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JoanneG

Chicago, IL
  • 11
  • reviews
  • 98
  • helpful votes
  • 11
  • ratings
  • The Power of Vulnerability

  • Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage
  • By: Brené Brown PhD
  • Narrated by: Brené Brown
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 23,240
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20,658
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 20,414

On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise - that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The audio makes all the difference.

  • By Sadie on 09-14-13

Another Nonsensical "Self-Help" Book

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

Reviewed: 02-04-17

A (now former) friend sent me this book. He thought it would be good for me and said it helped him a lot. I don't believe in "self-help" books. Basically, the authors of these books try to convince people something is wrong with them so they will listen to the author tell them things they already know.

There is nothing different here. There must be a lot of gullible people to have read and rated this book so highly. There is nothing wrong with you. You're alive and have problems. So does everyone else. You don't need to waste your money to have someone tell you about your problems and then tell you things you already know about how to fix them.

The narrator is humorous and self-deprecating, which she uses to manipulate people into believing she is sincere. All she is sincere about is taking your money. Whatever humor she does have is more than offset by her incredible arrogance as she constantly name-drops, mentioning people she knows, awards she has won, places she has spoken, along with reminding us how intelligent she is compared to us.

I hope my (now former) friend didn't actually pay for this book to send to me, especially since we are no longer friends because of it. This book reinforced his belief something is wrong with him. I won't deny his belief because he knows himself better than I do; however, there are no answers here.

I greatly resent this author for convincing my friend this trash could help him. People writing these types of books don't care that they're playing with peoples' lives just to make a profit. Money, money, money. That's the world we live in. Real people and real friendships be damned. I no longer have a friend I cared for a lot because of the crap in this book. He chose this book over me and my objections to it.

Everyone has problems and some problems can't be fixed no matter how many self-help books you read. Either fix the problem or accept that you are going to live with it and stop reading and enriching the authors of these books.

  • Tales of the Unusual

  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34

From the author of the Audible #1 bestsellers The Stone Man, The Physics of the Dead, and In the Darkness, That's Where I'll Know You. Five more stories from Luke Smitherd to keep you intrigued, shocked, and asking what you would do...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Collection-Eerie Stories That Make You Think

  • By JoanneG on 01-15-17

Great Collection-Eerie Stories That Make You Think

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

Reviewed: 01-15-17

I read each of these novellas separately when they came out; now it's nice to have them all in one place for when I want to read/listen to them again. And I definitely want to read them again.

All the stories in this collection have one thing in common: they put you into the characters' shoes and leave you wondering what you would do in their place. The characters are real people, very well-defined, so you know what they are feeling as the stories progress. You are invested in what happens to them.

The characters go through fear, horror, and disbelief, but they also care about each other very much. Sometimes that love is the driving force behind the story and that's why the stories are so relatable. You don't want bad things to happen to the important people in your life, but that is a possibility in all these stories. That heightens the tension and the feeling that you can't turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens (or have the narrator talk faster).

Very briefly,

1. He Waits - Probably the scariest story written by Luke Smitherd. Don't start it before you go to bed.

2. Keep Your Children Close - A family on vacation faces an unknown evil.

3. The Jesus Loophole - Filled with symbolism, the story asks if you can get around God's rules.

4. Closure - A happy couple goes for a walk in the woods and nothing is ever the same. Or is it?

5. Your Name is in the Book - Can you win against a system that is set up for you to lose?

I originally rated all five of these stories as Five Stars, so I am obviously rating this collection the same way. These stories are original, well-written, and beautifully told as the characters struggle with the situations they find themselves in--and you struggle right along with them.

I highly recommend this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Luke Smitherd

  • Audible Sessions: FREE Exclusive Interview
  • By: Sophie Plateau
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 21 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

Exclusive interview. Luke Smitherd discusses his new book, Kill Someone, a novel with an impossible choice: kill a random stranger - one of Chris' choosing - within 12 days in order to save the lives of five kidnapped siblings. Refuse, and they die slowly and painfully. How did Luke come up with this concept? What is it like to have a book published? What's next? Luke answers all these questions and more.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Informative Session with a Thoughtful Funny Author

  • By JoanneG on 12-19-16

Informative Session with a Thoughtful Funny Author

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

Reviewed: 12-19-16

I learned a lot about the audiobook industry. I had no idea how popular it is. Luke Smitherd sounds just like the "Afterwords" of his books--funny, honest, and self-deprecating, but I think Andrew Lincoln/David Morrissey are long-shots.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Kill Someone

  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Matt Addis
  • Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 276
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 257
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 257

From the author of the international best seller The Stone Man, short-listed for Audible UK's Book of the Year Award 2015. Here are the rules. Method: you can't use a gun. You can't use explosives. You can't use poison. It has to be up close and personal. You don't have to worry about leaving evidence; that will be taken care of. Victim: no one suicidal. No one over the age of 65. No one with a terminal illness. Choose your method. Choose your victim.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Good of the Many is More Important...Or is it?

  • By JoanneG on 12-06-16

The Good of the Many is More Important...Or is it?

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

Reviewed: 12-06-16

This book asks the question made most famous by "Spock" in "Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan": "Is the good of the many more important than the good of the few--or the one" (paraphrase)? And, if it is, is it the moral/right/decent/human thing to "Kill Someone" to make it so?

The main character, Chris, is given this very dilemma. He is just a normal young man--maybe a little lazy, maybe not too ambitious, maybe a little lost-- when he is literally forced to grow up and make choices no one should have to make for seemingly no reason. Chris must decide whether he can kill someone to save the lives of five sisters being held captive by the mysterious, "Man in White".

So how does a person go from being a slacker to having peoples' lives in his hands? We go every step of the way through it with Chris. At first he is incredulous; then comes denial; then comes acceptance; and then comes the anguish of the terrible decisions he is being forced to make. We learn about Chris' life through brief scenes from his past. He seems to have had a good life with a loving family, but he has also been harassed and discriminated against because he is black. Chris is written as a fully developed character. We know him, so we know the horror he feels, the frenzy he feels to do something--but he doesn't know what--and the self-doubts he has as to whether or not he can actually kill someone. He wants to do the right thing; he just doesn't know what that is. Could anyone? Could you?

If you don't want to talk about politics or global warming this Christmas, I suggest buying this book and a few copies as gifts for the family you will be sharing your Christmas with. This book asks questions that will lead to discussions (maybe heated ones) about what each reader would do if placed into the same position as Chris. You can literally discuss this book for hours and come away with no solid answers because the answers are personal to each individual person. Can you justify your beliefs as Chris must do? Can you explain your actions as Chris must do? Can you live with the end result of those actions as Chris must do for the rest of his life?

There are other questions raised when Chris finds out why this happened to him. Those questions may be even more difficult to answer. I have to say this book did not end the way I thought it would, nor the way I wanted it to, but it probably ended just the way it was supposed to end based on everything that happened previously. You'll probably have to read this again to catch things you might have missed the first time so that you come to some understanding of the decisions Chris makes. You may or may not agree with those decisions, but the book tells you why he made them, although you may not realize it at the time.

This is the second straight book of Luke Smitherd's that had nothing to do with the paranormal or science fiction, and I think it is a very good sign that this is probably one of his best books. It shows the range the author has and will keep readers eagerly anticipating his books, not knowing which direction he is going to go next. For current and future fans of Luke Smitherd, this is a very good thing. We already know he is an excellent writer, and now we are learning that he can write about almost anything and it will be of the same quality, with the same ability to make us think, make us wonder, make us scared, and make us question things we never thought twice about before.

I can't wait to see what comes next.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • How to Be a Vigilante: A Diary

  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56

It's 1998. The Internet age is still in its infancy. Google has just been founded. Eighteen-year-old supermarket shelf-stacker Nigel Carmelite has decided that he's going to become a vigilante. There are a few problems: how is he going to even find crime to fight on the streets of Derbyshire? How will he create a superhero costume - and an arsenal of crime-fighting weaponry - on a shoestring budget?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Being a Superhero Can Hurt

  • By JoanneG on 10-17-16

Being a Superhero Can Hurt

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

Reviewed: 10-17-16

Regular readers of Luke Smitherd may find themselves checking the cover of this book to make sure he actually wrote it because it is unlike any of his other works. First, there is nothing paranormal or supernatural about it; second, it is laugh-out-loud funny at some points; and, finally, the main character is a disturbed teenage boy who wants to become the world’s first “real” superhero.

Nigel Carmelite is an eighteen-year-old boy who hasn’t had an easy life. There are allusions to problems in his past, but most of them are barely mentioned (although there is a very sad story about a boy and his bike) and their impacts on Nigel’s life are left to the reader to determine. We learn about his current life: he works in a supermarket; he is a loner, mostly because he doesn’t know how to interact with other people; he has a crush on a girl at work; and he is keeping a diary to record his journey from “normal” guy to superhero so that others can learn from him and follow in his footsteps. He believes this is his destiny.

But Nigel isn’t a “normal” person, whatever “normal” is supposed to mean in his world or ours. He is damaged. The circumstances of his early years took their toll on him and he never received the help he needed. He created his own world where he was the good guy and he was the guy who was always right. He couldn’t exist any other way because “normal” life hurt too much. If Nigel lived in the US, he is the type of person who would shoot up a public place and then turn the gun on himself, and later, people would say he was “quiet” and “always did his job” but was difficult to get to know because he was so ill-at-ease around others.

Some people have commented that their dislike of Nigel hurt their ability to enjoy the book fully. That is unfortunate. If all a person does is read the words on the page, Nigel is a jerk. He writes with disdain about most other people he knows. If you read between the lines, however, you can see he insults others because he thinks they are getting in the way of him fulfilling his destiny.

He also knows the rest of the world sees him as a loser, if they even notice he exists, but he rarely lets himself acknowledge that reality. You can see this in a few diary entries where he talks about how stupid he is (quite vehemently), but he always comes back to blaming other people for his troubles. He HAS to be right or he can’t be the superhero. By putting down everyone else, he is building himself up into the person he believes he really is.

The book is very well-written. Nigel is a person you can empathize with because there is a small part of him in all of us. Yes, it is humorous in many places, but there are also moments that may leave you in tears. The most impressive thing, however, is how incidents in Nigel’s life are shown to repeat themselves (in different contexts), forming patterns that turned him into the person he is. Some of these are obvious, but others are very subtle so the readers are left to discover them and determine for themselves how they impacted Nigel. That is not an easy thing for an author to do, but here, it is done beautifully.

This book covers a very short time period in Nigel’s life, but by the end, we know everything we need to know about him and why he needs to be a superhero—because he does need it. He may come across as a jerk at first, but that is just covering up his insecurities and lack of self-worth. His diary is funny because he is so earnest about the things he is writing, even though they are preposterous. Nigel could never comprehend that we are laughing AT him, not with him. The only way he knows to make his life worth something is to become a superhero, which, ultimately, is the saddest part of the story and leads to unintended, heartbreaking consequences.

If you don’t fully appreciate the brilliance of this book at first (I didn’t), read it again. You will catch things you missed the first time and will, hopefully, fully appreciate the skill that went into crafting it. There are too many Nigel Carmelite’s out there. Most don’t try to become superheroes; most live their lives quietly and alone and we never know they exist. That is the true message we should learn from this book.

There are Nigels all over, but most of us are too caught up in our own daily lives to see them or attempt to help them. Maybe we should try a little bit more. Maybe we’re too busy to see their hands desperately reaching out to us or maybe they’ve given up. Nigel is virtually screaming for help throughout this book. No one hears him or maybe they are too busy laughing at him to notice. So, in the only way he knows, he resorts to helping himself. He adapts to the circumstances of his world—and loses so much in the process.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Physics of the Dead

  • A Supernatural Mystery Novel
  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91

The afterlife doesn't come with a manual. In fact, Hart and Bowler (two ordinary but dead men) have had to work out the rules of their new existence for themselves. It's that fact (along with being unable to leave the boundaries of their city center, unable to communicate with the other lost souls, unable to rest in case The Beast catches up with them) that makes getting out of their situation a priority. But Hart and Bowler don't know why they're there in the first place; if they ever want to leave, they will have to find all the answers to be able to understand the physics of the dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unique Vision of Life, Death, Regret, Loss, & Hope

  • By JoanneG on 02-28-16

Unique Vision of Life, Death, Regret, Loss, & Hope

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

Reviewed: 02-28-16

I can almost guarantee there is no other book like, "Physics of the Dead". On the surface, it is a story of two men trapped in an afterlife they don't understand. Where are they? Why are they there? Most importantly, is there any chance they can get out?

Beneath that story is the true brilliance of this book. You learn about these men. You feel what they feel--bored, lost, sad, scared, and alone. They only have each other to help pass the time and how long will that be? Forever? They don't know and neither do we.

There is an incredibly written story about a train ride that will make you understand the utter desperation of these men. It may also make you ache with compassion and wince at the agony felt by the man on the train. This train ride puts you into the mind and body of the man and you will feel his pain as he tries to hold on just a little longer.

This is a story of friendship. It is also a mystery of sorts, as they try to figure out where they are and if there is any way out. There are agonizing moments in this book, but there are also beautiful, life-affirming moments that show us what it really means to be human--even if you're dead.

I highly recommend this book. It tells us there are always consequences to our actions, but, more importantly, there is always hope to change and rise above our circumstances. And, whether you are alive or dead, having a friend who understands and loves you is priceless.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Man on Table Ten

  • A Mysterious Science Fiction Tale
  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 2 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41

It's a story that he hasn't told anyone for fifty years. A secret that he's kept ever since he grew tired of the disbelieving faces and doctors' reports advising medication. He's been careful. He hasn't even touched a single drop of booze since that one, fateful evening. This is why his decision on this day - the decision to have three drinks - will change the life of bright young waitress Lisa Willoughby forever. For today, the Man on Table Ten has decided that he wants to share his incredible tale.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Disturbing Short Story

  • By JoanneG on 11-12-15

Disturbing Short Story

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

Reviewed: 11-12-15

This was the first story I read by this author and it left me with a sick feeling in my stomach, just wondering, "What if..." The queasy feeling came from knowing that if it was a true story (which it hopefully isn't), there would be absolutely nothing I could do about it.

It's like people who are afraid of flying and would rather drive, even though there is a much greater chance of death while driving. People don't like the sense of not being in control that flying brings and that is exactly what this story makes you think about--not really being in control of your life.

The story itself is very eerie and and disturbing. As mentioned above, it makes you think about fate and destiny and who or what is really in control of our lives. You feel for The Man on Table Ten and what he has lived through, but you also worry about him--a lot.

The waitress in the story is really a stand-in for the reader. She learns the story as we learn it and my emotions were pretty much the same as hers as she listened to the man. "Is this man crazy?" "Is he telling the truth?" "Do I really want to know?"

Highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Stone Man

  • A Science Fiction Horror Novel
  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Matt Addis
  • Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,415
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,299
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,294

Nobody knew where it came from. Nobody knew why it came. When an eight-foot-tall man made of stone appears in the middle of a busy city center one July afternoon, two-bit (and antisocial) reporter Andy Pointer assumes it's just a publicity stunt. Indeed, so does everyone else...until the Stone Man begins to walk, heading silently through the wall of the nearest building, flattening it, and killing several people inside as a result.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Totally Original Story of Horror and Courage

  • By JoanneG on 11-04-15

Totally Original Story of Horror and Courage

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

Reviewed: 11-04-15

It seems most people start out reading Luke Smitherd's books with "The Stone Man". For some reason, I read all the other ones first and only just finished this. I just have to ask myself, "What took you so long, idiot?" I think I was putting off reading it because I wanted one last book to look forward to. This seems to be the most popular of this author's books, and I guess I just had to be different.

Anyway...

This is one of the best books I have ever read.

It's one of those books where your hands are shaking as you read it and sometimes you notice you haven't taken a breath in a while. Make sure you start listening to it with plenty of time to spare because you will not want to stop once you start. It is nearly impossible to believe this was the first book written by this author because it is SO good, SO well-written, and just perfect. Now I'm gushing and must stop.

The basic outline of the story is that a stone man (or creature or object) appears in England and wreaks havoc throughout the country. It can't be stopped by any means known to humans and its purpose for being there is not known. As you get further into the book and some of the implications of the stone man being there do become evident, it becomes more real and scary. That's all I'm going to say about it. You just have to read it to appreciate it.

The characters are very well-developed. The two main characters are not perfect. They do heroic things, they do selfish things, they drink (a lot), and they don't even get along some of the time, but I was completely invested in them and felt a loss when I finished the book--like I had just left behind two people I really cared about.

I loved this book. It covers the gamut of emotions from sadness to happiness, from cowardice to bravery, from tragedy to hopefulness, and everything else in between. It can also scare the crap out of you.

Download this book and listen to it. You will not be disappointed.

The narrator is British, but I had no problem with the accent or those strange words that we use differently even though we're both speaking English.

One final thing. I saw another review that said, "... overly lengthy descriptions of break-ins and old men getting up from chairs." That really hit me when I read it because the scene referred to is one of the best in the book, in my humble opinion, and shows the dignity and courage few people possess.

50 of 51 people found this review helpful

  • In The Darkness, That's Where I'll Know You: The Complete Black Room Story

  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 12 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 243
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 240
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 240

There are hangovers, there are bad hangovers, and then there's waking up inside someone else's head. Thirty-something bartender Charlie Wilkes is faced with this dilemma when he wakes up to find himself trapped inside The Black Room - a space consisting of impenetrable darkness and a huge, ethereal screen floating in its center. It is through this screen that he sees the world of his female host, Minnie.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Luke told me to write this but I would have anyway

  • By Peter B. on 01-10-16

Love Story+Mind-Blowing Weirdness=This Great Book

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

Reviewed: 11-04-15

I read this when it was four separate books. I left five-star reviews for all of them and it is good to finally have them all in one place.

This book contains all the elements of an epic love story with science fiction and spirituality and so many other things--and it all blends together beautifully. The characters are real. The things they do and the emotions they have are all genuine, even the minor characters.

The story is suspenseful and heartbreaking. It's also a mystery as the characters try to figure out what is happening to them--and why. I wish there was a better way of saying that. Just read it. You will not be disappointed. You may even shed a few tears.

Very highly recommended. I wasn't sure what, "A Paranormal Love Story" was before these books. Now I do.

The narrator is British, but I had no problem with the accent or those strange words that we use differently even though we're both speaking English.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • WEIRD. DARK.

  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115

From the author of Audible #1 bestsellers In The Darkness, That’s Where I’ll Know You, The Physics of the Dead, and The Stone Man - shortlisted for the Audible Audiobook of the Year award 2015 - comes this special omnibus edition collecting three of Luke Smitherd's books: Hold On Until Your Fingers Break, The Man On Table Ten, and My Name Is Mister Grief, plus exclusive bonus story "The Crash", unavailable anywhere else!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Four Strange Stories = One Great Book

  • By JoanneG on 11-04-15

Four Strange Stories = One Great Book

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

Reviewed: 11-04-15

This is a collection of three short stories. Each of them makes you ask yourself what you would do if you were in these situations. The answers aren't easy. The decisions made can be questionable, but that is what makes these stories so relatable. The characters are just like us. They are human, with all the good and bad that brings. We try to do the right things, but sometimes things don't turn out how we expected.

1. Hold on Until Your Fingers Break asks the question: How far would you go to avoid certain death? The consequences of that decision determines the fate of the characters.

2. The Man on Table Ten - I immediately thought of this as a Twilight Zone episode as I read it. The question asked here: Is the old man in the pub crazy or does he really know how the world will end? Or both? Do we want to know the answer?

3. My Name is Mister Grief - This is the most emotional of the three stories. It will haunt you after you read it. The question asked here: Would you do anything, regardless of the consequences, to end your grief? If you could eliminate that pain and emptiness, would it matter if others were hurt or if you lost yourself in the process? You will be asking yourself those questions long after you've finished this story. There is also a story-within-a-story that tells the tale of two boys with special "gifts" and the different ways their gifts are used. That story could be expanded into a book itself and would be fascinating.

I highly recommend this book. These stories will stay with you long after you've finished them.

The narrator is British, but I had no problem with the accent or those strange words that we use differently even though we're both speaking English. I also think the emotions of the stories are intensified if, as you listen to the stories, you close your eyes and see the scenes unfold in front of you. See yourself in these situations and immerse yourself in the words.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful