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Jay

Alexandria, VA, United States | Member Since 2010

62
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 4 reviews
  • 10 ratings
  • 31 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Barbara Demick
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (1603)
    Performance
    (1013)
    Story
    (1018)

    Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape never before seen, Demick brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today.

    Gohar says: "The man who wants to be GOD"
    "Amazing Insight"
    Overall

    In such a hermetic regime as North Korea, it is nearly impossible to give a sense of what its citizens go through every day. In one sense I was just curious as to what things were like in the DPRK, and didn't care for the personal stories as much at first. But it makes the realization that their country is a bankrupt dictatorship by these characters even more powerful at the end. I don't think you would understand the forces keeping the North Koreans under tabs had you not read this story. It's a little bit like seeing a primitive culture discover technology in a first world nation. However, what makes this even more amazing is that these two peoples are from the same nation. The narrator is a good reader, but an annoying tick happens when she breathes in before each new sentence. You will soon forget about this phenomenon, but it's good to at least be aware of it.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Winter's Bone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Daniel Woodrell
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (678)
    Performance
    (495)
    Story
    (497)

    The sheriff's deputy at the front door brings hard news to Ree Dolly. Her father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. Ree's father has disappeared before. The Dolly clan has worked the shadowy side of the law for generations, and arrests (and attempts to avoid them) are part of life in Rathlin Valley.

    Brooks says: "A Masterpiece"
    "A Chilling Look at Poverty in Appalachia"
    Overall

    Galviin's voice, at once childish and slightly hoarse, is the perfect one to read this story. Woodrell's descriptions are always shaded with violence and desperation, and this tale of abject poverty in the snowy mountains of Appalachia benefits from all of them. Winter's Bone brings the reader into a the kind of world where you start to understand why hundred-year feuds still exist. The protagonist, a young girl named Ree, is already hardened but not invincible. As she navigates through fights with meth addicts and ignorant backwoods you start to believe she's on the most important mission of her life.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Anthill

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By E. O. Wilson
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (96)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (36)

    Inspirational and magical, here is the story of a boy who grows up determined to save the world from its most savage ecological predator: Man himself. "What the hell do you want?" snarled Frogman at Raff Cody, as the boy stepped innocently onto the reputed murderer's property. Fifteen years old, Raff, along with his older cousin, Junior, had only wanted to catch a glimpse of Frogman's 1,000-pound alligator. Thus, begins the saga of Anthill....

    Jacque says: "Fascinating"
    "Good Nonfiction, Mediocre Fiction"
    Overall

    The information about how ant colonies develop, thrive, and die is pretty interesting. Nevertheless, the application of character development is never applied (nor, probably, could ever be applied) to these "characters." That's fine. It's interesting as a sort of nature documentary on the page, but it's the real "story" of the novel that is just pretty bizarre.

    The story of the protagonist, Raph Sems Cody, is languid for the two thirds of the novel (discussing, basically, his love of the land over and over and over), proceeds to the description of a rather uneventful education, and then culminates in an incredibly random and illogical climax. The main protagonist, for some strange reason, is singled out for being some radical environmentalist, when he is in fact preaching a very mainstream message. The antagonists that Wilson creates probably exist somewhere at some time in the universe, but their miraculous appearance in this novel just ring false. Also, having the characters' dialog read aloud on the audio file just illustrates the ridiculousness of what they're saying, becoming vessels for abstract objections to the preservation of our natural world. At some moments, I actually thought: Wait, is this a joke? The end result of the novel is a slow and disappointingly unsatisfying story. But, you may never look at ants the same way again!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Jesse Boggs
    Overall
    (4365)
    Performance
    (1835)
    Story
    (1854)

    Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real-estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages? Michael Lewis turns the inquiry on its head to create a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his number-one best-selling Liar’s Poker.

    Jill says: "Finally, I understand what happened!"
    "Informative and Engaging"
    Overall

    Lewis should be heralded for the way he takes a very complex idea (sub-prime mortgage default swap collateral debt obligations) and breaks it down into easy-to-understand language. If you were at all confused about how the financial system tanked in 2008, you'll be glad you read this book and also pretty disgusted at the kind of magical thinking that went on on Wall Street. But what makes this book readable is his characterization of three oracular entities (Mike Burry, Steve Eisman, and the Cornwall Capital Group) that foresaw the collapse before anyone else ever did. The characters come across as misanthropic, boisterous, and naive respectively and allow the reader to see the tragedy through three very different perspectives. A read you won't want to put down (...or turn off).

    46 of 48 people found this review helpful

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