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miyaker

Member Since 2001

60
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 333 ratings
  • 604 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
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  • Coal: A Human History

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Barbara Freese
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (104)

    The fascinating, often surprising story of how a simple black rock altered the course of history. Yet the mundane mineral that built our global economy, and even today powers our electrical plants, has also caused death, disease, and environmental destruction. In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey that begins three hundred million years ago and spans the globe.

    Chad says: "About 1/2 good, 1/2 not so good"
    "Good, but more than a hint of bias"
    Overall

    A fascinating subject, and while not as captivating as "Salt" or "Cod" by Mark Kurlansky, the author still holds your interest while describing the history of coal.
    Unfortunately, her bias is clear - coal is and was a force of evil. The book dwells on the negatives from coal. While clearly the fuel has major environmental implications in the present world, even the historical discussion focuses almost solely on pollution, mining danger, etc. References to the historical positives are turned negative (i.e., coal permitted the rise of cities, but the book focuses on slums. Coal permitted improved production, the book talks about it's use in making weapons of war...)
    When the author turns to modern times, that bias makes it a little hard to fully trust her claims. Discouraging, because there's a lot of intriguing information here on global warming and particulates.

    It's still worth a listen, but I'd have preferred the work of a balanced scientist instead of a lawyer that reached a conclusion before starting her research.

    The narration is excellent - clear and well paced.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Thunderstruck

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Erik Larson
    • Narrated By Bob Balaban
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (564)
    Performance
    (214)
    Story
    (220)

    In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men: Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication. Their lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

    Michael Jones says: "Marconi, murder, mix well"
    "Excellent Book, Narration is fine"
    Overall

    While perhaps not up to the level of Devil in the White City, I found Thunderstruck completely captivating. Just as in his previous book, both plots are very engaging. As the author admits in the prologue, sometimes the detail is just a bit over the top, but the vast majority of the time the extra bits of trivia are quite interesting.

    While the narrator starts out speaking quickly at the very beginning (and only the beginning), I had no other issues with the narration. It was clear and never detracted from the story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Pattern Recognition

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By William Gibson
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (974)
    Performance
    (251)
    Story
    (252)

    Cayce Pollard is an expensive, spookily intuitive market-research consultant. In London on a job, she is offered a secret assignment: to investigate some intriguing snippets of video that have been appearing on the Internet. An entire subculture of people is obsessed with these bits of footage, and anybody who can create that kind of brand loyalty would be a gold mine for Cayce's client. But when her borrowed apartment is burgled, she realizes there's more to this project than she had expected.

    Laura says: "Not Unabridged"
    "Excruciating"
    Overall

    I stuck with this for the entire book, thinking somehow it would have to get interesting. One of the worst books of the 50 or so I've listened to in the last few years.
    Gibson's intricate prose and frequent use of metaphor suit his previous work well, creating a unique world that one could otherwise never imagine. But when describing cities and products we're already familiar with, it's just overblown and silly.
    Worse yet is the plot. The subject of the "mystery" is hopelessly uninteresting - I kept thinking we'd find a reason to care, but never did.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Rick Atkinson
    • Narrated By Rick Atkinson
    Overall
    (52)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    For soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, the road to Baghdad began with a midnight flight out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in late February 2003. For Rick Atkinson, who would spend nearly two months covering the division for The Washington Post, the war in Iraq provided a unique opportunity to observe today's U.S. Army in combat.

    miyaker says: "Interesting, informative and balanced"
    "Interesting, informative and balanced"
    Overall

    Unlike the multitude of reports heard during the war from embedded journalists, Atkinson's experience as a war historian provides a depth to our troops' experience during the war. While I was initially hoping for a more detailed summary of the war as a whole, as in Atkinson's brilliant Crusade (about the '91 Gulf War), this view from the 101st Airborne's perspective is still captivating. Unfortunately, the abridgement prevents the book from being completely engrossing. Whole chapters are skipped, with a separate narrator providing a summary. The book still flows reasonably well, but it's a pain to have things keep fast-forwarding all the time.

    Only a few portions of the book, primarily the last chapter, deal with WMD and other potentially "policital" topics. Here Atkinson occasionally does insert commentary, but it generally feels like that of a historian's analysis. For the most part, it's a review of facts - for example, WMD weren't found and Iraq - Atkinson hardly "sneers" over this.

    I wish it weren't abridged, and I hope he writes a Crusade-style book on the full war, but this one is still well worth a listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Simon Winchester
    • Narrated By Simon Winchester
    Overall
    (524)
    Performance
    (187)
    Story
    (190)

    The legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa (the name has since become a by-word for a cataclysmic disaster) was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly 40,000 people. Beyond the purely physical horrors of an event which has only very recently become properly understood, the eruption changed the world in more ways than could possibly be imagined. Dust swirled round the world for years, causing temperatures to plummet and sunsets to turn vivid.

    rwise says: "Great subject, great writing, great voice"
    "Informative if arguably somewhat dry"
    Overall

    From an educational standpoint, the amount of information in this book is phenomenal. No aspect of the eruption is missed, from the volcano's history to its science to its political ramifications. The author's personal experience with geology, volcanoes in general, and this specific volcano clearly shows. The downside of this mass of information is that the book often feels like it is off on a tangent. The writing is eloquent yet often dry, as can be the author's narration. Listening to it in the car, I found myself often losing interest and turning on something else. I love the subject matter, but I just didn't find this book captivating.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Runaway Jury

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (765)
    Performance
    (330)
    Story
    (332)

    In Biloxi, Mississippi, a landmark tobacco trial with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake begins routinely, then swerves mysteriously off course. The jury is behaving strangely, and at least one juror is convinced he's being watched...

    Elizabeth says: "What fun!"
    "Phenomenal - Grisham's Best"
    Overall

    A twisted and brilliant book, with manipulative, conniving characters on all sides.
    Excellent narration, easy to understand, and the voices used for the different characters are readily distinguishable.
    While the movie was pretty good, the book is far better - deeper, stronger characters and a far more intricate plot. I saw the movie after listening to the book, but I'm guessing that the book would still be quite enjoyable after seeing the movie.
    Unless you're a huge fan of the tobacco industry, this book is a blast.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Client

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Blair Brown
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (35)

    This is the story of 11-year-old Mark Sway, who witnessed the bizarre suicide of a New Orleans attorney. Just before he dies, the lawyer tells Mark a deadly secret. The police, the federal prosecutor, and the FBI pressure Mark to tell them the attorney's last words, but Mark knows that with the mob watching his every move, revealing his secret will almost surely get him killed.

    Henry says: "The Client"
    "Decently abridged, but not Grisham's most exciting"
    Overall

    For once, a decently abridged book. While there are still bits of the story not perfectly explained, and a few characters missing some background, the story almost flows like a regular book - far better than any other book I've heard. The narrator is easy to understand.
    On the down side, it's not Grisham's most exciting book. A little slow based and unusually predictable. And the annoying music between chapters and occasionally in the background doesn't help.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Pelican Brief

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (36)

    Late one October night, Justice Abe Rosenberg, at 91 the Supreme Court's liberal legend, is shot to death in his Georgetown home. Two hours later Glenn Jensen, the Court's youngest and most conservative justice, is strangled. The country is stunned; the FBI has no clues. But Darby Shaw, a brilliant law student at Tulane, thinks she has the answer.

    miyaker says: "Poorly Abridged"
    "Poorly Abridged"
    Overall

    After listening to Grisham's unabridged titles on Audible, this one is a little disappointing. The book is comparatively hard to follow, with characters easily confused or not developed - presumably due to the abridged nature of the text. I'd recommend this only for Grisham fans who've run through everything else.
    Capably narrated, though by a different narrator than any of the other Grisham books.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Life of Napoleon

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Major Arthur Griffiths
    • Narrated By Bill Kelsey
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Many thought that Napoleon was the greatest military genius since Alexander the Great. The diminutive general, a conquering hero, helped steer the French through revolution and reign of terror, then parlayed his military victories into an emperor's crown. Griffiths, a noted historian and a major in the British army, gives a no-nonsense account of one of history's most enigmatic figures.

    miyaker says: "Tedious and confusing"
    "Tedious and confusing"
    Overall

    Somehow listened to the whole thing and barely know the history of Napoleon. Incredibly dry, both in narration and in writing.
    The author skips major events, for some reason assuming we're already fully familiar with them. For example, the sack of Venice - an act that ended an empire over a thousand years old - rates all of about two sentences.
    The author also has a strong bias towards England, repeatedly making partisan statements inappropriate for a "noted historian".
    I'm guessing this was written quite some time ago, though there's no way to to know based on the description provided.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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