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M

Burlingame, CA, United States | Member Since 2006

29
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 10 reviews
  • 19 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 54 purchased in 2014
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  • On the Origin of Species

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Darwin
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins
    Overall
    (389)
    Performance
    (203)
    Story
    (196)

    Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and a life-long committed Darwinist, abridges and reads this special audio version of Charles Darwin's famous book. A literally world-changing book, Darwin put forward the anti-religious and scientific idea that humans in fact evolved over millions of generations from animals, starting with fish, all the way up through the ranks to apes, then to our current form.

    M says: "A Perfect Abridgement"
    "A Perfect Abridgement"
    Overall

    "On the Origin of Species" is one of the most important books ever written. It is the most accessible of revolutionary original scientific works. Galileo's "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" is next closest. One might try reading Faraday, but not Newton, Copernicus, Boltzmann, or even Einstein. Darwin intended it as an "Abstract" for a much longer work, but in fact, this abstract needs abridgement. Darwin justifies each assertion with too many detailed examples, complaining all the while about having to omit so much. This interferes with the coherence of his argument for descent with modification by means of natural selection. Thankfully, Richard Dawkins, a celebrated polemicist and author in his own right ("The Selfish Gene," "The God Delusion") has selected out the most important chapters and the most important passages in those chapters, and then he reads them beautifully. One of the most striking revelations is how many of the arguments against his theory Darwin himself anticipated. This is a great way to "read" a book with which every educated person should be familiar.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Robert Kaplan, Ellen Kaplan
    • Narrated By Piers Gibbon
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    A squared plus b squared equals c squared. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet this familiar expression opens a gateway into the riotous garden of mathematics, and sends us on a journey of exploration in the company of two inspired guides, Robert and Ellen Kaplan. With wit, verve, and clarity, they trace the life of the Pythagorean theorem, from ancient Babylon to the present, visiting along the way Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, President James Garfield, and the Freemasons - not to mention the elusive Pythagoras himself.

    Mathias says: "Impossible to follow by just listening"
    "Warning: Illustrations and Equations"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The text version of this book probably contains three equations and two illustrations per page. The stalwart narrator is constantly reading some text and then saying, "Illustration." He also has to plod through hundreds of equations which he clearly doesn't understand. Whoever chose this as an audiobook probably didn't read it or even look at it. However, I'm glad to have it in this format. While I can't be more than about five minutes from consulting the text version on Kindle, or better yet, in the paper book, the audiobook allows me to take my eyes off the text for short periods of time while I'm shaving, waiting for the train, etc. It is an eclectic history and discussion of the Pythagorean theorem written in an off-the-wall style that I, for one, enjoyed, e.g., "… we needn't carry rigor as far as mortis in order to satisfy our legal longings and understand better what we want of a proof."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ready Player One

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ernest Cline
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9800)
    Performance
    (9118)
    Story
    (9118)

    At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

    Travis says: "ADD TO CART, POWER UP +10000"
    "Virtual Fun - Even for the Wrong Demographic Group"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a virtual reality adventure set in the year 2040 with a teenaged protagonist/narrator and nice readable prose that suggests a target audience of young adults. On the other hand, it is full of 1980s nostalgia and trivia that should appeal primarily to 40-somethings, especially early gamers who played "Dungeons and Dragons" with their friends, "Pacman" and "Joust" at the arcade, and "Zork" on the PC. While I watched my share of "Family Ties" episodes, heard Devo songs, saw "Heathers," and played an occasional game of "Pacman" (after all, I have been in a pizza parlor), I am not in the same demographic as the recently deceased character, Bill Halliday, who created the book's virtual world, the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). I'm not too young, I'm too old. (You can stop reading now.) Even so, I still loved the book, and I've shared it with friends from my generation who are loving it too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Peter Atkins
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (43)

    The laws of thermodynamics drive everything that happens in the universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the cooling of hot metal - everything is moved or restrained by four simple laws. Written by Peter Atkins, one of the world's leading authorities on thermodynamics, this powerful and compact introduction explains what these four laws are and how they work, using accessible language and virtually no mathematics.

    Diane Walter says: "Accessible, but needs the figures"
    "Exactly What I Was Looking For"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This entertaining discussion of the laws of thermodynamics was originally published in hardback as "Four Laws that Drive the Universe." The author, Peter Atkins, is a famous chemist and the author of textbooks on physical chemistry and popular science books like "Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science." Atkins is also a famous atheist in the Richard Dawkins "God Delusion" mold, but his atheism does not figure into this book, which I downloaded because I was interested in a moderately rigorous review of thermodynamics. This was partially because of the relationship between the 2nd Law and Information Theory (see Gleick's "The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood), partially because of CP Snow's famous essay on "The Two Cultures" in which he compares ignorance of the 2nd Law to ignorance of Shakespeare's "Hamlet", and partially because it has been 35 years since I took physical chemistry in college. This met my needs perfectly. Atkins manages to balance readability/listenability with scientific rigor. I do own the print version of this Very Short Introduction and referred to it periodically as I listened. For example, I would look at the figures in a chapter before listening to it while jogging. I doubt it would work well without the print copy. I have downloaded several of these Very Short Introductions as audiobooks, and this is one of the better ones.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Short Stories of William Somerset Maugham, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By W. Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (185)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    Winner of the 2001 Audie Award for Classic Fiction, this is an unparalleled presentation of Maugham's stories, complete with sound effects and music.

    Jack says: "Jewels!"
    "Excellent stories, excellently read, but ???"
    Overall

    Having read ???Of Human Bondage??? and ???Cakes and Ale,??? I already knew that I like Maugham???s writing and storytelling. I also enjoyed the Charlton Griffin productions of the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre. Unlike two of the other reviewers, I like the music and sound effects, all apparently chosen by Griffin himself. He both reads and produces these recordings. However, I am surprised and dismayed by the mispronunciations. Come on Charlton. You are a great reader, but if you take the time to choose and add music and sound effects, you should also take the time to learn how to pronounce ???antipodes.???

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Cater Street Hangman

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Anne Perry
    • Narrated By Christina Moore
    Overall
    (319)
    Performance
    (209)
    Story
    (210)

    When a maid in the upper class Ellison household is strangled, Inspector Pitt is called in to investigate. He finds a world ruled by strict manners and social customs, where the inhabitants of the Ellison's neighborhood appear to be more outraged by the thought of scandal than they are by murder. Inspector Pitt finds a most unlikely ally in Charlotte, the Ellison's spirited daughter. But as the murders continue, Charlotte and Pitt find themselves drawn together by more than the investigation.

    Judith A. Weller says: "Reader is Davina Porter not the one listed."
    "19th Century Murder Tale by 20th Century Murderer"
    Overall

    Take Jane Austen???s ???Pride and Prejudice,??? set it in London 75 years later, and add a serial killer; then you have ???The Cater Street Hangman??? by Anne Perry. It is a good novel that stood well on its own when it was released in 1979, something like 15 years before it was discovered that the author Anne Perry is also the convicted murderer Juliet Hulme. Reading (listening to) it now with that knowledge adds a distinct creepiness to the story.

    As per a previous review, the reader is Davina Porter, and she does a great job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Meaning of Night: A Confession

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Michael Cox
    • Narrated By David Timson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (54)

    "After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." So begins the extraordinary story of Edward Glyver - booklover, scholar, and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness, and a chance discovery convinces him that he was right. Greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. Overwhelmed by his discovery, he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he knows is rightfully his.

    Angie says: "Boring and predictable but great narrator"
    "First Read "The Woman in White""
    Overall

    The writing, the period detail, and the narration are all excellent, but why read a novel by a modern writer set in Victorian London and written in the style of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins when you could read Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins instead? One answer could be that the modern writer is able to treat some subjects, such as sex and violence, more openly than Victorian writers. "The Meaning of Night" is somewhat more explicit in these areas, but not much more. Another answer is that you have already read every good contemporary thriller set in and around Victorian London. If you are such a connoisseur of Victorian literature, you will love this book. If not, just read the originals. Start with "Great Expectations," "Bleak House," or "The Woman in White."

    My other problem with this book (and this is not a spoiler) is that it starts with the narrator's random murder of an innocent stranger. This was unnecessary to an otherwise well-plotted story. Maybe the author was trying to suck the reader in, but it turned this reader (listener) off to the point that I almost gave up on the whole book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Dangerous Fortune

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2346)
    Performance
    (1057)
    Story
    (1074)

    In 1866 tragedy strikes at the exclusive Windfield School when a mysterious accident takes the life of a student. Among the student's circle of friends are Hugh Pilaster; Hugh's older cousin Edward, dissolute heir to the Pilaster banking fortune; and Micky Miranda, the handsome son of a brutal South American oligarchy. The death and its aftermath begin the spiraling circle of treachery that will span three decades and entwine many lives.

    Rebecca says: "Predictable Fun"
    "Entertaining but flawed historical fiction"
    Overall

    Many authors write historical fiction set in and around the Victorian age that is entertaining and not particularly profound. Fun books in this category include James Clavell's "Noble House" and "Gai-Jin," and Michael Crichton's "The Great Train Robbery." Ken Follett has written two of my favorite historical entertainments, "Pillars of the Earth," and "World Without End." (Set in medieval, not Victorian, England.) But none of these books resorts to inventing a fictional South American country that is central to the plot nor does any stray as far from the actual events of the time as "A Dangerous Fortune." I don't think even Sidney Sheldon fabricated a country in his potboilers. One likes to think that the history in these books has at least a reasonable semblance to reality. For me, this was a fatal flaw.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Genome War: How Craig Venter Tried to Capture the Code of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By James Shreeve
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (162)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (31)

    On May 10, 1998, biologist Craig Venter, director of the Institute for Genomic Research, announced that he was forming a private company that within three years would unravel the complete genetic code of human life, seven years before the projected finish of the U.S. government's Human Genome Project. Venter hoped that by decoding the genome ahead of schedule, he would speed up the pace of biomedical research and save the lives of thousands of people. He also hoped to become very famous and very rich.

    Neil says: "DNA/Microbiology 101"
    "A great story, well told"
    Overall

    "The Genome War" is the fascinating story of the race to sequence the human genome. Shreeve tells it perfectly, describing the principal players, reviewing the history and the science, covering the politics and the business. It "reads" like a crime novel, with similes right out of Raymond Chandler and narrative devices out of Elmore Leonard. The reader was perfect too.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Beat the Reaper: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Josh Bazell
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1128)
    Performance
    (420)
    Story
    (420)

    Meet Peter Brown, a young Manhattan emergency room doctor with an unusual past that is just about to catch up with him. His morning begins with the quick disarming of a would-be mugger, followed by a steamy elevator encounter with a sexy young pharmaceutical rep, topped off by a visit with a new patient - and from there Peter's day is going to get a whole lot worse and a whole lot weirder.

    Chuck says: "Great book and great narrator"
    "Farfetched. Funny, and Fantastic!"
    Overall

    This is a great audio production of an enjoyable first book by a talented young writer. I am consumed with envy that Josh Bazell actually wrote a thriller about a hospital intern -- something I imagined doing 20 years ago when I was an intern. Of course he will sell the film rights for big money, drop out of medicine, and spend the next 20 years writing books, talking to Terry Gross and Oprah, and generally enjoying fame and fortune.

    So what strikes me as farfetched in this book? Not that the protagonist starts his career as a teen aged Mafia hit man by killing four armed hoods with his bare hands -- after they have tied him to a chair. Not that he then visits Auschwitz as something of a Nazi hunter. Not that he has oral sex in a shark tank with his girlfriend -- after a gun battle. Not that he finishes medical school in the witness protection program to become an intern at a cross between St. Elsewhere and the House of God. No, what bothers me is that, as an intern on the medicine service, he performs a laparotomy and gastrectomy, with an emergency splenectomy thrown in. How unrealistic!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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