction and an outstanding literary achievement.

    Pam says: "No escapism here"
    "No escapism here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Because this book is set only 50 years in the future (2065), it doesn't offer a strong feeling of escape and otherworldliness, as science fiction might. Rather, we are trapped in a realistic near future in which the effects of climate change are starting to be felt, and the lines between governments and corporations are blurred. So it's not a particularly easy listen, nor is it particularly up-lifting.

    There was one aspect to the story that I found fascinating, however, and that was the discussion of "green" architecture--how architecture had to change because of the warming climate. One of the main characters is an architect, and there's much discussion of the mechanics of tearing down 20th-Century buildings and re-making them.

    As to the narrator, I sometimes had a hard time telling the different characters apart. It was also hard to tell when the point of view shifted between different characters, so perhaps this book would be more easily digested in print.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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