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Margaret

Santa Rosa, California, United States
  • 14
  • reviews
  • 149
  • helpful votes
  • 92
  • ratings
  • Delusions of Gender

  • How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference
  • By: Cordelia Fine
  • Narrated by: Maria Brendel
  • Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 313
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 280
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275

It's the 21st century, and although we tried to rear unisex children - boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks - we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it. And everywhere we hear about vitally important "hardwired" differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is a validation of the status quo.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gender differences are exaggerated

  • By Neuron on 03-24-16

Great content, poor narration

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

Reviewed: 10-08-16

This book was hard to listen to because of the sarcastic tone of the narrator. The subject & content do deserve that outraged attitude, but that should be on the part of the listener. We will get it - you don't need to signal us via the narrator's tone.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Anna Karenina

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Length: 35 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,577
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,327
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,309

Leo Tolstoy's classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not to be rushed but to be savored

  • By J. Stirling on 08-02-16

Can't agree about Gyllenhaal

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-16

Wow! I hate to argue with sincere and informative reviews. I've always enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal as an actor and bought this book the day it was available. I expected and wanted to love it! And yet, partly because of the terribly outdated translation (1910), but mostly because of Gyllenhaal's pronunciation and diction, I just couldn't. Likely I didn't notice this in her acting since I've only seen her play a modern American and, let's face it, we don't speak very well. But for Tolstoy? No.

As a *performance*, only in terms of acting a character or emotion, Gyllenhaal's was good. She used variety and tone that gave distinctive life to characters and scenes very well (by no means consistently, though). That wasn't the problem. However, I wondered what the producer was thinking when s/he let her mispronounce words like "insuperable" and "appurtenances". Gyllenhaal didn't use the posh but universal (for that class and time) British and European Ma-MA and Pa-PA, but rather the Americanisms "Momma" and "Poppa" instead. In fact, Gyllenhaal was allowed to use a sloppy accent throughout: wanna, gunna, whaddaya, and so on.

Then there was her hard-to-describe treatment of certain syllables--I'm no linguist, but I'm sure there's a word for it--a swallowing of letters that ought to be distinct. This is an awful example, but I didn't take notes and can't think of a better one right now: not "EN-glish", with emphasis on the first syllable, but the "g" distinctly pronounced to start the second; but rather "Eng-LISH", without really emphasizing either syllable and almost dropping the "g". Almost "ehh-lish" with something like a glottal stop where the "ng" should be. Since I can't think of a better example, I suppose there can't have been much of this, but it was certainly distracting and annoying when it did happen.

Finally! This is Gyllenhaal's constant and very marked substitution of "d" for "t" in the middle of words: beaudy, udderly, fiddingly, etc. (And Tolstoy uses "utterly" a *lot*.) Worst of all, though, distracting to the point of hilarity, is giving the "young princess" Cherbetskaya a new nickname: '"Kiddy," he said tenderly...' !

Yes, over and over again, in what are meant to be some of the most moving and heartfelt passages of the book in particular, it's not "Kitty" but Kiddy, Kiddy, Kiddy! And very noticeably at that. Surprising at first ("Surely I've misheard?"--this before I'd noticed the substitution everywhere), then hilarious, then tiresome, and finally just horribly distracting.

I didn't *look* for these examples, you see. At first, I was determined to ignore them. I'd take off my earbuds or turn off the player (the problems are more noticeable with earbuds, but that's how I have to listen at night), and when I started to listen again it would be long enough that I'd have forgotten, at first. Not for long! Then I'd tell myself not to notice, let alone listen for, the "issues". That didn't work either, since the problem is so very distracting.

Every audiobook listener knows what that's like: you're happily in the middle of a wonderful experience, perhaps in another time and place, and suddenly, thwoosh! You're jerked away from the book, *distracted* from that marvellous submersion into elsewhere, other-than. It's the worst that can happen.

And that's how it was with Maggie Gyllenhaal and me. She was distracting. She ruined the mood. Sometimes I *could* forget: in the last chapters; during some of Anna's struggles with her husband. But suddenly, without warning, would come a Kiddy, or a "whaddawe gunna do", and the precious mood was destroyed. Again.

I can overlook this a time or two when rating an audiobook. I'm not insistent on a British accent for the European classics. I prefer an American accent to a phony British one.; I expected Gyllenhaal to speak American English. I also expected her not to mispronounce words which, if not exactly common, aren't arcana, either. They can be sounded out a time or two, if they are unfamiliar. There I blame the producer, though. These folks are paid to catch mispronunciations and to correct them. That could've been done with the dropped or slid-together letters as well. It would've been difficult to correct Gyllenhaal's entire accent, however; once she was hired, I suppose the "whaddaya"s and so forth had to stay... as well as the "beaudy"s And "udderly"s.

But Kiddy! True, drawing Gyllenhaal's attention to that alone would've alerted her to all the substitutions of "d" for "t" and possibly made her self-conscious. But she was so motivated, according to the comments she wrote for Audible! She truly seems to have wanted to do a good job--and she did!--as far as the *acting* goes.

Sadly, that's not enough--neither doing fine work acting while sounding like a gum-chewing waitress of the worst caricature in first-quarter drama, nor wanting to do a great job with your favorite book while ignoring everything but the acting. Don't drama schools teach diction and accents any more? I'm sure they do, so did Gyllenhaal go? I've never considered that important. I may rethink my position.

Ah well: bring on the "not helpful"s or just ignore me. I almost never write good reviews because when I love a book I can't explain why, so most of my (couple of book) reviews are negative, but for trivial reasons. Not this time! I expected so much, and to be derailed by such a seemingly little thing.

67 of 93 people found this review helpful

  • Jane Eyre

  • By: Charlotte Brontë
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 19 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,408
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,166
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,182

The work tells the story of Jane's early life, her experience at Lowood School and as a governess. Her refusal to accept Rochester's love on any but her own strictly moral terms is a passionate cry for independence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb narration of a great romantic classic

  • By Jane on 08-30-12

Excellent performance of a beloved classic

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

Reviewed: 04-10-16

I must've read Jane Eyre at least 15 times between the ages of 7 and 67, but never heard it as an audiobook -- never dared. Never having been satisfied with any dramatisation, I always thought that I would do best to keep the voices to myself as well. But Juliet Stevenson does such a good job as reader that for the very first time I actually cried at a point or two, though I could never understand why on earth some of the book's first readers (e.g. Thackeray) said they had. So I'm grateful to have experienced this much loved book freshly, as it were -- not portrayed by actors who don't fit the part, and pruned and altered for the screen, but read in full by one of my favourite Audible narrators, Ms. Stevenson. Brava!

  • A Man of Some Repute

  • A Very English Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Elizabeth Edmondson
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 8 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,451
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,122
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,113

Selchester Castle in 1953 sits quiet and near-empty, its corridors echoing with glories of the past. Or so it seems to intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth, wounded on a secret mission and now reluctantly assuming an altogether less perilous role at Selchester.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Pretty good "pseudo" golden age mystery

  • By Jerri C on 10-18-15

Amusing cozy mystery with a twist

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

Reviewed: 09-01-15

This book would be a traditional cozy mystery, set in an English village in 1953, except for the twist that it's also a spy novel. The characters are well drawn, if stereotypical; the dialogue is sharp, and there's just enough of a cliffhanger--or maybe two--to hint at a satisfying series to come. I recommend this for cozy fans who are getting a bit tired of the standard whodunit murder puzzle.

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • The Butcher

  • By: Jennifer Hillier
  • Narrated by: Dan John Miller
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 74

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Entirely Unique, Entirely Unbelievable

  • By Charles Atkinson on 08-03-14

The Butcher: lame

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

Reviewed: 08-30-15

I listened to this book and from that aspect the writing was basically okay: workmanlike grammar, vocabulary, and so on. The performance by Dan John Miller was also okay, although he still needs to work on his female voices. The problem was with the plot (repetitious and bizarre) and the characters (wooden and unbelievable). I almost needed to take notes to keep the characters straight: x loves y since they were both young but neither realizes it; z also loves y since they were both young and introduced her to her current boyfriend but regrets it...I can't remember which one she winds up with. The serial killer/psychopath strand is just ridiculous; seems to get more then less gory for no particular reason. The concept that the police chief of Seattle is a serial killer is unlikely to say the least (this isn't a spoiler as it's in the book description). Also that he's raped and impregnated a couple of girls who are his victims, one of whom knows she has a shady background and the other of whom knows nothing about it, nor do the readers except we can see it coming from about a billion miles away. The motivation for various killings, the totally unlikely m.o., and then the laughable ending. I also have this writer's Creep and Freak but am no longer psyched about reading them.

  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

  • A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
  • By: Anne Fadiman
  • Narrated by: Pamela Xiong
  • Length: 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 843
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 753
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 747

When three-month-old Lia Lee arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good audiobook but narrator struggles with basic pronunciation

  • By Kate on 06-04-15

Important story, terrible narrator, weird choice

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

Reviewed: 07-17-15


I read this book when it was first published in the 1990s; I was glad to read it again as an audiobook and especially appreciated the afterword and update on the characters, institutions, and (having later lived in Minneapolis-St.Paul and been exposed to a vital postmillenial Hmong population) cultures/people.

HOWEVER, like every other reviewer, I was disappointed and annoyed by the narrator. Perhaps Pamela Xiong is Hmong herself; she certainly seemed to be doing an excellent job of pronouncing Hmong words. But her pronunciation of English words was so bad as to be distracting. Worse than that, though, was the choice of an Asian, Hmong-culturally familiar reader. The whole point of the book is cross-cultural understanding and misunderstanding and it is written in the first person by Anne Fadiman, who is a white, utterly assimilated American who knows nothing about the Hmong to start with, when the original story was commissioned as a New Yorker article! To choose an Asian reader is just bizarre--it's like having Pride and Prejudice narrated by Mr Darcy (that is, by a British male such as Simon Vance) when the whole point of *that* book is the misunderstandings that arise between male and female and anyway, even though it isn't in first person, it's obviously written from the POV of Elizabeth.

This weird, inexplicable choice grated on me throughout. When Ms Xiong would say "I" did this or that which reflected unfamiliarity and learning about the Hmong, I almost laughed! Talk about distracting--puzzling over this choice was as bad as the mispronounciations. The only advantage of this narrator was her apparently correct usage of Hmong--which Anne Fadiman didn't have at all when she started to write, and doesn't have as a native speaker now.

Anyway, this is the worst and most glaring example of a choice of reader I've ever encountered on Audible. I still don't know who Pamela Xiong is, but she has a pleasant voice and, with a competent editor, could read any number of titles. She doesn't even have to be typecast to read Asian books. But this choice was wrong, wrong, WRONG for her and badly edited too.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Carrier

  • By: Sophie Hannah
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Sastre
  • Length: 15 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 27

When her plane is delayed overnight, Gaby Struthers finds herself forced to share a hotel room with a stranger: a terrified young woman named Lauren Cookson - but why is she scared of Gaby in particular? Lauren won't explain. Instead, she blurts out something about an innocent man going to prison for a murder he didn't commit, and Gaby soon suspects that Lauren's presence on her flight can't be a coincidence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sophie Hannah, always interesting

  • By Margaret on 04-15-15

Sophie Hannah, always interesting

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

Reviewed: 04-15-15

The plot here was ridiculous, as Hannah's plots are getting to be. The Spilling police are becoming more of a joke than ever. Actually, this was almost a stand-alone book since the cops had so little to do with it. Liv and Briggs are still in their unlikely involvement, while Simon and Charlie's marriage is as inexplicable as ever. Yet I found this a thoroughly enjoyable book for some reason. Hannah just has that gift of creating interesting characters and putting them in situations where you are compelled to find out what happens. Maybe it is because it's all so absurd, but a Sophie Hannah "thriller" (hah) really is always worth reading.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Below Stairs

  • The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired 'Upstairs, Downstairs' and 'Downton Abbey'
  • By: Margaret Powell
  • Narrated by: Mary Wells
  • Length: 5 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 343
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 301
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 307

Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, Margaret Powell’s classic memoir of her time in service, Below Stairs, is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high. Powell first arrived at the servants' entrance of one of those great houses in the 1920s. As a kitchen maid - the lowest of the low - she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and bootlaces to be ironed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cooking and cleaning before the modern stoves etc

  • By Jean on 07-07-13

Still fresh look at "Downstairs"

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

Reviewed: 03-08-15

I had to laugh when this memoir was described as "for fans of Downton Abbey" and suchlike. Margaret Langley, who was born in 1907 and wrote this in 1968, was a bright girl who couldn't afford to take up her scholarship at higher school, had to go to work at 14 instead. Her only choice was domestic service and she didn't like it or her "Upstairs" employers. There was no socializing between classes and very little liking or respect, contrary to the books and TV shows. Margaret became a cook, the highest she could rise in service, and still was at the mercy of demanding skinflint employers. The book is full of anecdotes, some of which made me LOL. Margaret continued to read, to the surprise of even her nicest mistress (and she has sharp words for that too), and by the end of the book is close to her A levels, as the British gates to higher (university) education were called then, which she's proud of reaching in her 60s. And yet she managed to enjoy life, to achieve her aim of marriage and escape from service outside the home until the WW II. She maintained a proud, openly feminist attitude toward her place in the class system but had the realism to know it wasn't likely to change, although she expected things to go on improving. I wonder if she saw Margaret Thatcher bulldoze many of the advances that had occurred. This book is funny and smart, but don't expect the rosy sentiments of shows like "Downton Abbey" even though you may enjoy this even more. Good performance too.

  • The Captured

  • A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier
  • By: Scott Zesch
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 437
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 310
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 315

On New Year's Day in 1870, 10-year-old Adolph Korn was kidnapped by an Apache raiding party. Traded to Comanches, he thrived in the rough, nomadic existence, quickly becoming one of the tribe's fiercest warriors. Forcibly returned to his parents after three years, Korn never adjusted to life in white society. He spent his last years living in a cave, all but forgotten by his family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Kidnapped - 10 Year Old Adolpy Korn

  • By Roy on 09-08-10

Surprising

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

Reviewed: 03-05-15

I expected this to be another one-sided Indian captivity narrative, but instead it turns out to be a well-written, balanced account of several captivity narratives arranged around the theme of the author's search for his distant great ++ uncle, who was one of many "white Indians" who had various degrees of trouble fitting back into their own (in this case) German-Texan society after they were reunited. The author explores how and why children (adults were rarely adopted into plains Indian society) did have difficulty and how this theme is common in captivity narratives, through American history, even if the circumstances of their capture was quite horrific. The author doesn't leave out unpleasant details--on both sides of the conflict, yet it's still a balanced and even moving account that takes us through the facts of the captives' lives to death and beyond, right up to the present day (the actual settler-Indian conflict took place a decade or so before and after the Civil War, over 150 years ago). The present day comes into play because the author is dealing with a member of his own family. Once again I'm amazed at the brutality and beauty of American history, when it's written as it actually happened and not in the cliches and snippets we learned in school and from the movies. Definitely a 5- star book. Note: I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job too, but I can't comment on the Kindle formatting.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Prisoner of the Queen

  • Tales from the Tudor Court, Book 2
  • By: E. Knight
  • Narrated by: Corrie James
  • Length: 12 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 23

Knowing she was seen as a threat to the queen she served, Lady Katherine Grey, legitimate heir to the throne, longs only for the comfort of a loving marriage and a quiet life far from the intrigue of the Tudor court. After seeing her sister become the pawn of their parents and others seeking royal power and then lose their lives for it, she is determined to avoid the vicious struggles over power and religion that dominate Queen Elizabeth's court. Until she finds love - then Kat is willing to risk it all, even life in prison.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • a good read

  • By John on 05-29-15

Terrible

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

Reviewed: 02-24-15

This is the second book by E Knight I've tried to listen to and found so bad I was unable to finish (the other being My Lady Viper: Tales From the Tudor Court). Both are badly written, historically inaccurate and not even internally consistent--for instance, this book describes Queen Elizabeth I, as a 14-yr-old, first as having "light eyes" and then, a couple of sentences later, as having "dark eyes full of hatred". I don't mind sex scenes, but I do want them to be well written, and this book fails miserably even as soft porn. However, the chapters do start with nice period quotes--so I can legitimately give one star. Not enough to make it possible to finish the book, though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful