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Chris Reich

Business Physicist and Astronomer

Northern, CA | Member Since 2005

572
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 125 reviews
  • 264 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 29 purchased in 2014
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126

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Michael Chabon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (566)
    Performance
    (490)
    Story
    (498)

    It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, they create the Escapist.

    Darwin8u says: "A World I DON'T Ever Want to Escape From."
    "Superb, Original and BAM!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a wonderful story perfectly read. I would say no more but would fail to meet the Audible review requirements!

    There is some real history here---read also The Ten Cent Plague---wrapped around the stories of two cousins. The stories are tragic but not overly depressing. The author somewhat gets us to a happy place by the end---not a perfect story book ending but that would demean some of the serious points this book makes. I love books that build compassion for people.

    I have around 1500 audio books in my library. When I finish something really, really good, it can be insanely difficult to start, or rather get into, a new book. If you find yourself in that position, here you go! I had to listen to the first half hour a couple of times and then I was completely hooked.

    Highly recommend.

    Chris Reich

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • What Einstein Kept Under His Hat: Secrets of Science in the Kitchen

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Robert L. Wolke, Marlene Parrish
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (183)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (156)

    Have you ever wondered why onions make us cry? Do you believe bananas contain more calories as they ripen and get sweeter? This sequel to the best-selling What Einstein Told His Cook continues Robert L. Wolke's investigations into the science behind our foods.

    Jerker says: "Funny and interesting, but badly edited"
    "Dull as Waiting for Water to Boil"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While there are a few interesting things in this book and it is well read; it's pretty dull. I love science and particularly the science of household things, common stuff. But this is just too much kitchen chemistry. I believe this is a second volume? It feels like a lot of left over material or an attempt to find some more material after writing a successful book.

    I just didn't like it. That doesn't mean you won't. It is, as stated above, well read. That goes a long way with audio books.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Yann Martel
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (206)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (69)

    When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and the epic journey they undertake together.

    S. Connors says: "Excellent writing and reading, but..."
    "Disappointing and Borderline Offensive"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have a policy on book reviews that I write. If I really dislike a book, I ponder why for a couple days before writing the review. Sometimes the dislike comes from an author's ability to evoke anger or disgust and that deserves high marks in spite of my 'feelings'. This book is disturbing but for the wrong reasons.

    I liked PI. I wanted to like this book.

    By the end I was disgusted by the shameless use of one history's great atrocities to sell a book. It doesn't work. The concept doesn't work. The story telling doesn't work. The manipulation of our feelings doesn't work in spite of killing off the family dog. The story's ending is contrived.

    The only redeeming part of the book are the games at the end. They are, in the context of the holocaust, poignant.

    The remaining 99.9% of the book falls under the emperor's new clothes category. If a reader thinks they see some great depth in this book, it's probably a result of wanting it to be there. I did. It wasn't. Skip it.

    They say an author's first book comes from direct experience. An author might squeak through a second book with what she has left. The third book is the separator. That hopefully is not the case but it sure looks that way from here.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs)
    • By Anna Reid
    • Narrated By Peter Drew
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    On September 8, 1941, 11 weeks after Hitler's brutal surprise attack on the Soviet Union, Leningrad was surrounded. The German siege was not lifted for two and a half years, by which time some three quarters of a million Leningraders had died of starvation.

    Chris Reich says: "Very Good Look at the History We Were Not Taught"
    "Very Good Look at the History We Were Not Taught"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am convinced from reading several history books about Russia lately that without the Soviet Union, Hitler may have been more successful. He would not have won, but had Hitler maintained the alliance rather than violate it, the world would be a different place today.

    The siege of Leningrad was a horribly grim piece of history. The Soviet Union gave the city virtually no support. The city was on its own. Food ran out. Hundreds of thousands died. No wonder the Russian people are so tough. They had nearly a century of oppressive rule after their centuries of oppressive rule. They beat Napoleon and Hitler but not their own leaders and system.

    The book is a little choppy to follow. But, unlike the Rape of Nanking, it is not so grossly graphic that you cannot bear to listen to it.

    I highly recommend this book. Well done on all fronts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing, or, Getting Things Done by Putting Them Off

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 48 mins)
    • By John Perry
    • Narrated By Brian Holsopple
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (233)
    Story
    (232)

    John Perry’s insights and laugh-out-loud humor bring to mind Thurber, Wodehouse, and Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. This charming and accessible audio educates, entertains, and illuminates a universal subject. Procrastinators will be relieved to learn that you can actually accomplish quite a lot while procrastinating. In fact, the book itself is the result of Perry avoiding grading papers, refereeing academic proposals, and reviewing dissertation drafts. It also has a practical side, offering up advice that listeners can put to use.

    G-Man says: "Doing everything except what you should"
    "Put This Off"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't worth the time. I found it unhelpful. Was hoping to find some solace for clients who wrestle with procrastination. Didn't find any.

    I did find a few statements disturbing. Being late in submitting an article the author informs us that 'everyone is months late' on article submissions. I see this as a failure to honor commitments. Sure, maybe it's true that authors are always late. But shouldn't we keep our deadlines that we agree to? I just don't go with the philosophy that it's okay to do things your way when other people are involved. I tire of waiting for things that people promise me. Sure, there are times when we get behind. That's time to step up and own up, no time to adopt a 'me centric' attitude that you can just wait.

    To me, there is a distinction between raking the leaves and doing a work project on time. One doesn't really matter, the other is a commitment to a person. So put off reading this but do get that report in on time.

    I'm sure the author is a good guy. You can deduct that from the writing. But I also find working with people who justify bad habits to be annoying in the long run.

    Save your credits. Better to focus on getting better than accepting a bad habit.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Slavomir Rawicz
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (342)
    Performance
    (126)
    Story
    (132)

    Twenty-six-year-old cavalry officer Slavomir Rawicz was captured by the Red Army in 1939 during the German-Soviet partition of Poland and sent to the Siberian Gulag. In the spring of 1941, he escaped with six of his fellow prisoners, including one American. Thus began their astonishing trek to freedom.

    Roger says: "Good story, well read"
    "Spoiler Alert! DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Okay, people who read my reviews on Amazon know what's coming. I hate "true stories" or historical pieces that are not TRUE.

    I was enjoying this listen very much though at times it gets a little 'made up' sounding. Almost like the writer is sort of winging it. So, about 3/4ths through, I start doing some research only to discover the whole thing is a fabrication. It's a lie. Well, so what if it's a good story? That can be up to you. For me, it confirmed what I was sensing in the writing. This guy just wasn't there.

    From then on, it was very hard to listen to the story knowing it was all a fake. Then I hit the chapter on their encounter with the abominable snow man. Okay, that was just over the top nonsense.

    It is a fun listen if you don't care or don't know it's a complete fake.

    I am being generous with the stars. I do not care much for John Lee. Everyone sounds like Dracula regardless of accent. He's better than many, however.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Great Masters: Shostakovich - His Life and Music

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Greenberg
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Dmitri Shostakovich is without a doubt one of the central composers of the 20th century. Drawing on both the flood of declassified documents from the Soviet Union that began in 1991 and Shostakovich's own extraordinarily frank posthumous reminiscences, Professor Greenberg shows how Shostakovich, who, in the words of a friend, "did not want to rot in a prison or a graveyard" was still unwilling to become a docile instrument of the Soviet regime.

    Cookie says: "Living the Great Terror"
    "Superb Course: Greenberg on Speed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have had a very hit-and-miss experience with Greenberg's courses. His opera appreciation course is excellent. His Wagner course abysmal. This course is very good and packed with exactly what I want from a course like this.

    I have listened to and seen live performances of Shostakovich's music but never much cared for his modernist style. His music seemed confused and convoluted to me. Of course, discordance was all the rage after the turn of the century so I have for years just taken Shostakovich as "not for me".

    This set of lectures does what great teaching ought to do. It opened my mind to a new experience and instilled an enthusiasm to go deeper. That's what I like about the really great courses. They encourage me to go well beyond what is presented.

    Dr. Greenberg perfectly balances biography with explanation of the music through stories and music samples. What opened the door for me was knowing what was happening in the composer's life blended with a taste of the music he wrote during that time and completed with some analysis of the music itself. I could see, for the first time, how wonderful and terrible that discordance was that I previously hated. By terrible, I mean the horror that the "circus" sound was expressing.

    I actually raced through this course in a week all the while spending like the proverbial drunken sailor. This is fantastic, I must have the MP3 now! And I'll need a CD version as well. Wow! I must hear the rest of this. I want more of that. I bought DVDs of the operas, MP3s and CDs of the symphonies and the quartets, CDs of the piano pieces and the cello concerto. Amazon is very pleased that I took this course.

    The new understanding made the music so enjoyable I just had to have some complete piece IMMEDIATELY. That's good teaching.

    I do have some criticism of the course. Before I criticize, I want to say again that I absolutely hated Greenberg's Wagner course. That course is packed with awful puns and bad jokes. It's a slap-schtick production. In this course, the corn is scaled back considerably. Greenberg would do well to eliminate his humor completely but at least in this course his poor puns do not detract too much from the course.

    His pace is at times manic. He literally talks like someone coked up. It's beyond enthusiasm; it's just too fast.

    The other thing I find grating is the pompous use of the words "please" and "we". "Please! We quote,....." Is Greenberg glad to have us listen or is that a composer in his pocket? We wonder. Amusingly, he starts the entire series with an anecdote about someone complaining about the anti-Stalinist content of one of his lectures. The critic says something about others in the audience having the same reaction. Greenberg goes on to say that he immediately dismisses anyone who makes assertions referring to those "others agree with me too" people.

    He might benefit from listening to some of that criticism. The pompous use of "we" is annoying. Preceding points or quotes with "Please!" is an affectation that I accept as just a bit of artistic flamboyance. Interestingly, about half way, Greenberg simply starts quotes with, "I quote" and it comes off better than when he later reverts back to royal "we".
    Fewer jokes and a scaling back of the pompous presentation and the course would be perfect. As is, it is still a 5 star, highly recommended course.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Earth's Changing Climate

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Richard Wolfson
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Whatever your views on climate change, it's important to understand how the current scientific consensus on global warming evolved out of basic physical principles and a broad range of observations. This lucid series of 12 lectures is designed to do exactly that-reviewing the most up-to-date research and explaining the concepts, tools, data, and analysis that have led an overwhelming number of climate scientists to conclude that Earth is indeed warming and that we humans are in great part responsible.

    Chris Reich says: "Very Basic, Intro Level Material"
    "Very Basic, Intro Level Material"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wasn't impressed with this lecture series but wonder if the method of delivery might have something to do with it.

    My Great Courses library contains over 25 DVD courses and they are mostly in the 90% percentile for excellence. To date I have purchased three courses on the audio format and have not been impressed with any of them. I'm not sure if it is because the audio format fails against the full video courses or if I have simply chosen courses that do not come across well in audio alone.

    For example, Greenberg's Wagner course is awful. He is constantly detracting from the material with sophomoric jokes. Without the silliness, the course would be excellent. Can't blame audio for that. I also purchased the Divine Comedy course. It's like a radio program with two panelists supporting each others position. That's right Bob, Dante based his work on the Bible! Sure Dave, and he used the style of the time.

    I find it a bit annoying but haven't passed judgement yet.

    This course didn't appeal to me at all. I do like professor Wolfson and greatly enjoy the video series, "Physics in You Life". In this course, he speaks way too fast. I had hoped to gain some scientific insight into climate change but there really is not any new material here. Essentially it amounts to telling us the earth is getting warmer, the warming is caused by carbon and man is at the heart of the problem.

    If you already understand that, save the credit.

    I wanted to understand the arguments that go like this: The earth has been warmer in the past, well before man, why? How did it cool? Why was the temperature so much higher 200 million years ago? Yes, there was a mini ice age 400 years ago, why? I know these questions do not have definitive answers but I had hoped for some science on those questions.

    Also, I believe Wolfson is too definite on his outlook for the future. Carbon content goes up, temperature will rise by this range. He mentions that the earth my have trigger points which could cause climate to change in an opposite direction and then dismisses that in a sentence. I'm not so sure.

    The earth is a lot more complex than Venus which is always used for comparison. I don't think we can say with certainty that a temperature increase here will not cause a reaction leading to a decrease in temperature there. For example, if warming causes the heat conveyor of the Atlantic to stop delivering warmth to England, then Europe could plunge into a deep cold period. It is not clear if this is possible but the oceans distribute heat---altering currents can change climate.

    Okay, this isn't about my theories. The course is rather basic and might be better in video format.

    If you are completely new to the subject, give it a go. If you already have some background, you can probably skip this without missing anything.

    Too fast. Too shallow.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Art Forger

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By B. A. Shapiro
    • Narrated By Xe Sands
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (556)
    Performance
    (474)
    Story
    (480)

    Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting - a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum - in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire's studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late 19th century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

    Cynthia says: "The Art Forger"
    "Average Story Killed by Narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I confess, I did not not like this book. I wanted to like it but never got there. This has a lot to do with the awful narration. Every male character sounds like an airline pilot on sleeping pills. The victim, rather, central character seems a wreck of a person who I just couldn't find any empathy for.

    The story had potential but the past and present stories only fit together by a thread of irony. The "three years ago" stuff really wasn't a good vehicle to support or move the plot---it was ironic but not necessary. Think about it.

    Stripping out the whole Issac thing would have cut this down to a decent read.

    No, I barely could stay interested and was sorry at the end that our hero wasn't hauled off to prison for making me endure this story.

    I wouldn't recommend it. But you might like it. It ain't literature folks. Taste in stories vary. You may like it. Many do.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Music of Richard Wagner

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Greenberg
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    In these 24 lectures filled with musical excerpts, enjoy a rich and multifaceted exploration of the trailblazing works and outsized life of this historically pivotal composer. The sheer outlandishness of Wagner's life makes for an endlessly intriguing story, from his desperate escapades outrunning creditors to his obsessive personal relationships to his utopian artistic schemes.

    Jonatan says: "Wagner for "dudes""
    "Missed Opportunity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have purchased other courses presented by Herr Professor Greenberg and enjoyed them very much. Years ago I actually became very interested in opera through his course on opera appreciation. Having become particularly interested in Wagner's operas I was thrilled to see this course appear in Audible. Disappointment followed.

    In his basic introduction to opera course, Greenberg makes periodic corny jokes but they do not detract from the content. This course, however, could be sold by the bushel for the amount of corn. Does he want us to take the subject seriously? Then why the juvenile jokes every 90 seconds? The music excerpts are a pleasant break from Greenberg's stand-up comedy.

    Okay, Wagner is a big, tough subject and a little levity can break things up. Agreed. But this constant wisecracking really detracts from the depth of the subject. The girls singing while they spin in a scene from The Flying Dutchman reminds Greenberg of a Nike sweatshop? Please.

    A little study of Wagner will lead you to a very complex man and a great artist. His themes are not cut and dry. Pure love doesn't always trump lust. Greed isn't always defeated by altruism. Even the gods are flawed in Wagner's great Ring Cycle. Wagner goes beyond what we would call the predictable plots of today. Bad guy gets killed, Good guy dies by some ironic error. No, Wagner twists around the plots with deep complexity---his characters are torn between choices of heaven and hell with neither choice being clear.

    It's a shame to dilute this great art with silly jokes.

    2 stars because there is a lot of content of value if you can ignore the childish cracks.

    Finally, every one of these stand-up sessions begins and ends with canned applause. Why? If there is a "live" audience, why aren't they laughing at every joke? Maybe they didn't find it funny either? Why not add a laugh track? If we are to yuck it up for 19 hours, give us a laugh track.

    If you want to learn about Wagner, get the operas on DVD and enjoy them. Pick up a biography and read it. For a much lighter experience, grab a six pack and settle in to this audio series. Greenberg will bring the corn. I cannot recommend it.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Heft

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liz Moore
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
    Overall
    (877)
    Performance
    (794)
    Story
    (792)

    Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.

    Melinda says: "Intriguing--Captivating--Altering"
    "Did The Notables Actually Read This Book?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is perfectly written and masterfully executed audibly. The story is very deep and not a sweet love story or simple tome about family. The readers seem to get it. The professional reviews don't.

    This is a book about the impact that fathers, present, unknown and absentee have on their off-spring. The reviewers seemed to have missed this entirely. The book is very profound in its treatment of the subject.

    Arthur has a weight and self-esteem problem. Kel suffers from guilt about his mother and confusion about his own identity. Yolonda is bringing a baby into the world without a father. Even the satellite characters have fathers of great importance to the story as Kel reaches to the fathers of his friends for help.

    The story is excellent and will hold your interest. The point is important and very profound. The delivery is excellent by both readers. This audio book has it all.

    Don't miss this one.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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