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J

Member Since 2003

75
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 23 reviews
  • 78 ratings
  • 617 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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  • George Carlin Reads to You: An Audio Collection Including Grammy Winners 'Braindroppings' and 'Napalm & Silly Putty'

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By George Carlin
    • Narrated By George Carlin
    Overall
    (1116)
    Performance
    (1003)
    Story
    (993)

    If one George Carlin audio is funny, then two are funnier and three must be funniest, right? That's our thinking behind this new collection. t's a HighBridge library of laugh-out-loud, award-winning recordings featuring George himself performing many of his best bits.

    Rick says: "Like a Cast of Thousands"
    "I love George Carlin, but prefer smaller dosages"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been a George Carlin fan since my teens and have enjoyed both his stand up and his occasional movie appearances (especially with Keanu Reaves). This book is classic Carlin, but it reminded me that too much of a good thing is, well, sometimes too much. Listen in small doses and it's brilliant. Go for a half an hour, and it's ok. Go for an hour, and the pieces of the book(s) which are dated really become obvious and annoying, and his with is less effective.

    The best part of the book, though, is George's narration--given the way he wrote, it is hard to imagine anyone else doing an even adequate job. I would buy this book again, but I'd be a little hesitant to recommend it to a friend--too many other good things out there.

    1 of 3 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
    (8597)
    Performance
    (6032)
    Story
    (6065)

    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.

    Lore says: "Book 1 of a great series that is not to be missed!"
    "Star Wars meets Tolkien and Darth Sauron won...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book's key premise was one that I quite enjoyed:

    "What happens when the hero doesn't win." While the plot is moderately more complex than that, the world is one in which the bulk of humankind is enslaved and working as plantation slaves. Not a pleasant place to grow up.

    Sanderson's approach to magical powers and the expenditure thereof is unique. Like any good modern fantasy writer, Sanderson's magic comes with substantial limitations, and like any great artist, painting on restricted size canvas provides greater creativity. His world is an oyster worth eating.

    The "putting the band together" piece of the book goes well enough (perhaps more "The Sting" than the "Magnificent 7"), but one of the treats for those of us who used to play D&D was finding a sentient, conversant creature related to a gelatinous cube....while I won't spoil the fun by going into the details here, having this particular henchman made for good listening.

    Finally, the interweaving of religion, faith and society is quite interesting--after all, if Darth Sauron is a god, what kind of religion would he have? Not a pleasant one, as it turns out....Sanderson's bad guys, while they lack depth (as in most fantasy milieus), are pretty scary SOBs. Enjoy thew world, and enjoy all 40 odd hours...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Way of Kings: Book One of The Stormlight Archive

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10995)
    Performance
    (8428)
    Story
    (8478)

    Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter. It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor.

    Lore says: "Wow - 45 hours long and leaves you wanting more!"
    "Wheel of Time, Game of Thrones, and Way of Kings"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sanderson covers a substantial amount of ground in this solo effort--I first discovered him through the last of the Wheel of Time series, and thought I would try this as a follow-up. Treating Sanderson as a ghost-writer, though, would be a severe disservice. Not only does he have his own voice, the internally consistent world that he puts together has several interesting spins both on magic and on swordplay--I particularly like how magic is not clearly dominant, and how magical swords and armor don't just happen to be mithral mined by elves or some such.

    Like any excellent fantasy novel for adults, the political intrigue is at least as interesting as the swords and sorcery, with a good mix of humor, honor and treachery. Unlike the Game of Thrones, however, this particular read is a bit more in the PG rated range than R. Tactics matter more than in Game of Thrones, and betrayal, when it occurs, was much less obvious to me (With GoT, I would frequently find myself thinking "No, don't go in there!!!, which didn't happen with this book).

    Be warned, however, this book is not easy to put down, and may keep you up listening later at night than you intended to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil in the White City

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Erik Larson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4528)
    Performance
    (2216)
    Story
    (2242)

    In a thrilling narrative showcasing his gifts as storyteller and researcher, Erik Larson recounts the spellbinding tale of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Also available abridged.

    D says: "A Rich Read!"
    "Chicago: 1893: World's Fair and Serial Killer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story is a compelling one--set at the turn of the century in Chicago in 1904, the author covers both one of the largest serial killers in American History and weaves him in and out of the architectural extravaganza that is the Chicago World's Fair.

    That is probably both the strength and the weakness of the book, however--I feel that there were possibly two short books available here rather than one longer one. While the writing is good, and the narration well performed, the interweaving of the stories neither deepened my understanding of either subject nor provided me with a greater emotional impact moving back and forth.

    I would recommend the book if you generally enjoy reading history, particularly mid-AMerican history, if the serial killer bit doesn't turn you off. If you're more into serial killer histories, this one is interesting (due to his relatively unique, custom made house) but much more conjecture due to the lack of detail in the historical record.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
    • Narrated By Po Bronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (932)
    Performance
    (335)
    Story
    (334)

    NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring - because key twists in the science have been overlooked.

    Carin says: "I liked it and I don't even have kids."
    "Good enough that I bought five paper copies..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had heard of this book from a number of other parents with children of various ages, but was not all that convinced--often, titles like this conceal a bunch of crappy, half-baked not well thought out ideas.

    That's not the case for nurture shock.

    Working in tech, the name Po Bronson was familiar enough to me that my first thought was "What does he know about child rearing"--after all, the book I knew him by was "Nudist on the Late Shift", so there isn't a lot of obvious correlation. It turns out that he felt the same way--he's just a dad who was trying to do things the right way, and started looking at the studies on child rearing, and the way that children actually turn out.

    Similar to Freakonomics, it turns out that when the entire set of science related to child raising (including teenagers) is consolidated, there are many, many surprises in store.

    A few examples:

    Peter and the Wolf vs. George Washington and the Cherry Tree--which is more effective in stopping children from lying, and why?

    Parents who argue with their teenagers frequently vs. rarely--how does the perception of the adult differ from that of the teen in the relationship?

    Is spanking good, bad or indifferent? Does it matter who spanks, where and when?

    How "colorblind" approaches to child raising are the wrong way to go...

    and much more.

    If you buy it, be warned--you may end up buying others for other parents you know so that you can talk and compare notes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2233)
    Performance
    (1780)
    Story
    (1780)

    The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

    Robert says: "Interesting but wandering"
    "Not bad, but a summary would have been fine"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book covers the history of the psychopath test, and starts with a rather interesting inquiry into someone who faked madness to escape punishment for assault...and then ends up with an examination of similar behavoir in everyday life, including such famously non-empathetic individuals as Chainsaw Al Dunlap, the former CEO of Sunbeam, and a few others.

    Interesting take-aways:
    * Just because people score highly on the test, they are not necessarily dangerous--the test mainly shows a lack of empathy.
    * 1% of society typically scores high enough to be considered psychopathic
    * 4% of senior management at large companies scores similarly
    * Journalists (especially on TV) like people who are crazy, but not TOO crazy (the book became an exercise in navel gazing towards the end).

    If you're interested in how the mind of a serial killer works, have a look instead at Morrison's "My Life Among the Serial Killers". It's an excellent work by someone who spent 30 years working with what most people consider to be psychopaths.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs)
    • By David Simon
    • Narrated By Reed Diamond
    Overall
    (220)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (96)

    A highly acclaimed journalistic masterpiece and true crime classic, Homicide illustrates a year in the life of the detectives of the Homicide Unit in the city of Baltimore. David Simon, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, spent 4 tears on the police beat before taking a leave of absence to write this book.

    Larry says: "As real as it gets"
    "Nowhere near as good as "The Wire""
    Overall

    I loved "The Wire", and did not love this. Simon's is writing, rather than storytelling Homicide, and while a few of the vignettes are interesting, unless you are a die-hard fan, there are better things to do with your time.

    I would not buy again, would not recommend this to a friend. It gets two stars rather than one because (a) some of the stories held my attention and (b) Simon's worst writing is still better than some other author's best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Deborah Cadbury
    • Narrated By Deborah Cadbury
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (39)

    With a cast of characters that wouldnt be out of place in a Victorian novel, Chocolate Wars tells the story of the great chocolatier dynasties, through the prism of the Cadburys. Chocolate was consumed unrefined and unprocessed as a rather bitter, fatty drink for the wealthy elite until the late 19th century, when the Swiss discovered a way to blend it with milk and unleashed a product that would conquer every market in the world.

    Gil says: "History of chocolate and so much more"
    "I love chocolate, I like business, but..."
    Overall

    This particular book brought together two things that I independently am interested in--chocolate and business. Unfortunately, this is a case of two great tastes that don't go that well together. The book is slow, and while there are interesting factoids, I feel like the wikipedia information on the subject is probably at least as well written and as interesting. I would not buy it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Legends: Stories by the Masters of Fantasy, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Robert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Sam Tsoutsouvas, Kathryn Walker, Frank Muller
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (39)

    Return to the amazing worlds created by some of fantasy's most famous writers. Robert Jordan presents "New Spring", a stunning prequel to his best-selling series The Wheel of Time. Terry Pratchett relates "The Sea and Little Fishes", an enchanting incident set in Discworld. And Orson Scott Card spins another compelling yarn of Alvin Maker called "Grinning Man".

    J says: "Great Writers, Great Narration, Money well spent"
    "Great Writers, Great Narration, Money well spent"
    Overall

    While I had read the Jordan novella before, it happened to be one of my favorites in the series, where Lan and Moiraine first meet...and, unlike some of his other books, it is short enough to be finished without abandoning your friends/spouse for a week.
    Pratchett's story is a Granny Weatherwax tale, where she maxes out her Headology skills. If what I just wrote sounds interesting, you will love the short--if not, get one of Pratchett's earlier books first.
    Card surprised me--I've only read his first two books, and having one set in 1820s America really surprised me. The short is still fantasy, given the subtle powers of some of its characters, but certainly not of the conventional "set in 15th century England" type...and for that reason, that particular novella was my favorite of the three.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Deathstalker War, Episode 1: The Taking of Mistworld

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Simon R. Green
    • Narrated By Richard Rohan, Terence Aselford, Colleen Delany
    Overall
    (212)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (83)

    Fate had made Owen Deathstalker a rebel hero in an empire choked by tyranny. He stoked the flames of revolution, gathering the forces that, one day, must strike against Imperial authority. That day has come. Owen and the rebel forces must now bring the uprising to a fiery conclusion. But the desperate cause will need more than an army of courageous fighters to succeed, for the cunning Empress Lionstone has evil surprises to unleash.

    J says: "Had five parts, only finished two"
    "Had five parts, only finished two"
    Overall

    This is one of the worst books I've listened, or tried to listen to. While I am a science fiction fan, and understand the whole concept of willing suspension of disbelief, this particular writer does not seem to understand that you only change a couple of things at a time.

    For example, the book has psionics, energy weapons, projectile weapons and swords all occurring in the same combat selections. While this is well and good, anyone with a smidgen of military history knowledge understands that projectile weapons beat swords. I won't claim to know for sure how psionics and disruptors work, other than to say that the cardboard characters on the side of the bad guys don't seem to either.

    The worst part, however, is general lack of creativity, whether reflected in character naming (Jane Psycho, Jack Random, Cat the burglar) or in the interpersonal interactions. If you like Heinlein for his characters, Asimov for his plots and Vinge for his amazing societal characterizations, you will be categorically disappointed by this particular edition.

    Finally, the dramatization is annoying rather than exciting. I do wish the authors would have listened to one of the Terry Pratchett novels narrated by Steven Brooks before deciding to include a wide range of special effects, as Brooks does excellent characterizations without going over the top on the sounds of magic.

    Spend your money elsewhere--I wish I could.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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