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Paul

Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2007

25
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 25 reviews
  • 98 ratings
  • 272 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Junot Diaz
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Staci Snell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2308)
    Performance
    (1021)
    Story
    (1030)

    Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku: the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

    Kathleen says: "Fabulous listen"
    "Understanding of some Spanish is a prerequisite..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Let's deal with the Spanish first... I know absolutely no Spanish and I felt very handicapped when listening to the book. There are lots of Spanish in the book and I think I missed a lot of the colour and nuances in the story as a result. And being a audible book, you don't even get the benefit of subtitles ;-(

    Second problem I have with the book is the way it is organized (or not). I found the way the author jumping around confusing. And it is only when I got well beyond the half way point that I start to follow the story. Now I would blame the book's description as well... The book is supposed to be about Oscar, but it is also about his family and his home country. So I may be less confused if I wasn't trying to figure out what the different plot lines has to do with Oscar.

    Having said all of that, I actually do like the writing. It is punchy and it captures social zeitgeist well (at least the parts that is in English which I can understand). The writing is can be funny in its own way from time to time.

    So in the end, this is a fairly good book. The story line is interesting. The writing is good. But I just feel that I did not getting the full effect (kind of like watching a 3D movie without the 3D glasses).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Amir Levine, Rachel S. F. Heller
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (726)
    Performance
    (625)
    Story
    (619)

    Is there a science to love? In this groundbreaking audiobook, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory - the most advanced relationship science in existence today - can help us find and sustain love. Attachment theory forms the basis for many best-selling books on the parent/child relationship, but there has yet to be an accessible guide to what this fascinating science has to tell us about adult romantic relationships - until now.

    Grace says: "Great book. Very illustrative."
    "Doesn't work as an audible book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of those instances where I think the book works better in the classic paper format (or electronic format may also work). But as an audible book, I just can't follow it.
    The book has a number of tests that help you determine your attachment style... And the test is in the form of multiple choice questions. But I found that I get lost trying to keep track of the choices... by the time I got to the last choice, I want to review what the first option was. And rewinding the book on an ipod just doesn't work that well. Secondly, you are suppose to keep track of your answers so you can score them later. Since I usually listen to my books when commuting.... trying to write things down while driving is just not an option.
    So if you are like me and listen to books while doing some other thing.... this is probably not a book for you. Get the paper version, find a free afternoon and go through the tests.... if you are so inclined.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Age of Miracles: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Karen Thompson Walker
    • Narrated By Emily Janice Card
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (482)
    Performance
    (424)
    Story
    (422)

    On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life.

    Karen says: "Not sure I can measure up..."
    "Coming of age in the end of ages (maybe)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Talk about added pressure... a girl coming of age when the world could be ending!

    A beautifully written book that captures the fears, uncertainties and angst of a girl growing up; in the same time dealing with all the same emotions about the fate of the Earth. The pose and pacing has a certain melancholy that captures the moment... And I find it draws me to continue on.

    The book is not without its weakness though. For one, the plot is weak and the science even weaker. But then, one should not be reading this for the plot; nor for a well researched science fiction. That would be missing the point in my view. In the end the book should be enjoyed as a journey about growing up with Julia while the world maybe ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Adam Johnson
    • Narrated By Tim Kang, Josiah D. Lee, James Kyson Lee, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1259)
    Performance
    (1090)
    Story
    (1100)

    Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

    Lisa says: "The most compelling listen I've ever owned"
    "schizophrenic story telling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love ..." was the description of the book. And it is absolutely correct - a schizophrenic collection of tales trying very hard to come together to form a story. The premise was interesting enough. Some of the characters are actually rather interesting. And some of the insights into North Korean life was revealing.

    But...

    The overall story just does not come together in a cohesive manner. There were gaps in the story where the state didn't know certain facts at one point and then know the details in other points. And not to mention, part way through the story, the author decided to start shifting perspectives between the characters. It may work in the author's mind... but I just found it to be scattered brained and confusing.

    So in the end, what was an interesting premise got messed up by lousy story structure, sloppiness in story cohesion. And not to mention a performance that left a lot to be desired.

    Overall 2 stars for the story that I need to struggle to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Trail of the Red Butterfly

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Karl Schlesier
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (46)

    Whirlwind, the twin brother of Stone, disappears during a raid into northeastern New Spain. So Stone brings together Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Gataka warriors to go after his missing brother - but there are many things between earth and sky that oppose his quest.

    Leonard says: "Plains Indian Culture Brought to Life"
    "You can almost imagine being there is person"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't remember how I came across this book, but I am glad I bought it. The author did a great job bringing the American plains from back then alive. I am no authority on Indian history so I cannot talk to whether the culture depicted is authentic or not. But what I can say is that I felt like I was there riding along as another member of the party. The author have this ability to bring everything to life using words alone.

    The story itself was plain. But then who needs a gripping plot line when the pleasure is the ability to immerse oneself into the story itself?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Christie Blatchford
    • Narrated By Matilda Novak
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    Long before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada's most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter had already established her as a household name.

    Jean says: "A must read book"
    "Like being in a war - disorientating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author started off with a preface on how she struggled to organize the book. And I think it shows.

    So here are the things I don't like about the book:
    - The book has lots of characters. This by itself does not make it bad. But without much thought being paid to organizing them... it can get confusing very quickly.
    - The book is basically a collection of stories (or vignettes). Unfortunately the author did not provide a lot of hints when she switches between them. So one finds oneself following one story and then it switches without much warning.
    - Last bad part is the fact that the perspective of the story telling changes between the author and the characters being portrayed. One may be listening to one of the solders speaking in the first person; and then abruptly it switched to the author speaking in the first person. It may be easier to follow in print, but in the audio, it just changes.

    There are, however a number of things I like about the book:
    - First is the narration... the narrator is quite good. And it is thanks to her that I sometimes can catch the switching between perspective. Otherwise I could have gone for 'pages' between I noticed it.
    - The story is actually good. It puts a human dimension to the war... especially when the families of the soldiers are being profiled. It reminds all of us that the toll goes beyond the soldiers. Their families also made sacrifices in the war.
    - Finally, as a Canadian, I definitely appreciate a perspective that speaks to our soldiers, and how they contributed to the effort on all of our behalf.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Susan Cain
    • Narrated By Kathe Mazur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4310)
    Performance
    (3721)
    Story
    (3700)

    At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

    Teddy says: "Thought provoking and Uplifting.... A++++++++!!!!!"
    "After much introspection. this is a very good book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For the introvert in me, this serves as a bit of self validation and somewhat of a manifesto. It is always nice to find some encouragement to find the power of the quiet 'in a world that can't stop talking'.

    The only criticism I have is that the author did not set out to define the difference between introverts and extroverts. This gave her the convenience to use her data to support her point. But that's ok, this is not a scientific journal either.

    The narration for this book is just perfect. I don't know if Kathe Mazur is a introvert or not. But in the passages when she was narrating the author in the first person... I have the perfect image of the author in the situation she was talking about. The soft-spoken, quiet assertiveness the narrator's voice is just perfect... exactly what the author was talking about!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The White Tiger: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Aravind Adiga
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1977)
    Performance
    (812)
    Story
    (809)

    Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life - having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Through Balram's eyes, we see India as we've never seen it before: the cockroaches and the call centers, the prostitutes and the worshippers, the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger.

    With a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create morality and money doesn't solve every problem.

    Mark P. Furlong says: "Entertaining, thought-provoking, darkly funny"
    "Pretty good ... but falls short of the hype"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like the premise of the story, and how it portraits the vast gulf between the rich powerful class and the poor working class. Certainly open ones eyes to the fact that India still has a dark side today (or as the author calls it.. 'the darkness'). The story is also has some dark humorous moments.
    The parts I don't like about the book is the last little bit. It felt like it was hurried and the story the author seems to have run out of time or something. I would have preferred if he had spent a bit more time on it.
    Overall, the story is better than the 3 that was indicated. I would have given it a 3.5 if the rating system had allowed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Steven Levy
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3106)
    Performance
    (2255)
    Story
    (2265)

    Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that has transformed the Internet and become an indispensable part of our lives. How has Google done it? Veteran technology reporter Steven Levy was granted unprecedented access to the company, and in this revelatory book he takes listeners inside Google headquarters - the Googleplex - to explain how Google works.

    Jeff says: "Great for the stories."
    "Ho hum... collection of articles without a story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The biggest problem I have with the book is that is does not feel like a book. If there is a central theme or thesis... I fail to detect it. Instead, it feels very much like a collection of magazine articles that got put together into a so call book.

    To be sure, some of the articles are interesting, but it just feels like a jumble of 'stuff'. And the switch of timeline is just confusing: he will follow a topic into 2010 and then switch topic and we are back at the founding days again.
    In the end, if you are not familiar with the tech world, then this may be an interesting read (to a certain extend). But at 20 hours, it just does not have a strong back-story that can capture you attention for that amount of time.

    And when I finally finish, I was left wondering is that all? Where is the story?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 1Q84

    • UNABRIDGED (46 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)
    • Narrated By Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4267)
    Performance
    (3729)
    Story
    (3698)

    The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

    A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....

    Dr. says: "Slow, Strange, and (ultimately) Satisfying"
    "My first Murakami ... and I am impressed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wasn't too sure about the decision to get this massive book. After all 47 hours is a big investment in time for a book ... and how can one write so many words on a single topic anyways? And a translated work to boot.
    Well, 47 hours later, I am somewhat blown away. The author definitely figured out the art of pacing a story. The plot is not overly complex, and there isn't a lot that is going on in the story And yet, the pace is just right without any sections with 'dead air'. Yes, the writing is verbose, but the words are well used to make the story descriptive.
    I also like the way the story is told, alternately from different perspectives. And the different perspectives timeline does not always line-up is a very clever way to keep the reader's attention.
    As to the fantastical nature of the story... I liked it. It is weird in places, and the author really never explains what they are suppose to be. But I guess that where 'willing suspense of disbelieve' comes into play. And once I got over that, the story line just works.
    Finally, the different narrators definitely added to the overall story. I must disagree with the reviewer who did not like Allison Hiroto's narration. I think her performance is great and helps me to visualize the heroine's character.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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