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James Reed McGhee II

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  • Shirley Jackson

  • A Rather Haunted Life
  • By: Ruth Franklin
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 19 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117

Known to millions mainly as the author of the "The Lottery", Shirley Jackson has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America more deeply than anyone. Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author of The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An incredible writer; a courageous woman

  • By Lesley on 10-08-16

I feel I really know her now!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-19

Ruth Franklin should be applauded for her thorough and insightful biography of Shirley Jackson. I knew Shirley Jackson as the author of the lottery, I saw the film The Haunting before I knew that Shirley Jackson was the author of the Haunting of Hill House.

Although Daphne du Maurier was not mentioned in this biography, I find that Jackson and du Maurier have a way of bringing the reader into the inner life of their female protagonists, and of drawing the reader into the protagonists’ struggle with the mysterious and unsettling nature of the mind, of the perception of reality and time, and the struggle between the individual and society, as well as between individuals, that these two authors are linked together in my mind.

Bernadette Dunne is an excellent narrator, her voice is clear and her pace and emphasis are precise and appropriate. I look forward to hearing her voice again on another audiobook very soon.

I look forward to reading the other works by Shirley Jackson mentioned in this biography. Literary criticism is not my cup of tea, so I will not be reading the work of Stanley Hyman anytime soon, but I thought the biographer provided the needed amount of detail about Hyman’s work, for us to understand the marital, intellectual and professional relationship between Jackson and her husband. Also it is clear that Hyman was a source of frustration and pain for Jackson, often demanding and uncaring, but also supportive of her and encouraging of her talent, as he was of Ralph Ellison and other writers whom he admired.

The author also paints a picture of Shirley Jackson as a woman who bucked convention, who was a woman ahead of her time; a mother, wife, career woman, a creative person, highly successful in creating true art, and in doing so with great productivity, so that she was also financially successful in her profession.

Finally, I have never before learned so much about the development of an author, and how an author develops his or her work, and pursues a career, in the face of personal and professional challenges. For all of this, I am grateful to Ruth Franklin for writing this biography of Shirley Jackson.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Babylon Berlin

  • Gereon Rath, Book 1
  • By: Volker Kutscher
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 18 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100

Berlin, 1929. Detective Inspector Rath was a successful career officer in the Cologne Homicide Division before a shooting incident in which he inadvertently killed a man. He has been transferred to the vice squad in Berlin, a job he detests even though he finds a new friend in his boss, Chief Inspector Wolter. There is seething unrest in the city, and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the vice squad to ruthlessly enforce the ban on May Day demonstrations.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • It's no Bernie Gunther Mystery ...

  • By Brian English on 01-28-18

One case in which a film is better than the book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-19-18

Having watched the serialized version of this book on Netflix, I will say this is one case in which the film is better than the book. Although the book is good, the film changes elements of the story, adding tension and more layers to the backstory and character of the protagonist, Gareon Rath, As well as the stenographer with dreams of being a detective, Charlotte Ritter. I don’t want to give any spoilers for the film version on Netflix but I highly recommend it. The Countess Sorokina plays a more major role in the film, and are some fantastic musical numbers and dance numbers in the film as well. Additionally, the Weimar era political situation and the liberalized mores of the time, encompassing drug use, homosexuality, and other elements, are woven into the fabric of the film masterfully. However the book was good on its own, and for viewers of the film, it provides an interesting counterpoint. The performance of the narrator is very strong. I have purchased the second book in the series by the same author and I’m looking forward to listening to it as well.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • 1917

  • Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder
  • By: Arthur Herman
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 16 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110

In this incisive, fast-paced history, New York Times best-selling author Arthur Herman brilliantly reveals how Lenin and Wilson rewrote the rules of modern geopolitics. Through the end of World War I, countries marched into war only to increase or protect their national interests. After World War I, countries began going to war over ideas. Together, Lenin and Wilson unleashed the disruptive ideologies that would sweep the world, from nationalism and globalism to Communism and terrorism, and that continue to shape our world today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Timely and fascinating book.

  • By Megan Tilly on 12-16-17

Reevaluating Wilson via Lenin; A daring contrast

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-18-18

The author has a well reasoned argument. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Idealism without objectivity, openness to the ideas of others, and the ability to share, can lead to disaster.
The author still holds with the notion that if we learn from history, we may not be condemned to repeat old mistakes. It is revealing that one of his final quotes comes from Henry Kissinger, one of the great practitioners of Realpolitik in modern times.
While the author concludes with allusions to Donald Trump, and addresses the issue of Americas leadership role in the world, I was surprised that he did not mention the parallel between Lenin’s demagoguery and Trump’s, and the disaster that is almost inevitable when people are divided by their leaders in this way.
This book raises many questions and was very thoughtful about the way leaders respond to events and how they take advantage of, or lose opportunities.
Ultimately, as members of a democracy, I feel that we the people should not allow our leaders to lead us in ways with which we do not agree. Wilson did have a idealistic, but democratic notion, in having a “spot election” of Senators, based upon their vote on his league of Nations concept. I think, had it been possible, Wilson would have been surprised and disappointed with the result of such "spot elections".
However, unless we change our constitution, and take advantage of technology, to make law and direct policy by referendum, in a quick and secure fashion, instead of by representative government, we will NOT be running this nation by referendum, so we must put pressure on our leaders to TRULY represent us, to do OUR will, not their will.

  • Churchill

  • By: The Great Courses, J. Rufus Fears
  • Narrated by: J. Rufus Fears
  • Length: 6 hrs and 15 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 735
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 669
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 664

In these 12 inspiring lectures, Professor Fears presents a well-balanced portrait of Churchill that does not whitewash his flaws. Yet he also draws on the most recent historical scholarship and material from Churchill's writings and speeches to make the case that Churchill belongs with Pericles of Athens and Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest statesmen in the history of democracy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Churchill

  • By Francisco on 07-12-13

Churchill, champion of liberty

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-17

I have enjoyed Churchill's autobiography in audio book form, before listening to this series of lectures. I am sure Professor Fears drew greatly from that source material, and he mentions at the end of the lecture books by colleagues that gave a new analysis of Churchill's life, that scourged Churchill and considered him a failure. That was a bold move but also appreciated, because it gives the reader a chance to explore alternate points of view.
Fears starts the lecture by giving us a history of Churchill's ancestors, then he proceeds to provide for us not just the facts of Churchill's life, but how his character was formed, how it emerged, and how Churchill through both successes and failures demonstrated that he was a champion of liberty not just for the people of England but for the people of the world. I think Fears does a good job supporting his argument, even going so far as to then take the contrary position, to see if that position could be proved, the Churchill was a failure.
The lectures are slightly dated, and new history has come to light. For example, at the time the lectures were written, the U.K. was part of the European Union. Fears says that Churchill would have liked to have seen the UK as part of that union, what would he have thought about the UK stepping back out of the union?
It would've been interesting to hear Professor Fears explore the hard and tragic decision Churchill made, to attack the French fleet in the Mediterranean, to keep it from falling into the hands of the Germans.
Also to consider the question of whether the British knew that Coventry was going to be bombed and let it happen in order to keep the Germans from knowing that the Allies had access to the Germans code.
Fears is a very good lecturer, if not an outstanding one, but I do believe this great course is worth enjoying. I thank professor Fears for championing Churchill as it historical figure worth knowing about, A person from home we can learn lessons that we can apply to our own lives. And two of those great lessons are: "Stand up and fight for what you believe in" and "Never give up."

  • Christine Jorgensen

  • A Personal Autobiography
  • By: Christine Jorgensen
  • Narrated by: Heather Henderson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

In 1951 George Jorgensen, an American man of 26, left for Denmark and returned a year later as the first world-renowned transsexual, Christine Jorgensen. In her own personable style, Jorgensen offers a firsthand account of her ground-breaking life. "Nature made a mistake," she wrote, "which I have corrected."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Original, Timeless Transsexual Autobiography

  • By Susie on 01-03-13

Normal except for this one aspect of her life :-)

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-29-17

This is not a sensationalistic story, it is an honest autobiography from a person who turns out to be strikingly "normal" except for the accident of her birth as something other than she felt herself inside, to be... Christine's early journey and unhappy life as George Jorgenson touch me deeply. I was intrigued to learn how George persevered, doing his own research, and then getting help from American doctors, before setting out for Denmark to work with researchers, to get complete professional help with her transition. Further details and information about the transsexual person, are clearly presented for the reader. I think this autobiography clearly shows how well Christine Jorgenson knew herself. I was gratified to learn of the compassionate treatment she received, not only from her doctors, but from so many friends, and from her family. Unfortunately, many in the media we're not so friendly, they were exploitative, but some did give her story fair and balanced reporting. And once she embarked upon a career in entertainment, it appears that critics gave her a chance to show what she was capable of doing. It is striking that she became a person who was comfortable in her own skin and able to win over often curious and skeptical audiences in a well received night club act, and in her appearances in summer stock theater.. It is striking that as a society in the United States we have not come nearly as far as we should, such that some politicians and individuals still have such difficulty accepting people different than themselves, and according them equal treatment under the law. Although much time has passed, this autobiography is still important reading so that we understand the struggles of individuals of all kinds to be loved and excepted just as they are

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Ubik

  • By: Philip K. Dick
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,945
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,648
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,647

Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business - deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in "half-life," a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter's face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great performance of an SF classic

  • By Steve on 07-10-16

Full of wild ideas, always entertaining

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-02-17

Like a lot of Philip K Dick novels, the seeds are here for an even better story. PKD is very imaginative, but often it feels as if he is writing a story at one sitting, with no editing or reworking of the material. In the case of this story we are introduced to our hero, Joe Chip, in a comic fashion. Joe lives in a high tech apartment in which he cannot access his refrigerator or even open his front door unless he has the money to do so, and he is broke so he is trapped. It is not really explained why Joe is bad with money, whether he has a gambling problem or a drug problem, he just seems basically irresponsible, and the rest of his character is not fleshed out much in the opening episode, or even in following episodes. Dick presents a fascinating concept, of a future in which there are people who have psychic powers, and others who have the ability to negate those powers of telepathy or future prediction (the "Pre-cog" ability that PKD uses as a plot vehicle in his novel "Minority Report", but in this case pre-cogs are not comatose, floating in a bath, they are regular people with future predicting abilities.) there is some fake reference as to how people with such abilities could be used by industry etc. However, how this would play out in politics or in economics, it is not really developed in detail. We also learn that there are rival agencies that find and supply such psychics to the world ... and the plot takes off. We are introduced to the head of such an agency, whose near-dead wife is being held in a state of suspended animation, in which she and other "half lifes" - near-dead people that still have a remnant of cerebral activity - can still be communicated with through a special technology. In an approach by Dick reminiscent of the Kafka-esque existential confusion in his novel "Through a Scanner Darkly", Joe Chip and his psi-talented colleagues soon find themselves wondering if they are alive or dead, and if the reality that they are experiencing is the "true" reality, or one of their own invention, or whether they are living inside a reality invented by someone else. PKD marriage just tire thing together in the end in a way that is semi satisfying. I am a fan, so I always forgive PKD for his limitations, because his imagination and sense of humor make up for The flaws in his work. If you or a fan of PKD, you will probably enjoy this novel. If you are new to PKD I would recommend you read "Minority Report" and "Through a Scanner Darkly" first.The narrator Jeff Daniels does a good job, working with difficult material, producing a variety of interesting voices,so overall it is an enjoyable listen.

  • The Goldfinch

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: David Pittu
  • Length: 32 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,912
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,488
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24,512

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow

  • By j phillips on 05-28-17

Goldfinch - a Modern Copperfield?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-21-17

I was quickly drawn into this tale, not knowing what to expect. The city of New York, art and artists, fine old things, obsession, intoxication, escape, friendship, loyalty and betrayal are among the themes explored. The author conveys her passion for these topics, which serve as a backdrop and thematic underpinning for the story. A young boy suffers a tragic life-changing event, and a variety of characters influence him and help shape his worldview. The author uses description, dialogue, setting, foreshadowing and historical parallels in a masterful way. Echoes of Proust and Dostoevsky are heard, but at the end I felt the character was like a modern David Copperfield. However, where Copperfield and Dickens conclude with sweeter, more life-affirming observations about life, the author, through Theo, draws conclusions which felt were ... ungrateful. Despite the challenges Theo met, he also met people, however flawed, who loved him and did their best for him. In the end, he seems not to value them as much as he does art. And to me, art, like the Goldfinch, is only a medium by which humans communicate and connect. What is truly priceless is not the art, which while beautiful may be lost, destroyed or may fade away. The love humans share, through art... this is priceless. My daughter told me this book was her friend's favorite. Discussing this book with my daughter... reflecting on its ideas and merits... and revisiting the work of various artists and authors mentioned in the book... this will be the great gift, to me, of this book. So I applaud Donna Tartt for a book that was an exciting adventure, a LS well as a font of fascinating ideas. I must also commend the narrator, one IV the best I have heard yet, who can speak in accents, and as any gender, age, or kind of character. Pittou is superb!

  • Maisie Dobbs

  • By: Jacqueline Winspear
  • Narrated by: Rita Barrington
  • Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,526
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,638
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,632

Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence - and the patronage of her benevolent employers - she works her way into college at Cambridge. After the War I and her service as a nurse, Maisie hangs out her shingle back at home: M. DOBBS, TRADE AND PERSONAL INVESTIGATIONS. But her very first assignment soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A delightful discovery

  • By Lori on 08-07-09

Maisie is my cup of tea

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-21-17

I enjoy mystery stories with rich Historical settings, and strong female leads. Maisie Dobbs has all of these elements. The author also deftly moves back-and-forth between pre-war, World War I, and post war settings, for us to learn the character's backstory, as well as for us to understand the Historical and Socio -political aspects affecting the story. Psychology, emotions, and spiritual development are strong elements in this book. This is a good mystery but it is much more. I strongly recommend Maisie Dobbs.

  • Some Danger Involved

  • Barker & Llewelyn Series, Book 1
  • By: Will Thomas
  • Narrated by: Antony Ferguson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,966
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,748
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,738

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar in London's Jewish ghetto. When the eccentric and enigmatic Barker takes the case, he must hire an assistant, and out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved", he chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man with a murky past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Clever writing!

  • By Kathi on 01-13-17

Historical fiction that educates is a good thing

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-14-17

Without giving too much away, there are elements of this story which help us gain perspective on many issues in today's world, including immigration, religion, and prejudice. However these elements are blended in skillfully and in an engaging fashion, there is no out-of-place or stilted exposition, nor is there an over-didactic tone. The main characters are ones I'd like to know more about, and the supporting characters at colorful and fun. I will be reading more from this author. Kudos to the reader, who skillfully navigates the tones of emotion as well as various genders, dialects, ethnic groups and age groups.

  • The Addictive Brain

  • By: Thad A. Polk, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Thad A. Polk
  • Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,672
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,356
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,336

The Addictive Brain is a fair and balanced investigation of addiction, backed by hard science and behavioral science. Most of us have probably seen the old antidrug commercial in which an actor compares your brain on drugs to an egg sizzling in a hot frying pan. That's a powerful image, but it doesn't tell us what actually happens when drugs enter your body and interact with neurochemical processes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very interesting and in depth

  • By Matthew Bukovicky on 04-27-15

Just enough science, lots of great information.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-17-17

The professor is a fine narrator, and he presents the topic very carefully methodically and in an organized fashion. Even for people who think they know a lot about the topic, plenty of good information is provided for the Lehman and probably for the scientist as well.