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Ellen

Kansas City, MO, United States
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Earth Abides audiobook cover art

15 Hours of Mansplaining!

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

Reviewed: 06-06-18

Boy have times changed for the better. I think of the strong Frannie character in The Stand and I don't think Stephen King was consciously trying to create a strong female character; it just came naturally to him 30 years after the publication of "Sexism Abides" here.

I'm not even very conscious or activist or up in arms about this stuff. I support the traditional literary canon. I don't mind Aunt Polly being the one who wants to sivilize Huck and Tom etc. I don't mind Kurtz's fiancee being "The Horror" (representing everything horrible and venal about established and corrupt empire) (at least that's my take on it) I don't mind Lily Bart being the fallible flibertigibbet with a major weakness for consumer culture; likewise Madame Bovary. At least that's my traditional take on those female characters and their foibles.

BUT THIS BOOK!!! is enough to turn me into a flaming feminist firebrand. I'm about to enroll in a bunch of angry graduate courses right now so I can learn how to try to say what's wrong with this book. This will be a lay-woman's (heh, heh--that's exactly the kind of dumb joke this book makes throughout!) (well not quite but I wouldn't put it past Stewart)

At first I noticed the sex scenes were smarmy as hell. Ugh. The Stand is smarmy too, so I'll overlook that and just rolled my eyes at the poetic sex scenes. Every few pages the male protagonist "feels an ancient stirring" or some such and is soon quoting Song of Solomon. I like it better in The Stand when the hippie character accidentally was about to put the moves on a corpse.

Things really turned a corner when the main woman character pretty much APOLOGIZES for (I guess it's implying she is of part African descent) That was stomach-turning, but it wasn't the first stomach-turning race-oriented passage in the book. Earlier, our hero had stumbled across some African-American survivors who were similarly meek-spirited and that passage is just cringe-inducing, as he speculates he could stay there and be their master. UGH.

Later in the book, our hero is the only character who thinks remotely of the big philosophical implications about humanity's future etc. etc. blah blah and listening to him explain it to me, the reader, is just like sitting in a bar listening to a man who doesn't think I've ever thought of these things, drone on. He even spells it out for us that the women are concerned about birthday parties etc. while he's the only one thinking about the big picture.

I'm going to listen to On the Beach again because at least Moira is one of the main protagonists and has a character arc.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

It Ended Badly audiobook cover art

Just the chapter on Anne Boleyn alone is worth it

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

Reviewed: 07-21-16

What did you love best about It Ended Badly?

The part about how Anne Boleyn reacted to a "breakup." Never thought about it this way before until the author laid it out. Anne Boleyn gets the Nobel Prize in accepting a breakup with grace. She should be remembered in history better than she is for that alone.

What other book might you compare It Ended Badly to and why?

I Don't Care About Your Band. Another delightful collection of breakup stories.

What about Hillary Huber’s performance did you like?

The snark comes across in delightful manner. There was enough snark in the author's original wording to come across in a robot voice, but the narrator really made it come alive.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Don't cry, Sugar--no man is worth it."--Some Like it Hot

Any additional comments?

Love history AND snarky dating/relationship advice books. What a perfect combination!

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

The Girl on the Train audiobook cover art

Narrator alone is worth it

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

Reviewed: 07-21-16

Where does The Girl on the Train rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top twenty percent

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Girl on the Train?

When the narrator would switch voices, accents, cadence, everything for different characters

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator is fantastic. She uses different accents/speaking styles to represent the different characters. Wonderful. One of the characters who is not really a good character, I could listen to that voice all day every day.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me want to listen again and again, for the way the narrator brought out the characters with the way she spoke.

Any additional comments?

I didn't see the end coming, I mean the way the story wrapped up. So that was delightful.

Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin audiobook cover art

Interesting story--GREAT narrator

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

Reviewed: 03-01-14

If you could sum up Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin in three words, what would they be?

Compassionate, Interesting, Naive. I had compassion for Nicole Hardy while listening to the story, just as she had compassion for her parents, as she knew she would hurt them when she left the LDS and didn't want to hurt them. The book makes the reader think about religion and its role and what the reader himself or herself would do in such a situation. The reason I said "naive" is 1) I think Nicole Hardy is naive about men and relationships, and may have gone through some of the same obstacles even if she hadn't been LDS. 2) Her parents were naive about how unrealistic their expectations were. Everybody isn't able to keep to the upbringing of a sect like that. I had many of the same experiences growing up in another very strict sect that shuns, worse than LDS.

Some of my favorite parts were where Nicole is thinking of responses to the women who act like marital status is the only important thing about a woman. I loved the part where she was freed from that just by being out in the larger world and finding out it didn't matter so much to normal people.

I do think Hardy made entirely too big deal about her virginity. My advice to a woman in her position would be not to tell. Or in any case, don't let it be a big deal either way. Older virgins are not that rare--my doctor told me he sees plenty of them in his practice. I wish Nicole Hardy could have had my doctor.

The best line in the book is where Nicole wants to tell her parents "I don't believe sex is important enough for it to be as central to a person's worth as the LDS makes it" or something like that.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The funny boyfriend toward the beginning of the story. He was a hoot! I could just picture him.

What does Nicole Hardy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She is a TOP NOTCH WONDERFUL narrator! Please hire her to narrate more books!!! I couldn't believe the author was the narrator because few people have such a great voice, tone, and inflection.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

When you don't fit anywhere, how do you carve out a place to belong?

Any additional comments?

Can't praise the narration enough. There are two places in the audiobook where earlier passages are repeated out of place. Probably some kind of glitch.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

I Don’t Care about Your Band audiobook cover art
  • I Don’t Care about Your Band
  • What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated
  • By: Julie Klausner
  • Narrated by: Julie Klausner

HILARIOUS!!!

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

Reviewed: 02-12-13

What made the experience of listening to I Don’t Care about Your Band the most enjoyable?

Delicious snark!!!!!! As good as the opening chapters of Gone Girl and almost exactly the same knowing voice--I even thought it was the same narrator. MUCH better than Chelsea Handler. Where has Julie Klausner been all my life?

The description of the Midwestern guy (early in the book) who is missing something in his emotional makeup (compared to people from other subcultures) was the first time I ever heard anyone "get it" as far as the difference in emotional tenor with Midwesterners. I'm originally from the South, so you'd think I'd have little in common with a Jewish woman form New York, but when it comes to emotional expressiveness and tenor I was right there with her when she described the Midwestern guy as "warm with a gust of cold."

The Miss Piggy and Kermit description was right on target, and so original.

This book is not just about dating adventures (like many other books are). This one is far beyond its book-alikes (Chelsea Handler) in that Klausner has very sharp, important, and deep insights. Oh, I can't do it justice. She figures things out that the rest of us have noticed but couldn't quite articulate.

Also, I think she was right on about the two types of women and what kind of fathers they had. This book is piled full of important insights like that.

I will wait on the edge of my seat for anything and everything else Klausner writes.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Klausner herself. Because she wears her heart on her sleeve and thinks that's an OK way to be (unlike the cold and reserved characters who guard their hearts) and she gets bruised and doesn't mind telling us all about it. But much more than that, because she has insight into what happened and can explain it to the rest of us bewildered daters.

What about Julie Klausner’s performance did you like?

I thought it was the same narrator from Gone GIrl, who also has just the right inflection and tone when reading the snarky parts. YUM! Just the right amount of knowingness and snark.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Admit it. You've dated him. Grab your friends and come laugh about it, 'cause they have too.

Any additional comments?

No one should read this in print. Everyone should listen to the audiobook.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

Gone Girl audiobook cover art

I'm from Missouri, Show Me the Class Resentment!

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

Reviewed: 10-10-12

If you could sum up Gone Girl in three words, what would they be?

Wicked, Seething, Delicious

What did you like best about this story?

Lots of people are talking about the gender wars, the plot twists, and "Who's the real villain" so I'll take the Missouri angle and the class warfare angle. I liked when each character told his and her secret, seething resentments...Nick about how Amy could never feel the full weight of the economic burden because she hadn't had to struggle to get to a comfortable place economically and socially, and Nick has had to. I liked the part where Nick had to keep on his toes to keep measuring up to Amy, and he resented it secretly. At the same time, Amy resented how she had to jump through hoops and wear a mask and be physically and socially perfect in order to win Nick (and thus win the singles game in New York by landing a good-looking, debonair man). Amy's take on competitiveness (that life wasn't worth anything without super-competitiveness) was interesting when compared to the "mediocre also-rans" back in Missouri. I think once back in Missouri, Nick wanted Amy to like the Missouri part of him, too, and she didn't, and he resented that. The writer is also from Missouri, so rather than taking the digs at Missouri at face value, I think the writer was examining whether it's really true that the people who leave Missouri and aspire to the Nick and Amy life are really better off all-round. I know a couple who ended up like Nick and Amy when the wife, who was hard to please and impress, stopped being impressed and started giving the bored eyeroll when the husband would point out things like Nature that he cared about...this was just like a scene between Nick and Amy when things were going bad. I kept thinking about my own relationship, back in Missouri, while listening to the book. Is it true that all mediocre Midwestern also-rans are just dumbly content because we don't want to do the constant work to be a little more edgy? Or do we go into relationships from the beginning accepting each other's shortcomings and being glad someone puts up with us/we balance each other out? Look at Marge Gunderson and her husband in Fargo. Marge accepts her husband's hobby and pudge and builds him up. Is it really better to be part of the more cutting-edge competitive set if they have to keep on their toes to that extent? Or do they mellow out and accept each other's imperfections indulgently too? Is there such a thing as a lovable slob in New York? From what I've heard, I think it's easier to be happy in a Marge Gunderson-type marriage far from the coasts. I think the writer was eminently familiar with Amy "types" among the writerly set and has possibly also decided that it's easier to find happiness with a little less of a perfectionist/competitive attitude. Now, for the economy. I loved the part where Nick starts lying around after becoming unemployed and taking out his resentment on Amy and she starts writing in her diary about resenting him for turning her into a nag. What is it Nick really resents, and is he thinking it through, or is he really just two years old? One might ask that question about a lot of men in real life (see my brother-in-law, or my ex, or my lodger, or Hannah Rosin's The End of Men) I think a lot of people think they want to be Amy, but they may not really be happy if they got to be Amy. According to Amy, the competition never ends, and the whole world is a game of who's more beautiful, accomplished, in control, intellligent, and perfect, at all times. I think Nick should have ditched her long before the events in the latter half of the book, done some growing up, and found an intelligent woman from his own background to be a real friend and partner to him and he her. Like other couples, some of whom have a little pudge, tell dumb jokes, and eat the occasional casserole, they could have done like thousands of other couples and smiled indulgently while the other re-told that same story for the thousandth time and sent them the wrong flower etc. I can personally attest that kind of life can be happy, and I don't say that with resentment that I'm not super-beautiful or upper middle class. I'm about 1000 steps more mediocre in every way than Marge Gunderson but I would love to be Marge. I want Marge to get Nick and Amy in the back of a police car and say "All for a little bit of cutting-edge sensibility and image. There's more to life than a little bit of cutting-edge sensibility and image. Doncha know that?"

Have you listened to any of Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but they were good.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes. It made me squeal every few seconds "This book is unbelievable!"

Stuff White People Like audiobook cover art

Liked the blog; book is a conservative screed

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

Reviewed: 03-17-12

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would not recommend this book because my friends are mostly progressives from the working class (Yes, we exist.) At first, the blog and the entries in this book were skewering the upper middle class and its affectations. But then the subject matter changed to a conservative screed indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh or Charles Murray. I'll leave David Brooks out of it because BOBOS stuck to the topic of Yuppies and didn't imply (that I can remember) that people who are concerned about the environment are insincere, etc.

Toward the end of the book, he hits on all the hot buttons the usual gaggle of liberal-haters always hit on. Why white people (he means liberals) like universal health care: so they can quit their jobs (it cannot be that any of them want to see the poor helped.) Why white people (he means liberals) find Christianity tacky (I am a United Methodist and member of Sojourners--which is to say a slightly left-of-center Christian.)

I would not mistrust this book as a conservative screed with an agenda if he hadn't started hitting on all the predictable hot buttons toward the end. I think this gives away his true agenda.

I dislike entitled upper middles as much as he does, but there are liberals from the working class who come by their concerns for the environment and the poor honestly. And who's to say all rich white liberals are insincere? Look at Jared Polis, wealthy philanthropist who has founded numerous schools for at-risk kids and given to countless other causes to help the less fortunate.

I love when Tom Wolfe gets going on a good rant at certain similar elements, but I get the feeling he isn't just swiping at every conservative hot button like a think tank employee. This book reads like it came straight out of a think tank. He wants to call all liberals insincere--I call this (admittedly witty) book insincere. I wouldn't if it didn't hit all the same hot buttons Charles Murray does, and all in a row, too (when he ran out of the easy topics that are clearly affectations to achieve status.)

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Ending deteriorates into typical conservative cultural screed; beginning was great.

What does Victor Bevine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator was great. Has just the right tone and inflection for the sarcastic parts.

Did Stuff White People Like inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me NOT to recommend it, even though the first part was good.

Any additional comments?

Conservatives, please get some new material. Sometimes you have some good points; I enjoy Tom Wolfe.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Bitter Is the New Black audiobook cover art
  • Bitter Is the New Black
  • Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office
  • By: Jen Lancaster
  • Narrated by: Jamie Heinlein

End is better than beginning

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

Reviewed: 01-31-12

If you could sum up Bitter Is the New Black in three words, what would they be?

Post-9/11 Layoff Memoir

What did you like best about this story?

The character learns and grows a lot. She realizes her failings and grows up.

Which scene was your favorite?

When someone said

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, if I could have.

Any additional comments?

The narrator is great. I thought it was the author narrating. The voice and inflection are just right. The job market is even worse now than it was when this was written.

Inside the Mind of BTK audiobook cover art

Good story, good analysis--robot narrator

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

Reviewed: 12-20-11

Would you consider the audio edition of Inside the Mind of BTK to be better than the print version?

No, because the narroator was awful.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Inside the Mind of BTK?

When someone

What didn’t you like about Jason Klav’s performance?

For one thing, he was extremely wooden. Was he trying to sound like Douglas? Like BTK? Anyway, never mind that--at one point, he said

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me fearful that there may be other killers out there like BTK. It also made me think about what makes a person like BTK tick. Even if he has a compulsion like this, does he think about it 24/7? What kind of miserable life must that be? I'd almost rather be a victim (I said almost) than live with the kind of compulsion that drove my life to such an extent. Did he have pleasure in anything else? Did his compulsions ever leave him enough to really enjoy his family life, or were his compulsions tormenting him 24/7? Also, I was both chilled to the bone and kind of relieved to find out that one of his victims said

Any additional comments?

Just because I razzed the narrator, don't skip this book. It's a worthwhile listen.

Damage audiobook cover art

Overwrought

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-20-10

How did the narrator read this book without bursting out laughing? Don't get me wrong, this overripe potboiler is worth a listen, and it gives the listener some interesting things to think about--but just like the movie, the bodice-ripping passages are ridiculous. The reviews of the movie on Netflix are pretty funny too.
It's very interesting to me that this navel-gazing midlife-crisis protagonist is written by a woman. I think she captured what goes through a midlife-crisis man's mind and manages to describe it better than many men can. But there should be a drinking game or parlor game featuring this book, to see who can read the sex passages the longest without laughing.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful