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Jane Mcdowell

Muncie, IN, United States | Member Since 2000

62
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 28 reviews
  • 187 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 47 purchased in 2014
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  • The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By John M. Barry
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (1156)
    Performance
    (520)
    Story
    (532)

    No disease the world has ever known even remotely resembles the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Presumed to have begun when sick farm animals infected soldiers in Kansas, spreading and mutating into a lethal strain as troops carried it to Europe, it exploded across the world with unequaled ferocity and speed. It killed more people in 20 weeks than AIDS has killed in 20 years; it killed more people in a year than the plagues of the Middle Ages killed in a century.

    Nancy says: "Gripping and Gory"
    "Required reading in 2006"
    Overall

    I was interested in this story because my mother was born during the flu epidemic of 1918-19 and the doctor who delivered her died before he could sign her birth certificate. I was always curious about how a healthy person could die that quickly, with stories of bodies of flu victims being stacked "like cord wood" because there weren't enough healthy people to bury the dead. This book is so much more than a story about that pandemic.

    It is a remarkably well-researched history of medicine starting with Hippocrates. Making medicine into an empiric science and transforming medical education were occurring just prior to this epidemic. We learn about how the flu affected the role of laboratory science, epidemiology, bacteriology, virology, public health and military medicine. Mr. Barry does an incredible job of explaining immunological and pathological concepts for the lay audience. He gives us much food for thought about the present influenza worries.

    This audiobook is highly recommended for the general audience. I would really like to see it as required reading for medical students.


    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Denise Kiernan
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (62)

    At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians - many of them young women from small towns across the South - were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains.

    CBlox says: "Important story of this secret city"
    "More than Just the Girls"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I left this book in my wish list for a long time. The reviews are somewhat mixed, so I'm glad I took a chance on it. In order to set the stage for the story Ms Kiernan wants to tell there is some background information about scientific discoveries and events leading up to the need to build a facility to separate and purify uranium isotopes.

    As a baby boomer I felt like I had some historical context for the events that lead up to the building of the Bomb. I had heard about some of the day to day hardships experienced by people on the "home front" with rationing and scarcity for all the people, and employing women in "Rosie the Riveter" jobs for the first time.

    The vast majority of the book is based on interviews with women and men who were recruited to work at the "Clinton Engineering Works". It is told from their point of view. These individuals ranged from women college graduates with science backgrounds to recent high school graduates from nearby appalachian towns to army recruits literally pulled off troop trains bound for battlefield deployments. Many were recruited without knowing the location of the facility. Instead of a modern, clean facility, think mud with wood plank sidewalks.

    Oak Ridge was literally built up around these recruits and shrouded in an unimaginable cloak of secrecy. All information about the jobs these people were hired to do was doled out on a need to know basis, so the vast majority had no idea that they were working on the bomb, even the girls who ran the uranium collectors and the chemists who assayed the product for purity.

    I did appreciate the stories Ms Kiernan collected from the recollections of the day to day activities of these folks, many of whom had brothers in combat. She was able to record many of their reflections after learning that their efforts resulted in unleashing the destructive forces of the bomb. Just like others of their generation, these women and men are dying off. It's hard to believe that the American public will ever again mobilize to such an extent for any cause, so that makes these stories even more valuable.

    The narration could have been better but did not detract from the audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Diane Setterfield
    • Narrated By Bianca Amato, Jill Tanner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4551)
    Performance
    (1453)
    Story
    (1461)

    All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's beloved collection of stories, long famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale. The enigmatic Winter has always kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she summons a biographer to tell the truth about her extraordinary life: Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth remains an ever-present pain.

    PA Law says: "Haunting and beautiful tale"
    "Just too Weird for Me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Although The 13th Tale has nothing to do with Emily Bronte, there was sort of a feeling of being out on the moors in a Bronte-esque style of writing. The plot is well-developed and at the end many disparate elements are pulled together to make an interesting ending.

    Two narrators worked very well and added greatly to the performance.

    In spite of these strengths, the story requires a significant suspension of belief and none of the characters are particularly likeable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Origin: A Technothriller

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By J. A. Konrath
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    Overall
    (323)
    Performance
    (301)
    Story
    (303)

    When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert, he has no idea he’s been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon. He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan. But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn’t just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth.

    Nathan says: "Awesome!"
    "Good Potential, Poor Execution"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I realize this book was not meant to be great literature. The premise is unique and has the seed of a good story in it. Most of the main characters have major personality flaws that perfectly fit the plot so that anything that could go wrong does go wrong. Even the physical facility where the story takes place is designed in such a way that the problems are fairly predictable.
    It's sad because the story could have been told with characters who were not so mentally ill and would really have strengthened the "technothriller"

    Luke Daniels does a very good job of narration. Will definitely look for more of his performances.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Involuntary Witness: Guido Guerrieri Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Gianrico Carofiglio
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (329)
    Performance
    (285)
    Story
    (285)

    A nine-year-old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well near a popular beach resort in southern Italy. In what looks like a hopeless case for Guido Guerrieri, a Senegalese peddler is accused of the crime. Faced with small-town racism, Guido attempts to exploit the esoteric workings of the Italian courts. The voice of Sean Barrett brings this gritty Italian detective series to life.

    Kathy says: "WOW!"
    "Italian legal system does not a thriller make"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I appreciate the opportunity to try out books when Audible has a sale. I have enjoyed the Scandinavian authors, and have also enjoyed other Italian police procedurals. However, as another reviewer said, if this book portrays a typical Italian defense lawyer, there isn't any work done outside the courtroom.
    Much of the book is the introspective musings, fears and disappointments of this attorney, interspersed with courtroom oratory and rhetoric. The premise was worthy of a story, but the story told was not engaging. I have no desire to listen to any additional books in this series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Crashers

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Dana Haynes
    • Narrated By David Ledoux
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (13)

    Whenever a plane goes down in the U.S., a "Go Team" made up of experts is assembled by the NTSB to investigate. Those people - each of them a leading expert in a specific area - are known as informally as "Crashers."When a passenger plane, a Vermeer One Eleven, slams into the ground outside Portland, Oregon, a team is quickly assembled to investigate the cause.

    Bob says: "Great Story, Great Narration"
    "Not Bad at all"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Other reviewers have noted that there are parts of the story line that stretch belief. That's true. In essence, there are two stories that intersect with the crash. The story of the crash investigation is superb. I learned quite a bit about the crash scene investigations and there are lots of exciting and believable moments tied up in that part.

    The "bad guys"... not so believable.

    To me a book is good if I know I'll enjoy listening to it again in the future. Crashers is one of those books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Six Years

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Harlan Coben
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2385)
    Performance
    (2055)
    Story
    (2067)

    Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for...but she is not Natalie....

    Louise says: "Over the Top - and not in a good way"
    "Thumbs Down"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    People reviewing this book either love it or hate it. Other reviewers have pointed out many of the flaws in this book. It is difficult to add another review without spoilers, but I will try.

    Mr. Coben asks his readers to suspend belief time and time again.

    We know little of the motivations of Jake's girlfriend as the story develops, as to why she acted the way she did and what she brought to the relationship that was special enough to create his obsession. The fact that they were both in a position to meet each other in the first place was a contrivance. Jake's best friend also mourns the loss of a "significant other" lost to him more or less the same way.

    A very diverse cast of characters who have been touched by violence have all intersected with Jake's small liberal arts college. The faculty contains members that too conveniently include a former FBI agent and former diplomat, so that Jake can rapidly get information that most college profs would not have access to.

    The story just doesn't hold water for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Color of Law: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Mark Gimenez
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (127)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (28)

    A poor-boy college football hero turned successful partner at a prominent Dallas firm, who long ago checked his conscience at the door, catches a case that forces him to choose between his enviable lifestyle and doing the right thing in this masterful debut legal thriller.

    MEMcL says: "Carlsbad reader"
    "If you like early Grisham you'll like this one"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mr. Giminez does a nice job of telling the story of a selfish self-promoting lawyer who sees the light, loses wealth, status and selfish wife by defending a rather remarkable junkie prostitute.

    The main characters may be a little stereotypical, the plot resolution may also be a little stereotypical, but the story is worth telling and there are enough supporting characters and subplots to make for a satisfying listen.

    Although the setting is Dallas instead of the deep south, this novel does have the feel of a good Grisham book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Man in the Empty Suit

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Sean Ferrell
    • Narrated By Mauro Hantman
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (49)

    Say you're a time traveler and you've already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That's why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks 12-year-old Scotch (lots of it) with all the other versions of who he has been and who he will be.

    Frederik says: "Up there with the best."
    "Dark and Dystopic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I did not understand how dystopic the setting of this novel was from the summary or the reviews. One previous reviewer states that the story actually has two parts. I stopped listening several hours in, but before reaching a change in the story line. Didn't really get a feel for any other points in time or places other than a miserable hotel room in an abandoned city.

    I was not feeling much of a time travel paradox nor could I figure out if time travel was available for anyone else to use other than the main character. The reader is rather unceremoniously inserted into the middle of this story and in the midst of people so different that it was hard to believe they were all different versions of the same time traveler.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Winter Solstice

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Rosamunde Pilcher
    • Narrated By Lisa Burgett
    Overall
    (263)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (106)

    Elfrida Phipps tries to exorcise the pain of the past and find peace, taking refuge in a rambling Scottish house called Corrydale. Almost like a magnet, Corrydale attracts various waifs and strays, each of them escaping difficult personal pasts. As the holidays approach and the weather turns foul, it seems a perfect recipe for disaster.

    Priscilla says: "Everyday details kept me interested"
    "What Good Fiction Should Be"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This title has been in my library for several years and I have enjoyed it each time I listen. The story is gentle and engaging, and worth telling. The main characters are likeable people. The story line continues to grow with many unexpected turns. One should be at least a semi-Anglophile to appreciate the background of inherited properties, men's clubs, and the northern Scottish winter climate. This book offers a nice change of pace from the thrillers and vampires that comprise the best seller lists these days.

    The narrative is always in the third person, but told from points of view of several characters in succession, which proves to be very effective. I found Lisa Burgett's narration easy to listen to and her performance adds to the quality of this audiobook.

    I wish Audible would be able to offer more unabridged books by Ms Pilcher.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Good House: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Ann Leary
    • Narrated By Mary Beth Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1241)
    Performance
    (1125)
    Story
    (1116)

    The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston's North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She's also a raging alcoholic. Hildy's family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place - "if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday," she advises "run for your life" - and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key.

    Rhonda Morrison says: "What a great book, Hildy is a great character!"
    "Nothing Humorous"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book uses first person narrative to get inside the personality of a wealthy alcoholic. The best part of the book is the narrative voice. I believe the characterization of this aspect of her life is very good, but we hear about lots of carryings on of other very rich and superficial people.

    I suspect I would drink too much if surrounded by these folks. There wasn't really much to chuckle about, the story line wandered quite a bit, and the attempt to tell about a "love story" between 60-somethings was fairly pathetic.

    If you are interested in getting a perspective on the alcoholic's delusional way of thinking this book will be of value. Otherwise, leave it alone.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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