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Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

  • 194 reviews
  • 194 ratings
  • 454 titles in library
  • 87 purchased in 2014

  • Silent Mercy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Linda Fairstein
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It's the middle of the night. Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper is called to Harlem's Mount Neboh Baptist Church, a beautiful house of worship originally built as a synagogue. But the crowd gathered there isn't interested in architecture, or even prayer. They've come for the same reason Alex has: to find out why the body of a young woman has been decapitated, set on fire, and left burning on the church steps.

    Beverly says: "Not up to Fairstein's Usual Flair"
    "Disappointed Alex Cooper Fan"

    I finished reading “Silent Mercy” a couple of weeks ago, and I waited to write this review because I realized I was angry.

    I’ve been reading Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper series for years. I have half a dozen of the books in hardback, and I’ve kept them instead of donating them, because I’ve reread a few. Rereading a book you love is like going back to a favorite neighborhood park – sure, you know the park very well, but there are always new things to notice.

    I love the genre – New York City legal/crime procedurals. The characters are interesting and grow and change, but not so much that it hurts to read a book out of order.

    Since I’m a lawyer, I like to call these “attorney porn.” Alex Cooper has more money than she’ll ever need; the freedom to tell off her elected bosses without worrying about how she’ll pay the mortgage if she gets fired; enough free time to devote all the time she wants to her current cases; she keeps up with her hobby of ballet dancing; and go to expensive restaurants with her friends several times a week. If a real practicing lawyer exists like that, I’ve never met her.

    The reason that I was angry after reading the book was that there was a lengthy anti-Catholic Church screed in the middle of the book, and it didn’t advance the plot. Fiction can be extremely important in bringing forth important social issues (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, for example, was crucial in advancing the anti-slavery cause) but “Silent Mercy” didn’t do it for me. Parts of “Silent Mercy” were like suddenly finding myself in the middle of an op-ed piece.

    That being said, I’ve liked too many of the Alex Cooper books, and the actual plot in this one was intriguing enough to get over my feelings, and I finished it. I am not going to stop reading this author because of this book.

    About the narration: listening to Barbara Rosenblat is like listening to a storyteller as she drinks a warmed snifter of brandy in front of a fire, her voice roughened by a few cigarettes and a late night. I always enjoy her narrations, but the reason my rating isn’t higher is that in a few places, Mercer sounded like Wallace, and Wallace like Mercer. That was confusing, and distracting.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Tears of the Giraffe: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Lisette Lecat

    Now engaged to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe must contend with the hostility of her fianci's unscrupulous maid, who quickly begins plotting the disintegration of the arrangement. Then an American woman asks for help to learn the truth behind her son's disappearance in Africa, and Mma Ramotswe has all the troubles she can handle.

    Barbara says: "A tender tale, sweetly told"
    "Rooibos and Riddles"

    Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (1998) starts a lovely, easy to listen to mystery series featuring the traditionally built, modern thinker Precious Ramotswe.

    In "The Tears of the Giraffe" (2000) is the second in the series. Mma Ramotswe has accepted Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's marriage proposal. Mma Ramotswe insists on a traditional engagement, but Mr. J. L. B.'s engagement gifts are anything but.

    While he is nervously trying to figure out how to explain his largesse, Mma Ramotswe is engaged to find out how a young man disappeared a decade before. The solution doesn't make a terribly complex mystery, and Smith breaches the mystery writer's covenant with respect to introducing potential suspects. It's a little annoying for those raised in the Agatha Christie tradition.

    Mma Ramotswe is working to fill her promise to Grace Makutsi, the highest scoring graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College. Mma Makutsi had her choice of the best of employers but chose The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency for its promise of unconventional adventure. In "Tears of the Giraffe", she solves her very first case.

    The book is set in Gabaronne, Botswana. It sounds like a lovely but very conservative place. Smith writes it as though Its natural resources and strong government mean that it's mostly Motswana citizens tend to look down on foreigners and nomadic tribesman. That may be what happens, but it's jarring to someone raised in the (supposedly) post-racial United States. However, I am convinced I should retire to Botswana so I can enjoy my final years not having to worry about how much I weigh.

    This worked well for me as an audible, because I wasn't familiar with the pronunciations in text only. "Mma" confused me, I'm glad to know what it sounds like.

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    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Love Songs from a Shallow Grave: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Three young Laotian women have died from fencingsword wounds. Each of them had studied abroad in an Eastern bloc country. Before he can complete his investigation, Dr. Siri is lured to Cambodia by an allexpensespaid trip. Accused of spying for the Vietnamese, he is imprisoned, beaten, and threatened with death. The Khmer Rouge is relentless, and it is touch and go for the dauntless, 74-year-old national—and only—coroner of Laos.

    Deborah Dalton says: "Horrible Narration, engrosing story"
    ""There's Always Someone Worse Off Than You . . .""

    Unless you're Cambodian" Dr. Siri Paiboun, 1979.

    Collin Cotterill's 2011 "Love Songs from a Shallow Grave: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 7" (2011) is the most overtly political and the most plain scary of Cotterill's series to date. In the first two minutes, we learn that founding Lao communist party member and National Coroner Dr. Siri is being held someplace terrible and terrifying. He's been tortured, and people around him are dying. Siri hosts the 1000 year-old spirit Ya Ming, the dead crowd into his prison cell with him. The amulet that protected him from vicious demons has been stripped, and Siri is truly in mortal danger.

    I wasn't able to pinpoint the genre of Cotterill's first six books, so I did some research, and unhelpfully came up with the category "mixed genre." Those books are a combination of amateur sleuth, police procedural and South East Asian historical mystery. Okay, I make up the last category to distinguish it from 'historical' which usually seems to refer in Amazon-land to European or American history.

    "Love Songs" takes a literary turn outside of any mystery genre. The present parallels the recent past, alternating between Siri's impending death and a few weeks earlier, when he helped draft his own obituary for consideration as a Lao National Hero. It's a challenge to listen to a book written that way because there isn't a way to know immediately what time frame the story is in as it's narrated. Cotterill doesn't always follow the convention of alternating the times past-present-past-present. The story itself doesn't need the ridged framework, but it would have helped the audio narration. Cotterill's writing tends to the sardonic, but he sets aside the Siri's usual amusing cynicism to starkly present Cambodia under Pol Pot and the Khemer Rouge. It's eerily like what is known about North Korea under the Kim-Jong rulers.

    This isn't Cotterill's usual "solve-a-mystery while learning about an exotic land" fare, but still your stomach and listen all the same.

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    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Free: I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Molly Harper
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi

    It's Christmas in Half-Moon Hollow and newly turned vampire Iris Scanlon-Calix wants to make Gigi's first visit home from college as normal and special as possible. It's taken months for Iris to work up the nerve to spend time around her baby sister after her vampire transition, so she enlists help from Jane Jameson and Company to keep her blood-thirst under control and assure Gigi's safety. Gigi, on the other hand, has problems of her own, including the demise of her relationship with high school sweetheart, Ben, and a looming job interview with Ophelia Lambert, the scariest potential employer in the Hollow.

    AudioAddict says: "Clever Christmas Cheer!"
    "Bacon-wrapped Rosemary-infused Roast Turkey"

    I made the best Thanksgiving turkey ever this year. We're talking melt-in-the-mouth, thirds please, no need to freeze leftovers in large aluminum packages that will be ceremonially discarded in the spring good. I posted a photo on my Facebook page. If was my first food-I'd-cooked photo, and it got likes. Lots of likes.

    The recipe is in Molly Harper's "I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas" (Audible November 17, 2014; prInt 2013). It's No. 2.7 in the Half-Moon Hollow Vampire series. I think the genre is Vampire/Romance, and it's in whatever romance sub genre where strong, well educated women who have STEM jobs and don't compromise their values find True Love.

    I read vampire/horror mostly as a teenager. I stayed up one hot and humid summer night and read Ann Rice's "Interview With the Vampire" (1976) straight through. Stephen King's "'Salem's Lot" (1975). There were Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germaine Chronicles, which show my age. I've read/listened to parts of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series (2005 - 2008) but not too closely - those books are annoyingly overwrought melodramas, perfect for Young Adults but the kind of writing that inspired Lady Gaga's song "Bad Romance" (2009).

    Harper's Half-Moon Hollow is a departure from classic vampire lore and imagines a world where Vampires, who have been around for millennia come out of the closet and join the 21st Century. Technology, tolerance, innovation, and careful financial planning made it possible.

    Gigi's sister, Iris, was made undead to save her; and Gigi's on Christmas college break for the first time since Iris transitioned. The results are just plain funny, and so is Gigi's self analysis. Gigi's self confident and secure in the way a mother wants for her daughter.

    I'm definitely not a romance reader, and this didn't change that - but I will use this series and writer as a reason not to sniff at the whole genre. The narrator was fine - but almost too mature sounding for a college student.

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    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • FREE The Playground

    • UNABRIDGED (44 mins)
    • By Ray Bradbury
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis

    "The Playground" was part of the first hardcover edition of Ray Bradbury's legendary work Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. In the story, Charles Underhill is a widower who will do anything to protect his young son Jim from the horrors of the playground - a playground which he and the boy pass by daily and the tumult of which, the activity, brings back to Charles the anguish of his own childhood.

    Nothing really matters says: "Something more than just a creepy short story."
    "It Was a Pleasure to Listen"

    Ray Bradbury (1920 - 2012) was one of the literary icons of 20th Century Southern California, but generations of high schoolers curse him. His "Fahrenheit 451" (1953) is Required Reading. People learn to hate Mandatory Authors, because some educational authority has determined that there is Only One True Meaning that must be identified on A Standardized Test. Ironically, Bradbury himself spent the last 30 years of his life explaining that, no matter what the 'experts' say, he didn't intend "Fahrenheit 451" to be about censorship or totalitarianism. Neil Gaiman wrote the introduction to Simon & Schuster's 60th Anniversary edition, and simply says, "If someone tells you what a story is about, they are probably right. If they tell you that is all the story is about, they are very definitely wrong."

    I hadn't read/listened to "The Playground" (1953) before now, but Bradbury was prolific and it's easy to miss a few or a dozen stories. "The Playground" highlights Bradbury's chill skills, which are often overlooked. A kid who's told that Bradbury's just as scary as R.L. Stine is going to read Bradbury, even if he or she has to find a copy on the Internet because the local PTA insisted on a banning a subversive book.

    The writing was a little rough, but dialogue in his earlier writings was pretty uniformly stilted. But, oh, his stories - they stick. And "The Playground"? It's a razor sharp, claustrophobic New York story that could have been a art-imitating-real life catalyst for today's helicopter parents. Growing up can be horrible for a kid, but it's empathetic parents who see their kids bullied, relive their own childhood anguish, and who would give everything to spare a beloved son or daughter from the same who are truly tortured. "The Playground" could be an addition to Dante Alighieri's circles of hell.

    That brings me back to "Fahrenheit 451." Ballentine Books originally published the book in 1953, and according to a 2011 edition of Cliff Notes written by Kristen Hiner, that edition includes the short stories "And the Rock Cried Out" and "The Playground." Hiner says the stories were dropped from later hardback editions, but there's no confirming sources. Other sites say the stories were part of a 1967 Simon & Schuster book club edition of "Fahrenheit 451." I've seen and read many editions of "Fahrenheit 451" on paper and I wondered how I could have missed both stories - so I checked Google Books and Google Images. I couldn't find a picture of a "Fahrenheit 451" cover mentioning either story. There are hundreds of pictures of hardback and paperback covers for that book. Later dust jacketed editions don't mention the stories either, including the 1967 book club edition which would have had a specially designed jacket just for that release. I also reviewed images of the Table of Contents for a bunch of hardback editions, and there was no mention of the stories. It's a mystery that's probably solvable, but I'd urge anyone about to spend $10,000 or more on a first edition "Farenheit 451" solve before spending platinum money for copper.

    I don't have an Audible version of "Fahrenheit 451" yet, because it seemed too ironic. On November 21, 2014, the New York Times published Dave Itzkoff's rave review of Tim Robbins' narration. I'm going to embrace the irony (especially since I've got three paper editions anyway) and listening.

    Finding "The Playground" was the equivalent of finding a piece of Dark Bordeaux in an seemingly empty box of See's Candy. And for readers who avoided Bradbury because of a forced high school read, this is the literary equivalent a box of See's Truffles.

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    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • You Have to F--king Eat

    • UNABRIDGED (4 mins)
    • By Adam Mansbach
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston

    Emmy Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcom in the Middle) follows in the exasperated footsteps of Samuel L. Jackson, giving voice to the long-suffering father whose indifferent child will just not eat in this hilarious follow-up to Adam Mansbach's international best seller, Go the F--k to Sleep.

    Darren says: "Another role that Bryan Cranston plays to a T."
    "You Have to F*cking Listen!"

    A year before I became the 'Ardent Audible Listener' from Monrovia, Audible Studios posted a free version of Samuel L. Jackson's narration of Adam Mansbach's "Go the F*ck to Sleep" (2011) on YouTube. I watched and listened over and over, and wished "Go the F*ck" had been published 10 years earlier when my youngest stayed up as long as she could, every night, so she didn't miss anything. It was a 4 minute story I'll never forget, and a Facebook topic among my friends for almost 10 days. And, as we all know, 10 days on FB is like a century in real life.

    When I prepared to write this review, I discovered that Thandie Newton narrates a 'veddy, veddy uppercrust British version'; and George Lopez does a hysterical rendition En Español. It's probably even funnier to someone who actually speaks Spanish and exceeds my skill of ordering food at a Mexican restaurant that doesn't serve its food in a paper bag; navigating rural California by talking to people because Waze isn't getting a signal; and cursing at loud neighbors playing Ranchero music at 1 in the morning. Actually, anyone who can do the latter is going to love Lopez' vets.

    The print book "Go the F*ck to Sleep" is beautifully illustrated. Its pictures echo the soothing, muted tones of Mira Ginsburg's 1982 "The Sun's Asleep Behind the Hill", illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (1953 - present). Ricardo Cortés illustrations in "Go the F*ck" are almost an homage to Zelinsky. Samuel L. Jackson was the perfect, soothing, dryly witty American narrator for that book.

    The title, "You've Got to F*cking Eat" (2014) really does speak for itself. Owen Bozeman illustrates "F*cking Eat", with livelier colors and scenes that call to a kid that's up and moving, not one just out of the tubby, wearing Pjs with feet, and laying in bed.

    There's a good reason I'm talking about print illustrations in an Audible review: Audible Studios posted several Audio versions on YouTube, complete with illustrations from the print books.

    Both of Mansbach's "F*ck" books are equally risable, but the meter in "F*cking Eat" is off. Bryan Cranston really doesn't work well as a narrator for this story. He doesn't have the droll sense of humor Jackson has cultivated, and Jackson's introduction to "Go the F*ck" alone is a finely crafted piece of parent humor. Cranston's narration of "F*cking Eat" comes across as overwrought and his reading of the essential profanity conveys anger. I feel Mansbach was going for overwhelmed and exasperated. British actor Stephen Fry's "F*cking Eat" narration hits the right tone with me, and it's laugh out loud funny. Unfortunately, It's either not on Audible yet, or US users don't see UK versions.

    I'm looking forward to more Mansbach "children's books for adults." I'd really like to see a "Get the F*ck Out of Bed" addressing a tween/teen, narrated by Cranston. Or if it's really dark, David Morrissey, who's best known to Americans as 'The Governor' on producer Frank Darrabont's "The Walking Dead". That's the guy to get my eldest the f*ck out of bed and on his way high school.

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    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Sharp: A Mindspace Investigations Novel, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Alex Hughes
    • Narrated By Daniel May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop - I never will be - and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident. And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

    Dianne says: "great story, I can't wait for number 3"
    "/SHärp/ synonyms: acute, fierce, seering"

    listened to Alex Hughes' "Clean: A Mindspace Investigation Novel, Book 1” (2012) last year. I was looking for a light, fun listen after a summer listening to serious non-fiction. "Clean" was on sale, and I didn't look too closely at the description. I thought I was getting a modern police procedural, but I stumbled into a Sci-Fi Investigator novel, melded with addiction fiction. It wasn't the book cotton candy I thought I was getting, but I enjoyed it.

    "Addiction fiction" is the name of a genre I've read or listened to occasionally without knowing it was a category on its own. I read James Frey's supposedly-true "A Million Little Pieces" (2003) before the word was out that Frey's book was fiction. I was angry that my time had been wasted, but not so mad that I didn't read his 2008 "Bright Shining Morning." Stephen King's "Doctor Sleep," the 2013 sequel to King's 1977 "The Shining" is on the top 10 lists of addiction fiction.

    King, Frey, and Alex Hughes all write with the agonized longing and exquisite need of addicts "in recovery." Well, that's the sanitized name for what it is. An addict who has given up his or her substance of choice is ever aware that the drug is always just outside the door waiting, sometimes patiently, sometimes pounding on the door to be let back in. It's a stalker waiting for that moment of unguarded vulnerability to take control of your life again. I feel that way about cigarettes, which remains (for a while longer, at least) a legal addiction.

    "Sharp: A Mindspace Investigations Book #2" (2013) is an apt title for the need, and a counterpoint to police civilian technician Adam's mental state at the beginning. He's anything but sharp. His near top-rated telepathic abilities have disappeared, perhaps forever. He's reduced to close observation of body language to tell when someone's lying, and a telepath's reputation to scare criminals into confessions. Adam's wondering if he's lost what makes him who he is when two women from his past, lives ruined, reappear.

    It's a good listen, but it doesn't fit easily into any one genre. It's definitely addiction fiction, but the drugs don't rise quite to the level of becoming a character in the novel. It's urban Sci-Fi and dystopian fantasy, set on top of a mystery following conventional mystery rules. There's enough in the plot for a reader/listener to solve the mystery eventually - bug enough false leads, blind turns and dead ends to make the solve fun. And the supporting characters - particularly Adam's love interest - Hughes is starling to give her dimensions that make her interesting, not the stock character she was in "Clean."

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    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Revival: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By David Morse
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs - including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession.

    Thug4life says: "Not fit for a King"

    I've loved Stephen King since the summer of 1979, after I'd survived a nightmarish high school freshman year. I found "Carrie" (1974). I can name every character, major and minor. Years later, I got the superlative Sissy Spacek audio on CDs.

    I fixed the high-school-from-hell problem by transferring to a different school, and I brought my love for King with me. Since then, I've read King books that I liked but couldn't read again because they disturbed me too much. Pet Sematary (1983), Gerald's Game (1992) and Cujo (1981) were all 'read and shelfs' for me. There are King books/stories that I think made better movies. "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) - well, I liked King's 1982 novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," the 'Hope Springs Eternal' offering from "Different Seasons", but I can recite the lines of the movie along with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. And there are King stories/books I love so much I've read/listened over and over: "The Stand" (1978), although I eventually switched to "The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition" (1990); "You Know They've Got a Hell of a Band" from "Nightmares & Dreamscapes" (1992); 11/22/63 (2011) . . . and more.

    And then there are the King books that I read once and think, "meh". They're an okay read/listen, but I wouldn't pick them up again unless I really didn't have anything else around to read. "Bag of Bones" (1998). "Hearts in Atlantis" (1999). And now, unfortunately, "Revival" (2014).

    "Revival" started off strong, with two carefully drawn characters, Jaimie Morton and the Reverend C.D. Jacobs. The dialog was excellent, and the foreshadowing promised so much. Unfortunately, the plot veered off into a messy mix of H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) Sci-Fi/Horror/Mysticism; an homage to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851); and possibly, a nod and a wink to musician Charlie Daniels, the near namesake of the antihero minister turned huckster whose 'the fifth element' in Jaimie's life. King relies too much on Lovecraftian 'Colours Out of Space'. And "De Vermis Mysteriis." "De Vermiis" is a grimoire King expanded on in "'Salem's Lot" (1975). Why not in here? "Revival" left me frustrated and annoyed, as if I was trying to put together a piece of Ikea furniture without directions.

    David Morse was an interesting choice as narrator. He played Brutus "Brutal" Howell in the 1999 movie "The Green Mile" which was based on the 1996 King serial novel of the same name. He also starred in the 1995 Emmy winning made-for-television movie "The Langoliers", one of the four stories in King's 1990 collection "Four Past Midnight". Morse is really phlegmatic as a narrator, which didn't work so well for me either.

    So, I love like/love most of King's writing - but not this one. And I really like David Morse and probably would love him narrating other books - but not this one.

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    7 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Sold

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Patricia McCormick
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre

    Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.

    AudioAddict says: "My name is Lakshmi. I am from Nepal. I am 13."
    "Tears Hidden in the Rain/Review for Parents"

    Patricia McCormick's "Sold" (2006) is nominally a Young Adult novel. According to the current version of Wikipedia, that means writing directed at readers age 14 to 21. The narrator, Lakshmi, is 13 and turns 14 during the novel, so nominally, it is about a young adult.

    In actuality, "Sold" is incredibly disturbing but not graphic story. Lakshmi becomes one of thousands of Nepalese children traded into modern sexual slavery. Her mother, Ama, is a typical failure of an uneducated mother, raised to please men, and unable to care for her oldest child. Unnamed stepfather sees Lakshmi as a possession to be sold as a maid and house cleaner to pay off his gambling debts. Lakshmi is traded three or four times, each time for more money. Eventually, she lands in brothel called Happiness House. There's an evil, cheating Madam, Mumtaz, who sells Lakshmi's innocence, twice.

    Stock characters aside, "Sold" is a well researched and sensitive portrayal of crimes that the United Nations has been trying to stop for decades. It's one thing to read dry numbers about crop failures, annual family incomes, and human smuggling, but that's not really effective with people born in wealthy countries like the United States. There is poverty in America, but it's not the kind of poverty that regularly claims more than half of its children in their first year. There are droughts, but they don't result in mass starvation. And education is mandatory, not a luxury.

    A book like "Sold" makes it possible to empathize with a country and culture so different that even the statistics don't make the situation real.

    Would I let my kids read/listen to this? Yes, and I have no reservations about my senior in high school with this book. My 14 year old? Well, it's nightmare-inducing scary. I'm glad I listened to it first so I'll be able to answer questions she'll have if she does read.

    The Audible is fine, and the narrator handles non-Western names with ease. I would have been fine reading this in text, though - to me, Nepali and Indian names sound like they are written. Years of listening to Lakshmi Singh/NPR will do that for you.

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    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Howard E. Wasdin, Stephen Templin
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six—a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes listeners deep inside the world of Navy SEALs and Special Forces snipers, beginning with the grueling selection process of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL - the toughest and longest military training in the world.

    Allan says: "unique among these books"
    "The Only Easy Day is Yesterday"

    The DuffelBlog is to military news what The Onion is to standard news: profane but well written, sarcastic and caustic, and exquisitely satirical. One recent post, after a third? forth? SEAL claimed to have assassinated Osama Bin Laden? "Top 13 Jobs Navy SEALs Take After Service" (May 7, 2014, reposted November 7, 2014). The first career in the article? "Author of yet another go***** Navy SEAL book." The paperback print edition of Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin's 2006 book, "SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper" is at the top of a photo of a pile of SEAL books that accompanies the article.

    Later, The DuffelBlog broke the following 'news,' "THE PENTAGON — Navy officials announced the extension of Navy SEAL training by one week, adding a grueling 40 hours of creative writing classes to the already intense selection program, Duffel Blog has learned."

    I've read several SEAL books, and enjoyed all of them - to varying degrees. Wasdin's book contains a good discussion of what it takes to qualify to train and to make it through The Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S). Well, mostly - he's a little fuzzy on current fitness standards, and he doesn't remember what they were when he trained. Wasdin did a lot of missions over the years, most of which he mentions only vaguely. I assume that - unlike the author of the 2013 "No Easy Day," Wasdin actually vetted the book through the military and edited out classified information.. He was badly wounded in the Battle for Mogadishu and eventually took a medical discharge.

    Going back to the DuffelBlog piece, "sources confirmed SEAL candidates would be trained to glorify themselves as much as possible without looking like self-centered a*******". Wasdin did come across as pretty arrogant - talking about being treated like a movie star; being hero-worshipped by Military Academy cadets; and getting the best of the best in Navy equipment and living quarters. Anyone who decides to become a SEAL to be a hero better learn that the heroics are team heroics.

    Wasdin's probably more interesting for his post-SEAL career. Let's just say that after going through about half the jobs on the DuffleBlog list, he went to school and . . . Well, what his day job is unexpected and inspiring. Wasdin's also written two fictional SEAL books with Templin. I'm intrigued.

    Ray Porter was a good narrator, in a too-many-cigarettes and too-much-whiskey kind of way. Wasdin's from the south, though, and Porter's got a quick delivery that's more East Coast.

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    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking but Utterly True Facts

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller

    You're going to wish you never got this audiobook. Some facts are too terrifying to teach in school. Unfortunately, is more than happy to fill you in. Think you're going to choose whether or not to buy this book? Scientists say your brain secretly makes all your decisions 10 seconds before you even know what they are.

    bookouri says: "just plain funny"
    "Buenas fabulas de humor"

    When I was a kid, I got a big kick out of reading "Ripley's Believe it or Not" books. Published annually, they are collections of odd-but-true short stories and strange facts. My children show the same affection for "The Guinness Book of World Records." I'm waiting until they're of legal drinking age to tell them that the wise folks at Irish brewers Guinness, tired of 196 year's of bar brawls over who the tallest man was and if he was married to the world's tallest woman, published the first guide in 1955.

    "You Might be a Zombie and Other Bad News" (2011) takes amazing, verified stories, a la Ripley's and Guinness; adds the erudite snarkiness of the satirical news "The Onion;" throws in the profanity of a World War II drill instructor; and makes lists. Grammatically correct, advanced vocabulary, easily read/listened to, funny lists. If I was trying to get a teenager interested in science, I'd hand over this book - but only after making sure the kid's parents were okay with their kid reading/listening to frequent references to sex and drugs (the references are completely apropos).

    One of my favorite lists is, "The Six Most Terrifying Foods in the World" (Chapter 13 on Audible). I admit that's because I grew up eating Number 3, lutefisk, as a special treat at Christmas. The winter holidays were the only time you could find it at Lund's on Lake in Uptown Minneapolis. These days, Ikea carries it in the grocery section, in glass jars. I've never seen it on the otherwise true-to-Scandinavia, incredibly easy Christmas dinner that makes your Dad with Swedish grandparents happy. Who has time to make ostakaka anyway? Only folks who spend their time making the delicious cross between pudding and cheesecake, often served with Lingonberries, instead of putting together your new dresser or kitchen table.

    Back to the lutefisk - it's in glass jars and served with wooden toothpicks because it's cod cured in lye. Yes, lye. I didn't realize how strange that really was until I listened to's "You Might be a Zombie". Other great chapters: "Five Ways Your Brain is Messing with Your Head" (Audible Chapter 21); "Five Stories the Media Doesn't Want You to Know About" (Audible Chapter 28); and "Four Great Women Buried by their Boobs" (Audible Chapter 32). The 'boobs list' alone could make four separate books. In fact, I've already read one of them, Brenda Maddox" "Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA" (2012).

    Each chapter is 7 to 10 minutes long, the perfect length for a quick trip to the grocery store and back. Johnny Heller narrates. Heller, in this narration, is an audio doppelgänger of actor Martin Sheen. He was so close, I checked to make sure Heller wasn't a nom de oratorio for Sheen or his sons. Heller isn't, and he's narrated several other books I've loved. The only reason I'm not giving the narration a "5" is that I know some of the non-English words were mispronounced. I think we'd all be happier if I didn't know that.

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    20 of 25 people found this review helpful

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