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Orillia, ON, Canada
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  • 171
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  • 413
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  • Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets

  • An Audible Original
  • By: John Woolf, Nick Baker
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13,583
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,504
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12,453

On the surface, the Victorian age is one of propriety, industry, prudishness and piety. But scratch the surface and you’ll find scandal, sadism, sex, madness, malice and murder. Presented by Stephen Fry, this series delves deep into a period of time we think we know, to discover an altogether darker reality. The stories we’re told offer a different perspective on an era which underwent massive social change. As education, trade, technology and culture blossomed, why was there an undercurrent of the ‘forbidden’ festering beneath Victorian society? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Part history lesson, part audio documentary.

  • By brian on 11-01-18

Interesting but difficult to hear

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

Reviewed: 11-29-18

The background noise (echoes, background chatter, music) made it very difficult to hear the narrators in this work. The material was interesting enough, but the distraction made the book a frustrating read. I finished it, but struggled through most of it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

  • By: Kelli Estes
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,474
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,162
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,165

Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core - and force her to make an impossible choice.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very intriguing

  • By Claudine on 12-04-15

A Whimsical Story

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

Reviewed: 11-06-18

If this book is somewhat predictable, it is well written and engaging. It weaves the history of the treatment of Chinese people in Seattle during the late 19th century into an interesting contemporary story of intrigue and romance. It's a story of prejudice that needs to be told in a context of love and healing.

  • The Tuscan Child

  • By: Rhys Bowen
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble, Katy Sobey
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,155
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,753
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,736

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal. Nearly 30 years later, Hugo's estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father's funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Knocked this one out of the park

  • By Anne on 02-22-18

Gripping

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

Reviewed: 09-16-18

It's difficult to balance a story that is told between two generations, and Rhys Bowen does exactly that! Her descriptions are both lyrical, and reflect the perspective of the two "voices" that tell the story. There are times when the female voice is soft - and difficult to hear, but overall, it is well narrated and a beautiful story.

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls

  • By: Gary A. Rendsburg, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Gary A. Rendsburg
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 744
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 662
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 657

Whether complete or only fragmentary, the 930 extant Dead Sea Scrolls irrevocably altered how we look at and understand the foundations of faith and religious practice. Now you can get a comprehensive introduction to this unique series of archaeological documents, and to scholars' evolving understanding of their authorship and significance, with these 24 lectures. Learn what the scrolls are, what they contain, and how the insights they offered into religious and ancient history came into focus.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Deep dive into one of the most intriguing subjects

  • By Luís on 11-15-14

Fascinating and Thorough

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

Reviewed: 08-04-18

If you're looking for some kind of conspiracy theory about how the Dead Sea Scrolls have cast doubt on traditional theologies, this is not your book. What this book does deliver is factual information that is coloured by interesting contextual details and an atmosphere that is almost like worship. The delivery is in traditional academic style (which can be off-putting to some) but is tempered with a warmth that I did not expect from this work.

I found this book interesting as well as inspiring. It makes me want to know more!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Being Mortal

  • Medicine and What Matters in the End
  • By: Atul Gawande
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8,167
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,171
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,158

In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Required Reading!

  • By Jeffrey on 10-13-14

Missing some important information

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

Reviewed: 06-18-18

This is a book with very mixed messages. On one hand, the author (a surgeon) admits that the medical model doesn't give the entire picture of what is needed to constitute health in an industrial society. You can ask any first year nursing student, and you will hear this echoed in what they will have drilled into their heads for the next however many years of education they will need to prepare themselves for their roles.

The author points out that the medical model has dominated hospital and nursing home practices and that it has ignored the needs of the individuals who are receiving care. Again, this is no surprise to nurses - starting from their first years of education and lasting to their retirement (or resignation in frustration). What it overlooks is that doctors do not have any more training in that aspect of education that would better prepare them for their roles as end of life shepherds. Many try to make hospice decisions based on team assessment of patient/clients and many continue to assert their superiority and brush off the observations of other staff who accompany the patient/client for many more hours than the physician could possibly devote.

Finally, the whole book is founded on a very flawed premise. (Remember this is a surgeon, not an epidemiologist) "Life expectancy" of 30 years of age does not mean that at 31 you would expect to check in to the local morgue! Let's imagine a small city from the late 19th century and say that 500 people were born in one particular year. Of those, let's say that 15% die before they are 10 because they couldn't be immunized for common diseases like diphtheria and measles. Of those who survive, let's say that 20% live to their mid 20's when child birth, industrial accidents, wars, etc. would cause them to die. Remember, there are still other illnesses like influenza that can also cause young adults to die. Another 10% die by the time they are 35. Again, wars, accidents, illness could have taken them. By 45 years of age, another 20% die of disease, accidents and now some of the diseases could include tuberculosis, cancers, heart problems related to the rheumatic fever they had as children because they had untreated strep infections. If another 15% live to 65 before dying (again cancers, heart problems. TB and others), you would have about 20% surviving to their 70s, 80s and 90s. The life expectancy for that year of birth in that location would then be about 45 years. To say that age is an anomaly is simply not true! One expert has said that the single most significant factor for increased life expectancy is the ability to survive the first 10 years of life! Children grew up knowing old people and watching them age and die but were more familiar with children who were their own ages dying!

I appreciate that this author records his journey and his discovery about the essence of good patient/client care. I appreciate that it was personally and professionally arduous. I appreciate his honesty in discussing how difficult it has been to incorporate his knowledge into his practice. It just falls a bit flat with me . . . it would be like "discovering" that, if you turn the tap on a sink, water will flow out! It was there all the time - but no one has taken the time needed to educate him. The tragedy is the way that people have suffered (as do their families) and will continue to suffer because health care providers can not or will not guide them to make choices based on the patient/client's own value systems.

  • Food: A Cultural Culinary History

  • By: Ken Albala, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Ken Albala
  • Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,006
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,711
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,681

Eating is an indispensable human activity. As a result, whether we realize it or not, the drive to obtain food has been a major catalyst across all of history, from prehistoric times to the present. Epicure Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said it best: "Gastronomy governs the whole life of man."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of my top 3 favorite courses!

  • By Jessica on 12-28-13

Comprehensive and Fascinating

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

Reviewed: 04-29-18

Professor Albala maintains an amazing sense of wonder and awe as he takes his listeners through the history of food consumption, beginning in Eden and ending with contemporary eating habits. He maintains a great balance between a detailed and a pedantic approach with unbridled enthusiasm and humour. I loved this series, and was sorry to see it end!

  • The Fact of a Body

  • A Murder and a Memoir
  • By: Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
  • Narrated by: Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
  • Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 663
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 617
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 615

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley's face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes - the moment she hears him speak of his crimes - she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Memoir of Molestation

  • By Margaret on 05-22-17

Brilliant

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

Reviewed: 04-14-18

This book was written with the thoroughness of a researcher and the heart of an abuse survivor. Marzano-Lesnevich is a brilliant wordsmith, a careful fact-finder and an almost clinical detachment that lets her view the facts about the killer's history and portray him in a context. It wasn't intended as an answer to questions about child abuse - but rather an array of factors that make it possible.

I was gripped by this book and mildly disappointed when it was done. She tied up many loose ends in the story - but eradicating the causes of the tragedy of this book is a work that is yet to begin.

Thank you for an honest look at the details of this case - as well as a glimpse of the factors that might have prevented it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins

  • By: Anne Curzan, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Anne Curzan
  • Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 870
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 789
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 779

From new words such as "bling" and "email" to the role of text messaging and other electronic communications, English is changing all around us. Discover the secrets behind the words in our everyday lexicon with this delightful, informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber-communications. Professor Curzan approaches words like an archaeologist, digging below the surface to uncover the story of words, from the humble "she" to such SAT words as "conflagration" and "pedimanous."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Whole Nine Yards

  • By Dubi on 05-15-17

Interesting Journey into Language

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

Reviewed: 04-08-18

This book is both informative and entertaining. The Author's grasp of the subject is amazing and she gives the listener a glimpse into her passion for both English and the death and evolution of words. One drawback, however, is partly the source of her expertise. She lives in a heavily academic environment - populated by the upcoming users of the language. These students provide her with a great deal of her updated material. This is great. On the other hand, it also limits the scope of this work. She spends half a lecture talking about words that have to do with inebriation - but skims over words that have to do with disability. This is not meant as criticism, but simply to point out the parameters from which she draws much of her inspiration. This book was a genuine "page turner" and I was sad when it ended!

  • Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

  • By: Alan Cumming
  • Narrated by: Alan Cumming
  • Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,428
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,884
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,846

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father's Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Best Part of Saturday

  • By George Knight on 12-16-14

Riveting!

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

Reviewed: 09-02-17

I hesitate to listen to memoirs. They often reek of a lack of objectivity and perspective that make other biographical works more balanced and detached from the emotional baggage that inspires people to put pen to paper.

This book is amazing - not only in its ability to switch back and forth in time (a tricky exercise that many authors don't master) and maintain an interesting story thread, but in its love and compassion for the people who lived tormented lives. It's difficult to hear about the abuse that Alan Cumming suffered as a child - and it's amazing to "walk" with him in his journey to healing.

I have never seen any of this author's acting - this is my only contact with his life work. I am in awe and admiration for his skill in recounting his story and his magnanimity in processing what sounds like a very traumatic life story.

  • Language and Society: What Your Speech Says About You

  • By: Valerie Fridland, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Valerie Fridland
  • Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 87

In these 24 thought-provoking lectures, you'll investigate how social differences based on factors such as region, class, ethnicity, occupation, gender, and age are inseparable from language differences. Further, you'll explore how these linguistic differences arise, and how they both reflect and generate our social systems.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Like nails on a chalkboard

  • By R.B. on 04-08-15

Interesting material - difficult delivery

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

Reviewed: 08-31-17

The content of this book was interesting. There was a wide range between technical detail and practical items of interest. The delivery, however was difficult. The professor spoke in a rapid fire pace - with pause only for non sequitur - which she found hilarious - meaning she laughed for the first few words of the next sentence making those words difficult to understand - then resumed her rapid fire tempo again. I would have been quite satisfied with half the content at half the pace.