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Amazon Customer

I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

ratings
355
REVIEWS
252
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
80
HELPFUL VOTES
753

  • Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By John Milton
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (264)
    Performance
    (194)
    Story
    (194)

    Paradise Lost, along with its companion piece, Paradise Regained, remain the most successful attempts at Greco-Roman style epic poetry in the English language. Remarkably enough, they were written near the end of John Milton's amazing life, a bold testimonial to his mental powers in old age. And, since he had gone completely blind in 1652, 15 years prior to Paradise Lost, he dictated it and all his other works to his daughter.

    thomas says: "SELL YOUR SHIRT FOR THIS AUDIO BOOK!"
    "To Reign in Hell"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of the separation points I have when reading classical poetry is that it's just not the same when reading to yourself. Poetry of this caliber demands a performance. From Homer to Shakespeare and beyond, epic poetry requires the performance from a master with a strong voice to get the drama across on a higher level. Charlton Griffin delivers that punch, catapulting the listener through some of the best epic poetry ever offered in this planet's history.

    For those who only think they know the story, and especially for those who seem to think of Paradise Lost as merely "Biblical fanfic," I would invite those people to spend some time in the mind of the literary genius of Milton through this work. And as a bonus, you get the sequel for free, as well as a 2-hour bio of Milton so as to place these works in the historical and spiritual contexts in which they were written - a time of ecclesiastical upheaval. Getting the proper perspective makes all the difference when understanding and appreciating a work like this.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills - and Leave a Positive Impression!

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Debra Fine
    • Narrated By Debra Fine
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Nationally recognized communication expert, keynote speaker and trainer, and best-selling author Debra Fine reveals the techniques and strategies anyone can use to make small talk - in any situation. Do you spend an abnormal amount of time hiding out in the bathroom or hanging out at the buffet table at social gatherings? Does the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger make your stomach do flip-flops? Do you sit nervously through job interviews waiting for the other person to speak?

    Amazon Customer says: "Exactly What I Expected"
    "Exactly What I Expected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I spend a lot of time alone, both at work and at home, so my social skills are dismal to say the least. Every now and again, I feel the need to remind myself that such things are exactly that: skills. They can be improved and practiced. It's just a question of getting the basics fresh in your mind. Building a solid foundation is the always the most important part.

    And that's the entire nature of this book. Most of it is common sense to those who are have built the skill set, and even for people like me, it makes sense. Anything more than what this book covers is going to come down to personality. Some things you just can't get from a book. For what this audiobook offers, it's worth the listen if you're inclined to to give it a go.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Mike Robbins
    • Narrated By Mike Robbins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    After three years of living his dream as a professional baseball pitcher, Mike Robbins had an arm injury that benched him for good, and when this happened, he had to figure out who he was without the identity of "baseball player" - a process fraught with emotional highs and lows. He quickly realized that the self-criticism and self-doubt he was feeling are epidemic in our culture. Too often we base our value on our external world - our jobs, finances, appearance, or various other factors.

    Amazon Customer says: "20% Inspiration, 80% Biography"
    "20% Inspiration, 80% Biography"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Every so often I pick up a book like this just as a reminder on things I should already be constantly aware of, and to find a little inspiration here and there. That's essentially what this book is for about 20% of it. It's a message that boils down to a variation of the Law of Attraction: if you change your perception, you change your world. It's a good message, but... the other 80% consists of personal anecdotes of the author's personal life, and after a while it gets tedious despite the best intentions. It's ironic to me that had he presented this as a biography instead of a self-help title, it might have been better, but it probably wouldn't sell nearly as well.

    Robbins is a decent enough narrator for his own book, but as he's also a public speaker, it could have been better if he'd presented this in such a way as to harness those abilities instead of making it sound like he was just reading his book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Tim Cantopher
    • Narrated By Lynsey Frost
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    If you suffer from depression you are not alone – it affects 15.5 million in the US, and more than 3 million in the UK – and, you are much stronger than you think. This best-selling book, written by a leading consultant psychiatrist, explains that people with depression do battle with pressures and stresses that other people would run away from, until their bodies can take no more. In this book, depression is placed authoritatively as a physical illness, from which recovery is possible.

    Ronald Albury says: "Just what I needed"
    "You're Kidding, Right?"
    Overall
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    I'm really curious as to how much Dr. Tim Cantopher actually contributed to this book. I'm sure all of it is based on his research and practice, but as he's constantly addressed in the 3rd person through the whole of this book, it comes across as being authored by someone on his staff. It could be presented that way to help with the disconnect that comes from it being narrated by a woman who is clearly not Dr. Cantopher... perhaps?

    Speaking of the narrator, Lynsey Frost comes across clear and positive for the most part, but the way this book is presented, there are times when it crosses the line to sarcastic and glib, and I can no longer tell if that's the narrator or the way the material is written that causes that. She comes across as patronizing. Any classic Doctor Who fans? She sounds a bit like the 7th Doctor's companion Ace, both in voice and in tone. Again, I can't tell if it's because she's that way, or if it's Dr. Cantopher's own arrogance that's coming across in the written material. Sometimes it's actually funny, even when it's not supposed to be. Most of the time, you just want to smack her on principle, and she makes it feel like it'd be a public service to do so.

    Having said all this, this book is built on a foundation I've not heard addressed very often, the idea that the strong-willed and determined simply keep going until stress breaks their limbic system, causing the chemical imbalance that deals with clinical depression. This book specifically deals with this form of depression, though it states that people suffering from other forms can benefit somewhat from what's listed. Regardless, the diagnosis is that the illness is physical, not mental, and based on his descriptions and explanations, his reasoning is spot-on as near as I can tell from personal experience. That's the good news, and because it makes sense, I give it the extra star up to two from the one it would otherwise deserve.

    It's the treatment options that I question, and I'll try to detail some of the points here. Dr. Cantopher is part of Britain's NHS, and according to the sarcastic narrator, he's not afraid to fly in the face of what they recommend when it comes to making them look bad. He points out that psychotherapies are expensive and not really productive, and his first recommendation is that you'd treat it with drugs like you would a cold or flu, rebuking all major arguments that he's heard over the years. It really makes me wonder how many kickbacks he gets from those pharmaceutical companies. And then supposing you're convinced to take those drugs, this book makes it sound like the recovery phase is far, far worse than the original illness. The bottom line of it is "do as much of nothing as is humanly possible" while using your common sense to tell you when you've had enough.

    If it truly came down to common sense, people wouldn't be in this mess in the first place as common sense tells people suffering in this manner that they can't stop. You power a hundred amps through a 25 amp fuse, it will blow, regardless of the common sense of not powering that many amps through it in the first place. This analogy is used frequently enough to call into question the concepts of common sense and depression as being coexistent qualities.

    But wait! He addresses this very cycle of people taking the drugs, getting the recovery, and then going back to the normal cycle that started this in the first place because modern life simply won't stop, thus resulting in relapse. His solution? Take your personal happiness into your own hands! *head/desk* And you should do this by operating just below peak capacity and avoiding extremes by sticking to the middle path. Really?! I'm so glad this book has come to my rescue! I'd never have come to this conclusion on my own!

    It only gets worse from there. Having a panic attack? Don't panic. You won't die, even if you feel like you're about to. This book actually says it just like that. Don't panic during a panic attack. Your recovery from depression may actually hinge on doing pointless things as badly as you can. Meanwhile, you're supposed to realize that the productive things that led you to depression in the first place are, in fact, pointless. Please, somebody explain to me how this is not a psychological hamster wheel waiting to happen?

    Dr. Cantopher is not a psychotherapist, so of course he covers psychotherapy in the "rare" case that the drugs won't work. He also gives you tips and skills to help you sleep and combat stress that "won't work once you're diagnosed with depression," but can help before you get there. These include meditation and relaxation exercises, which have cumulative effects over time, giving up caffeinated drinks, doing physical exercise, and other such things that he outright says will only make depression worse. More examples include avoiding the following: late night TV, horror movies, thriller novels, and any work you brought home with you. Again, all of these suggestions only help if you follow his advice before you get depressed or after you recover.

    I don't know about you, but I certainly feel empowered to make meaningful choices now. *groan*

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Octopussy and The Living Daylights, and Other Stories: James Bond, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Tom Hiddleston, Lucy Fleming
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (37)

    In Octopussy," a talented but wayward British major pays a high price when his wartime past catches up with him, while in The Property of a Lady, a Fabergé egg leads Bond to a KGB spy. In The Living Daylights, Bond has a perilous rendezvous in sniper's alley between East and West Berlin, and 007 in New York (read by Lucy Fleming) sees him sent to America to warn an ex - MI6 operative about a dangerous liaison. All part of the job for 007.

    Dani says: "Enjoyable stories, excellent narration'"
    "The Final Fleming 007 Stories"
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    And so we come to the end of Ian Fleming’s original run of James Bond. This is a short story collection, published post-mortem at the height of the spy craze that was caused as a direct result of the successful 007 film franchise. Sean Connery had been in four Bond films to that point, with a fifth on the way, and by this point it was assumed (rightfully so) that regardless of any legal issues from Thunderball, 007 was going to live on for quite some time. Cashing in with the last of Fleming’s remaining stories would have been an easy call to make, especially since Fleming himself had planned to do so anyway before his untimely death.

    As with For Your Eyes Only, this collection is largely more about Bond's character than big missions against supervillains. There are four stories here: Octopussy, The Property of a Lady, The Living Daylights, and 007 in New York. Each are very different in their tone, but all of them express sides of Bond's character and Fleming's interests in ways that Fleming has given us before, so the result is a comfortable and familiar end to the original canon.

    Tom Hiddleston is a magnificent narrator on the first three of these stories, with his only flaw being that perhaps he's far too charismatic for Fleming's version of Bond. Even so, it's clear he has a great deal of fun with the character voices and performance opportunities. In keeping with my running commentary on how to pronounce "007," Hiddleston proves he's a proper fanboy and gives us a true "double-oh seven" instead of the awkward "oh-oh seven."

    The fourth and final story is narrated by Lucy Fleming. While her range isn't nearly as broad as Hiddleston's, it doesn't need to be as the last story is mostly a fluff piece. Since this these stories are her heritage, and since she's producer of this 007 Reloaded series, it's only right to have her for the final tale.

    All in all, this collection of short stories is a fun and satisfying end to Fleming's writings. It seems strange to come to the end at long last, but all good things...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Abiding in Mindfulness, Volume 1: The Body

    • ORIGINAL (8 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joseph Goldstein
    • Narrated By Joseph Goldstein
    Overall
    (96)
    Performance
    (81)
    Story
    (77)

    In the words of the Buddha, the four foundations of mindfulness (the four satipatthanas) are "the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of dukkha (suffering) and discontent, for acquiring the true method, for the realization of Nibbana." Within the quintessential discourse called the Satipatthana Sutta, we find the Buddha's seminal teachings about the practice of meditation.

    Robert says: "Not for beginners"
    "Expansion of Ideas"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Essentially, this is a lecture series recorded live in front of a group, covering the basic ideas of Buddhism. At my current level, I can only imagine what the well-versed would get out of this. I've only recently really started expanding my understanding of Buddhism as part of my continuing education on the religions of the world, and I found this easy to grasp but still difficult to fully appreciate. I think that's more the nature of the teachings, however, that understanding will unfold in time with practice and repeat exposure. I found the expansion of the ideas presented to be of immense value. To my mind, this might be as easy as it gets, if one can truly say such a thing of this system.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • In Defense of a Liberal Education

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Fareed Zakaria
    • Narrated By Fareed Zakaria
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    The liberal arts educational system is under attack. Governors in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina have announced that they will not spend taxpayer money subsidizing the liberal arts. Majors like English and history - which were once very popular and highly respected - are in steep decline, and President Obama has recently advised students to keep in mind that technical training could be more valuable than a degree in art history when deciding on an educational path.

    Howard says: "Almost"
    "Thinking for Yourself Is a Good Thing"
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    Having grown up in Texas, one of the biggest offenders against the idea of the masses thinking for itself as individuals, I can look almost anywhere in my surroundings and directly apply Zakaria's arguments. There is so much practical wisdom here that most will never see or take advantage of that it hurts. Zakaria's thoughts here are well-organized, well-defended, and transparent on every level, and yet, implementing it to its fullest goes beyond the level of the individual. Those in power have very little incentive to change the status quo because that's how they got to power in the first place. Even so, Zakaria makes an excellent case for the practicality and value of liberal arts and the power of a people who can hink for themselves. My personal suggestion would be the one path unthinkable to most: for an individual to continue such studies on their own. There are resources aplenty in the age of information. Play the game, get the degree you think you need, but never stop learning. If someone says a body of knowledge isn't necessary in modern society, there are many good reasons that knowledge should be pursued with enthusiasm.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • I Am America (And So Can You!)

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen Colbert
    • Narrated By Stephen Colbert
    Overall
    (1989)
    Performance
    (601)
    Story
    (600)

    What The Daily Show is to evening news, The Colbert Report is to personality-driven pundit shows. Colbert brings his sarcastic charm to a half-hour report, tackling the important issues of the day and telling his guests why their opinions are just plain wrong. Stephen stands for "truthiness" and his American right to copyright that word and claim ownership of it. The author describes this as a simple audiobook from a simple mind: Stephen Colbert's.

    Ty says: "Funny, but disappointing."
    "For the Colbert Nation!"
    Overall
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    If you know Colbert's brand of humor, you already know what to expect. Let that be your guide, because this is the self-proclaimed constitution for the Colbert Nation. I've got this in hardcover and on audio, for two very different reasons. The hardcover has a lot of side margin snarkiness and footnotes that you won't find in the audio, as well as stickers, signs, and other visual bits of awesome that you have to see to believe. The audio is narrated by the man himself, so it's all about presentation, which is jazzed up with music and sound effects here and there just because.

    And if you don't know Colbert's brand of humor... what rock have you been living under? The Colbert Report has now ended, but the legacy lives on!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: James Bond, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    If you try to assassinate your boss - even though brainwashed at the time - you must pay the price. To redeem himself James Bond is sent to kill one of the most lethal hit men in the world … Paco "Pistols" Scaramanga. In the sultry heat of Jamaica, 007 infiltrates his target's criminal cooperative - only to find that Scaramanga's bullets are laced with snake venom. When the end comes, every shot will count.

    Calliope says: "Good combination of book and narrator"
    "The Weakest of the Series"
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    Published post-mortem, The Man With the Golden Gun is, for me, the weakest of the original 007 books. For those familiar with the movie, put it out of your mind. In this case, the golden gun is just a gold-plated revolver instead of one of the most iconic gadgets ever conceived for film, and the man wielding it is nowhere near as cool as Christopher Lee. The more Fleming's characters describe Scaramanga, the more laughable he becomes, ultimately coming across as a cheap thug.

    The setup for this novel is interesting. A year after the events of You Only Live Twice, Bond has been missing in action, presumed dead. Now he turns up at MI-6, brainwashed by the KGB into assassinating M. The assassination fails, however, and M believes the best way to get Bond past his brainwashing and to strike back at those who did it is to send the assassin back at them. Bond's assignment is to kill Scaramanga, the freelance assassin who has given many state agencies a problem since the war.

    Bond returns to Fleming's classic stomping grounds of Jamaica, infiltrates Scaramanga's group, and spends much of the novel thinking "it'd be easy to put a bullet in him right here." For as much short as this novel is, and as detailed as it's not by comparison of the other entries in the series, this one suffers from way too much padding. This is likely due to the novel being finished by someone else after Fleming's death. Even so, it's still a good read for the diehard Bond fan. It's just not the greatest. It ultimately comes down to how big of a fan you think you are.

    To offset the story, Kenneth Branagh puts forth his thespian talents to carry this tale about as far as it can go, and he does a remarkable job, all things considered. Some voices are stereotyped, but nothing's over the top. In keeping with the running report on pronunciation, I'm pleased to say Branagh gives us a proper "double-oh seven" instead of saying "oh-oh seven."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Takuan Soho, William Scott Wilson (translator)
    • Narrated By Roger Clark
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (36)

    Written by the 17th-century Zen master Takuan Soho (1573-1645), The Unfettered Mind is a book of advice on swordsmanship and the cultivation of right mind and intention. It was written as a guide for the samurai Yagyu Munenori, who was a great swordsman and rival to the legendary Miyamoto Musashi.

    Amazon Customer says: "The Unfettered Mind of a Genius"
    "The Unfettered Mind of a Genius"
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    When a legendary Zen master corresponds to a legendary master swordsman, the result cannot be anything other than special. To have these writings today, translated with care to other languages... this is truly a great treasure.

    I've commented on other reviews that I study western swordfighting and incorporated martial arts, which I believe is more versatile due primarily to the nature of the weapon, but is considerably more limited mentally. The object is "I hit you, you hit the floor." The very things that make the martial arts an "art" is lost without the mental and spiritual applications that the eastern counterparts have refined to perfection. It's the difference between being a cheap thug and being a true warrior in every sense of the term. Honor and victory are in the warrior, not the weapon.

    In my quest to cross-pollinate these disciplines and reap a greater reward, I discovered this audiobook. I could tell you how mind-blowing it was. I could tell you how these words opened myself to a new level of understanding and appreciation. I could even tell you how further elaboration on these concepts might water them down due to how perfectly presented they are.

    But I won't. Instead, I will say that if your interests lie here, you will find exactly what you hope to find and so much more. I know I did. And I now I will listen again, because I know that such wisdom does not unfold itself in a single presentation.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hundred Years War, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Alfred H. Burne
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    After a long period of uneventful sieges and skirmishing, lasting from the death of Edward III in 1377 until the accession of Henry V in 1413, The Hundred Years War is suddenly and dramatically fanned into full fledged war in a third and final phase. Henry V is determined to end the conflict once and for all on the field of battle. After assembling an army, he crosses to Calais in 1415 and marches toward Paris.

    Amazon Customer says: "More Balanced Due to More Available Information"
    "More Balanced Due to More Available Information"
    Overall
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    I'm working under the assumption that if you went through part 1 of this, you already know what to expect, but just in case... this is a military history, not a biographical or political history. That means it's deals with logistical info and battle data such as troops, routes, supplies, equipment, and other such things. Political background is limited, so for those looking for an overview, this is not the place to begin. But for the advanced scholar of this era, this is more suited for war gaming simulations and such.

    Where volume 1 of this deals with Edward III's campaigns and has English bias due to a lack of French information from the period, this volume has considerably more to work with on both sides of the fight. There era between Edward III and Henry V is largely glossed over, mostly due to lags between skirmishes, but from the road to Agincourt to the end of the war, it's all here in magnificent detail.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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