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Marcus Vorwaller

Seattle, WA USA

240
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 265 ratings
  • 575 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
4

  • Anna Karenina

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By David Horovitch
    Overall
    (549)
    Performance
    (346)
    Story
    (340)

    Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky.

    Marcus Vorwaller says: "Beautiful story, amazing narration"
    "Beautiful story, amazing narration"
    Overall

    How can one man understand so much about human nature and portray it so vividly and so beautifully? Tolstoy seems to have lived a thousand lives. Whether he is telling the thoughts of a mother as she gives birth, the reasoning's of a man who is trying to find meaning in the conflicting worlds of science and religion, the anxious feelings of young lovers or, amusingly, the thoughts of a dog as it runs through the woods chasing birds in a hunt, the descriptions flow so effortlessly and incisively that I found myself laughing and crying and with goosebumps over and over as I listened.

    There is never a sense of hurry in the story--that the best way to read it was to enjoy the prose and let the plot unfold in its slow, meandering way without expecting it or anticipating it. It's a book that should be enjoyed with leisure and pondered over time.

    Regarding the audio adaptation--the narration is among the best I've ever heard.

    56 of 56 people found this review helpful
  • The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Oliver Burkeman
    • Narrated By Oliver Burkeman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (304)
    Performance
    (271)
    Story
    (272)

    The Antidote is a series of journeys among people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. What they have in common is a hunch about human psychology: that it’s our constant effort to eliminate the negative that causes us to feel so anxious, insecure, and unhappy. And that there is an alternative "negative path" to happiness and success that involves embracing the things we spend our lives trying to avoid.

    Brett says: "Self help for the real world"
    "Well-written, if somewhat shallow"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Antidote starts off by talking about the positive thinking movement, moves on to Seneca and the Stoics then dips into Buddhist meditation, pauses to to criticize goal setting then stops in for a visit with Eckhart Tolle. Burkeman then writes about how we overvalue safety and undervalue failure then ends with a chapter on how we approach death, including an interesting visit to Mexico on the Day of the Dead.

    Every chapter is well written and provides sufficient insight into each of the various subjects the book touches on. In the end, it's all pulled together nicely and makes a good case for finding peace and happiness by focusing on being okay with life as it is rather than constantly worrying about what it could be or should be. It's a good introduction to alternatives to positive thinking, but The Antidote never goes deep enough into any one subject to make it a memorable book or one that is worth re-reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Eric Schlosser
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (407)
    Performance
    (372)
    Story
    (369)

    Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America's nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved - and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.

    Ethan M. says: "A miracle that we escaped the Cold War alive...."
    "Wow. I had no idea."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was the first thing I’ve read that goes into any detail on the situation of the nuclear situation in the US and the world. Wow. I wasn’t convinced I wanted to know so much about missiles and warheads and what it takes to keep them secret and secure, but after I started realizing the scope of what could have gone wrong during the heights of the Cold War the information quickly went from being academic to something much more real.

    The number of accidents involving nuclear warheads is surprisingly high. The internal politics revolving around how these weapons should be used are maddening. The scope of the destruction that would have ensued had the Cold War master plan ever been carried out is literally insane. The fact that so many nations to this day have the power to cause that type of destruction makes the relatively stable state of the world seem tenuous to say the least.

    Command and Conquer starts off slow, but quickly becomes an engrossing freakshow of the insanity of the Cold War and the truly awful power of the superpowers

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By V. S. Ramachandran
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (219)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (156)

    V. S. Ramachandran is at the forefront of his field - so much so that Richard Dawkins dubbed him the "Marco Polo of neuroscience". Now, in a major new work, Ramachandran sets his sights on the mystery of human uniqueness. Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved.

    Michael says: "Great if you like understanding how brains work"
    "Really sets itself apart in the second half"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's a ton here. The first half of the book covers a lot that's pretty well discussed elsewhere, but in the second half, Ramachandran just explodes into a huge fireball of ideas that are expansive not only in their reach but are also impressive in their novelty and creativity. You get the feeling that the only thing keeping him back is time. It's definitely not a lack of important questions and well-designed experiments.

    I especially liked his discussion of art and aesthetics and his speculations on why we like abstract art and what makes some art almost irresistible to the human brain. He comes to it with a refreshingly different perspective due to his Indian background. He's unwaveringly scientific, but seems to have a much greater pool of examples to draw from due to the vast cultural landscape India offers. A lot of the book is speculative, but the speculation isn't far-fetched, certainly nowhere near as speculative as most of what today's physicists write about, and he clearly indicates what's solid and what's remains to be tested, often suggesting experiments for others to try.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A History of Future Cities

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs)
    • By Daniel Brook
    • Narrated By Michael Butler Murray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    A pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai. Every month, five million people move from the past to the future. Pouring into developing-world “instant cities” like Dubai and Shenzhen, these urban newcomers confront a modern world cobbled together from fragments of a West they have never seen. Do these fantastical boomtowns, where blueprints spring to life overnight on virgin land, represent the dawning of a brave new world? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?

    Marcus Vorwaller says: "Engaging and Memorable"
    "Engaging and Memorable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Very engaging. The stories of how St. Petersburg, Bombay, Dubai and Shanghai came to be what they are today are complex. At times they're inspirational, a testament to the power that one person's vision can have to influence a huge number of people, but just as often, the history of these cities are cautionary tales of what happens when idealism trumps pragmatism and power is concentrated too narrowly. Well worth the read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (2052)
    Performance
    (1825)
    Story
    (1843)

    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."
    "Prepare to get mad."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Before reading Flash Boys, I was only marginally aware of High Frequency Trading and had only a vague notion of what it was. Michael Lewis sheds a lot of light on how it works and who it benefits (hint: not you) and apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was in the dark. HFT is usually portrayed as being a net win for the markets because it provides liquidity. That turns out to be far from the truth. Not only is the liquidity provided by HFT a false liquidity that benefits no one, it turns out it’s just a way to take advantage of having faster access to market data to essentially skim from “normal” market activity. It’s guys with faster connections and privileged access to market data taking your money when you trade while providing you zero benefit whatsoever in return.

    You pretty much have to have faith that based on his reputation, Lewis is getting his facts straight since it obviously behooves the HFT traders to obfuscate what they’re doing. If he’s getting it right though, then there’s a lot of crap going down that should shake your faith in the good intentions of majority of stock brokers. Fortunately there is a hint of optimism throughout the book and signs that things are changing, but the situation he describes so well is very much still happening today.

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Bleeding Edge

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Thomas Pynchon
    • Narrated By Jeannie Berlin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (95)

    Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics - carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people's bank accounts - without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom - two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst - till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm....

    Robert says: "A fine wine in a dirty and cracked glass"
    "Is the narration really that bad?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes, the narration is unacceptable. I have nothing against Jeannie Berlin, I'm sure that her acting career is fine and apparently Pynchon approves of her since she's going to be Aunt Reet in the upcoming Inherent Vice movie. Unfortunately though, her performance in this audiobook is, to put it mildly, sub-par.

    I feel like there must be some secret to why she was picked, some conspiracy or personal connection or something shady and deep that ties in with the plot of the book. If it's there though, I didn't figure it out. I've listened to a lot of books where you eventually get used to a narrator that might first strike you as someone whose voice didn't work for the story. In this case, that point where the narration faded into the background and the story became the focus never materialized.

    The reading is slow, each word is awkwardly punctuated. There is a distinct lack of differentiation between the voices of each of the characters, men sound like women and young characters sound old. This isn't inherent to the age and sex of the narrator, other older narrators like Frederick Davidson handle this just fine. Apart from that, there are numerous mispronounced words and misplaced accents.

    So yes, this review is just a review of the performance. The book is great, it's just difficult to imagine re-listening to it or recommending anyone purchase with the narration as it is.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • The Cuckoo's Calling

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    Overall
    (6598)
    Performance
    (6002)
    Story
    (6009)

    After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: his sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

    Tracey says: "Unbelievable debut mystery set in London"
    "Good, not great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is no evidence of the hyper-imaginative storyteller and world-builder that wrote Harry Potter, but The Cuckoo's Calling is a solid detective novel. Nothing more, nothing less.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Reamde

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    Overall
    (3648)
    Performance
    (3188)
    Story
    (3225)

    Richard Forthrast created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game. But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe - and Richard is at ground zero.

    ShySusan says: "Not perfect, but worth a listen."
    "Fun story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's not nearly as memorable or as deep as other Stephenson books, but it's entertaining. The characters are fairly flat, but the story moves quick and the settings are interesting. It's worth a read.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Under the Volcano: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Malcolm Lowry
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (54)

    On the Day of the Dead, in 1938, Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic and ruined man, is fatefully living out his last day, drowning himself in mescal while his former wife and half-brother look on, powerless to help him. The events of this one day unfold against a backdrop unforgettable for its evocation of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical.

    Melinda says: "Excellent...but not for everyone"
    "Great book, slightly flawed narration"
    Overall

    It took me awhile to warm up to this book. For the first hour or two I seriously considered quitting it but I'm glad I didn't. It gets more and more beautiful and more tragic with every chapter. The symbolism and metaphors build on themselves and the descriptions flow smoothly into plot. The literary references (the ones I actually caught) are fun and add another layer of meaning to the story. By the end I was sitting in my driveway long after arriving home entranced with the story. Stick out the beginning, it's worth it!

    The narration was great except that the Lee's Spanish pronunciation leaves a *lot* to be desired. Understanding the bits that are in Spanish isn't key to understanding the book but I found it distracting to hear the pretty blatant mistakes. Other than that though, it's a really, really well-done production.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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