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James C

Las Vegas, NV | Member Since 2008

44
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 61 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2014
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  • UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Leslie Kean
    • Narrated By Heather Henderson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (110)

    With the support of former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, investigative reporter Leslie Kean draws on her research to separate fact from fiction and to lift the veil on decades of U.S. government misinformation. Throughout, she presents irrefutable evidence that unknown flying objects - metallic, luminous, and seemingly able to maneuver in ways that defy the laws of physics - actually exist.

    Joseph Hayek says: "Most Reasonable Book on UFO's"
    "Refreshing Perspective on a Fascinating Subject"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like many people, I have an interest in UFOs, SETI etc. but have steered clear of books on the subject for many years because because most exhibit the less-than-objective hallmarks of authors who have clearly 'swallowed the red pill' (to quote the Matrix) and surrendered their credibility to the world of conspiracy theorists.

    Kean's refreshing work documents several incidents that aren't widely known and, most interesting to me, discusses the surprisingly extensive investigations that nations other than the U.S. have conducted into various sightings. Her sources are, for the most part, identified by name and possess good credentials; much of the book is actually their verbatim testimonials rather than Kean's editorial. Most reports and discussion were precise and specific, with counter arguments considered and rebutted.

    I don't think that every argument was rock solid but, generally speaking, the quality was far better than any other book or documentary that I'm aware of. As a military pilot, I can say that she does a pretty good job of representing the technical aspects of many reports, though she does seem to be rather easily impressed by the "Top Secret" security clearance credentials that at least one of her interviewees possessed (these clearances are so common as to be almost taken for granted among Air Force pilots and in certain other military career fields as well).

    I'm not going to completely revise my worldview based on this book, but I would say that it re-opened my eyes to the subject of UFOs to the point that I'll at least critically evaluate such reports rather than casually dismissing them as conspiracy babble.

    Regarding the narration: rather than the simple expedient of using two narrators, a female and a male, to read the author's discussion and the eyewitness reports respectively, the producers employed a single, relatively monotone female voice. As a result, it's often quite difficult to distinguish between the author's discussion and the eyewitness narratives, to the point that it actually does detract from one's comprehension of the book.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Joe Schreiber
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (260)
    Performance
    (247)
    Story
    (250)

    It's kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object that will enable the Sith to conquer the galaxy.

    Troy says: "Maul + Prison = Too Much Fun"
    "Absolutely Awful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I've been a Star Wars fan for many years: I grew up on Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, I slogged through some of the more mediocre books that followed (Truce at Bakura, the Courtship of Princess Leia, etc), and I generally enjoyed the Rogue Squadron series. The prequel books from the last few years have definitely been a mixed bag, with the Clone Commando series ranging from Okay to Good, while Traviss’ other books rate a solid “Meh”. However, the last couple of years have produced an overall upward trend, with the excellent Path of Destruction series as well as a couple of good stand alone books like Scoundrels and the Obi Wan book that is (I hope) the harbinger of another interesting series. Following the particularly good Darth Plagueis, I was riding a high and couldn’t wait to read Maul: Lockdown and learn more about the machinations of the Sith during the period leading up to the Clone Wars.

    While the premise of Sidious sending Maul to train in gladiatorial prison matches is indeed plausible and had been hinted at in Darth Plagueis, Schreiber's execution of this concept was simply atrocious: the storyline itself is incredibly contrived and core elements require a tremendous suspension of disbelief, while the dialogue, scenery and many of the characters seem to be pulled directly from a crummy, made-for-TV movie starring Nicholas Cage escaping from a 1970s prison in the southeast United States. What’s more, the author’s portrayal of Maul is not consistent with other (better) books or even within this particular disaster of a novel.

    This unabridged audiobook became almost literally painful and I started listening to it while I was about to fall asleep, confident in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be missing anything worthwhile. Please, skip this book and go read Plagueis or the Path of Destruction series if you’re looking for a Sith fix.

    P.S. Regarding the narration, Jonathan Davis is a decent narrator with a couple of Star Wars audiobooks to his credit, but he doesn’t do any favors for the already weak dialogue and his Maul voice is inconsistent because he can’t decide whether or not to use the same accent that he used for Darth Bane in the Path of Destruction series. Lockdown would have been ever-so-slightly less painful if he’d just gone with the Bane voice rather than experimenting with a different accent every time Schreiber gives Maul yet another awkward mouthful of dialogue.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Lee Billings
    • Narrated By Lee Billings
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (22)

    Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. Now, Earth's isolation is coming to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of "exoplanets" orbiting other stars, including some that could be similar to our own world. Studying those distant planets for signs of life will be crucial to understanding life's intricate mysteries right here on Earth. In a firsthand account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with top researchers.

    Dr A says: "Bloated"
    "Meandering but interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    3.5 stars. This is essentially a summary of the current state of affairs as regards the search for extraterrestrial life, though (as other reviewers have noted) the author meanders across sciences. I usually find geology history rather interesting, but it stretched my patience in this book. In addition, I felt that the author put far too much effort into building artistic prose and 'personalizing' the story through the lives of the researchers that he interviewed…no offense to the author, but I'd rather focus on the science and skip the human interest pieces. Ultimately the outlook is, at the moment, rather dour as far as space exploration and SETI goes: NASA lacks the budget for major missions, and SETI is similarly struggling for funding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tripwire: Jack Reacher, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Jonathan McClain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1365)
    Performance
    (1221)
    Story
    (1237)

    Reacher's anonymity in Florida is shattered by an investigator who's come looking for him. But hours after his arrival, the stranger is murdered. Retracing the PI's trail back to New York, Reacher's compelled to find out who was looking for him and why. He never expected the reasons to be so personal - and twisted.

    Elaine says: "Story Alive!!"
    "Mediocre story, horrible narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Typical of Lee Child, there are many critical plot elements that stretch credulity. The bad guy is over-stereotypied to the point of annoyance, but my biggest criticism is that the narrator is simply Awful…didn't they ask for a sample of this guy's work before they paid him to do the whole book?? I almost stopped listening on several occasions but was bored and plodded on as a result of a lazy curiosity to find out what happened. But don't follow my example, please.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Echo Burning

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2504)
    Performance
    (1629)
    Story
    (1632)

    Reacher is hitching through the heat of West Texas and getting desperate for a ride. The last thing he's worried about is exactly who picks him up.

    She's called Carmen. She's a good-looking young woman, she has a beautiful little girl...and she has married into the wrong family. They're called the Greers. They're a bitter and miserly clan, and they've made her life a living hell. Worse, her monster of a husband is soon due out of prison. So she needs protection, and she needs it now.

    Lawyers can't help. Cops can't be trusted. So Reacher goes home with her to the lonely ranch where nothing is as it seems, and where evil swirls around them like dust in a storm. Within days, Carmen's husband is dead - and simmering secrets send Echo, Texas, up in flames.

    S. Craig says: "The Worst Jack Reacher Ever!"
    "If you're hooked on Jack Reacher..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    …this is the perfect way to end your addiction; if you've read two or three Reacher books by the time you get to this one, you'll realize that the plot is virtually the same, only with a damsel in distress who is incredibly difficult to sympathize with. Reacher comes across as an ignorant moron who decides to be a knight in shining armor for a woman he barely knows and is even suspicious of. Don't waste your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Donald K. Yeomans
    • Narrated By Brian Troxell
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (19)

    Of all the natural disasters that could befall us, only an Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid has the potential to end civilization in a single blow. Yet these near-Earth objects also offer tantalizing clues to our solar system's origins, and someday could even serve as stepping-stones for space exploration. In this book, Donald Yeomans introduces listeners to the science of near-Earth objects - its history, applications, and ongoing quest to find near-Earth objects before they find us.

    James C says: "Suffers from a lack of graphics"
    "Suffers from a lack of graphics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This is an interesting book that gives a good summary of the current state of affairs in terms of asteroid tracking & mitigation technology. If you're interested in astronomy you'll probably enjoy this. The reason that I only gave the audiobook 3 stars is because the author refers, on numerous occasions, to graphs & charts that are supposed to be included in a PDF with the audiobook. The lack of these visual references is frustrating, and though I e-mailed Audible customer support about this issue several weeks ago, the PDF is still not available through their website.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Annie Jacobsen
    • Narrated By Annie Jacobsen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1399)
    Performance
    (968)
    Story
    (976)

    Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

    A User says: "Reality, always more interesting than fiction."
    "Poor writing and worse editing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I optimistically chose to listen to this book despite the mediocre reviews because I'm interested in national security, CIA, spy aircraft, etc., but was greatly disappointed.

    First the Good Stuff: Jacobsen actually did a lot of interviews for this book and was welcomed (past tense, before the book was published) into the network of retired contractors and military personnel who ran programs or flew planes at Area 51 over the years. To that extent, it's very interesting because she presents some interesting (and probably true) stories from pilots who flew the A-12 and other aircraft at Groom during its heyday in the mid-1960s. One particularly interesting event that I've never heard of before (and I've done a lot of reading on these subjects) involves a pilot recalled being scrambled in an A-12 to intercept a Soviet balloon that was overflying the U.S. in 1965.

    Now the Bad... The book begins with a story that could most generously be described as highly implausible about the Soviets crashing a Nazi-built flying saucer near Roswell in 1947 to scare Americans and proceeds into a surprisingly non-critical (or insightful) recounting of Bob Lazar's even less believable tales. The book then transitions from utter fabrication to a poorly written history of the Nevada Test & Training Range, atomic testing, etc, during which the author and her editor repeatedly demonstrate that they neither understand basic concepts about science and technology that any college graduate should know nor apparently have the ability to cross-check their historical information against wikipedia. The author/editor repeatedly describe historical events, technology etc. in a way that would seem unnecessarily simplistic to a high school student, their explanations running the gamut from kind-of correct (as in, what's said isn't WRONG per se but anyone who actually understands the subject matter can tell that the author clearly does not) to simply off the mark. For example, Jacobsen feels like she needs to explain the concept of stealth aircraft to her readers (whom she assumes have never watched CNN) using a poorly-chosen analogy about how animals use skin color to blend into the environment. I felt my intelligence insulted on many occasions, not the least of which was the (second) time she explained that OXCART, the code name for the supersonic spy plane, was chosen because it's ironic (get it? an oxcart is SLOW but the A-12/SR-71 was really FAST!!!). In another minor-but-annoying error that typifies the book and erodes any credibility that survived the first chapter, the author describes an Area-51 employee flying to the Site in a Constellation aircraft and then says something like "...then the twin-engine aircraft banked and..." I want to shout, "Annie, have you ever seen a picture of a Constellation? It would take you like 5 seconds to google it and find out that it has four engines."

    To summarize, her book is really a travesty to the men and women who worked on these projects over the years. It's truly disappointing that that their fascinating stories got blended into this melodramatic and otherwise poorly-written book. If you're really interested in classified projects or Cold War history then parts of this book might be interesting to you, as they were to me, but be prepared to wade through a lot of nonsense in the process.

    One final note: the narration was usually fine, I didn't even realize that it was done by the author until I came to write the review. However, I did notice that, unlike every government official, newscaster or person around the country, Annie pronounces "NASA" as "Nasaw."

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Diamond Geezers: The Inside Story of the Crime of the Millennium

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Kris Hollington
    • Narrated By Colin Mace
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    For the first time since that extraordinary day, investigative journalist Kris Hollington lays bare the bones of the case, using exclusive, in-depth interviews with the Diamond Geezers, the police, Dome workers and De Beers employees to get to the heart of the heist. Discover who was crazy enough to want to buy the hottest diamonds in the world, as well as the shocking secrets of the planet's most precious diamond collection.

    James C says: "Interesting True Crime story"
    "Interesting True Crime story"
    Overall

    I was hesitant to download this because there weren't any reviews- but I took the plunge and it was worthwhile. It's an interesting look into the criminal world and the politics of law enforcement. Narration and pacing was excellent, definitely recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Starship Troopers

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Robert A. Heinlein
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2407)
    Performance
    (1221)
    Story
    (1243)

    Join the Army and See the Universe. That is the motto of The Third Space War, also known as The First Interstellar War, but most commonly as The Bug War. In one of Robert Heinlein's most controversial best sellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe - and into battle with the Terrain Mobile Infantry against mankind's most alarming enemy.

    Michael says: "Well Aged Heinlein"
    "If you have only seen the movie..."
    Overall

    If you've only seen the movie, read the book. It's totally different but fascinating and gives more perspective/content to some of the stuff from the movie.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle

    • ABRIDGED (8 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, Tom Howes, and others
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (18)

    In Out of Captivity, Gonsalves, Stansell, and Howes recount for the first time their amazing tale of survival, friendship, and, ultimately, rescue, tracing their five and a half years as hostages of the FARC. Their story takes you inside one of the world's most notorious terrorist organizations, going behind enemy lines with vivid and haunting imagery.

    Susan says: "great"
    "Fascinating!"
    Overall

    This is a fascinating story that hasn't received a lot of coverage in the media! Highly recommend both for the content and narration. Interesting from both psychological and cultural perspectives, the authors describe their experiences over five years of captivity in the jungle in a very candid manner.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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