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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
  • 228 reviews
  • 228 ratings
  • 519 titles in library
  • 45 purchased in 2015
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  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29035)
    Performance
    (25631)
    Story
    (25704)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "That’s the way to do it!"
    Overall
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    When I was in high school, I caught a late night showing of Mike Nichol’s 1966 film adaptation of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” I knew nothing about the play or the film, but Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were starring. They’d had a tempestuous, headline-grabbing relationship that I was dimly aware of. It was a warm summer evening and I had nothing better to do, so I settled in to watch.

    It wasn’t long before I felt chilled and nearly sick. I remember quite clearly thinking, “What the hell am I watching?” as I watched George and Martha’s folie de deux.

    Several hours into the Audible version of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”, I thought, “What the hell am I listening to?” I live in California, and, like that long ago evening with Burton and Taylor, it was a warm day – but I was cold, and my mouth tasted metallic, as if I’d bitten down on a bit of foil in a piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum.

    I knew something was wrong – terribly wrong – between Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy Elliott Dunne, but I didn’t know what.

    Flynn doesn’t start to reveal what is wrong until halfway through the book. When she does, it’s like starting to eat a beautiful Golden Delicious apple, and discovering rot underneath - and then a squirming mass of maggots.

    Flynn’s writing is compelling, detailed and evocative, and that makes the rotten core of the Dunne’s marriage incredibly shocking. Some of the language in the book is jarringly vulgar. The thoughts that language expressed were true to the character that said them, and one of the first indications that character did not think like other people.

    This is the first audio book I’ve listened to where a split male/female narration not only worked, it enhanced the story. Kirby Heybonne was a smug, arrogant Nick Dunne. Julia Whelan was Amy Dunne, beginning with cloying (and unchanging) naïveté of Becca Battoe’s Anastasia Steele in E.L. James “Fifty Shades” series. Whelan’s narration changed with her character, and so did Heybonne’s.

    This isn’t a book for those lucky, cheerful, hopeful optimists who live by Facebook posts on the power of love. It’s not a book for horror fans who safely relegate terror to demons summoned by a ‘Book of the Dead’, a la “Evil Dead” 2013. This book is for those who know that real people can be terrifying, and can do utterly horrible things. Those people are the people of Simon Baron-Cohen’s “The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty,” 2011.

    The Audible book is about 19 hours long, and it’s a compelling way to pass a long drive. Sleep isn’t possible when listening.

    In case you are wondering, the title of the review is a line from "Gone Girl", quoting a line from a different source.

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    145 of 164 people found this review helpful
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Ann Brashares
    • Narrated By Angela Goethals
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (522)
    Performance
    (107)
    Story
    (112)

    Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn't look all that great; they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them. But Tibby says they're great. She'd love to have them. Lena and Bridget also think they're fabulous. Lena decides they should all try them on. Whoever they fit best will get them. Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly.

    M.W. says: "A good read for older children"
    "Unexpectedly Nostalgic"
    Overall
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    Story

    First of all, a disclaimer: I am more than 3 times the age of the target audience for Ann Brashares' "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2001). I haven't seen either of the two movies based on the book either. Looking back on when the first movie was released, I know I spent what little movie time I had that year taking my kids to see JK Rowlings' "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and the remake of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

    "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is a loving portrait of teenage American girls, forever friends, right as everything changes for them. It's their first summer apart. There's Bridget, the reckless athlete who goes to soccer camp in Mexico; Carmen, whose divorced father suddenly acquires a brand new family: Lena, who visits her grandparents in Greece; and Tibby at home, working her first job at 'Walmans', donning a double layered polyester smock and an nose-ring-wearing attitude. I was a little disappointed in the stereotyped four best friends: did Carmen really have to be a 'hot blooded' Latina? And is every athlete driven to win at any cost?

    Brashares inadvertently sketched an entirely different time, the last summer before the United States lost its ersatz innocence. Teenagers could travel at will, without ID, without parents' permission, and without the careful planning national security requires now. Cell phones existed, but that's all they were: actual phones. Local calls were expensive, and making a long distance call? Landline was really the only option, and there was no guarantee that the person on the other end would even have a phone.

    Before 2001, it was possible to actually be an alone, unwatched kid with some real autonomy. The 20th Century wasn't a more innocent time by any means - but it was a more private time for teens and adults alike. "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" has some sex, although its implied and not explicit. It is described in pretty clichéd terms, though, and I found myself cringing at the mental imagery words like 'hungry' created for me. All of the sudden, I was thinking of pot roast.

    The book was a good listen, and the vocabulary wasn't overly pretentious. It is worth 9 Accelerated Reader (AR) points. Here's a helpful parenting 'hack' (rapidly becoming its own trite term): if you've got a kid with reading issues, have them listen to the Audible and follow along with the written text.

    I do think I will enjoy the movie, so I'll watch out for it. America Ferrera plays Carmen, and she's always good. The Audible narration was okay, but I did occasionally have trouble realizing when a new character was talking.

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    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Burning Room

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Titus Welliver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2655)
    Performance
    (2367)
    Story
    (2359)

    In the LAPD's Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but all other evidence is virtually nonexistent. Now Bosch and rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case.

    Barbara N. says: "Great story, narration a disappointment"
    "La Linea de Oro"
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    I've listened to Michael Connelly's entire, but much shorter, "Lincoln Lawyer" series on Audible. Mickey Haller, the eponymous attorney of that series, is Hieronymus "Harry" P. Bosch's much younger half brother. I didn't avoid listening to Connelly's Bosch series - I just didn't need to. I'd already read them all, on honest to goodness real paper bound between actual covers. They're still on my bookshelf, an honor I reserve for books I know I'll read again someday.

    "The Burning Room" (2014) is my first Bosch book on Audible, and it's a treat. It's narrated by Titus Welliver, who plays the LAPD detective on Amazon's Prime Instant Video Service series "Bosch". I hadn't even realized there was a Bosch television series until I looked up Welliver to write this review. The reason I looked up Welliver? His voice is so much like the prolific Mike Rowe (The Dealiest Catch, American Hot Rod, Dirty Jobs & etc.) I wanted to see if they were the same person. They aren't, but I did discover I wasn't the only one who'd noticed the Rowe-Welliver sound similarity.

    Connelly, as always, writes Los Angeles like an old lover. "The Burning Room" is centered on Mariachi Plaza, an 80 year old Boyle Heights fixture. It's now a gentrified stop on the 2009 expansion of the Metro Gold Line. (Yes, Los Angeles actually has a fast, clean, transportation system that runs so on time it could be a Snopes legend, all hidden in plain sight.)

    Bosch is working cold cases. Connelly moves back and forth between the late 20th Century desperation of Mariachis living in flop houses and traveling in old vans to play Quinceañeras, to the arid but energy efficient, culturally diverse and sometimes culturally divided Los Angeles of the 21st Century.

    Connelly introduces "Lucky Lucy" Soto, a young detective who, after a heroic gun battle, made the "Cold Case" unit her choice assignment. Lucia is a strong female character, in the tough-as-nails-but-secretly-scarred Kiz Rider mold. Soto vies with Bosch to see who's in the office the earliest, who puts in the most hours, and who is the most intuitive detective. Bosch is a proud mentor to Soto, and to his own daughter, Maddie, a Police Explorer.

    Bosch is a good detective, and "The Burning Room" is a good listen.

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    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Dan Ariely
    • Narrated By Simon Jones
    Overall
    (4146)
    Performance
    (1582)
    Story
    (1585)

    In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

    Stephen says: "Well researched, well written, & well read"
    "Amusing MicroEconomics"
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    One of my favorite not-available-on-Audible writers is Nicholas P. Money, PhD, a mycologist at Miami University of Ohio. He's written some laugh out loud books about fungi. Yes, I mean the stuff that grows in the corner of the shower and on old bread. "Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores: A Natural History of Toxic Mold" (2004) was great.

    Dan Ariely, PhD joins my short list of "University Professors that make Somewhat Obscure Topics Interesting, Understandable and Fun." Ariely is a well known and often downloaded TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) speaker, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke. Yes, that Duke, the home of the NCAA basketball champions.

    One of the studies Ariely conducted and discusses in "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" (2008) was of students who camped out for a week, waiting to participate in a lottery to buy playoff tickets. How did the winners and losers value those tickets? The losers, just at slightly over face value; and the winners, at 10 or 20 times the face value. "Predictably Irrational" explains the experiment and the psychological factors that caused the mental increase in value.

    Ariely's actual academic research papers have daunting titles such as "Procrastination, deadlines, and performance: self-control by precommitment." Ariely D, et al. Psychol Sci. 2002, or an article he was a co-author on called "Ego depletion decreases trust in economic decision making" Ainsworth SE, Baumeister RF, Voha KD and Ariely D., J Exp Soc Psychol. 2014. Just reading the abstracts is daunting, and well - purchasing the articles? I'm willing to pay the cost of an Audible listen that's amusing and intriguing, but at thirty five bucks an article, I'm not that interested in Behavioral Economics.

    Ariely and several colleagues were awarded the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for research published as "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy". Ariely, Rebecca Waver, Ziv Carmon, Baba Shiv discovered that when people know the price, expensive medicine works better than less expensive medicine, even if they're exactly the same. That study is discussed thoroughly in "Predictably Irrational." It makes behavioral or emotional sense and only seems irrational from a purely economic analysis.

    This was a fun and informative listen. I'm definitely planning on listening to more of Ariely's books.

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    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By David Sedaris
    • Narrated By David Sedaris
    Overall
    (4107)
    Performance
    (3730)
    Story
    (3710)

    From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new collection of essays taking his listeners on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences.

    FanB14 says: "Devout Fan Disappointed"
    "Good for the Bleak Hours"
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    I'm a habitual insomniac. Every weekday, I wake up about 2:30 am, obsessing about things that happened earlier in the week, the month, the year, or even the decade. I can usually fall back asleep in 10 or 15 minutes, but not always. Those are my bleak hours, and David Sedaris has eased some of them.

    It's not that "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls" (2013) helped me fall back to sleep. It didn't. For the last six months, every time I listened to something with the idea that it would be the Audible equivalent of Ambien, I put Willkie Collins "The Woman in White" (1859) on sleep timer. In the grand tradition of Victorian writers, Collins relies heavily on intricate descriptions, lengthy foreshadowing, and post-drama discussions amongst friends and neighbors. It's totally possible to drift off after a few minutes of listening and not miss a thing.

    "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" takes the dark obsessions that come to life when the house slumbers, turns them on their side, and makes them funny. Worried about the garbage accumulating in your neighborhood? Turn yourself into a one person trash collector listening to "Rubbish". Missing your first love and wondering what if, and what could have been? Listen to "A Man Walks into a Bar Car". You just had your 50th birthday and those friendly by terribly persistent people at your HMO are insisting that it's time for a colonoscopy? "Happy Place" makes the whole procedure a hoot. It's very difficult to take obsessions seriously when you're laughing at them.

    My favorite quote from the book? "Their house had real hard-cover books in it, and you often saw them lying open on the sofa, the words still warm from being read."

    Sedaris is a raconteur, and this collection of essays is really best as a listen.

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    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    Overall
    (539)
    Performance
    (455)
    Story
    (454)

    From the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most underappreciated forces: shame. 'It's about the terror, isn't it?' 'The terror of what?' I said. 'The terror of being found out.' For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work.

    Megan says: "You'll never look at public shaming the same way"
    "Play the (Shame) Game"
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    Jon Ronson begins "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" (2015) with an introduction about how a spam bot hatched by supposedly ethical college professors hijacked his Twitter identity. His ethereal alter ego started living an exciting but fictitious life, going to clubs and presumably mentioning how much he'd enjoyed drinking fabulous drinks and eating scrumptious food the bot creators had been paid to promote. Ronson, a gonzo journalist and inspired researcher, was at his wits' end trying to figure out who was doing it and how to stop it.

    Dictionary dot com defines "empathy" as "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another." Ronson wasn't publicly shamed like the people he profiles, including Jonah Lehrer, a writer who made up Dylan quotes, and then lied to cover up his lies; Justine Sacco of the ill-conceived AIDS/South Africa tweet; and Lindsey Stone of the 'shouting into a cell phone while making a rude gesture at Arlington Cemetery' photo. Ronson's situation was a good way to ease those convinced that 'it can't happen to them' that it's possible to completely lose control of a digital life.

    Ronson doesn't outright ask if the shamed "asked for it" but I think in the world of bullies, the bullied and bystanders, "asking for it" is a justification that everyone except the victim uses. I remember seeing that photo of Stone the first time it went around. Since I'm a veteran, I saw it a lot. I thought it was a joke then. It's a bad joke, a tasteless joke - but no kid should have her life ruined over an inept visual stunt. Did Stone deserve to have what must have felt like all 21.8 million American veterans condemning her? No, she did not - but it must be cold comfort for her that most of us knew it for what it was and just ignored it.

    There is a portion of "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" discussing people who are aroused by being shamed. It was sexually explicit and somewhat graphic, and it might be difficult for parents to explain to kids who read or hear it. The section on shaming by four chan (not quite the organization's name, but that's close enough for an Audible review) has some pretty disturbing descriptions of fetishes. Four chan denizens are notorious for trolling, but what Ronson describes in "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" is trolling on steroids.

    Ronson's writing style for a bit of the book - using the collective "we" to examine the collective consciousness of the righteously offended - reminded me a bit of William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily" (1930). Faulkner used the collective "we" for the voice of the fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi. In that Southern Gothic story, the town goes to great lengths to avoid shaming Emily, and "So she vanquished them . . ." Ronson's about as subtle as a mobile phone store sign spinner and I'm probably drawing parallels that were never intended, but I liked the juxtaposition in attitudes on shame between small town American South in the early 20th Century and 21st century global urban life on line.

    Ronson is Welsh, and his accent makes "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" a fun listen. I really liked that he described photos that were in the text version of the book.

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    16 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli
    • Narrated By George Newbern
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1384)
    Performance
    (1107)
    Story
    (1106)

    There have been many books - on a large and small scale - about Steve Jobs, one of the most famous CEOs in history. But this book is different from all the others. Becoming Steve Jobs takes on and breaks down the existing myth and stereotypes about Steve Jobs. The conventional, one-dimensional view of Jobs is that he was half genius, half jerk from youth, an irascible and selfish leader who slighted friends and family alike.

    Douglas Vincent says: "Contextual, Insightful, Inspiring"
    ""Design is How it Works" -SJ"
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    One of the first books I listened to when I joined Audible was Walter Isaacson`s 2011 authorized biography, "Steve Jobs." I listened to it on my iPhone 3 on a long drive up to Bakersfield from Los Angeles. On the way back, I pulled over at the McDonald`s in Grapevine to use their free Wi-Fi to download the next section of the book so I could keep listening.

    I revisited my Audible review, and I'd noted, "Isaacson's biography doesn't answer the question of whether Jobs was successful because he was a jerk, or if being an a** prevented him from achieving even more." Brett Schlender and Rick Tetzeli's 2015 book, "Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader" doesn't answer that question, but as Jobs himself might have said, "That's a stupid question." What I should have asked - and what Schlender and Tetzeli answer - is why anybody would want to work for Jobs.

    As founder of Apple, Jobs was an enfante terrible who scr**** over his genial, brilliant co-partner Steve Wozniak; denied paternity of his first child, Lisa, and had to be forced to pay child support; and was unceremoniously booted from his own company after badly misreading the mood and position of his closest co-workers. Jobs was, in short, as a young man, the absolute jerk that Isaacson portrayed.

    After Jobs' 1985 exile from Apple, he started NeXT with massive Silicon Valley venture capital funding. NeXT appeared to do little more than deliver what we used to call 'vaporware.' That was the term for hardware, software or both that just existed in the mind of marketing. What NeXT actually did was develop the Unix based operating system that became OS X, and eventually IOS, the iPhone operating system.

    While running NeXT, Jobs turned his attention to a very small computer company he'd picked up on the cheap from Star Wars director George Lucas, who needed the cash for an expensive divorce. Pixar was almost a hobby for Jobs, who supported the technical work of the company; made it financially viable; and stayed out of the way the creative people who dreamed wonderful stories. A younger Jobs, ego raging, would have interfered Pixar to ignominy. Instead, Jobs guided Pixar to a deal with Disney and a series of unforgettable movies starting with Toy Story. Disney eventually nominally acquired Piixar, but in actuality, Pixar controls Disney now.

    Apple was nearly bankrupt when the Board of Directors lured him back as an advisor in 1996. Jobs turned Apple around. It's been profitable since 1998. It survived Jobs' death and is now the world's most valuable company.

    I listened to "Becoming Steve Jobs" on my iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 is out now, and while I'm an "early adapter" of books, I wait to upgrade technology until I need to. The Audible downloaded quickly, in one file instead of multiple sections. I didn't have to clear out old books to make room. I wrote this review in Notes, using Jobs' virtual keyboard. (Months ago, I downloaded Microsoft's version of Word from the App Store, but that turned out to be a piece of garbage.)

    Listening to "Becoming Steve Jobs", I realized that Jobs had grown exponentially both professionally and personally. He'd matured into someone people wanted to work for and with. Comparing the two books, it was sad to realize that while so many people had forgiven Jobs, he lacked the insight to realize that he'd grown into a better person. He could have forgiven himself.

    The book was an intriguing listen, but it got repetitive in places. The narration - well, it's odd. George Newbern's a pretty well known television and voice actor, and he doesn't usually sound robotic. For a good part of this book, though, he sounded like the male version of Siri. Siri's fine for a line or two, but listening to someone narrate chapters like that - ow.

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    49 of 62 people found this review helpful
  • 1776

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By David McCullough
    • Narrated By David McCullough
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5569)
    Performance
    (2627)
    Story
    (2633)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: If you ever thought history was boring, David McCullough’s performance of his fascinating book will change your mind. In this stirring audiobook, McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence, when the whole American cause was riding on their success.

    Amazon Customer says: "It tantalized my taste buds"
    "An Indecisive George Washington"
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    One of the first Audio books I listened to, ever, was David McCullough's 2001 biography "John Adams." My small town's very small library had books on CDs, and that was one of them. There were 15? 16? discs in a black plastic container, warped from sitting on the front seat of people's cars. Prying discs out of the container could be distracting and difficult, and hit the wrong button on the dash? You'd spend the next 5 miles fast forwarding and reviewing, trying to find your place. I was hooked anyway.

    McCullough's "1776" (2005) is a wonderful study of the nascent United States of America and the evolution of the revolutionary war. As a child growing up in the Midwest, I learned that overthrow of British rule was predestined. "1776" makes it clear that the winner was far from foreordained. The war was fought on the backs of poorly equipped citizen soldiers who enlisted for a year, and then walked off, en masse, when their terms were done. Stop-loss? That came at the end of the 20th Century. General George Washington was constantly writing letters, pleading for funding from congress for his troops. Some things are the same more than two centuries later.

    I've read or listened to dozens of books about the founding of America and the struggle for independence, but I missed the fact that George Washington as a perfect, sharply competent and unquestioned military leader was a myth. He spent a good part of 1776 in an indecisive fog, squandering opportunities that were obvious at the time, and not just in hindsight. Washington made basic tactical errors that lost battles, such as dividing corps that should have remained together. His errors were the errors that an educated, professionally trained military officer would not have made, and Washington recognized that. Even in the middle of making grave mistakes, he suggested founding what became the United States Military Academy at West Point. Washington also established something we take for granted now: enlistment bonuses and veteran's benefits. Washington as a demigod is easy to admire but impossible to relate to. McCullough makes Washington relatable, and aspirational.

    Something else I didn't realize: Just how many people were loyalists and supported British rule. As far as they were concerned, the founding fathers were armed insurgents. People who had lived in the American colonies for generations emigrated to England rather than renounce allegiance to King George III. Even Congress was divided on the issue - not every elected official signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, who was a Patriot and who was a Traitor was really a matter of perspective. Patrick Henry was a hero to Americans, but anathema to the British.

    McCullough's writing is evocative and provocative. It made a good listen, although it would have been helpful if he had reintroduced some of the more minor figures that made appearances hours apart. I liked the narration - the pacing was good, and the sound crisp.

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    11 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Helen Thorpe
    • Narrated By Donna Postel
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (89)

    Soldier Girls follows the lives of three women on their paths to the military. These women, who are quite different in every way, become friends, and we watch their interaction and also what happens when they are separated. We see their families, their lovers, their spouses, their children. We see them work extremely hard, deal with the attentions of men on base and in war zones, and struggle to stay connected to their families back home.

    Constance says: "Healing and Insightful"
    "Valor Knows No Gender"
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    The Pentagon officially lifted its ban on women in combat in 2013. That means that Desma Brooks, one of the soldiers in Helen Thorpe's "Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War" (2014), wasn't supposed to be at risk in her 2010 deployment to Iraq. She had a commanding officer that used his distaste for women as a reason not to give Ms. Brooks specialized training she needed to drive trucks in a combat zone. What that misogynist didn't even consider was that trucks convoy; other soldiers are on board, one navigating and another literally 'riding shotgun'; and that truck might be carrying weapons the battalion needs for its next fight. Ms. Brooks and her crew were badly injured when and IED (Improvised Explosive Device) went off next to the ASV (Armored Service Vehicle) she was driving. If that particular officer hasn't resigned his commission in the National Guard, he needs to be courtmartialed before he does any more damage.

    "Soldier Girl" follows three women in Indiana's National Guard: Ms. Brooks, a mother of 3 who enlisted in 1996; Debbie Helton Deckard, a mother of 1 who enlisted in the mid-1990's at the age of 35; and Michelle Fischer, the pseudonym of an unfocused college student who joined to pay for college - just before 9/11. Thorpe kept her promise to her subjects and only mentioned that one soldier asked not to have her real name used, but Ms. Fischer is the only one that can't be found in a quick search of Google images. All three women ended up in the Guard as part of what Ms. Fischer referred to, after finishing a degree at a prestigious university that her military service paid for, as an "economic draft".

    Ms. Brooks, Ms. Fischer, and to some extent, Ms. Deckard, served because they needed the money. It's a much more insidious draft than the one that ended in 1973: it only takes the poor. I ended up in that particular draft myself. I enlisted in 1982, the year I graduated from high school, in the middle of a recession that made the prospect of paying for college bleak. Thorpe's description of entering the service; basic training; and advanced individual training (AIT) is spot on. I never served in the National Guard - I was on active duty in the Army - but Thorpe's descriptions of weekend drills, annual training and the Armory itself match what I saw when Guard members trained with us.

    "Soldier Girl" is accurate about another facet of serving as a woman: the constant sexual harassment that sometimes spills over into actual violence. Thorpe mentions a term that the Department of Veterans Affairs has just started to use: Military Sexual Trauma (MST). It's a catch-all term for what Ms. Brooks and Ms. Fisher faced during their first deployment in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The leers and catcalls. The suggestive jokes. Nominally 'giving' sex for plum assignments and favorable living quarters - although with fraternization, what's actually happening is a subordinate is being rewarded for services rendered and keeping her mouth shut.

    Ms. Deckard, who became a grandmother during her deployment to Afghanistan, did not have the same level of unremitting harassment as the other two soldiers and attributes that to her age - but she wouldn't walk unescorted in various areas of the FOBs (Forward Operating Base) she was assigned to. The MST other women faced bothered Ms. Deckard more than it did the women themselves. When you've been around long enough and the military isn't your first real job, you recognize the problem more readily; you know what's happening is wrong; and you wonder why it's still happening. I was dismayed that MST seems to have gotten worse since I served. I wasn't assigned to a tactical unit like these women were, though. Perhaps it was always that bad and I just didn't know.

    I listened to David J. Morris' "The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" (2015) a few weeks before "Soldier Girl." Together, they make a good introduction to real soldiering and the real problems veterans have. Donna Postel was a good choice for narrator.

    The title of the review is from a speech given by President Barrack Obama in 2013, announcing that combat jobs would be opened to women.

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    13 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Facebook Page: Facebook Marketing for Fan Page Owners and Small Business

    • UNABRIDGED (46 mins)
    • By David Duffield
    • Narrated By Roy Lunel
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    In order to develop an appreciation for Facebook, you will be introduced to how you can use Facebook ads. Learn how to promote your page through social bookmaking websites; if it reaches just a fraction of the users, the impact can be extremely great. Getting more Facebook fans is the key to making more money on Facebook.

    Cynthia says: "Scary, but it works"
    "Scary, but it works"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    David Duffield's "Facebook Page: Facebook Marketing for Fan Page Owners and Small Business" (2014) works. I'm proof.

    The reason I listened to the Audible "Facebook Page" is because I follow "MHS Wildcat," which is dedicated to our small town high school's sports. The page owner is our announcer, a smooth voiced man named Roy Lunel. Lunel's quick and accurate on the call, and he makes it sound like he's known every kid on the field since Pop Warner days.

    One day, Lunel did a status update, and mentioned he's also a voice actor and he's done some Audible books . . .

    Until I listened to "Facebook Page", I had very little idea how Facebook marketing worked. Sure, I got the obvious: I know why I'm getting sponsored ads for "Our Time". I'm 50 and divorced. But how did Facebook know to keep showing me ads for Pi day t-shirts, as if someone somehow knew I'd eventually order one for each of my kids? And why do I spend so much time on Saturday mornings, happily drinking coffee and clicking away on fun stories from Madame Noir, Buzz Feed and Slate, fighting my way through luxury car ads? Duffield's book answers these questions and more. He tells the average individual how to design a Facebook marketing plan - and even where to find very affordable help doing it.

    It's a fascinating listen, even if you're not planning a marketing campaign. It's also a glimpse of how Big Data works, and it's a little bit frightening.

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    17 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Judy Melinek, MD, T. J. Mitchell
    • Narrated By Tanya Eby
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (670)
    Performance
    (601)
    Story
    (595)

    Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband and their toddler holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, and counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking listeners behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple.

    R. Milam says: "Great story - but not for the faint of heart!"
    "Mortui homines loqui"
    Overall
    Performance
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    I'm a fan of old-school coroner/medical examiners. Thomas Noguchi. Michael Baden. Kathy Reichs, as a PhD in Physical Anthropology and a Diplomate in Forensic Anthropology, not just a prolific writer. And now, Judith Melinek, MD.

    Dr. Melinek is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pathology at the University of California San Francisco and Board Certified in Pathology, but at the beginning of her medical career, she was a stressed out intern who'd decided against becoming a surgeon and was looking for a different discipline. She ended up in pathology, starting out in the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2001.

    Given the timing, I expected "Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner" to be mostly about 9/11. Dr. Melinek and her husband and co-author, T.J. Mitchell devote a chapter to it, but the ME Office's work wasn't determining cause of death. It was victim identification.

    Most of the book is about Dr. Melinek's transformation from a shell shocked aspiring surgeon to a gifted medical examiner. Forensic pathology is clearly her true calling, and she has a passion for determining what causes death - and preventing premature death. I was fascinated by the discussion about the difference between surgical complications which result in death, and medical malpractice resulting in death. Her discussion about properly performed surgery resulting in an earlier death than would have happened without the surgery was illuminating. I do suspect that being able to convey the complex difference - a sign of an experienced expert witness - happened after those first two years, which would make sense because the book wasn't published until 2014.

    Dr. Melinek isn't squeamish about death for the most part, and her book isn't for the easily disturbed reader/listener. She talks about removing organs and the sound they make; making incisions; advanced decomposition, and so more. Pathology isn't done in the stylish elegance and artfully lit scenes of an episode of CSI. It's done with deniers to move bodies, scales to weigh organs, and careful mapping of scars and tattoos, Thankfully, Dr. Melinek pretty much avoids talking about the autopsies of kids. She did address one horrid case of child abuse that will haunt me, but at least it's just one more story to add to my mental list of 'Bad Things that Happened to Children I Can Never Forget. that Make Me Wish the Person Who Did It Could be Thrown Into a Cave Pit like the Mesa Verde Indians Used to Do.'

    I enjoyed Tanya Eby as a narrator. Her smooth delivery reminds me a bit of Colleen Marlo's narration of Amy Stewart's "The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks" (2013).

    The title of the review is Latin for "Dead men speak."

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    11 of 18 people found this review helpful

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