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John M

Lafayette, CA USA | Member Since 2007

364
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 51 reviews
  • 205 ratings
  • 646 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
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  • It

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5604)
    Performance
    (4250)
    Story
    (4278)

    They were just kids when they stumbled upon the horror of their hometown. Now, as adults, none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them all back to Derry, Maine, to face the nightmare without end, and the evil without a name.

    Parola138 says: "I thought I was desensitized"
    "Bravo!!"
    Overall

    This is a great combination of a terrific story and a terrific narrator. IT follows parallel story arcs with the same group of people - first as 11/12 year olds and then 27 years later as adults. This is a great storytelling device King has used previously and it is put to very good use here.

    On a personal note it was very effective as I read IT the first time over 20 years ago when I was 14 or 15 and I loved it then. Re-"reading" it now as an adult was fascinating as I empathized more with the adults in the story than the kids, but it was great fun both times.

    This is one of my favorite books of all time - very scary but King puts in plenty of laughs throughout to keep it moving along. Frankly the biggest surprise in the audio version is what a great narrator Steven Weber is. It brought the book to life in a way I didn't think possible.

    Definitely not for children or the faint of heart, but do listen and you will not be disappointed!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21472)
    Performance
    (19817)
    Story
    (19825)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Macgyver on Mars"
    "The perfect mix of thrills, science, and humor!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow - just finished The Martian! I feel like I've been to Mars. Out of the hundreds of audio books I have listened to, this is absolutely in my Top 10. Even Top 5. The whole book just resonated with me. Every day I could not wait to see what new calamity and solution our hero would come up with. But it was done so realistically that it could have been non-fiction. And Andy Weir gave the main character such a snarky sense of humor that it was laugh-out-loud funny in many places.

    I think this book will be especially wonderful if you are interested in science and engineering, but I don't think it is mandatory. As others have stated, just being able to enjoy MacGyver is probably good enough (though this is far, far higher quality that anything MacGyver ever did).

    I expect I will be listening to it again very soon!

    1 of 2 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
    (1932)
    Performance
    (1785)
    Story
    (1788)

    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"
    "Could have been much more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got about halfway through this book and didn't have the energy to continue. The overall premise is fine, if a bit shopworn. It echoes a lot of Battlestar Galactica insofar as you have the old ship (and crew) that can succeed where all the newer models fail. Where it fails I think is not allowing our culture to advance at all even though it is set almost 300 years in the future. The attitudes, problems, and prejudices expressed by the characters are exactly the same as they are today. If I think how much humanity has progressed over the last 300 years (and especially the last 100) I find it really hard to believe nothing culturally or politically will have changed. Do we really think the same nations and geopolitics around now will be the same 300 years from now? Britain still the same, suspicious of the Chinese and Russians, etc? Really?

    The use of language was fairly unsophisticated in many parts. The overuse of generic "reporters" and "bureaucrats" and their paper-thin characterizations got a bit tiresome. Overall I think there are better series (Black Jack Geary for one) out there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Dan Harris
    • Narrated By Dan Harris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2482)
    Performance
    (2172)
    Story
    (2163)

    After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists.

    Patrick says: "Mandatory read before trying any self-help books"
    "Perfect introduction for a skeptic like me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I stumbled into this book almost my accident. I am a frequent Audible customer, but stick with history and novels primarily. I would not consider myself a "self-help" book kind of guy at all. But fortunately I went a bit off-script and bought this book. It was absolutely fascinating and probably the only way a guy like me could get energized about mindfulness.

    Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete skeptic and novice and we learn right along with him about the myriad benefits to meditation. It is a fascinating ride. We also get a bonus insight into the workings of network news.

    I have subsequently listened to Professor Siegel's Great Courses series on the scientific foundation of mindfulness and it is a great companion piece. But listen to this one first! It is funny, interesting, informative, and well worth your time.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being

    • ORIGINAL (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Ronald Siegel
    Overall
    (240)
    Performance
    (211)
    Story
    (204)

    Ever noticed that trying to calm down often produces more agitation? Or that real fulfillment can be elusive, despite living a successful life? Often, such difficulties stem from the human brain's hardwired tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Modern science demonstrates that this survival mechanism served the needs of our earliest ancestors, but is at the root of many problems that we face today, such as depression, compulsive and addictive behaviors, chronic pain, and stress and anxiety.

    bonster says: "Well organized, thorough and entertaining"
    "Mindfulness and Meditation for us Left-Brain Types"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am convinced that Professor Siegel's approach is really the best way to be introduced to Mindfulness. He strikes an almost perfect balance of technical explanation, philosophical background, anecdotes from his practice, and actual meditation examples.

    Frankly, the list of benefits coming from mindfulness is almost unbelievable. I say "almost" because each time Prof Siegel would discuss yet another benefit I would hear myself thinking "there is no way that is true" he would then discuss all the studies that have been done in that particular area that prove out its efficacy.

    He is clearly an expert in his field, very enthusiastic, properly self-effacing, and an excellent presenter. There is some mediation practice in-line in the lectures, but there are also full-length meditations included at the end of the course. Since I mostly listen while driving I resisted the urge to practice during the lectures.

    Frankly, after listening to the course, I think it would be very hard not to want to put it into practice yourself. I also recommend "10% Happier" by Dan Harris as an excellent companion book to this lecture series. Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete novice (and skeptic). Anything that can win over Dan and Prof Siegel has my vote.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Christine

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    Overall
    (706)
    Performance
    (525)
    Story
    (523)

    It was love at first sight. From the moment 17-year-old Arnie Cunningham saw Christine, he knew he would do anything to possess her. But Christine is no lady. She is Stephen King's ultimate vehicle of terror.

    marvin says: "excellent novel made better by great narrator"
    "Enjoyable trip back in time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is classic Stephen King and quite an enjoyable listen overall. I heard King interviewed once where he said something like he writes very much in the time of the story. Meaning there are lots and lots of "contemporary" cultural references from 1978 that are wonderful in and of themselves. Growing up as a teen in the '70's wasn't all that easy (being a former '70's teen myself) and King does a masterful job of describing the detail in just the right way. Some of the dialog seems slightly unnatural for teens, but since he wrote the book in 1983 he probably got it pretty right.

    And of course, since this is set in the late 70's, our heroes have to try to solve the mystery/stop the evil without the use of the internet, cell phones, etc. The spend a a fair bit of time getting change for the phone booth and even have to do research in a public library - go figure! As a small example I really loved the descriptions of the typical middle-class food choices of our teen age heroes - Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and everything.

    Yes, the story is fairly scary and I think King did as good a job as anyone possibly good with the story of a possessed car, but there is only so much that one can do with that one plot device (especially as it is revealed early on) and I thought the story bogged down halfway through since the eventual confrontation seemed inevitable one third of the way in. This isn't a short book and the plot could have been resolved in 12 hours vs 19.5 hours, but King's writing is so smooth it is quite OK.

    But at the end of the day, I think it is reasonably easy to hide from a car, so it doesn't rise to the top-tier of King's books, but still worth a listen. Of course throughout the book I kept thinking of all the self-driving cars being tested right now from Google and all the others. My, how time flies!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By David Mills
    • Narrated By David Smalley
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (66)
    Story
    (63)

    Is there really a God? Or does God exist only in our heads? Is the Bible truly God's Word? Or is it a jumble of fanciful myths? Atheist Universe details why God is unnecessary to explain the universe's diversity, organization, and beauty. Using simple, straightforward logic, this audiobook rebuts every argument that claims to "prove" God's existence.

    Ben Silverstein says: "Great content, mediocre delivery"
    "Terrific, clear, and compelling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    David Mills has put together a wonderful book articulating the atheist position. It is mostly about challenging Intelligent Design, but there are several chapters arguing against typical Christian orthodoxy that are very well put together. In the introduction, Mills stresses how much time he spends making his writing clear, concise, and free of jargon and it shows. It is a very tightly organized and efficient book. He covers more in his book than ones twice as long. It also puts him in a solid position to criticize ID and Creation Science advocates for writing in very convoluted ways in order to sound more scientific.

    The narrator was quite good, though there were a few mispronunciations that stood out, but didn't detract from the overall message.

    Also, Mills spends a fair bit of time criticizing Christian Fundamentalists and frequently lumps them in with overall Christian believers. He lives in the southern US so I have no doubt a large percentage of Christians are fundamentalists. Out here in the more liberal West we don't see that many and the Christians are much more "reasonable", but the overall arguments are very sound regardless.

    If you are interested in this kind of book, I definitely would add this to your reading list next to Dawkins and Harris.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • All Our Yesterdays

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Cristin Terrill
    • Narrated By Meredith Mitchell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (598)
    Performance
    (530)
    Story
    (535)

    "You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present - imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called "the doctor" while war rages outside.

    Tango says: "Should be classified as Sci-Fi"
    "Probably a pretty good YA book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a big fan of time travel books and mysteries so I was intrigued by the publisher's summaries and the reviews, but I couldn't take more than 90 minutes of it. This is clearly a Young Adult dystopian book, but that wasn't obvious in any of the descriptions. After dwelling for pages and pages how a geeky 15 year old boy had become a "hot" 17 year old genius I realized I had stumbled into the wrong section. I'm sure it a fine specimen in the genre, but not for me.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • 1356: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Jack Hawkins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (486)
    Performance
    (428)
    Story
    (431)

    On September 19, 1356, a heavily outnumbered English army faced off against the French in the historic Battle of Poitiers. In 1356, Cornwell resurrects this dramatic and bloody struggle - one that would turn out to be the most decisive and improbable victory of the Hundred Years' War, a clash where the underdog English not only the captured the strategic site of Poitiers, but the French King John II as well.

    Amazon Customer says: "A Classic Story Comes To Life"
    "Only so-so for a Bernard Cornwell Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First off, I am a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. I have read/listened to all the Sharpe books, the Copperhead books, Winter King series, and many others. But for some reason 1356 seemed uninspired, especially compared with Agincourt, which I just re-listened to in anticipation of this book. Very similar eras, but character development, social history, and a compelling storyline all seemed better in Agincourt. And the narrator for 1356 didn't seem well suited to the role. His English accent was nice, but he sounded congested much of the time and I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters.

    Bottom line - if you like the Grail Quest series and want to see how Thomas of Hookton has progressed, you should give it a listen. Looking for a great medieval historical novel? Check out Agincourt and give 1356 a pass.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joe Ledger: Special Ops

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Jonathan Maberry
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (448)
    Performance
    (417)
    Story
    (415)

    Captain Joe Ledger - former cop, former Army Ranger, and currently the top-kick of Echo Team, an elite squad of first-class shooters who roll out to face down the world's most dangerous terrorists. Not fanatics with explosive vests or political hostage takers. Joe and his team square off against terrorists who have the most advanced and exotic weapons of mass destruction, designer bioweapons, cutting-edge transgenics…real mad-scientist stuff.

    Karen says: "Another Winner!"
    "A great way to get your Joe Ledger fix!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is a series of short stories that take place in timelines around those featured in the novels. While not required, I think these stories are best enjoyed once you have finished all the main novels. There are some "spoilers" in the short stories when the characters refer to events that happened at the conclusions of the different novels.

    Even though the book consists of stand-alone stories, there is some context-setting at the beginning of each that explains when/where each one takes place.

    Each story is substantial enough to be enjoyed in its own right. It actually felt similar to a regular Joe Ledger novel since those tend to be a series of action-packed episodes back to back anyway.

    To me, it was every bit as enjoyable as any of the other novels, which means it was a rocking 5-star listen.

    And there is an awesome bonus story at the end. An interview between Jonathan Maberry (the author) and Ray Porter (the narrator). It offers really terrific insight into how Ray goes about preparing for and recording the novels. It is also clear that Jonathan is as big a Ray Porter fan as I am! Worth the price of a credit all by itself. Enjoy!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • World War II: A Military and Social History

    • ORIGINAL (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Thomas Childers
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (99)
    Story
    (97)

    Between 1937 and 1945, approximately 55 million people perished in the series of interrelated conflicts known as the Second World War. No continent was left untouched, no ocean unaffected. The war led to the eclipse of Europe and the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers; ushered in the atomic age; produced, in the Holocaust, the most horrific crime ever committed in the history of Western civilization, and led to the end of Europe's colonial empires around the world.

    John M says: "My favorite Great Courses lecture"
    "My favorite Great Courses lecture"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have listened to dozens of "courses" from the Teaching Company over the years and this is one of the best. It was done a while ago but it still very worthwhile. What a treat to be able to listen to it via Audible. Professor Childers is an excellent lecturer and great storyteller who has an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. It is titled "a Military and Social History" but know if that it is about 80% military and 20% social. I wish there would have been more social or political context but I wouldn't have traded any of the military side - they should have just added additional lectures and I would have been quite happy.

    Prof. Childers does a remarkable job telling the story of this literally global catastrophe that is very easy to follow. It is hard to imagine a traditional book brought to audio that could accomplish the same feat.

    This was my first teaching company lecture series I ever listened to (over 10 years ago) and at that time I had only a cursory understanding of WWII. In the intervening years I have been an enthusiastic student of all things WWII and have read at least 15 books on various aspects of the conflict and visited numerous sites/monuments. So I can honestly say the lecture will be equally enjoyable whether you are new to the subject or you are familiar with it. Prepare for time well spent.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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