Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 

You no longer follow Cynthia

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.

OK

You now follow Cynthia

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.

OK

Cynthia

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

ratings
170
REVIEWS
170
FOLLOWING
6
FOLLOWERS
2094
HELPFUL VOTES
4262

  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Sheryl Sandberg
    • Narrated By Elisa Donovan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2432)
    Performance
    (2146)
    Story
    (2155)

    Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook COO, ranked eighth on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business - has become one of America's most galvanizing leaders, and an icon for millions of women juggling work and family. In Lean In, she urges women to take risks and seek new challenges, to find work that they love, and to remain passionately engaged with it at the highest levels throughout their lives.

    Claudia says: "Make your life count - no matter what you do"
    "Lean In, Lead On"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sheryl Sandberg had me at, “I gained 70 lbs!”

    I had heard a lot about this book, but I really wasn’t sure that I could relate to this woman. At all. I expected a book by a carefully made up, wealthy, privileged woman with an excellent education in a token leadership position. I expected someone with a lot of help who could “do it all”, with little – if any – credit to the people who helped her do it.

    I, on the other hand, joined the Army for the college benefits, and I put myself through law school. I don’t aspire to manage a corporation. In fact, indirectly, I work for one of the people she mentions in her book. I am an attorney, and I want to be the best litigator I can be. I am also the proud mother of two teenagers, and I worry that I shouldn’t have worked outside of the home – but that wasn’t a choice I had.

    I was wrong about Sandberg. Like me, and the rest of us, she is real. Sandberg’s a sociologist, a critic, a coach, a realist. Sandberg gives props to important leaders from Warren Buffet to Betty Freidan, and to her administrative assistant and her friends. Bravo! Sandberg, get out your pom-poms - Tip O’Neil is calling from the grave.

    Sandberg doesn’t mention “Games Mother Never Taught You” by Betty Lehan Harrigan (1987), but that is analogous to some of the tactics she recommends. Yes, it would be better if we (women) didn’t have to bend to the (male) rules, but we do. Harrigan’s book is a guidebook, and as helpful as Freidan’s “The Feminine Mystique” in some ways.

    There is a hysterically funny tale involving an eBay corporate jet and an itchy child’s head, but for real fun, skip to Chapter 6 (7 on audible) and listen to the first minute. Sandberg reminds us even while we should do what we would do if we weren't afraid, motherhood keeps us grounded.

    Oh, and did I mention – Sandberg is the COO of Facebook – and she really does know what she’s doing?

    This book is fantastic. Lean In!

    [If you found this review helpful, please click the Helpful button. That’s why I write these reviews!]

    310 of 321 people found this review helpful
  • FREE The Gray Man

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Mark Greaney
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    Overall
    (1274)
    Performance
    (1127)
    Story
    (1148)

    Court Gentry is known as The Gray Man - a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible, and then fading away. And he always hits his target. But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness. Now, he is going to prove that for him, there's no gray area between killing for a living-and killing to stay alive.

    Rollin says: "Gripping, unremitting action"
    "WETSU, Gentry, WETSU!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mark Greaney's 'Gray Man' is Courtland Gentry, the quintessential loan wolf American assassin/hero. Gentry is a patriot and soldier, abandoned by a fickle Central Intelligence Agency he served as a paramilitary soldier. He's not DEVGRU veteran or a Special Forces operative. Gentry's got the same - or even better - training, but with unlimited financial resources and the stamina and speed of an endurance athlete.

    Since "The Gray Man" (2009) is the start of a series, I'm not spoiling the story by mentioning Gentry survives. The plot - and the suspense - is the number of bad guys that end up dead, and in what nearly impossible way Gentry kills them. Why is Gentry being chased by covert assassination organizations from two dozen second and third world countries? Who is the real brains and what is the real reason for what's happening? Does the weaponry/science work? And is it well written, and worth the listen?

    Grearney, of course, answers the first few questions. As to the weaponry/science issue - well, I found one really obvious "no way would that EVER work" scientific scenario (I am a veteran and I do know my armaments) but by the time it happened - well, I was completely hooked. Maybe the particular emptying of cartridges and subsequent explosion could never have worked, but I could have come up with something that did - and I was too enamored of Gentry to let Greaney fail him.

    At the same time I listened to - and really enjoyed - "The Gray Man" I wondered what Audible algorithm or Amazon metric pointed me to this book and this author. I have yet to have a mystery solved by a cat show up as a suggested purchase; I've never read or listened to a book involving aliens, or crystals, or both; and as to romances - well, I listened to one once because the author and I share a last name, and for the first time ever, invoked Audible's "No questions asked" return policy. I realized that as a listener/reader of some fiction and a lot of non-fiction military history, I must fit some psychological/marketing profile. Audible, can you let me know what that is? I'll forward it to my therapist - it will probably save six months of analysis.

    This is not the book the 2007 movie "The Gray Man" was based on. That's about Howard Hamilton "Albert" Fish, one of the first identified psycho-sexual serials in America, who was given that sobriquet before he was executed in 1936. Grearney's Gray Man, with his unshakable sense of right, is the moral opposite of that long ago psychopath.

    The title of this review comes from a response my basic training platoon had to a drill command. It's pronounced 'wet sue' and it means "We Eat This S*** Up".

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Disco for the Departed: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (72)

    Dr. Siri Paiboun is summoned to the mountains of Huaphan Province, where for years the leaders of the current communist government hid in caves, waiting to assume power. Now a major celebration of the new regime is scheduled to take place, but an arm is found protruding from the concrete walk laid from the president’s former cave hideout to his new house beneath the cliffs. Siri must supervise the disinterment of the body attached to the arm, identify it, and determine the cause of death.

    Cynthia says: "It's a Dead Man's Party"
    "It's a Dead Man's Party"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tony Hillerman (1925 - 2008) introduced me to Navajo culture when I picked up a used paperback copy of "The Blessing Way" (1970), laying between small metal cutouts of boots painted turquoise with magnets glued to the back, and a worn and rusted set of metric wrenches at Peddlers Pass in Prescott, AZ. For a few charmed hours, I was transported into a Native American culture nothing like the Ojibwa I was a little familiar with.

    Before I listened to Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series, Laos merged into Cambodia/Thailand/Vietnam, just like all Native American tribes were somehow lumped together in my mind before Hillerman's books. Thanks to the epic journey from one end of Laos to the other of Siri's morgue assistant, Mr. Geung in "Disco for the Departed" (2006), I know that Laos is (or was) no more homogenized than any other tribal region. "The Coroner's Lunch" (2004) Book 1 introduced Dr. Siri and his resident spirit, Ya Ming ; "Thirty-three Teeth" (2005) Book 2 introduces the kind, sturdy autodidact Nurse Dtui; and this book - Book 3 shows how people with Down syndrome can preserver over incredible odds.

    In "Disco for the Departed", old communist party fighter Dr. Siri solves an old, undiscovered mystery in the caves he and his comrades fought the war from. Deposed Laos royalty continues to play a small, fascinating role in the story. The ghosts that haunt the Disco are a good counterpart to the story, but - in the tradition of all good mysteries - spiritus ex machina does not solve the case.

    I don't actually know if the Lao pronunciations are right, but I assume Cotterill - who lived in Laos for years but was raised In an English speaking country - chose Clive Chafer as a narrator because his Lao and Hmong pronunciation was good. I didn't need an audio version to enjoy Hillerman's books, but I'm around enough native Navajo speakers when I visit Arizona to know how to read what I'm seeing. Since I don't know Lao or Hmong, the Audible worked especially well for me.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Robert Garland
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Garland
    Overall
    (939)
    Performance
    (844)
    Story
    (835)

    Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

    Mark says: "Tantalizing time trip"
    "When the Mundane makes History Real"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Villa of the Papyri is nestled on the bluffs of the Pacific Palisades in California. Finished in 1974, it was closed for renovations and reopened in 2010 as "The Getty Villa." J. Paul Getty's Villa - and The Getty Center in West Los Angeles are, as Getty promised, free to all.

    Okay, maybe the original Villa dei Papiri was in Herculaneum, which was destroyed in AD 79 - along with Pompeii - when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Pompeii is now temporarily at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, near the LA Coliseum and USC.

    I coincidentally finished listening to Dr. Robert S. J. Garland's "The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World" (2010) just before I took out of town family to the Pompeii exhibit. Garland's lectures were so concise and vivid, I recognized every single artifact and I knew what it was used for - and keep in mind, I listened to the Audible version which doesn't come with books. I knew what kind of artisan made something, the training they had, and whether they were a slave, a manumitted slave, or free born. I looked at a restored fresco, and impressed my sister by telling her that the ancient Romans would have changed the painted scene as fashions changed. Trends and fads are as old as Ancient Greece. Just as the 1980's Laura Ashley overstuffed and frilled pastels and floral wallpaper gave way to furniture and frames various hues of the same color, tailored linens, hardwood floors and painted walls 30 years later, the painted harbor scene popular during one emperor's reign gave way to starkly contrasting blocks of color, proving that abstractionism isn't a modern construct. I even knew when I got to the gift shop which replica jewelry belonged with the exhibit, and the social class of the women who would have worn it. It didn't stop me from buying the regionally misplaced and historically non-existent Sphinx earrings just because I liked anyway.

    The title of this series of lectures is a misnomer, though. Garland's lectures on Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and to a limited extent Ancient Persia, are worth the price and the listen. However, he's missing entire major ancient civilizations: China's written history is more than 4,000 years old; there's the Mayans, who were a civilization for about 3000 years, until the Spanish arrived, with their viruses, in 900 AD; and many other cultures that flourished and vanished or were absorbed by conquerors. These civilizations had writing, so they were historic, not pre-historic.

    If the title had been accurate, I'd give this 4 instead of a 3. It's not higher because some of the lectures are repetitive. I did enjoy Dr. Gardner's voice and his delivery, but I wasn't so excited that I listened to more than one lecture a day.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Thirty-Three Teeth: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    Overall
    (130)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (108)

    Feisty Dr. Siri Paiboun is no respecter of persons or party; at his age he feels he can afford to be independent. In this, the second novel in the series, he travels to Luang Prabang, where he communes with the deposed king who is resigned to his fate: it was predicted long ago. And he attends a conference of shamans called by the Communist Party to deliver an ultimatum to the spirits: obey party orders or get out.

    Cynthia says: "Quincy, ME in Laos"
    "Quincy, ME in Laos"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    From 1976 to 1983, Jack Klugman ruled a fictional Los Angeles County Coroner's Office as Chief Medical Examiner Quincy in the series "Quincy M. E." The daring forensic scientist was brilliant, quirky and had an abiding social conscience that made him the target of unethical businessmen and corrupt politicians.

    Imagine the fictional Quincy in Southeast Asia - Laos to be specific - in the late 1970's after the Americans (who were never officially there) are gone and the communists have taken over, and you've got French-trained Siri Paiboun, MD. Siri served as a physician with the Lao Communist Army for decades. At 72, when the monarchy that ruled the Kingdom of Laos finally fell, Siri hoped to retire. Instead, his comrades insisted it was his duty to continue to serve the people as National Coroner.

    Siri serves with the same unerring moral compass if Klugman's Quincy, salted and cured with a liberal dose of cynicism. Siri doesn't have basic resources to do his job, but with the assistance if Nurse Dtui (pronounced "two ee") and laboratory assistant Mr. Geung, the job gets done anyway. Colin Cotterill's "Thirty-three Teeth" introduces Dtui in greater detail than in Book One, and her fragile but fierce mother might represent all Laotian mothers.

    Siri's got an advantage most coroners lack: he's haunted, literally, by a spirit named Ya Ming. Other spiritualists recognize Ya Ming by his brilliant green eyes, which Siri shares. Ya Ming also has 33 teeth - a clue to this exotic mystery.

    I would never have gotten the Lao pronunciations right if I'd read the book instead of listening to it. It would have been like being poked on the ribs during a movie - distracting and annoying. I'm glad I went for the Audible.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heft

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liz Moore
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
    Overall
    (1368)
    Performance
    (1240)
    Story
    (1242)

    Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.

    Deborah says: "Mesmerizing Performance"
    "Ignatius P. Reilly as Inspiration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first really, really fat fictional character I met was John Kennedy Toole's (1937 - 1969) Ignatius P. Reilly, the hero of "A Confederacy of Dunces" (1980). No, the dates aren't typos - and neither is 1981, the year Toole's book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Toole's Reilly is New Orleans personified, in all of its excess, insular and corpulent glory.

    Liz Moore's 550 pound Arthur Opp of "Heft" (2012) is no Ignatius P. Reilly, but Opp, the reclusive, disgraced night school college professor bears an uncanny literary resemblance to the actual writer Toole. Moore has an MFA from Hunter College, where Toole was an instructor long before Moore was born. I've never taken a writing class, but in my imagination, college professors of both sexes wear tweed blazers with leather elbow patches, a la Reilly; scuffed brown loafers with tassels; and stride confidently in front of a full classroom making Important Observations about Prize Winning Literature that will Inspire eager new college students.

    Opp the literary character never inspired anyone except Yonkers-born and raised Charlene Turner. Charlene went to one semester of night school, dropped out, married, and had a son, Arthur "Kel" Keller. After her divorce, Charlene got a job at Westchester Prep School, where students dress carefully in The Right Clothes and a Mercedes for their 16th birthday is a modest gift. Kel is allowed to attend, and fits in surprisingly well. Kel may be from the wrong zip code, but an ace three sport athlete is welcome just about anywhere.

    Both Opp's and Kel's lives are fragile constructs, and as William Butler Yeats famously said, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" ("The Second Coming," 1919). If Charlene Turner was the centre, "Heft" is the story of the fall and eventual rise of both men.

    "Heft" uses two narrators. The Opp narrator, Keith Szarabajka, sounds quite large and almost out of breath. The performance reminded me a bit of Adam Arkin's performance as Dale Biederbeck in the television show "Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale" (2002). Kirby Heyborne was convincing as a teenager.

    [If this review helped please press YES. Thanks!]

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (459)
    Performance
    (398)
    Story
    (404)

    Chester Nez, the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, shares the fascinating inside story of his life and service during World War II.

    Roxane says: "Interesting Listen for WWII Buffs"
    "The Enemy Way"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first time I learned about code talkers was over a hot, humid summer in Missouri, during basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. One of my drill sergeants was part Native American, and he proudly told the story of the unbreakable code Navajos created in World War II.

    Event though Sgt. Duke wasn't one of "the dineh" he was carrying on the Navajo tradition of telling fascinating stories, just as Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila do in "Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII" (2012).

    The extended title of the book sounds almost too formal, but it is precise in a way Nez must have insisted on. At the end of WWI, a US Army battalion in France used Choctaw soldiers as ad hoc code talkers. Seminoles served as code talkers in Europe in WWII, while Navajos served in the Pacific.

    Nez was one of the original 29 men, fluent in Navajo and English, recruited from schools and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, to develop a top secret code. The military was desperate: the Japanese had broken every other code, and machine encryption using a one-use code took hours to encrypt and decrypt. Navajo was ideal: it was rarely written at the time (it was well after WWII that the Navajo Nation even agreed on an alphabet); it was extremely difficult for non-native speakers to learn; and Navajos were raised to memorize long stories.

    "Code Talkers" works exceptionally well as an Audible book, especially with the way this story is told. Nez and Avila weave Navajo customs and traditions, such as a medicine bag, into 'a day in battle life' narrative, Nez served as a code talker at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Angaur and Peleliu - without ever being allowed to take leave. Nez was about to ship out to Iwo Jima when someone pulled his jacket and realized he'd accumulated enough points to be honorably discharged.

    Nez shipped stateside for a few months of medical care, and then went home to his family and their land. He started to have nightmares, haunted by the 'chindi' (evil remnants) of the hundreds of dead enemy soldiers he'd seen. Nez - and the estimated 400 to 500 other Navajo code talkers - kept their work secret, even when tormented by wicked memories.

    "Code Talkers" has a lengthy description of Navajo sings - including The Enemy Way, a traditional Navajo cure. Nez went through an Enemy Way shortly after his service ended. More than 20 years later, when his work was declassified and he faced too many questions, he went through another Enemy Way ceremony, followed by a Blessing Way. Absolutely fascinating - and, as Nez would have said himself - they worked because he expected them to work.

    David Colacci is an accomplished narrator. Well, that's an understatement after 160+ narrated titles. I don't know if his Navajo pronunciation was correct or not, with the exception of the handful of Navajo words I've heard spoken by native speakers - and those sounded right to me. But, as good as Colacci is in this Audible, I wish Tantor had found a native Navajo speaker to narrate this. The actual language is just that important. This is the first time I'm giving a Colacci audible less than a 5, but it's not a Colacci Issue: it's a producer problem.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Coroner’s Lunch: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (410)
    Performance
    (346)
    Story
    (343)

    Laos, 1975: The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old Paris-trained doctor, is appointed national coroner. Although he has no training for the job, there is no one else: the rest of the educated class have fled.

    Jane says: "a splendid story"
    "Coroner to the Communist Stars"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Last summer, I developed a short lived passion for Michael Connelly's "Lincoln Lawyer" series. Connelly's Mickey Haller (2005 - present) is an easy love for an old Los Angeles trial attorney like me. I listened to the entire series, one right after another, and was secretly relieved there were only four books in the series at the time. It's an expensive habit.

    This summer, Audible hooked me on Colin Cotterill's "Dr. Siri Paiboun" series. Or maybe one of the ghosts that haunts Dr. Siri (pronounced SiLee, not like the iPhone 5 voice) is haunting me, too - sitting on a wooden chair in my living room, urging me in Hmong (which in my dreams I understand) to keep listening to more Paiboun mysteries.

    Dr. Siri is canny, resourceful and accidentally a detective. He's an old insurgent who fought for Lao communist forces for 40 years. Siri is a colonial French-trained doctor, unexpectedly and unwantedly named as Laotian National Coroner, despite a complete lack of forensic training. Mystery ensues and supernatural forces visit, but Cotterill follows the good mystery writer's custom of not using 'deus ex somnium' as clues. Siri is aptly assisted by sturdy and bored Nurse Dtui and the capable and occasionally comedic Mr. Geung, both unforgettable characters in their own right.

    Now, for the problem: Cotterill's series has 9 books so far, and this is going to get expensive. Audible, what about a 'buy one in a series, get a second one free' deal?

    This book worked so much better listening than reading for me. I would have mentally stumbled over the correct Vietnamese, Lao and Hmong pronunciations, and that would have distracted me from the story.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    22 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Hard Choices

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Hillary Rodham Clinton
    • Narrated By Kathleen Chalfant, Hillary Rodham Clinton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (219)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (189)

    Hillary Rodham Clinton's inside account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America's 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future. In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, she expected to return to representing New York in the United States Senate. To her surprise, her former rival for the Democratic Party nomination, newly elected President Barack Obama, asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. This memoir is the story of the four extraordinary and historic years that followed.

    Prairie says: "An Excellent book on Modern History"
    "Senior Stateswoman in need of Editor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have often wondered what former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was thinking on May 1, 2011 when that famous photo of her, with her hand over her mouth, was taken in the White House Situation Room as she waited for the results of Operation Neptune Spear. I read/listen to just about everything I can get my hands on about the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, like Mark Owens and Kevin Maurer's "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden" (2012) and former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates "Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (2014). I would have listened to HRC's "Hard Choices" (2014) just for her perspective on that mission, but this book has so much more.

    HRC sets forth comprehensive US foreign policy, starting with her husband, Bill (William Jefferson) Clinton, president from 1993 to 2001; George H. Bush, 2001 to 2009; to Barack Obama, 2009 to the present. HRC has been a first hand observer or participant in international politics for more than 20 years, as First Lady; then as a Senator from New York; and then as Secretary of State.

    The book is so current, it talks about Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea. HRC's position on Russia is hawkish, and Vladimir Putin should count himself fortunate she isn't president right now. I'm not an up-and-coming or current world leader, or rebel general working on being a dictator, but if I were - and wanted to know where I, or my country stood with the current most-likely-next-president of the United States, I'd find out in "Hard Choices".

    If I wanted to know about her husband's infamous dalliance more than 20 years ago, I guess I could read "The National Enquirer" - but I wouldn't waste my I time reading about it and HRC doesn't waste my time writing about it. I would rather know her position on Iran's nuclear enrichment program, Syria's use of chemical weapons, or what might work in patching up international relationships badly damaged by leaks of candid assessments of world leaders in State Department cables. "Hard Choices" talks about those issues, not about whether staying with her husband was a difficult decision.

    HRC has a unique view of countries and their leaders. Some nations - for example, China and India - have national feelings and attributes (inferiority and insecurity) that she does not confuse with the beliefs or actions of their leaders. Other very small nations - such as Qatar, with a population about 20% of that of Los Angeles County - are so closely aligned with their leaders, they can't be distinguished. HRC's ability to separate the nutcase in charge from the population as a whole has been key in the Obama administration's arguable successes in various Arab countries.

    Which brings me to the editor part: "Hard Choices" is 657 pages in print and 27 hours on Audible. Even with 'a long commute' it took me a while to finish the listen, because, well, I got a mired in the details, and sometimes, I got bored. I had the same problem with Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" (2005). I could have used a Playbill, a world map, and a timeline for both books.

    HRC has a great voice, and I would have been happier with her doing the entire narration. She did the introduction, and there's an Easter egg: there's a 15 minute epilogue in her own voice. Kathleen Chalfant is fine, but it's not the same.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Simon Sinek
    • Narrated By Simon Sinek
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2111)
    Performance
    (1656)
    Story
    (1651)

    Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their successes over and over? People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.

    Allan says: "Important Theme - Repetitive Presentation"
    "Manipulate or Inspire?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Simon Sinek's 2009 "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" wasn't what I was expecting, but I hadn't really taken a good look at the summary. I thought I was getting a business process or procedures book that would help identify and design streamlined procedures. I thought I was getting case studies, like : "If a car maker has a goal to sell 100,000 of a certain model of cars in a year, what steps would be taken - and why? What good leaders have done this before? And are there more effective steps - for example, if the maker is selling hybrid cars, should the maker conduct its own survey of green consumers? Or would it be more efficient to buy a marketing list from Whole Foods?

    The book was much more interesting. Sinek, an eternal optimist whose name ironically sounds like 'cynic', isn't talking about that 'why'. His book is about why people and organizations do what they do when they aren't doing it just to make money and satisfy shareholders. Sinek discusses the dream of Sam Walton to bring affordable goods to rural America. That was his "why". Wal-Mart was, for a time, beloved - but Sam died and the corporation is canibalizing its own employees [my words, not Sinek's]. Probably a third of the book is about Apple and Steve Jobs. Jobs was alive when Sinek wrote "Start With Why". I'd agree with Sinek's proposition that Jobs/Apple wanted to change the world, and that was their "why." However, I read Walter Isaacson's authorized biography "Steve Jobs" (2011) and I'd go one step further: I think Jobs "why" was that wanted to control the world, and that Jobs did end up controlling a lot of it. Sam Walton definitely lead by inspiring. Jobs - well - sometimes he inspired, and often he scared people silly.

    I did find it curious that Sinek didn't mention Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, or its portfolio of successful companies. I don't think Buffet fits Sinek's model, but Buffett is one of the wealthiest, most admired and philanthropical businessmen of our time. The Oracle of Omaha doesn't have the technical know-how of Microsoft's Bill Gates or the artistic genius of Walt Disney, but Buffett is, in a very quiet way, trying to change our world by eliminating income inequality.

    Sinek argues that inspirational leaders are reaching to their limbic brains. I'm sure that is true, but I think that's a vast oversimplification of where inspiration comes from. That particular brain system is so large and so complex, it's like arguing that water comes from the ocean. He's developed a theory of "The Golden Circle" to describe the core of motivation. I'm not sure it's as all encompassing as Sinek believes, but it's a good seed for additional research.

    Sinek did the audible narration himself, and had an interesting accent. He'd be going along, and all of the sudden, an East Coast accent would pop up for a word, and disappear. The answer was he lived all over the place growing up - including New Jersey. The audible could have used an Audible proof. There were a couple of places where a some lines repeated.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2252)
    Performance
    (2096)
    Story
    (2089)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows.

    H James Lucas says: "A well-worn genre enlivened with fresh characters"
    "Bombyx mori, Momento mori"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a hard mystery to review because, of course, this is JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. Rowling tried to keep her identity secret, but a lawyer confided in his gossiping wife, and just a few months after "The Cuckoo's Calling" (2013) was released, and much to her ire, Rowling was outed.

    2014's "The Silkworm" is a literary broadside against the fiction writing and publishing industry - and I mean it in the armament sense, not as a printing term. Galbraith takes aim at so called intellectual writers who write highly symbolic fiction with presumably important subtexts, themes, and analogies meant to be studied and analyzed in college literature classes. Or, perhaps, they show up on AP Literature tests. In the meantime, those same tenured English professors with prestigious University positions and many sets of initials after their names make fun of the story tellers like Nicholas Sparks, Michael Connelly, and Rowling herself. Galbraith aims a special cannon at cruel and mocking reviews, noting the profound effect those can have on a starting writer. There's also a subtext of imitation so profound it's an obsequious theft of someone's talent - and sometimes that's all some writers can do.

    What makes "The Silkworm" a good story (instead of a lengthy screed) is Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. Strike is the bastard, barely acknowledged eldest son of a famous musician, a badly wounded Afghanistan veteran, and a well trained, careful and intuitive detective. There'a more of Strike's past here, and oddly - every good friend Strike has is badly physically scarred. Robin, an unexpected temporary solution in "The Cuckoo's Calling" is more fully developed in "The Silkworm". Galbraith hints at an unfortunate episode in University that made Robin leave short of a degree. It's not in this book, but I'm sure it will come. Neither Strike nor Robin is easy to know, or, quite frankly, always likable. But interesting - yes.

    The mystery in this book - well, there is no question of "murder most foul" (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5). The pool of suspects is limited, kind of a "closed book" mystery in this case. However, for me at least - there was something about the murder scene - and the theme of the underlying book - that reminded me very faintly of the cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975). Cruel parody is a constant in "The Silkworm", and any resemblance doesn't even rise to pastiche. It's almost certainly entirely coincidental - but it was just enough to give me a Tim Curry and Meat Loaf earworm.

    There's something surprising I learned in the the narrative: Robert Glenister read "xxx" at the end of a text message as "kiss-kiss-kiss". I checked and although I was unhelpfully shunted to Google's US site, I found references that's the correct UK translation. I know some morse code back from my military days and 'xxx' means the end of keying a transmission, at least to some operators. As in "I'm done with what I'm saying." It's not used in American text messages, though. In an American English book, Robin and Strike wouldn't have ended text messages to each other with 'kisses'. 'xxx' is a UK English definition I'm glad to know.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    16 of 22 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.