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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

642
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 216 reviews
  • 430 ratings
  • 800 titles in library
  • 104 purchased in 2014
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83

  • All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Doerr
    • Narrated By Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2155)
    Performance
    (1941)
    Story
    (1944)

    Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

    Annie M. says: "Time well spent"
    "EXCELLENT!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a really wonderful book--I realized this more and more as the novel proceeded. It is such a different take on World War II and the Nazis, focusing on two youths on different sides. This said, I really don't see this as a YA novel but rather, for all age readers.

    Marie Laure is a French girl who became blind at age 6. She lives in France with her beloved father. After the war begins, they flee to St. Malo to live with her father's brother who is an agoraphobic. Werner, on the other hand, is a young German orphan who comes of age in Hitler's Youth, being sent to fight at a very early age and staying alive due to his uncanny skills with radios.

    This is a very touching, beautifully written story that I will remember and think about for a long time. The ending is not what I hoped for or expected, but we all know that a WW II story is unlikely to have a fairytale ending. This ending, however, was very satisfying and left me with good feelings.

    Zach Appleman should be commended for his excellent and consistently sensitive narration. It is perfect for this story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fluency

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Jennifer Foehner Wells
    • Narrated By Susanna Burney
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (120)
    Story
    (121)

    NASA discovered the alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt in the 1960's. They kept the Target under intense surveillance for decades, letting the public believe they were exploring the solar system, while they worked feverishly to refine the technology needed to reach it. Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it's an adventure she can't refuse.

    Striker says: "Great Concept, Loved the Story... I Want More!"
    "Mysogynists, Beware!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Misogynists, beware! This is a sci-fi story written by a female with a female narrator and two major female characters. If you find that threatening, just skip the book and save yourself having to write a scathing review.

    That said, on to my review. I really enjoyed Foehner Wells' first book. I am always looking for a great first contact story, and so many seem to disappoint me for one reason or another. This one had an entirely different feel to it and it gave me much to think about in between listening sessions. The storyline has been well-summarized in the book description and in other reviews. I will forgo doing it again.

    While this story has some flaws, I feel that I can forgive these, as it is Wells' first book. With its current success, I feel she will read her critical reviews and acquire some more knowledgeable go-to folks for more detailed scientific and maybe even weapons info. I tend to give a fiction story a bit of leeway and don't get really picky, if I really enjoy the story line and come away satisfied. After all, it is FICTION.

    Some reviews have warned of an abrupt, unsatisfying ending but oddly enough, I really liked the ending and the twist that came with it. I am certainly open to a sequel! I also want to add that I did not find an exceptional amount of swearing, as some reviewers did. As for the sexual thoughts, at first I was a bit put off. But I began thinking of what a two-year space mission would be like. I just cannot imagine folks turning off their sexual feelings and needs for that period of time. So after some thought, I realized this was pretty realistic. For me, it did not add to or detract from the story. As for the other characters, I would have liked to see a tad more character development and am hoping it will come with the author's next book.

    The narrator did a good job and gave me no complaints. All in all, I found this an enjoyable, satisfying listen and I look forward to a lot more from this author.



    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Night Film: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Marisha Pessl
    • Narrated By Jake Weber
    Overall
    (1329)
    Performance
    (1186)
    Story
    (1206)

    On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

    Jacqueline says: "A M A Z I N G"
    "A REALLY Fun Experience!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had no idea if I would like this audiobook--but the description, the idea of an accompanying pdf file, and the reviews made it difficult to resist. I found it truly a fun and engrossing listen, unlike anything I have come across before.

    Firstly, the pdf. It added a great deal to my enjoyment of the book but it is by no means a necessary component. This file is used mainly in the beginning of the story and basically, the narrator reads the documents as part of the book. While they are fun to follow along with, they are not necessary. So if you listen only on the go, don't worry about not being able to follow along. But when you have more time, do look at the realistic accompanying documents. Pure fun!

    I found this book extremely well written. Pessl has a gift for intriguing descriptions and this makes the book an easy candidate for a second listen. However, the story was what really grabbed me. I would think about it before falling asleep and before I got out of bed in the morning. The characters were well-developed and believable in their motivations and behaviors and were all interesting and mostly likeable. While this audiobook could be described as very dark, it was not TOO dark, I am thankful to report. While at times it seemed to veer off into a fantasy-like state, it always came back to believable reality which I appreciated. Reading this book was more like an "experience" for me, almost like a trip in the dark. I really loved it and would recommend it to mystery fans who enjoy the unusual.

    As for the narrator, I loved him immediately. There is something unique about his voice and he put in a great performance. He is ideal for this type of strange, quirky book. I was so surprised to realize I knew him from the television show, Medium, which I watched years back. At that time, I was not so fond of the character he portrayed. I think, however, he was in his element with Night Film. He definitely added to the listening enjoyment for me.

    So there it is! Will you or won't you?

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Brendan Reilly
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (57)

    An epic story told by a unique voice in Ameri­can medicine, One Doctor describes life-changing experiences in the career of a distinguished physi­cian. In riveting first-person prose, Dr. Brendan Reilly takes us to the front lines of medicine today.

    Jan says: "Simply Brilliant"
    "A medical doctor bares his soul!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I imagine this audiobook is as close as one can get to a peek into a doctor's world. Dr. Brendan Reilly has written an intensely personal and honest book. This is no light-hearted or fluffy read. It covers serious issues that are difficult to talk or even think about.

    A large part of Reilly's story involves a personal case of his in which he questions if his oversights played a role in the patient's death. You can clearly see how he agonizes over the details of the case and what he might have done differently. I find it very brave of him to admit possible errors in treating this elderly couple who were more to him than just his patients. I felt that perhaps writing of their story was somewhat therapeutic for Dr. Reilly.

    The book covers many other topics that are relevant, hot issues in modern medicine. Such issues include but are not limited to end of life decision-making, unnecessary waste of hospital resources, and the impersonality of current medical care. He discusses other difficult and interesting cases whose outcomes caused him concern and worry.

    Add to this fascinating and moving book a narrator you won't soon forget and this becomes a must read. It is hard to imagine that narrator Rob Shapiro is not the actual author of the book. He becomes Dr. Reilly and gives an amazing performance.

    I don't think my review even does this book justice. If any of what I have written spikes any interest for you, I highly recommend you get this audiobook. I believe I can safely say, "You won't be sorry!"

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • I Capture the Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Dodie Smith
    • Narrated By Jenny Agutter
    Overall
    (231)
    Performance
    (191)
    Story
    (191)

    "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
    (287)
    Performance
    (256)
    Story
    (256)

    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
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1178)
    Performance
    (1086)
    Story
    (1091)

    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!

    6 of 7 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
    (310)
    Performance
    (285)
    Story
    (282)

    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
    (320)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (240)

    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
    (82)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (77)

    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.

    3 of 3 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
    (337)
    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

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