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  • The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1

  • Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955)
  • By: Robert Lacey
  • Narrated by: Alex Jennings
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60

Starring Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, Netflix's original series The Crown, created by Peter Morgan and growing out of his Oscar-winning movie The Queen starring Helen Mirren, paints a unique and intimate portrait of Britain's longest-reigning monarch. This official companion to the show's first season is an in-depth exploration of the early years of Elizabeth II's time as queen, complete with extensive research and additional material.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • If you like The Crown

  • By E F on 10-23-17

Good except for the ridiculous accents

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-09-18

Robert Lacey's accompaniment to "The Crown" is a good read for anyone interested in understanding the real facts and history behind the Netflix series "The Crown." This might be especially useful for Americans who are not terribly familiar with the history of the British royal family.

The audio book book is brought down only by narrator Alex Jennings' use of silly accents when speaking dialogue from everyone ranging from Winston Churchill to Lyndon Johnson to the Queen. Most Americans sound like an impersonation of an old movie cowboy.. And most Brits like parodies from a Monty Python skit.

Five stars overall. Two stars for the performance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Own the Day, Own Your Life

  • Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex
  • By: Aubrey Marcus
  • Narrated by: Aubrey Marcus
  • Length: 11 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,905
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,341
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,313

Human optimization thought leader Aubrey Marcus's personal and professional mission rests on a single question: How can we get the most out of our body and mind on a daily basis? Marcus answers that question in Own the Day, Own Your Life, an empowering audio handbook that guides listeners to optimize every moment of the day, from waking in the morning, through work and play, until bedtime each night. With small, actionable changes implemented throughout the course of one day, we can feel better, perform more efficiently, and live happier.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect mix of science and advice.

  • By Jaime Morin on 04-18-18

Simplistic and self-indulgent

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-09-18

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I've been following the plethora of information on optimizing diet, sleep, exercise, etc. for the last decade and this looked like an innovative way to provide a prescription for actually integrating these theories into real life.

I tried. I sat through Marcus extolling Tony Robbins and Bode Miller as paradigms of good living. I sat through him spending an entire chapter advising us to take a cold shower every morning just to the point of passing out. I sat through a completely gratuitous description of how Marcus and his wife engage in naked tickle fights every morning. Really. I sat through him, after pages of talking about all kinds of complex physiological functions, say, "Obviously, I am not qualified at all to talk about the menstrual cycle" (because he's male?). I sat through him list all the supplements he takes that we should also take and buy from his company. But when I got to his section proclaiming all news media bad ... painting everything from NPR and the New York Times to partisan talk radio with the same broad bush and telling me that I'll get more from listening to podcasts -- apparently ANY podcast -- than from going to college, and again promoting his friends' and his podcasts, that was it.

Returned for a refund.

56 of 73 people found this review helpful

  • The Vanity Fair Diaries

  • 1983-1992
  • By: Tina Brown
  • Narrated by: Tina Brown
  • Length: 16 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 295
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 271
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 270

The Vanity Fair Diaries is the story of an Englishwoman barely out of her 20s who arrives in New York City with a dream. Summoned from London in hopes that she can save Condé Nast's troubled new flagship Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is immediately plunged into the maelstrom of the competitive New York media world and the backstabbing rivalries at the court of the planet's slickest, most glamour-focused magazine company. She survives the politics, the intrigue, and the attempts to derail her by a simple stratagem: succeeding.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • There is something about the Brits...

  • By Sylvia on 12-11-17

Dreadful

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-07-18

This is, to use a word Ms. Brown might use, dreadful.

Maybe there is an audience for endless name-dropping and repetitive gossipy stories of lunches and dinners with people who are apparently important but for no clear reason.

I am not that audience. I found it boring and offensively self-important.

An example telling of her remarkable lack of self-awareness: Early on she remarks how when she first came to America she noticed how much more confident American women are than English women. Her conclusion: “American girls’ schools must do a better job of instilling confidence” — a laughable assumption that all the women she is associating with in New York went to elite private girls’ schools as she did in England.

And she reads way too fast, so two stars for that. Save your credits.

  • Neverlost4good on the Camino de Santiago

  • By: Rebecca D. Greeley
  • Narrated by: Rebecca D. Greeley
  • Length: 3 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 42

Hear about how the Camino changes a light-hearted traveler into a soul searching pilgrim. Neverlost4good does get lost, often misplacing her poles and pack while learning how to manage the trail. Every story from the Camino de Santiago is different, because it is never the same walk for anyone. This book includes photos from the trail, interesting alternatives in completing the journey and humorous situations. Enjoy the book, and don't be surprised to find yourself looking into traveling to Spain yourself one day.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Nothing here. Don't waste your money.

  • By Red on 01-13-18

Nothing here. Don't waste your money.

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-13-18

This book is not worth the $1.99 discount price I paid for it. The author provides zero insight into her life or experience in what is supposed to be a memoir. It's simply a series of short trivial stories about her challenges in sending her backpack by car each day, instead of carrying it, the annoying people she met on the way, and other trivial negativities.

She provides no real information about who she is and how she came to decide to spend this time walking across Spain by herself. We learn almost nothing about any people she met along the way. There is no element of personal growth. She's little more than an anonymous narrator sounding like a spoiled, sheltered, pampered princess with little curiosity about herself or the world around her.

To make it worse, while I'm not a fluent Spanish speaker, I do know that many of the place names were mispronounced.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • What Happened

  • By: Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Narrated by: Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,672
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,721
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,675

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What Happened?

  • By Celina Resendez on 10-21-17

A Story That Must Be Told

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-17

Whether you love or hate Hillary Clinton, rejoice or bemoan in the results of the 2016 presidential election, this is a story that must be told.

The opportunity to hear the first-hand account of the presidential election of 2016 told by its essential participant, however flawed she may be, is invaluable and will remain so for decades to come as future generations try to learn what happened.

That said, the book falls a little short in its thoroughness. She does a good job of addressing the email issue that swirled around her candidacy but glosses over some other issues by simply saying, "you know the rest of the story." I wanted her to talk about what she learned from the election and from her defeat and what she wishes she had done differently, beyond simply blaming Trump's obvious deceit and Russia's likely interference. Maybe she's incapable of doing that. She does address some of her biggest errors like saying she wants to put coal miners out of business and calling some Trump supporters "a basket of deplorables, but quickly bounces back to defending her actions.

The performance is adequately listenable though at times she speaks much too deliberately and slowly especially when reading proper nouns.

Despite its flaws and omissions, perhaps BECAUSE of them, this remains an important and invaluable first-hand account of one of the most controversial elections in American history.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Make Your Bed

  • Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World
  • By: William H. McRaven
  • Narrated by: William H. McRaven
  • Length: 1 hr and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,375
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,516
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,486

On May 21, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university's slogan, "What starts here changes the world," he shared the 10 principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves - and the world - for the better.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Watch the YouTube video

  • By A. Yoshida on 01-31-18

Not much there there

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-15-17

The book fails to provide "little things that can change your life or the world" as the title promises.

There are no "little things," except maybe the basic notion that making your bed gets your day off to a good start. The idea of changing your life or the world is neither defined nor presented in any practical way that will help the vast majority of us who are not subject to military bed inspections or night swims in the ocean.

His basic treatise is a list of a few big and very obvious things, not little things at all: try hard, don't quit, don't complain, work together, make friends. Who does not get to adulthood and not understand the value of all of these things? This is nothing new. The challenge is in learning how to practice these traits in our daily lives. McRaven gives zero help with this.

What might be new is that the author draws entirely on examples from his Navy SEAL training and years as a career Navy officer to explain how his SEAL training taught him these things.

Unfortunately, there is zero explanation of how one should or could take these lessons and apply them to the real world or where they might come in handy. There are no examples of say, former SEALS, or McRaven himself, taking those lessons and applying them in their real lives.

And his repeated theme of "if you want to change the world .... [don't quit, try hard, don't complain] also fails to define why one would want to change the world. Is that a good thing? Does he mean make the world better? Plenty of changes makes the world worse. The only example he gives of what changing the world means is to describe a soldier taking other soldiers into battle and turning away from land mine, instead of into it, therefore saving the lives of those soldiers. Of course, there is no mention of the fact that war is more complicated than that is an act that destroys lives and property and often makes the world much worse for many innocent people. He never once translates how his lessons of not quitting and not complaining CAN actually change the world for the better.

This short list of obvious things tied back to SEAL training probably worked great in the Commencement address where it was born. But Commencement addresses set a famously low bar. As any kind of useful book for the real world, it's a failure.

  • The 5 Second Rule

  • Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage
  • By: Mel Robbins
  • Narrated by: Mel Robbins
  • Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27,380
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,246
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,081

How to enrich your life and destroy doubt in five seconds. Throughout your life, you've had parents, coaches, teachers, friends, and mentors who have pushed you to be better than your excuses and bigger than your fears. What if the secret to having the confidence and courage to enrich your life and work is simply knowing how to push yourself?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • I turned it off after an hour.

  • By Zac on 04-08-17

I Hate Self-Help Books

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-21-17

Would you consider the audio edition of The 5 Second Rule to be better than the print version?

Mel Robbins' voice and delivery is an essential part of this book. It gives the book an atmosphere of authenticity that would likely be lost or diminished in print. There are very few books that are better as audio. This is one of them.

What other book might you compare The 5 Second Rule to and why?

None. I generally do not read books like this.

What does Mel Robbins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

There's a feeling of authenticity in her very good delivery that would be completely lost in the book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Mel Robbins' delivery and story is compelling. I believed her, even though I hate self-help books and the entire self-help industry.

Any additional comments?

I hate self-help books. I despise even more self-help "gurus" who make a living telling other people how to live their lives. I only bought this book because I had audible credits about to expire and this came up as a recommendation on audible.com. I'm not sure how since I have purchased no other self-help books. Ever. I played the sample and was surprised at what seemed like real authenticity in her delivery, story, and advice. Listened to the whole thing over a few days' commuting. I might be sold on her methods.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986-2011

  • Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Space
  • By: Rick Houston
  • Narrated by: James Killavey
  • Length: 17 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 246
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 230
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229

Humanity's first reusable spacecraft and the most complex machine ever built, NASA's space shuttle debuted with great promise and as a dependable source of wonder and national pride. But with the Challenger catastrophe in 1986, the whole space shuttle program came into question, as did NASA itself, so long an institution that was seemingly above reproach. Wheels Stop tells the stirring story of how, after the Challenger disaster, the space shuttle not only recovered but went on to perform its greatest missions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Finished it in three days!

  • By Ken on 01-07-16

Narration terrible

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-10-16

Had to quit after two chapters because the narration is unlistenable -- stiff and stilted with too many words mispronounced (e.g., nuclear as "nukeleear".)

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Astronaut Wives Club

  • A True Story
  • By: Lily Koppel
  • Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 422
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 365
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 369

As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. As their celebrity rose - and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives - they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • So-So Story, Painful Performance

  • By Steve on 07-08-13

Poor performance of a lightweight story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-30-16

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not really time well spent. I stayed with it hoping the book would eventually take off. But it never left the launch pad.

If you’ve listened to books by Lily Koppel before, how does this one compare?

First book by Lily Koppel.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance is bad. Really bad. Cassidy speaks as if she is reading a bedtime story to a three-year-old with a soft, almost baby talkish voice. All the female characters sound like she's trying to do an impression of a floundering South Carolina beauty pageant. All the men, even John F. Kennedy and Wisconsinite Jim Lovell, sound like John Wayne.

She mispronounces basic words, including "Grissom," which she pronounces as "Grishman."

Did The Astronaut Wives Club inspire you to do anything?

Not buy another book by Lily Koppel.

Any additional comments?

If you are looking for an actual inside look at what it was like to be the wife of an early American astronaut, this is not your book. There is little insight into, say, the experience of being a close witness to some of the biggest events in human history or how the wives raised children in a fishbowl of world attention. Instead we mostly get detailed descriptions of what each wife wore to every tea and photo shoot and how they were constantly hounded by the media.

Serious events like the death of a child and the suicide of one of the wives are glossed over in, literally, one or two sentences. Even the near-disaster of Apollo 13 is passed through as if it were almost a routine flight, with more attention paid to the fact that Jim Lovell named a crater on the moon after his wife than on the fact that three astronauts were nearly killed and were saved only by the extraordinary skill and luck of NASA engineers and the astronauts themselves.

  • Dearie

  • The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
  • By: Bob Spitz
  • Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
  • Length: 25 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 362
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 317
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 307

From Pasadena to Cambridge to New York, Washington, D.C., India, Ceylon, Paris, Marseilles, Santa Barbara, and Maine, Bob Spitz re-creates an extraordinary life. He takes us beyond the image of Julia as the tall, eccentric woman with a funny voice who taught America how to cook, to establish her as a genuine rebel and beloved icon, a woman who redefined herself in middle age, helped to change the role of women in America, set the standard for how to create a public personality in the modern media world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Deeply mixed feelings

  • By S. Vann on 08-17-12

Storytelling and narration over the top

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-30-12

Would you listen to Dearie again? Why?

No. Once is enough. That's not a bad thing. I rarely listen to audio books twice. I might buy the book in print or electronic to read parts of it again, but would not listed again.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Dearie?

Julia Child's challenges to keep an active career while caring for her husband as his health failed.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator was far too animated with exaggerated vocal highs and lows and accents in all the wrong places. This was particularly jarring when she had to speak Julia's voice. She gave Julia a high-pitched, fast-paced whiny tone. Julia Child did have a unique voice but it was neither fast nor whiny. You can find dozens of videos of Julia Child online and Kimberly Farr's imitation sounds nothing like the real thing.

Farr also has a tendency when reading lists of things (ingredients in a dish, restaurant names, dinne party guests) to accelerate the pace and increase the tone as she reads. This got very tiring to listen to.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I think I laughed in some spots, but I can't remember.

Any additional comments?

The story itself is a little over the top. For example, Spitz has a tendency to over-dramatize instances that most people who lived through them know were more mundane. His use of exaggerated metaphor is also overdone, like when he calls someone "more connected than an IBM mainframe."

2 of 2 people found this review helpful