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Cynthia

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

4889
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 189 reviews
  • 189 ratings
  • 448 titles in library
  • 82 purchased in 2014
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  • Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Adam M. Grant, Ph.D.
    • Narrated By Brian Keith Lewis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (231)
    Story
    (232)

    For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

    Julia says: "A few real surprises"
    "Give ‘Til it Helps - Your Company"
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    My first reaction to Andrew M. Grant’s “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Management” was “You’ve got to be kidding! Are you really telling me that if we hold hands, sing ‘Kumbaya’, and share our shovels in the sandbox, everything will be okay at the office?”
    That’s not what Grant was saying - at all – but it took an uncomfortably long time for him to get to that point.

    Grant advances the position that those who give generously, both professionally and personally, are more likely to be successful than “takers” (about 15% of people) or “matchers” ( about 70%). It’s a compelling argument, and Grant backs up his position with widely regarded studies and valid statistics. According to Grant, a business organization is well served by finding and developing givers (sharers), whose collaborative work with other givers often returns far more than the work of takers or matchers.

    Grant also points out an important fault of givers: Statistically, givers are also more likely to be low achievers or failures, if they become “doormats.” Grant has some valuable tips for doormats to recognize takers, and extract themselves from “no sum” or “negative sum” relationships.

    I listened to “Give and Take” on the heels of Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” I wondered until halfway through the book if Grant was even considering women in the workplace. Many of the “giver” techniques he recommends are the very techniques that, when used by women leaders, erode whatever leadership foundation they have.

    Grant eventually points out that the communication techniques he is recommending will not work for anyone presenting in a leadership role (at a board meeting, for example), although they will work for a leader as a team member.

    Grant has some invaluable tips for how women can effectively negotiate higher salaries and gain respect in an organization, even while they are “givers” (or “sharers”, in my parlance).

    This book didn’t have the impact “Lean In” did for me, but it had some invaluable suggestions I will incorporate into my life. I am now much more confident about being a “giver” and recognizing “takers”.

    I had an unexpected issue with the narration of this book: Brian Keith Davis, the reader, is so smooth, he reminded me of Casey Kasem, the host of American Top 40. I listened to that radio show every Sunday night as a teenager, eagerly waiting to find out what the new Number 1 song was. Several times, after an especially positive anecdote in “Give and Take”, I expected to hear a current pop song. As I write this review, the Number 1 Billboard song Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop.” That is especially apropos for this book.

    35 of 39 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
    Overall
    (249)
    Performance
    (225)
    Story
    (225)

    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.

    Cynthia says: "/SHärp/ synonyms: acute, fierce, seering"
    "/SHärp/ synonyms: acute, fierce, seering"
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    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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    7 of 7 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
    Overall
    (306)
    Performance
    (289)
    Story
    (294)

    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"
    "Meh"
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    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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    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Sold

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Patricia McCormick
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre
    Overall
    (583)
    Performance
    (516)
    Story
    (510)

    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"
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    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 10 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
    Overall
    (2031)
    Performance
    (1546)
    Story
    (1547)

    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"
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    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 11 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 Cracked.com
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (196)
    Story
    (196)

    You're going to wish you never got this audiobook. Some facts are too terrifying to teach in school. Unfortunately, Cracked.com 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"
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    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 Cracked.com'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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    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Advocate's ExParte: The Advocate Series, Volume 5

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Teresa Burrell
    • Narrated By Laurel Schroeder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Attorney Sabre Brown is summoned into Judge Lawrence Mitchell chambers for an ex parte hearing. When the judge attempts to discuss one of her cases, she refuses to listen without proper counsel present. Later that evening, Judge Mitchell is murdered. Sabre's shock at his death is only surpassed by an attempt on the life of Dr. Carolina Heller, a psychologist she employs on a regular basis. Sabre now fears for her own life.

    Cynthia says: "Well, butter my butt . . ."
    "Well, butter my butt . . ."
    Overall
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    And call me a biscuit!

    Teresa Burrell's fictional children's attorney, Sabre Oren Brown, is supported by some unforgettable characters. There's her best friend, Bob Clark, a full time attorney; part time cigarette smoker who keeps trying to quit; and a faithfully married man who's perpetually being snowed by a sob story from a pretty girl. There's Sabre's rarely seen mother who has an outsized ability to make Sabre feel guilty for not visiting enough. And there's Texas-transplant private investigator J.P. Thorne, with his courtly manners and homespun sayings.

    Thorne's a cowboy, from the brim of his Stetson to the tips of his real cowboy kicking boots, the dark tan leather kind with rounded tips and soles and heels that are replaced every so often - not pointy-toed fancy stitching highly polished black dancing boots with by a wanna-be. Thorne retired as San Diego law enforcement, and still has friends and enemies on the force. He's been a constant in The Advocate series, and "The Advocate's Ex Parte" (2013) gives Thorne a chance to show his stuff.

    Burrell lovingly explores a part of Southern California too often unknown, even to natives: the horseback riding, rural ranching and farming part that's overshadowed by the beaches, boats, and sun of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Burrell's fiction is more true than the "reality" show ever had been.

    Burrell's remains an attorney's attorney. Sabre works way too many hours; sympathizes with clients who lack any ability to empathize with anyone; and she continues to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. As the writers of television's "How to Get Away With Murder" (2014 - present) show, it's much easier to pretend, in the interest of a story line, attorneys are amoral than to work within the rules and still develop an engaging storyline. Burrell does both, a task which even John Grisham fails from time to time.

    Burrell's last book, "The Advocate's Dilemma" (2012) was a difficult solve. "The Advocate's Ex Parte," with several parallel cases only connected by Sabre's and Thorne's involvement, is even more challenging - but very plausible. Listen all the way to the end, or you'll miss something important.

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    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Kevin Cullen, Shelley Murphy
    • Narrated By James Colby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (150)
    Performance
    (130)
    Story
    (133)

    Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy follow Whitey’s extraordinary criminal career - from teenage thievery to bank robberies to the building of his underworld empire and a string of brutal murders.

    A. Garofalo says: "boring"
    "Not Quite the Master Criminal of Lore"
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    It took me half a year to listen my way through Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy's "Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him To Justice" (2012). I was just plain out-and-out bored by the exhaustive detail - but intrigued enough to keep listening. James Colby's narration was perfect Boston and Irish, so that wasn't the problem. The problem: well, once you set aside the horrific crimes, Whitey was just a parochial, unimaginative businessman. Early on, he found a way to make money and kept doing basically the same thing over and over - extortion - until he was forced to stop.

    Business is a way of creating a lasting empire. Walter Isaacson wrote the acclaimed, authorized biography "Steve Jobs" in 2011 in detail as minute as Cullen and Murphy did, but Bulger is no Jobs. Jobs literally changed the way people think with Apple. Bill Gates Microsoft is important, but Gates' crowning achievement is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with its fight against endemics like malaria and Ebola. Whitey made his own run at the world order by funding arms shipments to the Irish Republican Army, but funding a war? Immortality without morality is an empty construct.

    Whitey's kingdom was geographically limited to 'Southie' (South Boston) and the FBI. Whitey probably had more control over good portions of the FBI from 1987 - 1993 than its director, William Sessions, did. Whitey was an informant who operated his criminal enterprise with impunity while the FBI focused on taking down the Mafia. Actually, impunity isn't the right word. Immunity? Assistance? Encouragement?

    Whitey's connections were impeccable - his brother, Bill Bulger, was the Massachusetts Senate President. Brother Jack was highly placed in the state court system. When Whitey was eventually indicted, the entire family stuck together. Loyalty had it's cost: Bill lost his job, and Jack his hard earned government pension. Whitey remained a fugitive while his brothers lost what they'd spent their lives working for.

    Whitey and his long-time companion, Catherine Greig were finally captured, after a decade 'on the lam', in a rent controlled apartment in Santa Monica in 2011. They lived the lives of quiet retirees, careful with their money, and kind to their neighbors. The contrast was stark, and the complete change from blatant extortionist to pensioner on a limited income is why they hid in plain sight for so long.

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    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Merry Misogynist: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (54)

    In 1978 in poverty-stricken Laos, a man from the city with a truck was somebody—a catch for even the prettiest village virgin. The corpse of one of these bucolic beauties turns up in Dr. Siri’s morgue, and his curiosity is piqued. The victim was tied to a tree and strangled, but she had not, as the doctor had expected, been raped. And though the victim had smooth, pale skin over most of her body, her hands and feet were gnarled, callused, and blistered.

    Cynthia says: "Marriage from Hell"
    "Marriage from Hell"
    Overall
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    Story

    Most people believe serial killers are an American invention. I mean 'American' in the truest sense: North, Central, and South American. This particular psychopathic subtype may have first been identified, named and popularized by Western psychologists and sociologists, but the archetype existed in the East before the birth of Christ.

    Colin Cotterill's "The Merry Misogynist" (2009) explores the idea of a Laotian serial killer. The killer's ability to succeed depends on the killer's innate understanding of Laos; its tribes; and communist bureaucracy in the 1970's. I have no idea if Cotterill's description of the half dozen papers needed to marry were correct at the time, but it certainly sounded plausible.

    The country is scarred by war, and recovering slowly. The royal family has fallen, and after half a century of insurgency, the communists are establishing a new government. Resources are so limited that someone driving a truck, even in the capital of Vientiane, must be an important person with contacts and resources.

    There's the mystery lover's question: does National Coroner (and the green eyed host of a 1000 year old spirit, Ya Ming) Dr. Siri Paiboun rely on 'deus ex solvo' to uncover the killer? No, of course not. Cotterill's settings are unique, but he follows the mystery writer's convention: the solve depends on solid facts, not the supernatural.

    Clive Chafer's narration is great. He has an English? Australian? accent, which made the listen more exotic.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • A Good Marriage

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Jessica Hecht
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (97)

    What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down? When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

    Cynthia says: "Did she know?"
    "Did she know?"
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    Story

    In 2000, I had a Palm III, a handheld computer a little larger and heavier than today's iPhone 5. It had a stylus a special way to synchronize and write, and (available for separate purchase) a camera and a keyboard. It also had the world's first mass-market ebook, Stephen King's "Riding the Bullet". The eerily floating gray-green words on a black screen; sentences and paragraphs scrolling automatically at my exact reading speed; and a late evening with the lights off and a glass of good red wine made that novella mean more to me than it ever did on actual paper.

    "A Good Marriage" was originally published in Stephen King's 2010 novella collection, "Full Dark, No Stars". The book sold well - all of King's books do - but I thought the stories were lackluster, or tried too hard to shock, or both. When I finished the read, I put the hardback on my bookshelf, and so thoroughly forgot it I didn't remember reading about the 27 year marriage of Darcy and Bob Anderson when I clicked "purchase" on Audible.

    The turned out to be a fortunate mistake. "A Good Marriage" (2014 Audible copyright) works very well as an audio narration because of the excellent performance by Jessica Hecht. Hecht becomes the credulous, complacent and self-satisfied Darcy who literally stumbles across her husband Bob's secret. Hecht's about the same age as the fictional homemaker, and plays the sweet, even tempered woman unwittingly married to a man who bears a physical and avocational resemblance to Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. King imagines an answer to a question we've all asked, "Did Paula Rader know? Did Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway's wives Marcia or Judith know? Did they?"

    Hecht's performance makes a so-so story chilling and memorable, just as delivering "Riding the Bullet" electronically made that story frightening and unforgettable.

    The Audible release must be timed to coincide with the October 3, 2014 release of the film adaptation of "A Good Marriage" starring Anthony LaPaglia and Joan Allen. I haven't seen it, so I don't know how the movie compares to the book compares to the Audible.

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    28 of 33 people found this review helpful
  • The Advocate's Dilemma: The Advocate Series, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Teresa Burrell
    • Narrated By Laurel Schroeder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Attorney Sabre Brown's day is going well until she walks into her office and finds a dead man sprawled across her desk. When, Bob, her best friend and colleague is suspected of the murder, and Sabre's minor client has information that might clear him, Sabre has a dilemma. How does she help her best friend without betraying the confidence of the child she is sworn to protect?

    Amazon Customer says: "They Just keep getting better!"
    "When Ethics Aren't Morals"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first hardest (American) Attorney Rule of Professional Conduct is the obligation an attorney has to maintain the confidences of a client inviolate. It's a 'hardest rule' because it pits common accepted morality against lawyer ethics.

    In Teresa Burrell's "The Advocate's Dilemma" (2012), Children's attorney Sabre Oren Brown represents two boys. Their mother, Dana, is more interested in her next drink, fix or both than her children. Their late, unlamented scam artist father is found murdered at the beginning of the book.

    Bob Clark, Sabre's best friend and a close colleague in the Juvenile Court, identifies the deserving victim as one of his clients. Clark rapidly becomes a suspect when Dana openly flirts with Clark at court appearances.

    Sabre and J.P. Thorne, a retired San Diego police officer working as a private investigator, question whether Clark killed Dana's scheming husband. The way to quell their doubts: find out who did. Both are stymied by the obligation to hold a client's confidences quiet: the children know things about their father's rancid life that could help find the killer, but they've begged Sabre not to tell.

    Burrell's been developing Thorne as a character. "The Advocate's Dilemma" moves Thorne from a one dimensional character known entirely for his Stetson, his cowboy boots, and his homespun Texas metaphors to a complex character with an intriguing back story.

    I've gotten used to narrator Laurel Schroeder, and she seems to be enjoying Sabre as a character.

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    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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