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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

208
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 73 reviews
  • 73 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 101 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
6

  • The Marriage List

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Dorothy McFalls
    • Narrated By Janean Jorgensen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (46)

    Considered unmarriageable by many due to her questionable parentage, May has let her hopes for true love fade and devoted herself to a life caring for her ailing aunt. But when May is unable to pay rent on the humble cottage in which she and her aunt reside, she must plead her case to the imposing viscount willing to toss two helpless women in the gutter. A wounded hero of the Peninsula campaign,Viscount Radford Evers is known for his harsh bearing, stubborn pride, and skillful avoidance of wedding vows.

    Kd says: "No sex but...."
    "If you're looking for Austen—"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Avoid this.
    I must admit that, while I'm a fan, I only truly adore three, maybe four (sometimes Sense and Sensibility is okay, sometimes it's screechy) of Jane Austen's novels, but I do so love those. And after starting Pride and Prejudice again, I got a hankering for something that might be within the same vein.
    What a disappointment this was. Clunky language, so many adverbs and adjectives to tell me EXACTLY what I needed to be feeling, rather clever writing (Don't tell me that she just did something passionately. Show me. Let me feel the heat. Please!) The characters are flat, and this is sad in that the secondary characters have some real life to them, real flaws, real charm, an authenticity in the way the connect with life. Wouldn't it be nice if the two very individuals we're supposed to care about had those things going for them? Instead, they have some written flaws that are easily overcome, never really get in the way. We never see them truly struggle for what they want. There's a lot of written mental confusion, but no real motivating angst. It's unsatisfying, and they're given no chance to shine. And the times they do connect, one remembers that, given the time period, these things are impossible. It makes for tawdriness instead of a simmering passion.
    I admit, I'm not a regular reader of romance novels so what do I know? But this just seemed too much like it was written with a formula in mind, with scenes already mapped out, and the characters were an afterthought and they were simply plugged in.
    Plus, the last straw: All this takes place in Bath? In England? Perhaps a British narrator would've helped. But the narrator was what appeared to be the last in a long list of afterthoughts.
    For a charming romance, how about trying "Stay," by Allie Larkin? It's contemporary, but "The Marriage List" has about as much historical charm as wilted and yellowed lace. You know it's supposed to be old, but it's just plain ugly...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Chris Rose
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    1 Dead in Attic is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrated as a local treasure and heaped with national praise, Rose provides a rollercoaster ride of observation, commentary, emotion, tragedy, and even humor - in a way that only he could find in a devastated wasteland. They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair.

    Gillian says: "Still Makes Me Hurt"
    "Still Makes Me Hurt"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got involved with animal rescue after Katrina hit, was a nutcase by the time Rita swept through (even though I hadn't been there yet, but the images, my imagination, the extent of my caring about the horror were enough), and had full blown PTSD by the time I came back after two weeks in New Orleans helping out when the state was kicking out all out-of-state rescues. The place, ALL of those parishes, are dear to me. I HAD to get this book because the title: 1 Dead in Attic was pretty much something you saw everywhere (along with 4 dogs DOA, 3 cats DOA in Bathroom, things like that.)
    I still grieve.
    But I felt like I was given a little piece of "home," if you will, when I listened to Chris Rose's book. It's a series of his articles, all the happenings, all his thoughts, things that went on after Katrina, for over a year, the horror, the heartache, the struggles and triumphs. The depression and sense of loss. The rebirth (sometimes with meds needed).
    I guess this might not be everybody's cup of tea. Katrina no longer holds the nation's attention, but it's a wonderful book in its own right, a touching one worthy of a listen.
    And Bronson Pinchot? He has just grown into one of the most fearless narrators I've ever had the pleasure of listening to! Anger, exasperation, humor, tenderness, robotic depression, gentle love, all tones and expressions seem so easy for him to convey.
    Wow to this book.
    Simply:
    Wow

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Writing Life

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Annie Dillard
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (49)

    With color, irony, and sensitivity, Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that is the writer’s life. As it probes and exposes, examines and analyzes, The Writing Life offers deeper insight into one of the most mysterious of professions.

    Virginia says: "Loved Annie Dillard"
    "How Odd--How Poorly Written?!?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you can weed through the flowery language, the endless adjectives and adjectives, you might find something here. I, however, feel that this was a waste of time. This had more the feel of a "reality check," which, okay, writers sure as hell need from time to time, but there was little wisdom offered in its place.
    This is a very short work, not a lot of money, but still. The only thing worse than a waste of money is a waste of time. Save both of yours; go for a longer, more in-depth work for real education, real inspiration, real guidance.
    Avoid the adjective/adverb exhaustion

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Into That Forest

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Louis Nowra
    • Narrated By Lisbeth Kennelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Two girls survive a terrible flood in the Tasmanian bush and are rescued by a pair of Tasmanian tigers who raise them in the wild. Their story of survival is remarkable, as they adapt to the life of the tiger, learning to hunt and to communicate without the use of human language. When they are discovered and returned to civilization, neither can adapt to being fully human after their extraordinary experience. Totally believable, their story will both shock and captivate listeners as it explores the animal instincts that lie beneath our civilized veneer.

    Bridget Niki says: "When tigers are better parents than your own ..."
    "Excellent Narration of a Dramatic Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, let's just get the narration out of the way. I totally get twitchy about narration that drags, so I usually listen to all my books at x1.25 speed. This book, however, really shines at x1.50. The story becomes passionate, breathless, zips along and carries the listener with it. Lisbeth Kennelly gives a fearless and touching performance, and I have nothing but good things to say about her.
    The book itself starts out with a Young Adult flair, I thought, but soon I began to pick up the universal essences from the narrative: loss, fear, loneliness, a need to belong. Things of that ilk. And by the time the two young protagonists, Hannah and Becky are "rescued," things really hit the fan, and readers of all ages will be able to relate to their dilemmas--how do we bend to society's will and still be ourselves? How do we let go of the best parts of our lives, do what's "right?" How do we live with grief? Very provocative.
    Wonderfully written too. Nowra writes some gorgeous prose here. Sometimes metaphors and similes tick me off (Sorry, just have a "thing" about 'em at times), but this book is full of some really breathtaking comparisons. And I gotta say, one of the things I looooove about reading/writing, is that the written word can go ANYWHERE the writer wishes to take us. Love, loyalty, brutal betrayal, friendship, remorse, things that can never be forgiven; all surprises when handled deftly by a skilled author.
    This is a great book (especially since it has tigers, and anyone who's EVER read a review of mine knows I think animals rock!), and the ONLY reason I'd be hesitant about recommending using an entire credit for it is because of how short it is, even though it's really quite a stellar work. If you're twitchy, wait for a half credit sale, Daily Deal, kindle bundle, whatever.
    You'll discover your inner "beast" and will like it...

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee - A Look inside North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Jang Jin-sung
    • Narrated By Daniel York
    Overall
    (320)
    Performance
    (299)
    Story
    (303)

    As North Korea's State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.

    David says: "Stop browsing and get this Book"
    "An Edge of Your Seat Thriller!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Jang Jin-sung starts the book with his life inside North Korea as a poet and quickly becomes disillusioned. Finally, he is forced, no options, to run for his life with a friend. "Dear Leader" gives a view into North Korea that only "Nothing to Envy" does more painfully, and every step of the way, we the readers, hold our breaths. Because we know, as Jang knows, as his friend knows, bad, bad, bad things will happen if they get caught trying to escape to China.
    One of the things that I liked about this book, however, was that, through the doom and gloom, there were some mighty good people, willing to risk their lives (yeah, sure, maybe a couple of them asked for a pittance, but money or not, they were risking prison/death just the same) to help the young men out. So many times, books/stories of this nature have no bright spots. I was so happy to listen to people caring. I'm not sure that I'd have that kind of bravery when it came down to it, especially since Jang and everyone can NEVER relax; escaping North Korea is bad enough, but China is no picnic either.
    You will bite your nails with this book. You will gasp with horror and surprise. You will pace as you listen (instead of doing things you need to do like, oh, say laundry 'cause the washing machine is too loud and you won't be able to hear the book over it...)
    If you're looking for an exciting, enthralling, if appalling/horrifying read, "Dear Leader" definitely is it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Beloved Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Alana Terry
    • Narrated By Kathy Garver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (276)
    Performance
    (248)
    Story
    (249)

    In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. Catastrophic floods have ravaged her countryside. But it is her father's faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha's well-being. Is Chung-Cha's father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter? Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labor.

    Annie Douglass Lima says: "Deeply Moving"
    "Kinda Over-The-Top, But Fairly Good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a jolly good book (wait, maybe jolly isn't the proper word for a book like this...?), but it's a bit over-dramatic. I don't for a second doubt the human rights abuses, the camps, the torture, the religious persecution; I think it came down to Kathy Garver's excessive snarling and growling of men/"bad guy" voices. And there are sooooo many of those that it throws the narrative and flow off.
    But this is a good listen, an enlightening listen, and while I sorta had a knee jerk response when I discovered that I just purchased something that could be considered Christian literature (I know, I'm a narrow-minded toad; no offense to toads meant), I was quite pleased that the characters in the story lived their faith more than preached it. That's the way I was taught to live and I found it refreshing and inspiring.
    While I thought the ending was abrupt at the time, after thinking about it for a time (and trust me, this book is good enough that you will truly think about it quite a bit), I realize that it ended the only way it could.
    Read this book if you get a chance, but only as a Daily Deal, or a discount. Or do a kindle unlimited/audible bundle deal. This is a story that will get to you-if you're interested in North Korea/human rights/survival of the human spirit. Even love.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Elisabeth Tova Bailey
    • Narrated By Renee Raudman
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Elisabeth Tova Bailey tells the intimate and inspiring story of her year-long encounter with a snail. While an illness keeps her bedridden, she becomes an astute and amused observer of the snail's surprising nocturnal adventures as it lives in a flowerpot on her nightstand. Intrigued by the snail’s clear decision making abilities, hydraulic locomotion, mysterious courtship, and molluscan anatomy, Bailey takes the listener deep into the life of this tiny amazing animal. With wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating recounts a remarkable journey of human and gastropod survival and resilience, and shows how the natural world illuminates our own human existence. Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Nonfiction, the John Burrough Medal Award for Natural History, and a National Outdoor Book Award. If you enjoyed Wesley the Owl, The Guest Cat, and Marley & Me, you'll enjoy this unique interspecies audiobook listen.

    Gillian says: "3.5 Stars—But Quite Enjoyable"
    "3.5 Stars—But Quite Enjoyable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I kinda feel bad that I gave "Until I Say Good-Bye" the ALS good-bye letter 3-stars and I'm giving this precious little ditty 3.5, but it's like this, see? Susan Spencer-Wendel wasn't alone in her illness but Elizabeth Toya Bailey was.
    It's easy to find joy, love, beauty when it's all around you because people you love are taking you places.
    It's harder than hell to find it when you're immobilized by illness in a single room and can't even roll over.
    I found so much wonder and joy in listening to this book; so much delight and humor. Raudman narrates with a growing curiosity, a liveliness, a sincerity that only the best narrators have. She does a really great job bringing the words to life and makes it seem as there is a (Ha!) growing friendship, I kid you not, developing between woman and snail.
    When I listened to "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating," I couldn't help but think of Corrie Ten Boom and "The Hiding Place." When Corrie is imprisoned for helping hide Jews, a little ant comes to see her every day, and she sees the wonder in that, is grateful for that.
    That's what really made my heart sing with this book. Someone finding wonder in something they might overlook otherwise, finding pleasure, finding grace.
    And the only reason it's not a better rating? TOOOO much dry information. Really? Can you manage to make snail sex boring? Seeeeriously?!? I wound up blushing AND yawning...
    But a charming book, all in all

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Martin Pistorius
    • Narrated By Simon Bubb
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged 12, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within 18 months he was mute and wheelchair bound. Martin's parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and fewer than two years to live.

    Gillian says: "Emerging From Darkness"
    "Emerging From Darkness"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't a perfect book, but it certainly is a perfect experience. You loved seeing past the pain and terror of mental illness to the true genius that "A Beautiful Mind" portrayed? How about the beauty, the lyricism that came with "My Left Foot?" "Ghost Boy" comes from those depths, reaches those stellar heights, and you'll probably, if you have even a single sensitive bone in your body, cry before you've finished listening to this book.
    What I love about this book is that Martin is by no means bitter, despite having every right to be. The years he's lost, the illness/debilitation, the abuse he's suffered—he'd have every right to hold on to these horrible, horrible things that have happened to him. Instead, he approaches every thing, every day as though he's breathing a hope and a prayer. This is not a negative, downer of a book and Pistorius is an extraordinary human being.
    Years ago I worked with a severely-disturbed teen-aged girl with multiple impairments, no vision, and no language. Sometimes through the day and night, she'd jab her chest hard with her finger, over and over, while tiny tears trickled down her face, and of course, she had no words to go with this. I always wondered if she was feeling, or trying to say something like, "Me. I'm here." I'd hug her, but she'd still keep jabbing, still keep crying, and I'd wonder.
    Now, after reading this amazing, funny, inspiring book by Mr. Pistorius, I feel like I can close my eyes and at least send out a little prayer to that girl (No, now a woman), and say, "Yes. You're here."
    Thanks for the book, Martin

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mort(e): A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Robert Repino
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    Former house cat turned war hero Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bioweapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind Mort(e)'s recklessness is his ongoing search for a pretransformation friend - a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will take him from the remaining human strongholds to the heart of the Colony.

    Linda B says: "Hard to suspend the disbelief"
    "Apocalypse/Military-Thriller With...Fur"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So basically, this book has pretty much everything in it. Which makes it okay; it does keep you fairly interested; makes you pick it up again after you've set it aside for a while. But it doesn't make it great. There's a lot going on, and I wonder if Repino didn't bite off more than he could chew because the characters, whether human, ant, animal, all are one-note. There's no joy here, no excitement, no passion. There's just a lot of action.
    Okay, so I get it. This is going to be an action-driven novel. But whyyyyyyy (Yeah, I'm whining here)?!? Mr. Repino you've got this GREAT set-up for some memorable characters here! This could be a real treat of a novel! Instead, it's just a bunch of "animals" who behave/walk/talk/believe/have the intellect of people. I could've been reading a cheesy generic military thriller for all this was worth. Cardboard cutout characters
    Instead? The only real life that's breathed into the story comes from Bronson Pinchot's reading (he's starting to impress me...!)
    This book might be your style if you're not into character-driven novels, if you're more into action. But still. You might wanna hold off until it's on sale or something.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 29 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Alexander J. Masters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (213)
    Performance
    (179)
    Story
    (179)

    Adam Griffey is living two lives. By day, he teaches literature. At night, he steals it. Adam is a plagiarist, an expert reader with an eye for great works. He prowls simulated worlds perusing virtual texts, looking for the next big thing. And when he finds it, he memorizes it page by page, line by line, word for word. And then he brings it back to his world, the real world, and he sells it. But what happens when these virtual worlds begin to seem more real than his own? What happens when the people within them mean more to him than flesh and blood?

    Katherine says: "PKD could have written this story"
    "How Would You Choose To Live?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I still haven't gotten around to listening to Wool and the other better known works of Hugh Howey, but I did enjoy The Hurricane, and The Plagiarist was the perfect length and perfect price for me.
    What a neat surprise, and what a great ending.
    I suppose what I like most is Howey's ability to craft a character who is unable to connect to others (other than in a sims environment), yet we are able to feel so much for him. Truly, what a likable protagonist. The way he comforts the love of his life will break your heart.
    And the ending! No spoilers, but what a great twist, deftly handled.
    This is a well-written book, perfectly edited, the only drawback being some heavy-handed narration that you kinda sorta get used to.
    I've REALLY gotta get around to listening to Wool!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of 'Unadoptables' Taught Me about Service, Hope, and Healing

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Susannah Charleson
    • Narrated By Susannah Charleson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (49)

    From the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller, Scent of the Missing, comes a heartwarming and inspiring story that shows how dogs can be rescued and can rescue in return. For her first book, Susannah Charleson was praised for her unique insight into the kinship between humans and dogs, as revealed through canine search and rescue. In The Possibility Dogs Charleson chronicles her journey into the world of psychiatric-service and therapy dogs trained to serve the human mind, a journey that began as a personal one. After a particularly grisly search led to a struggle with PTSD, Charleson credits healing to her partnership with search dog Puzzle. Inspired by that experience and having met dogs formally trained to assist in such crises, Charleson learns to identify abandoned dogs with service potential, often plucking them from shelters at the last minute, and to train them for work beside hurting partners, to whom these second-chance dogs bring intelligence, comfort, and hope.

    Tango says: "Rescue is the New Black"
    "Love Given, Love Returned--Tenfold"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What do you get when you take into your heart and into your home a dog that doesn't stand a chance? Devotion, Loyalty. Love without end.
    And with service dogs, a chance to live a normal life.
    So many of us take life for granted, living with occasional compulsions, flare ups of anxiety and fears, every now and then feeling disoriented, but there are those amongst us who are absolutely debilitated by these things. This is old news by now, but this book makes it real, yet again, gives us names, faces, emotions that are touching, and we wind up rooting for people who open their hearts and put their fates in the paws of the service dogs who save them. But really. What I like about this book is that it's such a chicken and the egg deal. Somebody saves the dog? The dog saves somebody else? That somebody continues to care for the dog? The dog continues to care for the person? Where does it begin, where does it end?
    It doesn't matter, because it's wonderful, and so filled with hard work, faith, and hope that you wind up thinking about it long after your reading/listening time is over.
    My only advice is to listen to it at x1.25 if you find Charleson's narration to drag. Even then, it's kind of slow going. Still, I enjoyed the emotion in her voice, and the tone, just too many pauses for my taste.
    Wonderful book, great epilogue. Bravo to animal rescue and trainers!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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