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Sara

Oh so many books

ratings
220
REVIEWS
185
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
123
HELPFUL VOTES
3015

  • Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By S. J. Watson
    • Narrated By Orlagh Cassidy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (923)
    Performance
    (771)
    Story
    (768)

    "As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...." Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

    Sara says: "A terrifying story"
    "A terrifying story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This book is really scary on so many levels. The vulnerable main character suffers ongoing terrible abuse and betrayal. Heavy on the violence, sense of loss and abandonment. A page turner but a cautionary story that is more thriller than anything else. Haunting.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Early Warning: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Jane Smiley
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Early Warning opens in 1953 with the Langdon family at a crossroads. Their stalwart patriarch Walter, who with his wife Rosanna, sustained their farm for three decades, has suddenly died, leaving their five children, now adults, looking to the future. Only one will remain in Iowa to work the land, while the others scatter to Washington, D.C., California, and everywhere in between.

    Sara says: "Oppressive & Miserable"
    "Oppressive & Miserable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really loved Some Luck, the first book in Smiley's planned sweeping family trilogy. I looked forward to this second installment and had high hopes. All I can say is that while listening I had an overwhelming feeling of weight and heaviness looming down on me. I had the image of myself wearing a huge oversized man's wool coat, stored too long in moth balls, standing in the August sun and heat on my brick patio. I couldn't move my arms, couldn't breathe, and needed to break free. So I did. I stopped listening and returned the book. Too much for me. I hope someone out there finds some pleasure in this book. I'd love to hear about that.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Stephen J. Bodio
    • Narrated By Raymond Scully
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    When Stephen Bodio was a young boy in the early '50s, he saw an image in National Geographic that became forever etched in his mind: It was a photograph of a Kazakh nomad, dressed in a long coat and wearing a fur hat, holding a huge tame eagle on his fist. And a lifelong fascination with Central Asia was born.

    Sara says: "Wildness Captured"
    "Wildness Captured"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this throughly fascinating tale of one man's obsession with eagles, falconry, Mongolia and travel. Bodio's writing is wonderfully engaging, upbeat and evocative. He is able to put words to experiences and flesh out a culture very different from the usual American life. What's more, his enthusiasm is absolutely infectious. Be prepared to be swept away. However, be forewarned--this is a book about hunting and fierce predators.

    I have been lucky enough to have traveled the Silk Road in Central Asia, walked and experienced the great expanse of the Steppe and spent time in a ger or yurt first hand. Listening to this book brought back those memories and the whole book rang clear and true for me. So, whether you are just looking for an armchair adventure or a reason to get on a plane I can recommend this book as a portal into another world. Fantastic!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Kokoro

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Natsume Soseki
    • Narrated By Matt Shea
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    The subject of Kokoro, which can be translated as 'the heart of things' or as 'feeling,' is the delicate matter of the contrast between the meanings the various parties of a relationship attach to it. In the course of this exploration, Soseki brilliantly describes different levels of friendship, family relationships, and the devices by which men attempt to escape from their fundamental loneliness. The novel sustains throughout its length something approaching poetry, and it is rich in understanding and insight.

    Sara says: "The Heart Of Things, Relationships & Feelings"
    "The Heart Of Things, Relationships & Feelings"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a complicated review. I found and read this book because of another book I just finished reading. That title was The End of Life Book Club--a story about a mother and son who used books and reading to cope with terminal illness, loss, connection and family. They raved about this Japanese title so I found it and listened.

    The writing is spare and poetic. The book was written in 1914 and offers an interesting exploration of loneliness and connection in "modern" times. These concepts are strangely applicable to our modern times. But more than this it offers deeper insight into The End of Life Book Club. Soseki speaks about not closing your life off by walling yourself in behind mountains of books. The mother and son from End of Life often lost opportunities to truly talk and connect on deeper personal levels because they focused so much on the current book. Don't get me wrong, reading and discussion of books is expansive, enriching and powerful. But, at times books became a safe haven and functioned as insulation from difficult conversations.

    Back to this current book review-- Kororo is a fascinating look at life and transcends the limitations of time, culture and perspective. A universal story which has much to offer to current day readers. The reading style is soft and gentle. The story tackles difficult issues and does so with beauty and grace. An unusual book which I really enjoyed. Interesting to see that issues of coping with family and finding ways to connect with others isn't just a current day--modern problem.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Kate Andersen Brower
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (116)
    Story
    (117)

    America's first families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the president and first family.

    Sara says: "The White House Explored & Exposed"
    "The White House Explored & Exposed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The narration started out sounding stilted and super slow and drawn out--so much so that for a while I had the speed turned up to 1.25. Then White, the narrator, seemed to relax and the reading improved and I was able to go back to the normal slower speed. But, be aware the first quarter of the book was difficult going until it got better--so be prepared to give it some time.

    The writing is not done in chronologic order so there is a fair amount of jumping around in time. This was a bit confusing. Also, events are organized by topics and broken down into sections. The problem was that there were several stories that must have fit into multiple sections and rather than just tell them once--they were repeated. I think the book could have been about two hours shorter if the author just stated up front once that all the employees that worked in the White House kept quiet about the first families and honored their privacy. This point was belabored so much that it was ridiculous. If it were really true there would be no book!

    All those quibbles aside I enjoyed the book. I particularly liked the stories that came from the families themselves. It was fun, gossipy, glamorous, wasteful, silly and in spots filled with surprising detail. A chance to see an inside view of life in the White House that spans decades and shows the first families and the staff as the flawed humans they are. Recommended if you'd like to hear the gossips tour of the eighteen acres.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Creative Visualization

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs)
    • By Shakti Gawain
    • Narrated By Shakti Gawain
    Overall
    (226)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (89)

    Use the power of your imagination to help create what you want in life! This best selling guide will teach you simple and practical techniques for changing negative habit patterns, improving your self-esteem, reaching career goals, developing your creativity, and much more. Techniques include deep relaxation, asking for guidance, and visualizing goals. Create an inner sanctuary and open up the natural centers of your body - and use your mental imagery to achieve positive changes in your life.

    Fred says: "Creative Visualization"
    "Superficial Unhelpful Approach"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to Gawain's Guided Imagery recordings a long time ago on cassettes and liked her work. I had high hopes when I saw this recording here on Audible and all the great reviews that went with it. To me, it just wasn't up to my expectations and in parts I found the message judgmental and misinformed.

    For example, Gawain must have limited experience both personally and with people she has worked with when it comes to illness and disease. The idea that people make themselves "sick" because they can't rest and "have a break" any other way is both ludicrous and offensive. If you have ever been seriously ill or worked with patients suffering from chronic or life threatening illness they are NOT "resting" when they are bed bound. They are in pain &/or too weak to do anything else. There is nothing suffering people want more than to feel better and get back to activities of living. It is negative and unhelpful to suggest anything else in this recording.

    I believe strongly in the mind/body link and the need for healing and positive visualizations and meditation during times of both wellness and illness. It is powerful medicine. I just found that this program completely missed the mark and I can't recommend it--especially if you are currently suffering a health set back. There are better programs out there.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By David Greene
    • Narrated By David Greene
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (42)

    Through the stories of fellow travelers, Greene explores the challenges and opportunities facing the new Russia: a nation that boasts open elections and newfound prosperity yet still continues to endure oppression, corruption, and stark inequality. Set against the wintery landscape of Siberia, Greene’s lively travel narrative offers a glimpse into the soul of 20th century Russia: how its people remember their history and look forward to the future.

    Sara says: "Long String of NPR Short Reports"
    "Long String of NPR Short Reports"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The cadence, inflection and timing of the narration by the author is exactly the same style as short reports often heard on NPR. This style is fine in small news reports but for almost 8 hours it becomes tedious. Further, it made each clipped story of injustice, criminal behavior, and maltreatment sound completely the same.

    I found the book to be a simple retelling of loosely connected events in a news reporter style with little or no insight or personal feeling and texture drawn into the telling. These are discouraging and sad stories. After three hours, listening became totally unbearable and even boring. What's more, several of the events addressed in this book are things I know about, and I have watched moving documentaries covering the stories in rich detail. Green's retelling of these same events was dry and soul-less. To me this is a relentlessly unhappy book that I can't finish or recommend.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The World of Relaxation: A Guided Mindfulness Meditation Practice for Healing in the Hospital and/or at Home

    • ORIGINAL (55 mins)
    • By Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Narrated By Jon Kabat-Zinn
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    The World of Relaxation was conceived as a way to reach out to patients lying in bed in the hospital and inviting them to experiment inwardly, with Jon’s guidance, in bringing mindful awareness to their present-moment circumstances, utilizing the occasion of having to lie in bed for some time - whatever the viewer’s medical condition and prognosis - to do something for him or herself to promote healing of the mind and body, as a vital complement to whatever the health care system and one’s doctors are doing by way of medical treatments and rehabilitation.

    Sara says: "An Oldie But A Keeper"
    "An Oldie But A Keeper"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am so pleased to have this recording back in my collection--it is an old favorite of mine. The length of 55 minutes is the perfect amount of time for this basic body scan and guided relaxation/positivity boosting exercise. In the past it was used for patients in the hospital but it works really well at home too. Whether you have a chronic condition, a health crisis or are just exhausted it fits the bill perfectly. I listen at bedtime and though I rarely am awake at the end--I know it by heart--I just love the sense of encouragement I feel after listening.

    The harp music-composed for this program--is a tiny bit loud in spots and the sound a tad rough in the beginning but don't let that make you miss this recording. It is great for beginners and more experienced meditators to boost your relaxation and sense of "I'm ok--I can deal with anything" attitude. Worth a listen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • H Is for Hawk

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Helen Macdonald
    • Narrated By Helen Macdonald
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (160)

    When Helen MacDonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral anger mirrored her own.

    Sara says: "Mabel The Hawk--The Fire That Burned The Hurts Away"
    "Mabel The Hawk--The Fire That Burned The Hurts Away"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First let me start by saying that I was wary of buying the audio version of the book when I found out that the author was the narrator. This often goes terribly wrong. I was really looking forward to this book and didn't want it ruined by a narration problem. I need not have worried, MacDonald's narration was absolute perfection. The timing, the tone and her ability to capture the emotion and the energy of the story were all spot on. I loved listening to MacDonald tell her own story.

    The writing was beautiful, tragic, poetic, insightful and difficult listening in parts. At first I hated the look back at TH White's life and experience training his own hawk. Then, gradually because of MacDonald's deft storytelling ability I felt sympathy for White and his misery. What's more, having recently finished reading the bio of Alan Turing and I was fascinated by the similarities in White's and Turing's childhoods and experiences in school.

    This book offers a window into MacDonald's experience of complicated grief. It shows us how being in and a part of nature and wildness helped her find her way through. I found myself completely engaged and totally wrapped up in the history, detail and experience of falconry. However, be aware that this is a story about hawks--fierce predators and involves a fair amount of discussion of hunting, blood, and prey. All that said, it is a beauty of a book that allowed a glimpse at life through someone else's eyes. I loved it.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Patricia Harman
    • Narrated By Heather Henderson
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend, Patience Murphy.

    Sara says: "Slow Storytelling Underwhelms"
    "Slow Storytelling Underwhelms"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had high hopes for this tale set in hard hit depression-era rural West Virginia. I had read several reviews that favorably compared this book to the Call the Midwife series--I can't agree with that comparison. Instead, to me, the characters lacked charm, depth and the development necessary to make them really engaging. The story circled around and became so repetitive that I gave up due to boredom. What's more, I found the narration sing-song in style and perky even when it was inappropriate based on what was happening in the story line. Such potential wasted. I wish I had given this snoozer a pass. Recommended only if you like a simple, slow and low stress listen about hard times in America.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Immune System Recovery Plan: A Doctor's 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Susan Blum
    • Narrated By Laural Merlington
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (51)

    Dr. Susan Blum describes the four-step plan that she used to treat her own serious autoimmune condition and helps countless patients reverse their symptoms, strengthen their immune systems, and prevent future illness. Dr. Blum's innovative method shows how to use food as medicine, understand the connection between stress and health, heal the gut and digestive system, and optimize liver function. The Immune System Recovery Plan is a groundbreaking, revolutionary way for people to transform their health.

    Sara says: "An Approach That Treats The Whole Person"
    "An Approach That Treats The Whole Person"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I agree with the author that the standard American diet of fast food, processed food, chemical additives, and high sugar intake is making large numbers of people sick. Overall, I found the material presented compelling. However, there were several places in the book where I felt that Dr Blum may have jumped too quickly from point A to point D (skipping over points B & C) possibly rushing to find "the" answer precipitously. In reality, the physiology and pathology of the human body is anything but simple.

    The book is filled with information and gentle encouragement. I particularly liked Dr Blum's holistic approach--looking at the individual from all angles. Diet, life style, exercise, supplements & vitamins, stress control, mind/body instruction and symptom management are all addressed. The book is very helpful whether you have an autoimmune diagnosis or are trying to prevent an autoimmune disease from developing.

    The narration was a bit strange as the voice almost sounded robotic or machine generated. This wasn't enough to make me stop listening. I would suggest a listen to the sample first, but keep in mind that the material presented is worth coping with the odd narration.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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