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Darwin8u

Mesa, AZ, United States

ratings
868
REVIEWS
860
FOLLOWING
19
FOLLOWERS
3975
HELPFUL VOTES
18871

  • Captains Courageous

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Rudyard Kipling
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (115)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (95)

    Captains Courageous is Rudyard Kipling’s classic fable of a boy’s initiation into the fellowship of men, played out on the high seas of the late 1800s. When he falls overboard from a luxury liner, Harvey Cheyne, the spoiled son of an American millionaire, is rescued by a small New England fishing schooner. To earn his keep, Harvey must prove his worth in the only way the skipper and his hardy crew will accept: through the grueling mastery of a fisherman’s skills.

    Jefferson says: "A Paean to Boyhood, Atlantic Fishermen, & America"
    "A MINOR sea story and a MINOR Kipling"
    Overall
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    Just finished listening to this with the kids. Enjoyed it, just didn't love it. The last section should have ended about 20 pages (1 hr) earlier. It was like Kipling hit the natural climax for the story and then felt he needed to write another twenty pages to make somebody happy and decided to just phone-it-in (or the equivalent to phoning-it-in would be in 1897).

    The story was interesting, but just not THAT interesting. I guess I would class this as a minor sea story and a minor Kipling. If you are really into sea stories AND obsessed with Kipling, for sure, don't skip this book. Otherwise, I'd stick with Kim and Moby-Dick.

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Ginger Man

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By J. P. Donleavy
    • Narrated By Patrick Moy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    Set in Ireland just after World War II, The Ginger Man is J. P. Donleavy's wildly funny, picaresque classic novel of the misadventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American ne'er-do-well studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Dangerfield's appetite for women, liquor, and general roguishness is insatiable - and he satisfies it with endless charm.

    Amazon Customer says: "Has not age well"
    "The lyrical quality of money is strange"
    Overall
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    It is like J.P. Donleavy lifted Harold Skimpole out of Hard Times and made a whole whore of a novel of him as a young law student in Dublin. There are novels about drinking and there are novels about being shitfaced. This is a shitfaced novel. It ranks right up there with Lowry's Under the Volcano. Except insead of meszcal, there is plenty of stout and Irish whiskey. The prose is distilled three times: once with food, once with f#cKing, and once with irreverant flippancy (maybe once too for finances, but that would ruin my trinity of distilation image).

    But the prose? Dear God, Mary and the baby Modern Library, J.P. Donleavy can write crazy post-Joyce juice. He was rock and roll before rock and roll. His sentences hit you like Mick Jagger dancing on John Bonham third drum stick. It doesn't seem like a long novel, but requires slow, devoted reading. You have to put it down and sober up every few pages. More than 80 pages in one sitting will leave you shitfaced with veins breaking and uncontrolled shaking of the hands.

    Go easy my friends, and enjoy drowning in the softness.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • You Only Live Twice: James Bond, Book 12

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Martin Jarvis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (95)

    James Bond seems unable to function after the death of his wife. Determined to restore 007 to the effective agent he used to be, M sends him on a mission to Japan, to the mysterious "Castle of Death", and into the lair of an old and terrifying enemy. For Bond and Blofeld, this will be their final encounter. Only one of them can survive.

    Darwin8u says: "Speak of next year and the devil laughs"
    "Speak of next year and the devil laughs"
    Overall
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    I’ve found that one must try and teach people that there’s no top limit to disaster – that, so long as breath remains in your body, you’ve got to accept the miseries of life. They will often seem infinite, insupportable. They are part of the human condition."
    - Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice

    Ian Fleming took James Bond off the interstate of his more traditional espionage novels with the last couple books. 'You Only Live Twice' is Fleming putting James back into the "game". The settting for most of this novel is Japan. Bond is hunting (for the Japanese) Dr. Guntram Shatterhand, who turns out to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. It is interesting enough, but seems a bit dated with the NINJA scenes and Yellow Face.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy Who Loved Me: James Bond, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Rosamund Pike
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (141)

    When 007 turns up at a sleepy American backwoods motel, it doesn't take him long to realize that Vivienne Michel is in a tight spot, and that Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morant are hardened killers bent on destruction. Escaping from a past she doesn't want to relive, Viv turns to James Bond to save her.

    Glenn Parris says: "007 from the prospective of a"Bond Girl" ."
    "The Black Wings of Danger"
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    "Love of life is born of the awareness of death, of the dread of it. Nothing makes one really grateful for life except the black wings of danger."
    ― Ian Fleming, The Spy Who Loved Me

    Reads more like a John D. MacDonald thriller than a typical James Bond novel. I liked it. It was like James Bond was tired of catching crap about not being able to write or develop female characters, so he wrote a novel entirely from the perspective of the woman. Unfortunately, at the end, it was STILL a woman in peril cliche. But a good read, still.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Life in a Medieval City

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Frances Gies, Joseph Gies
    • Narrated By Anne Flosnik
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Life in a Medieval City is the classic account of the year 1250 in the city of Troyes, in modern-day France. Acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies focus on a high point of medieval civilization - before war and the Black Death ravaged Europe - providing a fascinating window into the sophistication of a period we too often dismiss as backward. Urban life in the Middle Ages revolved around the home, often a mixed-use dwelling for burghers with a store or workshop on the ground floor and living quarters upstairs.

    Darwin8u says: "Troyes, an old town but a new city"
    "Troyes, an old town but a new city"
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    "Anything written in a book has a certain sacredness, all the established authors are authorities, and all are timeless, from Aesop to Horace."
    - Joseph & Frances Gies v

    A nice survey of Troyes in 1250 AD. Joseph and Frances Gies examine everything from medicine to women to the church and cathedrals in Medieval Europe, focusing their historical lense on Troyes, which at the time was a prosperous center of commerce in Europe. Not super deep, but VERY interesting with some great nuggets. This book is written for general readership and seems to always jump to the next chapter just as soon as my interest was piqued. Here is a list of the chapters/subjects:

    * Prologue
    1. Troyes: 1250
    2. A Burgher's Home
    3. A Medieval Housewife
    4. Childbirth and Children
    5. Weddings and Funerals
    6. Small Business
    7. Big Business
    8. The Doctor
    9. The Church
    10. The Cathedral
    11. School and Scholars
    12. Books and Authors
    13. The New Theatre
    14. Disasters
    15. Town Government
    16. The Champaigne Fair
    * After 1250

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Lisa Randall
    • Narrated By Carrington MacDuffie
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (130)
    Story
    (134)

    The latest developments in physics have the potential to radically revise our understanding of the world: its makeup, its evolution, and the fundamental forces that drive its operation. Knocking on Heaven's Door is an exhilarating and accessible overview of these developments and an impassioned argument for the significance of science. There could be no better guide than Lisa Randall.

    Amazon Customer says: "Love the book, hate the title"
    "The Scale & Beauty of the Universe and Unknown"
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    “Try to remember that artists in these catastrophic times, along with the serious scientists, are the only salvation for us, if there is to be any.”
    ― William H. Gass

    “Science certainly is not the static statement of universal laws we all hear about in elementary school. Nor is it a set of arbitrary rules. Science is an evolving body of knowledge. Many of the ideas we are currently investigating will prove to be wrong or incomplete. Scientific descriptions certainly change as we cross the boundaries that circumscribe what we know and venture into more remote territory where we can glimpse hints of the deeper truths beyond.”
    - Lisa Randall, Knocking on Heaven's Door

    Loved it. In this book Lisa Randall writes about scale and science, while surveying the state of modern physics just as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was getting warmed up (2011).

    Randall is a theoretical physicist working on both particle physics and cosmology. She teaches at Harvard and specializes in supersymmetry, the Standard Model, cosmological inflation, dark matter, etc. She is one of the most cited modern theoretical physicists and is yearly on the short-list for the Nobel Prize in Physics. She is also a bit of a renessainse woman. Beyond her ability to scale from the super small to the super big, she enjoys art, literature, and the outdoors. There are some geniuses who seem to exist comfortably only in the small box they excel in. That is definitely not Lisa Randall. She seems to enjoy those spaces where literature, art, and the sciences overlap.

    Lisa's collection of interests (beyond physics) is the prime reasons why she is such a gifted translator of theoretical physics. I'm a pretty smart guy, but would have been even more lost without her sharp metaphors and patient untangling of the bleeding edge of physics. I'm still pretty damn confused, but feel just a bit more confident WHERE I'm confused. I think her gift comes both from her varied interests, her wide friendships, and her basic humanity.

    Amazingly, it was during a recent gift from the Universe that I met Lisa. Last year in August (on the 21st) a total eclipse of the sun was going to throw its umbral shadow over my sister-in-law's house in Southern Idaho. My brother Matt and I and his friend from the CIA decided to do a road trip. Soon, it wasn't just us three, but friends of friends, were on our way to Rigby, Idaho. Walter Kirn asked if he could meet us, and soon he asked if his friend from Harvard could come. Lisa showed up with a couple friends (one was an artist from LA, (Landon Ross, whose art is informed and influenced heavily by science) and we climbed up the South Menan Butte (owned by a Mormon Capitalist selling tickets) for a prime viewing spot. There we watched the shadow of the eclipse racing towards us.

    Anyway, on this butte in Southern Idaho theoretical physicists, artists, writers, and a motley crue of naturalists, retirees, and Mormons were together humbled by the size of the Universe, the scale of what we know and don't know. We were also thrilled that, with the help of science, we knew where to be and together watched the moon's shadow roll over us. In some ways, it seemed a brief echo of how Lisa must have felt watching the LHC go online. Evidence would either show that the Standard Model worked or didn't work as far as the Higgs Boson particle (often called the "God Particle") was concerned. Shortly after this book was published in hard cover, and right before it came out in paperback, the LHC provided evidence that once again theoretical physicists were correct.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • For Your Eyes Only, and Other Stories: James Bond, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (104)

    When sudden emergencies arise, James Bond is there to meet them. Whether dealing with the assassination of a Cuban thug in America, the destruction of an international heroin ring, or a mysterious death in the Seychelles, 007 gets the job done in his own unmistakable style.

    Darwin8u says: "Life is a devious business"
    "Life is a devious business"
    Overall
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    "Life is a devious business."
    - Ian Fleming, "Quantum of Solace"

    After having read about 7 of his novels, this was the first set of Fleming short stories I ran into, as I moved up the Bond collection. For Your Eyes Only contains the following stories:

    1. From A View to a Kill
    2. For Your Eyes Only
    3. Quantum of Solace
    4. Risico
    5. The Hildebrand Rarity

    The first three titles would probably be familiar to anyone who has watched more than a couple James Bond films over the last 20 years. The only issue is, they are only BARELY (if at all) recognizable. They share the title with the films, but that is about it. And that isn't a bad thing. I rather enjoyed the three movies, but the stories here are (for me) more nuanced than most of his books and all of his movies. Fleming is experimenting a bit. He is upping the literary and dialing down a bit the adventure. Not so it isn't recognizable. They are still all Fleming novels and ALL James Bond stories. But they each, in different ways, bring a bit of humanity into the Bond collection.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Educated: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Tara Westover
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3378)
    Performance
    (3124)
    Story
    (3104)

    Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism.

    Mel says: "Gripping Read "
    "The Other Side of Idaho's Mountains"
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    "Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs."
    - Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir

    This book feels like it was written by a sister, a cousin, a niece. Tara Westover grew up a few mountains over from my dad's Heglar ranch. I don't know her. Don't know her family. She grew up about 70-80+ miles South East as the crow flies, but realistically, it was a 1.5 hours drive difference, and a whole planet of Mormonism over.

    I didn't grow up in Idaho. I was born there and returned there yearly. But this book is filled with the geography, culture, behaviors, mountains, religion, schools, and extremes I understand. She is writing from a similar, and often shared space. I didn't just read this book, I felt it, on every page.

    This book reads like a modern-day, Horatio Alger + 'The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography'. However, it isn't just a book about how a girl with little formal education from a small town in Idaho makes it to Cambridge. It is also a tale of escape, and a historiography. Westover is using her own life to do a popular memory study on herself. She is looking at how she viewed her religion, her background, her parents, and her education. She explores how those memories and narratives change and reorient based upon proximity to her family and her father.

    I bought a copy and before I even read it, I gave it to my father to read (He grew up in Heglar, ID). Then I bought another couple and yesterday and today my wife and I raced to finish it. We bored our kids talking about it over two dinners. We both finished it within minutes of each other tonight.

    Tara Westover's memoir hit me hard because of the struggle she has owning her own narrative. Through many vectors I related to her (we both graduated from BYU with Honors, were both were from Idaho, both have preppers in the family). My family, while sharing similar land, a similar start, and a similar undergraduate education, however, are not Tara's. And that is what made this memoir so compelling. It was like reading a Dickens novel, but one that was set in your neighborhood. It was moving, sad, and tremendous. In the end, I was attracted by how close the story felt, but I was also VERY grateful her story wasn't THAT close.

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: James Bond, Book 11

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By David Tennant
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (275)
    Performance
    (261)
    Story
    (254)

    In his Alpine base, Blofeld is developing biological weapons that will devastate Britain. Unaware of the danger, James Bond is about to marry Teresa di Vicenzo, the daughter of a Corsican Mafioso. But then he is sent to Switzerland. Bond's marriage and Blofeld's schemes disintegrate in a blizzard of gunfire and high-explosives from which neither man emerges the victor.

    Scott Fogg says: "A Real Treat"
    "When the odds are hopeless"
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    “When the odds are hopeless, when all seems to be lost, then is the time to be calm, to make a show of authority – at least of indifference”
    ― Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    One of my favorite Bond novels so far. It contains most of the things that draws people to Bond novels and movies (action, intrigue, charm, violence) and tones down some of the more obnoxious parts too (sexism, racism, etc). The character of Bond is fascinating in this novel as his normal cycle with women is warped a bit. The movie sticks pretty close to the book's narrative on this one, which is probably due to the fact that it was already a pretty well-developed story.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

    • UNABRIDGED (7 mins)
    • By Marlon Bundo, Jill Twiss
    • Narrated By Jim Parsons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jeff Garlin, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11258)
    Performance
    (10618)
    Story
    (10571)

    HBO's Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents the story of a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence - the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon's life is about to change forever....

    João says: "This story is cute, but let's be honest."
    "Bunny Love is Bunny Love"
    Overall
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    If you are going to read (or listen in the bath) just one book about gay bunnies at the Naval Observatory, read this one. When I finish my bath, I might tell you why.
    *****
    So here are a couple reasons, now dry, as promised:

    1. Love is love.
    2. Friendship protects us.
    3. There are bad dudes in power.
    4. We can vote them out of power.
    5. It is fun to hijack ironically the Pence's rabbit for a worth LGBTQ cause.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Gentlemen's Hour: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Don Winslow
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (738)
    Performance
    (676)
    Story
    (674)

    Laid back, ultra–California cool, the former cop turned PI begins each day with the Dawn Patrol, a close-knit group of surfers, best friends who not only ride waves together but have one another's backs out of the water. It's the life Boone loves, all he wants. To him, "There's no such thing as a bad day at the beach." So when one of their own is murdered - especially an icon like Kelly Kuhio, a local hero - and another surfer, a young punk from the Rockpile Crew, stands accused, the small world of Pacific Beach is rocked to its core.

    judy says: "Where is Ray Porter When You Need Him?"
    "Violence on the beach is very uncool"
    Overall
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    San Diego Surf Noir, Take Two.

    I'm enough of a Don Winslow fan after The Power of the Dog and The Cartel to seek after al of Winslow books's. There is a cost and a benefit of going back to read earlier books of an author you admire.

    Cost: The books, invariably, are a bit weaker. This is usually the case. Writers grow, develop, and yes they too eventually slump. But this one follows the typical arc of a writer's carrer. This isn't top-shelf Don Winslow. Some of the characters are almost silly. The stories are a bit too neat and symetrical. So, you end up being a bit disappointed when viewing an author backwards. Try reading Mardi after reading Moby-Dick. I dare you. It is still writen by Herman Melville, but it ends up being a bit of a let down.

    Benefit: You get to see early seeds of things that will eventually grow and mature in the author's later, greater novels. These are like recognizing waves that will eventually be surfable. You also recognize that not every novel has to be perfect to be enjoyable. I like Winslow as a writer and as a person.* I enjoy reading his early stuff because it gives me a better, more rounded, view of his later work. So despite the criticisms here and there, it still helps.

    The Gentlemen's Hour is part two of the Winslow's Boone Daniel series (read The Dawn Patrol first). It follows the adventures of Boone Daniel, surfing P.I. and his band of surfing brothers (The Dawn Patrol), and yes sisters, as they deal with the friction of shifting loyalties, visions and ethics of life. It was Sprite, not gin, and went down easy. Some days, you just want a Sprite.

    * I think he is generous with other writers and very approachable to his fans.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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