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Bonny

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  • The Hunting Party

  • A Novel
  • By: Lucy Foley
  • Narrated by: Gary Furlong, Elle Newlands, Morag Sims, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 201
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 189
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 188

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of 30-something friends from Oxford meets to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students 10 years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands - the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves. They arrive on December 30, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world. Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it!

  • By Anonymous User on 02-16-19

Great premise, not so great execution

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

Reviewed: 03-07-19

Did you ever notice how when a book has just been published and the first bunch of reviews show up, they are often four to five stars and the book is described as the greatest book ever? Then as several months go by, and more people read and review the book, the average rating drops down to a more realistic level. I think that has definitely been the case with The Hunting Party. It is a slightly entertaining novel, but not one I would compare to the styles of Agatha Christie and Donna Tartt.

The Hunting Party is set in the Scottish Highlands at a hunting lodge, and the group of friends celebrating New Year's Eve together are cut off from the outside world by an epic snow storm. The friends fit well into stereotypes - the beautiful one, the gay couple, the outsider, the quiet one, the new parents (but I'm still wondering about why they brought their 6-month old), but don't discount the manager, gamekeeper, or the strange Icelandic backpackers as possible murderers. Lucy Foley did something original by not revealing the victim or the murderer until near the end of the book, but by that time I was reading only to find out who was dead, why, and who killed them. The characters were all unlikable, spoiled, and similar, and it becomes quite clear over the disjointed timeline that they all carry secrets and lies. The story might as well have taken place in Cleveland because there is little to no description of the stunning beauty of Scotland or even the presumed crackling fire and impressive taxidermy in the lodge itself. The Hunting Party has a great premise, but it is poorly executed.

  • The Gown

  • A Novel of the Royal Wedding
  • By: Jennifer Robson
  • Narrated by: Marisa Calin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 257
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 237

From the internationally best-selling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the 20th century - Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown - and the fascinating women who made it. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Light, predictable, and stereotypical

  • By Bonny on 02-10-19

Light, predictable, and stereotypical

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

Reviewed: 02-10-19

The Gown started off as interesting fiction, but turned out to be a predictable story with stereotypical characters. Ann Hughes is the plucky British embroiderer, fellow embroiderer Miriam Dassin, the French woman who survived the Holocaust and becomes Ann's friend, and Ann's granddaughter, Heather populate this novel about Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress. I enjoyed the many details about embroidery and the embroiderers who worked at Hartnells, along with facts about rationing, shortages, and life in postwar London. Less enjoyable were plot twists that arose seemingly from nowhere, the way the Holocaust was used as a perfunctory aside only to further Miriam's part in the book, three lukewarm romances, one of which turns out appallingly and unbelievably, and Heather's general cluelessness about most things. It's a light read where everything falls happily into place, but not much more than that for me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Hello World

  • Being Human in the Age of Algorithms
  • By: Hannah Fry
  • Narrated by: Hannah Fry
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 125
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 111
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111

Hello World takes us on a tour through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us on a daily basis. Mathematician Hannah Fry reveals their inner workings, showing us how algorithms are written and implemented, and demonstrates the ways in which human bias can literally be written into the code. By weaving in relatable, real world stories with accessible explanations of the underlying mathematics that power algorithms, Hello World helps us to determine their power, expose their limitations, and examine whether they really are improvements.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Probably one of the Best books written on this

  • By Samer Chidiac on 11-24-18

Algorithms are all around - good and bad

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

Reviewed: 01-22-19

At last! Hannah Fry has written a book that explains what an algorithm is (simply put, “a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing a task", what they can do, the pros and cons, along with well-chosen examples. What she's writing about are mathematical operations that include equations, probability, and logic translated into computer code. She clearly explains that computers don't think, but only follow sequential directions coded by humans. Because the code is written by humans, the algorithm can be accidentally biased or contain bugs, or the bias may be intentional.

Algorithms allow computers to scan slides quickly and more accurately for signs of cancer, guide the buying and selling of stocks on Wall Street, and "drive" self-driving cars. Algorithms can help us greatly, and also do great harm. Ms. Fry thinks that humans and machines working together is the best and safest way to head bravely into the future. GPS can get you safely from point A to point B, but it's also your responsibility not to drive off a cliff, even if Mandy's friendly GPS voice tells you to.

Hello World is an excellent, informative read, and one I highly recommend.

  • When Death Becomes Life

  • Notes from a Transplant Surgeon
  • By: Joshua D. Mezrich
  • Narrated by: Josh Bloomberg
  • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 41

At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Memoir and history, beautifully written

  • By Bonny on 01-22-19

Memoir and history, beautifully written

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

Reviewed: 01-22-19

When Death Becomes Life is an interesting memoir and history of organ transplantation from transplant surgeon Dr. Joshua Mezrich. While I enjoyed his writing about the history, researchers and physicians that brought us to this point in time with transplantations, I enjoyed his writing about his own background, how and why he became a transplant surgeon, and his own patients just as much or more. Dr. Mezrich always maintains an awareness and respect for the great gift that donors and their families are giving, and reminds readers of that often. I loved reading about the technical details of kidney transplants, but Dr. Mezrich also reminds the readers that even though it may be an almost-routine procedure, it is really never routine. He recounts his enthusiasm at seeing a kidney become pink with blood flow and begin producing urine, and also writes about heart, lung, liver, and pancreas transplants, and the inherent difficulties with them. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter about how cyclosporine was discovered and what a huge difference it made in transplantations. After all, transplantation is as much about immunology as it is about surgical skill, and Dr. Mezrich recounts all of this in his thoroughly enjoyable book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Overstory

  • By: Richard Powers
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
  • Length: 22 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 979
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 898
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 900

The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable that range from antebellum New York to the late 20th-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. An air force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits 100 years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Astonishingly powerful writing.

  • By Alexandria on 04-18-18

I love the cover, but ...

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

I wanted to love this book. It has a beautiful cover, the topics of climate change and forests interest me greatly, and several goodreads friends whose reading tastes often align with mine have given it five stars, but this is just not the book for me. I can't even give it a fair rating. The first chapter, "Roots", is worthy of five stars, but the later chapters "Trunk", "Crown", and "Seeds" were disappointing, disjointed and confusing. I can't deny Powers' extensive research, but even that along with some great writing couldn't save this one for me. I'm tempted to try Barkskins by Annie Proulx or maybe Managing Forest Ecosystems: The Challenge of Climate Change by Felipe Bravo would be a better book for me.

  • Farsighted

  • By: Steven Johnson
  • Narrated by: George Newbern, Steven Johnson - introduction
  • Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 173
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 160
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 157

There's no one-size-fits-all model for the important decisions that can alter the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. But Farsighted explains how we can approach these choices more effectively and how we can appreciate the subtle intelligence of choices that shaped our broader social history. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyed it - Not what I was expecting

  • By William Coppage on 10-08-18

Decisions are hard.

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

Farsighted is an interesting book, but it seems to mainly illustrate just how very complex decision-making can be. These are not the single-variable, binary, yes or no type of decisions, but instead the complex and complicated type where changing types of variables are considered. Many of these decisions that matter the most are group or societal ones; I had hoped for more focus on individual decisions.

  • Unsheltered

  • A Novel
  • By: Barbara Kingsolver
  • Narrated by: Barbara Kingsolver
  • Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,023
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,854
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,851

Brilliantly executed and compulsively listenable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred - whether family or friends - and in the strength of the human spirit. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Spring for a professional narrator, please!

  • By Gail Dragon on 11-05-18

Kingsolver is much better when she isn't preaching

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

Despite the time shifts, and being beaten over the head with what's wrong with Trump's America, Medicaid, higher education and associated debt, I did finish Unsheltered, but just barely. It's clear that Barbara Kingsolver has something to say, and the funny thing is that I agree with most of her opinions (yes, he is the Bullhorn), but this is not how I want to learn that there really isn't much to the American dream for many of us any more. I can learn much of this by living with the consequences of medical and educational debt in real life, so a book populated with sound bites instead of characters is not for me.

There were a couple of happy surprises - the Baby Surprise Jackets that Tig knits and learning about the real-life Mary Treat. Only those two things kept this book from slipping to one star for me. I liked Kingsolver's fiction much better when she wasn't preaching to me.

  • Becoming

  • By: Michelle Obama
  • Narrated by: Michelle Obama
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 76,112
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 69,357
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 68,962

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites listeners into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Didn't know what I was getting into

  • By Kenneth Woodward on 12-05-18

Michelle Obama sets the bar higher.

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

Becoming is every bit as good as you hope and think that it might be. Michelle Obama writes and narrates her own fascinating story about growing up in Chicago with a family who valued education and taught her the she mattered, about meeting Barack and having enough love and faith that she was willing to live the life of a political spouse even though it was not her choice, and about her otherworldly years in the White House.

I'm always fascinated by what happens when a strong, independent, opinionated woman gives up her career and much of herself for her husband. There are costs to be sure, but Michelle handles it all and almost makes it look easy. I honestly feel sorry for almost anyone who has to live in the secluded and removed atmosphere that surrounds the Presidency, but she managed to live that way for eight years and still be a wonderful wife, mother, and human being. Thank you, Michelle, for setting the bar higher for all of us.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Get Well Soon

  • History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
  • By: Jennifer Wright
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,374
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,942
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,925

In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn't stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon 34 more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had been stricken by the mysterious dancing plague. In late-19th-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome - a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Didn't know syphilis could be so fascinating.

  • By Carrie Arnold on 02-09-17

Plagues and more plagues

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

An intriguing look at plagues throughout history. Some I had heard of, others not, but most of them provide some interesting medical, social, and historical information. In some of these discussions I might have liked more in-depth information (the Antonine plague and lobotomies as a plague?) Jennifer Wright uses humor to make all of this slightly less scary, but she also states that even though we tend to forget about diseases once they no longer affect us, the World Health Organization reported that 126 people died of the bubonic plague in 2013. The next plague will affect us some day, especially if we refuse to vaccinate our children.

  • Coyote America

  • A Natural and Supernatural History
  • By: Dan Flores
  • Narrated by: Elijah Alexander
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,501
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,363
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,363

Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the "wolf" in our backyards and its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Absolutely fascinating

  • By Rob Wolfe on 08-31-17

Good, but could have been better with more science

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

Dan Flores waxes rhapsodic about coyotes, delving into the name, history, man's interactions with coyotes, and how humans have created the conditions that have allowed the spread of the coyote population eastward across the whole country. While all of this was interesting, he also strays a bit too far from science for me. He uses folklore, mythology, and anthropology to point out how humans and coyotes share many characteristics, like adaptability and intelligence, (which I think they do, but I wouldn't base that conclusion upon folk stories). I think that the author could have spent some time with ranchers and farmers to better understand their intense feelings towards coyotes as predators and not just claim that our "hatred seems hard to square with anything rational.” I think that Mr. Flores could have written a better book if he had written about coyotes in a far less anthropomorphic way, and more about their biology, behavior, and how nature is always a fine and delicate balance.