Written by: Elizabeth Bear
Narrated by: Jennifer Grace
Length: 13 hrs and 26 mins
Publisher: Recorded Books
Karen Memory can be classified as sci-fi fantasy, steampunk, western, mystery, or historical fiction. It is all of those. It is especially the tale of an extremely capable young woman who can be tender, nurturing and kick ass as the situation demands. Karen is one of the most memorable (figure the pun) heroines you will ever meet. She does not need a man to save her. The really great part of the story is the men do not need to be saved either. Both male and female characters are well developed and balanced. If a character is weak it is the personality of the character, not the gender that makes them so.
Karen Memory is a prostitute at Hôtel Mon Cherie, one of the better bordellos in what is to become Seattle. She works for Madame Damnable. Karen describes Madame as, “She’s got to be fifty-nine, and she’s still got a balcony you could do Shakespeare from.” The descriptions of people are wonderful. They are three dimensional with actions fitting with their characters. The range of characters is broad also. Besides Karen’s coworkers there are villains, inventors, and a broad range of nationalities as well as ethnicities.
Karen tells narrates her own story. Her voice is clear. Her backstory slips in where she feels it is relevant to what is happening. It does help explain her motivations and how she comes to working as a prostitute. The steampunk aspect of the story is very subtle. It is woven into the story and not distracting at all. Karen’s sexuality is seamlessly written into the story. Her attraction to women is not explained or commented on. It just is as it should be only a part of who she is.
The narration by Jennifer Grace is perfect. Karen’s voice is strong as she recounts the events that take place in the story. She admits her mistakes, admits her fears, and allows her anger to show. She felt very real to me, like someone I would want to call friend. The other voices are equally well done by Ms. Grace. The women’s voices are identifiable by pitch, accent or tone as are the men’s voices. It really is a great job narrating.
I enjoyed Karen Memory and was sad to see the book end. I know it will be one that I will revisit again and again.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
I received Karen Memory from Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for a fair review.
When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea was a fascinating look into a little known chapter of World War II history. The Channel Islands, owned by England but located very close to the French coast, were to be the launching pad for Hitler's invasion of England. Instead the Islands and their inhabitants endured years of occupation and deprivation.
Ms. Leas does such a wonderful job of creating not only the atmosphere of the time and place but the culture as well. For example, early in the book a resident of the Islands is explaining to an English immigrant the relationship between Island and Country. The character Edith explains, "It's like this you see: when William of Normandy took England for his own, we were part of Normandy. Part of the conquering army, if you like. Which means that we don't belong too England - England belongs to us. Our oldest possession, she is." Just that quote explains the complicated relationship between England and the Islands. England thinks they own the Islands and the Islands let them think that and continue to do whatever they want.
That independent spirit is a strong theme in the book.England abandoned the Islands supposedly to protect the civilian population. To the Islanders, England abandon them. They knew they would have to survive on their own without any help from anyone. The characters in the book all reflect that theme. The Islanders dig in their heels and work to survive. The German occupiers try to control a population defines passive-aggressive. The long Englishman in the book is precariously balanced between fear of the Germans sending him to a camp in Germany and trying to help the population who general distrust outsiders.
There are good Islanders as well as bad ones. Also good Germans as well as the brutal Nazis. And there are many in between. Part of the charm of this book is that it was not predictable, did not end as I thought and managed to break my heart several times.
If you have seen the BBC production of "Islands at War", be aware that is a very different picture than When the Sky Fell Apart. The book is probably a more accurate picture of how the civilians suffered during the occupation but did not break. I reccomend When the Sky Fell Apart with 4 out of 5 Stars.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair review.
Collision Course: The Classic Story of the Collision of the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm
by Alvin Moscow
Open Road Integrated Media
Nonfiction (Adult), History
Pub Date 11 Dec 2015
Collision Course: The Classic Story of the Collision of the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm was written by Alviin Moscow in 1959, just three years after the event. Over the years, the author has updated the book as new information became available. The latest edition is dated 2015 and includes information about the continuing efforts to explore the wreck.
The Andrea Doria was the definition in Italian elegance when she sailed between Geno, Italy and New York. She had made over one hundred crossings. She was beautiful ship, decorated with Italian artwork and the best in comfort in all three classes. After 11:00pm on July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided off the coast of Nantucket with the Swedish liner Stockholm. There is still
debated on which ship caused the collision. Mr. Moscow does a great job of detailing the history of both ships and the events leading up to the collision.
The book also includes great pictures and blueprints of both ships. It also includes the series of photos taken the morning after showing the sinking of the Andrea Doria. Many of the survivors' stories, as well as testimony from the inquiries help give the book a very human touch. If you enjoyed Eric Larson's Dead Wake, you will enjoy Collision Course. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair review.
This piece first appeared in the York Daily Record on Feb. 19, 2016
Has anyone truly learned anything from the candidates at the Republican debates? I have learned they do not respect one another.
They take personal shots at one another and criticize their opponents’ families. They all purport to have solutions, but I honestly have no clue what these solutions are. There seems to be yelling and interrupting and not much else. They are not answering questions; they are attacking one another, posturing and using rude language for shock value.
Recently, I have seen unbelievable disrespect toward Justice Scalia. The man just died. His family is in mourning. No matter what you thought of the man as a person or justice, it really is rude to celebrate his death on social media. His family does not deserve to have your scorn heaped upon them. I wonder what some people’s mothers would think if they saw their adult children’s social media posts.
The debates and social media are only symptoms of a bigger problem in American society. We have no civility. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines civility as polite, reasonable and respectful behavior. When was the last time you witnessed polite, reasonable and respectful behavior from any level of government officials? We no longer discuss issues or have conversations; we have confrontations.
A wise man once told me, “It does not cost anything to be polite.” It was a great principle I have carried through my life. I make sure to thank people for holding doors, bagging groceries. I address men, no matter what age, as sir and women as ma’am. It truly does not cost me anything and hopefully gains me the goodwill of the people I am civil toward. I raised my children with the same principle. Even now, in their early 20s, people remark on their politeness. Hopefully, they will raise their children with that same mantra.
Being polite does matter. It does create a more welcoming atmosphere for dialogue. And dialogue is what we should be having. No, we do not all agree with one another on everything, especially politics and religion. We should not have to. The United States is a pluralistic society – or it is meant to be. We have the freedom to express our opinions. But we do not have to express them in “my way or the highway terms.” There should be room for disagreeing. It is not a barrier to conversation; it is a way to stimulate conversation. Reasonable conversation may not change your mind, but it may give you a better understanding of why the other person does not see the issue the same way you do.
We need to become a civil society. The best way to achieve this in the national sphere is to develop statesmen instead of politicians. The definition of a statesman is one who is versed in the principles or art of government – especially actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies. Key words there are actively engaged in conducting, in other words, working not obstructing. We can insist that they answer questions and work on solving problems, not creating them. As citizens, we can communicate through phone calls, email or social media that their behavior is not acceptable and will cost them our vote if not rectified.
We can also cultivate civility in our own lives. We can encourage people to discuss, not incite. We can respect others’ opinions without having to agree with them. We can tell people our opinions, but we have to be willing to listen to theirs in return. You do not have to agree, but you must respect their right to have their own opinions.
We all see the world through different eyes, literally. No two people see exactly the same thing. Our perceptions are based on our experiences and education (informal and formal). Our life events shape how we react to people and events. It is impossible for us all to have the same opinions because we are individuals, not a Borg collective.
We need to embrace our individuality.
We need to celebrate it.
We need to use it in discussing the hard issues of the day.
Problems will never be solved while we treat words like collaboration and cooperation with disdain.
Rated 5 of 5 stars
“A re-imagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer, from the author whose work The New York Times described as “riveting” and The Wall Street Journal called “thrilling.” Description on NetGalley site
I was intrigued by Jane Eyre as a serial killer. I love Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and the thought of her being a serial killer was too hard to pass on. Lyndsay Faye does an excellent job of bridging the gap between Bronte’s prose style and a little less formal style. It was a very approachable text and drew me right in.
If the reader had not read Jane Eyre already, they will still enjoy Jane Steele. Ms. Faye uses quotations from Jane Eyre sprinkled throughout the text. The quotes mirror what is occurring in Jane Steele’s own story. For someone who has read and loved Jane Eyre, the quotes are like magic touchstones tying the two works together.
It is hard to discuss the plot without giving any spoilers. Let me say that Jane is an amazing character. She is no one’s victim and fully cognizant of her misdeeds and her motivations. I found that I liked her quite a bit. The other main character à la Mr. Rochester is complex and is slowly revealed through the course of the story. There were many unique and distinctly not British characters in this book. They were fascinating. I will be looking into a few of the books the author recommends to learn more.
The story moves along at a good pace, slower in some parts and faster in others. It works well. I did not become bored or distracted while reading it. The story had my full attention. Finally one sentence the author wrote in her afterward resonates very strongly with me and I think it is a fitting ending for a review of the book. “I hope the epitaph of the human race when the world ends will be: Here perished a species which lived to tell stories.”
This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
Valentine's Day is NOT about giving your partner flowers, chocolates, a card or dinner out once a year. Valentine's Day is a young man who respects his lady and supports her life choices. Valentine's Day is a young woman, who even overwhelmed with her own challenge, takes the time to support her young man. Valentine's Day is a husband who sticks around for over 30 yrs through the good times, the bad times and the was "I freaking nuts to marry this woman" times. Valentines Day is loving, honoring, respecting and not taking your partner for granted 365 days a year. Men/women who think one day of hearts and flowers are enough is not the kind of partner anyone deserves.
Written by: Richard Poche
Narrated by: S W Salzman
Length: 2 hrs and 42 mins
Publisher: Richard Poche
Carnivore is a story set in the urban area of Oakland, CA. It is a pretty standard werewolf story. Nothing really struck me as new or inventive. The story itself was enjoyable as a quick story in a genre I enjoy. It contains the usual props; silver knives, howling, and a lot of blood. The story did have an abrupt ending. I am assuming this will be the first book in a series if the author feels it has an audience.
S W Salzman did a nice job narrating. He kept his narration in sync with the pacing of the story. He does well with the different accents required by the characters. But there were times when I was ready to quit the book.
The background sound effects and music were horrible. They were distracting and often overwhelmed the narrator’s voice. The use of a guttural or demonic voice announcing each chapter was nails on a chalkboard. The beginning of Chapter Four, I can barely hear the narrator over the music. Dear Producer, please make it stop. Let the narrator carry the story. He is more than capable and the added noises were killing the audiobook.
I will try another audiobook narrated by S W Salzman if it is not produced by the same group. I may also try a book by Richard Poche. But I will definitely listen to as much of the sample as I can to make sure it does not contain all the sound effects and background music.
Audiobook provided for review by the narrator in exchange for a fair review.
Story (Plot) 3
Production Quality 1
Attention Holding 2
Advise and Consent
Written by: Allen Drury
Narrated by: Allan Robertson
Length: 33 hrs and 17 mins
Series: Advise and Consent, Book 1
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks
When I was a teen in the 1970’s, and reading everything I could get my hands on, my mother suggested Advise and Consent by Allan Drury. I did not pick it up until I was 53 years old and my mother had been gone twenty-seven years. Mom, you were right. It is a fantastic book and well worth reading over and over.
The audiobook, narrated by Allan Robertson, is over 33 hours long. I was very impressed by the end of the first hour. Allan Robertson does a fantastic job narrating this book. His cast of characters range from the President to Senators from multiple states and regions to women. It was easy to hear which character was speaking. Mr. Robertson gave them individual, recognizable and authentic voices. No easy task with a book that involves so many characters.
The book itself, written in 1959, is a political thriller. It is also a very accurate look at how things get done in Washington behind the scene. The author gets it right how most of the work is done in committee and caucus meetings. Before the bill ever hits the full Senate, it has already gone through countless hours of negotiation. While this may sound boring, Drury makes it suspenseful and exciting.
The main plot of the story is the Senate deciding whether or not to confirm the President’s candidate for Secretary of State. Of all the cabinet positions, Secretary of State is the most visible and career enhancing. Several main characters are opposed to the nominee from the beginning, either through personal conflicts or ideological ones. When allegations arise that the nominee has communist sympathies (remember this is 1959 and there was still a very real Cold War with the USSR), the majority party is faced with the choice of doing what their party leader, the President, wants or doing what they feel is right for the country. Backroom deals and blackmail soon become the currency of securing the needed votes. It is still very relevant to the reader in 2016. The USSR may be gone into the history books, but the threats, perceived or real, to our country still exist.
The writing is excellent. One of my favorite quotes so far is, "who will do what and why, all the web of interlocking interests and desires and ambitions and arrangements that always lies behind the simple ultimate, final statement, 'The Senate voted today-." I love this one because it is so true. By the time the news reports what the Senate voted on, so much has happened to create those words. Another great quote is when the President is thinking about his mistake in supporting a Senator who is dishonest and power hungry. The President thinks, “He suspects he has created a baby Moloch who will continue to demand sacrifices.”
I highly recommend Advise and Consent. The audio version with the narrator’s excellent job on creating the characters is perfect. I just purchased the second book (Kindle and audio versions) in the series.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
I received Advise and Consent provided from Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for a fair review.
This article originally appeared in the York Sunday News
How one person can change the world
Nann Halliwell, Community Columnist 2:58 p.m. EST January 11, 2016
Personal advocacy can make a difference.
There are very few people who would describe themselves as satisfied with the world situation or even our country’s political path. Yet, for the most part, the only action taken is complaining, especially on social media.
There is no logical action taken to try to improve the situation. How does that effect change? Instead of unproductive complaining, there is a simple tool that can be used to effect change and is as equally powerful when wielded by the individual as by the masses. That tool is advocacy.
When people think of advocacy, we tend to think of the “big boys” and their causes, Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s, Susan Komen and Breast Cancer, and the NRA and gun control. Reminiscent of the belief that our individual voices are not heard in politics unless we belong to one of the two mainstream parties, we buy into the thought that we must have an organization to advocate for us. While organizations can be helpful in advocating, they are by no means necessary. All you need to advocate is your personal experience and the desire to make your voice heard.
I was diagnosed with Essential Tremor, the most common yet least known movement disorder, when I was 39 years old. The president of Tremor Action Network (www.tremoraction.org), Kathleen Welker, helped me understand how advocacy works and mentored me as I left my comfort zone to advocate for an increase in research.
My advocacy is minor compared to two local women whose advocacy has literally saved lives.
Vickie Glatfelter and Alyssa Rohrbaugh both watched their children suffer with addiction to heroin. Shortly after losing her son to a heroin overdose, Vickie decided to reach out to others in the same situation. She stated, “I felt the need to be there for other families to help them in any way I could.” Alyssa meet Vickie at the rally organized to make the problem of heroin public. They decided to form a local chapter of the national organization “Not One More.” Through their advocacy, lives have been saved. Narcan, a heroin antidote administered in overdoses, is now available for police and first responders.
Vickie perfectly sums up the benefits of advocacy, “I feel the more vocal we are, the more awareness we will raise. By reaching out and letting others know we understand and want to help, we will begin to break the stigma. There is so much we can do, but it is a long and winding road until we will see a difference. But by working together, we can accomplish this.”
So how do you start to advocate? You simply start telling your story. Whatever your issue is that you want to see change in, share your story. To share your story, you first must create it. Remember when creating your story to highlight the two “I”s: Issue and Impact. What is the issue you want to change? How has it impacted your life? You may have to tweak your story depending on the audience you are sharing it with, but the most important thing is to share.
Who should you share it with? Your audiences can be anyone who you feel needs to hear your voice. A couple of examples are legislatures (local, state and federal), news outlets (newspapers, TV and blogs) and other local resources.
While it may seem intimidating to contact your legislative representatives, keep in mind, they work for you. Not the other way around. Your time is valuable, and if they want to keep their job, they will listen.
When you are ready to host an event or put up a display, your local library may help you by providing you with a space and advertising an event.
Use social media. Today, social media is one of the most important and influential ways people receive their information. Use your existing social media (Facebook, Twitter) to raise awareness. Or start a new account specifically to keep your topic a part of the Internet conversation. Remember to use your social media to educate and raise awareness, not start a Twitter war. Your tone must be calm. Provide information from reliable resources and links to relevant articles online related to your issue.
A few final tips to help make your advocating effective: If you can see the person (legislator or their aide), it adds another level of personalization to your story and helps lock it into their minds. Be persistent. Keep emailing or calling until you finally reach the right person. Face-to-face meetings trump phone calls or emails. Support others who are working toward the same goal as you. Share why you advocate and educate those whom you come in contact with.
One person can make a difference. I did. I was able to get my congressional representative as well as another representative to join the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus. Vickie and Alyssa were able to literally save lives by getting Narcan into the hands of the people who can save addicts from overdosing. Is there more we can do? Yes, and we are not done by a long shot. You can make a difference. Just harness your passion and go.
My original Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.
The only book I have ever encountered before about Storyville was The Girl From Storyville by Frank Yerby, published in 1972. As I listened to Spectacular Wickedness, I was struck by how accurate of a picture Yerby had portrayed in his novel. Emily Epstein Landau introduces us to the real Storyville.
New Orleans had a reputation for being a city of sin from it’s earliest days. Landau traces how this reputation was earned in each incarnation of the city. From the French, Creoles, and Americans, as New Orleans changed hands, it did not change its reputation. In 1897, the city passed a zoning code establishing a red light district in the hope of containing the vice to one area. The hope was if the vice was contained, visitors would see more of the honest hard working community and attract more business. This red light district became Storyville and for almost twenty years it was the wildest red light district in the country.
Landau explores the history of Storyville through primary source documentation from individuals from all points of the social and economic spectrum. The most important business in Storyville was sex. There were closet sized bordellos and very fancy upscale bordellos. The women who worked there were members of all races as were their customers. The major difference was while the sex workers may be of several different races within a bordello, the clientele would only be white or non-white. The rules concerning races were less stringent in Storyville then outside the red light district. That all changed with the advent of Jim Crow laws due to the Supreme Court ruling on Plessy vs. Ferguson which started in the New Orleans courts. Another area Landau explores is how Storyville was an incubator for Jazz. Many great jazz musicians began their careers playing at the bars, clubs or bordellos in Storyville. Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton are just two of these greats who worked there.
Lee Ann Howlett does a good job narrating Spectacular Wickedness. The subject matter is complex and dense at times. Her voice is pleasant and never goes to monotone. Her narration reminded me of a good college professor. It is similar to listening to a very good lecture.
Spectacular Wickedness is fascinating. Ms. Howlett does a fine job with it. The only reason I rated it as 4 stars for attention holding is because of the complexity of the information. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to look at a familiar topic through a new perspective.
Story 5 stars
Performance 5 stars
Production Quality 5 stars
Attention Holding 4 stars
Overall 5 stars
Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com