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St. Augustine, FL, USA | Member Since 2012

  • 24 reviews
  • 78 ratings
  • 756 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015

  • Flight Behavior

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Narrated By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at 17. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media.

    mj says: "Tough Message Delivered in Silk"
    "Another triumph!"
    What made the experience of listening to Flight Behavior the most enjoyable?

    My admiration for Barbara Kingsolver is boundless! Her body of work is so diverse, and each book so painstakingly researched and crafted, I wonder how she can get it all done in a 24 hour day, since I assume she's also the perfect wife and mother, not to mention farmer and producer of most of the family's meat and vegetables!

    This book, about a beautiful phenomenon-cum-natural disaster, is well written, riveting and full of science. Full of my new "expertise" on Monarch butterflies, I was astonished to find a Monarch in my N. Florida backyard while I was listening to the book! It was injured and unable to fly. It contentedly crawled onto my finger and up my arm. As I carried it to the Beautyberry bush, I held it to the light and realized how absolutely perfectly Ms. Kingsolver had described the creature down to the texture of the wings. It was a remarkable experience.

    The book's title is perfect, because it captures not only the behavior of the Monarchs, but also of the main character, and her flight "from pillar to post", and eventually to a different life, and other characters as well - maybe all of them! Let's just say multiple metamorphoses took place! I love the way Ms. Kingsolver's compassion and kindness come through, even when her characters are in situations where they HAVE to inflict pain on another to get to that next stage.

    What about Barbara Kingsolver’s performance did you like?

    I could see how some might be a little put off by the author's reading of the book - her voice is not typical for a recorded book reader. But her intelligence and intention shine through and to me, it felt very personal having someone I admire so much read me my bedtime story!

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me cry more than once, and laugh often, as is typical for Barbara Kingsolver's books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Little Night Magic

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Lucy March
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Olivia Kiskey needs a change. She’s been working at the same Nodaway Falls, New York, waffle house since she was a teenager; not a lot of upward mobility there. She’s been in love with Tobias, the cook, for the last four years; he's never made a move. Intent on shaking things up, Olivia puts her house on the market, buys a one-way ticket to Europe, and announces her plans to her friends - but then she meets Davina Granville, a strange and mystical Southern woman....

    Shelly says: "I really hope this turns into a series..."
    "I only made it through four chapters..."
    What disappointed you about A Little Night Magic?


    What was most disappointing about Lucy March’s story?

    Granted, I didn't get very far into it. What I listened to was far-fetched and silly.

    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Amanda Ronconi?

    I didn't think the narration was particularly bad. I think the narrator did the best she could with the material she was reading.

    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    All of the above, plus irritation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Janet Reitman
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of "volunteer ministers" offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals.

    Matt says: "My cup of tea."
    "Long live the King (I DON'T mean L. Ron Hubbard!)"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Inside Scientology to be better than the print version?

    One drawback to listening to (instead of reading) this book is that every time David Miscavige (the current head of Scientology) is mentioned by his last name only (hundreds of times!), my split-second reaction was "now WHO is Miss Caviage?" before snapping back with an "oh yeah, that guy". I spent too much time dwelling on other ways the name could have been pronounced (or misprounounced) to prevent that. I wish the author had just referred to him as "David"! But that's just me!

    Any additional comments?

    What a fascinating book!

    My son, a ceaseless searcher and student of philosophies, told me a few years ago that he had looked into Scientology, but they didn't welcome him into the fold because he didn't have any money. I'm sure glad they turned him down! After reading this book, I had to wonder if they also recognized that he was too intelligent to swallow what they offered and could end up being another whistle-blower.

    Some of the stories in the book are so disturbing, I wonder how Scientology is still "in business" today! People have died, others have been imprisoned, and others driven to insanity by this "religion", yet people still join and drain their resources for what is on offer. By the way, the current head of this tax-exempt "church", David Miscavige, has a net worth of $50 million!

    If you wonder about Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and other celebrity Scientologists, they're all in here! (And I still love them just as much - especially Tom!) Trivia Challenge: What celebrity visited a Scientolotgy center and loudly scoffed at the philosophy and saw it as a money pit that could make you insane. Hint: He attended with his Scientologist girlfriend, Peggy Lipton (of the Mod Squad). Give up? Elvis Presley! Long live the King!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • House Rules

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Jodi Picoult
    • Narrated By Mark Turetsky, Nicole Poole, Andy Paris, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    One of America’s most popular authors, Jodi Picoult has earned a reputation for crafting riveting, topical fiction. In House Rules she examines how being different can have dire consequences. Teenager Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s syndrome. A forensic science wizard, he follows his scanner to show up at crime scenes and give law enforcement officials his advice.

    Charlotte says: "Great book until the ending"
    "Well, at least it's long..."
    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I did enjoy the use of multiple narrators, all of whom did a pretty good job.

    Was House Rules worth the listening time?

    Only because I got a lot done while I listened!

    Any additional comments?

    I've listened to several Jodi Picoult books, and liked them all pretty well. They all had flaws that were difficult to overlook, but they were, well, long, and I often choose books by the length. A good book that motivates me to exercise and do mundane chores is a godsend, and if it's long enough to get lost in, all the better!

    My main complaint about this book is the ending. Once we reach the denouement, (which is easy to guess long before we get there), the book ends abruptly. It felt like Ms. Picoult just ran out of steam (or perhaps that was the publisher breathing down her neck). She just tied it up in a pretty little package which left me wondering (loudly, since I was walking on the beach, and was drowned out by the crashing waves) WHAT HAPPENED THEN? I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so my questions won't make sense, but here they are: Why was it so easy to believe THAT's what really happened? Why didn't this information come out sooner, considering the "house rules" applied to both brothers? Were there any consequences for the deed, or just - oh well, accidents happen? Frankly, it made me a little angry, since the "deed" at the core of the story was avoidable and inexcusable, and suggests a pattern of behavior that just didn't get addressed.

    I find Asperger's syndrome fascinating, and loved "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" so much that I'm a sucker for a book that include Asperger's or autism as a feature of the story. But I felt like this book did some injustice to those affected by the syndrome. It just didn't feel very believable, and I think could make people LESS understanding toward people with the syndrome and the challenges their families face.
    Most problematic was the "life tutor", who was SO good at her job until one particular event changed her from a caring, knowledgeable, understanding "pre-professional" to a heartless, uncaring, typical teenage girl - in a heartbeat. Were I affected by this syndrome, I would be outraged, I think, by this portrayal for many reasons.

    The novel comes complete with standard "happy ending" elements that are just too hard to swallow: the struggling, hapless guy who comes through against all odds (and with no pay); the beautiful relationships that develop in spite of everything; the harried divorced mother who manages to balance life with the demands of a very needy child pretty well with only child support and the small income from a little newspaper "help" column, and when necessary, enough money, resources and accommodations to make everything end well. All very unrealistic to me!

    So, read it for the length, and because Jodi Picoult is a pretty good writer, but don't expect much realism, justice for the DEAD victim, or a satisfactory conclusion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wal-Mart Effect

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Charles Fishman
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar

    Drawing on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives and a wealth of staggering data�including facts such as this: Americans spend $36 million an hour at Wal-Mart stores, this text is an intimate look at a business that is dramatically reshaping the American economy.

    Michael says: "Excellent, Balanced View"
    "If you EVER shop at Wal-mart, PLEASE read this!"
    What did you love best about The Wal-Mart Effect?

    It's hard to say I "loved" anything about the book, but it certainly reinforced my dedication to boycotting Wal-mart at any cost. I'm more convinced than ever that Wal-mart is as culpable as Wall Street for the state of our economy.

    What I didn't realize before was how Wal-mart tramples (and sometimes bankrupts) suppliers in their pursuit of "Always Low Prices"; the suppliers (and their employees) bear the brunt of the ever-lowering prices, NOT Wal-mart. I hold Wal-mart responsible in large part for the loss of American jobs to China (and elsewhere), and the transition from REAL American jobs to Wal-mart jobs. I credit Wal-mart for the fact that almost EVERY product (excepting the most exclusive brands) on the market now is junk, designed to be replaced every few years. Standards overall have declined to the lowest common denominator because that's the only way other stores can even begin to compete with Wal-mart. It used to be that appliances would last decades; now you have to buy a Sub-Zero refrigerator or a Viking stove if you want an appliance that will last more than a few years! (The story about Levi-Strauss is one good case in point.) I used to think it ridiculous to buy extended warranties because I was sure large-ticket items I bought would last forever; now they seem a waste of money because you can practically replace these items when they break down in a few years. Thus, I hold Wal-mart responsible for further separating the Haves from the Have-Nots.

    My favorite illustration of this "anti-democratization" concerns lawn mowers: A Wal-mart shopper might avoid buying a Snapper mower because of its cost, but he ends up replacing the Wal-mart- purchased mower every couple of years because they're cheap enough to be considered "disposable". So the old mowers end up in a landfill, while the "expensive" Snapper starts season after season, and ends up being the "bargain" over time. So the person able to afford a Snapper ends up spending less in the long run, just as the wealthiest people pay the least for credit and (perhaps) the lowest taxes! Wal-mart is Robin Hood in reverse, helping the wealthy get wealthier on the backs of the poorest. (This theory of anti-democratization is my own extrapolation: if it offends you, don't blame Charles Fishman!)

    I remember many years ago when Wal-mart first came to my town in Georgia, they picketed outside Publix because Publix sold items not made in America. Today what percentage of Wal-mart merchandise is made in the USA? Sam Walton must be rolling in his grave...

    My great fear, now that Wal-mart is plunging deeply into the organic market, is that organic producers will be forced into the same race to the bottom that so many other markets have. One day the ONLY people to enjoy natural health will be those who live on what they can grow themselves, or wealthy enough to buy their food from "boutique" farms and ranches. Since it's daunting to think how anyone can produce EVERY food they need, and store or preserve it from season to season, once again it will be just those wealthiest who will have access to abundant natural health. Thanks again, Wal-mart!

    Any additional comments?

    Four comments:

    1) I apologize for my fervor and the length of this review. I'm sorry if I sound like a communist.

    2) I was really struck to learn how the earliest employees' purchases of Wal-mart stock made millionaires of those who held on to it, compared with current purchases of the stock, which don't even make good toilet paper.

    3) I doubt that the Wal-mart race to the bottom which leaves the (organic, hormone-free, pastured, local and sustainable) "cream" for the wealthiest 2% can be reversed, thus restoring the world's health and economies, but boycotting Wal-mart makes me feel like one TINY drop in the bucket which I can easily provide! If a LOT of us did the same, who knows? When it comes to making purchases, our best votes are with our feet and wallets!

    4) Please, read this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By William Davis
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner

    Since the introduction of dietary guidelines calling for reduced fat intake in the 1970s, a strange phenomenon has occurred: Americans have steadily, inexorably become heavier, less healthy, and more prone to diabetes than ever before. After putting more than two thousand of his at-risk patients on a wheat-free regimen and seeing extraordinary results, cardiologist William Davis has come to the disturbing conclusion that it is not fat, not sugar, not our sedentary lifestyle that is causing America’s obesity epidemic—it is wheat.

    Stacey Crummie says: "The program works, but the listen is technical"
    "It can't hurt, and might help fix what ails you!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I'm glad I bought this book, because it convinced me that eliminating wheat (and other carbs) from my diet is my best route to better health. The accompanying PDF is useful, especially for the recipes it contains, but I ended up buying the e-book in addition to the audio book to aid my understanding of the information. There are so many facts, figures and websites mentioned, that I found it useful to have both. My mind tends to wander when listening to books that are so data intensive, so I found that I was constantly backing up to listen to sections over (and over). I've listened to the audible book several times, just to remind myself WHY I shouldn't eat that plump, delicious bagel, but when I want to explain to someone else why I'm just eating the cream cheese, lox and tomato, it helps to have the BOOK as an aid to explaining how damaging the wheat can be.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of Wheat Belly?

    When I learned that eschewing wheat products can protect me better from breast and colon cancer, osteoporosis and broken bones, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and insulin associated conditions like diabetes than drinking milk, using artificial sweeteners and taking medications and supplements. And I was thrilled to learn that FAT is not my enemy!

    What three words best describe Tom Weiner’s performance?

    It must be really hard to read a book like this well! I thought the performance was a little overly dramatic, but the poor guy had to do something to prevent the reading from being dry and dull.

    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this to anyone interested in nutrition, trying to lose weight, or living with MOST conditions considered "chronic". According to this book, eliminating wheat can improve or even cure everything from Alopecia to Schizophrenia. There is enough information and evidence in the book to make it worthwhile to eliminate gluten for a month just to see if the conditions improve. My motto: "It can't hurt, and it just might help!"

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • This Is Where I Leave You

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Jonathan Tropper
    • Narrated By Ramon De Ocampo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family - including Judd's mother, brothers, and sister - have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd's wife, Jen, whose 14-month affair with Judd's radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch's dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together.

    Tracey says: "Made me laugh out loud"
    "I guess you have to be under 40 to enjoy this book"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    And I'm not, so I didn't. I probably should just stay away from books that portray people so much younger than I am! The characters came across as self-involved and shallow, casually adulterous, disrespectful and very poor at parenting (even though the matriarch was a renowned specialist in the parenting field). The description of the story sounded interesting, but there were no characters that I could relate to - or even LIKE!

    Would you recommend This Is Where I Leave You to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. A group of self-absorbed adult children who don't seem to care much for each other spending a week together "mourning" their father, under some duress from their "newly-bisexual" mother just didn't float my boat! I don't think my peers would particularly relate to the story or characters either.

    What does Ramon de Ocampo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration was fine, but not remarkable. The fact that he read it TO me made it possible for me to do something worthwhile as I "read" the book, so it wasn't a total waste of time.

    Was This Is Where I Leave You worth the listening time?


    Any additional comments?

    I'm just glad it was on sale: I didn't waste a credit on it, and only a small amount of money!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dead by Sunset: Perfect Husband, Perfect Killer?

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Ann Rule
    • Narrated By Richard Ferrone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Loni Ann, Cynthia, Lauren, Cheryl, and Sara seemed to have it all - beauty, wealth, children, and a husband who they believed to be this perfect man - Brad Cunningham. He was handsome, charismatic, and mysterious. They adored him and tried to give him all he wanted. But he wanted everything: sex, money, and it seemed, their very lives. How long would it take before he finally got what he deserved?

    Lily says: "My house is clean, my dogs are exhausted!"
    "My house is clean, my dogs are exhausted!"
    What made the experience of listening to Dead by Sunset the most enjoyable?

    This book was so engrossing! I got a lot done during the many hours I listened to the book; scrubbing, weeding and long dog-walks were my excuse to keep listening until it was done!

    Ann Rule's books have been my guilty pleasure for years. I don't really go for true crime books EXCEPT for hers. The level of detail is so fine that I wonder HOW she is able to get so close to the participants in the stories she tells. And she tells the stories with great respect and regard for the victims. She must be a remarkably compassionate and sincere woman.

    The story itself is almost unbelievable! If it were fiction, I’d probably toss it aside, thinking it was too far-fetched. How could so many smart, attractive women fall for the likes of Brad Cunningham?!

    I’ve read that Ann Rule is not so interested in the “big” stories like Casey Anthony or OJ Simpson; instead she likes to find stories that might not otherwise be told. Thank goodness for that! Casey and OJ stories are ubiquitous; this story, like all of Ann Rule’s stories, is well told, fascinating and might not have been told had Ann Rule not been interested in the case.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I think outrage, fury and frustration would better describe the reactions I had while listening to the book. I wonder, if someone observed me during my dog walks, if it would look as if I were mad at my dogs!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Jenny Lawson
    • Narrated By Jenny Lawson

    For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris - Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut. Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives - the ones we'd like to pretend never happened - are in fact the ones that define us. In Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor.

    D. S. Smith says: "How the Bloggess almost made me crash my car!"
    "Like David Sedaris? I think NOT!"
    What would have made Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) better?

    Whoever compared this book to David Sedaris should be ashamed! This silly book is NOTHING like the witty writing of Mr. Sedaris! It's hard to believe a former HR professional for a "faith-based organization" would use the f-word so gratuitously. I have no problem with the word itself, but her use of the word seems forced and "trendy". There's a huge difference between David Sedaris' self-deprecation and this writer's. Ms. Lawson's writing feels forced, narcissistic, mean and whiny, while Mr. Sedaris' writing flows effortlessly. A mentor of mine once told me that the more effortless writing seems, the more effort went into it. David Sedaris' use of the "mot juste" is a clue to the hard work that goes into his writing; Ms. Lawson's writing is just what you'd expect from a blogger: quick and careless. Both writers report horrors from their childhoods: I sense deep affection from Sedaris for his unconventional family; Lawson just comes across as bitter.

    Has Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) turned you off from other books in this genre?


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Her delivery was perfect for the book: whiny and full of herself.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Saving Fish from Drowning

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Amy Tan
    • Narrated By Amy Tan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Twelve American tourists join an art expedition that begins in the Himalayan foothills of China - dubbed the true Shangri-La - and heads south into the jungles of Burma. But after the mysterious death of their tour leader, the carefully laid plans fall apart, and disharmony breaks out among the pleasure-seekers.

    bulldoglady says: "one of my favorites"
    "She had me BEFORE page one"

    Years ago I worked at Barnes & Noble and used to suggest to customers that they SHOULD choose books by the covers! I've rarely been disappointed in a book I chose because I loved the cover. This book has a GREAT cover, which is why I bought a copy when I found it on sale recently at B&N. I was fascinated by the introduction, then by the story, and the characters. I bought the audible version because it was just taking me too long to READ the book (my reading time is the 15 minutes before I fall asleep each night. It took me two weeks to get through Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"!) Also, I got a bit confused by the action once the group got "lost"; I needed to concentrate on it a bit more, I thought. Listening to it turned out to be a great way to finish it, and I'll be able to listen again in a couple of years and enjoy it all over again.

    Amy Tan excels at character development, and her stories are always interesting, well researched and plausible - I could easily believe they are non-fiction. And this book was, at times, REALLY funny! I laughed out loud several times - always at something Bibi said - she was a delightful character! I didn't love all the characters, which I prefer; all I need is ONE to root for, and at least one to dislike.

    Unlike some other reviewers, I really liked Amy Tan's narration. Some of the accents she used were not very good - but I forgave that immediately. After all, she is a WRITER, not an actor.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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