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Roberta

Vassar graduate, living in Mexico and retired.

Member Since 2008

18
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 22 reviews
  • 96 ratings
  • 167 titles in library
  • 48 purchased in 2014
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  • Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell
    • Narrated By Kimberly Farr
    Overall
    (343)
    Performance
    (294)
    Story
    (299)

    When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly 60 years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the 19th century with a 21st-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades.

    Fictionwriter says: "Fascinating and strange"
    "could have been better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book was written before the lawsuits about Clark's money were resolved. Some of the information in the writing seems to be padding to make the story longer. Such as long lists of gifts.
    Questions about whether the heiress was slow intellectually are never fully addressed.
    The book concludes with a sing song eulogy which seems artificial.
    The narrator has a shrill voice at times and over does the accent when pronouncing French words.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Vampire Next Door: The True Story of the Vampire Rapist

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By J.T. Hunter, RJ Parker Publishing
    • Narrated By Rob Shamblin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    John Crutchley seemed to be living the American Dream. Good-looking and blessed with a genius level IQ, he had a prestigious, white-collar job at a prominent government defense contractor, where he held top secret security clearance and handled projects for NASA and the Pentagon. To all outward appearances, he was a hard-working, successful family man with a lavish new house, a devoted wife, and a healthy young son.

    Roberta says: "nonfiction described as a novel"
    "nonfiction described as a novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author explains that this is a nonfiction work with some speculation. The one surviving victim relates a riveting description of her capture, torture and rape. Many interesting facts are revealed and this book held my interest. However much of the psychiatric "science" is little more than psycho babble or pseudo science. The murderer's imperfect parents are offered as an explanation for the man's evil which I find unfounded. Prior to the man's death he was smiling an upbeat. This we are advised indicates he was not suicidal. It is a standard principle in psychiatry that once someone resolves to kill them self, their depression lifts and they are nonchalant. Thus, cheerfulness is not an indication that the person did not take their life.
    The Narrator neither adds nor detracts from the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pain and Gain: The Untold True Story

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Marc Schiller
    • Narrated By Bill Fike
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (28)

    What if you were kidnapped, tied to a wall for a month, starved, humiliated, tortured and then they tried to murder you, but you survived? What stories would you tell of how you were able to survive and the struggles you went though? What if you went to the police and they did not believe you? What would you do to evade those trying to kill you and how would you bring the criminals to justice before they struck again? How would that change your life and the way you perceived the world and people?

    Roberta says: "a living nightmare, well told"
    "a living nightmare, well told"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This nonfiction account of kidnapping, torture and identity theft is compelling. The author manages to insert comic relief with wit and sarcasm, making the story bearable.

    The author, who was also the victim, does not address this crime in a larger social context and thus leaves unanswered questions.

    This ruthless crime is unusual in the USA which is why the police and even doctors refused to believe him. How many of the criminals were born in the USA? Are these crimes common in the countries they came from? The victim's wife was not American. In the country she came from the police are corrupt. Did this explain why she did not notify the authorities when her husband went missing?

    Why was the press not alerted if the police would not respond? Why was a Congressman not notified?

    The larger issue of the impact of immigration on crime was not addressed. This exploration would have added dimension to this story.

    The narration is very well done.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Proof: The Science of Booze

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Adam Rogers
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (170)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (147)

    A spirited narrative on the fascinating art and science of alcohol, sure to inspire cocktail party chats on making booze, tasting it, and its effects on our bodies and brains. Drinking gets a lot more interesting when you know what's actually inside your glass of microbrewed ale, single-malt whisky, or Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. All of them begin with fermentation, where a fungus called yeast binges on sugar molecules and poops out ethanol. Humans have been drinking the results for 10,000 years. Distillation is a 2,000-year-old technology - invented by a woman - that we're still perfecting today.

    Atila says: "Great listening to all about booze"
    "numerous facts which really don't tie together"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is highly technical information told in a style which is not entertaining nor engaging. The facts don't fall together in a meaningful way to illuminate concepts. There is a small amount of comic relief, but not much.

    The Narrator's tone and diction is not pleasant.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Coming Clean

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Kimberly Rae Miller
    • Narrated By Kimberly Rae Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (251)
    Performance
    (223)
    Story
    (226)

    Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a tidy apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. You would never guess that Kim grew up behind the closed doors of her family’s idyllic Long Island house, navigating between teetering stacks of aging newspapers, broken computers, and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room - the product of her father’s painful and unending struggle with hoarding. In this moving coming-of-age story, Kim brings to life her rat-infested home and her childhood consumed by concealing her father’s shameful secret from friends.

    Margaret says: "Vicarious Hoarding"
    "brief, informative, interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Coming Clean?

    It held my interest and moved at a good pace.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Her close friend who stood by her.


    What about Kimberly Rae Miller’s performance did you like?

    Her tone of voice is pleasant.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    I like the fact it was not too long.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A House in the Sky: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett
    • Narrated By Amanda Lindhout
    Overall
    (305)
    Performance
    (274)
    Story
    (274)

    Amanda Lindhout reads her spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into 15 months of harrowing captivity in Somalia - a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace. In August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia - "the most dangerous place on Earth." On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted.

    Eric Schurr says: "Incredible story! Very well written and delivered"
    "nonfiction, informative, interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I learned a great deal and not for one moment lost interest, even when she is describing a routine day. This book comes with outstanding professional reviews which are well deserved.
    Horrible ordeals and experiences are described, yet not embellished to titillate. One realizes this could happen to any one of us.
    The Narrator's work is excellent. There is very little foul language in this book which I appreciate. This story lacks comic relief, but is otherwise very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Richard Preston
    • Narrated By Richard M. Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (556)
    Performance
    (497)
    Story
    (503)

    A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days, 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic "hot" virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

    aaron says: "If you love viruses and gore and non-fiction..."
    "nonfiction, informative, interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well written with an engaging style. This well researched story about viruses like ebola and others is alarming. Comic relief and pleasant narration make it a worthwhile nonfiction audiobook..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By David Berg
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Alan Berg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    As William Faulkner said, “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.” This observation seems especially true in matters of family, when the fury between generations is often never resolved and instead secretly carried, a wound that cannot heal. For David Berg, this is truer than for most, and once you listen to the story of his family, you will understand why he held it privately for so long and why the betrayals between parent and child can be the most wrenching of all.

    Roger says: "Top Ten ouf of 7,000"
    "nonfiction story with many interesting subplots"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author relates an interesting true crime and court drama in an engaging style. The reader comes to know the main characters.
    The book includes comic relief and wit. The sadness of the crime is not overwhelming to the reader.
    This book includes a primer on criminal law and is also an autobiography of the attorney who wrote it.
    The Narrator does a good job and is pleasant to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Henry Leyva
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (92)

    Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: Wait for misfortune to strike - strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents - and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways.

    Kenn says: "Facinating and engaging"
    "witty, delightful and informative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Nonfiction works like this keep me hooked on audio books. The Narrator does an outstanding job. The material is scientific, but the author adds fascinating history and amusing anecdotes to make it interesting and humorous. The Narrator captures every bit of the humor with just the right timing and delivery.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Hampton Sides
    • Narrated By Hampton Sides
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (415)
    Performance
    (206)
    Story
    (206)

    On April 23, 1967, Prisoner #416J, an inmate at the notorious Missouri State Penitentiary, escaped in a breadbox. Fashioning himself Eric Galt, this nondescript thief and con man - whose real name was James Earl Ray -drifted through the South, into Mexico, and then Los Angeles, where he was galvanized by George Wallace's racist presidential campaign. With relentless storytelling drive, Sides follows Galt and King as they crisscross the country, one stalking the other, until the crushing moment at the Lorraine Motel.

    E. L. Robertson says: "Who Knew"
    "skilled writing, well narrated"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book held my attention. The author did a good job of narrating his own work. However, justice was not done to the British accents. This nonfiction story lacked comic relief, but was otherwise very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Thomas Hager
    • Narrated By Adam Verner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (645)
    Performance
    (526)
    Story
    (523)

    At the dawn of the 20th century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution. This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives.

    sarah says: "Riveting"
    "worthwhile, but a little too long"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much of the biographical information about the scientists is drawn out. If you can get through the first 80 percent of the book, the last part is profoundly interesting. The narrator neither adds nor detracts from the story. There is no comic relief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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