Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape (Review)
reviews* / January 7, 2015

Title: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape Author: Jenna Miscavige Hill Narrator: Sandy Rustin Publication Year: 2013 Pages: 416 (audio length: 12 hours) Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com From the cover: Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org — the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape. In this tell-all memoir, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider’s profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. If I wasn’t already skeptical about Scientology when I started reading this book, it would have completely won me over. Beyond Belief is a terrifying story about how an…

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife (Review)
reviews* / January 6, 2015

Title: Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife Author: Irene Spencer Narrator: Laural Merlington Publication Year: 2007 Pages: 432 (audio length: 14 hours 10 minutes) Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com From the cover: Irene Spencer did as she felt God commanded in becoming the second wife to her brother-in-law Verlan LeBaron. When the government raided their community – the Mormon village of Short Creek, Arizona – seeking to enforce the penalties for practicing polygamy, Irene and her family fled to Verlan’s family ranch in Mexico. Here they lived in squalor and desolate conditions with Verlan’s six brothers, one sister, and numerous wives and children. This appalling and astonishing tale has captured the attention of readers around the world. Irene’s inspirational story reveals how far religion can be stretched and abused and how one woman and her children found their way out, into truth and redemption. Listening to this book was painful. Not because it was poorly written, or because the narration was bad. Not at all. It was painful because I just wanted to shake the author and everyone around her throughout pretty much the entire story. It was like watching a disaster happen and not being able to stop it….

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Review)
reviews* / December 23, 2014

Title: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America Author: Robert Whitaker Narrator: Ken Kliban Publication Year: 2010 Pages: 416 (audio length: 14 hours) Genre: Non-Fiction, Narrative Non-Fiction Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com From the cover: In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation’s children. What is going on? Anatomy of an Epidemic challenges readers to think through that question themselves. First, Whitaker investigates what is known today about the biological causes of mental disorders. Do psychiatric medications fix “chemical imbalances” in the brain, or do they, in fact, create them? Researchers spent decades studying that question, and by the late 1980s, they had their answer. Readers will be startled — and dismayed — to discover what was reported in the scientific journals. I have some seriously mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I feel…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Review)
reviews* / December 11, 2014

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Author/Narrator: Neil Gaiman Publication Year: 2013 Pages: 208 (audio length: 5 hours 48 minutes) Genre: Fiction, Fantasy Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com From the cover: Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie – magical, comforting, wise beyond her years – promised to protect him, no matter what. It took me a bit to get into this book. Maybe it was the frame story – the narrator looking back on his childhood from adulthood – but I just didn’t love it…