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Scott

No B.S. reviews. I will never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.

Santa Clara, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

94
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 72 reviews
  • 86 ratings
  • 428 titles in library
  • 3 purchased in 2015
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  • The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (949)
    Performance
    (822)
    Story
    (809)

    Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective. Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day?

    Connie says: "Audio version is superb for us grown-ups"
    "Should be on every high school reading list."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Pretty basic stuff if you are a science buff. However, pass this one along to one of those adults who really didn't pay attention in school, or to an adolescent that you care about. A great superstition-buster.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hopalong Cassidy

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Clarence E. Mulford
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Hopalong Cassidy, the iconic western cowboy hero conceived by Clarence Mulford, was immortalized in a highly popular film series starring William Boyd from 1935-1948. A tough-talking and violent character in print, Hopalong Cassidy was remade into a clean-cut screen hero who roamed the West with his sidekicks and fought villains who took advantage of the weak. Here Cassidy is drawn as Mulford originally conceived; rough-and-tumble, foul-mouthed, and thriving on brawls and gunplay.

    Scott says: "A Rip-Snortin', Rootin'-Tootin' Thrill Ride!"
    "A Rip-Snortin', Rootin'-Tootin' Thrill Ride!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Topped off by some of the best narration EVER, this fast-paced, thrill-packed, humor-filled adventure story is a page right out of the Old West.

    R.C. Bray is so absolutely amazing, so totally engaging, in the telling of this tale, that his narration deserves top billing. His reading has such phenomenal focus, dynamism, and fluency, and his powerful and gritty characterizations are so wonderful, I wish I could award his narration the six stars it deserves. He portrays all the characters, men and woman alike, with complete mastery. Jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly fantastic! Honestly, this is the best narration I have ever heard—and I've heard plenty.

    As for Clarence E. Mulford's writing, it's gritty, picturesque and beautiful. I felt like I was slapping leather right along with the cow punchers, and walking bow-legged right beside them. His characterizations are so engaging, and the Old Western landscape he paints is so vivid I could see all of it in my mind's eye, and hear the sounds and silences of the wide open spaces with remarkable clarity.

    And talk about action! The book is action-packed and non-stop. What a ride! Plus, it's downright hilarious—the playful, jibing banter among the cowpokes kept me laughing throughout.

    Even the romance in the book is handled with delightful humor and just a bit of bashful awkwardness—perfect.

    One caution. This book was written in 1910, and tells the story from an American cowboy's perspective, so the racial slurs may be off-putting to some listeners. But frankly, that's the way it was, and that's the way it's told. My recommendation is to just let it go, and have fun. Both the story and the narration are worth it.

    This book is a joy to listen to. Do not hesitate. Get it. Listen to it. Again, special thanks to R. C. Bray for his terrific narration.

    This is a rip-snortin', rootin'-tootin' thrill ride!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tirpitz: The Life and Death of Germany's Last Super Battleship

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Niklas Zetterling, Michael Tamelander
    • Narrated By Pete Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Whilst the Kriegsmarine's surface fleet, restricted for much of the period after 1919 by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, was relatively small in comparison to the Royal Navy, it did possess a number of highly potent battleships and other capital vessels that could - and did - pose a major threat to British interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Amongst the most powerful were the two battleships - the Bismarck and the Tirpitz.

    Scott says: "A great and compelling saga, wonderfully read"
    "A great and compelling saga, wonderfully read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book uses the great German battleship Tirpitz as the focal point for the story of naval warfare in the North Atlantic in WWII, and does it brilliantly. Much of the book isn't about the Tirpitz per se, although the mighty battleship is like a powerful chess piece lurking in the background—influencing events by its mere existence and deadly possiblities.

    Generally, the book focuses on Allied supply convoys in the North Atlantic, bound for both America, and significantly—also for Russia. It reveals the naval strategies and political maneuverings which governed the use of naval resources on both sides of the conflict.
    Essential to the story, the book gives a detailed description of "Operation Chariot," the successful attempt by the Allies to destroy the dry dock at St Nazaire in German occupied France.

    Overall, this is a thrilling and wonderful book—fascinating from beginning to end.

    Furthermore, Pete Larkin's narration is really great. He brings the story to life with clarity and professionalism. His reading style is remarkably consistent from first to last. It's his narration that turns this story of WWII naval strategy into a great and compelling saga.

    Sadly, the companion book to "Tirpitz," "Bismarck," by the same authors, is not nearly as well read. Where the narration of "Tirpitz" keeps the action flowing and makes it exciting to listen to, "Bismarck" comes across as stilted and confusing. If nothing else, these two books highlight the huge difference that narration can make.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Randall Munroe
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    Overall
    (537)
    Performance
    (503)
    Story
    (499)

    Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

    Charles says: "Good in Smaller Chunks"
    "A humorous lesson in how to think—Brilliantly read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What is it—science? Fantasy? Comedy? YES! YES! And YES!

    What's fun about this book is how really crazy-sounding Randall Munroe's answers are—but what's great about it is how serious is the science. In a way, the entire book is a lesson in how to think scientifically without losing your sense of humor. Just the kind of thing that would have Richard Feynman falling out of his chair, laughing.

    To be honest, this book is so completely zany you might want to take it in smaller bites, like I did. That said, bring it on. It's great entertainment for anyone with a wry sense of humor. Also ideal for a high school student who just needs a tiny nudge in a scientific direction, or—for that matter, any high school student.

    Plus, Wil Wheaton is at the top of his form. His narration is absolutly perfect. He's energetic, lucid, and truly brilliant. And this book is the ideal showcase for his considerable talent. For fans of Wil, he's also fabulous narrating "Ready Player One," by Ernest Cline, and this narration is every bit as excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heroes of History

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Will Durant
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (61)

    At Will Durant's death at 96, in 1981, his personal papers were dispersed among relatives, collectors, and archive houses. Twenty years later, scholar John Little discovered the previously unknown manuscript of Heroes of History in Durant's granddaughter's garage. Written shortly before he died, these 21 essays serve as an abbreviated version of Durant's best-selling, 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization.

    John says: "A celebration of history"
    "For the love of history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    No one loves history more than Will Durant. And arguably, no one writes more eloquently or vividly about history than he does.
    It's hard to convey the superlative experience of listening to an audiobook written by Will Durant and narrated by Grover Gardner. History is revealed in the characters, while insights are gained through the analysis of significant events and those who witnessed them.
    Durant's writing is transcendent—his use of language triumphant.
    As for Grover Gardner—he has no equal in the reading of historical prose. With his narration, stories come to reality, and characters come to life.
    This is a wonderful book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By David Fitzgerald
    • Narrated By David Fitzgerald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (179)
    Performance
    (169)
    Story
    (171)

    Nailed sheds light on ten beloved Christian myths, and, with evidence gathered from historians across the theological spectrum, shows how they point to a Jesus Christ created solely through allegorical alchemy of hope and imagination; a messiah transformed from a purely literary, theological construct into the familiar figure of Jesus - in short, a purely mythic Christ.

    skepticalDustin says: "If only I was willing to make my grandma cry..."
    "Nicely researched—but isn't there more?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Okay, the author did a pretty nice job of making his point regarding the non-historicality of Jesus—but why the limited point-of-view?
    It's really interesting to learn about the lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. So far, so good. However—why confine that evidence inside the box of Christian myths? It seems that a reasonably comprehensive look at the topic would include not only the perspective of prevailing myths, yet also include a broader scope, based on all available historical evidence.
    Perhaps the author is hoping to provide ammunition to those who chose to confront contemporary Christians with the lack of historical evidence of their savior.
    Anyway, it's a wonderful bit of research, and a great listen. However—I'm left wanting more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Brockman
    • Narrated By Antony Ferguson, Danny Campbell, Jo Anna Perrin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    In The Universe, today's most influential science writers explain the science behind our evolving understanding of The Universe and everything in it, including the cutting-edge research and discoveries that are shaping our knowledge. Lee Smolin reveals how math and cosmology are helping us create a theory of the whole universe. Neil Turok analyzes the fundamental laws of nature, what came before the big bang, and the possibility of a unified theory. And much more.

    Gary says: "Equivalant to reading 25 books"
    "Physics in flux"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not written for laymen, but as physicist to physicist, this book outlines the future direction of physics—on both the subatomic and cosmological scales.
    This is the kind of book that makes you want to live long enough to find out the answers to the fundamental questions that contemporary physicists are asking right now.
    There's nothing "dumbed-down" about this book, and the topics are wide-ranging and fascinating. I won't claim to understand all of it, but that doesn't matter—it's really, really interesting, and well put together. We owe John Brockman a debt of gratitude for compiling this wonderful collection of perspectives on modern physics.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Palestine-Israel Conflict

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Dan Cohn-Sherlock, Dawoud El-Alami
    • Narrated By Richard Aspel
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The new audiobook edition of this best-selling book gives a thorough and accessible account of the history behind the Palestine-Israeli conflict, its roots, and the possibilities for the future. The audiobook is divided into two parts - the first by an American rabbi and Professor of Judaism, and the second by a Palestinian lecturer on Islam. The result is a real insight into the situation, with each author giving full vent to the emotions behind the two sides of the debate - Cohn-Sherbok and El-Amini come together at the audiobook’s conclusion to debate the issues.

    Scott says: "At last—a balanced presentation of opposing views!"
    "At last—a balanced presentation of opposing views!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If this book persuades you that either the Israelis or the Arabs are the villains in the current Arab/Israeli conflict, then perhaps you need to listen to it again.
    Both sides of this issue have been thoughtfully presented—without any ranting or irrationality—in this remarkable and comprehensive analysis of the history leading up to the situation in today's Middle East.
    Suffice it to say there is great tragedy—and far too much militarism—on both sides of this conflict, and I will not presume to weigh in on either side. Only this—if we are to understand the situation in the Middle East today, the perspectives voiced in this book must be understood and acknowledged.
    I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael B. Oren
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (850)
    Performance
    (450)
    Story
    (449)

    In Israel and the West, it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War or, simply, as "the Setback". Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen, and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the intifada, and the rise of Palestinian terror are all part of the outcome of those six days.

    Patrick says: "Great overview of Middle East troubles"
    "Essential background on the Arab/Israeli conflict"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is an important recounting of the Six Day War, and also of the historical events leading up to it. The writing is slightly biased toward the Israeli point of view, yet this is understandable, given the magnitude of the Israeli victory in the conflict.
    Personally, I chose to pair my listening of this book with "The Palestine-Israel Conflict" by Dan Cohn-Sherlock and Dawoud El-Alami, to gain a more up-to-date and hopefully more balanced perspective. This remains a sensitive and difficult issue, and hopefully listening to these books will serve to break down existing prejudices and pave the way to greater understanding and compassion.
    Robert Whitfield is ideal as the narrator of this account.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Frank Wilcze
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (28)

    Our understanding of nature's deepest reality has changed radically, but almost without our noticing, over the past 25 years. Transcending the clash of older ideas about matter and space, acclaimed physicist Frank Wilczek explains a remarkable new discovery: matter is built from almost weightless units, and pure energy is the ultimate source of mass. He calls it "The Lightness of Being." Space is no mere container, empty and passive. It is a dynamic Grid, modern ether, and its spontaneous activity creates and destroys particles.

    robert says: "We are part of the cosmic dance."
    "WHY is he WHISPERING???"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like this topic a lot—This book covers many great concepts in cosmology and theoretical physics, and they're beautifully presented. It's a significant contribution to that class of books which helps the listener piece together a consistent view of dark energy, dark matter, and the underlying structure of space itself.
    One of the most interesting discussions is on the history of the ether, and how the fashion of this concept has ebbed and flowed over the past one hundred and twenty years. Wary of this antiquated term, we're left with a description of space as some kind of soup of particle pairs that spontaneously appear and annihilate, due to the basic uncertainty of quantum fluctuations.
    However, what I found strange about this book was what it did NOT discuss. The fact that there was so much about spontaneously created and annihilated particle pairs begs the question—why is there no name given to this phenomenon? If the idea is truly distinct from John Wheeler's 1955 Quantum Foam proposal, then why is there no comparison drawn? And if space is full of this phenomenon, what is the possible extent of it, relative to the visible matter in the universe? Is the author purposefully avoiding questions to which he has no good answer? That doesn't seem scientific at all.
    Furthermore, the predominant view of this book is from a particle-based perspective,
    although there are many tantalizing references to quantum field theory—but no in-depth discussion of the specific nature of bosons vs. their associated fields.
    Overall, it feels like there are so many opportunities lost in this presentation of a truly fascinating subject.

    Now for the worst of it. The narration is intolerable. Walter Dixon narrates with a strange, affected whisper that's both distracting and demeaning. His unyielding, emotionally-charged tone is the kind of voice you'd expect of a dramatic fairy story told to a five-year-old. I've listened to more than three hundred audiobooks, and this reading is one of the worst. This is a book on SCIENCE, Folks—so what's with the reader's continual high-drama, hush-hush inflections? I only survived by continually mocking this ridiculous, over-the-top narration. Not that that's the whole of it—you've got to admire how Mr. Dixon can plow through a long, complicated sentence without taking a breath—but making a complex sentence go by quickly is NOT the best way to make it clear to a listener. Furthermore, at random intervals, his tone becomes strangely strident, making the listening experience both continuously frustrating and occasionally uncomfortable. You have to wonder—doesn't Gildan Media have a director to help wayward narrators match their tone appropriately to the source material?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6441)
    Performance
    (5997)
    Story
    (5999)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Paige says: "Not his Wheal-house"
    "Wil Wheaton's reading is the best part—but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    John Scalzi's Sci Fi is supposed to be good, clean fun, and this book gets pretty close—but then, once you see where it's going, there are few surprises left in store. Fortunately, there's a lot of worthwhile humor in the story, which may explain its appeal.
    I love Wil Wheaton's reading, but they must have used that software that squishes words together, and it seems they had it cranked up way too high, leaving the narration weirdly rushed and mechanical—not Wil's fault at all.
    Furthermore, it get's pretty old when Scalzi's wording rarely varies from something "this person said" to something "that person said" then back to something "this person said" in rapid succession, page after page. It really seems like the author didn't pay any attention to the blatant repetitiveness of his writing.
    Honestly, this book doesn't hold a candle to "Ready Player One" by Ernest Kline—also read by Wil Wheaton.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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