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Ullanta

Claremont, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

12
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 67 ratings
  • 566 titles in library
  • 148 purchased in 2014
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  • Inca Curse

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Christopher Ride
    • Narrated By Sean Mangan
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    Wilson Dowling is the Overseer, a man transported from the year 2081 to carry out a series of vital missions encoded in the Dead Sea Scrolls. His latest assignment had seemed simple enough - to lead the American explorer Hiram Bingham to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. However, he discovers that history has gone dramatically off course. The Golden Cube of the Sun God - safely hidden at Machu Picchu for hundreds of years - has been stolen.

    Ullanta says: "Just OK story, annoying if you know the Andes!"
    "Just OK story, annoying if you know the Andes!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I should say, "Just OK story, annoying if you know much about the Incas, Quechua, or Spanish", but the character limit on titles doesn't let me.

    This is an OK story, full of implausibles, but, heck, one doesn't look to time travel stories for plausibility. It goes on a bit too long, and is kinda predictable, but it did keep my interest enough to finish. Sure, the baddie was over the top and ridiculous, the characters shallow and stereotyped, the history and culture warped, and the deus ex machina essential… but listenable, like a fast-food meal.

    Despite the annoyances:

    OK, as a Quechua speaker, I am familiar with misuses (and some here are fairly comical)of the language by authors, and bad pronunciation by narrators. This happens a lot, though its also true that many conscientious authors and readers have made the effort to contact me or someone else to do things properly.

    But, as a Spanish speaker as well, I was shocked at the level of mispronunciation here. It's quite annoying when, for example, frequently-used words like "plaza" are mispronounced ("plot-za"). There were many, many examples, but plot-za sticks out because it was used hundreds of times in the book. Please, narrators, make an effort!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • When I Found You

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Catherine Ryan Hyde
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (414)
    Performance
    (371)
    Story
    (370)

    Nathan McCann thought he didn't want a family. But when he finds an abandoned newborn in the woods, he feels an inexplicable bond with the boy and starts to make plans to raise the child as his own - until the baby's grandmother steps forward to claim him. Nathan makes a request of her, though: to one day bring the boy to meet his rescuer.

    Zabie says: "Love comes from many places"
    "A beautiful story that doesn't pull any punches."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story reads like a fable, meditatively, simple and straightforward yet heavy with metaphor and intertext. It certainly is forthcoming! I don't want to give any of the story away, though the story is kind of timeless and yet secondary to the experience, so I will just say that there is much tragedy and disappointment, many questions and surprises, to the point of being quite heartbreaking at times, which makes it all the more beautiful.

    The performance was excellent. The voices of some minor characters were annoying, but meant to be, and only briefly. I must also praise the production and engineering - this was non-fatiguing, never left me needing to rewind to catch too-quiet sections, and didn't have any of the glitches that often pop up in audiobooks. The recording process was totally transparent, which, unfortunately, has not been the case for any of the last 10 or so audiobooks I've listened to. So, Bravo!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Children of God

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Mary Doria Russell
    • Narrated By Anna Fields
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (183)
    Performance
    (124)
    Story
    (126)

    The only member of the original mission to the planet Rakhat to return to Earth, Father Emilio Sandoz has barely begun to recover from his ordeal when the Society of Jesus calls upon him for help in preparing for another mission to Alpha Centauri. Despite his objections and fear, he cannot escape his past or the future.

    Ryan says: "A weaker, but worthwhile sequel"
    "Don't be fooled... the narrator is great!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I will not review the story much here, except to say that is a worthwhile followup to the Sparrow; anyone who enjoyed the Sparrow should read this, anyone who hasn't read the Sparrow should read it first. An excellent and thought-provoking book, perhaps not quite the masterpiece the Sparrow was, but worthy of it.

    When first listening to this immediately after finishing the Sparrow, I was thrown by the narrator. The narration on the Sparrow was sublime, among the best I've listened to, possibly THE best, especially given the range of characters and attitudes that needed to be voiced. The beginning of Children of G-d is narrator-heavy (as opposed to dialog-heavy), and the contrast between the bold, female narrator here and the subdued, plaintive male narrator of the Sparrow gave me pause. I worried it would be a disappointment. But, again, the characterizations were sublime, and cohesive with the Sparrow's. Anna Fields' narratorial voice turns out to be better suited to many of the parts of THIS book - especially the major characters of Haanala and Isaac (sp?). Really beautifully done, adding a great deal to this complex world. Brava! Also a strong candidate for best-narrated audiobook ever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Naoki Higashida
    • Narrated By Tom Picasso
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (675)
    Performance
    (601)
    Story
    (603)

    Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, The Reason I Jumpis a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

    Janice says: "Cracking the code"
    "Gives tremendous insight, beautiful and poetic."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This little book is the attempt of a non-verbal n autistic boy to address the many questions that people want him to answer about the way he behaves. The answers, and especially the things one can intuit by reading between the lines, are very enlightening and help one get a glimmer of the relation - or opposition - between the inner self and the outer behavior of people like this. It is startling, and almost unbelievable... But there are many similar narratives starting to appear, and they paint a similar picture. The most important and saddest revelation, to me, was the sense of sadness and guilt the boy felt about the way his behavior frustrated other people, and the great desire for people to not give up on him.

    The author is young, and though wise in many ways, does as some reviews state seem to go too far speaking for all people on the spectrum... And yet, outside of specifics, I think he does make a good and legitimate spokesman. That is, one shouldn't attribute all of he specific behaviors and causes and feelings that he has to all on the spectrum, but his beautiful presentation of his case teaches people much about the disjunction between inner and outer self that is fairly common, and trains the mind a bit in how to try to see around this disjunction. I would say it's an invaluable text for anyone concerned for people on the spectrum.

    And, it is beautifully written, poetic, and touching. The audiobook is wonderfully narrated. A gem.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Beggars in Spain

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Nancy Kress
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (72)

    In a world where the slightest edge can mean the difference between success and failure, Leisha Camden is beautiful, extraordinarily intelligent, and one of a growing number of human beings who have been genetically modified to never require sleep. Once considered interesting anomalies, now Leisha and the other "Sleepless" are outcasts, victims of blind hatred, political repression, and shocking mob violence meant to drive them from human society and, ultimately, from Earth itself.

    Rachelle says: "Pleasantly Surprised"
    "Good, recommended, though at times iffy!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a very listenable audiobook with some interesting ideas. It certainly held my attention and kept me involved. At the same time, it constantly seemed to be channeling other, similar books. Most frequently, "Atlas Shrugged", with many long-winded and somewhat repetitive passages about makers and takers, in the one-dimensionality of many of the characters, and in the (SPOILER?) decision of the makers to separate themselves (unlike Ayn Rand's, however, Kress does not seem to making a political statement with one "side" clearly in the right; this is a much more balanced examination of the societal split). Then we have similarities to Ender's Game, and other books about super children. And other similarities that have drifted from my mind... sorority stories? Animal Farm?

    And yet it remains readable and enjoyable. The premise is interesting. I often wished that the author had limited the extra abilities of the sleepless to just not sleeping, and gone into more detail about that. I mean, the brief touching upon parents who couldn't deal with babies that never slept was a glimpse into what could have been a really fascinating exploration; and I would have liked to see more of the psychological effects on adults of not sleeping - of no downtime, of no escape, of solitary nights, etc. In the book it's pretty much all up side, and augmented by several other "super powers"... I'd rather have seen more detail and more realistic balance of benefits and deficits of sleeplessness.





    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bad Animals: A Father's Accidental Education in Autism

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Joel Yanofsky
    • Narrated By Erik Synnestvedt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    A veteran book reviewer, Yanofsky has spent a lifetime immersed in literature (not to mention old movies and old jokes), which he calls shtick. This account of a year in the life of a family describes a father’s struggle to enter his son’s world, the world of autism, using the materials he knows best: self-help books, feel-good memoirs, literary classics from the Bible to Dr. Seuss, old movies, and, yes, shtick. Funny, wrenching, and unfailingly candid, Bad Animals is both an exploration of a baffling condition and a quirky love story told by a gifted writer.

    Ullanta says: "Realistic, honest, very informative!"
    "Realistic, honest, very informative!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At times I was upset with the writer's actions or words, but I was won over by his obvious love and concern, and by the great informative content of this book which shows the great efforts he makes to understand the situation and do all he can for his son. This is an honest memoir, if anything exaggerating the flaws of the writer. I will listen to this again, both because it is well worth listening to again, and also to see if i missed the moment when the author discovered/admitted his own status of "being on the spectrum". He clearly seems to be, which also makes this an interesting read - seeing the way his son, and especially his wife, deal with HIS behaviors. I remember him coming closest to making this explicit when discussing that his wife, having discovered techniques that work with the son, uses the same techniques with him.

    To be repetitive, this is above all an honest narrative, and the writer is not afraid to make himself unlikeable, and we see a lot of the effects of autism on a family (extended) and a marriage. We see a lot about the "culture of autism" currently and historically, and get not only a great overview of therapeutic techniques and approaches, but many examples and specifics that make them much more understandable than much of the "instructive" literature does. It's also provides a great overview of autism-related literature; I sought out a number of other books compellingly discussed here. The author has conducted interviews with seminal autism writers and reports on their changes in attitude over the years. In the spirit of great historical literature, or works such as "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" or "Moby Dick", "Bad Animals" provides us with a tremendous amount of well-researched knowledge while we think we're just reading a story.

    If I had to recommend just one book on autism spectrum disorders, this might be it...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Seeing Ezra: A Mother’s Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and the Meaning of Normal

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Kerry Cohen
    • Narrated By Jenna Berk
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Powerful and eye-opening, Seeing Ezra is an inspirational chronicle of a mother's struggle to protect her son from a system that seeks to compartmentalize and "fix" him, and of her journey toward accepting and valuing him for who he is - just as he is.

    Ullanta says: "Too bitter and angry for me."
    "Too bitter and angry for me."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am tempted to write some disclaimer about how everyone's experience differs and that one shouldn't judge the emotions and responses of others in difficult situations. But... then I think about this mother describing a scene where she she brings her newborn baby on a picnic in the course of an extramarital affair, where she drinks while nursing (descussing how she thinks the baby might be getting "a little tipsy, too"), then gets into the car with the baby and goes for a drive while "a little tipsy." This woman prejudges every medical or therapeutic professional she interacts with to the point that there's no chance that anything could possibly meet with success. But most problematically for me, reading this book has such a sense of anger, bitterness, and recklessness that it leaves me feeling grimy. I can't find the narrator at all likeable. I've read many similar books, with parents trying all sorts of things to help their children, from traditional medical approaches to rejecting such and diving deep into the child's world, but this is the only one where I ever felt that the parent's motivation was more about herself than about the child. Right before this I read "Bad Animals", which also had a narrator whose behavior and attitudes occasionally gave pause, but was somewhat likeable, very informative, and clearly motivated first and foremost by love for his child. Where other books have a good amount of "confessional" nature, with parents reflecting on the less-than-perfect actions they have taken in a regretful way, this one misses that regret, and seems to be actively flaunting bad behavior and dismissive of anyone's (especially the readers) concerns. Where the author claims to be saying to the world, "this is my son, accept him as he is", this book reads like a bratty teenager saying "this is me, accept me as I am".

    But, heck, it's someone's experience. Maybe the reader made things seem worse than they would in writing. as sometimes happens. I think it's sad that there are people that are like the narrator APPEARS. Her attribution of bad intent to almost everyone who interacts with her son denies him a great deal of community and goodwill. It makes her, too, isolated. It seems to take away her joy in mothering, which is pretty much absent in this book, and must make her son feel that much leerier of social interactions. So, as one of many autism-parent-books, I think maybe it's OK for a different mental attitude (of the narrator, not towards autism)... but I could not recommend it as the ONLY book to read on the subject.

    The author repeatedly comes back to the regret of having said a perfunctory "thank you" to people she didn't believe deserved her thanks. She opens by expressing her continually held rage at the person who first suggested that her son might be autistic. To avoid regrets such as the former, and to celebrate the latter, who could not leave something so important unsaid, I feel I should say this: Having been through the many, repetitive, and exhausting evaluations and tests and visits and such, with numerous organizations, I can say that I've never encountered anyone as cold and cruel as EVERYONE that Kerry Cohen describes. I'm not saying that there might not be a few bad apples, but the fact that she finds them so overwhelmingly cruel and uncaring says more about Cohen's prejudgement than about the process. This is a hard and often heartbreaking job, generally not very well-paid (especially when in the public sector). The people want to help. They may be biased towards an approach that they are familiar with, and especially which they feel they have had success with. It doesn't mean that they "value their theories more than the child". In general, these are warm people trying to help as best they can. Certainly we've all had times when we didn't think that a suggested approach or therapy was a good fit for our own situation, but we usually understand that it's just a mismatch, not cruelty or incompetence on the part of the "other."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Murder in the Yoga Store: The True Story of the Lululemon Killing

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Peter Ross Range
    • Narrated By Jesse Einstein
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (506)
    Performance
    (443)
    Story
    (444)

    Murder In The Yoga Store is the true story of the brutal killing of a beautiful young woman at a chic Lululemon yoga-wear shop. The grisly murder was committed on a pleasant Friday night in upscale Bethesda, Maryland, a leafy suburb of Washington, D.C. In this riveting narrative by veteran journalist Peter Ross Range, the author for the first time brings together the tale of what really happened in the yoga store murder.

    Ullanta says: "Straightforward, and, in the end, unnecessary."
    "Straightforward, and, in the end, unnecessary."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not sure why I decided to listen to this - I'm too susceptible to late night Daily Deal emails. This is a more-or-less straightforward telling of the investigation of a horrific crime. It's a strange length - not long enough to be really detailed about anything, and with no deep investigation or analysis beyond what one could garner from some quick web-browsing. The additional detail that IS there is kind of strange - long and stereotyped descriptions of Bathesda, of Apple as a soulless hawker of "baubles" (though one can later understand why someone might might misplace some anger towards Apple), and other such generalities. But where there seems to be opportunity to explore the personalities involved more deeply, we get very little. So... if you really want to hear about this crime, and haven't read anything else (even brief news reports) about it, it's OK to listen to while running or washing the dishes. But five minutes on the web will get you at least as much satisfaction and sense of what happened.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: The Incas: Inside an American Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Terence N. D'Altroy
    • Narrated By Terence N. D'Altroy
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (32)

    The story of the Incas is a powerful one, and their legacy remains a potent influence in the Andes of South America. In this insightful lecture series, Columbia University professor Terence D'Altroy focuses on Inca life at the height of the empire, the society's origins, its military, religion, ruling structure, and finally, the Inca legacy today.

    Ullanta says: "Interesting, comprehensive intro to the Incas"
    "Interesting, comprehensive intro to the Incas"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is pretty well-written, well-researched, and comprehensive; as written a great introduction to the Incas with just enough scholarly discussion of reliability and ambiguity of the numerous source materials. Both "traditional" and modern scholarship on the Incas are well-represented. Overall, I'd highly recommend this to anyone wanting to learn about the Incas, for anyone who wants to brush up, or for Andeanists who might be familiar with all this, but still find having it whispered in their ear comforting.

    The recording itself has various problems, such as repeated sections, but nothing too terrible. The reading is not bad, but seems a bit like the recording process was rushed and a little uncomfortable for Dr. D'Altroy. The pronunciation of Quechua words is surprisingly horrible for someone who spent years doing fieldwork in central Perú.

    So... give it a listen! If you have knowledge of Quechua just laugh a bit; if you don't, please don't use this as a reference for its pronunciation!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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