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Laurie

  • 27
  • reviews
  • 51
  • helpful votes
  • 27
  • ratings
  • Scattered Links

  • By: Michelle Weidenbenner
  • Narrated by: Hayley Keown
  • Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

Thirteen-year-old Oksana lives on the streets of Russia with her pregnant mama and abusive aunt - both prostitutes. When Mama swells into labor, Oksana makes a decision to save herself from abandonment, a decision that torments her forever. But her plan fails when her aunt dumps her in an orphanage before she has the chance to say goodbye to her mama or tell her the secret that haunts her.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Awful Sound Quality!

  • By Laurie on 10-27-18

Awful Sound Quality!

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

Reviewed: 10-27-18

This has got to be the WORST Audible book recording I have ever heard -- and I'm usually not too picky. The stops and starts are apparent and there are many of them. It seems as if the reader had been using two microphones or else using two dramatically different distances from the mike, because the sound would change from a sort of 'talking under water' effect to close, whispery and hoarse. It would switch between these two from phrase to phrase and you could tell there were pauses in the recording.

The choice of reader is questionable. While I would like to give credit to a young reader, this protagonist was supposed to be 13 at the beginning of the book and judging from the voice, the reader was quite a bit younger. She did the voices well, and very much the way I would expect a young person to do it. The sound quality is not her fault, but likely the fault of whoever was supervising/directing the recording. You can't just walk away and leave a child in charge of a microphone and expect perfect delivery. Kudos to Hayley for reading the whole book and sticking to it. I believe she did her professional best but needed more guidance.

As for the story, it will make you cry. It's sad and scary that young women in Russia have so few options and such painful futures. If it was at all possible, I would gladly adopt one of these older girls. No one should have to live like that. If you're not into Christian references then, warning, this book is full of them. And the evil people are truly evil , so if you prefer nuanced characters, that might be a problem. Keeping in mind this is a YA book and the story is told from the perspective of the adolescent female protagonist. That brings me to another issue: first person, present tense is an awkward choice for any story. It would have been better told from past tense. Still, it is a good story, overall, and seems to depict the trials of adjusting to adoption and repatriation very well.

Lots of flaws here, but worth the listening.

  • Etched in Sand

  • A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island
  • By: Regina Calcaterra
  • Narrated by: Regina Calcaterra
  • Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,107
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,000
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,002

In this story of perseverance in the face of adversity, Regina Calcaterra recounts her childhood in foster care and on the streets and how she and her savvy crew of homeless siblings managed to survive years of homelessness, abandonment, and abuse. Regina Calcaterra's emotionally powerful memoir reveals how she endured a series of foster homes and intermittent homelessness in the shadow of the Hamptons, and how she rose above her past while fighting to keep her brother and three sisters together.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Big eye-opener about our Foster Care system

  • By Jo L. on 09-14-16

Very Good

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

Reviewed: 08-13-18

Almost as good as The Glass Castle, and probably not a good comparison because the stories are very different. This is a more typical story of poverty and abuse in the US — a welfare mother, drug and alcohol addicted and she

  • The Glass Castle

  • A Memoir
  • By: Jeannette Walls
  • Narrated by: Jeannette Walls
  • Length: 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,529
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,126
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,141

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination. Rose Mary painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family; she called herself an "excitement addict."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A CAPTIVATING READ

  • By Jennifer on 09-25-12

Not Just "Different" (spoiler alert)

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

Reviewed: 08-08-18

I saw the movie before I heard the book; the movie is just a highly abbreviated version. It's good and fairly accurate, but leaves out several pivotal and devastating incidents in the lives of Jeannette Walls and her siblings.

I have read several hard luck stories, but this tale stands in a category by itself. It's a jaw-dropping, head-smacking trip through the looking glass. The story is TRUE and although there must be hundreds of people in Welch and elsewhere who could have come forward to debunk it, no one has.

What really gets to me are the marked contrasts. How can two adults be so brilliant and at the same time be so incredibly stupid? How can two parents be so supportive in some ways and yet let their children down repeatedly, consistently and profoundly? How come Child Protective Services never discovered this neglect? CPS only appears in the story ONCE, even though many people came in contact with the family and must have had some idea how terrible the children were being treated. Some reviewers have tried to approach the book as a depiction of some kind of alternative lifestyle -- different strokes for different folks. No, I don't think so. Every child deserves decent shelter, warm clothes, medical care, and most of all, regular meals. It's not just "different" to deprive to your children of these basics when abundant opportunities to procure them are well within your grasp.

Another thing that struck me: the absence of physical touching or truly nurturing moments between the parents and their children. I will grant that Rex, the father, was very supportive of Jeannette in a way that most parents miss. He really saw her as an individual human being and knew just the right things to say to make her understand her worth and her strengths. But there were no moments like that between the mom and the kids, and very few (if any) references to parental touching or hugging. The kids often touched each other, but it seemed quite limited going from the parents to the kids.

Jeannette Walls is an articulate and descriptive storyteller. The book moves along at a steady pace, taking the listener smoothly from one astonishing moment to the next. It's never boring. She develops her characters extremely well and paints pictures of the towns, landscapes and people they encountered explicitly enough that you can easily see them in your mind. She is also a talented and engaged narrator. Her voice with its faint West Virginia twang and subtle hints of humor and sarcasm is very well suited to her book. She often keeps emotional responses in check when she reads (and in her writing) and the absence of emotion only serves to accentuate the extreme situations and events she describes.

I don't take Ms. Walls point of view about her parents very seriously. Besides listening to this book I've listened to a couple of lectures she's given on her family situation. In my opinion, she's an unrealistic Pollyanna. It could be she's suffering from a touch of Stockholm Syndrome. No child could grow up the way she did and remain sane without some attempt to reframe her circumstances in a positive light, but she takes it too far when she suggests that every dark childhood contains "gifts" that it is up to the abused person to find and develop. Ms. Walls and two of her siblings have been very successful in their lives because they were forced to mature early and learned self-reliance as toddlers. But that doesn't mean every abused child has the wherewithal inside them to do the same.

This is an incredible book and a singular story. I've never read anything like it ... and I hope I never do again.

  • No One Cares About Crazy People

  • The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America
  • By: Ron Powers
  • Narrated by: Ron Powers
  • Length: 14 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 270
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 270

From the centuries of torture of "lunatiks" at Bedlam Asylum to the infamous eugenics era to the follies of the antipsychiatry movement to the current landscape in which too many families struggle alone to manage afflicted love ones, Powers limns our fears and myths about mental illness and the fractured public policies that have resulted. Braided with that history is the moving story of Powers' beloved son Kevin - spirited, endearing, and gifted - who triumphed even while suffering from schizophrenia until finally he did not.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I needed Ron Powers voice to read this book

  • By RSR on 04-05-18

Could Have Been Better

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

Reviewed: 06-18-18

This is an OK survey of the history and results of mental health treatment from an American perspective. On the favorable side, I'd say the research is good and the story is well told.

On the negative side, the author leans rather heavily on the stories of his own two sons. He probably should have waited a bit to write this, as it's clear he's still grieving for his deceased son and struggling with the mental illness of the surviving one. It's apparent that as he writes, he's searching for answers as to WHY his sons were/are schizophrenic. He blames the stress of their lives, their marijuana use, and a bunch of other things. He continually returns to details in his son's lives that would only be interesting to a proud parent. He even reads their emails and school essays. Not to be cruel, but this level of detail detracts from the main story and is just ... TMI. It probably ended up expanding the size of the audio file by several hours. His sons should have taken a less prominent part in the book.

His heavily liberal biases are easy to detect, as well. I found myself agreeing with most of his conclusions, but would have preferred a more objective narration. In these days, that is too much to ask of almost any writer or journalist.

His narration is super. He even does the voices when he's quoting another writer, politician or scientist. He's easy to listen to, he's professional, and his feelings and passions come through.

I don't want to seem too negative. There is a lot of good, meaty information here and I learned a lot. For someone who knows very little about mental health in the US, this would be a great introduction. He does keep the listener's interest. I just feel that there are two, very separate, books here. There's his personal narrative and there's the public story about the mental health system. The two should have been kept separate. Some people might like this style of nonfiction writing; I felt the personal was excessive.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Salt of the Earth

  • By: Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 12 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 643
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 592
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 589

Joe Gere said he died on the afternoon his 12-year-old daughter Brenda disappeared. It was left to Brenda's mother Elaine to sustain her stricken family, search for her missing child, and pressure the authorities for justice. From the first minutes of the investigation, suspicion fell on Michael Kay Green, a steroid-abusing "Mr. Universe" hopeful, but there was no proof of a crime, leaving police and prosecutors stymied. Tips and sightings poured in as lawmen and volunteers combed the Cascades forest.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Compelling True Crime -portrait of a family

  • By Suzanne on 05-08-16

Not One of His Best

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

Reviewed: 05-30-18

Kevin Pierce does his usual good job reading this book.

The book itself is far too long for a crime of this nature. Olsen takes chapter on chapter to develop a picture of the family life and multiple troubles of the Gere family. It’s interesting, but the family members are not that easy to empathize with, particularly not Brenda’s father, Joe.

The murderer is identified quite early in the story, so there’s little suspense.

The rest is just a long, spun out tale. Too long in my opinion.The book could have been half the size. Frustrating because most of Olsen’s books are so good.

I saw that one reviewer had called this “two dimensional” true crime. That seems apt because there’s very little nuance or mystery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Mountain

  • The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident
  • By: Donnie Eichar
  • Narrated by: Donnie Eichar
  • Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,570
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,369
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,369

In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Mystery & Intrigue In The Ural Mountains

  • By Sara on 06-30-15

Narration Almost Buried A Great Book

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

Reviewed: 05-10-18

This is a fascinating story, told by a writer who has a gift for description and putting his audience in the moment. What's more, he's a probing and incisive researcher who hit on a plausible and unique theory about what happened to the hikers and why. The tale is not to be missed and I highly recommend it.

But ... the narration was simply awful. It was so toneless, so uninspired, so utterly lacking in enthusiasm or even emphasis that I had to recheck the listing to make sure the author was really the one reading his own book. His voice and reading skill does NOT match his gift for writing! I nearly stopped listening, that's how bad it was. I came back to it because the story was worth the trial of the narrator. Some authors can do this; some cannot. Next time an author wants to read his own work and does not have the skill ... just say NO!

  • 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 8,243
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,711
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,674

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

An Interesting Story

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

Well written and keeps the attention well. Alan Cumming is the perfect choice to read his work; he’s an outstanding narrator. It is a shame he had such a rough childhood. The way the story balances— between past and present, between the story of his father and the story of his mother’s father — is excellent. My only complaint is that, at times, I felt like The Who Do You Think You Are part of the story was close to a mere repeat of what happens on the show itself. And while I love the show, I would have liked his genealogical story to be a little more in depth than that. Overall, a really good listen!

  • 12 Rules for Life

  • An Antidote to Chaos
  • By: Jordan B. Peterson, Norman Doidge MD - foreword
  • Narrated by: Jordan B. Peterson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38,540
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,765
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,453

What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research. Humorous, surprising, and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Book.

  • By Dallas Booher on 12-17-18

Not For Me

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

Reviewed: 05-06-18

This book relies rather too heavily on Biblical archetypes to be palatable to an unbeliever. A lot of the verbiage in the book would be more appropriately placed in the Bible As Literature or Religious Anthropology categories anyways. While these subjects are fascinating in and of themselves they are not the best medium for teaching morality to young people of the modern world.

His tone can be overbearing. I nearly switched it off in the middle because he reminded me too much of my father, lecturing us kids after a hard day at work and one too many martinis. At times he goes off on strange tangents where he appears to be addressing his comments to a specific individual and it is most disconcerting.

At one point he confutes Judeo Christian morality with belief in God; in another he professes a belief in Dostoevsky's contention that there can be no morality without God. I disagree with both and I think that there's a hefty amount of empirical evidence to the contrary. It is odd that he tends to leave belief in God and Christianity to the reader to decide, yet he keeps returning back to them again and again. Time and time again the book descends to the level of a sermon. I can't say he ignores other traditions, because he does not, but they tend to be the sideline, not part of the main show. I am sure there is quite a bit of other stuff that can be skillfully picked apart by better readers with more academic knowledge and more time.

Let me just end by saying that while I agree with a lot of the morality and advice he is giving out -- and the reasons for it -- I can't say that I approve of the method. It may resonant with some young people. If it does, I am happy for that. I would have preferred a much lighter religious overtone; the book is made tedious by the fact that he constantly has to explain the stories, the historical and religious context and the archetypes they represent.

As for him as the reader -- he is good, but he is taxing his voice. It's becoming rougher and rougher over time and he needs to pace himself. He lectures all the time and appears on TV, podcasts, etc, so maybe he should have let someone else read the book.

  • Unanswered Cries

  • A True Story of Friends, Neighbors, and Murder in a Small Town
  • By: Thomas French
  • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
  • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 519
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 464
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 459

On a warm Florida evening, Karen Gregory saw a familiar face at her door. What the beautiful young woman could not know was that she was staring into the eyes of her killer - a savage monster who would rape her, stab her to death, and leave her battered body on the floor outside the bedroom. Detectives frantically sifting through the evidence were tormented by one disturbing question after another....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Writing

  • By Phaedrus on 02-03-18

Unanswered Yawns

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

Reviewed: 04-29-18

I tried hard to get into this book and couldn’t. I quit around chapter 20. True crime is a favorite genre and I am a Jack Olsen fan but this story is so colorless my eyes are shutting. Thecrim

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Prairie Fires

  • The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • By: Caroline Fraser
  • Narrated by: Christina Moore
  • Length: 21 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 611
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 561
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 561

Millions of fans of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls - the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true story of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder's biography.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Spoiler Alert: Do Not Read If You Don’t Want Your Childhood Memories Destroyed

  • By Leslie on 03-05-18

Clearly Biased

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

I was surprised to learn that this was a Pulitzer Prize winner. Let me just say two things upfront: 1) I couldn't even finish it 2) I have read and enjoyed several nonfiction books on the lives of Laura and Rose and the writing of the Little House books. Naturally I am also a big fan of the books themselves.

Biographically, this book had no surprises for me but the not-so-subtle snarl against the libertarian ideals of both women and the willingness to pick apart and slant various incidents in their lives was grating. I wouldn't recommend this book to a student of the authors; it is not fair or objective. Facts are told but told from an angle that is not historical and not as Rose and Laura would have liked it. There are other biographers and researchers who have written objective books on the Wilders. There's no need for a book of this type to have any kind of slant in either direction.

The narrator was good; it's the content that disappoints.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful