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John

MENLO PARK, CA, United States | Member Since 2007

ratings
252
REVIEWS
43
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
4
HELPFUL VOTES
156

  • A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (789)
    Performance
    (353)
    Story
    (359)

    The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

    E. Smakman says: "Gripping, once you get into it"
    "Exceptional!"
    Overall

    Now this is what a "scholarly" book should be. Impeccably researched, this book brings to life a period of history that has always proved opaque to me. Ms. Tuchman has done an exceptional job. It's the kind of book that makes you feel like you're investing your time well!

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Jim Henson: The Biography

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Brian Jay Jones
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (277)
    Performance
    (260)
    Story
    (260)

    For the first time ever - a comprehensive biography of one of the 20th century’s most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. The Muppets made Jim Henson a household name, but they were just part of his remarkable story.

    Ted says: "Dramatically complete"
    "I started with impatience . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's a beautiful story, about a man worthy of emulation.

    I was irritated in the beginning by the level of detail in the (pre-) biography, but quickly forgave. As someone in a creative profession, as someone who grew up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and as a dad raising a child, this audiobook resonated with me and literally had me in tears (happy and sad) at several moments. A very emotional read all things considered.

    The world is a poorer place without the likes of Jim Henson. Well-written and truly affective.

    R.I.P. Mr. Henson, you did well by the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Handmaid's Tale

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Margaret Atwood
    • Narrated By Claire Danes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3477)
    Performance
    (3135)
    Story
    (3156)

    Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name....

    Melinda says: "Not So Far-Fetched -- Still Chilling"
    "Entertaining, excellent vocal performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what it is! Interesting tale, "alternative future" quasi-sci-fi . . . while I wouldn't say it's a book I'd recommend to all my friends, it was definitely on the better side of what passes for escapist fiction. A very worthy use of a credit, well-written, (much above average in this regard for the genre) and an EXCELLENT performance by Claire Danes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Sean Howe
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    Overall
    (187)
    Performance
    (169)
    Story
    (169)

    Throughout this decades-long journey to becoming a multibillion-dollar enterprise, Marvel's identity has continually shifted, careening between scrappy underdog and corporate behemoth. As the company has weathered Wall Street machinations, Hollywood failures, and the collapse of the comic book market, its characters have been passed along among generations of editors, artists, and writers - also known as the celebrated Marvel "Bullpen".

    Greg says: "It's as if this book was written for me!"
    "A Tawdry and Compelling History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I never understood Reed Richard's hair . . . a few years ago I woke up and realized I had it.

    If you get that joke . . . or if you are/were a Marvel comic book junkie, born between about 1958-78 (I was born in '68) I think you'd enjoy this book in some way, with the particular type of joy dependent on your personality.

    For me, it was a bit like reading about a childhood hero ("Say it ain't so, Marvel") who you later found out was an alcoholic, misogynistic, criminal bastard in their day-to-day life.

    I usually can't stomach gossip, or seedy insinuation---I could never read "The Comics Journal" back in the day----but somehow this book manages to cover the history of Marvel and such topics in all their tawdry glory without making you feel like you hate humanity in general.

    A disclaimer: I probably represent about the most interested possible audience for this book. As a young artist I came very close to working for the major companies (the Shooter/DeFalco regimes) before I became a mainstream commercial illustrator (Briefly, I did later work for Eclipse and Dark Horse) and so almost every name mentioned brought forth from memory a face and a conversation at a convention, but I think even if you were just interested in the 1980's comics as a reader this would still be a fascinating peek behind the scenes.

    Beyond all of the above, this book is also an almost accidental testimony to the oblivious evils of corporate greed and what happens when it collides with a creator's idealistic artistic passion. (Creators lose the battle, but have a lot more fun and fewer regrets on their deathbed.)

    Excelsior . . .




    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alas, Babylon

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Pat Frank
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4031)
    Performance
    (2993)
    Story
    (2998)

    This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness....

    Evelyn says: "Excellent listen"
    "Aging well . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While dated in some respects, if seen as the "period piece" that it essentially is, it holds up well. Much more enjoyable than the "mainstream" sci-fi that has been recommended to me.

    As I was explaining to a colleague: the book leads you into thoughts of how you would cope with such calamities, which makes for interesting thoughts that last well beyond the reading of the book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Pollan
    • Narrated By Michael Pollan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (639)
    Performance
    (567)
    Story
    (568)

    In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements - fire, water, air, and earth - to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world....

    Matt says: "Michael Pollan Fans Will Love It."
    "For curious cooks . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book was not as transformative a listen as Botany of Desire, but I really enjoyed it and found myself talking about it a lot with friends. (always a good sign) It made me want to get into my kitchen on a weekend and experiment with long-ago clipped recipes. Very enjoyable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Shaman

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (86)
    Story
    (86)

    There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories - to teach those who would follow in his footsteps. There is Heather, the healer who, in many ways, holds the clan together. There is Elga, an outsider and the bringer of change. And then there is Loon, the next shaman, who is determined to find his own path. But in a world so treacherous, that journey is never simple - and where it may lead is never certain.

    Shellbin says: "His Best Since the Mars Trilogy"
    "Interesting...thought-provoking...a solid credit."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not a 5 star, but a solid, thoughtful 4 star. Away from the book, I found myself thinking about how it would be to live as a human so exposed to the brutalities of nature. This to me is a big factor in how I measure the value of a book or a story----does it make me think a little bit differently, does it transport me to a different world in my imagination?

    This book did. I think it would be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys speculative fiction. (Sci-fi, etc.) Compared to most in those genres, this is superior writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (687)
    Performance
    (523)
    Story
    (539)

    When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name - Ged - and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught.

    Finance Guy says: "Elegant & unique fantasy, deliciously performed"
    "Fair . . . well-written . . . but . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm still looking for the fantasy writers who can sweep me off my feet . . . I think if you're already a fan of the genre, you would enjoy this---the descriptions of magician-craft were well-done and interesting---but I'm beginning to wonder if fantasy just isn't my genre . . . because at the end of the book I'm just left with a half-hearted feeling. (one exception was the first book in Game of Thrones, but I'll be damned if I'm going to invest that much time in a sequel(s) to a book that ends with a "tune in next week."

    So for this book . . . well-written, fair use of a credit, but I wouldn't recommend to someone not already into the genre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Alfred Lansing
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2117)
    Performance
    (1448)
    Story
    (1457)

    In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

    russell says: "Endurance"
    "Well-Titled . . ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You wouldn't believe it if it were fiction . . . just when you think "ok, it can't get worse than that . . ." wait ten pages . . . and I thought that probably a dozen times.

    I wasn't terribly interested in the topic but picked it up due to the exceptional reviews. I'm glad I did. I very worthwhile credit even for someone with only casual interest. Superb non-fiction writing . . . I'm kind of surprised it didn't win a Pulitzer---it's of that caliber.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Reveal Lab-Tested Secrets to Surfing, Dating, Dieting, Gambling, Growing Man-Eating Plants, and More!

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Garth Sundem
    • Narrated By Garth Sundem
    Overall
    (205)
    Performance
    (178)
    Story
    (174)

    How much better would your life be if you had an army of Nobel Laureates, MacArthur ‘geniuses’ and National Medal of Science winners whispering tips in your ear about your body language, or how to resist that impulse purchase you’ll regret tomorrow, or when to sell your car - or even helping you trick your spouse into doing the dishes?

    Kim says: "Sort of scattered"
    "Tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As I believe some other reviewers have mentioned, if you read this sort of book often, you won't find much new material here.

    Maybe I'm too close to the industry, but I was struck by two things:
    1) I felt like I was reading a book proposal.
    2) Authors, DON'T read your own text unless you are acknowledged as an excellent reader of your work. (David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, etc.)

    Summation: An aging frat boy's guide to science. At times this book makes People magazine look literary . . . Dude . . .

    A waste of time and credits unfortunately.

    On a positive note, if you're interested in this sort of book, Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahnemen was BEYOND brilliant. One of the best books I've read in years.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 18 mins)
    • By Ann Patchett
    • Narrated By Ann Patchett
    Overall
    (3034)
    Performance
    (2517)
    Story
    (2530)

    We are excited to present our members with a gift that is truly unique: an original essay, available exclusively here at Audible, written and voiced by best-selling author – and fellow listener – Ann Patchett. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a very real love story, and one that is much more about the journey than the destination.

    Lee says: "Was this our holiday present?"
    "Very enjoyable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A very enjoyable "mini-book" for those of you running low on credits! :)
    (I'm assuming it's still a free download!)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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