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Joe

I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

Kansas City, MO, United States | Member Since 2011

140
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 71 reviews
  • 172 ratings
  • 321 titles in library
  • 48 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
16

  • Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Timothy Snyder
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (362)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (239)

    Americans think of World War II as “The Good War”, a moment when the forces of good resoundingly triumphed over evil. Yet the war was not decided by D-day. It was decided in the East, by the Red Army and Joseph Stalin. While conventional wisdom locates the horrors of World War II in the six million Jews killed in German concentration camps, the reality is even grimmer. In 13 years, the Nazi and Soviet regimes killed 13 million people in the lands between Germany and Russia.

    Joseph says: "Stuck between mad men"
    "One of the best and scariest books I've ever read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Let's start with the end: you should buy this book. It will surprise you, shock you, scare you, enlighten you, inform you and more than anything else, it will make you think. As promised by the description (and from my own time in high school history classes) most Westerners think of WWII from a western perspective, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany invades France, the landing at Normandy, the march towards Berlin. But we don't think of the drama in Eastern Europe, the areas between Berlin and Moscow. That was where the real atrocities happened between 1930 and 1945. This book examines these areas, known to our author as the Bloodlands.

    With wonderful depth, humanity and detail, the author describes what happens throughout Eastern Europe as it is annexed by Stalin, invaded by Russia and Germany, traded back and forth in the war's Eastern front and continually starved, persecuted and purged of "unnecessary eaters". This is the story of how the Holocaust was worse than most westerners even know, of how dictators decided certain people didn't need to live and how 14 million private citizens were brutally murdered. It has changed modern history for me and opened my eyes to events I scarcely understood before. Moreover, it ends with a discussion of the Stalin and Nazi regimes and how modern man could fall into such psychological traps again. This is a spectacular book; I can't recommend it enough.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Shadow of the Torturer: The Book of the New Sun, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (804)
    Performance
    (504)
    Story
    (506)

    The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in the four-volume epic, the tale of a young Severian, an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession - showing mercy towards his victim.

    Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

    Ryan says: "great writing, won't appeal to everyone"
    "just not entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have no doubt that Gene Wolfe, the author, created a well thought through and populated universe and that his attention to detail was genre defining. But in the end that mattered very little to me, because this book is pretty boring. Here we have the story of a Torturer, raised amongst others of his guild. Then he commits the unthinkable act of having mercy on his victim. He should be killed, but instead is evicted, and this begins his four novel ourney. You can bet that I won't be joining him in the other three.

    He's not a very interesting person and his inner thoughts have very little imagination. They are, instead, formulaic and trustful of the world's status quo. His adventure is also not very adventurous. Sure, there's a battle with deadly plants (I kid you not) but the hours and hours that pace without action wore me down. Sorry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's Star Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (321)
    Performance
    (301)
    Story
    (301)

    Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare's greatest plays. 'Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

    Amazon Customer says: "To Thine Ears, Brilliance This Doth Be!"
    "the empire doth protest too much, methinks"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is such a great concept for a book, and executed with such enjoyment and wonder that you'll be completely willing to overlook a few minor mistakes. Here you have something NEW and FUN, a book unlike anything you've read before. As you can see from the publisher's description, it's the story of Star Wars Episode 4 written in Shakespearean Iambic Pantameter. The soliliques are here, the asides, the great references to Shakespeare lines and Starwsars fandom (such as a reference to Han shooting first.)

    Also, the author isn't afraid to rethink the characters. For instance, R2D2 speaks in beeps and squeaks, but then will give a monologue as an aside to the audience about how HE'S really the one controlling the action and how much he hates C3P0. If the gimic wears a bit thin in the middle and the author attempts to write stage directions at the end of the piece in a way Shakespeare never would, that's ok, because this is a fresh author and cast and they just want us to have fun with them. Go along for the ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • In Defense of Food

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Michael Pollan
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1395)
    Performance
    (623)
    Story
    (629)

    "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion.

    Kimberly says: "Good book, but read The Omnivore's Dilemma first"
    "Prepare to change your habits"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The best books affect you, make you think and sometimes they even make you change your day to day habits. This is one of those books, a short read of ground shifting potential. And like all great books I’ve read, it starts with a simple premise and a simple question: Western culture is, by and large, health obsessed and has been for a while. We count calories, we examine fat content, we examine with finite prevision the nutritional makeup of our foods. So why, in a culture of nutritional obsession are we getting sicker and sicker every year?

    What the author poses as an answer is, to use his words, that we have removed culture from our eating habits (culture being a word that means your mother). So he examines the food industry for all its faults and suggests an alternative: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It’s strange that someone would need to spend a whole book defending food but most of what we eat is not, strictly speaking, food. You should read this book, it has made an impact in my life. So go on, get cooking.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cockroaches: The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (391)
    Performance
    (347)
    Story
    (348)

    When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case. But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls.

    L. O. Pardue says: "The Rest of the Harry Hole Series is Excellent!"
    "As always, amazing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Harry Hole series never fails to deliver. Here's another in the detective sage: a series of surprising murders, a cascade of suspects, a world of depravity and sin, and our hero, Harry, stuck in the middle. This time Harry finds himself sent out to Bangkok to investigate a diplomat’s murder in a seedy motel room. The unfolding layers of insider drug rings, ruthless businessmen, and illegal pornography conspire to give Harry his most dangerous case yet.

    As always, Nesbo delivers real human drama, strong characters, and an interesting plot. As I’ve always said, the Harry Hole books use genre clichés to deliver unfaltering character studies. This book is no exception, and the narrator’s pretty amazing too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Sheri Fink
    • Narrated By Kirsten Potter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (658)
    Performance
    (579)
    Story
    (585)

    In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days.

    Cynthia says: "Five Days in Hell/Years in Purgatory"
    "An amazing story with suspect pacing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well, this is a terrifying story. A horrible flood, under-prepared staff members caring for sick patients, no plan for emergencies, and a time frame that stretches on adding day to day. This is the story of Memorial Hospital as it was stranded during Katrina. There is dirt and fear and failing electricity and patients who need hand pumped ventilation and air conditioning. Then the really crazy question: did the staff members euthanize the patients? There's ample evidence that they did.

    The author takes you through the decisions and the points of view in great detail for the five days of the disaster. It's really epic reading and you'll storm through the first half of this book. But the disaster is only the first half. Then we have the legal story, told with the same care for balance and detail, we watch the investigation into Dr. Amanda Pou, who likely ordered the injections. Was she guilty and would she be convicted? This is inherently not as interesting a subject matter and there is less human drama (though the complexities of legal struggle did keep my attention). If this book was more disaster and less legal struggle it would have been perfect. As it stands, it's just really, really good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mornings on Horseback

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By David McCullough
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (117)
    Story
    (120)

    Winner of the 1982 National Book Award for Biography, Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it is the story of a remarkable little boy -- seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma -- and his struggle to manhood.

    bonnie says: "speed i[ up your player"
    "This book is a scalpel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my second David McCullough book and they just get better and better. Here we have a story that will surprise you: not the biography of the TR that we know from history, but the shaping of him into that man. His father and mother were truly exceptional people, she a wonderful story teller coming from an eccentric southern family and he a patriot and charity-driven socialite. This book tells the story, as McCullough says in the afterward, of what formed the frail, asthmatic boy into the larger than life President. The books ends when he is finally the man we know.

    And the journey there is amazing. He struggled throughout his childhood with sickness, his family lived a lifestyle that has long since vanished, he deals with amazing victories at an unprecedented early age and he survives the most devastating of losses. His character changes and grows and we watch with amazing precision as a new man emerges. This book is wonderful history, fantastic detail, an intimate character study, and ripping good fun. Enjoy it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brave New World

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Aldous Huxley
    • Narrated By Michael York
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2925)
    Performance
    (2148)
    Story
    (2173)

    When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

    Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media: has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

    Jefferson says: "“Oh, Ford, Ford Ford, I Wish I Had My Soma!”"
    "How did this become a classic?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's no getting around it, Brave New World is a bad book. It's the story of a world where humans are engineered to fit a specific purpose and the engineering doesn't end after birth. The characters have come to accept this life, even the scheduling of their free time and the people they have relationships with, as normal. Our main character shifts halfway through the book to a man born on a reservation who is known as the savage. Then he comes into conflict with the New World.

    That's the plot, but here's the juice: it's boring. The characters never challenge the world, they rarely come into conflict with its boundaries, and frankly, they're boring. They don't grow or want to grow in any significant way. The conflict only happens when the savage comes to the city, and even then it's too little and way too late. Not only that, but Michael York is an okay narrator - but his American accent is atrocious.

    This stock is a definite Don't Buy.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Cormac McCarthy
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1307)
    Performance
    (765)
    Story
    (769)

    Author of the National Book Award-winning All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy is one of the most provocative American stylists to emerge in the last century. The striking novel Blood Meridian offers an unflinching narrative of the brutality that accompanied the push west on the 1850s Texas frontier.

    Colin says: "Existential leavings"
    "What more can be said?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Every list I examine of Best Books of the 20th century, Scariest Books, and Best American Books have Blood Meridian on them. And the book deserves each accolade. The word dystopian barely describes the desolate and baseless landscape these characters inhabit. It will thrill you, terrify you, excite you, and oftentimes depresses you, but you will never be bored.

    This is the novel of a hired band of mercenaries who head into the southern states and through Mexico, hunting the native Indians. The land is lawless and without any moral code to speak of. Our main character is a nameless kid who has been on his own since his early teenage years. He strikes up with the band and survives amidst the chaos and depravity.

    You haven't read any other book like this and it's time you did. The plot is unreal, the characters strange, and the narration is dead on - if you'll pardon the pun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Things They Carried

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tim O'Brien
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1349)
    Performance
    (1252)
    Story
    (1243)

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

    Darwin8u says: "Grief, terror, love, longing"
    "a modern classic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's been all over Audible for some time now: a great war story and narrated by Bryan Cranston! Let's get the obvious over with first: Cranston is incredible and you could buy this book on his involvement alone. That said, let's talk about the book, it's mostly good points and its few downsides.

    The Things They Carried is small stories, not very interconnected, from Vietnam. They are not in order and they do not connect at the end to tell some larger story. But they paint a wonderful mosaic of how soldiers come back from war traumatized and we can understand the mental plight of soldiers who were witness to horror. We'll look at stories of men drowning, firefights, trying to dodge the draft, and coming home from war and not being able to integrate into society again. These are nearly perfect moments in time and told with such precision and care that you'll be astounded. My favorite story was of a soldier coming home and driving around a lake, wondering if there is anyone he could tell his story to, the story of how he almost won the Medal of Valor.

    But the author doesn't know how to end the book and it slows down and then just stops. I wish there was more there, that there was a more impactful story to end on, but for me the least interesting moments of the book are at the end. Afterward is a short story separate from the book, read by the author. He is not the narrator that Cranston is, but do listen to this story, it is exceptional. If only it had been the end of the book...

    Do buy this book, it's not only good, I dare to say it's important.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night of the Living Deed

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By E.J. Copperman
    • Narrated By Amanda Ronconi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (604)
    Performance
    (557)
    Story
    (556)

    Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.

    Felicia The Geeky Blogger says: "Had a blast listening to this one!"
    "Fun but no cigar"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The start of a new series with ghosts and killers and quirky characters, but it's still missing something. Night of the Living Deed, tells the story of Alison, a single mother who receives a whack on the head and now can see ghosts. And the first ones she meets ask her to solve their murders. All this while she's trying to open up a guest house on the Jersey Shore. Let's do this as a pro and con list.

    Pro: the author really loves her characters and wants to explore them, the plot isn't predictable, the book delivers on its promise to be fun without being serious, it's a fast read, there are endless opportunities for stories in the future of the series, the narrator is just great.

    Cons: there isn't a lot of plot and when it happens there will inevitably be a scene recapping everything so far, the jokes only work some of the time, the author isn't really exploring the idea of the main character seeing ghosts nearly as much as she could so it feels underwhelming, the mystery isn't a primary focus, there isn't very much suspense even as the narrator's life is threatened and in danger, there isn't much development, and there is very little interpersonal drama.

    I might read more of the series, but it didn't grab my attention very well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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