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Joel

Joel Szerlip

NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States | Member Since 2007

28
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 53 reviews
  • 94 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 26 purchased in 2014
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  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (1619)
    Performance
    (1442)
    Story
    (1458)

    Michael Lewis returns to the financial world to give listeners a ringside seat as the biggest news story in years prepares to hit Wall Street....

    Darwin8u says: "Making the system deliver on its promise."
    "Interesting Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't read a ton of non-fiction but every once in a while a book will come along that peaks my interest. The last one I read was the fantastic 1776 (almost ten books ago for me). However a couple of months back Michael Lewis had an excellent interview on Jon Stewart about his new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt and I instantly went on Audible and purchased it.

    Flash Boys is a book about high frequency trading and how it has changed the market completely. I know so little about the way in which the stock market actually works that the idea that a ton of money is being made at fractions of a second was fascinating. But what's even more fascinating is that the people who are considered great traders have no idea what their actually doing and how it all works. A good number of the big executives of financial firms have no idea how HFT (high frequency trading) actually happens. There is this almost laissez-faire attitude about it.

    Although I admittedly didn't follow everything, the broader message of this novel was fascinating. A group of traders start to see something is wrong with the market and set out on personal quests to both understand it and bring change to the market. I very much enjoyed Flash Boys and am really glad I read it. It's a really interesting story and one that shed a lot more light on a market I still don't understand but understand far better then i did before reading this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • California: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Edan Lepucki
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (18)

    The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can't reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in each other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant.

    Krista says: "Good Story, Very Poor Narration"
    "Not Deserving of The Colbert Bump"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not sure California by Edan Lepucki deserved the Colbert bump. The book was featured a month before its release on The Colbert Report, when Stephen Colbert was reporting on the Hachette v Amazon dispute. The concept sounded fascinating. A husband and wife in California after the world has been desecrated. You never do learn what happened but it sounds like a combination of war, global warming, and society just breaking down.

    So what's wrong with California the novel? Pretty much everything. The book doesn't really have the necessary elements of a good story. Like a beginning middle or end. The book is just there. You meet the focus of the book Cal (short for Calvin and also his nickname California) and Frida who are living in the wilderness after escaping Los Angeles. Without going into too much of the plot (or the minor resemblance's of a plot) its about their survival and the survival of those around them.

    I was listening to the audiobook and kept looking at the time left in the book and was wondering when something was going to happen. Yet nothing ever really happens. Frida complains and Cal consoles, and their characters switch roles a few times, but in all honesty nothing happens in this book. Both characters come off flat, and just have little to no redeeming quality.

    I guess that's my biggest issue with California. Where in a book like The Road you've got the main protagonists to root for in this bleak existence, I found myself not necessarily caring about what happened to any character in California. And then the book just ends. Rather abruptly going ahead briefly in time and then just ends. I listened to the ending a few times hoping that I missed something. Nope the book just ends and thus ends my review on California. An interesting concept that led to a lackluster book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Countdown City: The Last Policeman, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Ben H. Winters
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (92)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (82)

    There are just 77 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank’s days of solving crimes are over - until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband....

    Matthew says: "Don't bother buying a new watch battery"
    "Sets Up Well for the Series Finale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading The Last Policeman earlier this year I'd been interested in continuing the series but not rushing to it. I love the concept. A young policeman at the end of the world. An asteroid is only months away from making impact and destroying the world, and yet Hank Palace still wants to bring justice to a crumbling society. My biggest problem with the first book and continued in Countdown City is that Hank Palace doesn't feel real. He's like an ideal that everyone should strive to be like but you know that no one in that situation would.

    In Countdown City he takes on the case of his child-hood babysitter who can't find her husband. Like any good detective novel Hank goes after this seemingly straightforward case that turns out to be anything but. As the book describes they're only months away from the extinction of humans, a lot of people are going missing, so finding one man is no easy feat. The best parts of Countdown City are describing the ways in which people are coping. Some hang on religion, others form militias, and others retreat to even more primitive means.

    Its an interesting concept and a decent detective novel. It's a shame that both areas can't shine throughout the entire novel. There are just far to many head-scratching decisions that keep this series from being great. Countdown City is a short solid read but not all that memorable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Mercedes: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2436)
    Performance
    (2292)
    Story
    (2291)

    In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

    Marci says: "King and Patton create a winning combo"
    "Middle of the Road Summer Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mr. Mercedes follows retired detective Bill Hodges who never cracked the Mercedes killer case. Brady Hatfield (Mercedes killer) mowed down a group of waiting applicants at a Job Fair and got away with it. What ensues from that point is a pretty straightforward thriller albeit an enjoyable one. The story goes back and forth between the retired detective and the deranged serial killer showing the two paths getting closer and closer to converging into a last second stand off.

    Even though Mr. Mercedes was entertaining I had major issues with a lot of the side characters. They were paper thin and offered nothing to the story. I wanted more of Hodges and Hatfield and less of the fluff. None of it felt believable or added it to the story. Can we really believe that a decorated retired detective would want the help of a minor? King took so many leaps of faith for Hodges to even get close to connecting the Mercedes Killer with Brady Hatfield that at several points I chuckled.

    King has said this is the first book of a trilogy, but I don't see it. It feels like King wanted something in the line of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but this is not even close. A fun summer read but nothing more then that.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4631)
    Performance
    (3891)
    Story
    (3900)

    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

    Jimmy says: "Epic, Remarkable, Easy & Enjoyable!"
    "An Epic WWII Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read the first novel in The Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants a couple of years back. I enjoyed it a lot but for some reason I put off reading the second book. After starting a couple of books that I couldn't get into I decided to jump back in. For those that don't know this is a trilogy of novels that takes place from 1900-2000 and follow a number of different families from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.

    Winter of the World takes place right after the events of Fall of Giants. So right right at the end of World War I and the rise of Nazi Germany. What's fascinating about these novels are reading about the daily lives of those who lived through these world wars. Forget the battles but what about the people back at home? What was it like for a young German girl in Berlin for example who opposed to Nazi's? It's an interesting question and one that Follett does a great job with and was by far my favorite part of both Winter of the World and Fall of Giants.

    My biggest issue with both books but more so Winter of the World was keeping track of all the moving parts. There were a number of characters in the first book that now have families of their own and trying to keep track of it all is difficult. There were several times where I knew there was significance to an interaction but couldn't place where these characters paths crossed in earlier novels.

    Needless to say even though I couldn't place all of the characters I still really enjoyed Winter of the World. It does a great job of having some of the key characters involved with many of the major world events of the time period (WWII, Pearl Harbor, Atom Bombs). I'm now even more excited to finish off the trilogy this fall when Follett releases the final book in the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Auschwitz Escape

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Joel C. Rosenberg
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (375)
    Performance
    (340)
    Story
    (344)

    A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz’s beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans - especially Jews like Jacob and his family - are treated like dogs. When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare - trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.

    Joel says: "A heart warming read."
    "Incredible Tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Going into any book about The Holocaust you know your in for an emotional roller-coaster. The Auschwitz Escape follows the fictional tale of Jacob Weisz a German Jew who ends up in the worst of all of the death camps, Auschwitz. The novel is beautifully written. It keeps a very steady pace while taking the necessary time to build up characters and give us even more to cry about later.

    Like many other books on The Holocaust, this will absolutely pull a few tears out of anyone that reads it. The brutality of these camps and all that the Jews had to endure were horrific. It's a tough read and there were a few days that I just couldn't get myself to listen to the book. There are some scenes during Jake's time at Auschwitz that are a level of brutality that is hard to even listen to.

    For all the excellent writing there were some plot elements that get in the way from this being a truly stellar book. The last quarter of the book turns Jake away from the character we read about for the first three quarters of the book and makes him more of an action hero. It didn't fit his character nor his personality which made it seem out of place. There were also a few times where things seemed to work out to perfectly for Jake just to help move the story forward.

    All in all I would still highly recommend this novel. Even with its few faults this is still one of the best novels I've read in 2014. Not to mention the last couple of chapters were a beautiful way to finish off what is a great story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Valerie Estelle Frankel
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (153)
    Performance
    (137)
    Story
    (137)

    Game of Thrones fans watch in delight as the epic battle of Lannister and Stark entangles the Seven Kingdoms. But only the sharpest notice how these houses echo Lancaster and York in the War of the Roses. Druids, Catholics, and even Zoroastrians wander through Westeros, reframing their religions for a new world of fantasy. But how medieval is Westeros? Did lady knights and pirates really battle across Europe? The audiobook Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones explores all this and more, from the echoes of history to the symbols and omens our beloved characters.

    andrew says: "Good short listen, about GOT"
    "Cash Grab"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Winter is Coming sort of felt like a cash grab. I'd consider myself a fan of the series but not nearly as hardcore into Game of Thrones as many. Like most I read the books and am now thoroughly enjoying the HBO series. After receiving a credit on Audible I purchased Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones to try and get a better idea of what is to come for the rest of the series.

    The first half of Winter is Coming is far more interesting then the second. More then anything it focuses in on Jon Snow and Daenerys Targareyen and their importance to the series. There was some interesting pieces pulled from both the show and books that I overlooked but that do point to the two connecting at the end of the series. Where this book lost me is its parallels to real-life history and religion. I'm sure George R. R. Martin used things from this world to influence his novels but that was far less interesting to me then the predictions for the end.

    Even for the couple of dollars the book costs, I'd rather have read Game of Thornes message boards then read this one again.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Love Life

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Rob Lowe
    • Narrated By Rob Lowe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (389)
    Performance
    (365)
    Story
    (362)

    Love Life serves up another delicious selection of intimate stories and observations from Rob Lowe's life, told with humor, warmth, and brutal honesty. After writing his acclaimed debut effort, Lowe felt he had more stories to share and many more friends to introduce. The result is a touching memoir about the business and craft of acting, the pitfalls of success, family, love, and much more.

    LESLIE DOHENY-HANKS says: "Insightful, interesting and uplifting"
    "Missing Chapters of Stories I Only Tell My Friends"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Last year I read Rob Lowe's first book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. It was one of the best autobiographies I've ever read. Rob Lowe is an actor I really never followed until he joined the Parks and Recreation cast and became the star of that show. His character on Parks and Recreation was one of the main reasons why Jenn and I sticked with the series. He played the extremely positive boss/health nut who "literally" never had a bad thing to say about anyone.

    Rob Lowe recently released his second book, this one titled Love Life. I thought going in that this might be a deeper look into his teen idol sensation which made for some of the most interesting stories in his first book, but it really wasn't. More then anything Love Life was actually about his deep love and passion for life. The book jumps all over the place, from his days as a child, to minutes before he finished the first draft of the book. Unfortunately unlike the first book this one just jumps around so much that its hard to understand what his main goal was for this book.

    That's not to say that it wasn't highly entertaining, because even with the books shortfalls its still a very entertaining book. Having got the audio version, Rob Lowe reads his own novel and for me that really makes an autobiography. You can hear his love for his family, his deep devotion to his friends, and the genuine honor he feels for the life he's lived.

    Unfortunately even with all the good vibes, Love Life just feels like the cut/missing chapters of his first novel. There still highly entertaining but lack the substance and the structure to make it a lasting memory like his first novel. Rob Lowe has a sincere talent for writing and I cannot wait to see what else he writes in the future.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Final Empire: Mistborn Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7855)
    Performance
    (5327)
    Story
    (5365)

    For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison.

    Aaron Brown says: "Unique Magic system, good plot twists."
    "Great High Fantasy Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After reading my first Brandon Sanderson novel a couple of months back (Steelheart) I decided that I would give one of Sanderson's older books a go. After a lot of research I decided to start the Mistborn series and am glad I did.

    Like any first book in a series, Mistborn: The Final Empire takes a long time to get going. Possibly longer then most. There was a point (probably a quarter way through) that I wasn't sure if I was even going to finish it. However just when I thought about throwing in the towel, the stars aligned and the novel started to take shape. At the half way point of Mistborn: The Final Empire I was hooked.

    This probably is the first novel that I've read that would be considered a "high fantasy" novel. The book has a very in-depth magic system that might sound extremely nerdy but is super easy to understand and get on board with. The way in which Sanderson is able to build this world and get you to buy in is pretty great. There were a few times that I rolled my eyes at a line of dialogue but for the most part the character development is top notch.

    Mistborn: The Final Empire wasn't my favorite fantasy novel but I think it laid the ground work for an interesting series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Clifton Chronicles, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Archer
    • Narrated By Alex Jennings
    Overall
    (425)
    Performance
    (363)
    Story
    (367)

    Be Careful What You Wish For opens with Harry Clifton and his wife Emma rushing to the hospital to learn the fate of their son, Sebastian, who has been involved in a fatal car accident. But who died, Sebastian or his best friend Bruno? When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him. But Don Pedro Martinez intends to install his puppet, the egregious Major Alex Fisher, in order to destroy the Barrington family firm just as the company plans to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham.

    cristina says: "The demise of a great, fun author"
    "Where is the Series Going?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Be Careful What You Wish For is at the very least a better novel then the previous entry into the series, Best Kept Secret. However for a series that started off as splendidly as this, its still a let down from the first two novels.

    Be Careful What You Wish For picks up minutes after the cliffhanger from Best Kept Secret and continues down the winding road of mysteries that is a Jeffrey Archer novel. For the first two novels of the series all the twists and turns seemed justified. Unfortunately this family feud that continues in this novel just isn't as interesting a driving force as before. Sure there are reasons why the Cliffton's have enemies but the lengths in which both sides go to seems extreme.

    I've found all the novels enjoyable, but not with the same vigor I had at the start of the series. I'm concerned as well that the series doesn't have enough power behind it to make it to the end of the planned seven book series. The good news is this novel does end with an interesting cliffhanger that leaves me just interested enough to come back again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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