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Member Since 2015

  • 14 reviews
  • 332 ratings
  • 1504 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2018

  • Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Chrystia Freeland
    • Narrated By Allyson Ryan

    There has always been some gap between rich and poor in this country, but in the last few decades what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Alarmingly, the greatest income gap is not between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, but within the wealthiest 1 percent of our nation-as the merely wealthy are left behind by the rapidly expanding fortunes of the new global super-rich. Forget the 1 percent; Plutocrats proves that it is the wealthiest 0.1 percent who are outpacing the rest of us at break-neck speed.

    Alsherif says: "For me, good for reading not listening"
    "Good Storytelling but ... analysis is "eh'"

    You may note a three-star rating for "overall' and four-star rating for "story' -- which may seem a bit backward. Well ...
    the stories of the world's plutocrats are interesting ...
    but ...
    the analysis is ...
    well, maybe it is me. Maybe I just do not understand the terminology being used. I am not a Harvard educated entitled elite -- I attended Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota. And maybe that is why I have a "normal" person's understanding of certain words -- like "liberalization."
    To me, "liberal" refers to left leaning policies that lean toward socialism and away from free-market and business-positive policies. However, that is not how "liberalization" is used in this book.
    Also, the author has spent decades reporting on the plutocrats, even attending some of the same meetings and conferences they attend. I think she identifies herself as one of them, to some degree, because she enjoys some of the same perks they do.
    So, I find her analysis of the situation a bit "off" -- or so it seems to me.
    Thankfully I had already listened to other books that touch on subjects mentioned here, so I wasn't lost when they were brought up and also could wonder at her analysis that seemed unaware of these other aspects of the events she refers to. One such book I would recommend is How I Caused the Credit Crunch -- An Insider's Story of the Financial Meltdown by Tetsuya Ishikawa (who worked for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and ABN AMRO); it describes quite well the truly weird financial instruments and the huge bonuses financiers were making on their sale that led to the financial melt-down -- an understanding one probably needs to understand the basis for the wealth of the lower portion of the 1% ... the so-called "working rich" Freeland refers to in PLUTOCRATS.
    And a second negative -- not just of the book but of how many people (economists, at least, talk this way) think -- is the idea that making people "richer" or that increasing their income is actually a measure of progress. Well, I did not state that properly. I mean, to compare the daily wage of someone in China in dollars with an American factory worker's daily wage -- is stupid. Yes, I agree that a daily income of about $2 versus whatever an American makes a day is hugely disparate. But a more honest indicator would be an indication of the daily wage set against a cost-of-living index. Give me those kinds of stats to make your point. Don't just tell me you are making people richer. Though it is a novel, the second or third of Tarquin Hall's "Vish Puri" novels will tell you about the disparity the new wealth is causing -- and imply that this new wealth is causing inflation of prices and introduction of products most Indians cannot afford, and statistics comparing the median income against cost of living just might show that the "making people richer" line is perhaps not true ... ?
    Now, having given you my "negative" views -- I do recommend the book, but only if set among other books on similar topics and subjects for a broader view of the analysis. I did learn a lot, though, about how Plutocrats think, where they've come from and some of their influence. Therefore, I do recommend this book with slight reservation. :-)

    The narrator is very good except for a few words that were mispronounced. Overall, the narrator does an excellent job.

    18 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Susan Elia MacNeal
    • Narrated By Susan Duerden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain's beloved royals against an international plot - one that could change the course of history. As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5.

    Jennifer says: "Terrible Narration"
    "Good book but not as good as 1st Maggie Hope book"

    When I bought the book on the day it was released, I thought "OO, maybe I'll be the first to write a review."
    When I finished listening to the book, I thought, "Um ... I hope I'm not the first to write a review; I'll wait a while ..."

    Unfortunately, this second Maggie Hope book is not as good as the first.

    The narrator for this book is not very good at all. In fact, the opening pages of the book are ... well, I almost gave up even before the real action started, and I wasn't sure if it was just the narrator or not.
    Once the action got going, it kept me interested enough to listen to the end.

    However ...
    It was my own fault ...

    This second book has come out so soon after the first book, that I made an assumption. I assumed it would be the same reader as the first book, and did not bother listening to the sample.
    I haven't listened to it. So I do not know if it includes any of the voice given to Maggie --
    which is far too childish and petulant for someone in her position and of her age.

    The action of the story was enough to let me overlook that annoying factor.

    But, the few times that Mr. Churchill appears in the novel, I would expect some attempt to be made to sound like him. Nope. He sounds like any gruff older man in any manor house story of early 20th century Britain. Sorry -- that was a very poor decision by the director and producer of this audiobook.
    Of course, having a woman try to sound like Churchill is sort of like female Elvis impersonators ... **Shudder**
    And, almost any attempt to mimic a Churchillian voice is almost a joke -- but it still needs to be attempted if he speaks in an audiobook.

    And the attempts at the few German character voices -- **bigger shudder** -- almost more of a cartoony sounding voice than an honest attempt.

    Now, as for the novel itself -- I'm sorry, it is not as good as the first Maggie Hope book. However, it is good. :-)

    But, I doubt I will be picking up the third book when it comes out until after at least 10 people review it -- and then, I'll probably try to borrow it from the public library and listen to it before I purchase it. Based on the set up for that book as set down in the final pages / moments of this book -- it's not really something that I think I'll be interested in. Bummer. I really liked the first book and had eagerly anticipated more books about Maggie Hope in the future. **sigh**

    Be sure to listen to the sample before you decide to get this as an audiobook. It is a good book -- maybe get the print version. Or if you really want to listen to it -- honestly, if it is available as a Kindle book with the "text-to-voice" option enabled -- you may just prefer that voice ... (I have actually found two books, so far, that I did prefer the text-to-voice version even though it can't handle words like "Mrs." [comes out as "M R S"] or "c'mon" [which comes out as "C Monday"] ...)

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Urchin of the Riding Stars: The Mistmantle Chronicles, Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By M.I. McAllister
    • Narrated By Andrew Sachs

    The island of Mistmantle is inhabited by red squirrels, otters, hedgehogs, and moles and ruled from Mistmantle tower by a hedgehog king. Urchin is an orphan squirrel who was found abandoned soon after birth on one of the island's beaches and was raised by other animals. On leaving school, he is employed at court as a page by the dashing Captain Crispin. Mistmantle has always been a free society, but under the influences of a squirrel Captain called Husk, the King is enforcing harsh new laws.

    Kate says: "Great story, but slightly unabridged"
    "Lots of Loveable Animals in a Touch Situation"

    Who can resist cute little baby hedgehogs and squirrels? Apparently Lord Husk can.

    Urchin's mother comes to Mistmantle as a stowaway on a ship, gives birth and dies. A seagull picks up the newborn squirrel and while flying away with him, drops him accidentally. He is found, unhurt, and named Urchin ...
    He grows up to become a page to one of the squirrel Lords and works clear his name when he is accused of murder.

    One reviewer (of the book at Amazon) claims to like this series better than Brian Jacques's Redwall series. So, I had high hopes of this book. I should never go to a book with expectations ...

    If I had not been prepared to compare it to the Redwall series, I probably would give it the full five stars -- though the death of the mother squirrel at the very beginning of the story probably would have brought the final stars to 4 anyhow.

    It was an enjoyable listen ... except ...
    one reviewer here says there is something missing from the text (about an hour from the end) ... since I am not familiar with the book version of the story, I cannot comment on that. BUT, it seems to me that something is missing at the end. It seemed a bit too abrupt. I may have to request the book from the Public Library inter-library loan just to check out the final paragraph of the tale.
    Otherwise a great listen. Lots of likeable, even loveable, characters; plenty of tension.

    A word about the narrator: I've listend to a couple of other books narrated by Andrew Sachs and each time an image of Manuel, the waiter in the 1970s BBC comedy Fawlty Towers (written by and starring John Cleese), comes to mind -- then as I listen, I find it hard to believe it is the same person. :-) Love listening to Sachs' narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • And Another Thing...: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Eoin Colfer
    • Narrated By Simon Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Arthur Dent's accidental association with that wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has not been entirely without incident.Arthur has traveled the length, breadth, and depth of known, and unknown, space. He has stumbled forward and backward through time. He has been blown up, reassembled, cruelly imprisoned, horribly released, and colorfully insulted more than is strictly necessary.

    John Williams says: "A delightful return to the H2G2 Universe"
    "Should be a 5 star review but ..."

    Due to a glitch in the production, a section of the book is in the wrong place which sort of plays havoc with the flow of the story.
    Otherwise, it is a 5 star production. It helps A LOT to have Simon Jones (Arthur Dent in the radio productions) reading this book; he does the voices so perfectly.
    Colfer has done an excellent job of using Adams' stories, the BBC radio performances and the Dirk Gently themes to craft an excellent sixth part to the Hitchhiker's Trilogy. If you were disappointed with the ending of the book version of "Mostly Harmless" be sure to listen to the radio version of Mostly Harmless then immediately move on to this book ... you won't be disappointed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Opal Deception: Artemis Fowl, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Eoin Colfer
    • Narrated By Nathaniel Parker

    After his last run-in with the fairies, Artemis Fowl had his mind wiped of his memories of the world below ground. Any goodness he had grudgingly learned is now gone, and the young genius has reverted to his criminal lifestyle.

    Emiko says: "Another Great Book"
    "Not the best of the Series"

    Of all the books in the series I've listened to so far (I'm up to book 5 now), this one is not the best. Perhaps it is because it dwells a lot in the mind and actions of Opal Koboi and less with the LEP and Artemis Fowl. The Artemis Fowl series is a good series of books once you get into them. So, don't let this less than stellar specimen keep you from the entire series. The rest of the series makes up for it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies That the Government Tells

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Jesse Ventura, Dick Russell
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson

    In this explosive account of wrongful acts and ongoing cover-ups, Jesse Ventura takes a systematic look at the wide gap between what the American government knows and what it reveals to the American people. For too long, we the people have sat by and let politicians and bureaucrats from both parties obfuscate and lie. And according to this former Navy SEAL, former pro wrestler, and former Minnesota governor, the media is complicit in these acts of deception.

    Lee says: "Extremely disturbing and Thought provoking"
    "Lots of things you didn't know but should"

    Not your typical "conspiracy" type book. Actually well presented and tells truths that most Americans do not know but should.
    I lived in MN when Jesse was elected governor. I always thought he had run just to raise the ratings of his radio program and thought he was just as surprised as the media when he actually won. Though he ran as an Independent, in office he acted more like a Republican than he comes across as in this book. If he had acted according to the attitudes he presents here, he would have been begged to governor again. Anyhow, he presents some very interesting facts here that every American should know. For instance, did you know that John Wilkes Booth was not a "lone assassin" when he shot Lincoln? It is known that he was part of a conspiracy and was part of a group that attempted other assassinations that same night, but our history books keep telling the same story over and over. I won't spoil it by telling you some of the more interesting things Jesse reveals. You need to listen for yourself, decide for yourself. You need to be informed -- and if the media won't tell you, maybe you'll let Jesse tell you.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Wish You Were Here

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Sneaky Pie Brown, Rita Mae Brown
    • Narrated By Kate Forbes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy - and her human companion, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen. Small towns are like families: Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets. Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town - until its secrets explode into murder. Crozet's thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her.

    Naked and Hungry says: "Language of the Cats"
    "My Introduction to this Series"

    There are a lot of books in this series. I got this one during one of Audible's sales -- and the low low low price lets me be a little bit more positive about the book. It wasn't a bad book. It wasn't poorly written. It wasn't a bad mystery, either. But my favorite parts were the interactions between the tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker) and the cat belonging to the owner of a business near Crozet's post office. I expected the animals to play a larger role in the solving of the mystery, based on the description of the book. I doubt I will buy other books in the series unless offered during one of the Low Low Low priced sales again -- I think I will seek out the series through the local public library's inter-library loan or their online book download service (download and listen for a week for free) ...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Barbara Ehrenreich
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Americans are a "positive" people - cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity. In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal 19th-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude.

    Susan says: "Finally an Answer to "The Secret""
    "Finally an Answer to "The Secret""

    At last! Someone SANE! Someone who can see the downside to being Up and Thinking Positive all the time.

    I had heard Barbara's take on the "cancer survivor" issue on Book TV on CSPAN a few years ago. In the book, she goes into more detail. I agree and won't buy anything "pink" as a result.
    The Secret and all the other Think Positive, Use the Universe and Magnetism to Attract, and the Name It Claim It people out there are really messing up the minds of a generation or two. It is insidious and has crept into almost every aspect of American life. It is frightening.
    If you are tired of the Blame The Victim mentality of this nation, here is a book that at least explains the source of that way of thinking. Because, you see, if anything bad happens to you, it is because YOU attracted it to yourself by considering it, by not thinking positively enough, or by allowing it to happen to yourself -- according to the prevailing thought. Lost your job? Lost your home to foreclosure? Got sick? Yep, Positive Thinking will tell you it is all your own fault. Barbara Ehrenreich tells you that is all bunk! And I believe her.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Old Harry's Game: Christmas Special

    • ORIGINAL (57 mins)
    • By Andy Hamilton
    • Narrated By Jimmy Mulville, Andy Hamilton, Robert Duncan, and others

    Andy Hamilton's fiendishly funny BBC Radio 4 sitcom set in Hell returns for a two-part festive special. Satan embarks on an epic quest and encounters Queen Victoria, Harpo Marx, a highly intelligent bluebottle, Death, Davina McCall, and St Peter and his rottweilers.

    Susan says: "Not my favorite of the series"
    "Not my favorite of the series"

    This really isn't a Christmas tale. It may have been aired around Christmas, hence the title ...
    Has an interesting storyline but not one of the better ones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How to Train Your Dragon

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Cressida Cowell
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle

    Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III may be the son of the brave leader of the mighty Viking tribe the Hairy Hooligans, but he certainly doesn’t feel very heroic. When Hiccup and the other boys his age are challenged to pick baby dragons from the dragon nursery, Hiccup actually manages to catch a small one. But now how will he train his stubborn new pet?

    Susan says: "Not the same as the movie"
    "Not the same as the movie"

    Amazing -- how screenwriters can take the names of characters and the blurb from the back of a book and come up with something completely different than the original book. In this case, the movie was really good. And I thought this book was even better.
    Hiccup's attempts to raise and train his dragon, Toothless, are important -- if he fails, he will be outcast from the tribe. He and his friend try different methods of training their dragons, as do the other boys of the tribe who must also succeed or be thrown out of the tribe into the wilds. When one boy mutters, he's asked, "Where do you think you are? A democracy like the Roman Empire?"
    A good, fun listen. If you enjoyed the movie, you'll love the book. If you didn't see the movie, you will probably still love the book.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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