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SamanthaG

SamanthaG

Marietta GA | Member Since 2010

136
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 84 reviews
  • 215 ratings
  • 538 titles in library
  • 85 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • Factoring Humanity

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (279)
    Performance
    (243)
    Story
    (246)

    In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible data streams in for ten years. Heather Davis, a professor in the University of Toronto psychology department, has devoted her career to deciphering the message. Her estranged husband, Kyle, is working on the development of artificial intelligence systems and new computer technology utilizing quantum effects to produce a near-infinite number of calculations simultaneously.

    Warren says: "Enjoyable, Fast Listen"
    "He can do better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Have to say that Sawyer handles aliens better than he does humans. I loved his "Calculating God", but I found this one a bit difficult what with his trying to deal with a somewhat dysfunctional human family and the resolution of marital and familial discord.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Exploring Metaphysics

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, David K. Johnson
    • Narrated By Professor David K. Johnson
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (74)

    This mind-bending tour of metaphysics applies philosophy to the forefront of today's knowledge. Over the course of 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Johnson thinks through the big questions about humans and the universe: The relationship between the mind and the brain, how consciousness emerges from neurochemical processes, the existence of God, human free will, the possibility of time travel, and whether we live in a multiverse or even a computer simulation.

    DaniDarko says: "Very dissapointing"
    "Enthusiastic Author!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Exploring Metaphysics to be better than the print version?

    In certain ways, both are better. Audio lets you hear the author and his enthusiastic inflection; print would be more conducive to going back to re-read some baffling information...and there was a lot.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Not exactly a "story," more like a textbook.


    What does Professor David K. Johnson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His enthusiasm. Some of the content was very technical and oriented to people (students?) of physics.....and over my head. Some was very interesting in the way it was presented. His discussion of multi-universes and the possibility that we exist in a computer-generated universe - one among many - were intriguing and mind-boggling.


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

    Can't think of one, but I liked the way the author was open to all possibilities.


    Any additional comments?

    My notion of "metaphysics" was not what was presented and I accept that I was probably misinformed. I thought that it had to do more with where spirituality and science come together. This lecture series seemed to be more pure physics, a lot of it theoretical. There's not much spirituality, though God is mentioned frequently and arguments for and against his existence are considered in relation to the laws of physics. No conclusion is drawn about God's existence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stoner

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By John Williams
    • Narrated By Robin Field
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (511)
    Performance
    (415)
    Story
    (422)

    William Stoner is born at the end of the 19th century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar's life, far different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments.

    Anton says: "A story of sadness and serenity"
    "A Sad Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Stoner rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Well, do you want a number? In which case, i have no idea. Depressing, but compelling enough that I kept listening and had empathy (extreme) for the protagonist.


    Would you be willing to try another book from John Williams? Why or why not?

    Yes. The writing was very good and the depiction of emotions was right-on. I didn't realize at the outset that this was written in the '60s. Don't know why that should matter, but I was surprised. I didn't encounter any clues that this was written 50 or so years ago since most of it involved introspection and rang true in any time.


    Have you listened to any of Robin Field’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I have not, but I thought his performance was perfect.


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    A depressing but compelling book. It engendered so much empathy for this "every man."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Time's Arrow: Or the Nature of the Offense

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Martin Amis
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcom
    Overall
    (60)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (47)

    Martin Amis turns to a tricky literary conceit to tell the story of an ex-Nazi, Dr. Tod T. Friendly. Friendly is possessed of two separate voices, one running backward from his death, the other running forward, fleeing his unsavory past.

    Darwin8u says: "A minor experiment from a very good author."
    "Clever time travel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Interesting concept - running time backward. From death to birth. I kept trying to find inconsistencies in the narrative, but could find few. An interesting read that reminds me of the movie, Memento, though the idea is different.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Eden: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Chris Beckett
    • Narrated By Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (273)
    Performance
    (252)
    Story
    (249)

    On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say - and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

    Amazon Customer says: "Hope to see a sequel soon"
    "Incredibly Creative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I finished this book about a month ago and it has stuck with me. Pieces of it come back to haunt me frequently. I would love more....don't know if a sequel is planned or not. I think I'd like one, but the ending almost precludes that, but then I'm not a creative writer, so maybe. I loved the way Beckett morphed language over time, and it definitely does change. I find myself saying things like, "boy it's hot hot today," or "I'm hungry hungry."

    I was captivated by the description of Dark Eden, on the rogue planet with no sun. It seemed absolutely beautiful, with the lantern trees and animals having evolved their own lanterns to provide light for themselves, and the "starry swirl" which was apparent at cloudless times. But for the marooned people there who longed for Earth and its sun, it was very sad. Also sad was the fact that their gene pool was very limited, everyone having descended from the original two humans who were marooned there. Predictably, birth defects abounded, "bat faces" and "claw feet.," and the people of "the family" knew and understood that. And they waited to be rescued. So a sadness pervades the book. I'm waiting for them to be rescued, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sisterhood

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Helen Bryan
    • Narrated By Laura Roppe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (117)
    Story
    (120)

    Reeling from a broken engagement, adopted 19-year-old Menina Walker flees to Spain to bury her misery by writing her overdue college thesis - and soon finds herself on an unexpected journey into the past. The subject of her study is Tristan Mendoza, an obscure 16th-century artist whose signature includes a tiny swallow - the same swallow depicted on a medal that is Menina’s only link to her birth family. Hoping her research will reveal the swallow’s significance and clue her in to her origins, Menina discovers the ancient chronicle of a Spanish convent containing the stories of five orphaned girls hidden from the Spanish Inquisition.

    Linda says: "Great way to enjoy a book!"
    "Boring Flat Characters; Terrible Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The characters were all stereotypes; Menina - the good girl, her parents - the hayseeds from GA, the nuns, ah the nuns! - all old lady nun stereotypes. And the narration. My first irritation was the adoptive parents' fake-y southern accents. If I'd been the Mother Superior at the orphanage, I wouldn't have approved the adoption, not because the they were Southern Baptists, though I think that would have given most Catholic nuns pause, but because they didn't seem quite bright.

    Lots of things happen to Menina that don't make sense - first of all, her name, which if I remember correctly was the middle name of some relative of her parents. Menina....really? I live in GA and I've never heard it as a given name.

    The narration also included lots of fake-y Spanish accents, some Castillian, some not. And everyone could always seem to speak another language if it moved the story along and be unable to if it didn't. Menina particularly, who apparently knew Spanish well but at one point was too tired to speak it.

    I guess I understand the use of a Spanish-y accent for people when they are speaking Spanish in the book, but I don't understand using it for the 3rd person narrative parts. It's an English book written for people who speak English.

    I also found jumping back and forth in time an annoyance - sometimes I didn't know which time I was in because the characters in both times were similar - young women and nuns in the same rickety old convent.

    All in all, it was a slow-go for me. I read about 2/3 of it and skipped to the (predictable) end and don't feel I missed anything.

    And what's up with the swallow?

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Language A to Z

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (538)
    Performance
    (485)
    Story
    (471)

    Linguistics, the study of language, has a reputation for being complex and inaccessible. But here's a secret: There's a lot that's quirky and intriguing about how human language works-and much of it is downright fun to learn about. But with so many potential avenues of exploration, it can often seem daunting to try to understand it. Where does one even start?

    Jacobus says: "A genious Miscelany of linguistic topics"
    "Just Swell!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    That is, to use a term that I learned has almost dropped out of our language to describe something good. So many tidbits of interesting information. What it made me realize is the huge difference between spoken and written language and the relationships between languages that you wouldn't suspect. For instance Maltese, which apparently sounds very much like Italian and uses some Italian words, is more closely related to Arabic, though it uses the Latin alphabet.

    As others have noted, this does move very fast and I would probably have to listen again if there were a final exam and I wanted to pass the course. Fortunately, Audible does not have final exams! I may listen again anyway.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hominids: The Neanderthal Parallax, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Robert J. Sawyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1239)
    Performance
    (585)
    Story
    (591)

    Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. But it can't help his fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.

    Scott says: "Scicen Fiction Can Be Literature"
    "Sophomoric"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I did finish listening - the story was not boring. But the dialog was rather clunky and awkward to listen to, especially between Mary and Ponter. Lines from Gone With The Wind, ET, and The Wizard of Oz were shamelessly borrowed. The ending, even for SciFI, stretches credibility to the breaking point and I'm happy to leave the story at its end, though there is a sequel, which is previewed and advertised at the end of this recording.

    The narrators were good, though my usual criticism of males affecting female voices applies here - the females sound pretty much like, well, men trying to sound like women.

    The names of the Neanderthals didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason - did they all have surnames and if so, how were they derived? I didn't look up the characters to see their names in writing, but I enjoyed hearing them as I imagined them - Ponter's daughters, Jasmine, Jazz-bo, Jazmo or Jazno, and Meg-a-Meg, and many whose names I just couldn't figure out at all.

    I was annoyed at the continued put-down of human history/society and the elevation of the noble (and brilliant!) Neanderthal society. Of course there are things in human history that merit our shame, but I don't understand the purpose of the comparison in this book and its creation of a fictional "perfect" sentient species.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Herman Koch, Sam Garrett (translator)
    • Narrated By Clive Mantle
    Overall
    (1030)
    Performance
    (902)
    Story
    (911)

    It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families.

    Jane says: "Dining at its most distubing"
    "A very strange book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I began listening, the book was hilarious. Lots of sarcastic put-downs of pretentious people and a restaurant. I thought I was in for a funny ride. But the book does turn dark...very dark. We discover things about the characters that we didn't suspect. Many things. Getting pertinent information out of the main character and narrator is like pulling teeth - very frustrating but effective. He tells us many times of things he thought of saying in a particular situation....but then he didn't say them. We gradually learn many very relevant tidbits that we wouldn't have suspected that add to the development of the story. An interesting read, but I which Koch had stuck to funny.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent
    • Narrated By Dean Gallagher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2869)
    Performance
    (2165)
    Story
    (2211)

    When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed—a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back.

    Jill says: "Heaven is For Real"
    "I generally love these Near Death experience books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This one was compelling and earnest. I had thought that because the author (father) was a pastor meant that it would probably seem or be contrived. The recounting of Colton's experience when undergoing an appendectomy evolved over time. He was only 3 or 4 and didn't tell his parents at the time it happened, but gradually made statements about the experience which brought his parents to understand what had happened to him. The difficult part for me were Colton's seeing things in Heaven (monsters, Satan, Armageddon, battles, etc) that I have taken to be metaphorical at best. Colton's account pretty much sticks to Christian biblical orthodoxy, about which his father insists that Colton previously knew very little and none of the details. Most other accounts of near death experiences that I've read, like Anita Moorjani's "Dying to be Me" and Eben Alexander's "Proof of Heaven" really emphasize God's love for all of us, regardless of what we've been guilty of in earthly life. This book tries to present itself as proof that Christianity is the only "right" religion and pretty much the only way to get to heaven.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (65)

    Conventional wisdom suggests English is going to the dogs, that bad grammar, slang, and illogical constructions signal a decline in standards of usage - to say nothing of the corruption wrought by email and text messages. But English is a complicated, marvelous language. Far from being a language in decline, English is the product of surprisingly varied linguistic forces, some of which have only recently come to light. And these forces continue to push English in exciting new directions.

    Tony says: "Easy Introduction to Linguistics"
    "The "funnest" book on language ever"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Prof. McWhorter maintains that "funnest" is not a word you can use, but I'll bet he knows what I mean.

    Maybe the best thing I can say about this lecture series is that, like a very good and compelling novel, I found myself driving around the block or listening in the garage because I found it so engaging. On one hand, I didn't want it to end, but on the other, I did so that I could write a glowing review.

    So many interesting tidbits about English and other languages and how words and expressions evolved. He gives great examples - some very humorous. He explains the difference between spoken and written language; in all languages, spoken is much more casual and less rigid than written, which allows you to plan, go back and re-write and edit (as I'm dong now) what's being written. He maintains that language is always evolving and will always continue to, and that the new electronic ways of communicating - e-mail, texting, IM, are really more like speach than writing. He finds no linguistic problem with these forms nor does he feel that they will affect the written language in a bad way.

    He's very entertaining, easy to understand and skirts around socially offensive "bad" words without actually saying them, but in a very funny way.

    I'll mention the applause between lectures as I did for another of the Great Courses Lecture series. I think it should be done away with - it's distracting.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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