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Nothing really matters

Rob Thomas

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2014

295
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 69 reviews
  • 73 ratings
  • 546 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
35
FOLLOWERS
39

  • Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Mark W. Muesse
    Overall
    (836)
    Performance
    (729)
    Story
    (718)

    Meditation offers deep and lasting benefits for mental functioning and emotional health, as well as for physical health and well-being. These 24 detailed lectures teach you the principles and techniques of sitting meditation, the related practice of walking meditation, and the highly beneficial use of meditative awareness in many important activities, including eating and driving. You will also learn how to use the skills of meditation in working with thoughts and emotional states.

    Steven says: "Outstanding introduction"
    "It sounds like a cliché, but it changed my life."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this lecture series for help with learning to meditate. I did not find it too helpful on that front as I am a complete beginner and the lecturer did not take the sort of hand-holding approach to meditation that I feel I need.

    BUT, the lectures that dealt with topics related to meditation and not meditation itself were amazing. I think they've helped me unlock the key mysteries about myself and my interactions with others and things that I've been struggling with for a great many years. I'm very, very glad I bought and listened to these lectures.

    85 of 89 people found this review helpful
  • The Forever War

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Joe Haldeman
    • Narrated By George Wilson
    Overall
    (1531)
    Performance
    (936)
    Story
    (950)

    William Mandella is a soldier in Earth's elite brigade. As the war against the Taurans sends him from galaxy to galaxy, he learns to use protective body shells and sophisticated weapons. He adapts to the cultures and terrains of distant outposts. But with each month in space, years are passing on Earth. Where will he call home when (and if) the Forever War ends?

    John says: "A classic."
    "The Terrans vs the Taurans, + lots of weird stuff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A fun read. It takes a realistic-feeling approach to the physics of war in space. The politics as well. The characters are refreshingly down-to-earth (no apologies, pun-haters), instead of someone's fantasy of what a cool and macho space warrior should be like.

    It's really an amazing book if you take into account that it was written in the 1970s. Until I finished reading it and checked, I had assumed it was written later.

    Final note: at double speed, which is how I often listen to fiction, the narrator sounded like Peter Parker from the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. Funny. I kept waiting to hear him say, 'Wallopping web-snappers!'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fuzzy Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4685)
    Performance
    (4140)
    Story
    (4141)

    In John Scalzi's re-imagining of H. Beam Piper's 1962 sci-fi classic Little Fuzzy, written with the full cooperation of the Piper Estate, Jack Holloway works alone for reasons he doesnt care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorps headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporations headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, thats not up for discussion.

    Samuel Montgomery-Blinn says: "Short, sweet, and satisfying storytelling."
    "Hard-bitten anti-hero saves Ewoks from Bill Gates"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, I have not read “Little Fuzzy” of which this book is an updated version. Second, this is the first John Scalzi book I have read. Third, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to sci-fi fans with one reservation.

    My reservation is that this is yet another sci-fi tale with a hard-bitten, anti-hero main character. Yup, the main character is a grizzled veteran of court-room battles who uses his superior intellect and knowledge to flummox the bad guys. And, of course, he isn’t afraid to throw a manly punch when needed.

    To John Scalzi’s credit, the fact that the main character is an antihero actually is relevant to the plot. At least at the very end. Okay, that’s good. But, still, I’m very tired of the macho outsider main characters that are almost standard in sci-fi, crime novels, and the like. I hope he does not use that sort of main character in all his books. Maybe he just inherited this character from Little Fuzzy, right? Otherwise, I guess I’m done with his books.

    A final thought. Little Fuzzy was published in the early 60s and you have to wonder if it was George Lucas’s inspiration for the Ewoks battling the empire and the basic plot elements in James Cameron’s Avatar.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Caine Mutiny

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    Overall
    (1085)
    Performance
    (950)
    Story
    (950)

    Having inspired a classic film and Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny is Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater. It was immediately embraced upon its original publication as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of the Second World War. In the intervening half century, this gripping story has become a perennial favorite, selling millions throughout the world, and claiming the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

    James says: "Even Better than the Movie"
    "What is the right approach to poor leadership?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fascinating war story with several layers that are not initially apparent. The story starts off focussed on the main character and his entry into, and activities in, the US Navy during WWII. But with the introduction of new characters and changing circumstances, things get much more and interesting and complicated.

    It struck me as primarily a tale of bad leadership and subordinates' reactions to it and how young men mature in tough circumstances and possibly gain resulting wisdom. It takes a stand on what the right approach to weak leadership ought be. I found the suggested answer pretty much impossible to argue with. I also found it disturbing when I recalled how I’ve handled such situations through the years.

    It’s a long book, but rewarding and worth the time. It’s very well narrated and I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • An Unwelcome Quest: Magic 2.0, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Scott Meyer
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1646)
    Performance
    (1499)
    Story
    (1496)

    Ever since Martin Banks and his fellow computer geeks discovered that reality is just a computer program to be happily hacked, they've been jaunting back and forth through time, posing as medieval wizards and having the epic adventures that other nerds can only dream of having. But even in their wildest fantasies, they never expected to end up at the mercy of the former apprentice whom they sent to prison for gross misuse of magic and all-around evil behavior.

    Chris says: "Happy to see more, but not as fun as the first two"
    "Unwelcome Quest is welcome addition to the series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Magic 2.0 series is the most fun series I've read in ages. This third installment brings back all your favourite characters and sets them off on a new, nerdy adventure.

    The story was great fun and the main characters are very likeable. The narration is excellent and makes the story even more enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Ernest Hemingway
    • Narrated By Campbell Scott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1724)
    Performance
    (970)
    Story
    (986)

    In 1937, Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight", For Whom the Bell Tolls.

    A User says: "The Mountains of Spain"
    "Great story, great writing, really enjoyable."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Everyone has a different concept of what makes great literature. For at least one friend of mine it has a lot to do with the use of literary devices and surprising twists. That's fine, but I think to be great literature, you have to start with a great story. Without a satisfying and sensible story, you've got nothing no matter how cleverly the story is constructed.

    Fortunately, For Whom the Bell Tolls is, in my books, great literature. It is a compelling war story and it is superbly told (and very well narrated as well).

    It is the story of an American who volunteers to fight in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists and with (are you sitting down, my American friends?) the communists. He is assigned a very difficult mission and faces serious challenges created by a key member of his team, among other causes. The story takes place over a couple of days, but there is a lot of drama and genuine-feeling emotion packed into those days. I don't want to spoil the story, so I'll stop there.

    If you want to read a great war story and enjoy some great writing, look no further! I really enjoyed it, as have generations before me have and as generations after me will. Don't miss out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Adam Gidwitz
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (81)

    Adam Gidwitz makes a sparkling debut with a work that children are sure to request again and again. Not content within the confines of their own tale, Hansel and Gretel skip out on their story and jump into eight other classic Grimm fairy tales. But all is not sugarplums and candy houses. Danger lies ahead, and Hansel and Gretel have much to learn about avoiding witches’ ovens and making sure “The End” isn’t their end.

    Nothing really matters says: "My kids LOVED this. I was addicted as well."
    "My kids LOVED this. I was addicted as well."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a really great book which takes a novel approach to Grimm's fairy tales. My daughter (8 yrs old), who enjoys spooky stories, took to it like I've never seen her take to any book before.

    My son (10 yrs old) who normally doesn't care for even slightly scary stories was also totally hooked.

    And despite my best efforts to avoid getting into it, I have to admit I really liked it. My wife did too.

    We all really liked it and I've already bought the sequel for us. The story is funny/creepy/exciting and the narration is perfect. Highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • FREE The Playground

    • UNABRIDGED (44 mins)
    • By Ray Bradbury
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (476)
    Performance
    (439)
    Story
    (440)

    "The Playground" was part of the first hardcover edition of Ray Bradbury's legendary work Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. In the story, Charles Underhill is a widower who will do anything to protect his young son Jim from the horrors of the playground - a playground which he and the boy pass by daily and the tumult of which, the activity, brings back to Charles the anguish of his own childhood.

    Nothing really matters says: "Something more than just a creepy short story."
    "Something more than just a creepy short story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fantastic and spooky short story. It's got the really creepy feel you'd expect in a "spooky story", but it has another poignant element and works equally on another level.

    [SPOILER ALERT] This is the story of a widower trying to protect his infant son from what turn out to be monstrous children on a diabolical playground. The story paints a picture of the father's desperation which leads him to undertake a fantastic sacrifice for his little boy.

    When I read this story as a boy years ago I connected with the bullied-kid-on-the-playground angle. Reading it today, being a middle-aged father, the story now resonates even more strongly with my paternal instincts. I completely understood and empathised with the father's need to protect his son regardless of the costs. The sacrifice the father accepts is a very touching element in an otherwise satisfyingly creepy tale.

    Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Off to Be the Wizard

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Scott Meyer
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3649)
    Performance
    (3373)
    Story
    (3380)

    It's a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble. Oh, and boy meets girl at some point.

    Charles says: "Fantastic"
    "Middle-aged male nerd humour. A+"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Recently I listened to "The Death of Ivan Ilych" and "Siddhartha" as well as a number of intense non-fiction titles ("Beyond Anger" and some Great Courses titles). All very serious, all very deep. This book is light fare, but is very funny, well done, and aimed at middle-aged male nerds like me. It's just the antidote I needed.

    I enjoyed every second of this story. I even tortured my family by insisting on listening to the last few chapters non-stop through breakfast the rest of the morning and lunch until the book was done.

    [SPOILER ALERT] The premise of the book is a fun take on the idea that humanity are the white mice in someone else's science experiment or game. The fun starts when a few learn how to game the game. The characters are all geeky and likable. The basic conflict in the story is a classic. A Machiavellian narcissist psychopath wants power and doesn't give a hoot about those he must crush in the process (just like your bosses at work!). And the good guys are determined to stop him. The catch is they are all very powerful wizards in mediaeval England.

    I can't wait to listen to the next installment.

    Highly recommended for middle aged male nerds looking for funny, light reading/listening.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    • UNABRIDGED (15 mins)
    • By James Thurber
    • Narrated By Ben Stiller
    Overall
    (3821)
    Performance
    (3403)
    Story
    (3437)

    Mild-mannered Walter Mitty is a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. This well-known and beloved tale has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies. Stiller's imaginative performance as Mitty is the perfect re-introduction to the classic character and a great preface to the upcoming film, for longtime fans and new listeners alike.

    Dave says: "We Only Live Once. Or Do We?"
    "This is my Webley-Vickers 50.80, he said calmly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What an amazing short story!

    [SPOILER ALERT] Walter Mitty is a hen-pecked husband who feels inferior most of the time. But he escapes into his fabulously rich fantasy world where he holds all the cards. Walter is married but still so alone and his tale is simultaneously hilarious and poignant. The ending is subtle and superb.

    Read this and your head will go, "pocketa-pocketa-pocketa".

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 55 mins)
    • By Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (46)

    Little Scallop should be happy. She's a princess of the Mollusk tribe, rulers of beautiful Mollusk Island. And she has two fun friends - Aqua and Surf - who just happen to be mermaids.

    Nothing really matters says: "Yet another great Star Catcher book!"
    "Yet another great Star Catcher book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another great novel in the family-friendly Star Catcher series. Again, like all the others in the series, this novella has great writing and benefits from really great narration.

    In Escape from the Carnivale we hear another adventure involving Peter's friends and Fighting Prawn's daughters on the island of Neverland while Peter is away. [SPOILER ALERT] It's an adventure with intrepid kids, nasty pirates, and a nasty set of visitors to the island who sail a circus-like ship complete with nautical curiosities.

    Highly recommended.

    If this is your first book in the series, you'll want to read Peter and the Star Catchers first. There are two other novellas like this in the series, btw.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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