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Katie

Lolo, MT, United States
  • 54
  • reviews
  • 57
  • helpful votes
  • 74
  • ratings
  • Beyond Belief

  • My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
  • By: Jenna Miscavige Hill
  • Narrated by: Sandy Rustin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,864
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,519
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,516

Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Despicable Truth Behind Scientology

  • By Tim on 02-07-13

Reads like a great dystopian novel

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

Reviewed: 09-21-15

Excellent dystopian novel, in league with The Giver, Hunger Games, Divergent Trilogies, The Handmaid's Tale and other excellent novels in that genre. Like others in the genre, this is a first-person point of view narration, making it quite personal.

Oh. Wait. This ISN'T a novel - not a work of fiction, but rather a memoir. Beyond Belief, indeed. That people, in this day and age, in our real world, are really living like that is inconceivable. And yet, they are. As disturbing as that is, when one considers that the "Church" of Scientology isn't the only cult brainwashing and abusing its members, and that we share a world with them, it is beyond disturbing.

  • The Accidental Alchemist

  • By: Gigi Pandian
  • Narrated by: Julia Motyka
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,924
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,634
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,614

Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can't help but notice she's picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-half-foot gargoyle - not to mention a master of French cuisine - and he needs Zoe's expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who's trying to put her old life behind her, isn't so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past... until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • I get it....you're vegan.

  • By Alia E Smith on 05-22-17

Gourmet Gargoyle Needs Better Ingredients

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

Reviewed: 08-19-15

Fantasy murder mystery...

Okay, but not stellar by any means. I don't regret reading it, but I won't be jumping right into the next in the series, but there is some chance I might return to the series later.

The gourmet gargoyle is fun. The time spent on discussion of vegan foods and herbal teas is mind numbing.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Thornwood House

  • By: Anna Romer
  • Narrated by: Eloise Oxer
  • Length: 16 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,898
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,696
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,700

When you're all that stands between the murderous past and the fate of those you love, how far would you go to save them? When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland, she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start. In a dusty back room of the old house, she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War II medic - Samuel Riordan, the homestead's former occupant - and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Five Stars With a Caution

  • By Nancy F. on 08-08-15

Breaks out of the cookie cutter mold

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

Reviewed: 08-17-15

Woman inherits house, visits it to determine what needs to be done to prepare it for sale, falls in love with the house, moves in, discovers a mystery (or 3) and makes shocking discoveries about the past inhabitants... Cookie cutter stuff. We've all read it before, right? I have - several times.

But... it turns out that this novel was fresh enough to keep me interested and had a wonderful pace that maintained the feelings of suspense, mystery and discovery.

Anna Romer's prose is beautifully descriptive and sets the scenes wonderfully - trees, flowers, birds, insects, sounds, sights, smells - all part of the mood. I'm a naturalist in my neck of the woods, but am not familiar with many of the Australian trees, flowers and birds mentioned and felt compelled to pause in my listening while I looked up trees, flowers and birds that I'm not familiar with. It is a credit to any book when it inspires a reader to expand their knowledge.

The narration Eloise Oxer was perfectly suited to the novel.

  • Harlots, Hussies, and Poor Unfortunate Women

  • Crime, Transportation, and the Servitude of Female Convicts, 1718-1783
  • By: Edith M. Ziegler
  • Narrated by: Sally Martin
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 17

Great Britain's forced transportation of convicts to colonial Australia is well known. Less widely known is Britain's earlier program of sending convicts - including women - to North America. Many of these women were assigned as servants in Maryland. Contemporary readers and scholars will be fascinated by Ziegler's explanation of how gender-influenced punishments were meted out to women and often ensnared them in Britain's system of convict labor.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What if criminal justice was unchanged since then?

  • By Jan on 08-01-15

Well researched, non-sensational, but a bit rough

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

Reviewed: 08-02-15

As long as the subtitle of this book already is, it would have been accurate to include a few more words, those being "In the colony of Maryland."

That this book was well researched and written by a historian, rather than one dabbling in history, is quite evident. It is also completely lacking in sensationalism. Nothing is stated as fact that isn't supported by primary source material and the reader/listener is always informed of the primary source of information. These aspects of the book are traits that I much appreciate in a work of non-fiction. "Just the facts, ma'am." The product of that research is well presented in a well organized flow of information.

That said, had I not been obligated to write a review, having accepted a free copy for an unbiased review, the introductory chapter may have turned me off. The introductory chapter is poorly written/poorly edited. It gave me a very poor first impression. It is definitely not to the same standard as the rest of the book. The introductory chapter seems to have been a last minute and rushed addition. I don't know who thought that introductory chapter was necessary, but I found it completely redundant. If we are going to read (listen to) the book, we don't need a detail of everything we are going to read (listen) about, cataloged chapter by chapter. The chapter was as redundant as one particularly poor sentence in that chapter that included the phrase "such as, for example." Another poor example from that chapter is "committed crimes or otherwise broke the law." My high school composition teachers would have bled red over those sentences. The inclusion of this poorly edited and unnecessary chapter detracted from the book and I would encourage editors to leave it out of future editions. I would encourage readers/listeners to either skip the chapter or grit your teeth and get through it, because what follows is worthy of your reading/listening time.

I listened to the audio edition of this book. The narration style employed by reader Sally Martin for this production is well suited to the work with clear and precise enunciation, well paced delivery and an informative and authoritative tone.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast.

  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

  • A Novel
  • By: Robin Sloan
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9,228
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,443
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,422

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A light, fun, easy listen

  • By january on 11-04-12

An Audio Book Within An Audiobook!

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

Reviewed: 06-30-15

I listened to the audio version of this novel, narrated by Ari Fliakos, and I'm so glad I did - because, as it so happens, there is an audio book within this audio book that is a key element of the plot. There's also a book store, an RPG (role playing game, for the uninitiated), a fantasy novel - on audio, graphic & font design elements and computer/Internet geeky stuff. Whoa! So many of "my things" all in one novel. Oh, there's also a secret society and the ultra museum. Now, that might sound like it's a bit too crammed or contrived to work - but it does work. It works very well. It all comes together...

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dragons from the Sea

  • The Strongbow Saga, Book 2
  • By: Judson Roberts
  • Narrated by: Jeff Hays
  • Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84

In Dragons from the Sea, Book Two of the Strongbow Saga, Halfdan Hroriksson has escaped - for now - the enemies who murdered his brother and seek to kill him, too. Determined to avenge his brother's death, Halfdan knows he must first gain experience as a warrior. He joins a Danish army gathering for an invasion of Western Frankia, for among its fierce chieftains and seasoned warriors he may find the allies he needs.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Decent installment - but feels like a bridge

  • By Katie on 06-29-15

Decent installment - but feels like a bridge

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

Reviewed: 06-29-15

It is often the case in a series of books that the books in the middle can't stand on their own - they feel like a bridge. That is the case with Dragons From The Sea. The character of Halfdan doesn't undergo any major further development. However, such is the case with periods in life, too. However, his story does continue to unfold and does so in a way that keeps the reader/listener engaged. I look forward to continuing along Halfdan's journey in the next two novels in this series.

Narrator Jeff Hays is consistent in his delivery, keep the the flow of the story steady. I appreciate the manner in which he gives voice to Halfdan as Halfdan tells us his story - as though Halfdan was telling his story to an intimate group. The narration is a good fit for the novel. Some female voices could be better, but they don't distract or detract from the work.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Big Burn

  • Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America
  • By: Timothy Egan
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,641
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,200
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,206

In The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history, told through characters he brought to indelible life. Now he performs the same alchemy with The Big Burn, the largest-ever forest fire in America, a tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fascinating history of early Forest Service

  • By P. Bergh on 11-11-09

Out of the ashes...

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

Reviewed: 06-29-15

The Big Burn has been a frequent topic of conversation among my circle of late, as the current conditions in Montana, where I live, and the other Western states are frequently compared to those in 1910 - the year of the Big Burn. Then, as luck would have it, this title was among 100 titles offered in a surprise snap sale at audible.com (a sale that ends when you close your browser). So, I picked it up.

As soon as I started listening to it, I questioned the wisdom of listening to it at this particular time as I am already suffering from anxiety concerning the conditions for massive wild fires. As I began listening, that feeling deepened. You see, I learned that our current conditions are actually far WORSE than those of June 1910. That June was rainless in both years the present year and 1910 have in common. However, winter of 1909-1910, I learned, was a winter of above average snowfall. There was deep snow pack. The book describes Wallace, ID as having 10 feet of snow on the valley floor. Last winter, by contrast, the Northwest received very little snow and areas that should still be under snow pack in early June were not just devoid of snow, but also already completely dried out. Our current conditions are worse. Far worse.

And yet, our current conditions are better. In 1910, the National Forest Service was a brand new agency and conservation was a new concept, oft derided and vehemently combated by industrialists. The Forest Service had very little staff, and even less funding - so much so that Forest Service rangers bought their own gear, uniforms, boots, horses, etc. Prior to the Big Blow Up (yes, we capitalize those words in my neck of the woods), there were 2500 fires burning in the NW and, even after nabbing would-be miners off of trains, emptying the jails to put men to work on fires and deploying the Buffalo Soldiers, there was less than 1 (un-trained in fire fighting) fire fighter per fire. In that regard, current conditions are better, as there are thousands of trained fire fighters, heavy equipment, airplanes and helicopters - and roads. Yes, roads. Roads by which to access fires, build fire lines, etc.

But this book, and indeed the aftermath of the Big Burn, is not all about the many fires and the Big Blowup firestorm that consumed 3.2 million acres, though that is a dramatic tale all by itself. This book relates the history of the creation of the National Forest Service, its early years under its first chief, Gifford Pinchot, and enthusiastically supported by President Teddy Roosevelt, then its decline and near termination in any practical sense under President Taft - and then how the fire of 1910 illustrated the importance of the agency, leading to not only the growth of the agency, but also, and most importantly, to the growth of the concept of conservation in the United States. It might be said that the fires of 1910 saved the forests, kindled widespread support for the concept of conservation and, thus, preserved the character of our land. It might also be said that the subtitle of this book is a bit misleading as, while Teddy Roosevelt is one of my heroes and was surely instrumental, and had the position to affect great changes, he was surely not alone in the cause for conservation.

Most striking in the work are the nuggets of personal diaries and logs, correspondence and official dispatches as they establish the character of the men involved and the time. As those are the real gems of the book, much as I'm tempted to include a quote to illustrate, I won't - it's best that the reader or listener come upon them without them having been spoiled. Just one hint: the very untypical love affair that Gifford Pinchot carried on for much of his life would have kept the gossip columns busy were he to have been a prominent man in our time.

Most heartrending is the way in which our government failed to compensate the families of those who died in the attempt to preserve national resources as well as those who were horribly and permanently injured. I'm not talking about the lack of settlements for injuries, though that would be bad enough. Men were literally pressed into service and then didn't receive any medical treatment for their wounds because they were unable to pay for doctors and hospitals and our government refused. Forest Service staff did take up collections, but they were poorly paid and had shallow pockets. Families received no compensation - not even burial expenses - for those lost in the fire.

The name Ed Pulaski has, in the years since, become legendary. However, he never received needed eye surgery to improve the vision loss he suffered in the fire. In fact, he couldn't even take sick leave to recover from his wounds as there was no sick leave pay. He wasn't even able to pay for legal assistance to patent the tool he designed for use by fire fighters. His tool is his legacy as much as is the lives he saved, but that tool earned him no money.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Animal Farm

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 3 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,307
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,899
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,904

George Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture, quoted so often that we tend to forget who wrote the original words! This must-read is also a must-listen!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • If you hate spoilers, save the intro for last.

  • By Dusty on 02-18-11

Considered Required Reading With Good Reason

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

Reviewed: 06-16-15

"Some are more equal than others..."

Animal Farm has long been considered "required reading" by many. As it so happens, I was never assigned this book in school - the other American literature classes were assigned it (and my mom always assigned it to her classes), but my class was assigned much longer and, shall we say, more difficult reads. Being a book hound, I generally read what the other classes were assigned, too, but I had never got around to this one until recently. In all honesty, it was probably the length (or lack thereof) that kept me away, as I tend to prefer much longer works. But, in preparation for a recent road trip, I stocked up on on audio books and did some bargain shopping. This title was available to Kindle Unlimited members with whispersync for audio either at no additional cost or for very little cost - and it is just $3.99 on Audible now, I see.

I'm sorry I put this work off for so long. "Some are more equal than others," indeed.



  • The Woodcutter

  • By: Kate Danley
  • Narrated by: Sarah Coomes
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 849
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 753
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 754

Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity. The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown. But quickly he finds that one murdered maiden is not the only nefarious mystery afoot....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fantasy for fairy tale lovers

  • By A. Sines on 03-25-15

Grimmly Twisted

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

Reviewed: 06-16-15

If you liked the twists that Gregory Maguire put on classic fairy tales (eg Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister, Mirror-Mirror, etc.) or The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, you might also enjoy this twist-up of fairy tales.

Unlike the Maguire books, in particular, in his story, many (all?) of the Grimm fairy tales are part of the larger story - and twisted. A fun read/listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Flowers for Algernon

  • By: Daniel Keyes
  • Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,840
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,128
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,128

Charlie Gordon knows that he isn't very bright. At 32, he mops floors in a bakery and earns just enough to get by. Three evenings a week, he studies at a center for mentally challenged adults. But all of this is about to change for Charlie. As part of a daring experiment, doctors are going to perform surgery on Charlie's brain. They hope the operation and special medication will increase his intelligence, just as it has for the laboratory mouse, Algernon.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Walk with a Swagger

  • By Tim on 05-30-14

A Classic Bargain - or a classic with good reason

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

Reviewed: 06-16-15

Sometimes (often) bargain shopping can lead to great reads as the classics are often bargains. I was loading up on Audio books for a trip and searching "kindle unlimited whispersync" and this was among the titles there for which the audio whispersync was available either at no additional cost to Kindle Unlimited members, or at a very attractive price. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member and don't occasionally shop that way, I recommend doing so. Nonetheless, had I used a credit for this title, it still would have been a good buy.

Since this is a classic, and there are millions of reviews out there, I won't write a detailed review. It's all been said. Besides, it's been a "banned book." What more recommendation do you need than that? I'll just say that this novel is well worth a read/listen and the narration work by Jeff Woodman is excellent.