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Ellen

Kansas City, MO, United States | Member Since 2001

ratings
105
REVIEWS
38
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
9
HELPFUL VOTES
143

  • Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Christian Lander
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (395)
    Performance
    (145)
    Story
    (144)

    They love nothing better than sipping free-trade gourmet coffee, leafing through the Sunday New York Times, and listening to David Sedaris on NPR (ideally all at the same time). Apple products, indie music, food co-ops, and vintage T-shirts make them weak in the knees. They believe they're unique, yet somehow they're all exactly the same.

    Miguel says: "Bland simply bland!!!!"
    "Liked the blog; book is a conservative screed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend this book because my friends are mostly progressives from the working class (Yes, we exist.) At first, the blog and the entries in this book were skewering the upper middle class and its affectations. But then the subject matter changed to a conservative screed indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh or Charles Murray. I'll leave David Brooks out of it because BOBOS stuck to the topic of Yuppies and didn't imply (that I can remember) that people who are concerned about the environment are insincere, etc.

    Toward the end of the book, he hits on all the hot buttons the usual gaggle of liberal-haters always hit on. Why white people (he means liberals) like universal health care: so they can quit their jobs (it cannot be that any of them want to see the poor helped.) Why white people (he means liberals) find Christianity tacky (I am a United Methodist and member of Sojourners--which is to say a slightly left-of-center Christian.)

    I would not mistrust this book as a conservative screed with an agenda if he hadn't started hitting on all the predictable hot buttons toward the end. I think this gives away his true agenda.

    I dislike entitled upper middles as much as he does, but there are liberals from the working class who come by their concerns for the environment and the poor honestly. And who's to say all rich white liberals are insincere? Look at Jared Polis, wealthy philanthropist who has founded numerous schools for at-risk kids and given to countless other causes to help the less fortunate.

    I love when Tom Wolfe gets going on a good rant at certain similar elements, but I get the feeling he isn't just swiping at every conservative hot button like a think tank employee. This book reads like it came straight out of a think tank. He wants to call all liberals insincere--I call this (admittedly witty) book insincere. I wouldn't if it didn't hit all the same hot buttons Charles Murray does, and all in a row, too (when he ran out of the easy topics that are clearly affectations to achieve status.)


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Ending deteriorates into typical conservative cultural screed; beginning was great.


    What does Victor Bevine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator was great. Has just the right tone and inflection for the sarcastic parts.


    Did Stuff White People Like inspire you to do anything?

    It inspired me NOT to recommend it, even though the first part was good.


    Any additional comments?

    Conservatives, please get some new material. Sometimes you have some good points; I enjoy Tom Wolfe.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Nicole Hardy
    • Narrated By Nicole Hardy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    When Nicole Hardy’s eye-opening "Modern Love" column appeared in the New York Times, the response from readers was overwhelming. Hardy’s essay, which exposed the conflict between being true to herself as a woman and remaining true to her Mormon faith, struck a chord with women coast-to-coast. Now in her funny, intimate, and thoughtful memoir, Nicole Hardy explores how she came, at the age of 35, to a crossroads regarding her faith and her identity.

    Ellen says: "Interesting story--GREAT narrator"
    "Interesting story--GREAT narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin in three words, what would they be?

    Compassionate, Interesting, Naive. I had compassion for Nicole Hardy while listening to the story, just as she had compassion for her parents, as she knew she would hurt them when she left the LDS and didn't want to hurt them. The book makes the reader think about religion and its role and what the reader himself or herself would do in such a situation. The reason I said "naive" is 1) I think Nicole Hardy is naive about men and relationships, and may have gone through some of the same obstacles even if she hadn't been LDS. 2) Her parents were naive about how unrealistic their expectations were. Everybody isn't able to keep to the upbringing of a sect like that. I had many of the same experiences growing up in another very strict sect that shuns, worse than LDS.

    Some of my favorite parts were where Nicole is thinking of responses to the women who act like marital status is the only important thing about a woman. I loved the part where she was freed from that just by being out in the larger world and finding out it didn't matter so much to normal people.

    I do think Hardy made entirely too big deal about her virginity. My advice to a woman in her position would be not to tell. Or in any case, don't let it be a big deal either way. Older virgins are not that rare--my doctor told me he sees plenty of them in his practice. I wish Nicole Hardy could have had my doctor.

    The best line in the book is where Nicole wants to tell her parents "I don't believe sex is important enough for it to be as central to a person's worth as the LDS makes it" or something like that.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The funny boyfriend toward the beginning of the story. He was a hoot! I could just picture him.


    What does Nicole Hardy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She is a TOP NOTCH WONDERFUL narrator! Please hire her to narrate more books!!! I couldn't believe the author was the narrator because few people have such a great voice, tone, and inflection.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    When you don't fit anywhere, how do you carve out a place to belong?


    Any additional comments?

    Can't praise the narration enough. There are two places in the audiobook where earlier passages are repeated out of place. Probably some kind of glitch.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • I Don’t Care about Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Julie Klausner
    • Narrated By Julie Klausner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (148)

    In the tradition of Cynthia Heimel and Chelsea Handler, and with the boisterous iconoclasm of Amy Sedaris, Julie Klausner's candid and funny debut I Don't Care about Your Band sheds light on the humiliations we endure to find love - and the lessons that can be culled from the wreckage. I Don't Care about Your Band posits that lately the worst guys to date are the ones who seem sensitive. It's the jerks in nice guy clothing, not the players in Ed Hardy, who break the hearts of modern girls.

    Stephanie says: "pretty raunchy"
    "HILARIOUS!!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to I Don’t Care about Your Band the most enjoyable?

    Delicious snark!!!!!! As good as the opening chapters of Gone Girl and almost exactly the same knowing voice--I even thought it was the same narrator. MUCH better than Chelsea Handler. Where has Julie Klausner been all my life?

    The description of the Midwestern guy (early in the book) who is missing something in his emotional makeup (compared to people from other subcultures) was the first time I ever heard anyone "get it" as far as the difference in emotional tenor with Midwesterners. I'm originally from the South, so you'd think I'd have little in common with a Jewish woman form New York, but when it comes to emotional expressiveness and tenor I was right there with her when she described the Midwestern guy as "warm with a gust of cold."

    The Miss Piggy and Kermit description was right on target, and so original.

    This book is not just about dating adventures (like many other books are). This one is far beyond its book-alikes (Chelsea Handler) in that Klausner has very sharp, important, and deep insights. Oh, I can't do it justice. She figures things out that the rest of us have noticed but couldn't quite articulate.

    Also, I think she was right on about the two types of women and what kind of fathers they had. This book is piled full of important insights like that.

    I will wait on the edge of my seat for anything and everything else Klausner writes.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Klausner herself. Because she wears her heart on her sleeve and thinks that's an OK way to be (unlike the cold and reserved characters who guard their hearts) and she gets bruised and doesn't mind telling us all about it. But much more than that, because she has insight into what happened and can explain it to the rest of us bewildered daters.


    What about Julie Klausner’s performance did you like?

    I thought it was the same narrator from Gone GIrl, who also has just the right inflection and tone when reading the snarky parts. YUM! Just the right amount of knowingness and snark.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Admit it. You've dated him. Grab your friends and come laugh about it, 'cause they have too.


    Any additional comments?

    No one should read this in print. Everyone should listen to the audiobook.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18403)
    Performance
    (16427)
    Story
    (16482)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "I'm from Missouri, Show Me the Class Resentment!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Gone Girl in three words, what would they be?

    Wicked, Seething, Delicious


    What did you like best about this story?

    Lots of people are talking about the gender wars, the plot twists, and "Who's the real villain" so I'll take the Missouri angle and the class warfare angle. I liked when each character told his and her secret, seething resentments...Nick about how Amy could never feel the full weight of the economic burden because she hadn't had to struggle to get to a comfortable place economically and socially, and Nick has had to. I liked the part where Nick had to keep on his toes to keep measuring up to Amy, and he resented it secretly. At the same time, Amy resented how she had to jump through hoops and wear a mask and be physically and socially perfect in order to win Nick (and thus win the singles game in New York by landing a good-looking, debonair man). Amy's take on competitiveness (that life wasn't worth anything without super-competitiveness) was interesting when compared to the "mediocre also-rans" back in Missouri. I think once back in Missouri, Nick wanted Amy to like the Missouri part of him, too, and she didn't, and he resented that. The writer is also from Missouri, so rather than taking the digs at Missouri at face value, I think the writer was examining whether it's really true that the people who leave Missouri and aspire to the Nick and Amy life are really better off all-round. I know a couple who ended up like Nick and Amy when the wife, who was hard to please and impress, stopped being impressed and started giving the bored eyeroll when the husband would point out things like Nature that he cared about...this was just like a scene between Nick and Amy when things were going bad. I kept thinking about my own relationship, back in Missouri, while listening to the book. Is it true that all mediocre Midwestern also-rans are just dumbly content because we don't want to do the constant work to be a little more edgy? Or do we go into relationships from the beginning accepting each other's shortcomings and being glad someone puts up with us/we balance each other out? Look at Marge Gunderson and her husband in Fargo. Marge accepts her husband's hobby and pudge and builds him up. Is it really better to be part of the more cutting-edge competitive set if they have to keep on their toes to that extent? Or do they mellow out and accept each other's imperfections indulgently too? Is there such a thing as a lovable slob in New York? From what I've heard, I think it's easier to be happy in a Marge Gunderson-type marriage far from the coasts. I think the writer was eminently familiar with Amy "types" among the writerly set and has possibly also decided that it's easier to find happiness with a little less of a perfectionist/competitive attitude. Now, for the economy. I loved the part where Nick starts lying around after becoming unemployed and taking out his resentment on Amy and she starts writing in her diary about resenting him for turning her into a nag. What is it Nick really resents, and is he thinking it through, or is he really just two years old? One might ask that question about a lot of men in real life (see my brother-in-law, or my ex, or my lodger, or Hannah Rosin's The End of Men) I think a lot of people think they want to be Amy, but they may not really be happy if they got to be Amy. According to Amy, the competition never ends, and the whole world is a game of who's more beautiful, accomplished, in control, intellligent, and perfect, at all times. I think Nick should have ditched her long before the events in the latter half of the book, done some growing up, and found an intelligent woman from his own background to be a real friend and partner to him and he her. Like other couples, some of whom have a little pudge, tell dumb jokes, and eat the occasional casserole, they could have done like thousands of other couples and smiled indulgently while the other re-told that same story for the thousandth time and sent them the wrong flower etc. I can personally attest that kind of life can be happy, and I don't say that with resentment that I'm not super-beautiful or upper middle class. I'm about 1000 steps more mediocre in every way than Marge Gunderson but I would love to be Marge. I want Marge to get Nick and Amy in the back of a police car and say "All for a little bit of cutting-edge sensibility and image. There's more to life than a little bit of cutting-edge sensibility and image. Doncha know that?"


    Have you listened to any of Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but they were good.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes. It made me squeal every few seconds "This book is unbelievable!"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bitter Is the New Black

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Jen Lancaster
    • Narrated By Jamie Heinlein
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (312)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (157)

    Jen Lancaster was living the sweet life-until real life kicked her to the curb. She had the perfect man, the perfect job-hell, she had the perfect life - and there was no reason to think it wouldn't last. Or maybe there was, but Jen Lancaster was too busy being manicured, pedicured, highlighted, and generally adored to notice.

    Amanda Sava says: "Better than I'd hoped."
    "End is better than beginning"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Bitter Is the New Black in three words, what would they be?

    Post-9/11 Layoff Memoir


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character learns and grows a lot. She realizes her failings and grows up.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When someone said


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, if I could have.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator is great. I thought it was the author narrating. The voice and inflection are just right. The job market is even worse now than it was when this was written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By John Douglas, Johnny Dodd
    • Narrated By Jason Klav
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (61)

    This incredible story shows how John Douglas tracked and participated in the hunt for one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history. For 31 years a man who called himself BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) terrorized the city of Wichita, Kansas, sexually assaulting and strangling a series of women, taunting the police with frequent communications, and bragging about his crimes to local newspapers and TV stations.

    Petersen says: "Book Spoiled by Narrator"
    "Good story, good analysis--robot narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Inside the Mind of BTK to be better than the print version?

    No, because the narroator was awful.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Inside the Mind of BTK?

    When someone


    What didn’t you like about Jason Klav’s performance?

    For one thing, he was extremely wooden. Was he trying to sound like Douglas? Like BTK? Anyway, never mind that--at one point, he said


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me fearful that there may be other killers out there like BTK. It also made me think about what makes a person like BTK tick. Even if he has a compulsion like this, does he think about it 24/7? What kind of miserable life must that be? I'd almost rather be a victim (I said almost) than live with the kind of compulsion that drove my life to such an extent. Did he have pleasure in anything else? Did his compulsions ever leave him enough to really enjoy his family life, or were his compulsions tormenting him 24/7? Also, I was both chilled to the bone and kind of relieved to find out that one of his victims said


    Any additional comments?

    Just because I razzed the narrator, don't skip this book. It's a worthwhile listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Damage

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Josephine Hart
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (18)

    When she turned to face him at a party, for a glimmering moment he seemed to break out of the self-imposed exile that was his life. As he watched her tall, black-suited figure move away from him, cutting through the insensible crowd, he knew he would never be free again.

    julia says: "Fascinating"
    "Overwrought"
    Overall

    How did the narrator read this book without bursting out laughing? Don't get me wrong, this overripe potboiler is worth a listen, and it gives the listener some interesting things to think about--but just like the movie, the bodice-ripping passages are ridiculous. The reviews of the movie on Netflix are pretty funny too.
    It's very interesting to me that this navel-gazing midlife-crisis protagonist is written by a woman. I think she captured what goes through a midlife-crisis man's mind and manages to describe it better than many men can. But there should be a drinking game or parlor game featuring this book, to see who can read the sex passages the longest without laughing.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Erased: Missing Women, Murdered Wives

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Marilee Strong
    • Narrated By Deb Thomas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (62)

    Based on five years of investigative reporting and research into forensic psychology and criminology, Erased presents an original profile of a widespread and previously unrecognized type of murder: not a hot-blooded, spur-of-the-moment crime of passion, as domestic homicide is commonly viewed, but a cold-blooded, carefully planned and methodically executed form of erasure.

    Dave says: "A Fascinating Barrage of Painful Truth"
    "Interesting"
    Overall

    This was a very interesting take on wife-killers. It makes you wonder what other people may be thinking under the surface...is someone you know planning to do away with his or her spouse and get away with it? The most interesting aspect was the pregnancy aspect. Some men can't handle the responsibility of fatherhood, and that's when they kill their pregnant wives. It is also interesting how many of the "eraser killers" tell extensive lies about their success and status, kind of living a fantasy life until (usually) a pregnancy presents looming responsibility they can't handle. I would suggest more help from society for young parents, including more jobs. A society where no one has to feel quite so overwhelmed by the impending birth of a first child. In the case of Christian Longo, he was being shunned by his extended Jehovah's Witness family and I think that contributed to his feeling backed in a corner. If there were a working class level job where a man could go down and at least make an adequate living, maybe fewer fathers-to-be would panic and pull a Mark Hacking.

    Now for another topic. (It won't let me start a new paragraph.) This narrator's inflection is terrible. She doesn't pause in the appropriate manner at the end of a section. The end of an entire section is the same as the end of a sentence, and both are too short. It was very hard to tell when a new whole section begins. Other narrators sometimes do this too, and it seems like the narrator isn't grasping the material enough to tell when a new section begins. Very annoying.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Stacy Horn
    • Narrated By Eliza Foss
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    Stacy Horn sheds light on the dark world of the NYPD’s real-life Cold Case Squad—a special command of detectives who take on the homicide cases that remain unsolved after their initial period of investigation. Those who comprise its ranks are often characterized as misfits and lone wolves—but brilliant ones, to be sure. Here, their fascinating and deeply troubling stories of cases closed—and others that remain open—are conveyed in chilling detail.

    Ellen says: "Haunting"
    "Haunting"
    Overall

    This book was very interesting. I was very impressed after I finished listening to find out the author had stayed involved in helping people learn to keep their own police dept's working on their own families' cold cases. I even Google Street Viewed some of the scenes of the cases in the book...very sad and eerie to know these people lived and died and disappeared and were all but forgotten.
    The cases outlined in the book are still with me! Restless sleep indeed!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Spencer Wells
    • Narrated By Spencer Wells
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (137)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (43)

    This new book by Spencer Wells, the internationally known geneticist, anthropologist, author, and director of the Genographic Project, focuses on the seminal event in human history: mankind's decision to become farmers rather than hunter-gatherers.

    Roy says: "The Costs of Civilization"
    "Interesting, especially first part"
    Overall

    I agree with some of the other reviews--the depth fell off in the latter part of the book. However, I learned some things I hadn't known before--especially the idea that infectious disease only began to plague humanity after agriculture and living in groups. The part about which genes have made the most difference was also informative. I liked the way he explained mutations, but I wish he'd write another book and explain it in even simpler terms for the many people who don't seem to understand evolution because they don't understand how mutations work. Case in point: Recently a politician asked why apes are not still evolving into humans. People laughed, then quietly admitted they didn't quite understand either. I really think people do not understand mutations and how they contribute to evolution...obviously I don't either, but this book does a pretty good job of explaining. This needs to be on TV on a really accessible visual chart or something, so people will quit asking questions like that politician did. I've seen Wells on TV; he could do it. Speaking of which, if he ever wants a second career, he could totally be the best narrator on here. He was so much easier to understand and had better timing and inflection than the narrator of the last book I listened to.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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