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Cynthia

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 213 reviews
  • 213 ratings
  • 492 titles in library
  • 28 purchased in 2015
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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
    (307)
    Performance
    (263)
    Story
    (265)

    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"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    37 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • Ceremonies in Dark Old Men

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Lonne Elder III
    • Narrated By Rocky Carroll, Brandon Dirden, Jason Dirden, and others
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (7)

    First produced by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1969, this classic masterpiece by Academy Award nominee Lonne Elder III gives us the portrait of a Harlem family that dreams of a better life, but pursues it in tragic ways. Ceremonies opened the door for new generation of African American playwrights, August Wilson among them. NBC-TV called Elder’s dramatization of rituals "exciting drama, filled with meaningful insight and original comedy."

    David A. Heckman says: "Brilliant"
    "Talismans of Despair"
    Overall
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    With a title like "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," things are not going to end well. The question is just how bad they can get for Russell B. Parker, a broken down vaudeville performer and sporadic barber, and his three adult children. Adele, his daughter, chafes at being the sole support of her family. Adele's resentment and her brother Theo and Bobby's attraction to the deceptively easy life of crime set the inevitable tragedy in motion while Parker deludes himself into an illusion of love and prosperity.

    Lonne Elder III, a contemporary of Lorraine Hansberry ("A Raisin in the Sun", 1959) wrote "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men" (1969). It had a respectable Off Broadway run, but what's neat about this 2010 LA Theatre Works production is that it's directed by Judyann Johnson Elder, Lonne Elder's former wife. Judyann was began her performing arts career as an actress in the Negro Ensemble Company, which debuted the play. There's a pleasing symmetry to the production.

    I was a little disappointed that LA Theatre Works did not have a teacher's guide with this play, as it did for its productions of "Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting" and "Jump at the Sun." Those were the earlier Audible releases for Black History Month in 2015. It's understandable, though: "Mr. Rickey" is about the integration of baseball and "Jump" is about the prolific Zora Neale Hurston. Lonne Elder was talented and award wining, but did not leave a large body of work; and "Ceremonies" was set in the 1950's, after the Harlem Renaissance but before the Civil Rights movement.

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    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Code Name Verity

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Wein
    • Narrated By Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2193)
    Performance
    (1967)
    Story
    (1966)

    Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery. Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong....

    Suzn F says: "Haunting, Beautiful, Exquisite, Special Book"
    "Nacht und Nebel"
    Overall
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    A few weeks ago, I got this text message from my big sister, D-. "Good audio book suggestion: Code Name Verity. One of the best I've listened to". D- was right. So are all of the reviewers who say it's pretty impossible to write a review of this book that doesn't have spoilers.

    Elizabeth Wein's 2012 "Code Name Verity" is marketed as a Young Adult book. I've got two teenagers, and I've read/listened to a fair number of books in this genre. Without sex, vulgarity, and fatuous self-involvement, this book stands out. Wein's historically accurate description of England as it entered WWII and its use of civilian planes - the (de Havilland) Puss Moth, the Tiger Moth - in war service is an intriguing bonus. The vocabulary isn't dumbed down, and it's definitely UK-flavored. I had to look up words like "gormless", which means clueless, stupid and dull, combined.

    That made me wonder just what YA, as a genre means. Imogen Russell Williams, in a July 31, 2014, article in The Guardian says, "the sine qua non of YA is an adolescent protagonist, who will probably face significant difficulties and crises, and grow and develop to some degree - Patrick Ness described it as "finding boundaries and crossing them and figuring out when you end, who you are and what shape you are." The two protagonists are a little older - in their twenties - but otherwise, it does meet the criteria.

    The book is set in World War 2, and there is violence in the book. It is disturbing, even though it's neither graphic nor gratuitous.

    I can say, without giving away key plot points, that "Code Name Verity" is as much of a mindf*** as Gillian Flynn's 2012 "Gone Girl." There were several times I found myself thinking, "Wait, what???" and rewinding a couple of minutes because there'd been a twist so subtle I'd missed it.

    Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell were fantastic narrators. Their accents really help set the place.

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    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington
    • Narrated By Tom Pile
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (115)

    Most organizations and individuals work in the context of annual goals and plans; a 12-month execution cycle. Instead, The 12 Week Year avoids the pitfalls and low productivity of annualized thinking. This book redefines your "year" to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn't enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now.

    Michael says: "Good Information with misleading support materials"
    "Intriguing and Irritating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I didn't actually read the Publisher's Summary before I bought "The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months" (2013, text; 2014, Audible) , and that's a good thing. I wouldn't have voluntarily listened to something that promises that it's the "The guide to shortening your execution cycle . . ." The only execution cycle I know is in computer programming, and the last code I wrangled with was an early 1990's version of Unix.

    What "The 12 Week Year" turned out to be is a time management program based interim goals, set quarterly. The 13th week is an added, or bonus, week so the "year" works out to an even year. I almost heard gears shift when I understood the concept. I think this could work for me.

    Mentally, I had to change the plan to "The 3 Month Year" because my job and goals really do not fit into a weekly schedule. Even though I'm a licensed professional, I'm in what Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington call "a reactive job." My deadlines and corresponding goals are driven by rules my employer does not control - they are set by statutes.

    "The 12 Week Year" seems to be focused on sales people and sales teams with a lot more flexibility than I have. That doesn't mean I don't think I can apply the principles, I just need to adjust the author's suggestions to work at my work. The suggestions for personal improvement -,well, trying to lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks sure sounds a lot more manageable than the really daunting number that I have to drop after I successfully quit smoking a year ago, thanks to M J Ryan's "This Year I Will: How To Finally Change A Habit, Keep A Resolution, Or Make A Dream Come True" (2006).

    So, now for the irritating: the authors suddenly go off on really odd, distracting and unsupported tangents. There's a woman whose supposedly making 100 home visits a month, and even more phone calls, in her counseling job while she's homeschooling her son. Right. And the word "intentionality"? It's a sociological concept describing cognition, not a touchy-feely motivational word. I ended up tuning out the dissonance, hoping I didn't miss something I could have used.

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    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba...and Then Lost It to the Revolution

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By T. J. English
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (593)
    Performance
    (287)
    Story
    (292)

    Havana Nocturne takes listeners back to Cuba in the years when it was a veritable devil's playground for mob leaders Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Thanks to strong ties with the island's brutal dictator, President Batista, the mob soon owned the biggest luxury hotels and casinos and launched an unprecedented tourist boom. But their dreams collided with those of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and others.

    Rob Mack says: "History with Spice!"
    "Razzle-Dazzle"
    Overall
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    I love the word 'nocturne'. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines it as "a work of art dealing with evening or night; especially a dreamy pensive composition for the piano." T. J. English uses the title "Havana Nocturne" to refer to the Havana that the American mob dreamed up, created and nourished, only to have it crushed by revolution.

    If Havana from the end of World War II until 1959, was a work of art, Meyer Lansky was a mobster who didn't play games of chance, and the artist who gambled on building a Mecca the Pearl of the Antilles. Lansky was the money man who shrewdly pegged Fulgencio Batista, an up and coming Cuban military officer, as a potential ally in developing Havana. Batista was an elitist snob, easily corrupted - and became President and then military dictator of Cuba.

    A more prescient man might have put his money on Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul. "Havana Nocturne" profiles Fidel's radicalization, imprisonment and release, and revolutionary rise. Fidel's ascent caused Batista's fall, and sent the mob scuttling out of Havana and back to Florida, leaving vast luxury state of the art hotels to decay in an era of embargo. Cuban sex workers, card sharps, and pit bosses stayed behind, too. Lansky literally lost his mistress in 1959 - as in, the revolution happened, she moved from the apartment he had her ensconced in, and he never found her again.

    If Havana was a work of art, it was a tawdry, glitzy, sometimes crass nouveau riche creation of an accountant. Lansky may have had unorthodox methods to solve problems (he had muscle that straight businessmen only dream about) but he was essentially a CFO. He lacked an appreciation for a subtle, nuanced approach to tourism or business. Now that economic relationships are being normalized, it will be interesting to see what happens with former mob holdings that Fidel nationalized.

    T. J. English's analysis of the rise and fall of mob gaming as it paralleled the rise of Cuban communism was an elegant study in contrasts."Havana Nocturne" sounds like a well researched work. Audible narrations don't generally have footnotes, but sources were referenced in the text.

    The title of this review comes from a con game played in Havana: unsuspecting would-be gamblers were seduced into fraudulent bets by seemingly innocent but admiring and enthusiastic locals. Lansky thought he'd successfully run that show out of Cuba.

    The narration was fine, but there's a pretty vexing editing problem. Chapters 6 and 7 repeat as Audible Chapters 8 and 9. It took me a bit to figure out what happened - I thought I'd somehow rewound. So, mentally knock off almost 2 hours from the book.

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    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jump at the Sun

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 33 mins)
    • By Kathleen McGhee-Anderson
    • Narrated By full cast
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    As the '20s roared and the Harlem renaissance thrived, a young woman from rural Florida became the toast of literary New York. Jump At The Sun chronicles the passionate life of Zora Neale Hurston (author of Their Eyes Are Watching God), who went from spinning tales on the front porch of a country store to writing prize-winning stories, novels, and plays. Imbued with the rhymes and rhythms of the Jazz Age, Hurston's story reveals a woman's ferocious appetite for life, literature, and love.

    Cynthia says: "Those that got it, can't hide it"
    "Those that got it, can't hide it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground." from Zora Neale Hurston's 1942 autobiography, "Dust Tracks on a Road." "Jump at the Sun" is a wonderful title for this LA Theater Works play by Kathleen McGhee-Anderson and the 2008 Samuel D. Pollard documentary the play seems to have been developed from.

    Zora Neale Hurston grew up "telling lies" to an appreciative audience in a small Black town in Florida. She was a story teller and, as an acclaimed anthropologist, a story collector and a folklorist. Zora Neale Hurston wasn't so much as in the right place at the right time as she created the right time and the right place - Harlem in the 1920's became the Harlem Renaissance. She was a contemporary of Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who is prominently featured in "Jump at the Moon." Hughes was more radicalized than Zora Neale Hurston, and probably looked down at her for being too ethnically black. She was exuberant and embraced Black culture, and that exuberance makes a great radio play performance.

    LA Theater Works (latw dot org) has a great guide for teachers, and it's a good guide to start learning about that cultural era. The title of this review is a Zora Neale Hurston quote.

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    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 36 mins)
    • By Ed Schmidt
    • Narrated By Ed Asner, Carl Lumbly, full cast
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (22)

    On a spring day in 1947, Mr. Rickey, the powerful General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, summons heavyweight champion Joe Louis, tap star Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and actor Paul Robeson to his hotel room in Manhattan. Rickey wants their support when he taps Jackie Robinson to be the Major League's first black ballplayer. But a power struggle ensues when the eloquent Robeson raises questions about Rickey's motivations to integrate white baseball.

    Cynthia says: ""Problems are the price you pay for progress.""
    ""Problems are the price you pay for progress.""
    Overall
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    There's a parallel to the Hollywood of unscripted reality shows of Botox and plastic surgeried semi-celebrities in rented McMansions, leased SUVs, and clothing deals. It's a Los Angeles of museums and live theater, like the workhorse Pasadena Playhouse; the well endowed Geffen Playhouse; the kicky, intimate and hard to find Glendale Centre Theatre; the Pantages and its elaborate productions . . .

    In 2005, Sheldon Epps directed Ed Schmidt's 1989 thinker of a play "Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting" for a great Los Angeles performing arts organization, LA Theater Works. Schmidt imagines a 1947 meeting between Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey and Jackie Robbins, on the eve of integration of professional baseball. Rickey invites legendary contemporary Black Americans Bill "Bo Jangles" Robinson, Boxer Joe Louis, and actor and activist Paul Robeson to the (fictional) meeting.

    Bill Robinson, Louis, and Robeson are like Fates of Greek Mythology, spinning the threads of Jackie Robinson's destiny. These men are one dimensional in "Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting" and each represents a path Jackie Robinson could take. Schmidt's Rickey is carefully calculating and more of a social engineer than the real Rickey probably ever was.

    The play was performed live and audio recorded, and it's a good listen. But there's a problem with this particular play as an audio only - it's a six character play, and half of the characters are named Robinson or Robeson. Knowing which person the other characters are referring to requires careful concentration or a rewind, or both.

    LA Theater Works (latw dot org) has a wonderful 23 page guide for teachers - and for people like me, who just wanted to know more.

    The title of this review is a quote attributed to Branch Rickey.

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    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • W Is for Wasted: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Sue Grafton
    • Narrated By Judy Kaye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1581)
    Performance
    (1386)
    Story
    (1384)

    Two dead bodies changed the course of my life that fall. One of them I knew and the other I'd never laid eyes on until I saw him in the morgue. The first was a local PI of suspect reputation. He'd been gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. It looked like a robbery gone bad. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He'd been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Millhone's name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.

    karen says: "Well worth waiting for...."
    "Respectfully Submitted"
    Overall
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    For a couple of years, I was assigned to litigate cases in Santa Barbara. It's a deceptively large city (90,412 in 2013) masquerading as a town small enough to walk everywhere. The Spanish Colonial Revival Courthouse is beautiful and lovingly maintained even as the latest technology is incorporated into the courtrooms. Each time I made an appearance, I took a few minutes to spot places Sue Grafton must have used to create Kinsey Millhone's world. Santa Barbara historically maintains so many places, it's not hard even though the series is set a quarter of a century ago.

    "W is for Wasted" (2013) is set in 1989, before cell phones and when the few people who knew what the Internet was were dialing in on 300 baud modems. Santa Barbara, then and now, has a persistent homeless population. When Kinsey's name and phone number are found in the pocket of a dead man who's part of the homeless community, she's drawn into an investigation that leads her to her own family in Bakersfield. It's a branch so distant it's almost a twig.

    Grafton's plots have become much more intricate since "A is for Alibi" (1982), but the resolution to the mysteries Kinsey solves end up telegraphed pretty well in advance. What I like about Grafton's books is that she intertwines two or more seemingly unrelated stories that tie together in the end. Trying to figure out how the stories merge is a kick. Grafton's cast of supporting characters is fun. Kinsey's landlord, Henry and his brother William have supporting roles in this book. They are, as always, amusing foils for each other and Kinsey. One of my favorite characters makes an appearance mid-book, and I didn't see that coming.

    However, I was disappointed in how Grafton handled Bakersfield and Kern County. Grafton got the geography right, and the mutability of the community and its tendency to tear down homes, and rebuild. It's roots are in the oil fields that dot the horizon, and many people there are descendants of "Okies" who migrated during the Dust Bowl of the depression. It can be a roustabout tough place. Where Grafton missed is the music. Bakersfield natives are proud of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Merle Haggard, and the other musicians that created the "Bakersfield Sound" of the 1950s. There's still a tremendous amount of support for local musicians so it wouldn't be surprising to find other talented local musicians playing in bars.

    As to the Audible - well, the voice actor's tone and pronunciation were fine, but the production quality was really off. I ended up listening to almost the entire book at 1.25 times speed. That's a first for me in over 200 Audible titles I've listened to.

    The title of the review is from the last line of every Millhone book.

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    1 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Sebastian Junger
    • Narrated By Richard Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (121)

    Man’s struggle against the sea is a theme that has created some of the world’s most exciting stories. Now, in the tradition of Moby Dick comes a New York Times best seller destined to become a modern classic. Written by journalist Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm combines an intimate portrait of a small fishing crew with fascinating scientific data about boats and weather systems.

    Ryan says: "Fact is better than Fiction"
    "Best as a Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    There are some books and stories that work best for me on Audible. Frank Mueller's narration of Erich Maria Remarque's"All Quiet on the Western Front" (1927/1929) was one - I somehow managed to miss it as assigned high school reading, and had no luck trying to actually read the text. I couldn't follow it until I listened. Stephen King's 2010 "A Good Marriage" was a so-so-so novella narrator Jessica Hecht turned into a wicked, memorable tease in 2014. Now, I'm adding Sebastian Junger's 1997's "The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea" (2014 Audible) to my list.

    "The Perfect Storm" was, at the time it was written, a newer approach to writing scientific history. Junger approached a historically significant natural phenomenon by telling the stories of those who lived through it - and those who did not. The book is liberally salted with meteorological history and contains thorough discussions of how storms develop and are sustained. It's interwoven with the personal histories of the people that sailed the seas during that epic storm, and the loved ones they left pacing on widow's walks.

    Swordfishing is a difficult life, and the crew of the Andrea Gail worked hard and played hard. Junger traces the lives of the crew members, concentrating especially on Bobby Shatford and his girlfriend, Chris Cotter. Their volatile relationship was a good analogy for the coming storm.

    Junger's writing can be dry, but Richard Davidson's narration made the statistics and history lively. Meteorological terms that were unfamiliar to me slipped off his tongue with ease.

    I will no longer feel guilty, thinking that I really should finish "The Perfect Storm" every time I dust the paperback that's been sitting on my bookshelf for more than a decade.

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    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • FREE Recession Proof Graduate: How to Land the Job You Want by Doing Free Work

    • UNABRIDGED (42 mins)
    • By Charlie Hoehn
    • Narrated By Ray Chase
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (145)
    Story
    (146)

    Recession-Proof Graduate is a wildly popular career guide that's been downloaded over 150,000 times. This audiobook is frequently shared among students, teachers, parents, counselors, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It's been integrated in the coursework at a number of universities, given away as a graduation gift, and translated to Italian. When I changed my strategy, I landed a handful of dream gigs, got to work with amazing people like Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi, and found myself turning down multiple paid job offers.

    Megan Hewins says: "Hit and Miss"
    "Interesting Premise"
    Overall
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    Story

    Charlie Hoehn's "Recession Proof Graduate: How to Land the Job You Want by Doing Free Work" (2011) has some fantastic ideas for finding work in a tough economy, and those ideas worked for him. Hoehn talks about approaching businesses and volunteering work, and he's set forth the specifics on how to figure out who to approach; what approaches to use; and how to turn that into paying work. It appears to have worked for Hoehn very well, but it looks like he's consulting to relatively young and technologically nimble companies.

    I'm having a hard time imagining his approach working in companies that are so large that adapting new technology is expensive because of the sheer number of people involved; so entrenched that older management wouldn't be comfortable thinking outside of long established practices; and highly regulated, which makes those businesses, of necessity, extremely cautious. I'd add a caveat to Hoehn's plan: if you are going to do this, chose an industry that's structurally capable of accepting what he's suggesting, rather than an industry like big banking or insurance.

    Hoehn's ideas are intriguing, and it's worth the time to listen.

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    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't Die: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (46)

    In a small Lao village, a very strange thing has happened. A woman was shot and killed in her bed during a burglary; she was given a funeral and everyone in the village saw her body burned. Then, three days later, she was back in her house as if she'd never been dead at all. But now she's clairvoyant and can speak to the dead. That's why the long-dead brother of a Lao general has enlisted her to help his brother uncover his remains, which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years.

    nybiblio says: "Another great Dr. Siri story"
    "Yes, it's that good."
    Overall
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    Comrade Dr. Siri Paiboun, the retired National Coroner of Laos, inhabits a world so vividly written it already stands the test of time. Colin Cotterill's Siri Paiboun series is set in late 1970's Laos, after the Pathet Lao overthrew the Lao monarchy, and at the beginning of a new country. Laos, as I've learned listening to Cotterill's books, is a rich collection of tribes, cultures, and languages. Their histories are as complex and fascinating as the legendary tribes of North America - the Navajo, the Ojibwa, and the Lakota. Cotterill's fiction is a window into daily living in the ascendency of Sino-Communist nations, just as Arthur Conan Doyle's (1859 - 1930) Sherlock Holmes stories are a glimpse into daily Victorian England and Tony Hillerman's (1925 - 2008) Lt. Joe Leaphorn series explores the culture and beliefs of the tribes of the American Southwest along with daily practicalities.

    I visited China in 1981, shortly after it 'opened up' to western travel. It was a China of sturdy blue Mao suits; one speed no-brake bicycles instead of cars; of grain drying on city streets; of Hutongs instead of high rises; and of intermittent electricity even at the second best hotel in Beijing, the Friendship Hotel. If Laos was similar to China at about the same time, Cotterill's books are historically accurate. But it's not the details that bring me back to the series - it's Cotterill's characters.

    "The Woman Who Wouldn't Die" (2013) finally - and finely - creates a real Madame Daeng, Siri's second wife. Madame Daeng and Siri met in the revolution, but he was married to the exemplary revolutionary heroine, Bua. Bua was the public role model of every aspiring Lao female warrior, including Daeng It turns out that Daeng was, covertly, as brave, clever and perhaps more deadly than Bua - but because her success was predicated on secrecy, no one - including Siri - knew.

    Madame Daeng's autobiography is laid out in parallel chapters as Siri and Daeng solve a vexing mystery, along with his comrades - Nurse Dtui and her husband, Inspector Posey; founding communist party member Comrade Civilai; and Mr. Tsung, the extremely capable morgue assistant who coincidentally has Down syndrome. The mystery's a good one, and the Cotterill's more adept in this book than his previous books at laying out the clues without making them stand out as clues.

    Cotterill's made a good choice of narrator in Clive Chafer. Chafer's good at switching between Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, and English. He's English and he's reading with an accent - not British, but? Whatever it is, I like it.

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    8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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