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Joel

Joel Szerlip

NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States | Member Since 2007

26
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 51 reviews
  • 92 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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  • The Sins of the Father: Clifton Chronicles, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Archer
    • Narrated By Alex Jennings, Emilia Fox
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (789)
    Performance
    (645)
    Story
    (639)

    Only days before Britain declares war on Germany, Harry Clifton, hoping to escape the consequences of long-buried family secrets, and forced to accept that his desire to marry Emma Barrington will never be fulfilled, has joined the Merchant Navy. But his ship is sunk in the Atlantic by a German Uboat, drowning almost the entire crew. An American cruise liner, the SS Kansas Star, rescues a handful of sailors, among them Harry and the third officer, an American named Tom Bradshaw.

    Margaret Campbell says: "Can';t Wait for the Next One!!!"
    "One of the Best Storytellers of Our Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been among many greatly anticipating the second book in the Clifton Chronicles and I am happy to report that it doesn't disappoint. I would say that The Sins of the Father is a faster moving and even more intriguing story then the first. The book jumps literally right as the first left off giving you answers to questions that we have been wondering about since the end of the first book. The Sins of the Father covers a lot of ground in terms of years, but once again ends with a nail biting cliffhanger that makes the wait for Book 3 even more difficult to bear.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (1415)
    Performance
    (1264)
    Story
    (1278)

    Michael Lewis returns to the financial world to give listeners a ringside seat as the biggest news story in years prepares to hit Wall Street....

    Darwin8u says: "Making the system deliver on its promise."
    "Interesting Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't read a ton of non-fiction but every once in a while a book will come along that peaks my interest. The last one I read was the fantastic 1776 (almost ten books ago for me). However a couple of months back Michael Lewis had an excellent interview on Jon Stewart about his new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt and I instantly went on Audible and purchased it.

    Flash Boys is a book about high frequency trading and how it has changed the market completely. I know so little about the way in which the stock market actually works that the idea that a ton of money is being made at fractions of a second was fascinating. But what's even more fascinating is that the people who are considered great traders have no idea what their actually doing and how it all works. A good number of the big executives of financial firms have no idea how HFT (high frequency trading) actually happens. There is this almost laissez-faire attitude about it.

    Although I admittedly didn't follow everything, the broader message of this novel was fascinating. A group of traders start to see something is wrong with the market and set out on personal quests to both understand it and bring change to the market. I very much enjoyed Flash Boys and am really glad I read it. It's a really interesting story and one that shed a lot more light on a market I still don't understand but understand far better then i did before reading this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Mercedes: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1651)
    Performance
    (1552)
    Story
    (1553)

    In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

    Marci says: "King and Patton create a winning combo"
    "Middle of the Road Summer Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mr. Mercedes follows retired detective Bill Hodges who never cracked the Mercedes killer case. Brady Hatfield (Mercedes killer) mowed down a group of waiting applicants at a Job Fair and got away with it. What ensues from that point is a pretty straightforward thriller albeit an enjoyable one. The story goes back and forth between the retired detective and the deranged serial killer showing the two paths getting closer and closer to converging into a last second stand off.

    Even though Mr. Mercedes was entertaining I had major issues with a lot of the side characters. They were paper thin and offered nothing to the story. I wanted more of Hodges and Hatfield and less of the fluff. None of it felt believable or added it to the story. Can we really believe that a decorated retired detective would want the help of a minor? King took so many leaps of faith for Hodges to even get close to connecting the Mercedes Killer with Brady Hatfield that at several points I chuckled.

    King has said this is the first book of a trilogy, but I don't see it. It feels like King wanted something in the line of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but this is not even close. A fun summer read but nothing more then that.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4562)
    Performance
    (3833)
    Story
    (3841)

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Jimmy says: "Epic, Remarkable, Easy & Enjoyable!"
    "An Epic WWII Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read the first novel in The Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants a couple of years back. I enjoyed it a lot but for some reason I put off reading the second book. After starting a couple of books that I couldn't get into I decided to jump back in. For those that don't know this is a trilogy of novels that takes place from 1900-2000 and follow a number of different families from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.

    Winter of the World takes place right after the events of Fall of Giants. So right right at the end of World War I and the rise of Nazi Germany. What's fascinating about these novels are reading about the daily lives of those who lived through these world wars. Forget the battles but what about the people back at home? What was it like for a young German girl in Berlin for example who opposed to Nazi's? It's an interesting question and one that Follett does a great job with and was by far my favorite part of both Winter of the World and Fall of Giants.

    My biggest issue with both books but more so Winter of the World was keeping track of all the moving parts. There were a number of characters in the first book that now have families of their own and trying to keep track of it all is difficult. There were several times where I knew there was significance to an interaction but couldn't place where these characters paths crossed in earlier novels.

    Needless to say even though I couldn't place all of the characters I still really enjoyed Winter of the World. It does a great job of having some of the key characters involved with many of the major world events of the time period (WWII, Pearl Harbor, Atom Bombs). I'm now even more excited to finish off the trilogy this fall when Follett releases the final book in the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Auschwitz Escape

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Joel C. Rosenberg
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (344)
    Performance
    (311)
    Story
    (314)

    A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz’s beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans - especially Jews like Jacob and his family - are treated like dogs. When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare - trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.

    Joel says: "A heart warming read."
    "Incredible Tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Going into any book about The Holocaust you know your in for an emotional roller-coaster. The Auschwitz Escape follows the fictional tale of Jacob Weisz a German Jew who ends up in the worst of all of the death camps, Auschwitz. The novel is beautifully written. It keeps a very steady pace while taking the necessary time to build up characters and give us even more to cry about later.

    Like many other books on The Holocaust, this will absolutely pull a few tears out of anyone that reads it. The brutality of these camps and all that the Jews had to endure were horrific. It's a tough read and there were a few days that I just couldn't get myself to listen to the book. There are some scenes during Jake's time at Auschwitz that are a level of brutality that is hard to even listen to.

    For all the excellent writing there were some plot elements that get in the way from this being a truly stellar book. The last quarter of the book turns Jake away from the character we read about for the first three quarters of the book and makes him more of an action hero. It didn't fit his character nor his personality which made it seem out of place. There were also a few times where things seemed to work out to perfectly for Jake just to help move the story forward.

    All in all I would still highly recommend this novel. Even with its few faults this is still one of the best novels I've read in 2014. Not to mention the last couple of chapters were a beautiful way to finish off what is a great story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Valerie Estelle Frankel
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (127)
    Story
    (126)

    Game of Thrones fans watch in delight as the epic battle of Lannister and Stark entangles the Seven Kingdoms. But only the sharpest notice how these houses echo Lancaster and York in the War of the Roses. Druids, Catholics, and even Zoroastrians wander through Westeros, reframing their religions for a new world of fantasy. But how medieval is Westeros? Did lady knights and pirates really battle across Europe? The audiobook Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones explores all this and more, from the echoes of history to the symbols and omens our beloved characters.

    andrew says: "Good short listen, about GOT"
    "Cash Grab"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Winter is Coming sort of felt like a cash grab. I'd consider myself a fan of the series but not nearly as hardcore into Game of Thrones as many. Like most I read the books and am now thoroughly enjoying the HBO series. After receiving a credit on Audible I purchased Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones to try and get a better idea of what is to come for the rest of the series.

    The first half of Winter is Coming is far more interesting then the second. More then anything it focuses in on Jon Snow and Daenerys Targareyen and their importance to the series. There was some interesting pieces pulled from both the show and books that I overlooked but that do point to the two connecting at the end of the series. Where this book lost me is its parallels to real-life history and religion. I'm sure George R. R. Martin used things from this world to influence his novels but that was far less interesting to me then the predictions for the end.

    Even for the couple of dollars the book costs, I'd rather have read Game of Thornes message boards then read this one again.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Love Life

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Rob Lowe
    • Narrated By Rob Lowe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (313)
    Story
    (312)

    Love Life serves up another delicious selection of intimate stories and observations from Rob Lowe's life, told with humor, warmth, and brutal honesty. After writing his acclaimed debut effort, Lowe felt he had more stories to share and many more friends to introduce. The result is a touching memoir about the business and craft of acting, the pitfalls of success, family, love, and much more.

    LESLIE DOHENY-HANKS says: "Insightful, interesting and uplifting"
    "Missing Chapters of Stories I Only Tell My Friends"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Last year I read Rob Lowe's first book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. It was one of the best autobiographies I've ever read. Rob Lowe is an actor I really never followed until he joined the Parks and Recreation cast and became the star of that show. His character on Parks and Recreation was one of the main reasons why Jenn and I sticked with the series. He played the extremely positive boss/health nut who "literally" never had a bad thing to say about anyone.

    Rob Lowe recently released his second book, this one titled Love Life. I thought going in that this might be a deeper look into his teen idol sensation which made for some of the most interesting stories in his first book, but it really wasn't. More then anything Love Life was actually about his deep love and passion for life. The book jumps all over the place, from his days as a child, to minutes before he finished the first draft of the book. Unfortunately unlike the first book this one just jumps around so much that its hard to understand what his main goal was for this book.

    That's not to say that it wasn't highly entertaining, because even with the books shortfalls its still a very entertaining book. Having got the audio version, Rob Lowe reads his own novel and for me that really makes an autobiography. You can hear his love for his family, his deep devotion to his friends, and the genuine honor he feels for the life he's lived.

    Unfortunately even with all the good vibes, Love Life just feels like the cut/missing chapters of his first novel. There still highly entertaining but lack the substance and the structure to make it a lasting memory like his first novel. Rob Lowe has a sincere talent for writing and I cannot wait to see what else he writes in the future.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Final Empire: Mistborn Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7683)
    Performance
    (5162)
    Story
    (5196)

    For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison.

    Aaron Brown says: "Unique Magic system, good plot twists."
    "Great High Fantasy Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading my first Brandon Sanderson novel a couple of months back (Steelheart) I decided that I would give one of Sanderson's older books a go. After a lot of research I decided to start the Mistborn series and am glad I did.

    Like any first book in a series, Mistborn: The Final Empire takes a long time to get going. Possibly longer then most. There was a point (probably a quarter way through) that I wasn't sure if I was even going to finish it. However just when I thought about throwing in the towel, the stars aligned and the novel started to take shape. At the half way point of Mistborn: The Final Empire I was hooked.

    This probably is the first novel that I've read that would be considered a "high fantasy" novel. The book has a very in-depth magic system that might sound extremely nerdy but is super easy to understand and get on board with. The way in which Sanderson is able to build this world and get you to buy in is pretty great. There were a few times that I rolled my eyes at a line of dialogue but for the most part the character development is top notch.

    Mistborn: The Final Empire wasn't my favorite fantasy novel but I think it laid the ground work for an interesting series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Clifton Chronicles, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Archer
    • Narrated By Alex Jennings
    Overall
    (402)
    Performance
    (342)
    Story
    (348)

    Be Careful What You Wish For opens with Harry Clifton and his wife Emma rushing to the hospital to learn the fate of their son, Sebastian, who has been involved in a fatal car accident. But who died, Sebastian or his best friend Bruno? When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him. But Don Pedro Martinez intends to install his puppet, the egregious Major Alex Fisher, in order to destroy the Barrington family firm just as the company plans to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham.

    cristina says: "The demise of a great, fun author"
    "Where is the Series Going?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Be Careful What You Wish For is at the very least a better novel then the previous entry into the series, Best Kept Secret. However for a series that started off as splendidly as this, its still a let down from the first two novels.

    Be Careful What You Wish For picks up minutes after the cliffhanger from Best Kept Secret and continues down the winding road of mysteries that is a Jeffrey Archer novel. For the first two novels of the series all the twists and turns seemed justified. Unfortunately this family feud that continues in this novel just isn't as interesting a driving force as before. Sure there are reasons why the Cliffton's have enemies but the lengths in which both sides go to seems extreme.

    I've found all the novels enjoyable, but not with the same vigor I had at the start of the series. I'm concerned as well that the series doesn't have enough power behind it to make it to the end of the planned seven book series. The good news is this novel does end with an interesting cliffhanger that leaves me just interested enough to come back again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Replay

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Ken Grimwood
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    Overall
    (932)
    Performance
    (587)
    Story
    (594)

    In 1988, 43-year-old Jeff Winston died of a heart attack. But then he awoke, and it was 1963; Jeff was 18 all over again, his memory of the next two decades intact. This time around, Jeff would gain all the power and wealth he never had before. This time around he'd know how to do it right. Until next time.

    Jonathon says: "Entertaining and more than worth the price!!"
    "Groundhogs Day Meets Back to the Future II"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a giant sucker for all things time travel. One of my favorite novels of all time 11-22-63 by Stephen King focused on a very finite couple of years in time. Alternatively Replay by Ken Grimwood follows Jeff Winston who dies of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 43 and wakes up as his 18 year old self. The twist of this time traveling novel is that their isn't a DeLorean to drive to the past but instead his life continues to rewind to his college dorm until October of 1988 where he will eventually die again of a heart attack and start over again.

    Each Replay for Mark is vastly different. The world around him is the same but his decisions are vastly different. For example the first time he travels back he decides to bet big on sporting events (like in Back to the Future II) and starts his own financial company called Future Inc. The second time he goes for love and family, and so on and so on. The book feels like a cross between Back to the Future and Groundhog Day. But more then anything it really does make you think. If I was to wake up at 18 and have the ability to replay my life what would I do.

    What's probably the most fascinating (no spoilers I promise) is the heartbreak. Just by telling you that Mark gets to replay his life means that anyone he loves in one life he will have to start over with at 18 years of age once he reaches 1988. A pretty crazy idea right?

    To me though Replay is haunted by this amazing idea for a novel. Or in other words Ken Grimwood bit off more then he could chew. I think the 20+ year time frame that Mark gets for each replay is far to vast for him to make each replay compelling. And even with some twists half way through the story the end of the novel left me disappointed. The closure the book gives feels inconsistent with the rest of the novel. It felt like he had a great idea but couldn't figure a clean way to wrap it all up.

    I truly enjoyed Replay more for the thought provoking concepts that it brings up rather then for the novel itself. Which is a shame because the base concept of the novel is beyond fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5536)
    Performance
    (5265)
    Story
    (5274)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold ""human error"" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "The Cream of the Crop"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely loved The Martian. After reading countless five star reviews I knew that I had to give the book a shot even if it wasn't my preferred genre, and what I was left with was one of the most compelling novels I've read in a long time.

    The Martian follows Mark Whatney an astronaut who is stranded on Mars after a failed mission. The novel follows his quest for survival on the red planet and what a quest it turns out to be. The book starts out quick and doesn't let off the gas until the end. This is one of those novels that I wanted more of even when I wasn't reading it. It consumed me for the week or so that it lasted and in all honesty I wouldn't mind re-reading it today.

    I just loved this book. It had an incredible pace and had enough ups and downs and surprises to keep me at the edge of my seat. But most of all I loved Whatney as a character, he wasn't a super hero (even if he wanted to think he was) but he came up with crazy ways to stay alive. Oh and the book is heavy on science which most of the time I wouldn't have loved but for some reason it really worked here. Please read this book its incredible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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