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Ryan

University administrator. Commuter cyclist. Dad, husband. Loves books of course. Aspiring Jedi Knight and Warder.

Nepean, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2013

32
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 113 ratings
  • 292 titles in library
  • 26 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
3

  • The Power of Passive Investing: More Wealth with Less Work

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Richard A. Ferri
    • Narrated By Sean Crisden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    Time and again, individual investors discover, all too late, that actively picking stocks is a loser's game. The alternative lies with index funds. This passive form of investing allows you to participate in the markets relatively cheaply while prospering all the more because the money saved on investment expenses stays in your pocket. In his latest book, investment expert Richard Ferri shows you how easy and accessible index investing is. Along the way, he highlights how successful you can be.

    Ryan says: "Educational and eye opening"
    "Educational and eye opening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an excellent book for those who are looking at getting into the market, but don't want to buy and trade stocks. The premise of the book is essentially: you can't beat the market. The evidence he provides to support this proposition is overwhelming.

    After reading this book, there's a very good chance you'll look at your investment strategy and make some significant changes. For the better I would add.

    One caution. As a novice I found portions of this book quite technical and way over my head, but the central concepts are clear enough, so about 2/3rds of the book is understandable, enjoyable for those who don't work on Wall or Bay Street.

    Really liked the narrator. He did a great job!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Money Management Skills

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Michael Finke
    Overall
    (195)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (152)

    The goal of money management is to maximize our happiness at every stage of our lives. Whether you are a novice investor or a seasoned pro, starting your first job or contemplating retirement, these 24 straightforward lectures are an excellent primer for making successful financial decisions at every stage of your life. Professor Finke takes you on a tour of some of the most widely available financial products and tools, from mutual funds to life insurance to college savings accounts.

    Martin Fierro says: "Excellent practical overview of critical topic "
    "Should be mandatory class for all"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While basic, this course does a very good job of outlining the basics of personal finances. And while American, the vast majority of the principles and recommendations are universal. If you have a young adult or teen living with you, get them to listen to this book. It should be a mandatory course in all grade 12 students across North America. Narration was solid and there's humour throughout, so it the 6-plus hours goes by quickly. Highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Armin Navabi
    • Narrated By Dave Richards
    Overall
    (171)
    Performance
    (155)
    Story
    (152)

    Why There Is No God provides simple, easy-to-understand counterpoints to the most popular arguments made for the existence of God. Each chapter presents a concise explanation of the argument, followed by a response illustrating the problems and fallacies inherent in it. Whether you're an atheist, a believer, or undecided, this book offers a solid foundation for building your own inquiry about the concept of God.

    Jeffrey Schwartz says: "An excellent overview of atheism."
    "Entertaining listen. Loved the narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Loved the length of this book. Nothing was drawn out. Very efficient at making its many important points. And funny! The narrator was perfect for the topic. He did incredulity quite well and at several points I had a good laugh. Highly recommend for anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Joel Osteen
    • Narrated By Joel Osteen
    Overall
    (811)
    Performance
    (712)
    Story
    (711)

    Pastor Joel Osteen writes how we can generate Friday's level of contentment and joy every day of the week. Known as a man who maintains a constant positive outlook in spite of circumstances, Osteen has described this message as a core theme of his ministry. Combining his personal experiences with scriptural insights and principles for true happiness, he shows listeners how every day can hold the same promise and opportunities for pure joy that they experience at five o'clock on Friday.

    Hai T Nguyen says: "Life Changer"
    "Not sure what to make of it...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Context first: I'm a proud at atheist; want to be a better person; had never listened to or read anything by Joel before.

    With that out of the way, here are my reflections on this book. First and foremost, Joel does have a gift for communicating. The man's voice and delivery. Like butter. And his writing. He did not use a single "big" word in the entire book - not one, yet he still makes his point almost each and every time. It's makes the book so darn accessible and charming. So big props for that.

    When I bought this book, I knew that there was going to be a lot of God going on (are we really supposed to capitalize God... is that his name... really?; or his he just a god... but I digress). And indeed, God and praising him and asking for his forgiveness is a big part of the book. But if you can prepare yourself to ignore all the God-stuff there are some interesting messages like how to have a better attitude, paying it forward, being a mentor, and having empathy. In fact, some of the chapters are very good. He makes a compelling argument regarding why it pays to be in the moment, or to be positive regardless of your circumstances. And for good measure, he throws in several tear jerker stories about situations he's encountered. These underline his points, though I'm not sure I believe all of them. Some seem a bit too perfect to be real, but I think it's also the case that Joel is a genuine guy, so maybe they're legit. You can be the judge.

    So that's the good. Here's the but... so upon listening to his book and then doing my own additional reflection, it's clear to me that Joel is one hell of salesman. "If you just pray, if you just forgive, if you believe in the value of yourself... I mean if you really believe this stuff, you will achieve victory. And by victory, it could mean just about anything just as long as give thanks and heap praise on God and then yourself, you will reap all the rewards that life has to offer. You will achieve your true potential". Umm... actually, having a positive self-image, mindset and self-confidence is important, but addressing your addiction, depression, your debt, your marriage, getting a promotion, starting your own business, etcetera, etcetera takes among other things: hard work, motivation, goal setting, sacrifice, patience, more hard work, innate talent, and then throw in a bit of luck/fate or even call it divine intervention if you want and then maybe you'll lick whatever has got you down or you'll achieve your goal. But then only maybe. Life is challenge and many times it is not fair. It's not all rainbows, praise and victory. Joel and this book doesn't go out its way to acknowledge these hard facts.

    So while I felt good while felt good listening to this book and felt that it did offer some important insights, I do think it sugar coats life. Achieving happiness seven days a week is certainly a mindset, but let's be honest "friends" (Joel's word not mine) having the success that the author suggests is available to you, me and everyone else, requires all of us to put some serious skin the game. As long as keep that reality tucked into your pocket while you listen to this book, it's probably worth your time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lucifer's Hammer

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3853)
    Performance
    (2426)
    Story
    (2444)

    The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known....

    DJM says: "Good story from front to back"
    "Great story. Still resonates!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Despite being written in the late 70's, this story is still very relevant. I mean what's changed since the 70's. The internet and yoga pants. The technologies and social-political issues remain the same but instead of referring to Vietnam, we refer to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The story is great. While I concede that the first third is a tad trying as it sets up characters for the final 2/3rds of apocalyptic-goodness, it's important investment. I loved the science and all the hypotheticals around what would happen if a massive asteroid hit the earth and really enjoyed the pace and atmosphere of the first few days following the strike. Pretty riveting stuff. And all throughout you're having a real debate with yourself regarding whether or not one particular act or decision is what you would have done to survive the end of the world. This is opposed to my usual status of gobsmacked as some idiot main character clearly makes the most stupid decision you've ever read in the history of (zombie apocalypse) literature. I mean ever.

    IMO: This story is about 50 times as good as the glut of end of world zombie tripe that is out there right now (then why do you listen to it if it's so bad....don't ask). Granted it's a bit long, but on the whole, it's worth it.

    Finally - props to the narrator. A very nice job. Does a good job selling different voices, including the female ones and gets the right tone and deliver throughout.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • War and Remembrance

    • UNABRIDGED (56 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    Overall
    (2171)
    Performance
    (1857)
    Story
    (1844)

    Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues here in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

    aaron says: "What can I say that hasn't already been said??"
    "Tremendous in every way!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of War and Remembrance to be better than the print version?

    Didn't read the book, but what I can say is that the narrator was superb. As many others have indicated, his accents, the way he did female voices and overall pacing is the simply best I've heard.


    What other book might you compare War and Remembrance to and why?

    That's tough. I've only read a few stories that are as epic as this one. While it's a different genre, I guess Lord of Rings might qualify due to is expansiveness, its rich character development, the writing (his use of English language is first class) and for its sheer ambition. Whether you're a history buff or have any interest in WW II this book really must be listened to. It is compelling in every way and I came out having learned more about this period of history than all my readings and learning combined. In everyway it's something special.


    Which character – as performed by Kevin Pariseau – was your favorite?

    He was a perfect match for the book. He nailed all the accents. He did a great job across the board and unlike many narrators, he can portray female voices very well. But if I had to pick, he really hit a home run with the German SS officers, particularly when they were enraged. Gripping really.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I don't think you can listen to this book and not have a strong reaction to the Jews and how they were treated. Wouk does an incredible job of describing all of the sad and very maddening details. Like the allied populations, even now it seems unbelievable that a modern country could collectively enact this despicable program. It explains and informs many of today's world events. Very sad and terribly frustrating stuff.


    Any additional comments?

    I stumbled across this book. I'd never heard of it and hadn't heard of the author. Perhaps it's because I'm Gen X'er. I'm not an expert, but I feel this book deserves to discussed and talked about by my generation, those younger than me. It's a compelling and approachable story that touches on some truisms and realties that should never be forgotten. I guess its length would be part of the problem, but that aside, it really something more of us should be reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Karen Miller
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    Overall
    (183)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (121)

    The Separatist Alliance, with ruthlessness and treachery, is beating the Republic to every strategic target. But after a costly clash with General Grievous for the planet Kothlis, Anakin has a mission that will focus his anxious mind. Alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi, he is posing as a long-lost native of Lanteeb, an impoverished world on the Outer Rim. This seemingly unimportant planet has drawn the interest of the Seps and Anakin, and Obi-Wan soon discover the disturbing reason.

    Robyn says: "good storyline poor character portrayal"
    "Some merit but lacks panache"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So I'm a certifiable Star Wars junkie. Not the worlds biggest fan but I've probably read about 40 or expanded SW novels over the years. Some are great, many are ok, some are downright atrocious. This is in the ok category.

    What I liked:
    - Really liked the dynamic between Obi Wan and Anakin. Miller actually does the best job I've read of the many authors who've tried to tackle this tandem. She gives the relationship depth that most other books lack.
    - I really like how she portrayed the emotional disaster that is Anakin. This is a big criticism of the Clone Wars. While the TV show provides glimpses of Skywalker's psychology that leads him to the Dark Side, Miller does an excellent job of portraying this character's many emotional foibles that eventually lead to his fall. I see some people writing this is over done but I appreciated the opportunity of exploring his instability.
    - This is one of the more gritty SW novels I've read. Kinda reflects the SW universe where Han shot first (if you're a fan you'll know what I mean)

    What I didn't like:
    - While the advantages of writing a story about Obi Wan and Anakin are obvious, it's also really tricky because there are so many other stories and SW cannon around these characters. Yoda and Bail Organa too. The author takes liberties and this results in much gnashing of teeth. You could have wrote this story with a couple of secondary characters and still had a fine story but not creating inconsistencies with the ample material that covers these two main characters.
    - The overall story plodded along and was predicable. It definitely didn't hook me in.
    - Why are all bad guys so stupid in SW (Thrawn excepted). Despite having an ultra secure facility, the Jedi basically have full run of the place. They crawl through several hundred meters of air vents - really! Air vents is gotta be the oldest trick in the book! But I guess if you think about it, this is exactly what Han and Luke did in the first movie on the Death Star, but I digress. Sigh... SW isn't perfect.
    - The author relies way too much upon Anakin's technical skills; we know that he's handy with fixing things, but some of the situations he resolves with this skill verge on silly.

    So in a nutshell, it was ok read. Certainly not the greatest SW novel I've read, but an better than average attempt that gets the Obi Wan-Anakin relationship done right.

    BTW: the narrator was great. I think it's the gentleman from the Clone Wars. A nice touch!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Things They Carried

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tim O'Brien
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1818)
    Performance
    (1673)
    Story
    (1660)

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

    Mel says: "Heavy Load"
    "Not sure what to make of it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not sure what I was expecting with this novel. It's been labelled a modern classic by many and to be sure it is a very good novel of a war veteran who tells a careful story of his experience in Vietnam and those of his friends. I guess I've read and heard so much about various experiences about this war - both before, during and after - that I felt this didn't offer me any deeper insight into what it was like to fight in this futile conflict.

    I suspect when he wrote this in 1990 perhaps there weren't as many well articulated reflections on this experience and this stood above the rest in terms of its honesty and literary rawness. Or perhaps I'm just blind to the impact of Mr. O'Brien's novel. Or, it could be a generational thing or that I'm not American. Again, I'm not sure.

    So in the end, it didn't resonate with me as much as I thought it would.

    All that being said, the novel does have many powerful and almost unbelievable moments and Bryan Cranston does a superb job of narrating. He was in complete command of this story. He gave it more depth and heft in my opinion and definitely made a worthwhile listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By Hunter S. Thompson
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1175)
    Performance
    (677)
    Story
    (685)

    In Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, Raoul Duke (Thompson) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (inspired by a friend of Thompson) are quickly diverted to search for the American dream. Their quest is fueled by nearly every drug imaginable and quickly becomes a surreal experience that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. But there is more to this hilarious tale than reckless behavior, for underneath the hallucinogenic facade is a stinging criticism of American greed and consumerism.

    Ryan T. Nichols says: "Ron McLarty?"
    "Was this for real...?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had not seen the movie and only knew a bit about Hunter S. Thompson, so my expectations re: the story and narrator were not set. And every so often, I'll pick up a classic story if only to try and give myself a modicum of coolness in the circles a run in ;-).

    First the story. I had to look up Gozo Journalism half-way through the listen and am glad I did because it helped give important context to the book. While it's a story, it's also an article on the Mint 400 and a Law Enforcement conference in Vegas - seen through the eyes of a degenerate drug fiend and his equally deprived friend. In a way it's genius. It's reporting that tells of events while at the same time intertwining an interesting historical sub-culture of the US and this combination greatly enhances the story that the reporter is trying to put across. And what a sub-culture it is! I thought I was wild as a teenager and young man, but my achievements are but an anthill to Thompson's Everest. The drugs and shenanigans these two guys get into... And the drugs. Wow there's a lot of them.

    For me however, it all became a bit too much. At some point it dawned on me that today there are Hunter S. Thompson's out there right now, acting like jackasses, ruining their lives and the lives of others without a care, only for their own personal gratification. We all run into them from time to time and it's not fun. I'm for having a great time, but I guess I felt it was all a bit too much and it turned me off. Perhaps that makes me old or maybe normal. I'm not sure which.

    In any event, as a piece of journalism, I guess this was and is a pretty cool piece of work, but as book to enjoy, I struggled with it. To be clear there are some really funny parts, but the parts in between made me squeamish and eventually annoyed, so at the end of the day I gave a middle of the road review.

    I did really like the narrator. I thought he nailed the two main characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Victory of Eagles: Temeraire, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Naomi Novik
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (664)
    Performance
    (408)
    Story
    (404)

    It is a grim time for the dragon Temeraire. On the heels of his mission to Africa, seeking the cure for a deadly contagion, he has been removed from military service - and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason. For Britain, conditions are grimmer still: Napoleon's resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil.

    Ethan M. says: "Good action, but the formula is starting to show"
    "Favourite In Series So Far"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Am really enjoying this series. Novik is an exceptional writer and develops many wonderful characters. Regarding this particular installment, there was lots of aerial action, new interesting characters were added in, there was a compelling storyline and I really like how she treated Captain Lawrence in the story. It deepened this character another degree, which serves to strengthen the overall series.

    Everything about this series is very cool - the historical aspect, the intelligent dragons, the human characters, the storyline, the writing and the narration. It's top notch in everyway and this particular story was my fav thus far. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • After America: Get Ready for Armageddon

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Mark Steyn
    • Narrated By Mark Steyn
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (380)
    Performance
    (338)
    Story
    (341)

    In his giant New York Times best seller, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, Mark Steyn predicted collapse for the rest of the Western World. Now, he adds, America has caught up with Europe on the great rush to self-destruction. What will a world without American leadership look like? It won’t be pretty—not for you and not for your children. America’s decline won’t be gradual, like an aging Europe sipping espresso at a café until extinction. No, America’s decline will be a wrenching affair marked by violence and possibly secession.

    Peter says: "Facts"
    "Really, Really Enjoyed!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So I'll qualify that I'm Canadian and in that regard, I've had the pleasure of reading Mr. Steyn a bit longer than most. What a treat he is - both his writing and his narration.

    While I think he goes a bit far at times with his analysis (in particular his concerns re: Muslims), on many other matters he's bang on in my estimation and to that end the US, Europe and others are on a precipice. I won't get into his analysis other than to say he covers the main topics you would expect from someone who is commenting on the political situation in the US (though he mostly stays away from the abortion and gun issue). The US and Int economy, immigration, geopolitical politics, demographics are all covered and even if half of what he suggests is going to happen, happens, it's going to be a really tough go. People shouldn't say they weren't warned.

    Outside of his interesting and provocative analyses, what makes Steyn so special is his sense of humour. He really is stand alone in this regard. Sharp analysis with an even sharper wit is a deadly combination. The pen is certainly mightier in this book.

    The cherry on the cake is that Steyn himself narrates. Intentionally (I think) he uses what I guess is a cross between a British and Aussie accent and this makes the read downright hilarious at times. The narration is excellent I suspect because Steyn knows exactly how he wants his text delivered and he rolls through the book flawlessly. He so good at it, I wouldn't be surprised to see him narrate books that are not his.

    In summary - a highly recommended, well narrated cutting political commentary regarding the end of the United States as a major power.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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