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Susan K Donley

Oakmont, PA United States
  • 7
  • reviews
  • 243
  • helpful votes
  • 1,357
  • ratings
  • Dollars and Sense

  • How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter
  • By: Dan Ariely, Jeff Kreisler
  • Narrated by: Simon Jones
  • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,109
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,005
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,001

Exploring a wide range of everyday topics - from credit card debt and household budgeting to holiday sales - Ariely and Kreisler demonstrate how our ideas about dollars and cents are often wrong and cost us more than we know. Mixing case studies and anecdotes with tangible advice and lessons, they cut through the unconscious fears and desires driving our worst financial instincts and teach us how to improve our money habits.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This financial literacy book is different--and funny!

  • By Susan K Donley on 11-09-17

This financial literacy book is different--and funny!

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

Reviewed: 11-09-17

When I first saw this book in Audible's New Nonfiction section, I started scroll past it as I do all personal finance books. Been there, done that to try to stretch my income and live within my means. Now that I'm retired it's too scary-late to read about "investing in my future". My future is here!

But I've enjoyed Dan Ariely's previous books on behavioral economy (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence), so I figured I'd take a chance. He has a gift not only for researching why we act so irrationally, but also for explaining the results in a way that helps us understand ourselves better. And he's funny and a great storyteller! Pairing up with financial comedian (!) Jeff Kreisler was perfect for this book that explores our irrational relationship with money.

The first chapters were fascinating, each focusing on a tactic we use to deceive ourselves when it comes to buying, selling, or saving. But they don't leave us there feeling stupid about our irrational bad financial decisions. The last chapters give practical strategies for being more rational about our money and suggestions for ways society could support people trying to resist the siren call of spend- spend- spend.

All this and wonderful delivery, too. Simon Jones and delivered the funny bits lines

42 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Wicked Plants

  • The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
  • By: Amy Stewart
  • Narrated by: Coleen Marlo
  • Length: 4 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,027
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 932
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 927

Beware! The sordid lives of plants behaving badly. A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. Amy Stewart, best-selling author of Flower Confidential, takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Grows on You Like Kudzu

  • By Cynthia on 04-23-13

Wants to be a physical book

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

Reviewed: 11-06-17

The content is interesting, but this really wants to be a visual book with illustrations. The narrator does best she can, put reading a list of Common name, species name, country of origin at the beginning of each plant listing must have been painful. It was painful to listen to. Listening to desecration s of the plant didn't do it for me either. I kept wanting illustrations. To save it as an audiobook, it would need a PDF listing all the plants and providing an illustration. Otherwise I recommend print or Kindle version.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lowcountry Bordello

  • By: Susan M. Boyer
  • Narrated by: Loretta Rawlins
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 608
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 542

The Charleston streets are dressed for the holidays in sophisticated Southern style: topiaries adorned with red ribbons, garland entwined with white lights, and poinsettias potted in gold planters. The high-class bordello in a stately historic home is certainly no exception. When Private Investigator Liz Talbot's dear friend, Olivia, swears she saw a dead body in the parlor of this bordello, one Olivia accidentally co-owns, Liz promptly comes to her aid.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Liz Talbot Book 4 - Just Keeps Getting Better

  • By Rusty on 01-25-16

Ghost warning

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

Reviewed: 11-02-17

This was a recent BookBub ebook selection with an Audible companion under "Cozy Mysteries", so I bought it based on its Amazon, rather than its Audible, description.

It starts out fine -- a couple who are PI's trying to solve a case before their wedding in a few days. The main character talks about her deceased friend lending help occasionally. Uh-oh, not ghosts, I think. I can (barely) tolerate ghosts serving as conscience (Ian Rutledge) or appearing in the occasional dream (Scrooge's Christmas ghosts). I keep reading...

I'm giving up halfway through because ghosts have taken over the story. It is no longer a mystery, but goofy slapstick.

This has happened to me before! Book descriptions should mention when ghosts, witches, zombies, vampires, and other supernatural characters are involved. Being clear should help both fans of the genre and people like me, whose suspension of disbelief isn't willing to stretch that far, find books we enjoy.

At least it was discounted, so I didn't waste a credit!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sweet Secrets

  • Sweet Cove Mystery Series #3
  • By: J. A. Whiting
  • Narrated by: Carla Mercer-Meyer
  • Length: 4 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 57

Renovations begin on the Victorian mansion and lead to revelations about Professor Marion Linden and why she left the house to Angie in her will, while questions surface about the Robin's Point land. Who really owned the land where Nana's cottage once stood? The Roseland sisters begin an investigation into misdeeds of the past, and with the help of their two fine felines, engage in a dangerous search for the truth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Always Good

  • By Penny on 01-11-17

Paranormal warning

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

Reviewed: 12-27-16

This has happened to me several times: I read the description of a book labeled "mystery", it sounds interesting or entertaining. I buy it and start listening. Before long I realize this is not a traditional mystery solved by dogged investigation of real-world evidence, gathered, organized, and analyzed by sharp minds. Rather it is a new category of mystery that doesn't rely on facts and hard evidence at all, but on interventions from another extrasensory world. That's fine for those who enjoy such stories, but I don't appreciate not being given fair warning so I can look elsewhere. Maybe people writing book descriptions view the occult as just a plot twist any reader would enjoy?
Please, publishers, make your descriptions clear when mediums, ghosts, psychics, stances, ESP, witchcraft, etc. play a part in a story. For may of us, this is a matter of faith, not literary taste.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Case in Deadwood

  • Deadwood Mystery, Book 3
  • By: Ann Charles
  • Narrated by: Caroline Shaffer
  • Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 238
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 222
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 222

Real estate agent Violet "Spooky" Parker stumbles upon a body-part theft ring at the local funeral parlor and suspects her caustic coworker has a hand in it - or maybe a foot. Can Violet discover what's in the crates that the crooks are sneaking out of the mortuary in the dark of night? Or will she end up in one of them herself - in pieces?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fun story, annoying heroine

  • By Abbie on 06-23-16

Paranormal incognito

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

Reviewed: 11-01-16

I never would have bought this book (Kindle-Audible combo) had I known the mystery involved ghosts and who-knows-what-other paranormal plot elements. I stopped reading after the first ghost appears. As a matter of faith I actively avoid such stories.
I appreciate that most books are upfront about what they are in the description or series title. This book gave no clue. I'm conflicted about assigning a star rating. I've always thought it unfair when someone reviews a book negatively when the book is in a genre outside their interest. Like a romance reader faulting a work of historical fiction for having "long boring sections of facts"! Since this is outside my genres of interest, I don't think it fair to give this book a low rating. So I will go neutral with 3s. I'm writing this review for the benefit of others like me who steer clear of paranormal.

  • The Goldfinch

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: David Pittu
  • Length: 32 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,318
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25,791
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 25,812

The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Boy, am I in the minority on this one.

  • By Bonny on 11-04-13

Survival story of a non-heroic hero

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

Reviewed: 11-01-13

As an artist and museum professional, I have spent my career encouraging people to view things left behind as more than just "stuff" to be trashed or relegated to flea markets. The objects, beautiful or utilitarian, can reveal much about the lives and vales of the people who created, used, or saved them. They have stories to tell to those who will listen. 

Such treasured things don't merely "decorate" this book, rather they inhabit it, anchoring  wounded characters to the world as they weather unthinkable loss. In the hands of the author, works of artists and craftsman come to embody memories of the past and hopes for a tolerable  future. 

Don't worry! This is not a book about dusty furniture and paintings! It is a story about survival, but not the heroic survival of nonfiction tales (a genre I love, by the way). This is a case of fiction being "truer" than nonfiction. Only heroic tales earn nonfiction book contracts! It takes a novelist to plumb the depths of what nonheroic Theo (mixed-up but not evil) does when confronted with tragic misfortune. 

The story is told in first-person and the narrator did an excellent job as Theo, while distinctly voicing other characters to indicate dialog. 

In my personal life at the moment, I'm adjusting to the loss of my own mother (very different circumstances, of course) and the things she left behind, much of which is imbued with meaning and memory for me. So many acquaintances (my friends know better!) counsel, "It's just stuff -- get rid of it!"  Not to me. Those things are tangible connections to the people I've loved and lost.

So if you are a collector who others suspect of being One of Those Hoarders, you'll find justification in this book and possibly better understanding of why inanimate objects mean more to you than to others. 

You don't have to be a collector to enjoy this The Goldfinch, but you should enjoy long, thoughtful books. Even action sequences, filtered through the Theo's thoughts, take much longer than they  would in a thriller, but I was never tempted to fast-forward. On the contrary, I regret reaching the end and wish I could follow Theo further along his journey to see how he fares. 

147 of 168 people found this review helpful

  • The Johnstown Flood

  • By: David McCullough
  • Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,095
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,399
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,385

At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A page-turner! HIstory that reads like a novel

  • By Susan K Donley on 06-17-05

A page-turner! HIstory that reads like a novel

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-17-05

This is one of the best books I've read on any subject. It is as well-researched as a good history and as superbly paced as a well-written novel. I first read it about ten years ago, making the mistake of starting it in the evening. I ended up staying up all night to finish it! Then I lent it to my brother, who also stayed up all night to finish it! I recently reread it via audiobook -- it is still as gripping as ever!

The story of the Great Johnstown (PA) Flood of 1889, the result of a record-setting rainstorm speeding the failure of an earthen dam, was the top story of its day. The catastrophe, in which over 2,200 were killed, dominnated the front pages of newspapers around the world just as the terrorist strikes of September11, 2001 did in our generation. In fact, until 9/11, it was the single largest loss of American civilian lives in one day (the greater number of deaths of Galveston hurricane disaster of 1903 happened over several days).

Despite the media attention the Flood recieved in its day, it has been all but forgotten to most Americans. Yet it has plenty of lessons to teach the 21st century: altering the environment without consiering the consequences begs disaster; people in positions of authority (the owners of the dam was a secretive club whose members included the likes of industry moguls Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick) don't necessarily act responsibly. The better side of human nature also shines through: despite the fact that their home towns nearly scoured off the map, the survivors of the Flood began almost immediately rebuilding their homes and businesses. The world responded to stories of the Flood with an unprecedented out-pouring of charity.

The Johnstown Flood is still relevant today and David McCullough is just the writer to bring its riveting story to life

53 of 57 people found this review helpful