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Kathy

Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

Davis, CA, United States | Member Since 2008

614
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 213 reviews
  • 427 ratings
  • 784 titles in library
  • 92 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
81

  • Touching the Void

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Joe Simpson
    • Narrated By Daniel Weyman, Andrew Wincott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (69)

    Joe Simpson, with just his partner, Simon Yates, tackled the unclimbed West Face of the remote 21,000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in June of 1995. But before they reached the summit, disaster struck. A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frostbitten, to tell their non-climbing companion that Joe was dead. For three days he wrestled with guilt as they prepared to return home. Then a cry in the night took them out with torches, where they found Joe, badly injured.

    Marci says: "Wonderfully told true story"
    "Frightening, emotional & heart-warming true story!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I saw the movie and have never been able to get the story out of my mind. Touching the Void is a true story, a miracle of sorts--a mountaineer left for dead by his climbing partner and his incredible struggle to live. I have always wondered how this could have happened and more particularly, how Joe and Simon felt about what happened. Specifically, how did Joe Simpson feel about his climbing partner after the ordeal? How did Simon Yates react when he learned Joe was still alive when he abandoned him. You can't rely on a movie to tell the real story but you can rely on this book's narrative. It includes segments also by Joe's climbing partner, Simon Yates.

    This is an incredible story, beautifully written and very moving. The narration was excellent and I highly recommend this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • I Capture the Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Dodie Smith
    • Narrated By Jenny Agutter
    Overall
    (186)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (152)

    "I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him.

    Matthew says: "Well, that was a surprise"
    "An Immensely Enjoyable Change of Pace!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book was a daily deal and it was Matthew's review that clinched it for me to take a chance. I am so glad I did. It certainly is not a genre I usually would pick as a listen, but maybe I should rethink that.

    I really enjoyed this book--it was pure easy going fun for me. I didn't have a moment of boredom and I really liked the story line. Agutter is a very good narrator and captured the voice of the younger teen sister, Cassandra, perfectly. Cassandra is the speaker, the story taken from her journals which are ongoing and a constant in her life.

    In summary, Cassandra and her slightly older, very pretty sister, Rose, live on an estate in England. The family should be paying rent to the estate owner but are sinking into serious poverty having been arrears in rent for a long time. Their father, who had fabulous success with his first book, has taken to reading novels, doing puzzles, daydreaming, and hasn't worked or written a thing in years. The estate falls under ownership of two dashing and very pleasant young men, brothers, who were raised in separate households in the US. It seems the girls' romantic dreams may be answered. Or maybe not . . . ?

    If this sounds at all interesting, look at some of the other many positive reviews and dive in. Hopefully you will find it as fun as I did!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Say You're Sorry

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Michael Robotham
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (279)
    Performance
    (250)
    Story
    (250)

    When pretty and popular teenagers Piper Hadley and Tash McBain disappear one Sunday morning, the investigation captivates a nation but the girls are never found. Three years later, during the worst blizzard in a century, a husband and wife are brutally killed in the farmhouse where Tash McBain once lived. A suspect is in custody, a troubled young man who can hear voices and claims that he saw a girl that night being chased by a snowman.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Robotham is the real deal!"
    "Whew--To Hell And Back!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My third Robotham novel and not the last! It was a very good story and it kept me in suspense 'til the very end, which is what I usually hope for. I find Robatham and narrator, Sean Barrett, an unbeatable combination, as I have said before. I don't think I would even listen to a book in this series that was not narrated by Barrett. He seeps into the characters and becomes a necessary element.

    This story had a certain "uneasiness" quality for me, a sense of dread and worry. My fears were allayed at the end, happily for me. It seems that for me, there is a fine line between enjoyment and discomfort. While this book came close to that line, it didn't jump over the line and cause too much anxiety for me.

    What really surprised me is that I shed a few tears at the very end, at an unsuspected moment of kindness. I really like books that evoke strong feelings and this book did not disappoint.

    So, while I really liked the book and do recommend it as a great listen, I have a few caveats I need to make. This book is not for the faint of heart, as you can see from the very few less than stellar reviews. Also, I would recommend you not read this book first, as it is 5th in the series. Make it a bunch more enjoyable for yourself and get to know the main characters a bit, those being psychologist Joe O'Loughlin and ex-cop Victor Ruiz. A little knowledge beforehand can make a book much more enjoyable, I have found.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Leaving Time

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, and others
    Overall
    (846)
    Performance
    (774)
    Story
    (782)

    Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice's old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts. Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest.

    Jan says: "Pickiest Reader Would Be Willing to Give 6 Stars"
    "Up There With My All-time Favorites!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book did not disappoint on any level. I couldn't wait to get back to it and finished it in a few days. I think it will remain hovering in my mind for a long while.

    Buckle you seat belt, put on your headphones, grab a few tissues, and prepare for a ride you will likely not forget. 13 year old Jenna cannot imagine how her mother, Alice Metcalf, could have abandoned her as a very young child. A long-term employee at the elephant sanctuary was trampled by elephants and her mother, Alice, was injured. Subsequently, Alice disappeared from the hospital mysteriously leaving Jenna to grow up in the care of her grandmother.

    In an attempt to obtain some closure, to find out if her mother was actually alive, and to learn why she was left behind with an unstable father, Jenna enlists the help of two very unlikely advocates. She secures help from a disgraced psychic and an alcoholic ex-cop and begins her journey to clarify exactly what her mother's motives were when she abandoned her 3 year old daughter. In addition to Jenna's current day search, this book is to a large extent derived from Alice Metcalf's journals of her days at the New Hampshire elephant sanctuary that she ran with her husband, Thomas, and several close associates.

    Throughout the book, we are educated on the plight of elephants. Picoult's elephant stories and educational information are true, many of the anecdotes coming from events at an actual elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. The stories of the elephants and the plight of Jenna and her friends tears at your heart. The ending was totally unexpected and demands that you let loose your preconceived notions and stretch your imagination a bit.

    I was emotionally drained at the end of this book but somehow, it was a satisfying and appropriate ending. A tad bittersweet, you can imagine, as you cannot read about elephants and not feel heartbroken for them. For Jenna, however, there was a satisfactory resolution.

    So, prepare yourself to be surprised and impressed. I loved this latest Picoult story--the author really outdid herself this time. Highly recommended!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Human Language

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (283)
    Performance
    (261)
    Story
    (258)

    Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.

    Saud says: "You'll Never Look at Languages the Same Way Again"
    "John McWhorter is simply amazing!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Who would thought an audiobook on language could be so utterly compelling and interesting! I enjoyed the other Great Course I listened to, so I thought I would give this one a try. What a great decision on my part!

    I know almost nothing about the subject nor was I ever interested in it, yet I was entertained for the entire 18 hours. What made this book so fascinating was Professor McWhorter's obvious love of his subject, Linguistics, and his wonderful, humorous, and dynamic personality. He is a pleasure to listen to--he makes a subject that could be very dry really come alive. I can certainly imagine listening to this book again.

    McWhorter answers so many questions about the development of language. If you are at all like me, you may have never had any deep thoughts about language. I have only been frustrated by my difficulty in learning a foreign language. If you listen to this book, you will find out like I did just why it is so very difficult, if not impossible, to learn languages as an adult. You will learn, among other things, how languages develop and how they become extinct, why there isn't a universal language, what is the difference between a language, a dialect, and a creole. You will also be amazed at how few of the world's 6000 languages have been written down. You will most likely be very amused at the mostly unsuccessful attempts to create artificial languages, as McWhorter had such a fun time describing the musical language Solresol. No matter how boring my description sounds, McWhorter makes it all amusing and very interesting.

    If you are wanting to break out of the escapism of fiction for a moment, I highly recommend this Great Course. I promise you will learn a great deal, you will be entertained, and maybe you will even be inspired to try another in the Great Courses series of audiobooks. I know I will.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Izzy and Lenore

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Jon Katz
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (305)
    Performance
    (228)
    Story
    (228)

    Jon Katz is the New York Times best-selling author of numerous nonfiction tales of man's best friend. Here he presents the story of two dogs that profoundly affected his life and work. Skittish border collie Izzy pushes him into rewarding work with Hospice. And black lab Lenore's gentle spirit helps remind him why he wanted to work with animals in the first place.

    Dan says: "Amazing Book.."
    "Jon Katz Gets Serious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read numerous books by Jon Katz and enjoyed every one of them. This is my first one on audio. It had been sitting in my Library for a while, and I was in no hurry to listen to it as I thought it would be somewhat similar to the others I had already read.

    I was very surprised when I started listening to it yesterday. Where was the humorous Jon Katz I had come to expect? What happened? Was it the narrator's fault?

    As I continued to listen, I realized that the author had written a very different type of book. His disclaimer that no dogs died in the book, while initially making me feel a sense of relief, was a bit misleading, but only a bit. The author focused on two dogs, Izzy and Lenore, as you can tell from the title. He also spoke very candidly of his being swamped by depression and how these exceptional dogs had helped him overcome it.

    A major part of the book is Katz' decision to volunteer for hospice. This endeavor was a large part of the story, along with Izzy's phenomenal success as a hospice dog who accompanied Katz on his visits. Izzy seemed to have an innate skill and ability in dealing with dying people. These vignettes of the visits to hospice patients were wonderful and heart-rending. You will need several tissues, but please don't let that dissuade you from listening to this book. It is very uplifting, too. And then there is his lab puppy, Lenore! Just listening to her description made me ache for a puppy.

    I applaud the author for being so open and honest about his life. I applaud him for being the dog lover and animal lover that he is. This book was very moving for me. The next time I have a Jon Katz book in my Library, it won't be sitting there very long! Highly recommended book (with a great narration, too!)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • CyberStorm

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Matthew Mather
    • Narrated By Tom Taylorson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (72)

    Sometimes the worst storms aren't from Mother Nature, and sometimes the worst nightmares aren't the ones in our heads. Mike Mitchell, an average New Yorker already struggling to keep his family together, suddenly finds himself fighting just to keep them alive when an increasingly bizarre string of disasters starts appearing on the world's news networks. As both the real world and the cyber world come crashing down, bending perception and reality, a monster snowstorm cuts New York off from the world, turning it into a wintry tomb where nothing is what it seems.

    Jan says: "Yes - satisfied a craving"
    "An Entertaining, Solid Listen!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not really what I think of as 'science fiction', not really dystopian either, perhaps CyberStorm could be called speculative fiction. Anyway, I really enjoyed this audiobook. It took me places I didn't want to go and then brought me back again. Some reviewers felt the ending was bad--not me. The ending really surprised me, and I came away feeling better than I thought I would. It has a twist I definitely did not see coming and which I actually welcomed.

    In summary, the story involves a group of New Yorkers living on an apartment floor and their interactions as they attempt to survive an unprecedented cyber attack on the U. S., combined with a series of terribly disabling blizzards. Think cold, think hunger, fear, desperation, disease and vermin, mistrust, ultimate starvation. Also think camaraderie, love, caring, banding together, and uniquely creative survival skills.

    There are a variety of diverse, distinct, and often fascinating characters we come to know and either like or dislike. We get a feel for the basic day to day survival tasks as things get progressively more dire. We see how various people react to crisis of the highest order.

    Tom Taylorson did an excellent job of narrating with consistently different voices for each of the characters. Give him an additional pat on the back for being able to do female voices so well! I always appreciate that!

    This is a very interesting and compelling story. Don't let the thought that you don't like science fiction scare you off. It is more speculative fiction, an event that I can easily imagine happening as we become more and more dependent on technology.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By James D. Watson
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner, Roger Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (335)
    Performance
    (291)
    Story
    (293)

    By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only 24, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science's greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries.

    A. Lai says: "Fabulous book!"
    "Interesting, easy listen that begs further reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    James Watson admits he is telling the story of his and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA from his own perspective. He acknowledges others may see it from a different viewpoint. (It appears Watson's book has evoked a great deal of controversy as I learned when I searched out more information on it from the web.) Then he goes on to tell the story of the ultimate discovery of the double helix attributed to himself and Francis Crick along with descriptions of the parts played by the other contending characters in the rush to make the momentous find.

    Despite the controversy, is a very interesting story made even more fascinating by Watson's description of the personalities of the various players and his relationships or interactions with them. It makes for an enjoyable, easy listen and makes me want to search out more information to know other aspects of the story and perhaps, other viewpoints.

    And of course, Grover Gardener always turns out a wonderful narration and is an asset to any audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Voices at CERN

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Franklin Clermont
    • Narrated By Cynthia Wallace
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    The Large Hadron Collider sits deep below ground in Switzerland and France, accelerating protons to near light-speed and smashing them to learn the secrets of the universe. Shannon Fields, senior press relations officer, plays a key role at the CERN research facility in informing the world, in easily understood language, of the great discoveries the giant LHC makes. But there is a looming problem with a new discovery.

    Matthew says: "Another ghost in the maching offering!"
    "Fantastic Idea For A Story!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is another example of a book I purchased after reading only one review. This time, I really enjoyed the book and have no regrets. While it is not without some small flaws, over all I feel this story has a great deal going for it.

    I am assuming this is a first-time author, as I did not see any other books listed for him. I am guessing that new authors do not get the old tried and true narrators that many of us have come to know and love. This narrator, Cynthia Wallace, seems like a strange choice for this type of science fiction story. Cynthia has a lovely speaking voice but she hasn't mastered many of other types of accents and she has a tough time with male voices. Yet, it was evident she really gave it her all and it certainly wasn't what I would call a bad performance. I just think I would have enjoyed a more experienced narrator, preferably male, for this type of story.

    As for the plot, it is such a unique idea, and it leads to so many interesting questions which could not be answered in a book of this length. I hesitate to provide spoilers as it will be much more fun for you to let the story develop as it proceeds. There is a lot of explanatory physics in the book, as of course there should be, as how many folks know the science behind the collider at CERN and how many folks really understand string theory? Don't let that deter you from getting this book as there are clear, simple explanations, just enough so you don't feel like a total ignoramus. This book would provide great discussions for a book club! Unfortunately, I have not been able to join a club so far, and I don't imagine alot of clubs would read science fiction. This book, however, is a lot more than science fiction and really gives you surprising things to mull over.

    I had hoped for a surprising twist at the end of the story, which didn't come. I even knew what I thought would happen. It didn't . . . but still, I wasn't terribly disappointed. I felt satisfied that I had found an interesting and very engaging science fiction book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Biblical: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Christopher Galt
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    A strange phenomenon is sweeping the globe. People are having visions, seeing angels, experiencing events that defy reality. Bizarre accounts pour in from distant places: a French teenager claims to have witnessed Joan of Arc being burned at the stake; a man in New York dies of malnutrition in a luxurious Central Park apartment; a fundamentalist Christian sect kidnaps and murders a geneticist.

    Matthew says: "Audio book of the year !"
    "I so wanted to love this book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You should never buy a new car model in its first year and you should not get an audiobook after reading only 1 review! However, I purchased this book firmly convinced I would love it. It sounded intriguing and had a wonderfully positive review.

    And here's the thing. It has a very skilled narrator who did everything perfectly. And, I am sure, it is very well written, very intelligently thought out and researched, technologically oriented, and it is the type of science fiction I usually like. So, what went wrong?

    Well, I am still trying to figure it out, so bear with me. As far as the characters, there were none I could identify with nor any I found interesting or especially likeable. Throughout the great majority of the book, extremely odd things were happening such as mass hallucinations. Lots of symptoms were presented with only vague hints of what might be the cause. I wasn't holding my breath in anticipation, nor was I invested enough to care very much. You could say that for me, this was not a nail-biter, and that might be an understatement!

    Yet, I hung in there and kept listening whenever I could, as I was sure that when the great reveal came, it would be worth all the waiting. I figured the cause of the turmoil and possible destruction of the world would be mind-bending. It just wasn't mind bending and it came way too late, maybe the last chapter! I listened to that chapter over a couple of times to grasp what happened and realized this book just didn't do it for me.

    So, this is how I come to be rating the book as middling, a book that has an excellent--no superb--narration, a book that shows off the author's writing skills and seems to be well thought out.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stoner

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By John Williams
    • Narrated By Robin Field
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (482)
    Performance
    (391)
    Story
    (397)

    William Stoner is born at the end of the 19th century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar's life, far different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments.

    Anton says: "A story of sadness and serenity"
    "WOW!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book stopped me cold in my tracks. It was so much more than I expected.

    In summary, it is a brilliant and haunting melancholic tale of a would-be farmer who became an English professor, who was a good man, who could have been truly great but for a certain passivity, and who wound up at the end of his days with many regrets about the choices he made. I came away from this audiobook feeling deeply affected. I feel so much empathy for William Stoner.

    The publisher's summary is excellent. It tells you everything you need to know. Robin Field did a fine job of narrating. This very unusual book will be on my all time favorites list.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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