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Ilana

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 2

  • By: Samuel Richardson
  • Narrated by: Samuel West, Nigel Pilkington, Roger May, and others
  • Length: 34 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

A milestone in the history of the novel, Samuel Richardson's epistolary and elaborate Clarissa follows the life of a chaste young woman desperate to protect her virtue. The recording is divided into three volumes.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • This is Goodbye!

  • By Ilana on 11-23-18

This is Goodbye!

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

Reviewed: 11-23-18

From my Goodreads update: I'm 64% done with Clarissa

That's enough. I've endured this unending novel too long. That it is long isn't the issue. What I can't take is that one of the two main protagonists is a misogynist of the first order who makes it the sole purpose of his life to indulge in the mistreatment of women. I don't have to put up with it. I won't put up with it. Lovelace and your ilk: please die now, both in fiction and in life. I won't have it. Adieu.

  • Valley of the Dolls 50th Anniversary Edition

  • By: Jacqueline Susann
  • Narrated by: Laverne Cox
  • Length: 17 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110

At a time when women were destined to become housewives, Jacqueline Susann let us dream. Anne, Neely, and Jennifer become best friends as struggling young women in New York City trying to make their mark. Eventually, they climb their way to the top of the entertainment industry only to find that there’s no place left to go but down, into the Valley of the Dolls

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Horrible Narration...

  • By Christiona D Toney on 11-08-18

No. Enough Already!

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

Reviewed: 11-23-18

I read this novel in my 20s which was sometime in the 1990s. I knew then it had been a huge classic for a long time already. I enjoyed it tremendously. It was high camp and it was a lot of fun to read. I followed it up with the movie, another great classic, and felt like I'd taken part in something that formed 20th century pop culture. Great literature, this is not, but it is a great read and it does have a message to deliver.

Which leads me to my following point, about messages to deliver: Audible should not be a political platform on which to deliver politically driven messages. To wit: a book ABOUT women WRITTEN by a woman which they chose to have narrated by a trans woman simply because she is famous and presumably would attract the LGTBQ crowd and also, YET AGAIN, deliver the message that trans women are "real" women and just as deserving and in fact MORE deserving than non-trans women to have honours (such as narrating an anniversary edition of a famous women's novel) heaped upon them.

Laverne Cox is a good actress. I've seen her on "Orange is the New Black" and enjoyed her performance as a trans woman there. But she is a terrible choice as a narrator for this book because she sounds all wrong, and I've seen the majority of comments here offer the same opinion. Had she had the voice and range to deliver this book, I'd have been fine with it and written a positive review. But I am angry about the decision Audible made for no less than a 50th anniversary edition of this book. Why is a trans woman a MORE important voice than a non-trans woman of greater talent in a case such as this, is what I'd like to know? If that wasn't a political/commerical decision on Audible's choice... then I don't know what is. Really disappointed. I'll be asking for my credit back. I chose here to speak up about something that deeply offends me. As a reader and as a woman. And as someone who really loves audiobooks. And someone who refuses to see women erased to enable a political agendas to be furthered. As she says herself, Laverne Cox didn't even have a notion this book EXISTED before she was asked to do this project, so it isn't as though she had a deep and soulful attachment to it. And yet, she was the final choice to narrate it?? How ridiculous is THAT?! Enough already!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Have a Nice Day

  • By: Billy Crystal, Quinton Peeples
  • Narrated by: Justin Bartha, Annette Bening, Dick Cavett, and others
  • Length: 1 hr and 46 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,739
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14,613
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,531

Tony and Emmy Award-winner Billy Crystal leads an all-star cast including Oscar winner Kevin Kline (President David Murray) and four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening (First Lady Katherine Murray) in a performance of this hilarious and poignant story about a man desperately scrambling to put his affairs in order: to save his presidency, his marriage, his relationship with his daughter – and possibly his life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • WOW

  • By Kate on 11-05-18

Have a very nice listen! :-)

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

Reviewed: 11-05-18

A great play about a man who is forced to face his imminent death and who also happens to be the President of the United States (played by Kevin Kline). The inept grim reaper,—hilariously portrayed by Billy Crystal—who is sent to take him to the beyond has anxiety issues and the POTUS's staff is scrambling to understand why the President is suddenly acting so strangely as he decides to use his last 24 hours to make things right with his nearly estranged wife (Annette Benning) and teenage daughter, and also leave a legacy he can be proud of by not allowing a pipeline project to go through. He may be guilty of having too much ambition and having an overinflated ego, but the POTUS in <i>this</i> story apparently does have a soul, and it may yet be redeemable. Of course things go not at all as planned or expected, but in the end, someone is bound to have a nice day. A really good production which was fun to listen to, if not the most profound philosophical work I've ever come across. But then that's not what we've come to expect from Billy Crystal either, who has a talent for making us laugh at life's more absurd sides, and that's more than fine by me. Got this as one of the free Audible Original recording offered to members in November, and I see it's been getting lots of love and rave reviews, all well deserved beyond a doubt!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice

  • By: Robin Hobb
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 17 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,121
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,967
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,992

With unforgettable characters, a sweeping backdrop, and passionate storytelling, this is a fantasy debut to rival that of Robert Jordan. Filled with adventure and bloodshed, pageantry and piracy, mystery and menace, Assassin's Apprentice is the story of a royal house and the young man who is destined to chart its course through tempests of change.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book

  • By Jake on 03-16-10

Wonderful Entertainment

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

Reviewed: 02-26-17

Just finished listening to The Assassin's Apprentice today, a fantasy tale set in an alternate medieval time about a young man who is trained from age 6 onward to become a dispatcher of souls at the king's command. A lovely coming of age story, plenty of adventure, and intimations of special 'gifts' that allow for wordless communication. This is most definitely not my usual fare, as I don't read fantasy all that much. But Robin Hobb is an apt storyteller and has crafted characters you want to find out more about. I was going to just give this first book a listen, taking advantage of a sale, and thought I'd just ignore the rest of the series (who needs yet ANOTHER series to follow when the tbr is already out of control!), but I'm already tempted to listen to the next book. A perfect diversion from current events.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Mademoiselle Chanel

  • By: C. W. Gortner
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Gibel
  • Length: 14 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 374
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 338
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 335

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to an orphanage after their mother's death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle's exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Felt too much like chick-lit for my liking

  • By Ilana on 02-25-17

Felt too much like chick-lit for my liking

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

Reviewed: 02-25-17

Overall, I can't say I was very excited by Mademoiselle Chanel: A Novel. Unlike another reviewer, I was indeed entirely clear when I got this book that it was a work of fiction and could expect plenty of free interpretation, but there could have been many ways to tell her story without making it sound like a Hollywood Romance. Only taking part in France, with French people, who are presumably speaking French to each other. I bring that part up because I am not American and found it very difficult to get into the spirit of things with a narrator who was so emphatically American in her delivery that it made the whole thing slightly surreal to me.

I think in retrospect I would have been better served with a straight biography of Gabrielle aka Coco Chanel. I am not a reader of romance by habit and I like my fiction as free of it as possible, and I certainly never in my life had any curiousity about how Coco Chanel might enjoy her sexual relations or not. I found these passages distracting and annoying and completely unnecessary.

There was little to like about the woman other than her clear determination to be one of the most successful fashion designers of her time. Whatever had to be done to get there, she did it. Here we saw a woman determined to leave her mark on the world, but also incredibly dependent on men and their money to make her place, just as she also presumably strives to remain completely independent. I was curious to see how the author would describe how she fared during the Second World War, as read somewhere a few years ago that she had presumably collaborated with the Nazis, though I had no other information than that. Here, once again, romance comes to the rescue and saves the day between her and her Nazi of choice. He was a 'good' Nazi, you understand, so really she was doing her country a service. She may have been a heartless bitch to her employees, but she was willing to sacrifice herself for a good cause, as long as there was promise of profits in the offing.

Truly, the book got on my nerves and I'm not sure why I stuck to it. I think the fact that it was written in the first person made it especially unpalatable, as this gave us an entirely subjective point of view on the kind of person she was without the benefit of the perspective of what her contemporaries thought of her very much.

Why am I even giving it three stars then? Because the author does a good job of describing the times and places, and as an entertainment, I suppose it was a good story. In fact it came highly recommended by a reviewer I've been following for quite a few years already. She may or may not have said words to the effect that it was a thumping good read. Of course, that is always a highly individual experience.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Psychopath Test

  • A Journey Through the Madness Industry
  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Narrated by: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,973
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,266
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,258

The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Quirky, intriguing and educational.

  • By Flavius Krakdaddius on 11-08-11

If You Think You Are One, You Certainly Aren't.

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

Reviewed: 02-13-17

Equipped with a 40 point questionnaire provided by its creator, Ronson sets out to identify psychopaths (once and for all, I now know that 'psychopath' and 'sociopath' are one and the same thing). He makes the very valid and probably all too true point that psychopaths are often to be found at the top of the echelon, as politicians and especially CEOs, since their lack of empathy and competitive urge and predatory instincts are useful traits to have in a cut-throat financial market. In the later part of the book, Ronson makes the case that psychiatry has overreached its purpose by giving diagnoses where none are necessarily needed, and he mentions both autism and bipolar disorder as two of the most commonly inappropriately and overused mental conditions ascribed to children. One specialist argues that there is no real evidence that bipolar disorder actually exists in children, as apparently the illness usually develops in late teens or young adulthood and not before. I contest this finding as I'm absolutely certain I've been 'bipolar' (or whatever new term they find for my specific condition in future) since early childhood.

One theory he proposes is that society, and specifically, all the EVILS in society, are caused by psychopaths shaping the world to suit their needs for exploitation and victimization. I believe this book has been hugely influential since it came out in 2011 and may directly or indirectly have influenced journalists and the public at large to claim that the current POTUS is unhinged and probably a psychopath... though since this term isn't used in DSM-4 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; DSM-5 was released in 2013, after the publication of this book), the closest diagnosis they can give is 'narcissistic personality disorder', which essentially amounts to the same thing.

Statistics show that 1% of the population are psychopaths and that they are much more present in our daily lives than we might realize. Most people reading on psychology and psychiatry has a natural tendency to worry that they may have whatever illness is described, so the question 'am I a psychopath?' is bound to occur to most readers, but the author claims that just the fact of worrying if you are one indicates you definitely aren't, since psychopaths aren't capable of introspection to begin with. Also, anyone with a surfeit of empathy, as Joh Ronson is (he suffers from pronounced anxiety problems) is more likely to be a victim of a predatory sociopath than to become one. The current theory is that people are born this way and are impossible to 'cure' and that trying to rehabilitate them only teaches them how to more convincingly mimic how most sane people express emotions, in effect providing a kind of 'finishing school' for psychopaths. I found those segments describing how the illness (or characters trait) is manifested and how researchers used extremely unusual methods (including LSD trials) to find a 'cure' really fascinating. Definitely recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • A Really Good Day

  • How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life
  • By: Ayelet Waldman
  • Narrated by: Ayelet Waldman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 760
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 687
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 685

When a small vial arrives in her mailbox from "Lewis Carroll", Ayelet Waldman is at a low point. Her mood storms have become intolerably severe; she has tried nearly every medication possible; her husband and children are suffering with her. So she opens the vial, places two drops on her tongue, and joins the ranks of an underground but increasingly vocal group of scientists and civilians successfully using therapeutic microdoses of LSD.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Radically Different Approach to Self-Medication

  • By Ilana on 01-15-17

A Radically Different Approach to Self-Medication

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

Reviewed: 01-15-17

This book came to my attention a few months before its release, when a caring friend mentioned that it might be of interest to me. This friend, along with most people who know me, was aware that I struggle daily with my mood disorder, and she was right in thinking I'd be curious to learn about a radically different approach to 'self-medication'.

Ayelet Waldman also suffers from mood disorders and according to her, she has taken just about every pharmaceutical drug available on the market, AND suffered all the accompanying side-effects. Treating a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder is complicated business and usually involves a whole drug cocktail to stabilize both the highs and lows. Approaching menopause, Waldman found that she was becoming more and more out of control, and the feeling she was putting her marriage at risk with repeated angry outbursts along with suicidal thoughts prompted her to seek a solution.

Having studied a book on the subject of microdosing which provided helpful guidelines, and not least of all, having procured a small vial of LSD from a mysterious source, she decided to become her own research subject for a month-long trial which involved taking minute amounts of LSD every three days and journaled any changes she was able to perceive over this period. At the kind of doses she was taking (about one-tenth of a standard hallucinogenic dose), the user experiences no hallucinatory effects whatsoever. Instead, she describes the overall effect of the experience as providing a feeling that one is more focused, more in control and with the general impression that one is just having... a really good day.

Waldman makes it very clear that she is by no means a typical drug user and that in fact, with her background as a Federal public defender, she is probably more cautious than most. She did a lot of reading and research on LSD to discover that it is actually a relatively safe drug and that one is unlikely to ever overdose on it. Furthermore, she was very much against the idea of 'tripping out' or getting high in any way. The doses she was taking did not produce psychotropic effects, which leads Waldman to make some very good points on the merits of legalization of drugs, which might be beneficial for treating individual who do not respond to other pharmaceutical drug regimens. She makes good points on why there is a need replace the ineffective and ultimately racist 'war on drugs', and develop a more practical approach to drug use, to, among other things, allow for more clinical trials and ultimately to give adults a right to decide for themselves whether they would like to alter their consciousness with drugs or not.

I would not say this is a 'general interest' book. I had a keen interest in it because it treats on a subject that is very close to me, but I can imagine that someone expecting to read about someone's wild experiences with LSD will be sorely disappointed.

95 of 95 people found this review helpful

  • The Gustav Sonata

  • A Novel
  • By: Rose Tremain
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 62
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 56

Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem only a distant echo. An only child, he lives alone with Emilie, the mother he adores but who treats him with bitter severity. He begins an intense friendship with a Jewish boy his age, talented and mercurial Anton Zweibel, a budding concert pianist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loyalty and Other Human Foibles

  • By Ilana on 10-07-16

Loyalty and Other Human Foibles

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

Reviewed: 10-07-16

The story takes place in a small town in Switzerland. Gustav and Anton are to be lifelong friends. They meet on their first day of kindergarten, with Anton in tears about his first day away from home and Gustav summoned by the teacher to keep him company. Gustav's mother is strict and unfeeling. Gustav is used to her unpleasant ways and doesn't take special notice of them. Anton is destined to become a concert pianist, showing signs of prodigality at a young age. Their childhood takes place in the 50s. Anton is Jewish with a banker father and doting mother. Gustav's mother holds a grudge against Jews, claiming she lost her husband because he tried to help their cause during the Holocaust. This novel does indeed feel like a sonata, with intimate portraits of each of the characters, going backward and forward in time, from the 30s and a newfound vocation for Gustav's mother, to the early 21st century, when both men have a loaded past separately and together. The characters come in and out of contact, in a kind of gentle dance. Rose Tremain's beautiful writing shines in this book, as it has done in the other five novels I've read by her in recent years. I learned a little bit about Switzerland, where nationalism was one of the core values and played a large part in helping that small county remain neutral during European conflicts. Loyalty is one of the themes explored here in depth, and once again, Tremain demonstrates a beautiful sensitivity to what makes humans tick. Highly recommended—one I will revisit for sure. Excellent narration by Derek Perkins on the audio version.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Nutshell

  • By: Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
  • Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,672
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,523
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,514

From the best-selling author of Atonement, Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master. To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Long Version, and the Short.

  • By Ilana on 09-19-16

The Long Version, and the Short.

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

Reviewed: 09-19-16

This was my sixth novel by Ian McEwan, and though I'd be hard-pressed to say which has been my favourite so far, it's safe to say "Nutshell" now ranks among my favourite novels of all time. This is one of those audiobooks I felt the need to take on much-hated household chores for, just so I could have a long stretch of listening time, and I listened to this audiobook in one extended, fascinating session (the house looks much better for it too).

A modern and loose retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, it has all the elements of high drama and theatrics you'd expect from the Bard, but whether you're 'into' Shakespeare, or even familiar with the original play or not hardly matters. Here is a very clever thriller about two lovers plotting murder for entirely selfish motives, the whole of which is narrated by a yet unborn foetus. An unusual and not especially credible narrator you might say, but then I've read books narrated by trees, dogs and horses among other things: the greatest reward comes if you're willing to suspend disbelief and go along with the story.

Trudy and her husband John are currently separated, though they are expecting their first child. The expecting mother claims she needs 'time to herself', but really, she just wants to keep the coast clear in the London marriage home that John inherited from his parents so that she and her lover Claude (who just happens to be John's younger brother) can indulge in frequent passionate sex and even more frequent plotting sessions. John must be gotten rid of, so they can get their hands on the fortune the sale of the house will bring, and nothing is going to get in their way. Possibly.

Our narrator has clearly inherited a large dose of his father's creative genius—John is a published poet and publisher, and baby expresses himself beautifully and with great wit, quotes famous literary authors and happens to be a wine aficionado thanks to his mother's frequent imbibing of fine vintages. He hates and mistrusts his uncle Claude, and for good reason. Apart from Claude possibly wanting to be rid of another man's baby, he's also an insufferable bore whose conversation is entirely made up of platitudes and boring clichés; not clear is whether Claude is a complete fool, or cleverly hiding his true self.

I've seen Rory Kinnear perform in Shakespeare plays, and his Iago, the great villain in Othello, was especially chilling. Here he brings all his talent to give voice to baby and all the other protagonists, and it's a brilliant performance.

***

But why am I using so many words? I should just copy/paste my spontaneous reaction when I finished the book, which I shared on Facebook:

"THIS BOOK IS BLOODY BRILLIANT!!! Hurry up and get your hands on it, and I defy you to NOT take it all in in one go. Also, if you're considering trying audiobooks, then this is one to go with, brilliantly performed by the fantastic Rory Kinnear, who is among other things, a superb Shakespeare actor, which is entirely fitting for a book referencing Hamlet. But wait! It's a thriller! Narrated by a foetus! With horrible people doing horrible things (plotting murder most foul), in most amusing ways. And needless to say, this being Ian McEwan, beautifully, beautifully written. I loved this book so much, I hurried up to purchase my own audio copy right after having listened to a library loaner. Kinnear's performance is definitely a keeper (and may he narrate many more remarkable books like this one).

50 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • The Various Haunts of Men

  • Simon Serrailler 1
  • By: Susan Hill
  • Narrated by: Steven Pacey
  • Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 79
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 58

A woman vanishes in the fog up on "the Hill", an area locally known for its tranquillity and peace. The police are not alarmed; people usually disappear for their own reasons. But when a young girl, an old man, and even a dog disappear, no one can deny that something untoward is happening in this quiet cathedral town.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • From the thoughts of the murderer....

  • By Hilary on 11-19-11

A Great Debut

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

Reviewed: 07-22-16

This book proved to be quite a *page turner* for me (or its audio equivalent), even though I've been making lots of noises in resent past about not liking to read about female victims and serial killers, be it fiction or otherwise. And then of course, I get excited about a book that is all about... mostly female victims (a dog too!) and... a serial killer. I went as far as sacrificing my bedtime reading session last night, which I always devote to an eye-eading book usually, but there was just one hour to go and I just HAD to finish it then and there. Describing the storyline without spoilers doesn't yield anything terribly original, and you can read the summary anywhere, but I'll say what made this one click for me was the main characters; the fact they all evolve in a small tight-knit community (some of the protagonists are family members of Simon Serailler, the hero of the series); also what I'd have to characterize as a woman's point of view, with lots of little details that only a woman would think to put in, which somehow made the whole mess bypass the inner critic who is always ready to ban disturbing reading from my life. I'll be continuing with the next book in the Simon Serrailler series for sure.

The narrator Steven Pacey added a lot to my enjoyment and I'm glad he narrated all the subsequent books so far.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful