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Douglas

Douglas Auburn, WA, United States Member Since 2008

College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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  • "Important Work..."

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    Up front, it has to be said that this is not the most in-depth book you can read on the brain or neuroplasticity, but that is not the point. The thing that makes this book imiportant is that it furthers the growing work that shows that we have the power to modify our own brains by modifying our own thinking and behavior and that this, in fact, works better in the long run than cramming more psychotropic drugs down our gullets for every little mental complaint. (No one is suggesting that drugs be eliminated for serious cases!) It moves from the brain as machine idea of the functionalists and reintroduces free will and personal empowerment and responsibility to the picture. Read this along with the work of Jeffery Schwartz, Richard Davidson and Daniel Goldman.

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    Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By John B. Arden
    • Narrated By Phil Williams
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    Not long ago, it was thought that the brain you were born with was the brain you would die with, and that the brain cells you had at birth were the most you would ever possess. Your brain was thought to be hardwired to function in predetermined ways. It turns out that's not true. Your brain is not hardwired; it's "softwired" by experience. This book shows you how you can rewire parts of the brain to feel more positive about your life, remain calm during stressful times, and improve your social relationships.

    Douglas says: "Important Work..."
  • "A Very Good Book..."

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    with a very interesting turn on Darwinian psychology/sociology. Haidt does a deft and often humorous job of translating current neo-Darwinian science of the mind into lay terms (though he is not as deft or humorous as Steven Pinker--whose books are better), and his metaphors for how the mind works and for how the mind works in a complex society are well crafted. I did have a couple of reservations: the first is his breezy treatment of drugs like Prozac and Paxil as treatment for "everyday" anxiety and depression (that is, problems not bad enough to be labelled "disorder" in correlation with the DSM-IV description)--despite a vast amount of evidence regarding what sometimes amount to devastating side effects, especially in children and young adults, and the incredible over-medication of our society at large, Haidt encourages use of such drugs for NOS anxiety and depression without reservation. Also, if you have read Pinker, Wright, Dawkins, Dennett, or many of the other current Darwinian psychologists, you are going to have encountered A LOT of this stuff before. When explaining Darwinian psychology and sociology, Haidt doesn't bring a lot of new stuff to the table--unless this is the first book on the topic that you have read. The same old examples, ants, bats, etc... But these are relatively minor complaints... the application of the Darwinian style of seeing the human mind in regard to happiness and the use of ancient wisdom to back up his points make this book well worth reading.

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    The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jonathan Haidt
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
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    This is a book about 10 "Great Ideas". Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world's civilizations - to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives.

    David says: "Exceptional synthesis of psychology and philosophy"
  • "Looks Like I Will Be The First Revi..."

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    to actually discuss the book here, as everyone else seems obsessed with the narrator. This is an interesting book on neuropsychology, though it is not the most in-depth one that you will find. Read this one starting out, before approaching Sachs, Ramachandran, Gazziniga and Seung--afterward, and it will seem a bit of a step down. Davidson does a nice job of breaking down the emotional life into six simple (if even sometimes a bit oversimplified) categories and then--the most interesting part--shows us the brain function that accompanies each. It serves as a nice primer for emotion and brain function and might be taken nicely with Daniel Goleman's book Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence.... All right, there are no car chases in this book (it's neurology for heaven's sake!), and the narrator is no broadway performer. But it's a book, right? Someone is reading you a book so you don't have to. Let's stop whining so much about narrators and review books here.

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    The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live - and How You Can Change Them

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Richard J. Davidson, Sharon Begley
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
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    Why are some people so quick to recover from a setback while others wallow in despair? Why are some people so highly attuned to others that they seem psychic, while other people put both feet in it over and over again? Why are some people always up and others always down? In this hotly anticipated book, award-winning, pioneering neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson answers these questions by offering an entirely new model of our emotions - their origins, their power, and their malleability.

    Douglas says: "Looks Like I Will Be The First Reviewer..."
  1. Rewire Your Brain: Think ...
  2. The Happiness Hypothesis:...
  3. The Emotional Life of You...
  4. .

A Peek at LongerILiveLessIKnow's Bookshelf

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Pennsylvania 18 REVIEWS / 59 ratings Member Since 2012 8 Followers / Following 5
 
LongerILiveLessIKnow's greatest hits:
  • The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing, or, Getting Things Done by Putting Them Off

    "Great read for a time-management nerd like me."

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    Lighthearted, but actually dispensing real and good advice on time management, Perry lays out a method for getting stuff done while procrastinating (“structured procrastination”). For $1.95, a real bargain and not bloated in the way an actual self-improvement book, presumably written by a non-academic philosopher, would be. There’s some great insights here. E.g., a short to-do list is a bad idea for the procrastinator; with so few options to put off, the procrastinator ends up doing nothing. But with a thick and detailed to do list, the procrastinator has the option of putting off the first few items in order to accomplish other items on the list.

    Self-improvement books about time management are one of my guilty pleasures. I also have a background (long ago) in academic philosophy. Probably not a surprise, then, that I was really tickled by Perry's short book. This is a great starter on the topic and not much of a time commitment.

    Some quick thoughts about other treatises on this topic:

    *Tony Robbin’s Awaken the Inner Giant. Clearly, if you’re going to read this, you’ll need to hide that fact from your friends and family and strangers on the bus. This book ought to be made with a fake War and Peace cover. While you keep telling yourself that you’re only reading it ironically, you’ll quietly be admitting that there’s fantastic advice. Robbins is probably the best on techniques to transform the procrastinator’s proclivity for avoiding the top of the to-do list (whereas Perry simply concedes that procrastination may be a fact of your nature). Having said that, I’m not admitting I’ve ever read any Tony Robbins.

    *David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s probably the best with an ultra-detailed information, task, and time-management system. Unlike Perry, Allen is a bit soup-nazi-esque.

    *Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, etc etc. This book often appears on Amazon or Audible as recommended if you like David Allen. It’s really junk. Short little essays and, for the bigger names, Q and As, that all are little more than advertisements for other books, blogs, and the like.

    *How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day. Written like a hundred years ago, but you wouldn’t realize that from just reading it. And you can read it in an hour.

    *Josh Kaufman’s the First Twenty Hours. Kaufman and Perry, though from different angles, show you how the desire for perfection can lead to procrastination. If you want your output to be perfect, it can paralyze you from ever starting the project. But Kaufman’s thesis is that it only takes 10 – 20 hours of deliberate practice to become enjoyably competent at a new skill. By the way, I really do not recommend Kaufman’s book.

    *The Spirit of Kaizen. Perry references this one. I don’t recommend it because its 180 pages that repeat the same core idea. But, that core idea is helpful – small changes can have huge effects; make the smallest possible change that will improve a process. Then repeat.

  • The Art of Critical Decision Making

    "The clapping. Oh, the clapping!"

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    I’m on the fence about these “Great Courses.” Each lecture begins with the same snippet of classical music. The kind that (tries to) signal that something sophisticated is about to happen. Each lecture ends with obviously fake clapping. The folks reviewing these “Great Courses” universally have taken notice of how awful it is. Maybe I’m petty for mentioning it, but it made me suspicious of the whole product.

    I listened to this course and another one (by a different professor) on cyber security. Each of these courses shared the same strength: organization/conceptual clarity in surveying the various topics you might expect to find under the topic’s umbrella. But that strength notwithstanding, I struggled to finish both courses. Here, there’s a dumbing down quality; a feeling that Roberto is lecturing to the lowest common denominator. Also, the book’s audible blurb suggests that the course is aimed to help you “approach the critical decisions in your life,” but the material is 99% MBA-type material addressing business/management situations. I was also left with the nagging feeling that Roberto could have delivered the same content in a quarter of the time.

    The Audible environment makes transparent the time commitment the book or lecture commands. Twelve and half hours (or faster if you rev up the audio) spent on this lecture series is twelve and half hours I won’t spend on something else. And so, when it comes to spending future credits – to committing my future listening time – I’m leaning towards picking what’s behind door #2.

  • The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything

    "Pass."

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    If you've read Outliers, Talent is Overrated, etc., there's nothing new for you here. If you haven't read those books, they're better than the Talent Code.

    This book in a nutshell: Deliberate practice + motivation + coaching = the Talent Code.

  • The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything... Fast!

    "Really great -- if it were a free blog post."

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    This would have made for an excellent (free) blog post. But it’s not worth your credit.

    The first chapter discusses meta learning/skill acquisition generally. While the best chapter, plenty of free discussions are out there as good as what Kaufman offers here.

    The marketing for the book might make you think you’ll learn how to become expert extremely quickly. But Kaufman’s real message is a truth that doesn’t sell books: there are no shortcuts; you have to put in the time to get good at anything.

    In brief. Yoga chapter. Kaufman takes one private lesson of yoga. That’s it.

    Programming chapter. Brutally boring and not helpful if you don’t program.

    Touch typing. My favorite of the chapters. Kaufman switches from the standard QWERTY keyboard to a non-standard keyboard. After initial frustration, he achieves QWERTY speed and accuracy on the new layout within 20 hours of deliberate practice.

    Go chapter. After getting crushed online by real humans, Kaufman plays against his computer. After 20 hours, he decides that getting good would actually take a real time commitment and gives it up.

    Ukulele. He learns three chords and sings a song.

    Windsurfing. Due to bad weather, he only gets in 9 hours of practice. Seriously.

    My negativity aside, Kaufman seems like a genuinely good guy and I agree with his core message. If you make the time and give it 20 hours, that’s usually enough time to scale the learning curve and achieve an enjoyable level of proficiency.

Jane

Jane Chicago, IL, United States 06-22-12 Member Since 2010
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  • "Excellent advice and examples for b..."

    15 of 15 helpful votes

    Stein is an author, editor, and publisher. His advice is geared toward fiction, with some thoughts for nonfiction. I am a reader and reviewer of books, not a writer. I have strong likes and dislikes about books I’ve read. I’m reading some “how to write books” to see if I agree with the experts. I’m delighted to say that writers who follow Stein’s advice will very likely make me happy when reading their books. I am more liberal than Stein in two areas: the first three pages of a book and his fifth commandment. Scenes that end prematurely are a subject Stein did not discuss, but I believe he would agree with me.

    ADJECTIVES, ADVERBS, & FLAB:
    For a while now I have been confused when I hear people say “cut adverbs.” I’ve loved some colorful writing that adverbs produce. I made a list of wonderful sentences with adverbs written by J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, and Georgette Heyer. I recently read three Hemingway short stories and noticed a lot of adjectives and adverbs in two of them. That intrigued me because he is famous for concise writing. Stein is the first expert who explains this subject to my satisfaction. Although he recommends cutting most adjectives and adverbs, he gives examples showing when they are valuable. I like his view. Stein and I both like the following paragraph which is full of adjectives and adverbs. Although a novel filled with this should probably be labeled poetry rather than fiction. Still it shows the emotional and sensual ability of adjectives and adverbs. Stein calls it “a nearly perfect paragraph.” It was written by a student of his, Linda Katmarian.

    “Weeds and the low hanging branches of unpruned trees swooshed and thumped against the car while gravel popped loudly under the car’s tires. As the car bumped along, a flock of startled blackbirds exploded out of the brush. For a moment they fluttered and swirled about like pieces of charred paper in the draft of a flame and then were gone. Elizabeth blinked. The mind could play such tricks.”

    Stein says “She’s breaking rules. Adjectives and adverbs which normally should be cut are all over the place. They’re used to wonderful effect because she uses the particular sound of words ‘the low hanging branches swooshed and thumped against the car. Gravel popped. Startled blackbirds exploded out of the brush. They fluttered and swirled.’ We experience the road the car is on because the car ‘bumped’ along. What a wonderful image. ‘The birds fluttered and swirled about like pieces of charred paper in the draft of a flame.’ And it all comes together in the perception of the character ‘Elizabeth blinked. The mind could play such tricks.’ Many published writers would like to have written a paragraph that good. That nearly perfect paragraph was ...”

    Another example. Stein does not like the sentence “What a lovely, colorful garden.” Lovely is too vague. Colorful is specific therefore better; but lovely and colorful don’t draw us in because we expect a garden to be lovely or colorful. There are several curiosity provoking adjectives you might use. If we hear that a garden is curious, strange, eerie, remarkable, or bizarre, we want to know why. An adjective that piques the reader’s curiosity helps move the story along.

    Stein says when you have two adjectives together with one noun, you should almost always delete one of the adjectives. He also recommends eliminating the following words which he calls flab: had, very, quite, poor (unless talking of poverty), however, almost, entire, successive, respective, perhaps, always, and “there is.” Other words can be flab as well.

    PARTICULARITY (attentiveness to detail):
    I love the following comparison. “You have an envelope? He put one down in front of her.” This exchange is void of particularity. Here’s how the transaction was described by John LeCarre. “You have a suitable envelope? Of course you have. Envelopes were in the third drawer of his desk, left side. He selected a yellow one A4 size and guided it across the desk but she let it lie there.” Those particularities ordinary as they seem help make what she is going to put into the envelope important. The extra words are not wasted because they make the experience possible and credible. (My favorite part: “Of course you have.”)

    FLASHBACKS AND SCENES THAT END PREMATURELY:
    Stein discourages flashbacks. He says they break the reading experience. They pull the reader out of the story to tell what happened earlier. Yay! I agree! I don’t like them either.

    I don’t recall Stein discussing “ending scenes prematurely,” but I think (or hope) he would agree with me that they also “break the reading experience.” For example, Mary walks into a room, hears a noise, and is hit. The next sentence is about another character in another place. Many authors do this to create artificial suspense. It makes me angry, and my anger takes me out of the story because I’m thinking about the author instead of the characters. You can have great suspense without doing this. Stein says “The Day of the Jackal” is famous for use of suspense. The scenes in that book have natural endings.

    FIRST THREE PAGES OF A BOOK MAY NOT BE AS CRITICAL AS THEY USED TO BE:
    Stein said a “book must grab the reader in the first three pages or they won’t buy the book.” This was based on studies watching customers in book stores. They looked at the jacket and then the first one to three pages. They either put it back or bought it. I think the internet changed things by providing customer reviews. I buy around 240 books a year. I never buy a book based on the first three pages. My decision to buy is based on customer reviews and/or book jacket summaries. I suppose the first three pages might still be important for customers in physical stores like Barnes & Noble and Walmart. But today we have books that become best sellers as ebooks and subsequently are published in paperback, for example Fifty Shades of Grey. Bloggers and reviewers spread the word, not bookstore visitors.

    STEIN’S TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR WRITERS:
    I’ve edited for brevity and to remove thou shalt’s.

    1. Do not sprinkle characters into a preconceived plot. In the beginning was the character. (I like this, but I also think Stephen King has a good idea - something to try. He creates a “situation” first, then the characters, and last the plot.)

    2. Imbue your heroes with faults and your villains with charm. For it is the faults of the hero that bring forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.

    3. Your characters should steal, kill, dishonor their parents, bear false witness, and covet their neighbor’s house, wife, man servant, maid servant, and ox. For readers crave such actions and yawn when your characters are meek, innocent, forgiving, and peaceable. (I love this.)

    4. Avoid abstractions, for readers like lovers are attracted by particularity.

    5. Do not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream. Stein prefers using “he said.” (I’m not sure about this one. I like hearing these words. Maybe in moderation?)

    6. Infect your reader with anxiety, stress, and tension, for those conditions that he deplores in life, he relishes in fiction.

    7. Language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers. (I assume this includes cutting adjectives, adverbs, and flab - but keep the good ones.)

    8. “Thou shalt have no rest on the sabbath, for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.” (I’m not sure how this is advice to writers.)

    9. Dialogue: directness diminishes, obliqueness sings.

    10. Do not vent your emotions onto the reader. Your duty is to evoke the reader’s emotions.


    OTHER IDEAS:
    Do not write about wimps. People who seem like other people are boring. Ordinary people are boring.

    Cut cliches. Say it new or say it straight.

    If not clear who is speaking put “George said” before the statement. If it is clear, put “George said” after or eliminate “George said.”

    Don’t use strange spellings to convey dialect or accents.

    Book copyright: 1995.
    Genre: nonfiction, how to write.

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    Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Sol Stein
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
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    Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether newcomers or accomplished professionals. As Sol Stein, renowned editor, author, and instructor, explains, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions, how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place."

    ddsharper says: "Excellent Content and Listen"

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    Richard Leon says: "Not a how to guide .."
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    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Dave Ramsey
    • Narrated By Dave Ramsey
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    Performance
    (933)
    Story
    (930)

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    Jason says: "Very Motivational..."
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    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Robert Greene
    • Narrated By Jeff David
    Overall
    (958)
    Performance
    (394)
    Story
    (398)

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    Robert says: "Great narration, interesting material"
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    • By Anthony Robbins
    • Narrated By Anthony Robbins
    Overall
    (730)
    Performance
    (383)
    Story
    (382)

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    Adam says: "Bring clarity and strategy to your life!"
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    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 23 mins)
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    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    (213)
    Performance
    (178)
    Story
    (176)

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    A. Yoshida says: "Simple book to build a routine..."
  • The Procrastinator's Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now

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    • By Rita Emmett
    • Narrated By Rita Emmett
    Overall
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    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

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    J. Crosby says: "Practical remedy to this pervasive ill"
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    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Gary Zukav
    • Narrated By Gary Zukav, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (197)
    Performance
    (107)
    Story
    (111)

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    Vik says: "A True Spiritual Classic"
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    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By James Pyle, Maryann Karinch
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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    • UNABRIDGED (34 mins)
    • By Josh Abbott
    • Narrated By Craig Good
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Laurel Parnell
    • Narrated By Laurel Parnell
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Lynn C. Miller, Lisa Lenard-Cook
    • Narrated By Angela Rice
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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  •  
  • Minecraft Cheats : 70 Top Essential Minecraft Cheats Guide Exposed!

    • UNABRIDGED (49 mins)
    • By Jason Scotts
    • Narrated By Chris Brinkley
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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  • Homesteading: Self Sufficiency Guide to Gardening: Homesteaders Guide to Growing What You Eat

    • UNABRIDGED (53 mins)
    • By Richard Anderson
    • Narrated By Kelly Self
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

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  • Minecraft Pocket Edition Cheats: 70 Top Minecraft Essential Pocket Edition Cheats Guide Exposed!

    • UNABRIDGED (43 mins)
    • By Jason Scotts
    • Narrated By Chris Brinkley
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Welcome to Minecraft Pocket Edition Cheats: 70 Minecraft Pocket Edition Cheats Exposed! Minecraft Pocket Edition is the mobile/smartphone version of the popular Minecraft gaming franchise. It was first launched on Google Play exclusively for the Xperia, in August 2011, but was also released for all smartphones on October of the same year. Just like the original Minecraft game, the main objective of the game is to let the player create his own virtual environment and live his own virtual reality.