If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may be very interested in this story. If you are not, you will still appreciate the good writing and fine narration.
This excerpt was a detailed introduction to a series of books about a brother and sister who have newly discovered magical abilities. At the beginning of the story, Whit and Wisty believe they are ordinary teenagers. When their home is raided at night by people intent on their capture they learn they will be tried - and possibly executed - for practicing witchcraft. This seems absurd, until they begin to discover that they do have powers that ordinary teens don't have. Imprisoned, they must rely on each other, a few mysterious objects given to them by their parents, and their unfamiliar powers to try to escape.
While this hour long excerpt held my attention, I wouldn't say that it hooked me. I am not going to rush out and buy the series because I'm just dying to know what happens. I would probably listen to the series if it went on sale, but it is not at the top of my list of books to purchase. Others who really enjoy stories of magic teens will feel differently, since this story has the potential to evolve into a modern day Harry Potter series.
This is a well-crafted self-portrait of one woman’s life with bipolar disorder. Marya Hornbacher is honest, insightful and brave as she describes the severe ups and downs brought on by her disorder.
During her manic episodes, Hornbacher is a classic case of manic symptoms. She experiences racing thoughts, pressured speech, constant motion, reckless behavior, grandiosity, increase in goal-oriented activities and decreased need for sleep. This version of Hornbacher is fast and furious, somewhat delusional and often a lot of fun.
When depressed, Hornbacher sinks to the lowest of lows. She loses interest in activities, withdraws from life, sleeps excessively and even cuts herself.
Further complicating Hornbacher’s illness is her effort to self-medicate with alcohol and food restriction, resulting in a substance abuse problem and an eating disorder. She is, as they say on the street, one hot mess.
Hornbacher takes the reader along as she journeys through her years with bipolar disorder, going in and out of hospitals, moving in and out of relationships, enduring extensive medication trials and crippling side effects. At the heart of the story is her family – a closely knit circle of devoted loved ones– who advocate and fight for her. Many times they are her saving grace.
If you are living with bipolar disorder, or if you know someone who is, this book is a MUST READ. Hornbacher paints a real and haunting picture of the illness and ultimately teaches the reader that, even though it is possible to die from bipolar disorder, it is equally possible to have a life with bipolar disorder. The final message is one of hope.
Narrator Tavia Gilbert reads this book with doses of levity, capturing Hornbacher’s dark humor that appears throughout. My only complaint is that Gilbert also narrated the much less stellar “Voluntary Madness” by Norah Vincent. Her narration across the two books is fantastic, but I kept getting a sense of déjà vu – as if I had read this before.
At the beginning of this audiobook, I wondered if something was wrong with the recording. I asked myself, “Why are the chapters formatted this way?” I quickly realized they were formatted like numbers on a scale, and this was an appropriate choice for a book about a teenage girl with an eating disorder.
“Just eat!” her loved ones demand.
But for Lia, it isn’t that simple. She is broken, and no one seems skilled enough to put her pieces back together. Her mother, a surgeon, treats her like a case study. Her father, newly married, is too busy. And her best friend Cassie, who also struggles with an eating disorder, has just been found dead. The most helpful person in the story seems to be Elijah, a young drifter who works at the hotel where Cassie died. Lia tells herself to stay strong by staying empty. Her weight keeps dropping.
In the end it is Elijah who most effectively pushes Lia toward life.
Author Laurie Halse Anderson writes about an eating disorder with the intimacy of someone who has experienced one. After a little while you realize that there are two ways the story could go. Lia could get better. Or she could die.
Narrator Jeannie Stith brings Lia, in all of her brokenness, to life. Her voice conveys every feeling that Lia experiences – guilt, sadness, anger, loss, hunger, hunger, hunger. And then,
in the end, hope.
“Wintergirls” is a stunning piece of young adult fiction. It is raw and real. It isn’t pretty. It is, in fact, rather ugly. And painful. But if you’ve ever loved someone with an eating disorder, or someone with a touch of madness, you should listen to this book. It will open up your heart even while it is breaking it.
Simon Sinek, a trained anthropologist, has taken a very anthropological concept and applied it to the real world in a way that is - well, inspiring.
Sinek is asking us to start with WHY. Not what or how, but WHY. He posits the theory that WHY is important because we make decisions based on our values and beliefs; therefore we are more likely to buy a product from a company whose values and beliefs align with our own - even if that product is more expensive. He supports his theory by citing a number of companies whose WHY has inspired us to buy their products, sell their products, endorse their products and, in some cases, even tattoo their logos on our skin. Some of the companies Sinek explores include Apple, HarleyDavidson and Starbucks. Through his thorough overview of these companies, we learn not just from their sucesses but also from their mistakes.
Sinek includes a number of key concepts, including the Golden Circle, the Celery Test and the Split. The Split is a concept to be particularly aware of both in business and in life - this is the moment when what you do becomes disconnected from a sense of WHY. It happened to Walmart, which is why our current view of Walmart tends toward the negative. Don't let it happen to you!
This audiobook is narrated by Sinek himself - a very enthusiastic gentleman with just a hint of an English accent (enough to keep it interesting). It is clear in listening to the book that Sinek has great passion for his subject. This passion comes out in the narration and makes the book a lot of fun to listen to.
Perhaps the most poignant part of this book is when Sinek reveals his own WHY - to inspire people to do the things that inspire them. This book is an excellent start.
Sometimes when two people tie the knot, they overdo it and the knot gets awfully complicated. Then a freak accident occurs, and one person is left behind to unravel the mess they made together. So it goes for Aaron and Dorothy, a couple whose marriage was built on misconceptions. Despite these misconceptions, they manage to piece together a life slathered with the glue of commitment and love. Lucky couples get a whole lifetime to fix what is wrong in their marriage. But when a tree falls onto their house and Dorothy is abruptly killed, Aaron is left to sort out the reality of what they had.
Anne Tyler has a written a beautiful book about a broken marriage. The language is simple and clean. In scenes with dialogue between Aaron and Dorothy, Tyler captures the reality of marital angst and, if we’re honest, even reminds us of our own marriages. Along with this reminder comes a poignant question: if your marriage ended tomorrow, would you be comfortable with where it stands? If the answer is “no,” Tyler quietly urges us to do the work now to fix it, before it’s too late.
Narrator Kirby Heyborne breathes life into Tyler’s narrative. He allows us to feel all the tension and bliss that married life can bring. At times the narration feels dated, thus surprising the reader when modern conveniences like the Apple store are mentioned. I’m not sure if this is a result of Heyborne’s narration or Tyler’s writing. Luckily, it is only a slight distraction from an otherwise flawless performance.
If you are married now, or once were, or ever hope to be, you must read The Beginner’s Goodbye. This intimate portrayal of one couple will give you perspective on what is really important in life.
My dad used to tell me, "The truth is stranger than fiction, Ange. You couldn't make this stuff up!"
My dad would love Jon Ronson.
Ronson is known for ferreting out strange people with strange beliefs or behaviors and exposing them to the world. He does it again in "Lost at Sea," a wonderful collection of tales about his odd encounters. Ronson makes himself a central character in all of his stories. He plays the good-natured skeptic who kind of wants to believe - the very role we imagine for ourselves in Ronson's place. His openness helps us empathize with his bizarre cast of characters. In the end, we, like Ronson, are a little bit better for having learned what they have to teach.
Perhaps the best part of this book is that Ronson himself narrates, and no one could do it better. Each emotion is clearly expressed through his lilting accent, which is at times quite hilarious. I've said it in previous reviews and I will say it again, you will want to talk like Jon Ronson for days after listening to his work because everything sounds funnier when you say it like Jon Ronson.
If you love the strange and bizarre, you will love this book. If you are a Ronson fan, you will not be disappointed by this latest installment of the strange and weird.
My top three picks:
1) Doesn't everyone have a solar? (Ronson interviews high functioning robots.)
2) Who killed Richard Cullen? (Ronson invents alteregos with various personality traits to see who is most likely to be solicited by ads for credit cards and bank loans.)
3) Is she for real? (Ronson signs up for a cruise featuring "grumpy" psychic Sylvian Brown.)
This is the story of Daniel, a violin maker and inmate at Auschwitz concentration camp. For months, Daniel keeps his occupation secret and instead claims to be a carpenter - a more useful profession. When he overhears a musician playing a cracked violin for the camp's commandant, he reveals his skill in order to save the musician from punishment. Soon Daniel finds himself in the middle of a cruel wager between the commandant and the sadistic camp doctor. If Daniel can make a violin of Stradivarius quality, the camp commandant wins a case of the finest burgundy wine. If not, Daniel will be handed over to the camp doctor for use in human experimentation.
Despite the dark theme of this short novel, it carries a message of hope. Amidst so much destruction and cruelty, Daniel manages to create something very beautiful. His friend Bronislov, the musician who plays the violin for the commandant and the camp doctor, sums it up best:
"It isn't true is it, Daniel, that music can tame the beasts? Yet in the end, a song lives."
This novel is very well written, weaving actual Nazi reports from Auschwitz into the narrative. At the end of the story you get to "find out" what happened to the various characters, so there is a nice sense of closure. The narration is also very good - David Colacci's voice is clear and easy to follow, making for no distractions from the story.
If you enjoy stories about the triumph of the human spirit during times of great adversity, you will love this novel. At just under three hours listening time, it asks for very little and delivers a lot.
Leader / Manager / Coach is a program designed to teach you how to balance these three critical roles of an executive position. Figuring out this balance can be a challenge, since the goals of each role are different:
"Leaders see the future and set the vision."
"Managers focus on results."
"Coaches find, retain and develop individual talent."
The question is, how do you know which role you should fill at any given time? Failure to answer this question can result in confusion and wasted time among staff. It can also increase your stress level and cause you to work less efficiently.
This program does a nice job of defining the three roles of an executive position and how these roles are often in conflict with one another. Understanding this helps you better grasp the program's advice on how to balance these roles. It may sound simple, but if it was simple we would already be doing it and wouldn't seek out programs like this.
The interview format of the program is helpful, especially when the interviewer summarizes what the interviewee said. But be forewarned: the interviewer *is* slightly goofy. For example, one time after the interviewee had answered her question, she said, "Oh, okay! Now, what exactly does that mean?"
If you are in an executive or leadership position, you should listen to this program. Not only will it help you to understand your roles - it will also teach you how to consciously seek balance for these roles. And, in theory, finding the balance will increase not only your own productivity, but also that of your team.
Go the F--k to Sleep proves that social media can make or break a book. One night, after growing frustrated with his daughter's antics at bed time, author Adam Mansbach posted on Facebook, "Look out for my forthcoming children's book - Go the F--k to Sleep." The response was overwhelming, and Mansbach began working on the book. But social media wasn't finished with this story yet. Before its official publication date, PDF advance copies of the book went viral and Go the F--k to Sleep ended up in the No. 1 spot on the bestseller list.
So does the story live up to all the hype?
Yes and no. Samuel L. Jackson's reading of the book is fantastic. He does a wonderful job of portraying the weary parent who no longer cares if he is a "sh--ty" parent, he just wants his kid to go the f--k to sleep. The narrative, however, quickly gets old. It's like a book of jokes that all have the same punchline.
Honestly, I am probably not in a position to review this book. Not having children myself, and never having experienced the struggle to get a child to go to sleep, I laughed at this book but was unable to relate. If you are a parent, you should definitely buy this book and listen for yourself. At under $2 and only 6 minutes of listening time, you just can't go wrong.
Shiver is a young adult novel about two teenagers - Sam and Grace - who fall in love. The problem is, one (or both?) happens to be a werewolf.
Perhaps the most refreshing part of this novel is that it departs from the typical YA first person point of view. Instead, it switches back and forth between the points of view of both protagonists. This allows for deeper character development that is sometimes lost in first person point of view narrative, where you only connect intimately with one character. I am a fan.
The narration is also well done. Jenna Lamia portrays a teenage girl brilliantly, as usual. David LeDoux sounds a bit too mature to be teenage Sam, but he has a voice charged with raw emotion so all is forgiven.
At the end of the listen, you "get to know" Maggie Stiefvater through a few scripted vignettes read by the author herself. She talks about her writing process and the sequel to Shiver. If you are interested in writing you will enjoy this; however, since it is scripted it feels a bit unnatural and rehearsed.
Overall, this is a good listening experience. If you enjoy YA fiction, you will enjoy this novel. If you aspire to write YA fiction, you should listen to this novel for its departure from first person point of view.
SPECIAL NOTE: Get ready for a lot of kissing / nuzzling scenes. It starts to get tedious. Ironically, one thing Maggie Stiefvater reveals at the end of the listen is that she has always hated writing kissing scenes. I guess she got over it!
This is a short and sweet Halloween treat with a surprise ending. A listening experience of only 12 minutes, you will want this story to go on longer!
Two important things you need to know about this listen. 1) It is *FREE*. 2) Audible.com donates $1 per download to DonorsChoose.org - an online charity that helps fund projects for kids who attend public schools.
You have nothing to lose by downloading and listening to this gem, which is both written and narrated by Neil Gaiman. (You know what a fan I am of books that are read by their writers!) You have nothing to lose and a great story – plus a charitable contribution – to gain. The holidays are just around the corner and I say it is never too early to start making someone’s life a little brighter.
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