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Roxane

RIO RANCHO, NM, United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
53
REVIEWS
17
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
2
HELPFUL VOTES
87

  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By John McWhorter
    • Narrated By John McWhorter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1025)
    Performance
    (770)
    Story
    (769)

    A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar. Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history.

    Mike says: "Great for casual linguists"
    "A great find for language nerds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I was excited (and convinced) by the author's thesis that Old English was influenced by Welsh. It's a revolutionary idea, since most scholars who study Germanic languages ONLY study Germanic languages, but it's a very convincing explanation of one of English's peculiar quirks.

    Whereas many "history of the language" titles deal mostly with etymologies of words and phrases, McWhorter is concerned mostly with grammar--notably, the differences in grammar that set English apart from other Germanic languages. For that reason, it might be heavy going for people with a casual interest and little knowledge of linguistic terminology. But the author's tone and wit help to keep it interesting. My husband, who has no background in linguistics but is curious about many topics, enjoyed it and got something out of it.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Memory and Dream

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Charles de Lint
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    Overall
    (214)
    Performance
    (109)
    Story
    (107)

    As the young student of the cruel, brilliant artist Vincent Rushkin, Isabelle Copley discovered that she could paint images so vividly real they brought her wildest fantasies to life. Now, 20 years later, Isabelle must come to terms with the shattering memories she has long denied and unlock the slumbering power of her brush. And, in a dark reckoning with her old master, she must find the courage to live out her dreams and bring the magic back to life.

    David E. Ballard says: "If this is your first de Lint"
    "Fantasy or soap opera?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I have a tendency to react strongly to an author's style, and it was style that I objected to here. The fantasy premise was interesting, but the author has a tendency to allow his characters to wallow around in their contrived and sometimes implausible feelings in a way that seems more suited to daytime television. Not only does this habit make the characters less plausible, but it slows the pace of the novel, and simply dragging things out is not the same thing as building suspense. This objection might not be a consideration for readers who pay less attention to style and can focus on the plot in spite of the author, and presumably wouldn't worry any of de Lint's many fans.


    What about Kate Reading’s performance did you like?

    I've enjoyed many of Kate Reading's performances, but she can't fix the material all by herself. She does a good job here, and the book certainly would not have been improved had it been read by anyone else.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Memory and Dream?

    Most of the wallowing, and every single sentence that took the form, "Surely So-and-so didn't ________--or did he?" I kept expecting to hear the reader say, "Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!"


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Deborah Blum
    • Narrated By Coleen Marlo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1245)
    Performance
    (783)
    Story
    (772)

    In The Poisoner's Handbook, Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

    Reagan says: "Fascinating book marred by production errors"
    "Satisfies on many levels"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    A fascinating tale that combines the beginnings of forensic medicine in this country (which, in the early 20th century, lagged behind the science that was available in Europe), political corruption in New York during the Tammany Hall era, and some interesting sidelights on Prohibition. I hadn't known, for instance, that the government deliberately mandated wood alcohol spiked with additional toxins for industrial use--on the theory that, if it was used to make illicit liquor, the imbibers would get what was coming to them for breaking the law. Put simply, the US government was actively seeking to do in the taxpayers. (And lest one be tempted to think that this proves that government cannot be trusted to do anything right, the tales of poisons sold by the unregulated chemical and drug industries are every bit as hair-raising; you'll never again question why we need an FDA.) Throw in a few sensational murders, a couple of thoroughly admirable investigators, and details that you never knew about the Roaring Twenties, and you've got the makings of a good little listen.

    My husband and I like to listen to history books on road trips, since our tastes in fiction do not agree, and we both gave this one high marks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The House at Riverton

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2559)
    Performance
    (1641)
    Story
    (1637)

    Summer 1924: On the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again....Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. Ghosts awaken, and memories, long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks.

    Cathy says: "superbly written mystery"
    "A Real Find for fans of "Downton Abbey""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    A wonderful historical novel with a mystery at its heart. Told in flashbacks by an old woman who had been a maid in an English country house during World War I, and later a lady's maid to a Bright Young Thing in the 1920's, the novel opens with a mystery, and the solution is only revealed after layer upon layer of character and history has been meticulously laid down. It's beautifully structured--the gradual revelation of character is as compelling as the plot contrivances of any potboiler, and there is a twist at the end that is worthy of de Maupassant.

    Anyone who comes to the novel after enjoying "Downton Abbey" on TV, as I did, will enjoy the complex relationship between mistress and maid, which leads inexorably to the final tragedy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (459)
    Performance
    (398)
    Story
    (404)

    Chester Nez, the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, shares the fascinating inside story of his life and service during World War II.

    Roxane says: "Interesting Listen for WWII Buffs"
    "Interesting Listen for WWII Buffs"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This book is the autobiography of one of the original Navajo code-talkers--the original group who invented the code that baffled Japanese cryptographers during World War II. Because the code remained classified until 1968, it's only recently that these men have received due credit for their remarkable achievement.

    From life near the reservation in New Mexico, through a boarding school experience that can only be described as Dickensian, the story highlights the remarkable toughness and generosity of spirit of these young Navajo men. It's hard for most of us to imagine a childhood that involved being shipped away to boarding school--and at the end of the year, at the age of 8, with a 5-year-old sister in tow, having to walk home for three days with only a bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and being expected to find water along the way. But this toughness would stand Nez and his comrades in good stead during the war.
    It's not surprising that these young men actually expressed delight at the quantity and quality of military rations.

    I'd recommend this to anyone interested in the Pacific war, in the Native American experience, or in codes and cryptography. It could only have happened because a rather cruel experience produced people with just the right skills, who had the generosity of spirit to fight for a country that hadn't treated them well. Nez is in his 90's now, and is the last survivor of the original group. I'm glad that his story got written down.

    32 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Alan Bradley
    • Narrated By Jayne Entwistle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (441)
    Performance
    (395)
    Story
    (390)

    It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern.

    Frobertimus says: "The Character who brought me back to Cozy Mystery"
    "Flavia is a delight!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does I Am Half-Sick of Shadows rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    I always look forward to the latest Alan Bradley audiobook, and this one does not disappoint.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jayne Entwistle perfectly captures the eccentric Flavia, who reminds me of a talented-and-gifted version of Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family cartoons--an eleven-year-old chemistry nerd loaded to the gills with irony.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Whose Body?

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Dorothy L. Sayers
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (48)

    Amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey sets out to unravel a puzzling case involving the disappearance of a wealthy financier and the discovery of a corpse in a bathtub. He does succeed in solving things to everyone's ultimate satisfaction, but only after a series of bloodcurdling and hair-raising episodes that will hold the listener spellbound with anticipation.

    Roxane says: "Five stars, and yet. . ."
    "Five stars, and yet. . ."
    Overall

    . . . this is perhaps not one of Sayers's most memorable mysteries, but one of the few that is available. I wish that Audible carried more of her titles.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Alan Bradley
    • Narrated By Jayne Entwistle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1541)
    Performance
    (1006)
    Story
    (1008)

    It is the summer of 1950 and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

    Midi says: "Terrific story...spot-on narration"
    "Introducing a delightful young sleuth!"
    Overall

    The charm of this mystery lies in its refreshing sleuth--a cold-blooded, brilliantly precocious eleven-year-old girl named Flavia de Luce, who reminded me more than a little of Wednesday Addams. I am glad to discover that there has been a sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I, Claudius

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Robert Graves
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    Overall
    (1383)
    Performance
    (678)
    Story
    (683)

    Here is one of the best historical novels ever written. Lame, stammering Claudius, once a major embarrassment to the imperial family and now emperor of Rome, writes an eyewitness account of the reign of the first four Caesars: the noble Augustus and his cunning wife, Livia; the reptilian Tiberius; the monstrous Caligula; and finally old Claudius himself. Filled with poisonings, betrayal, and shocking excesses, I Claudius is history that rivals the most exciting contemporary fiction.

    Chris says: "Unsurpassed, addictive brilliance"
    "An old favorite"
    Overall

    I've always loved this book, and have read it several times since seeing the BBC televised version years ago. An eminent classical scholar, Graves re-imagines the early Caesars as the ultimate dysfunctional British extended family, and having read his story, one finds it almost impossible to imagine them any other way.

    I downgraded this reading by one point for a completely unfair reason: Nelson Runger doesn't do a bad job, but he isn't Derek Jacobi. (If you want Jacobi, you have to get the abridged version--a cruel choice that cost me a considerable amount of agonizing.) But once you start thinking of the ancient Romans as a dysfunctional British family, it's jarring to hear the story in an American accent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Chivalry

    • UNABRIDGED (27 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Christina Pickles
    Overall
    (1155)
    Performance
    (311)
    Story
    (308)

    "A delicious tale of an elderly British matron who buys the Holy Grail at a rummage sale. Selected Shorts is an award-winning series of classic and contemporary short fiction read by acclaimed actors. The readings are recorded live at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City. The Selected Shorts radio series is a co-production of Symphony Space and WNYC, New York Public Radio, and is heard on public radio stations nationwide."

    Teresa says: "A delightful story!"
    "Charming freebie"
    Overall

    If you already know and love Neil Gaiman, you need this. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, what better way to check him out?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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