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Chris

Alameda, CA, United States | Member Since 2012

47
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 32 reviews
  • 46 ratings
  • 227 titles in library
  • 25 purchased in 2015
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  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Richard Matthews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7900)
    Performance
    (3607)
    Story
    (3617)

    Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.

    Corby says: "Very informative, fun to listen to"
    "Great other than some inexplicable pronunciation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    CERN is pronounced sern, not kern. There are other examples and they break you out of what is otherwise a very compelling and informative book. From the few areas of this where I have specialist expert knowledge I could say that it isn't 100% accurate, but it is close enough for most people and the differences are more of academic interest. Some of it is also slightly outdated due to discoveries since it was written, but most is historic and won't change.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Talon: The Talon Saga, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Julie Kagawa
    • Narrated By Caitlin Davies, MacLeod Andrews, Chris Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (299)
    Performance
    (274)
    Story
    (272)

    Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have becomestrong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon.

    Rhonda Ann Smuland says: "A Solid YA Book"
    "Teen fantasy stuff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I guess when I was a kid I would have liked this more. It would certainly have been informative about how out of control teenage girls are... if it is accurate. But then I have never been a teenage girl so what do I know. But I did have a teenage daughter and sometimes I wondered quite how insane she could be. Reading this as an adult it is just rather tiresome, because you can see the spectacular amount of stupid.

    I won't be following along for the rest of the ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anathem

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2158)
    Performance
    (1131)
    Story
    (1143)

    In celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.

    Richard says: "Tour de force"
    "Kids save the world. Again."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Overall I like the world and the people in it. But there's a problem with these books where the teenager turns out to be the smartest person on the planet and saves the day. Have you met many 18 year old boys? There's a reason the military sends the teenagers and it isn't because they are the smartest and coolest heads. The orbital physics is BS too, an elyptical and a circular path do cross and recross if they are in the same plane, but objects following them drift radically apart because the duration of the orbit is different. If you have the sort of velocity difference that has you passing out of visual range in minutes then your elyptical orbit is going to fall radically behind the circular orbit. There are a lot of things like that, where the science is not right. It pulls me out of what is otherwise a good story.

    There were things I thought weren't practical, but who cares, it's science fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Wrong Stuff: The Adventures and Misadventures of an 8th Air Force Aviator

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Truman Smith
    • Narrated By James Killavey
    Overall
    (343)
    Performance
    (299)
    Story
    (299)

    Between April and July 1944, Truman Smith flew 35 bombing missions over France and Germany. He was only 20 years old. Although barely adults, Smith and his peers worried about cramming a lifetime's worth of experience into every free night, each knowing he probably would not survive the next bombing mission. Written with blunt honesty, wry humor, and insight, The Wrong Stuff is Smith's gripping memoir of that time.

    Ronald says: "Great first hand view."
    "Interesting enough but it feels thin."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is good to hear another view of the daylight raids on Europe, this was a very hard way to go to war.

    The reading style is the first problem with this, it is almost mechanical. Almost every word enunciated separately with a pause at the end. It detracts from the narrative by drawing continuous attention to itself. I also wonder whether it was a good choice to have an old man's story of his twenty year old self voiced by an old man instead of a young man. Pronunciation is odd too. Americans are often portrayed as unable to pronounce simple English place names. The ones I met when I worked at RAF Thurleigh which was the home of the 8th Air Force 306th bombardment group, seemed to have no trouble when they came to visit the place. The memorial outside the officer's mess (demolished) is still well kept. So I wonder if that portrayal is accurate.

    This is mostly about people, which is reasonable enough, the US bases were very independent. There isn't a great deal of detail about the actions or difficulties of flying over Europe in daylight. I didn't learn anything from this. Though it was the first time I'd heard mention of some of the airfields I used to know when I was living in Bedford for 12 years.

    Then there are the factual inaccuracies and anachronisms. Usually something passes out of use with age and marks the age of a narrative. In this case... well did he really say they bought a bottle of VAT 69 whisky? That is a blended whisky that was introduced when the UK joined the EEC in 1969 and changed from sales tax to Value Added Tax... hence VAT 69. No way he was drinking that in 1944. The Germans did not use infrared tracking, passive infrared capable of noticing a piston engine aircraft from many miles away was not available until the 1990s, the Germans did have some IR equipment but it required IR floodlights to be useful and was short range for use against ground targets. Glen Miller did not take off from Alconbury on his last flight, he had just played down at Milton Earnest and flew out of RAF Twinwood Farm in a UC-64 Norseman. There is also no truth in the extremely unlikely event of him being accidentally bombed out of the air by a British bomber, the aircraft has never been found, but given the conditions and the known carburetor icing issues of the aircraft the current theory is that the aircraft crashed in the English Channel when the engine failed.

    If this book had been read differently it might have changed the whole character for me, but some fact checking would have been a good idea too.

    0 of 34 people found this review helpful
  • Fool's Errand: Tawny Man, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Robin Hobb
    • Narrated By James Langton
    Overall
    (974)
    Performance
    (895)
    Story
    (899)

    For fifteen years FitzChivalry Farseer has lived in self-imposed exile, assumed to be dead by almost all who once cared about him. But now, into his isolated life, visitors begin to arrive: Fitz's mentor from his assassin days; a hedge-witch who foresees the return of a long-lost love; and the Fool, the former White Prophet, who beckons Fitz to fulfill his destiny. Then comes the summons he cannot ignore. Prince Dutiful, the young heir to the Farseer throne, has vanished.

    Holly Helscher says: "Hobb is Golden"
    "So slow and our hero is still a petulant child"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Spoilers. I can't be bothered to avoid them.

    In the first series Fitz was a petulant child and had reason to be, he was growing up.

    As we join him more than a decade later he's done the equivalent of sitting on the couch and watching soaps ever since he saved the Farseers. And his stupid relations have let him. And he's still mooning after the girl he mistreated and left pregnant when he was a teenager. And his wolf still tolerates his perpetual self pity.

    So here comes Chade again to tell him that his child desperately needs the training only he can give. And really, the fact that he wasn't in control of his body when it got his queen pregnant is no more distance than many parents have from their children. But no, our hero is still feeling sorry for himself because he is not having the perfect life with his one and only love of his life who went off with his old boss. Good grief, the man has serious mental health issues.

    So that's it for me. Do yourself a favor and pretend the whole thing ended with the dragons.

    Oh, and the magical rescue by the being somewhere out in the skill stream? The ultimate deus ex machina. Don't write yourself in to a corner that requires the sudden arrival of a mythical and all powerful creature to rescue your story. The Farseer line ended there and the rest of the books are just the dreams the God analog manufactured for the sullen child.

    Gah! Why am I even doing this?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mutineer: Kris Longknife, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Mike Shepherd
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1002)
    Performance
    (690)
    Story
    (682)

    Kris Longknife is a daughter of privilege, born to money and power. Her father is the prime minister of her home planet, her mother the consummate politician's wife. She's been raised only to be beautiful and marry well. But the heritage of the military Longknifes courses through Kris' blood - and, against her parents' objections, she enlists in the Marines.

    Jeffery says: "Harsh reviews seem undeserved to me"
    "Pretty good - if you can stand the reading."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's not a clip it's a magazine! Oh wait, she got it right that time. What do you mean her clip was empty? Clips are just things that hold rounds together for loading in to a magazine. A clip can't in the rifle when it is firing... with the single exception of the M1 Garand. The words mean different things and you are using them wrong.

    Apparently the only military men this reader has ever heard were angry, sarcastic and threatening. Even the senior officers, when in a good mood, can't say anything without trying to make it sound like an angry insult. Was the book really written that way? If you try the words again without the sneering delivery they sound kind of reasonable.

    The story? Lacks credible progress. If you discover a plot where major interests appear to be funding the attacks you don't then ignore it while allowing what appears to be another attempt at furthering their ends to proceed unopposed. Is everyone in this universe stupid?

    I haven't finished it yet. The reading has currently irritated me to the point where I can't continue. I don't know whether I'd ever listen to this reader again. Probably not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Crystal Soldier: Liaden Universe Books of Before, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Sharon Lee, Steve Miller
    • Narrated By Kevin T. Collins
    Overall
    (214)
    Performance
    (190)
    Story
    (192)

    Centuries in the past, mankind fought a seemingly unbeatable adversary from sector to sector across the Spiral Arm until the war ground to a standstill and the Enemy withdrew. Believing that they had won, the citizens of the galaxy rebuilt. The Inner Worlds, which had escaped the worst of the war's ravages, became even more insular, while the Rim worlds adopted a free and easy way with law and order. Now, hundreds of years after their withdrawal, the Enemy is back - and this time they'll be satisfied with nothing less than the extinction of the galaxy.

    Shawn says: "A good introduction to Lianden"
    "I loved this book - can't stand the audio version"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved this book because I read it with the main characters being a hard as nails engineered space soldier and a tough space captain. I can not stand this version because they are read as emotional wrecks on the point of collapse. Even when the narration in the fraught scenes is almost sobbed out. Oh god save me! Our tough captain isn't dissolving in pathetic tears when the battle scenes are playing out, she's tough and capable not some teenage ninny. So she is not happy, but she does her job.

    In some ways this was an education for me, it proved that you can completely ruin the tone of a book by reading it in a silly voice. If that is how the authors intended it to be read then I am probably done with their work and their worlds. But they write about capable men and women, not about pathetic ninnies, so I'll persist and just avoid Kevin Collins in the future.

    Kevin? Dude! What did you do to this book??!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Machine

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By H. G. Wells
    • Narrated By George Eustice
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (48)

    This science fiction classic coined the term "time machine", and is generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel. A must-listen for any fan of science fiction!

    Amazon Customer says: "not all narrators are the same"
    "Anachronistic but good"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story is as classic. It exhibits some ideas which we now know to be wrong and even for the time had some very imperfect science. But for all that it is an interesting little story. The movies do not stock even close to the plot, so it is good to go to the source.

    The reader is clear but has some amusing pronunciation issues for words he appears not to have met, like anemone. But that does not detract from the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew at His Side

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Damien Lewis
    • Narrated By Derek Perkins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (357)
    Performance
    (307)
    Story
    (312)

    An instant hit in the UK, this is the true account of a German shepherd who was adopted by the Royal Air Force during World War II, joined in flight missions, and survived everything from crash-landings to parachute bailouts-ultimately saving the life of his owner and dearest friend. In the winter of 1939 in the cold snow of no-man's-land, two loners met and began an extraordinary journey that would turn them into lifelong friends.

    Jane says: "4 ½ stars. Audiobook needs a pdf file for pictures"
    "The reading and the real story can't save this"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This author took a great real story and so tarted it up with gushing anthropomorphism that it is almost impossible to stomach. It's all must haves and feels and psychic doggy moments. Anyone who has owned a real dog, and I have been honored by two German Shepherds, this has not one iota of credibility in it. There's plenty of fluffy minded people in the world who will love this, but I'd rather have had the story without the layers and layers of sickly icing.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Ark Royal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2065)
    Performance
    (1907)
    Story
    (1912)

    Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye. But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Riveting military sci-fi"
    "Uninteresting and unscientific. Not recommended."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book has the common issue of authors who can't do simple maths or don't think their readers can do simple maths. If a projectile is fired at a substantial proportion of the speed of light, and has a two and a half hour flight time to its target then the fighters that launch from that target are not going to arrive in a few minutes. There's no coherent fake world under this SciFi and that makes it ArtFi, not SciFi. I don't mind having impossible capabilities, that's why I read SciFi, but it has to be a consistent world or it grates.

    What is with the sexist garbage? Why are we going on about how pretty the female officers are? Why is the female midshipman called a midshipwoman? Why is she bringing in the coffee and cleaning away the empties? Navies have people for that, they are called stewards, and they don't call the females stewardesses just like they don't have captainesses or leutenantettes. But most especially, even a _female_ junior officer does not do scut work.

    And so to the story. If you are expecting anything in the way of tactics or realism you need to look somewhere else. The protagonists are stupid and facile. The author appears to think that computing will end at a 1990s level, no expect systems, none of the capabilities we are starting to take for granted in cell phones, and this is set in the future.

    The reading is pretty good, there's not a huge variation in accents, and the Scottish accent is amusingly bad when you consider the author is from Edinburgh.

    And by the way Jock (the author is a Scott). It is The Royal Navy... all capitals. It was and will always be the first Royal Navy so that is its proper name, it is not the British Navy. Sometimes you write like a yank, is that deliberate?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Patient Zero: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Jonathan Maberry
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4633)
    Performance
    (3911)
    Story
    (3902)

    When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills - and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills. And that’s both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because he’s a Baltimore detective who has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new task force created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle....

    Kim Venatries says: "Yes! It IS that good. Five stars and more."
    "A good book spoiled - too inconsistent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story, less the science and technical detail, is quite engaging as zombie books go. The whole science of zombies is ridiculous, but this is fiction so who cares.

    The plot is reasonably complex and involved. The timing of events is reasonably well thought out, but the interactions with various military groups were rather far fetched. How much disbelief do you suspend?

    Ah, the reading. As an English man I found the 'English' accents terrible. Can he only do an English that sounds like a brain damaged Cockney? This is the sort of 'English' accent that Americans use when they don't know they are being offensive. The bad accents were too much of the story to ignore. Other than that, and some weird pronunciation, Aden is Ayden not Ahden, the reading was OK. He was, at least, consistent. But really, not good.

    It is a mistake to spend too much time explaining your fictional science, as an author you may be impressed with what you have learned, but it just provides more danger of revealing the holes. Prions are not indestructible, enzymes crack up proteins, even prions. They can be burned too. Reaction and action times probably come in this area too. The fastest anyone can react to a simple stimulus is around 100 milliseconds, typical is around 200. So NOBODY can react to a change and implement an alternate attack in 30ms. That's utterly ridiculous.

    He really needs to find a better firearms instructor. That thing about 22s rattling around in the head and mushing the brain... did he learn that at a bar? It is rubbish. No professional chooses to take a hand gun to a battle as their primary weapon. No professional enters a combat situation without body armor. Nobody can tell the difference between a 9mm or 40S&W Glock without picking it up and reading it, they are virtually identical. A heart shot with a firearm will still take 20 seconds to incapacitate someone. The things you stick in semi automatic handguns are magazines, gang bangers use clips because they know no better. A clip is a device for holding loose rounds for loading in to a magazine.

    People with a history involving the military don't go discarding advice to stay out of secure matters and go on to discuss what they have been told is secret with civilians. People who do do that sort of thing don't get hired, they get visits from

    Then there's the weird love of therapists and apparent disdain for scientists. His therapist is a giant of a man who is so vastly impressive that he gets instantly hired by the secret agency and gets taken along on missions. Err. No. You see the shrink when it is all over. But our hero is so offended with the tame scientist that he wants to smash his face in for not being broken up by the reality of zombie involved slaughter. And yet he makes a big thing of not being too concerned himself later. I have worked with a lot of military types and that sort of expectation, even demand, for an emotional response is very artsy American, this modern emotional IQ notion perhaps. It is funny that on the one hand the author has to have had to talk to some fairly educated people about the science, and yet he needs to show disdain in his writing.
    Over it all there was this weak minded pap about how damaged we were by 9/11 but that we didn't let the terrorists win by that and 7/7 and yet the US did let the terrorists win. The British, on the other hand, after 7/7, showed the US how it should be done. Life returned to normal the next day because you give terrorists their victory by changing how you live your life and spending trillions to attack uninvolved countries in a fit of teenage temper. That sort of attitude is not the attitude of special forces types who actually get the job done.

    In the end the credibility gap in the zombie storyline if fine, because that's the fantasy of the book, but the ignorance of the people portrayed is the death of this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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