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Alison

Washington, DC, United States

ratings
133
REVIEWS
31
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
7

  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Ben Fountain
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (345)
    Performance
    (306)
    Story
    (308)

    A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal" - three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew - has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys....

    Melinda says: "Oh-ooo Say, Can We See?"
    "Not what I expected - in a good way!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Usually war books don't do it for me. But this story is so wholly different, I not only enjoyed it, but recommended to to several people. The entire story takes place on Thanksgiving Day, when Billy and his crew are attending a Cowboys game before deploying back to Iraq. Although everything unfolds over one day, the author manages to weave in a lot of other threads - about their time in Iraq, about the friendship the guys share, about the family drama on the home-front. It's a cleverly constructed story, but what I enjoyed most was the humor - both in the form of dialogue between the soldiers (which may offend some because it's f-bomb heavy, but it rang true and hilarious to me), and the more subtle humor, which the author used to deliver an almost-under-the-radar political commentary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By David McRaney
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (497)
    Performance
    (439)
    Story
    (439)

    You Are Now Less Dumb is grounded in the idea that we all believe ourselves to be objective observers of reality - except we’re not. But that's okay, because our delusions keep us sane. Expanding on this premise, McRaney provides eye-opening analyses of 15 more ways we fool ourselves every day. This smart and highly entertaining audiobook will be wowing listeners for years to come.

    A. Yoshida says: "Not a lot of guidance"
    "I am now actually less dumb - I hope."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you enjoy behavioral research but aren't a scientist, this is a great read/listen. It touches on many key theories, but does so in a way that's easily accessible and fun. The author has a great conversational tone that makes the material engaging - and the anecdotes helped the different theories come to life for me, so I'm actually likely to remember them. (I tried listening to "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and found that it largely went in one ear and out the other. I was worried this book would be more of the same - but it wasn't. I was surprised by how quickly it flew and how much I retained.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alas, Babylon

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Pat Frank
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4495)
    Performance
    (3420)
    Story
    (3426)

    This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness....

    Evelyn says: "Excellent listen"
    "Post-Nuclear survival + 1950s innocence"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I started this book, I had no idea that it was published in 1959. I say that, because while I found much of the book interesting and fun in a post-apocalyptic way, something about it struck me as naive. The characters were doing things that seemed unsophisticated. I couldn't tell if the author wasn't talented or if he was deliberately trying to portray the innocence of the decade. Once I googled the book and saw when it was published, it all snapped into place for me - it was written from a place of innocence. (As an example, the main character - who was otherwise sharp, capable and military trained - hadn't thought about their need for water when preparing his emergency kit. That's something that pretty much any US citizen today thinks of even in the case of temporary power outages.)

    While details like that were distracting, the overall concept was fun to explore. The book is strongest in its first half. Once they settle into post-war life, it loses steam a bit. That said, the author did a great job creatively imagining a world in the wake of nuclear war. If you're a fan of this genre, it's probably worth adding to your shelf.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shanghai Girls: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Lisa See
    • Narrated By Janet Song
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1455)
    Performance
    (677)
    Story
    (689)

    Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl's parents arrange for their daughters to "Gold Mountain men" who have come from Los Angeles to find brides. But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel's Island (the Ellis Island of the West, where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months) they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she's pregnant, the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

    Frances says: "Touching, sad, and enjoyable"
    "Something's Missing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, let me confess: I'm a big fan of See's other novels, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" and "Peony In Love." So I approached this book with high expectations, thinking it would deliver something along the same lines as those other books. It started out strong - showing us two beautiful and privileged girls in a Shanghai that was on the cusp of war. I wanted to spend more time in that setting, really getting a sense of what Shanghai life would've been like. Instead, we're transported to the United States, where the sisters immigrate to flee the war. This book feels like walking into a shrinking tunnel - what starts with possibilities becomes dark, depressing and limited. I think it's intended to showcase the love between two sisters, but I spent a good part of the book wanting to shake one of them for her selfishness and the other one for her blind love.

    If you haven't read a See book before, don't start with this one because I worry you'll forgo her other works as a result. And that would be a shame.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Doerr
    • Narrated By Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2297)
    Performance
    (2074)
    Story
    (2078)

    Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

    Annie M. says: "Time well spent"
    "All the right elements..."
    Overall
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    Story

    I was prepared to love this book. So many elements hit me precisely the right way: The language was great; the premise was alluring; the idea of wooden model villages appealed to the quirky collector in me; the details about the radio transmissions fascinated me; and the characters were all intriguing. And yet, I found my brain wandering as I listened. Even though I loved this book on many levels, I struggled to stay focused on it, which is rare for me. I'm not sure if that's because it toggled between different storylines and timelines so quickly, or if the same quirkiness that I loved about it left me feeling a bit scattered, but for whatever reason, I never felt like I really LANDED in this story.

    Don't get me wrong - it's well written, a jewel of a premise, and rather well executed. It just fell flat for me. Because so many elements were right, I plan to re-listen to it in a year and see if it was simply a case of bad timing on my part. Despite my reservations, I encourage you to check it out and see what you think. There's a lot to love here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Secret Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Shilpi Somaya Gowda
    • Narrated By Soneela Nankani
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (252)
    Story
    (255)

    Debut novelist Shilpi Somaya Gowda pens this compelling tale about two families, worlds apart, linked by one Indian child. After giving birth to a girl for a second time, impoverished Kavita must give her up to an orphanage. The baby, named Asha, is adopted by an American doctor and raised in California. But once grown, Asha decides to return to India.

    Stephanie says: "A Must Read"
    "Great read for a book club!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Color me impressed. I went in with low expectations because this was a first-time author, but I was quickly hooked. The writing was solid, the story well-told and the characters well-developed. There were a couple chapters about 3/4 of the way through when I felt like I'd been duped and it was a book with an agenda (trying to help adopted children stop asking questions about their birth families), but that was fleeting and then quickly dismissed. This was engaging and a fast listen, yet I found myself teary-eyed at the end, which means I cared about the characters. If all debuts could be this solid, we'd be spoiled. I plan to recommend this to my book club, because it's great fodder for discussion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Mercedes: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6001)
    Performance
    (5593)
    Story
    (5594)

    In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

    Joyce says: "Love this style of King!!!"
    "Dark & twisted - and I mean that as a compliment!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Disclosure: I'm not a pure Stephen King fan. I haven't read any of his long series and sometimes he loses me when things get a bit too other-worldly. That said, in recent years he's cranked out some books that I'm unable to put down, that I anticipate with the same salivation I normally reserve for fried ice cream. Mr. Mercedes falls into that category.

    When King dies, I hope he leaves his body to science so they can autopsy his brain because I'd like to know how someone can have such a dark imagination without being a sociopath himself. In this book, he does a fantastic job writing from the perspective of a killer who takes joy in mowing down innocent civilians waiting in line for a job fair, then plots a very dark game of cat and mouse with a retired detective.

    The thing that made this book different than some of his others is that the crimes seemed like they were pulled from the headlines. Unlike my challenge with some of King's other books, this plot line and characters were very much of this world. As it turns out, we just happen to live in scary times.

    Definitely recommend this if you're looking for a good summer suspense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wicked Girls

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Alex Marwood
    • Narrated By Anna Bentinck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1143)
    Performance
    (1027)
    Story
    (1017)

    On a fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they will both be charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a seaside vacation town when her investigation leads her to interview carnival cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it's the first time they've seen each other since that dark day so many years ago. Now with new, vastly different lives - and unknowing families to protect - will they really be able to keep their wicked secret hidden?

    Tina says: "Really my rating is 4 1/2 stars."
    "Not my thing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book had a lot of darkness to it, which I enjoyed. And the author is a solid writer with a big imagination. And who can argue with a murder mystery set at an amusement park?

    And yet, something prevented me from really getting into it. It might be that the characters didn't come to life for me, or that there was too much "coincidence" in terms of the crossing of paths, or that there was really only one fully sympathetic character in the lot, or that the ending could've been so much more powerful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Casebook: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Mona Simpson
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (49)

    From the acclaimed and award-winning author of Anywhere But Here and My Hollywood, a powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. And even then he can’t stop searching.

    Alison says: "Just OK."
    "Just OK."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really wanted to like this. I was hoping for an adult version of Harriet the Spy, told from a boy's perspective. Instead, I got a front seat for the end of a marriage told through one boy's love for his mother. The story itself would be fine if the title didn't gear me up for a sleuth-like tale. The spying felt a bit forced, as if it were an after-thought or a device introduced to filter the narrative. Don't get me wrong - the book gathers steam as it goes and the second-half is better than the first, though I think part of that was my willingness to shift focus and accept the story for what it was rather than what I wanted it to be.

    So in summary: it's a fine story if you're looking for a book about the complexity of relationships. If you're only buying it because you liked the cover or title - skip it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Keeper

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    Overall
    (3275)
    Performance
    (2813)
    Story
    (2835)

    England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

    Maria says: "Kate Morton (and Caroline Lee) does it again!"
    "A fun escape!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first Kate Morton book, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Bottomline: Based on this one, I'll check out another. If you're looking for great literature, you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a mystery that doesn't follow the traditional mold, then you'll enjoy this. I would call it a beach read, but it's a bit longer than your typical vacation book. The story toggles between WWII, the early 1960s and present day, and between narrators - yet it isn't confusing and the pacing doesn't feel contrived or annoying. This is a story of loss, love, second chances, deception and atonement. The narration seems simplistic at times, but it's easily forgiven if you allow yourself to go with the fun of the mystery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Chris Hadfield
    • Narrated By Chris Hadfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (286)
    Performance
    (267)
    Story
    (269)

    Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield's success - and survival - is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst and enjoy every moment of it.

    Ann says: "Bought this three times, worth every penny"
    "Real life rocket man"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    If you've ever been curious about space travel and all the work that goes into it, then you'll find this to be a well-written, interesting true story by a recently retired astronaut. Hadfield is at his best when he's describing the experience since it's as close as I'll ever come to space. The "life lessons" imparted throughout don't really strengthen the story and make it a bit preachy. I think he would've been better served if he'd simply focused on his bio without the take-aways. That said, it's still a great read. It made this week's launch of the Soyuz (and its delay in connecting with ISS) really come to life for me. He seems like a solid human, and I was glad to see that he realized his life's dream.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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