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Mary

Portland, OR, United States | Member Since 2014

19
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 20 reviews
  • 28 ratings
  • 245 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
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  • The Sound of Things Falling

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Juan Gabriel Vasquez
    • Narrated By Mike Vendetti
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (68)

    In the city of Bogot, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medelln cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder, an event that haunts him still. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past.

    Mel says: "'The Damaging Exercise of Remembering'"
    "Too bad about the narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is awful. I can't finish it because the narration is so bad. He can't even be bothered to learn the Spanish pronunciation of Colombian places. When the city of Cali changes from CAH-lee to Cah-LEE you know what follows isn't going to be good. No doubt the author is going to lose readers because of the poor narration. Sorry about that Mr. Garcia.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Believer: My Forty Years in Politics

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By David Axelrod
    • Narrated By David Axelrod
    Overall
    (186)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (152)

    The man behind some of the greatest political changes of the last decade, David Axelrod has devoted a lifetime to questioning political certainties and daring to bring fresh thinking into the political landscape. Whether as a child hearing John F. Kennedy stump in New York or as a strategist guiding the first African American to the White House, Axelrod shows in Believer how his own life stands at the center of the tumultuous American century.

    Michael says: "Luke Warm Believer"
    "For those who love behind-the-scenes stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was fascinated by Axelrod's story and how he got into journalism and then into running political campaigns. Because I'm an Obama supporter I also enjoyed the recap of his first run for the presidency and because I'm originally from Iowa I also liked hearing about his time spent there prior to the primary in places with which I'm familiar. The author is also an adept narrator and I found his voice rather soothing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Isabel Wilkerson
    • Narrated By Robin Miles, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1128)
    Performance
    (919)
    Story
    (922)

    In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to previously untapped data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

    Lila says: "Superior non-fiction"
    "What a panoramic view of the great migration!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the way Wilkerson told the story in historical terms and also through the lives of the three people she wrote about. I felt as though I knew these three to an extent and it made me want to learn more about them. The difficulties these people went through to leave the South seem very much like what one reads about those who migrated to America from Europe. They didn't have as far to go geographically but perhaps as far or farther culturally.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • American Dervish: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Ayad Akhtar
    • Narrated By Ayad Akhtar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (224)
    Performance
    (203)
    Story
    (202)

    Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant, and soulfully devout friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled. Hayat's father is less enthusiastic. He left the fundamentalist world behind with reason. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty and power of the Quran, it will utterly transform the boy.

    David says: "a complex, rewarding book"
    "Outstanding narration!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What a fascinating story of religious fundamentalism. Though the main characters are Muslim, it also includes Christians and Jews and how fundamentalism in any of these can have very negative consequences. In addition, it is a coming-of-age story by the main character, Hayat. The narration is what made this book come alive for me. Akhtar was able to include various Pakistani English accents so that I had a real sense of individuals. This could be a great book club choice since there is so much to discuss regarding religious outlook and concepts of God.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Ben Macintyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (556)
    Performance
    (495)
    Story
    (492)

    Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6.

    Michael Eaton says: "The Greatest Spy -- Ever Discovered"
    "The incredible life of a spy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After having read the book I still don't have insight into Philby's motivations except Macintyre's belief that he was addicted to lying and secrets as much as because of his ideological views. His personal life was also full of faithlessness and he treated his wife Ailene horribly. It's hard to understand why his children believed him to be a good father when he was so cruel to their mother and so often absent from their lives. I love Macintyre's books on similar subjects and he really brings the characters to life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Big Little Lies

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs)
    • By Liane Moriarty
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7504)
    Performance
    (6577)
    Story
    (6575)

    Pirriwee Public's annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. One parent is dead. The school principal is horrified. As police investigate what appears to have been a tragic accident, signs begin to indicate that this devastating death might have been cold-blooded murder. In this thought-provoking novel, number-one New York Times best-selling author Liane Moriarty deftly explores the reality of parenting and playground politics, ex-husbands and ex-wives, and fractured families.

    horslovr says: "Very entertaining!"
    "A beautifully woven story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the best novels I've read in years. Moriarty cleverly weaves the various characters' stories together and, in doing so, covers themes of gossip, parental hovering, loyalty, teenage angst, bullying, and domestic violence. We learn about the domestic violence in very subtle ways and with a slowly increasing feeling of dread. The one problem I had with the story was the way the author showed the parents telling the school principal what to do. I don't think most schools would allow parents to try to control the teacher and classroom in this way and I say this as a former teachr.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Ramita Navai
    • Narrated By Sylvia Lisle
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (33)

    In today's Tehran, intrigues abound and survival depends on an intricate network of falsehoods: mullahs visit prostitutes, local mosques train barely pubescent boys in crowd-control tactics, and cosmetic surgeons promise to restore girls' virginity. Navai paints an intimate portrait of those discreet recesses in a city where the difference between modesty and profanity, loyalty and betrayal, honor and disgrace is often no more than the believability of a lie.

    Chelsie says: "Stories from a City Oft Misunderstood"
    "Don't make assumptions about an Islamic state"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Because I lived in Isfahan, Iran for 3 years right up to the Iranian revolution and the ouster of the shah, I was especially intrigued by this book. We've all seen and heard of the changes in Iran since the revolution, from the taking of the embassy hostages and on through the recent presidential election and likely assumed that many of the things that go on in the West, both good and bad, don't happen in a regime that touts itself of being Islamic. This book tells us that all of it does go on, both good and bad, with the added element of government repression. Thank you, Ms. Navai, for giving us an insider's view of life in Teheran.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Night over Water

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By Tom Casaletto
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (802)
    Performance
    (494)
    Story
    (493)

    On a bright September morning in 1939, two days after Britain declares war on Germany, a group of privileged but desperate people gather in Southhampton to board the largest, most luxurious airliner ever built - the Pan American Clipper - bound for New York.

    Daniel Mcafee says: "Fun Listen"
    "Not the usual excellent Ken Follett book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a bit disappointing. I have read many of his books and I'm eagerly awaiting the 3rd in his trilogy. However, this one seemed to lack the usual Follett excitement. The story was rather contrived though it could have been very interesting, given the setting of 1939 just as WWII began. I felt like it was more a vehicle to describe Pan American's trans-Atlantic plane and capabilities than to tell a real story of people's lives. Also, the sex scenes seemed ill-placed and not at all important to the story but rather a way to try to keep reader interest. For me, those scenes just made me say, OK, get on with the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Invention of Wings: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Sue Monk Kidd
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye, Sue Monk Kidd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8532)
    Performance
    (7675)
    Story
    (7683)

    From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world - and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection. Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

    Jan says: "Historical Fiction - beautifully quilted!"
    "Wonderful novel based on historical events...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had no idea that Sara and Angelina Grimke were real people who were famous as early feminists and anti-slavery activists. Besides a fascinating story, the two narrators (one for Sara and one for Handful) really made this come alive for me. While Kidd couldn't know exactly what Handful's life was like, she did an excellent job of imagining it based on what was known about slave life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Shall Live: Surviving the Holocaust Against All Odds

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Henry Orenstein
    • Narrated By Henry Orenstein
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (18)

    I Shall Live tells the gripping true story of a Jewish family in Germany and Russia as the Nazi party gained power in Germany. When Henry Orenstein and his siblings ended up in a series of concentrations camps, Orenstein's bravery and quick thinking help him to save himself and his brothers from execution by playing a role in the greatest hoax ever pulled on the upper echelons of Nazi command. Orenstein's lucid prose recreates this horrific time in history and his constant struggle for survival as the Nazis move him and his brothers through five concentration camps.

    Mary says: "Fascinating story, so-so narrator"
    "Fascinating story, so-so narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can understand why the author would want to narrate his own story. However, he isn't a good reader and that took something away from the story. He sounded like the inexperienced singer who breathes at all the wrong places. Still, it was a good story about an amazing will to survive.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter
    • Narrated By Jeremy Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (839)
    Performance
    (697)
    Story
    (711)

    In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.

    Paul Bennett says: "Fine book, adequate narration"
    "Who knew?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Thank goodness there were those aware enough to plan ahead to save art treasures though they still started late in the war. What a fascinating story about devoted men and women who worked to save art and archives. The Nazis were relentless in their zeal to plunder. What could they possibly have wanted with things like insects collections???? It was sad to realize that since WWII there have been no monuments personnel in any war and the treasures of Iraq were decimated as a result.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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