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Gillian

SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

Austin, TX, United States | Member Since 2015

162
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 61 reviews
  • 61 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 64 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
6

  • Stories from the Storm: Hurricane Katrina Survivors, In Their Own Words

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 29 mins)
    • Narrated By Carter Hooper, Celia Collins, Tom Fitzmorris, and others
    Overall
    (161)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (50)

    In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29th, Audible reached out to customers in the affected area to offer help. Many customers responded and several agreed to be interviewed about their experience. Stories from the Storm was recorded in mid-November, in the days when many people were still clearing debris and figuring out how to restart their lives. These riveting stories will remind listeners of the heartbreak, confusion, and perseverance of the Katrina survivors.

    Gillian says: "Could've Been Powerful. Alas, Was Not..."
    "Could've Been Powerful. Alas, Was Not..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Stories from the Storm? What did you like least?

    I became obsessed with Hurricane Katrina after the storm hit, and went to N. Orleans to do animal rescue later. I suffered some pretty severe PTSD from it. I suppose I was expecting to hear stories that were more hard-hitting, that echoed my memories of all that happened. For the most part, however, these were bland and weren't conveyed with much emotion. One thing to note, I suppose, is that they were recorded only a couple of months after it all, and the people involved could have been functioning and relating their experiences at a necessary emotional distance.
    One story, though, was shocking. It's that of the teen-aged girl who seems as though she'd never been faced with any serious challenges in her life, only to find herself working around the suffering, the dying, the dead.


    Would you recommend Stories from the Storm to your friends? Why or why not?

    As it's free and barely over two hours, I suppose I'd recommend it to others. It's not bad, it's just not as powerful as I thought it could have been.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    One thing that really bugged me was the complete and utter glibness of some of the people who recorded their stories. I mean, asking for ice so that you can have cocktails? Really? Is that how challenged and frightened you were? It was rather offensive.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Given my experiences, I'd see anything about Katrina. I would hope, however, that it'd be enhanced some, with necessary drama and import edited into it.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't regret listening to this. It's a decent enough audio, but I was disappointed. For really hard-hitting Katrina experiences, I recommend "Five Days at Memorial." Now THERE'S a portrayal of the descent into chaos, fear, and the lack of resources that Katrina caused!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Loung Ung
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (66)

    One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.

    Michael says: "excellent and very moving true story"
    "Brutal, Heartbreaking"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The trials held against some of the last surviving perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide this past October really had me interested in looking into some of books out there on the subject. After listening to the deplorable "Soul of a Tiger," "First They Killer My Father" was so hard hitting as to be almost unbearable. It's extraordinary the way Loung Ung's character develops from a naive, whiny child (whiny because she hasn't a clue as to how dangerous the situation is) to a desperate individual who would do anything to survive, even if it means stealing food, killing sparrows, whatever. This is starvation and desperation at its most devastating.
    This is not a light listen, but it's a good one. Just be prepared for some heartbreak, some hopelessness. But some love there too.
    That said, you'll never think of earthworms the same way again...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Soul of a Tiger: A Miraculous True Story of a Family Who Survived the Cambodian Genocide

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By SreyReath Kuy
    • Narrated By Jennifer Champney
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Cha-Cha is as stubborn as a child can be; which are both a blessing and a curse for the young girl who lives in a rural community in Cambodia. Her spirited nature is no match for her old-fashioned father’s ways of thinking, as he believes that women should marry and become caretakers to their husbands. Determination prevails, as Cha-Cha’s mother goes out of her way to ensure her daughter’s opportunity for an education.

    Brigit's Mom says: "The worst narrator that I've ever heard."
    "Avoid Like the Plague!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story is bad enough, simply unbelievable and it jumps back and forth without smooth segues. The characters are poorly developed, and they seem to be little scarred by what they went through. Their suffering doesn't seem to phase them; it's just written. Starvation doesn't move them to desperate acts. This does NOT seem to be a true story.
    And what really, really KILLS this audiobook is the fact that this is the poorest recording I've ever heard. There is a radio in the background, appliances going, and I damned near lost it when a baby started crying.
    Audible, Audible: What were you thinking?!?
    Try "First They Killed My Father" if you really want a hard hitting look at the horrors of Cambodia

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Guided!: How to Communicate with Your Spirit Guides

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs)
    • By Shannon Walbran
    • Narrated By Shannon Walbran
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Guided! How to Communicate with your Spirit Guides. Shannon Walbran is heard worldwide on radio every week, helping callers solve their toughest personal problems by channeling direct, specific information. She has been practicing professionally since 2003 and has directly served more than 10,000 clients.

    Gillian says: "No Guidance Here"
    "No Guidance Here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My muses have decided to take a loooong holiday, which I can ill afford. So, I'm about as desperate as it gets here. I was pretty thrilled to find this book, and was filled with hope that there might be tidbits on finding guidance, finding help, finding my way back "home" if you will. Instead, this book is filled with snippets of all of Walbran's sessions, and pithy little lessons from them (such as: "I sensed the client had healing powers, so I asked her to diagnose me, and she did."). These were not helpful at all.
    Then she goes into a lengthy history of how she became aware of and developed her abilities.
    I swear, if there was guidance on communicating with Spirit Guides in there, it was but a pinpoint of light, easily missed. Pass this one up. I'm sure there's better out there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hurricane

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    Daniel Stillman's Life: 42 Facebook friends, 18 Cell phone contacts, 6 Twitter followers, 4 blog subscribers. Now a category five storm is about to take this all away. And replace it with a neighbor he's never met.

    Gillian says: "Great, If You Haven't Read Other Howey?"
    "Great, If You Haven't Read Other Howey?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read praises for Hugh Howey for, well, forever, and recently bought the whole "Wool" deal but haven't had time to listen to it. When I saw "The Hurricane" and saw that it was in a different style, I was intrigued and thought I'd give it a shot. I'm really glad I did. It is a really wonderful, people as fish-out-of-water, coming together, looking for hope story. And from what I've read from other reviewers, it is so unlike Howey's other books, I would've been disappointed/disgusted had I read it/listened to it after said works.
    Even if you've read other Howey, give this a shot, maybe just as a Daily Deal, or something as it's fairly short (I got it cheap as a kindle/audio bundle). Judge it on its own merits. The characters are likable and flawed, they're thrown into an interesting situation, and there's a sliver of sunshine in a life that looked very dark indeed.
    What's not to like? Well done, Mr. Howey!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By David Dosa
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (64)

    Oscar the cat has a very special skill. An otherwise ordinary cat—he'd sooner give you his back or a sideways glance than curl up on your lap—Oscar has the uncanny ability to predict when people are about to die. Adopted by staff members at Steere House nursing home when he was a kitten, the three year-old cat has presided over the deaths of more than twenty-five nursing home residents thus far.

    Chelsea says: "Very -touching"
    "Just Don't Expect Much of Oscar..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" really shouldn't be anywhere near the title of this book as Oscar is simply a device used by Dr. Dosa for contemplating end-of-life care, as the publishers summary states. Mostly, this is a book about dementia. If you judge the book without Oscar, then it's actually pretty good with really touching stories of how we age, what our minds/brains/lives become and how the lives of the people who love us are affected.
    There are a few nice bits that show how well the elderly or those suffering from forms of dementia respond to animals. I know I would.
    Still, kinda tricky and manipulative to use Oscar as the draw...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Susan Spencer-Wendel, Bret Witter
    • Narrated By Karen White
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (44)

    Susan Spencer-Wendel's Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy is a moving and inspirational memoir by a woman who makes the most of her final days after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). After Spencer-Wendel, a celebrated journalist at the Palm Beach Post, learns of her diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, she embarks on several adventures, traveling to several countries and sharing special experiences with loved ones.

    Bonny says: "Until I Say Good-Bye is a paradox for me."
    "5-Star End of Life; 3-Star Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Boy, do I feel bad giving somebody with ALS 3 stars, but, while this book had a quite a bit going for it, it did indeed have a few notable drawbacks.
    First the drawbacks. It wanders and could've used somebody to draw in the threads tighter so it didn't feel like we were jumping from one epiphany/adventure/loving thought to another without proper segues.
    Two: Sure, this is about Life, not Death, but the ALS is soooo sanitized, you'd think it was easy. I'm working on my second novel, and a character of mine has ALS, so all I know about it comes from research, and it is brutal. I certainly don't expect Susan to make her book all about her suffering (especially as this is something her children will be reading later), but perhaps she could've put in some more about how hard the illness is. Her children could only be that much prouder of her, and people with ALS (PALS), and their friends and families could use the inspiration she provided. She missed a chance there. Really, it comes off as easy. She travels. Easy. Carried on the beach. Easy. Eats all her favorite foods. Easy. She wants this/that/the other and her family says no? Well, she wants it, so they're gonna do it for her anyway.
    It's only at the end where she needs help toileting, and that's only a blip on the radar without embarrassment. Communication is the one thing that is difficult. For a woman whose life was words, I expected more emotion I suppose. Then again, I'm just big into emotion, so make of it what you will.
    The best part of this book is that this is a loving family, and an adopted woman fitting pieces together before she dies, saying yes to life as much as she can.
    And Karen White, who BRUTALIZED "Daring Greatly," does an admirable job here.
    This is a good, credit-worthy book, well worth the listen, just park some expectations by the door.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Chögyam Trungpa, Carolyn Rose Gimian (editor), Pema Chödrön (foreword)
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman, Karen White, Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (33)

    Chgyam Trungpa offers us a vision of moving beyond fear to discover the innate bravery, trust, and delight in life that lies at the core of our being. Drawing on the Shambhala Buddhist teachings, he explains how we can each become a spiritual warrior: a person who faces each moment of life with openness and fearlessness. "The ultimate definition of bravery is not being afraid of who you are," writes Chgyam Trungpa. In this audiobook, he offers the insights and strategies to claim victory over fear.

    Sara says: "Essential & Powerful"
    "Would've Been Great if I Had Some Experience...""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got this book because it addresses fear, (I have trouble ordering coffee, for gosh sake: "No, really, sir. I asked for a SOY mocha," etc. etc.) and I wanted to go at it from a different angle.
    I think there were great concepts there, it was soothing, everything was okay.
    But, really? A week later? I honestly can't tell you a thing about it, and that's not the book's fault. It's just that my mind jackrabbits around too much to hold onto anything. I have far too little experience with mindfulness/meditation, with focus.
    I think other people who already practice meditation and are able to focus their thoughts will find this book to be wonderful, eye-opening, soothing. And maybe one day, after some taming of the hamsters running around in my brain, I'll be one of them. Alas, not at the moment

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Write Like the Wind: Volume 3

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Aaron Paul Lazar
    • Narrated By George Kuch
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (6)

    In volume three of Write Like the Wind, Lazar offers examples and advice on dialog tags, including how to replace them with "beats". You'll learn what a preface is, and when to write it. These practical skills are complemented by marketing tips, such as real life feedback on how freebies can actually help you sell more books. Join award-winning mystery author Aaron Paul Lazar as he shares the cream of the crop from seven years of writing blogs in this fresh and unique offering of advice for fellow scribes.

    Gillian says: "Not the Worst, but Not the Best"
    "Not the Worst, but Not the Best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Lazar offers really good advice on eschewing dialogue tags (avoid like the plague!) in favor of beats, and... that's it! Nice bits on life lessons such as: Enjoy the little things (you know, in case you've never heard that before), but mostly reads excerpts from his own written works.
    I must say, I'm glad I'm done with all three volumes. I'm actually prepared and happy to stop procrastinating and do what I was supposed to be doing. Which was starting on my second book.
    At the time, it seemed like listening to something about writing would be easier than writing. Happily, I was wrong.
    And I will, indeed, take one piece of advice Mr. Lazar suggested: I'll (try to) Write Like the Wind...!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Write Like the Wind, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Aaron Paul Lazar
    • Narrated By George Kuch
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Ever wish you could peer into the brain of a published author and learn what tips he's absorbed over the years? How often does he blog? And why? And what about those live chats. Do they really sell books? Maybe you'd like to delve into the psychology of writing, and learn how to deal with rejection or how to write effective love scenes. In volume 2 of Write Like the Wind, Lazar offers advice on writing the "dreaded synopsis", "writing on the road", and recording messages to your readers.

    M.M. says: "Loved it! A true gift for writers."
    "Weakest of the Three"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Of all three volumes, Lazar offers precious little actual writing advice here. He does, however, go on and on and on about how he was able to stretch himself and write a steamy romance scene and he reads ALL of it. No, really. ALL of it. I kept fast forwarding it, and it went on and on, with the narrator sounding absolutely delighted. And that was it for the audiobook; nothing else offered that could actually be tucked away into a writer's toolbox for future, or immediate use.
    Most unfortunate...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Write Like the Wind: Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Aaron Paul Lazar
    • Narrated By George Kuch
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    Ever wish you could peer into the brain of a published author and learn what tips he's absorbed over the years? How did he get where he is? How many times did he submit manuscripts before he sold his books? Or maybe you'd like to delve into the psychology of writing, and learn what motivates him. How does he balance life with writing? How can regular tweeting help? In Volume 1 of Write Like the Wind, Lazar offers advice on “forbidden words”, “hooking your reader”, and “writing like you talk.”

    Kerry Dexter says: "Encouraging and helpful"
    "Best of the Three"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm reviewing all three of Lazar's audiobooks together because I procrastinated like hell from doing something by listening to all three volumes one...right...after...the other. It got to be grueling. I usually jack up my listening speed to 1.25, but this narrator plods so dreadfully 1.50 had to do it for me. This Volume, however, of all three volumes, had the very, very important tip that certain words are dead giveaways to editors/agents that a writer's work is amateurish: "just" (I knew that one), "because" (yup, got it), "suddenly" (sure, kiss of death), and... "that" (what?!?). So this volume made me go back to my manuscript and pick through a MULTITUDE of "that"s. I suppose, then, it was good that I was procrastinating.
    Other than that, expect a lot of personal anecdotes from Lazar's life and excerpts from his own writing.
    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to editing :(

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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