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Kuala LumpurMalaysia | Member Since 2008

  • 10 reviews
  • 82 ratings
  • 148 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015

  • Tree of Smoke: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Denis Johnson
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    This is the story of William "Skip" Sands, CIA, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong, and the disasters that befall him. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert and into a war in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

    MadMadeleine says: "Moby Redux"

    I enjoyed the book immensely for the most part. The Vietnam era war story was full of suspense, and was so well narrated by Will Paton that I was completely hooked to it. And then ... and then, the story turned to Malaysia ... and everything fell apart; because the author's ignorance and prejudice suddenly began to show all too conspicuously. Totally anticlimactic. In the whole, I was disappointed.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Leslie R. Crutchfield, Heather McLeod Grant
    • Narrated By Erik Synnestvedt

    Great nonprofits spend as much time working with institutions outside their four walls as they do managing their internal operations. They use the power of leverage to become greater forces for good. This landmark book reveals the six powerful practices of 12 high-impact nonprofits and tells their compelling stories.

    Elanjelian says: "Pretty Good"
    "Pretty Good"

    In 'Forces for Good' the authors discuss at length six practices that they believe are essential for organisations to have high impact. The book gives examples after examples of how these practices have contributed to the success of the 12 high impact non-profits. Most of these non-profits are well-known. (Except for 'Share Our Strength' and 'Self-Help', I was informed of the work of other 10.)

    The book contains many interesting nuggets that could get non-profit leaders thinking. Though be prepared for a lot of repetition; and bombast.

    From my own experience running a non-profit and a foundation over the past seven years, I have come across many non-profits that start with good intentions but very soon get bogged down due to involvement in multiple (often unaligned) programmes. Many of these programmes may exist sheerly by habit, for their own sake!

    On the negative side, I cannot help but feel the authors' definition of impact to be limited or self-serving, like in the case of growth companies during their bubble phase. What kind of impact are these organisations having on their target groups in the long-run? The book has little to say.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Little Stranger

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Sarah Waters
    • Narrated By Simon Vance

    In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life?

    S. Brown says: "Well worth it"
    "A Compelling Listen"

    The Little Stranger, a Booker shortlist, is told by one Dr. Faraday, a medical doctor of limited success -- for which he blames his humble background and lack of connections -- and anxious about his prospects in post-war England. Throughout the story we encounter his class resentment. Faraday is both reverent and envious of the Ayers, a grand family now in decline, whom he befriends. Midway through the novel we begin to suspect that he could unreliable, and his narration could be self-serving.

    The novel is marketed as a ghost story, but I think one may also read it as a mystery novel, as I did. The story lacks the tricks and plot twists that so captivated me in Sarah Water's earlier novel, Fingersmith; nonetheless, I was hooked almost from the word go.

    Simon Vance's narration was almost perfect, and makes this a five star listen instead of four.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Heart of the Matter

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Graham Greene
    • Narrated By Michael Kitchen

    Scobie, a police officer in a West African colony, is a good and honest man. But when he falls in love, he is forced into a betrayal of everything that he has ever believed in, and his struggle to maintain the happiness of two women destroys him.

    Elanjelian says: "A Novel on Sin and Damnation"
    "A Novel on Sin and Damnation"

    I listened to 'The Heart of the Matter' because: 1) I wanted to get acquainted with Graham Greene's writing; 2) it had won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1948; and 3) it was also included in both Modern Library and TIME lists.

    It is a straightforward enough story about the unravelling of an honest and upright colonial police officer, Scobie. It revolves around events taking place in wartime Western Africa; in truth, however, it is more about Scobie's struggles with his own demons, his perceptions and fears, and his, ultimately futile, quest for happiness. Strangely, it seemed to me, Scobie the good hardly ever thinks about his work, except in relation to his own piety and damnation. It was as if the natives didn't have any agency at all, as if they existed merely to serve or to corrupt the White colonists.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the book for the most part. The narration, by Michael Kitchen, was also good. (It may not, however, be suitable for listening while driving -- Kitchen whispers too often.)

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett

    The world at the beginning of the 20th century seemed, for most of its inhabitants, stable and relatively benign. Globalizing, booming economies married to technological breakthroughs seemed to promise a better world for most people. Instead, the 20th century proved to be overwhelmingly the most violent, frightening and brutalized in history with fanatical, often genocidal warfare engulfing most societies between the outbreak of the First World War and the end of the Cold War.

    Elanjelian says: "Fresh History"
    "Fresh History"

    Though abridged, the book manages to make a reasonably convincing case as to why the 20th Century was so bloody. Ferguson's theory is essentially this: hatred (of others) is an integral part of being human; so when peoples of different ethnicities living in close proximity experience economic instability, and when established order (or Empire) is in decline, the killing urge rears its ugly head waiting to be set free in the name of a war.

    The World Wars, including the Cold War, are old subjects. However, Ferguson's writing throws out fresh perspectives, which alone will compensate for your valuable time.

    The narration of Sean Barrett was excellent, as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • My Life

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Bill Clinton
    • Narrated By Bill Clinton

    President Bill Clinton's My Life is the strikingly candid portrait of a global leader who decided early in life to devote his intellectual and political gifts, and his extraordinary capacity for hard work, to serving the public. It is the fullest, most concretely detailed, most nuanced account of a presidency ever written, and a testament to the positive impact on America and on the world of his work and his ideals.

    Drayton says: "Less than I expected"
    "OK ... but too brief"

    I enjoyed listening to Clinton telling his story; however, the abridged version simply didn't do for me. The coverage was too superficial. Again and again I was gasping for more -- for details ... for depth. Consider getting the audio book only if you are already persuaded with his politics, and merely want a general overview about the man, his rise and time in the White House.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Inheritance of Loss

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Kiran Desai
    • Narrated By Tania Rodrigues

    At the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, lives an embittered old judge who wants nothing more than to retire in peace. But this is far from easy with the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter Sai, come to live with him and his chatty cook. Biju, the cook's son, is trying to make his way in the US, flitting between a succession of grubby kitchen jobs to stay one step ahead of the immigration services.

    Elanjelian says: "A Stirring Novel"
    "A Stirring Novel"

    The story resonated well with me, with my own experience growing up in small town Malaysia. It aptly captures the ambivalence of identity, the rage and the hope, and pretenses, that we, too, at newly independent Malaysia felt (and, in a way, continue to feel) and exhibited.

    The narration of Tania Rodrigues was excellent, although it took me a while getting used to her pauses between sentences. Some familiarity with Kalimpong, its surrounds and the insurgency of the 1980's will enhance the listening pleasure.

    Bottom-line: a highly intelligent and engaging post-colonial novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Midnight's Children

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Lyndam Gregory
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Salman Rushdie holds the literary world in awe with a jaw-dropping catalog of critically acclaimed novels that have made him one of the world's most celebrated authors. Winner of the prestigious Booker of Bookers, Midnight's Children tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born on the stroke of India's independence.

    Marc-Fr says: "Outstanding book, superb narration"
    "Good listen"

    Midnight's Children isn't an easy book to listen to first time around; and it certainly took me many hours of listening before getting a grip (that, too, somewhat tenuous) on the story line, which is full of twists, and exceptions, and clarifications, and which jumps back and forth in time and points of view.

    Nonetheless, it is a really funny story. I must have laughed out loud at least few times. The text and the narration easily capture the irony and hypocrisy one finds in India (and Pakistan).

    As to the narration, well ... I think Lyndam Gregory has put in a lot of effort to get it right. To bring the text to life. Unfortunately he didn't succeed. He simply couldn't pronounce any of the Indian names or terms properly. At times I had to refer to the text (which, thankfully, was available for download online) to understand what was being read.

    I plan to listen to again.

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • Restless

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By William Boyd
    • Narrated By Rosamund Pike

    What happens when everything you thought you knew about your mother turns out to be an elaborate lie? During the summer of 1976, Ruth Gilmartin discovers that her very English mother, Sally, is really Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian émigrée and one-time spy.

    Elanjelian says: "A worthwhile listen"
    "A worthwhile listen"

    'Restless' is an enjoyable listen that's fast paced, even gripping at times, although its 'final analysis' was somewhat unconvincing, and perhaps even shallow (for an award-winning novel). Nonetheless, I'd gladly recommend it to anyone, particularly those who enjoy spy novels. And, as others have noted elsewhere, Rosamund Pike has done an excellent job narrating the book!

    By the way, I chose this version of 'Restless' over the other version by Macmillan Audio as it was a lot cheaper, and I have no regrets.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • My Revolutions

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Hari Kundzru
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It's the day before Mike Frame's 50th birthday and his quiet provincial life is suddenly falling apart. But perhaps it doesn't matter, because it's not his life in the first place. He has a past that his partner Miranda and step-daughter Sam know nothing about, lived under another name amidst the turbulence of the revolutionary armed struggle of the 1970s. Now Mike is seeing ghosts: a dead ex-lover and an old friend who wants to reminisce.

    Cariola says: "A Disappointment"
    "Detailed and sympathetic"

    I've always been fascinated with young revolutionaries who dare to challenge the system. The book captures the spirit of the times, and the participants zeal, well and sympathetically. However, after listening to screams of 'pigs', 'pigs', enough times, I found my thoughts drifting off. Except for few characters in the book, most are merely there like slogans.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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