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Pam

Science writer in America's heartland

United States | Member Since 2007

255
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 58 reviews
  • 206 ratings
  • 362 titles in library
  • 3 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
30

  • Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of Williams Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Thomas Maier
    • Narrated By Dorie Barton
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (60)

    Masters and Johnson began their secret studies in a small Midwest laboratory working with prostitutes and volunteers who performed more than 10,000 sexual acts in the name of science. They soon became the top experts on sex for more than 40 years, explaining the untold mysteries of orgasm, emotional fulfillment, and sexual dysfunction to millions of Americans. Masters and Johnson were America's ideal couple, but they divorced after 20 years amid a clash of ambitions, betrayal, and jealousies.

    Steve says: "Incredibly Bad Narration"
    "Complements the Showtime series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a fan of the Showtime series and listened to this book (upon which the show is based) following season one. First: the narration is not that bad. The occasional mispronunciations and fatigue in Ms. Barton's voice were slightly distracting, but her reading is pleasant enough. Second: the book gives a deeper background on Virginia Johnson's motivations, and—assuming the series follows the book in season two—I now think I better understand why some of the show's subplots exist. I heard little of William Masters' voice in the book; Mr. Maier interviewed Johnson in person, and had to rely on Masters' unpublished autobiography and other people's interviews for the doctor's perspective. A potential spoiler for the show...so stop reading now if you don't want to know... ... ... is that Johnson denies that Masters ever had a low sperm count. Of course, the show may veer away from the book any number of ways, but I enjoyed reading it and comparing the two.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Symbiont

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Mira Grant
    • Narrated By Christine Lakin
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde. Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

    Pam says: "Like a worm in my brain"
    "Like a worm in my brain"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked this book so much -- despite its flaws -- that I can't wait to hear the next one.

    Before I list any flaws, let me say that the story itself is truly original and Grant's exploration of what it means to be a symbiont/host is elegant. There's a lot to reflect on here, in regards to who we are as people, and what makes us human. I found myself caring a great deal about the characters, and wanting to know what would happen next.

    Somewhere early on in the book, I realized that it was intended for young adults (which I am not) and I do wish that YA books would be more clearly labeled. I know the lines are blurring between good YA fiction and adult fiction these days. But the characteristics that frustrated me are actually common tropes of YA fiction. The heroine is often confused about things that adults would understand, adults are either one-dimensionally evil or simply inscrutable, and then there's the repetition that the other reviewer was talking about. Repetition may be good for young readers, or people who didn't read the first book in the series, or -- lets face it -- adults who aren't paying close attention to the book, for instance if they listen while driving.

    In the end, I think that I was so frustrated by these qualities precisely because the story itself is so good. I will definitely listen to part three regardless.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Science...For Her!

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Megan Amram
    • Narrated By Megan Amram
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    Part hilarious farce, part biting gender commentary, Amram blends Cosmo and science to highlight absurdities with a machine-gun of laugh-inducing lines that leave nothing and no one unscathed. Subjects include: this Spring's ten most glamorous ways to die; tips for hosting your own big bang; what religion is right for your body type; and the most pressing issue facing women today: kale!!! Be prepared to laugh about anything in this outrageous satirical gem.

    Pam says: "Funny, but too much kale"
    "Funny, but too much kale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a laugh-out-loud funny book which at once critiques how society views women in science and how we view ourselves (through the lens of ladies' magazines).

    One word of caution: There's a reason that the word "kale" appears on the book cover with four exclamation points. One chapter consists solely of a very long list of (I hope) farcical kale recipes. Many recipes. Many, many recipes. After a while, it gets kind of surreal. Honestly, somewhere about 75 percent of the way through, I started to freak out a little bit. I made it to the end of the chapter through sheer willpower, but this may be one situation where a printed book would work better than audio—you could just flip through the pages and think, "Wow, that's a lot of kale. Ha ha." To the author's credit, she read all the recipes with enthusiasm, and (apparently) without going insane.

    I hope Megan Amram writes more books, minus the kale.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Catherine Friend
    • Narrated By Erin Bennett
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (7)

    What do you do when you love your farm...but it doesn’t love you? After 15 years of farming, Catherine Friend is tired. After all, while shepherding is one of the oldest professions, it’s not getting any easier. The number of sheep in America has fallen by 90 percent in the last 90 years. But just as Catherine thinks it’s time to hang up her shepherd’s crook, she discovers that sheep might be too valuable to give up. What ensues is a funny, thoughtful romp through the history of our woolly friends, why small farms are important, and how each one of us - and the planet - would benefit from being very sheepish, indeed.

    Pam says: "We're all a little sheepish"
    "We're all a little sheepish"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Sheepish" is the story of a city girl who falls in love and marries a farmer—and then falls in love with the farm. Her tale of raising sheep and learning to spin wool is touching and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Anyone who crafts with yarn will enjoy learning more about where wool comes from, and what farmers go through to bring it to us.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Water Matter: A Tale of the Green Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (52 mins)
    • By Jay Lake
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Written by multiple Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee Jay Lake, "A Water Matter" is set in the universe of his "Green" novels. It was first published in 2008 on Tor.com. Over his long career, Jay Lake has published 10 novels and more than 300 stories. He was honored with the 2004 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

    Pam says: "Thanks, Jay Lake"
    "Thanks, Jay Lake"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm going to submit the same review for all three short stories in this series, "Coming for Green," "People of Leaf and Branch," and "A Water Matter." They are all well-crafted stories that let us get to know characters who more or less acted in the background of the Green trilogy. They also further explain the complex workings of the Green universe in a satisfying way.

    We lost Jay Lake too soon, and I'm so grateful that he was able to offer these stories before he passed. Grateful also that Katherine Kellgren was available for the narration. She is so expressive, and truly captures the spirit of this series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • People of Leaf and Branch: A Tale of the Green Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (35 mins)
    • By Jay Lake
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Written by multiple Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee Jay Lake, "People of Leaf and Branch" is set in the universe of his "Green" novels. It was first published in the June 2009 issue of Fantasy Magazine.

    Over his long career, Jay Lake has published 10 novels and more than 300 stories. He was honored with the 2004 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

    Pam says: "Thanks, Jay Lake"
    "Thanks, Jay Lake"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm going to submit the same review for all three short stories in this series, "Coming for Green," "People of Leaf and Branch," and "A Water Matter." They are all well-crafted stories that let us get to know characters who more or less acted in the background of the Green trilogy. They also further explain the complex workings of the Green universe in a satisfying way.

    We lost Jay Lake too soon, and I'm so grateful that he was able to offer these stories before he passed. Grateful also that Katherine Kellgren was available for the narration. She is so expressive, and truly captures the spirit of this series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Coming for Green: A Tale of the Green Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (59 mins)
    • By Jay Lake
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Written by multiple Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee Jay Lake, "Coming for Green" is set in the universe of his "Green" novels. It was published for the first time in the 2010 collection, The Sky That Wraps. Over his long career, Jay Lake has published 10 novels and more than 300 stories. He was honored with the 2004 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

    Pam says: "Thanks, Jay Lake"
    "Thanks, Jay Lake"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm going to submit the same review for all three short stories in this series, "Coming for Green," "People of Leaf and Branch," and "A Water Matter." They are all well-crafted stories that let us get to know characters who more or less acted in the background of the Green trilogy. They also further explain the complex workings of the Green universe in a satisfying way.

    We lost Jay Lake too soon, and I'm so grateful that he was able to offer these stories before he passed. Grateful also that Katherine Kellgren was available for the narration. She is so expressive, and truly captures the spirit of this series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By David Rose
    • Narrated By Corey Brill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    We are now standing at the precipice of the next transformative development: The Internet of Things. Soon, connected technology will be embedded in hundreds of everyday objects we already use: our cars, wallets, watches, umbrellas, even our trash cans. These objects will respond to our needs, come to know us, and learn to think on our behalf. David Rose calls these devices - which are just beginning to creep into the marketplace - Enchanted Objects.

    Pam says: "Living in an enchanted world"
    "Living in an enchanted world"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book conjures a magical "Harry Potter" world where soon ordinary-looking objects will be able to perform extraordinary tasks for us, thanks to the Internet.

    Today, many home appliances can be linked together online, and Rose says this "Internet of Things" could extend to include any number of comfortably familiar objects in our daily lives—none of which will require a smart phone or computer to operate. (Think of having a light in your home that indicates the outside air temperature by color, versus using a weather app on your phone. The app gives you more detailed information, but the light tells you the basics of what you want to know in a glance.)

    "Enchanted Objects" offers an easy-to-understand explanation of what the Internet of Things is, and what it could be in the future.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Meryl Gordon
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Born in 1906, Huguette Clark grew up in her family's 121-room Beaux Arts mansion in New York and was one of the leading celebrities of her day. Her father, William Andrews Clark, was the second richest man in America. Huguette attended the coronation of King George V. And at 22, with a personal fortune of $50 million, she married a Princeton man and childhood friend. Two-years later the couple divorced. After a series of failed romances, Huguette began to withdraw from society. What happened to Huguette that turned a vivacious, young socialite into a recluse?

    Pam says: "The Rich Are Different"
    "The Rich Are Different"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the story of a wealthy heiress who shunned the spotlight and used her vast resources to maintain the illusions that kept her delicate psychology intact. The Clarks were the Kardashians of their day: famous for being famous, the minutiae of their lives scrutinized by the media. People are as interested to find out what happened to Huguette Clark as they would be if Kourtney or Kim Kardashian suddenly decided to hide from the public eye for decades.

    I have three criticisms of the book: First, in an effort to connect far-flung events and explain why Huguette Clark became a recluse, the book suffers from too many time jumps that don't really add much to the story.

    Second, the quotes from people who knew Huguette don't add much to the story, either. It's possible that, working from historical documents, the author didn't have much choice in regard to quotes. But even the people she interviewed in person come across as not having anything interesting to say.

    Last, too much of the story focuses on the early life of Huguette's father, his first wife, and the children from that marriage. The book doesn't really find its stride until well over halfway through, when it begins to examine the forces in Huguette's young adult life that drove her to become a recluse.

    In summary: this book had the opportunity to delve into Huguette's unusual psychology, and the psychology of recluses in general. There are hints throughout of psychological analyses, but no real focus on them. So, ultimately, the book left me disappointed.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Other Typist

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Suzanne Rindell
    • Narrated By Gretchen Mol
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (207)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (184)

    Rose Baker seals men’s fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct, Rose is like a high priestess. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee. This is a new era for women, and New York is a confusing place for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair, they smoke, they go to speakeasies.

    Pamela says: "Intriguing, Original Story"
    "Gretchen Mol Brings Something Special"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an excellent book, and it's hard to review without giving spoilers. It's a story about how crafty people can lead a double life by playing others for fools. But, even more, it's a story about how truly crafty people can actually fool themselves about the double life they are already living.

    Gretchen Moll adds something special to the narration, not just because she's good at giving personality to the different characters, male and female (and she is). The TV characters she plays in Life on Mars and Boardwalk Empire inform her reading here, but her performance is different enough to keep things interesting.

    In short, it's a great book, well-narrated. I highly recommend it, especially for book clubs, where readers will have a lot to discuss afterwards!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Colin Woodard
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (556)
    Performance
    (492)
    Story
    (499)

    North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the 11 distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory. In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent....

    Theo Horesh says: "One of a Kind Masterpiece"
    "Must-Listen Before the 2016 Election"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I started reading this book because I wanted to understand why my home state of Ohio is so important in American elections. As it turns out, Ohio mixes three distinct "nations": Midland, Appalachia, and Yankee, which accounts for the wildly diverging politics of different parts of the state. In that sense, Ohio really is a microcosm of a large swath of the United States.

    Thanks to this book, I have a much better grasp of the foundations of the Republican and Democratic parties. Certain contradictions in behavior now make much more sense.

    The latter portion of the book serves as an excellent primer for the political forces that will shape the 2016 presidential election. It also suggests why American politics is currently stagnating.

    For that reason, I would call it a good companion book to "Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple" by Randall L. Schweller, which discusses the importance of chaos in energizing a political system (but is not yet available in audio).

    20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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