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mike

Member Since 2010

ratings
115
REVIEWS
21
FOLLOWING
9
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
21

  • Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By A. J. Jacobs
    • Narrated By A. J. Jacobs
    Overall
    (420)
    Performance
    (358)
    Story
    (354)

    A. J. Jacobs tackles his most challenging experiment yet: a yearlong mission to radically improve every element of his body and mind - from his brain to his fingertips to his abs. First, he had to tackle a complicated web of diet and exercise advice, most which is nonsensical, unproven, and contradictory. Second, he had to consult a team of medical advisers. And finally, he had to subject himself, over the course of two years, to a grueling regimen of exercises and a range of diets and nutritional plans.

    Niall says: "A comic tries a little of everything"
    "Like Reading a Really Long Magazine Article"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book title explains it all. I'm not sure what i was hoping to find when i decided to read this, but for some reason I was disappointed. I suppose I was hoping to hear more about cutting edge research and definitive advice.

    But as Jacobs says fairly early in the book, there's not much in the way of definitive anything when it comes to exercise and nutrition. None of the experts or the studies can agree about much beyond the basic stuff.

    Jacobs mentioned about 5-7 times in his book that he is a writer for Esquire magazine and it shows in his writing, which is witty and entertaining. But like most magazine articles, his writing just presents information (we can't call them facts because, again, the experts disagree a lot) and then moves on to the next thing. Jacobs doesn't appear to be much in the mood for drawing conclusions or even analyzing the information he's presented. He just randomly picked something to research and try and then waited to see if there was any change.

    Even as the book draws to a close, there is little in the way of revelation or even a sense of journey's end. It all just seems like he set a 2 year limit for when he would stop trying new things and when the time came up he just stopped.

    Essentially, reading this book was similar to listening to a friend tell a long winded story that they didn't think through to realize that didn't have an ending for. They just kind of trail off and the listener and the storyteller wind up staring at each other in awkward silence wondering how to get out of the situation. This book was kind of like that. It was amusing at parts but ultimately awkward.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Rebecca Skloot
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell, Bahni Turpin
    Overall
    (4019)
    Performance
    (2574)
    Story
    (2604)

    Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first immortal human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than 60 years.

    Prisca says: "Amazing Story"
    "Overwritten and Overly Dramatic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found the premise of this non-fiction book fascinating. It teased the idea of immortality as a possibly attainable thing and teased that one woman's cells were responsible for some of the most important advances in medicine. But after reading the book it became clear that these teases were for dramatic effect and, while not untrue per se, take the facts out of context. Lacks' cells aren't immortal really. Rather, the amazingly aggressive cancer cells that killed Lacks are "immortal". And those cells aren't really immortal either, they still need to be maintained to be kept alive and multiplying. As a by-product, those cancer cells contain Lacks' DNA. And to be clear, the cancer cells haven't caused the advances in medicine. The scientists who developed the processes and treatments were the heroes. But it helped to have an aggressive, self-replicating virus to make experimentation easier.

    Other problems I had with this book were the needless details about Lacks' relatives. I understand that due to the stubborness of the family, they wouldn't consent to the writing of the book without some of this information being brought out. They wanted Lacks' story to be told (but they also wanted to sue people for violating her privacy when they tried to put Lacks' name and family DNA information in medical journals - ???).

    However, some of the information is simply filler (the fact that one of Lacks' children went to prison for murder is a complete waste of time). The only reason why I believe Skloot put these stories in is because, as she admitted, she had a sheltered life prior to her experience with the Lacks family and this was her first time actually interacting with members of another race and lower socio-economic means than what she was used to. She found it interesting.

    Towards the end of the book Skloot even tries to defend her reasoning for putting this information in the book. It comes off as apologetic, which seems that someone (possibly her publisher or editor) tried to tell her it was a bad idea. She should have listened.

    But the biggest issue I had with the book also happened towards the end of the book. Skloot shifts her telling of events to include herself as a participant. She begins to tell the reader about some of her research and interacting with Lacks' family. The entire tone of the book changes and it almost sounds like a fictional novel. Skloot writes more than just about going to certain facilities and speaking with people. She goes on about her feelings and, at one point, has a religious experience. It's unimportant, self aggrandizing and damages any impartiality that she had about any of her research. It also caused me to question how impartial she was in the conveying of any of the information in the book. In an age when fair and balanced journalism seems to be harder to find each day Skloot should be ashamed of this particular writing choice.

    I picked up this book for the possible scientific information inside and about Lacks as a curious by-product. I presumed that a certain amount of information about Lacks' history was necessary to give the book a human aspect that would prevent it from becoming a scientific journal bore. However, I didn't buy this book to hear about the shenanigans Lacks' children got into after she passed away or about Skloot.

    You'd be better off reading the free Wikipedia entry (if you still feel like spending, donate to the website). You'll save time and get a clearer understanding of the facts.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Kevin Hearne
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9874)
    Performance
    (8805)
    Story
    (8783)

    Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old - when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries....

    Chris says: "Finally, a modern day fantasy that really hits the"
    "Don't wait, just get it and listen to it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was one of the first books suggested to me by Audible. At the time I didn't have confidence in their recommendations. I was also put off by the label of "fantasy" and thinking that it was more like Lord of the Rings type of fantasy. While I've enjoyed that type of fantasy in the past, I was kind of burned out with that at the time. So I kept passing on it. Then a friend of mine told me to read it and I still let it pass. Then it showed up on one of Audible's lists again and I figured I should try it out.

    Before the end of the first chapter I was kicking myself for not listening to it the first time I saw it. Almost every character in the book is likeable in some way, or at the very least respected/understood. But not only are the characters likeable they are properly developed and are used cleverly to enhance the story.

    Hearne's description of settings and people are perfect for making the world feel real and yet not too much to feel bogged down.

    The use of magic isn't used as a poor-man's plot device either (kind of a pet peeve of mine). There are clear rules for how it works in this universe and Hearne does an expert job of thinking through how it all works together and explaining it without sounding like a stale stereo instruction manual.

    The plot moves along at a good pace and while there are plenty of breaks from the main plot, the interludes are just as entertaining (Oberon is quite possibly my new favorite character in all of literature!).

    Naturally there are clever pop-culture references, but Hearne doesn't take the cheap way out. He is clearly a geek of the highest order (yes, that is a compliment) and it seems that Hearne isn't doing those for entertaining filler but also out of a love for the genre. Some other writers do it in a way where it seems like they're pandering for geek cred. But with Hearne it comes off as genuine and endearing as his characters.

    But the narrator deserves some praise too. Luke Daniels does simply a fantastic job. In fact, he's probably a rival for Wil Wheaton in his mastery at bringing the characters to life. In this book Daniels is tasked with a variety of human, canine, gods and demons, some with specificly different accents. Daniels puts on a truly awesome one man show where each character's voice is distinct, regardless of age, race, gender, or even species. I don't know if they give out awards for narration but Daniels would be my vote simply for his "Oberon". I don't give out 5 stars often but my overall experience with this book was a "5" partly because Daniels performance was a "5".

    Bottom line: stop thinking about, get it and listen. You'll be glad you did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Michael Scott
    • Narrated By Denis O'Hare
    Overall
    (2319)
    Performance
    (1188)
    Story
    (1209)

    Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest alchemist of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty. The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives, but only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

    Allison says: "High Fantasty in a modern world setting"
    "Only for readers with HUGE attention spans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was intrigued by the concept of the book and it's "is it fiction or not?" inspiring premise. I don't mind reading young adult fiction, in fact, some YA titles have been some of my favorite reads. When I finally became a reader I learned quickly that just because a book falls into the YA category doesn't mean it can't have depth and be entertaining. But this book's pacing was sooooo painfully slow I couldn't even finish it.

    The writer kept having the characters go over the same plot points as a means of underscoring how amazing and fantastic the experience was. "Flamel is immortal?! But that means he must have met people..*gasp*... from history!!!" I get that characters are supposed to be stunned or experience disbelief in a sci-fi/fantasy setting, but once they've agreed to go on the adventure surely their must be more interesting things to talk about than the same shocking disbelief over and over.

    The characters were flat and two dimensional and when they were put in danger, I found myself not really caring if the bad guys won or not. There was no sense or scope of tension for me as a reader to care if anyone was hurt or if the day was saved.

    The narrator did a fine job. Nothing exceptionally good or bad about that aspect of the listen. I just don't think he had much to work with.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tough Sh-t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Kevin Smith
    • Narrated By Kevin Smith
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1172)
    Performance
    (1097)
    Story
    (1100)

    Take one look at Kevin Smith: He's a balding fatty who wears a size XXL hockey jersey, shorts, and slippers year-round. Not a likely source for life advice. But take a second look at Kevin Smith: He changed filmmaking forever when he was twenty-four with the release of Clerks, and since then has gone on to make nine more profitable movies, runs his own production company, wrote a best-selling graphic novel, and has a beautiful wife and kids. So he must be doing something right.

    Pamela says: "Such a likable slob!"
    "Kevin Smith speaking some of his wittiest tales"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've ever seen An Evening With Kevin Smith, attended any of his public appearances, listened to his podcats or seen any of his movies then you know how he speaks and what his story telling is like. This is pretty much the same thing. And, if you're a fan like me, then you know that this means this book is golden.

    Smith details his rise to fame from convenience store clerk to media darling, media devil and back again. It's not all fun and games either. There are poignant moments aplenty, and they aren't just for shock value. In true storyteller style Smith returns to these moments to underscore the lessons he learned in life and pass these nuggets of wisdom forward.

    True Smith fans (Smithsonians?) will have heard one or two of these stories before (like the first intimate moment he shared with his now-wife). But even if the stories are familiar, they are told with more backstory here. And, lets not forget that when you hear a story from Smith, read by Smith, it's like reminiscing with a friend; even if the story is familiar, it's still fun.

    And it's not always about Smith either, he's not afraid to dish dirt on some famous names. My favorite reveals were how sweet George Carlin could be (that one made my wife cry), and how much of a jerk Bruce Willis could be.

    Of course Smith can be a little crass at times but if you don't mind that kind of thing (I certainly don't), then pick it up. if that's something that ruins things for you, you might want to read about a different indie filmmaker.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid

    • ABRIDGED (4 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Simon Pegg
    • Narrated By Simon Pegg
    Overall
    (242)
    Performance
    (211)
    Story
    (212)

    The unique life story of one of the most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek. Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: actor, comedian, writer and self-proclaimed supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times.

    Diana says: "WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE ABRIDGED?!"
    "A Down To Earth Guy And A Down To Earth Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like Simon Pegg, this is probably for you. Having been a fan if his since Shawn of The Dead, I thought it might be interesting, and I wasn't disappointed. In a world where all the cool kids are suddenly trying to prove their geek cred, it's fun to find someone who truly has a love for all things geeky. Someone that becomes succesful simply by treating all the nerdy culture with the reverence it deserves (a la Joss Whedon and Chris Hardwick). Well' another name for that list is Pegg.

    Here Pegg interspersies charming, witty, and sometimes sad anecdotes about his life with a cheeky fictional story about him as a billionaire crimefighter with a robot sidekick. each part is entertaining in its own way. The fictional tale is a classic Pegg story filled with homages and jokes about genitalia that you can't help snickering at. But the good stuff is definitely hearing the details that made Pegg who he is. His background in show business, his family relations, awkward times with girls and experiences since becoming famous offer great and entertaining insight into who Pegg is when he's not on set or in front of an audience. And these instances make me more of a fan.

    It must also be said that while others probably could have read this book, it was especially rewarding hearing the words with Pegg's own delivery.

    Bottom line, if you like Pegg's body of work, you'll enjoy this read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The 48 Laws of Power

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Robert Greene
    • Narrated By Don Leslie
    Overall
    (1341)
    Performance
    (845)
    Story
    (851)

    Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this piercing work distills 3,000 years of the history of power into 48 well-explicated laws. This bold volume outlines the laws of power in their unvarnished essence, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun-tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, and other great thinkers.

    Ricardo L. says: "Not a how to guide .."
    "For those who enjoyed The Art Of War"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The description of this book is pretty spot on. It details several guidelines that will help the reader acquire and enhance their power in most of their relationships (work, friends, romantic, etc) or even in martial arts settings. While some of the laws conflicted with themselves a majority of them were straight forward and made a good bit of sense when thought about.

    After a brief explanation of the law, the author gave historical examples of adherence or violations of these laws. A couple of the historical stories werent that good of an example and a few others weren't all that interesting, but most were solid in driving the points home.

    The narrator was probably the most distracting for me as he used the same rhythmic inflection of his voice for just about every sentence. At first it just seemed overly dramatic. But it quickly became annoying and then distracted from the book itself.

    Id like to read it again right after a reading of The Art Of War to see how they fare against one another.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Stephen Fry
    Overall
    (5565)
    Performance
    (3172)
    Story
    (3195)

    Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last 15 years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

    John says: "HHTGH - Lightly Fried"
    "Quirky and imaginative but lacks direction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Im usually a big fan of quirky humor. I like for the narrative of a book or a movie to side track every so often to break up the rhythm. So the first hour or so into this book I was amused. That changed over the course of the next hour as the micro stories of the mad universe dominated overall story arc.

    For those who haven't read it, the story follows Arthur and his alien friend Ford as they flee earth. Wackiness then ensues as they meet various other aliens and get into nutty adventures. Side information about the other beings or places they interact with are explained by the titular hitchhikers guide that Ford has with him.

    My favorite stories are the ones where people and events are changed as a result of the activities from the story. Sometimes the hero becomes stronger after being tested, or the villain gains redemption, or maybe the reader learns a valuable lesson, etc.

    This is one of those other kinds of stories. Where there isn't a lot of activity per se. There is information being exchanged and there is dialogue, but there isn't a lot of people actually doing things. Instead they talk about things have already happened. Now I enjoy these other kinds of stories too. But only when the lesser tales are entertaining enough to make the trip worth my time. I didn't feel like that was the case with this book. The lesser tales and jokes of the universe only detracted from the main point of the story and after a while that kind of humor got old.

    I think I might have enjoyed this book more when I was in my pre-teens.

    The narrator did an OK job, but I dont think he had much to work with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2122)
    Performance
    (1334)
    Story
    (1340)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "A nerdy delight (even for the non-nerdy)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Disappearing Spoon was a fun read, as nerdy as that may sound. The author, Sam Kean, uses the elements of the periodic table to introduce some random facts and great stories behind the elements discovery or some of the challenges experienced by the scientists that discovered them. The result is a collection of tales that inspire one to seek a greater understanding of the physical world around them and take greater interest in the technological wonders of our 21st century existence. That’s what I was hoping to get out of the book. What I didn’t expect was also to be challenged to be more observant of the dangers of acquiring these wonders. The environmental and socio-political costs of these discoveries are also brought out (and of course a new respect for the science department of USC at Berkley).

    The narrator, Sean Runnette, was perfect for this book. His voice and demeanor perfectly captured the calm yet intrigued tone of your favorite high school chemistry teacher; the one that made the worst class exciting and kept you hanging on the details of every story.

    One drawback of the book was that it got my mind racing too much, and the segues between the elements/stories weren’t always clear. Frequently I found myself daydreaming about ideas and concepts conjured up from the narrative, and when I had returned to reality, I had missed half of the next story. But even when I went back, I noticed that the lines separating where one story ends and another begins we're kind of fuzzy.

    Another drawback was slightly too much talk about the make up of the elements. All of the electron jumping talk grew to be a bit much after a while. I understand why it had to be in there but toward the end of the book I didn’t need to see the math anymore. I just wanted the “captain dummy speak”.

    While it was a little heavier than most would probably like for a summer read, it was still pretty great.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Mindy Kaling
    • Narrated By Mindy Kaling, Michael Schur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2638)
    Performance
    (2440)
    Story
    (2456)

    Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

    Tabitha says: "Love it!"
    "Spritely and funny but lacks focus"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book was funny. Mindy Kaling is intelligent and has a quirky sense of humor that is all over the map. However, this proves to be a double edged sword for her book. It just lacks a consistent stream of thought to keep me reading and come back to the book after I had to stop it.

    A fun read but a little slim for the credit and while it's similar to Tina Fey's book, it's just not the same caliber.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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