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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
45
REVIEWS
45
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
6
HELPFUL VOTES
133

  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Sheri Fink
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (642)
    Performance
    (565)
    Story
    (571)

    In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days.

    Cynthia says: "Five Days in Hell/Years in Purgatory"
    "Whatever You Thought You Knew or Felt..."
    Overall
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    What made the experience of listening to Five Days at Memorial the most enjoyable?

    I can't say that this was an enjoyable listen; it's too hard-hitting for that. I did Animal Rescue after Katrina, and I remember what a horror show, what a nightmare the place was. This book, graphically and with chaotic realism, brought up a whole lot of memories for me. What I appreciated to no end was the amount of detail, the amount of research that went into the writing of this book. From emails and personal accounts, reports from the media to legal documents, everything! Absolutely everything was covered and addressed. And it's delivered in such a factual, unbiased way that you're left to decide for yourself: Was it right? Or was it wrong? Chances are that, if you had strong feelings about what happened, one way or the other, you'll still believe it. But, boy! Your thinking will be unalterably changed by this book! You'll be challenged to no end.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Five Days at Memorial?

    As the book wraps up, and we see the lives of those involved progress and change, some horrific ironies turn up. What about that doctor who now finds himself deathly ill and with "no hope of a positive outcome?" What about that zealot of an investigator, hellbent on prosecution, who finds himself needing/herself with a loved one needing the awesome skills of these doctors they've been thinking of as devils? It's a strange life, a strange world we live in.


    Which character – as performed by Kirsten Potter – was your favorite?

    There are many protagonists that you can't help but root for, whether medical or legal. Many antagonists you boo at. Kristen Potter brings them all out like a skilled documentarian, subtle variations giving each of them a powerful, personable voice. She delivers the facts with a flat skill, delivers each character with power and emotion. No mean feat.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I was simply blown away by the politics that went into play after the events! And stunned by how each individual, from the doctors to the coroner, the attorney general and staff to the fly-by-night personal claims lawyers painted themselves after the fact. And the way we view treatment and death in America? Extraordinary!


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this book, thinking, "People don't remember how bad it was. People can't understand unless they were there." But by the end, I honestly, truly wondered: No, really. Was it the right thing to do? I can only get down on my knees and thank God that I've never had to survive something like that to be in the position. You will too.

    2 of 3 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
    (135)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (119)

    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
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    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
    (118)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (94)

    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!)

    27 of 27 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
    (716)
    Performance
    (643)
    Story
    (645)

    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
    (550)
    Performance
    (457)
    Story
    (455)

    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
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    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
  • Tobruk

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Peter FitzSimons
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (113)

    In the early days of April 1941, the 14,000 Australian forces garrisoned in the Libyan town of Tobruk were told to expect reinforcements and supplies within eight weeks. Eight months later these heroic, gallant, determined "Rats of Tobruk" were rescued by the British Navy having held the fort against the might of Rommel's never-before-defeated Afrika Corps.

    J B Tipton says: "Fair dinkum"
    "'Bloody' Brilliant!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This ain't just for Aussies (though I can see how this book could definitely make them puff their chests out in pride!) What a great book! This covers a battle of World War 2 that I hadn't heard about it, but I must fess up that I'd never been that interested in the war in Africa. I know: Shame on me! And I also confess that at the last minute I changed the Overall to 5-stars. The reason: It was so good that I ran to the computer to use a credit for "Kokoda" because I thought the author was brilliant at making figures of history so real to me and for making the men who fought in the battle men that I desperately wanted the best for.
    This is a seamless narrative, great representation of characters, with a drop-dead thrilling "plot." I do, however, get twitchy about narrators, and while Bower was almost flawless, I thought I had to listen at x1.25 speed to get that sense of breathlessness that I desire in something that needs the swift pacing that the story seems to demand.
    If you're a war buff, or if you just like good action with lots of humor, give this book a try. Definitely credit-worthy.
    My favorite line from the soldiers that I have added to my working dialogue: "If it's stupid and it works... It ain't stupid!"

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tuesdays with Morrie: 10th Anniversary Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Mitch Albom
    • Narrated By Mitch Albom
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (510)
    Performance
    (316)
    Story
    (316)

    Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago.

    J says: "Really meaninful stuff."
    "Hasn't This All Been Said Before?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's hard not to give this a 5-star review. And, in full disclosure, I must admit that I cried for the first part of the book. But I think that had to do with the fact that I was facing a diagnosis that would have been a death sentence. When I got a temporary reprieve, the book just started feeling trite, redundant, and Mitch's place in it felt overblown and melodramatic. And like something I'd heard many, many people say before. Mitch pulls a couple of hangdog lines, feels like a jerk, and Morrie has to lift him up. I mean, for Heaven's sake!
    But I love Morrie! And what the conversations don't bear out, is fully carried by the way he lived his last days. We should all be so lucky, so blessed, so spiritually developed to face our final days, and illnesses, with such dignity, grace, and humor. If the spirit of his words were lacking in wisdom, his actual actions definitely were not. A good read, a good listen, but I think you have to be there.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (483)
    Performance
    (430)
    Story
    (432)

    The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.

    Sparkly says: "My favorite science read this year."
    "Goes Off On Tangents, But Fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Rabid" starts off with a bang. There are scintillating tidbits of information, swift pacing, and even an instance of rabies being in one of the first jokes, told thousands of years ago (And the reader says, "Stop me if you've heard this one." He follows up with, "It's funnier in the original language." Hilarious!) There's quite a number of anecdotes, plenty of great stories about Louis Pasteur and how his group struggled to get saliva from animals in active states of rabies, just some wonderful stuff.
    But it starts to struggle during the middle, and I was downright bored at one point. That point would be when the authors go off on a huge, and practically ridiculous tangent about vampires. I mean, really? Okay, I kind of get it: vampire bats, the belief that people bitten turned into creatures entirely unlike themselves, etc. But it is a stretch and a half, and it's downright annoying when the Twilight series is brought up. Oh, how "groovy."
    What makes this book so enjoyable, however, once you get past that chapter, is Heller's spectacular narration. He adds so much to the reading: humor, breathlessness, passion, and about every other delightful emotion one could think of that would make this a great and engaging listen.
    Not quite four-stars, but with the narration, very close. I'm glad I got it. Just hearing that Emily Bronte was bitten by a rabid dog and brought a red hot poker to cauterize her own flesh was worth the time spent, as there's plenty more in the book where that came from.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (2421)
    Performance
    (2153)
    Story
    (2174)

    Michael Lewis returns to the financial world to give listeners a ringside seat as the biggest news story in years prepares to hit Wall Street....

    Darwin8u says: "Making the system deliver on its promise."
    "Even For The Ignorant, Enthralling and Captivating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've got to admit it: I'm one of those people who hand over their money to somebody else to invest, not knowing what the heck happens to it, just receiving statements and feeling baffled. (This causes serious eye rolls from people in the know!) So I was rather hesitant about getting "Flash Boys." Would I be able to follow it? Would it be so far beyond me that I'd be lost?
    But I love a good informative, whistle-blowing book, so I used a credit, hoping for the best.
    Boy, am I thrilled that I did.
    This is about what happens when brilliant minds meld with greed, corruption, lack of conscience and are encouraged to thrive by a distinct silence by those unwilling to say anything, lest they stick their heads out too far. This was absolutely captivating and enlightening. It was easy to follow, but not written simplistically; the reader is assumed to be intelligent enough to grasp complex ideas that are written to grab attention.
    To say this book was frightening and enraging is not saying enough. It reminded me of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," but unlike that story, "Flash Boys" has honest-to-God heroes. Whether they're driven by a determination to live by their codes of ethics, by obsessive desires to get to the bottom of things, or by a disgust with what people are doing, these are men who really, really inspire. Not to mention that Michael Lewis simply writes them, their dialogue, as is, fleshing them out and making them real and, sometimes, hilarious.
    You'll feel disgust, you'll find yourself biting your nails, you'll cheer and will hope for the best. Truly, I hope IEX does well; it'd be time for the right guys to win

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Salvage the Bones: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jesmyn Ward
    • Narrated By Cherise Boothe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (112)
    Story
    (116)

    Best-selling author Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for this poignant and poetic novel. Unfolding over 12 days, the story follows a poor family living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With Hurricane Katrina bearing down on them, the Batistes struggle to maintain their community and familial bonds amid the storm and the stark poverty surrounding them.

    Gillian says: "Beautiful With No Holds Barred"
    "Beautiful With No Holds Barred"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a story told through the voice of 14 year old Esch, a young motherless girl living in a family of men. And it's a good one.
    Living in poverty, a life with few, if any, options and with little hope, she struggles to find tenderness in a world where there's pretty much no room for it. She gives herself, in the name of love, desperate for love in return, but to the wrong person, someone who doesn't see her as a person. No love there.
    Indeed, this is a brutal book. The only real tenderness and love given without question goes from Esch's brother, Skeetah, to his dog China, a fighting pit bull. And what she does because she loves him is graphically, realistically written in great detail. It's not for the squeamish. But this is part of the culture in Mississippi and thereabouts (when I did animal rescue in New Orleans after Katrina, I swear. I've never seen so many pit bulls in my life!), and people do what they need, or think they need, to do.
    There are so many poor choices, so many circumstances that go fatally awry that it's hard to read this book and keep a stiff upper lip. Things are bad as they are; do they have to get worse? But it is such a good story, layered well, with intense and full character development. Esch is fleshed out, her character added to by her ability to draw parallels between mythology, something she's reading for school, and the circumstances of her own life. It works very, very well.
    The only problem with the writing and the narration I had was that both try too hard. Cherise Boothe really captures the voices and tone of the story, but she has a tendency of reading so slowly that I just felt that: Really, I can see that this is important/well done/ beautiful, I don't need such ponderous reading, such pregnant pauses. Also, Jesmyn Ward writes a whole lot of similes. Everything is like this, like that, as this, etc. The only thing that makes this okay and not irritating beyond belief is that what she likens things to wind up being really thought-provoking, really one of a kind images.
    The end, the aftermath of Katrina, things come together, revelations are made, there are reactions, possible choices. And, though there is personal and environmental devastation, there is, oddly enough, hope. After such brutality throughout the book, you wonder how things can end up so. But really, you look back and find that there were golden threads of beauty all the way through, shining and beckoning to the reader.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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