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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 2013

ratings
50
REVIEWS
50
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
6
HELPFUL VOTES
144

  • All Clear

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Connie Willis
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren, Connie Willis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1666)
    Performance
    (1110)
    Story
    (1134)

    Three time-traveling historians are visiting World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Rescued by the second half"
    "Virtuoso Performance of the Great C. Willis!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about All Clear?

    This was a magnificent follow-up to Blackout with greater character and plot development, and it comes to its very satisfying conclusion. Only Connie Willis can, admittedly, develop her plot first, characters second but still come up with characters that make you want to laugh and cry. While there are a few plot problems (why, for instance, aren't the student historians required to research the entire era of the times they're going back to?), the book zips along, and the chapter endings make you feel you MUST listen to the next chapter. Then the next. Then, cross-my-heart-hope-to-die, I'll go back to work/housekeeping/life duties after this chapter, but I'll listen to just one more chapter, honestly! You'll keep going and going. Connie Willis, God love her, is just that way.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of All Clear?

    The acting troupe is lovable, the children are exasperating, the action is exhilarating! It's a breathless listen that has only a couple of pacing problems within the middle.


    What does Katherine Kellgren and Connie Willis (introduction) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Katherine Kellgren is brilliant! I hate to say it, but usually men seem to be better narrators, but Katherine Kellgren is an absolute artist, delivering character and emotion like no other narrator out there. Connie Willis writes an excellent book, but Kellgren makes it an audiobook that can't be surpassed. I wish she did more SciFi as sometimes the genre suffers from subpar or unenthusiastic performances. I bought the first "Bloody Jack" because of her and am looking forward to experiencing that book in her hands.


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

    As I said, Connie Willis has an almost preternatural ability to write and develop characters that you are drawn into feeling for. There was laughter in this book, suspense, and many, many tears.


    Any additional comments?

    Connie Willis is my favorite author because of her skill and knack for characters. Characters make or break a book, and her characters live and breathe, and at times, they do stupid things that make you hope for the best for them. And likewise, a narrator can elevate a mediocre story into something really quite good. With Blackout and All Clear, Kellgren makes an excellent book truly magnificent! These books are well worth your credits!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • 22 Steps to the Light of Your Soul

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Embrosewyn Tazkuvel
    • Narrated By Reid Kerr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    A treasured book that will help you unleash the greatness within. What would it be like if you could reach through space and time to query the accumulated wisdom of the ages and get an answer? 22 Steps to the Light of Your Soul, reveals such treasured insights, eloquently expounding upon the foundational principles of 22 timeless subjects of universal interest and appeal, to help each reader grow and expand into their fullest potential.

    Restless says: "Incredible & Inspiring"
    "Don't Waste Your Poor Brain Cells"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I dunno--perhaps this is a life changer, but I just CANNOT get through it. This has got to be the densest, most purple of prose I've ever read/listened to in my entire life. I had to keep pausing it to translate just what the hell the author was talking about. Tazkuvel is VERY fond of using flowery, flowery, FLOWERY (wait! Have I mentioned it's really flowery?) language. It's way too much. Which is tragic because the first few bits I translated for myself were really quite touching and could've been quite motivating. But I'm way too exhausted to waste my time on any more of this. Life is far too short, and there are far too many other inspirational reads out there.
    That said, godspeed to all. I'm off to look for them...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Christmas Chicken: A Novella

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Allen Appel
    • Narrated By Brad Wills
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Victorian England. Christmas Eve. Young Jack, a blind boy of 10 years, sits alone by the hearth, making a Christmas wish: Jack would like a dog to keep him company. Suddenly Jack hears a frantic scrambling in the chimney and something plops into the room. Jack is overjoyed! Santa has brought him a dog! Except it's actually a chicken, but don't tell Jack. He's never seen a dog or a chicken, because he's never seen anything. Jack names his pet King and over the next several days they have some wonderful adventures.

    Gillian says: "Dickens with Cockfighting!!! Huzzah!!!"
    "Dickens with Cockfighting!!! Huzzah!!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading a whole heckuva lot about nuclear annihilation it was time to settle down into something a tad lighter and more festive. And I couldn't have been more delighted with my choice. "The Christmas Chicken" is a very short listen which is brilliantly and audaciously narrated by Brad Wills (who else could infuse a chicken's voice with shock or dismay?) and follows a poor family as they all come together for a single Christmas. There is poverty! There is begging! Alcoholism! Bad guys! Cockfights! A small blind boy! Street urchins with hearts of gold! It's a listening classic that left me laughing and is actually safe and enjoyable fun for the whole family. It's worth the small listening time, and it's certainly worthy of the tiny pittance o' cash you'll lay out. What a delightful, delightful surprise!
    It's still not the 5-star Jacob T. Marley, but what is?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6-September 30, 1945

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michihiko Hachiya, MD
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The late Dr. Michihiko Hachiya was director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital when the world's first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Though his responsibilities in the appalling chaos of a devastated city were awesome, he found time to record the story daily, with compassion and tenderness. Dr. Hachiya's compelling diary was originally published by the UNC Press in 1955, with the help of Dr. Warner Wells of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Gillian says: "So Many Horrors at Once"
    "So Many Horrors at Once"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While doing research for my second novel, which is actually supposed to be quite uplifting, I stumbled onto "Hiroshima Diary," and I was hooked from the sample. If I'd hoped to get a sense of what it was like/the devastation of nuclear horror from Paul Ham's "Hiroshima, Nagasaki," and didn't find it there, I certainly found it here. This is the diary of a single man, a doctor, badly wounded at first, so he can observe, firsthand, how pathetic and hopeless/helpless he is, just to be parked there, waiting for treatment with such poor options, such few supplies.
    Bur through it all, the patients, the doctors, the visitors, all the survivors, for the most part have hope and heart. It's a truly extraordinary listen as these people strive to make do, strive to help each other, strive to bring some sense of cheer to some horrific days. A young girl whose entire body is burned but whose face is still beautiful is made to smile--that's seen as a miracle and part of a good day. Supplies, however meager, being brought in, are part of a good day. Memories of peaches brought by somebody who survived the bomb are brought to mind, and are relished with gratitude. A breeze on a bitterly hot day, so wonderful.
    This is a graphic, graphic listen, not for the faint of heart, not for the young.
    But certainly for those who would like to learn a little more, feel a little more, love and appreciate their world a little more.
    And it did what Paul Ham's book didn't do: It made me shudder for my part in humankind...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hiroshima Nagasaki

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Paul Ham
    • Narrated By Robert Meldrum
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed more than 100,000 instantly, mostly women, children, and the elderly. Many hundreds of thousands more succumbed to their horrific injuries later, or slowly perished of radiation-related sickness. Yet the bombs were "our least abhorrent choice", American leaders claimed at the time - and still today most people believe they ended the Pacific War and saved millions of American and Japanese lives. Ham challenges this view, arguing that the bombings, when Japan was on its knees, were the culmination of a strategic Allied air war on enemy civilians that began in Germany.

    Luis says: "Amazingly detailed and balanced account."
    "While extraordinary, I can only give it 3 stars"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This only rates a three because it drags, and it's so repetitive, I damned near cried a few times. It's a truly emotionally charged issue, and up front, let me just say it: I was one of those strident mouthy types who, without thought, pointed out that, after someone said, quite harshly, that the US was the only country to have used atomic weapons, we used them on a country, Japan, that was nowhere near the happy, pappy, anime loving people they are now. At the time of the use of atomic weaponry, there was some unspeakable brutality going on: in China, in the camps, in their very ideas on how life should be lived, in their code that it was better to spread death and die, than, well, here, suffice it to say: blah, blah, heinous, blah.
    But Ham has made me rethink this with very indepth reporting of what was going on from all angles.
    And therein lies the problem.
    The humanity is lost.
    You want the horror? You want to realize that what happened was wrong and that it happened to people who were just as misguided as any people who happened to follow leaders who led them astray? Read/listen to "Hiroshima Diary."
    But skip the eeeeeeendlessssss politics that Ham wallows in. Brilliantly researched, yes. Well-narrated, without a doubt. Boring, holy cow, I'm off to take a nap!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Julia Scheeres
    • Narrated By Robin Miles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (612)
    Performance
    (522)
    Story
    (525)

    In A Thousand Lives, the New York Times best-selling memoirist Julia Scheeres traces the fates of five individuals who followed Jim Jones to South America as they struggled to first build their paradise, and then survive it. Each went for different reasons - some were drawn to Jones for his progressive attitudes towards racial equality, others were dazzled by his claims to be a faith healer. But once in Guyana, Jones' drug addiction, mental decay, and sexual depredations quickly eroded the idealistic community.

    Rachel says: "Unforgettable"
    "3.5 Rounded Up"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought this was a Four Star Book until I listened to the Jim Jones tape right after this. Now THERE was the story I thought I'd be getting from "A Thousand Lives." "A Thousand Lives" is a brilliant chronicle of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and a few of its congregants, but by no means does it go into that last fateful day. The last hours are touched upon, and it's heartbreaking when you realize who makes it, and who doesn't, but, really, it's not gone into deeply. I don't know if Ms. Scheeres thought it might be morbid? Perhaps she thought it might be, what? Too soon? Too disrespectful to the families?
    After listening to the Jim Jones tape, which is available on Audible, but could probably be found anywhere on the internet, I don't think it would be disrespectful. I simply think it's the real human drama, real people making horrifying choices, saying their good-byes, and yes, screaming and crying, all while a doped-up madman chastises them.
    I was twelve years old when this happened. Couldn't understand how something like this could happen. "A Thousand Lives" does make me understand WHY and HOW it could happen, but the tape makes me care.
    Maybe not entirely credit worthy, but certainly worth a Daily Deal, or a sale. Besides, Robin Miles as Jim Jones at the end there is downright creepy!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Long Way Home

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Karen McQuestion
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (140)
    Story
    (138)

    Marnie is just 35 when her boyfriend, Brian, drops dead of a sudden heart attack. Stunned by his death, Marnie finds her greatest grief is for Troy, Brian’s son whom she has raised as her own since he was a kindergartener. When he is reclaimed by his train wreck of a birth mother, Troy’s departure drives Marnie to a grief group at the local rec center. There she finds unexpected allies, three strangers who join her in an impulsive road trip from Wisconsin to Las Vegas to reconnect with Troy.

    Gillian says: "I You Liked "Enchanted April"..."
    "I You Liked "Enchanted April"..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Full Disclosure: While I love nonfiction, military history and genocide and such all... I've gotta admit it. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for some good chick lit.
    The description of the book makes it sound as though this would be a grittier read, what with murder, death, etc. involved, but actually, it's a sweet and easy listen.
    Like "Enchanted April," "The Long Way Home" is a story of four very different women who come together on a whim and wind up finding parts of themselves that they thought they'd never find. The characters are well fleshed-out, likable, and have different strengths and weaknesses.
    It's a delightful listen, especially as I just finished a couple of audiobooks on Cambodia and was in the mood for something light, but touching. "The Long Way Home" did not disappoint. The only quibbling I have is that the narrator falls into the female narrator trap of: man's voice—better make my voice low and growly, but it wasn't too bad.
    Also, and this is just the writer in me, I thought there were opportunities for a little bit more tension to be thrown in, twists, anything except such neat bows tied onto problems faced and problems solved.
    Other than that, I really enjoyed my time with the characters.
    Oops! One more thing: I listened to it at 1.25 speed as I felt that there were far too many pregnant and ponderous pauses (Alliteration!) in the narration

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Timothy A. Pychyl
    • Narrated By Timothy A. Pychyl
    Overall
    (165)
    Performance
    (138)
    Story
    (136)

    The new audio edition of the self-published hit, offering powerful strategies to end procrastination!

    Why do we sabotage our own best intentions? How can we eliminate procrastination from our lives for good? Based on current psychological research and supplemented with clear strategies for change, this concise guide will help listeners finally break free from self-destructive ideas and habits, and move into freedom and accomplishment.

    Gillian says: "A Better One Is—"
    "A Better One Is—"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "23 Anti-Procrastination Habits." While "Solving the Procrastination Puzzle" is quite in depth about what, exactly, causes the mechanism of procrastination, "23..." actually has many ways to combat the nasty habits we all fall into. (Hint: Buy the kindle first and you can get "23" for the special price.)
    This book is okay as a Daily Deal, but I'm not sure it's worth the time. As it turned out, I listened to it 'cause I wanted to avoid my daily writing task.
    Besides, the narration, while not the worst, put me to sleep (Oh, gosh! Yet ANOTHER thing that took my away from my chores/tasks!)

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Jodi Taylor
    • Narrated By Zara Ramm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (863)
    Performance
    (778)
    Story
    (781)

    Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History.

    Sires says: "Action Adventure Time Travel Novel w/ Good Reader"
    "Wonderfully, Fun Romp"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got this book cheap in Kindle/Audio bundle, and I, accordingly, had low expectations. I couldn't have been more surprised at how much fun I had listening to this. There's a little something here for everyone: Adventure, Romance, Twists, some Violence. You get the picture. Wonderful characters, blazing narration, and a great story with lots of variety in the time travel stints.
    I highly recommend this audiobook. I dashed out and got the second in the series as soon as I was done with this one.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Coroner’s Lunch: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (583)
    Performance
    (479)
    Story
    (479)

    Laos, 1975: The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old Paris-trained doctor, is appointed national coroner. Although he has no training for the job, there is no one else: the rest of the educated class have fled.

    Jane says: "a splendid story"
    "Wonderful Story, Dreadful Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wanted to love this, really I did. I've read most of this series, and I purchased this audiobook as part of a Kindle bundle. Which is a good thing as the thought of paying full price makes me shudder. The narrator, Clive Chafer, just kills what is a really, really good book. There is so much cheeky humor in the text, quandaries, character development. Really, the book itself is a delight, especially as it's not your usual run of the mill coroner/detection story but has history (Which I love!) and research in it, that makes it full and well fleshed-out. Siri is a wonderful character, stubborn, funny, views the world in a one-of-a-kind way, and gets befuddled over the oddest things.
    But, oh, the narration! Sooo serious, so flat. Where on earth did the humor go, the lightness, the richness of description?
    This is a really good book, but I don't think it's worth a credit. Perhaps a half-credit, or a Daily Deal. But see if you can stomach the narration.
    It's a pity because this could've been a joyful ride!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Together Tea

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Marjan Kamali
    • Narrated By Negin Farsad
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter's 25th birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother's endless matchmaking and grading of Iranian American bachelors. After Darya's last ill-fated attempt to find Mina a husband, mother and daughter embark on a journey to Iran, where the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But after Mina falls for a young man and Darya is tempted by an American musician, will this mother and daughter's appreciation for each other survive?

    Gillian says: "Astonishingly Deep, Intense, Beautiful!"
    "Astonishingly Deep, Intense, Beautiful!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I must admit that I had fairly low expectations going into this book. I thought it'd be one of my shameful treats (Fair warning: Reviews of "Stay" and "Dogs Aren't Men" coming. See? Shameful treats!). I expected light writing, adequately developed characters, and not much in the way of plot.
    How different this turned out to be. A young woman, trapped between the world of Iran she grew up in and the America she seems to be floundering in. A mother who desperately misses her life in Iran and who feels frustration about stagnation, fear that her children are wholly foreign to her, and who misses the life she could've had. Not your usual mother/daughter story.
    What I really enjoyed, if you can call it that, is the second part of the book that deals with their past in Tehran. I was a pup during the whole Iran Revolution/Hostage Crisis/Iran-Iraq War, so this was a history, a painting of life that put faces to the whole thing. It added a sense of fear, horror and heartbreak that we, those far away from any crisis, seem smugly not to notice or think about. It was so well-developed!
    And who gives a narrator, for heaven's sake, 5 stars? I do! Because Negin Farsad was icing on a pretty terrific cake. She doesn't make the mistake of turning men into nothing but low, growly voices. She just reads them, their words, with warmth and emotion.
    This is a wonderful, wonderful book that I'll be using another credit for... 'cause I know my mom would love it. Mothers and Daughters? We're just that way, aren't we?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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