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Mary

Portland, OR, United States | Member Since 2008

12
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 23 ratings
  • 228 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014
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  • Year Zero: A History of 1945

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Ian Buruma
    • Narrated By Gildart Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (45)

    Year Zero is a landmark reckoning with the greatdrama that ensued after war came to an end in 1945. One world had ended and anew, uncertain one was beginning. Regime change had come across Asia and all of continental Europe. It was the greatest global powervacuum in history, and out of the often vicious power struggles thatensued emerged the modern world as we know it.

    Mary says: "Great historical overview"
    "Great historical overview"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you're interested in WW II this is a great book to add to your reading list. Since it only deals with 1945 it helps the reader understand the results, compromises, and fallout from the Allied win. One can see the makings of world events that came as a result of decisions made at the end of the war. Narration is excellent.

    4 of 4 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
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (13)

    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.

    Leonard says: "Impossible to Put Down"
    "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.

    0 of 0 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
    (660)
    Performance
    (374)
    Story
    (369)

    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
    (6332)
    Performance
    (5751)
    Story
    (5745)

    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
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (12)

    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.

    0 of 0 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
    Overall
    (741)
    Performance
    (612)
    Story
    (622)

    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
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9381)
    Performance
    (8595)
    Story
    (8607)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Tedious in the extreme"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Okay, I know...comparisons to Dickens and several of his characters. The book has heft and it took Tartt years to write it. I was more than halfway through and then read more reviews and learned that I was waiting in vain for something to happen. Perhaps there was redemption at the end but I will never know. This story didn't move along and I'm not that interested in the camaraderie between 2 adolescent boys whose parents are, at best, inattentive and, at worst, abusive. The author is like a person who likes to hear herself talk (in print). How many repetitions do we need to get the picture, as in how Hobart's furniture workshop was arranged. I'm exhausted!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1462)
    Performance
    (1339)
    Story
    (1352)

    >When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of "rogue" wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn't take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.

    Tango says: "Beautiful story, beautifully written"
    "Read this book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Animal lovers, don't miss this. For that matter, no one should miss this. It is a stunning story of saving elephants. I learned so much about them as sentient beings. Simon Vance is narrator and I tend to associate his voice with "Girl With Dragon Tattoo" trilogy so while he's excellent as always, it took some getting used to hearing him narrating this story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Longbourn

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Jo Baker
    • Narrated By Emma Fielding
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (432)
    Performance
    (401)
    Story
    (400)

    In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

    Kim says: "Great Book, Great Narrator!"
    "Superb!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like this genre and period, this novel is a pleasurable listen. It's a wonderful picture of "downstairs" life at that time. I especially enjoyed the narrator.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Sound of Things Falling

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Juan Gabriel Vasquez
    • Narrated By Mike Vendetti
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (58)

    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.

    Melinda 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

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