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Rena Alisa

Los Gatos, CA, US | Member Since 2010

40
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 31 reviews
  • 110 ratings
  • 264 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2015
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  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Trevor Corson
    • Narrated By Brian Nishii
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (212)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (151)

    Trevor Corson takes us behind the scenes at America's first sushi-chef training academy, as eager novices strive to master the elusive art of cooking without cooking. He delves into the biology and natural history of the edible creatures of the sea, and tells the fascinating story of an Indo-Chinese meal reinvented in 19th-century Tokyo as a cheap fast food.

    David says: "I want to see Top Chef: Sushi on the Food Network"
    "I Love Sushi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a sushi lover, this was a great opportunity to learn more about the origins and business details of this wonderful food. This book has a great deal of depth and detail. The training was of the chefs is interestingly and entertainingly related. The fictional overlay was OK but not really necessary. If you are squeemish, skip the section on preparing octopus. A very entertaining book for those who love to eat and cook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2248)
    Performance
    (1449)
    Story
    (1454)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "Only a chemist could like this book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book seems like a good idea. Take each element in the periodic table and tell the reader something interesting about that element. This would work better if there were anly six or eight elements. Unfortunately, there are over 100 elements. This cleaver enterprise gets dull very fast. I like chemistry. But I do not like loads and loads of unrelated facts.

    There are no thematic ideas to tie this vast load of trivia together. It is like listening to the cards of Trivial Pursuit being read aloud. The first half dozen are interesting. After that you just tune out. Skip this book in favor of UNCLE TUNGSTEN by Oliver Sacks. That is a fascinating book with lots of chemistry in it.

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

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Alan Cumming
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1447)
    Performance
    (1209)
    Story
    (1206)

    Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape in which they are played.

    Beverly says: "Narrator choice inspired"
    "A nice try"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If Shakespeare had written a novel instead of a play -- this might be close.. There are some nice descriptions to set the time and place. There is an additional character to tie things together and move the "history" along. If Giuseppe Verdi can turn Macbeth into a first rate opera, why not a novel?
    This book is interesting and well written, but I have seen the play and it is totally fantastic! You can't beat Shakespeare at the writing game. This book lacks -- well -- it lacks drama!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Planets

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Dava Sobel
    • Narrated By Lorna Raver
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (19)

    The sun's family of planets become a familiar place in this personal account of the lives of other worlds. Sobel explores the planets' origins and oddities through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. This intimate account is filled with fascination, beauty, and surprise.

    Ethan says: "Superb story of our changing views of the planets"
    "Dava Sobel misses"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Oh dear! I am a great Dava Sobel fan. I loved LONGITUDE so much that I went to Greenwich in England, just to see those clocks. I reread GALILEO'S DAUGHTER twice.
    Dava Sobel is a fantastic science writer.

    But this book is just silly. Starting with Mercury and moving outward she combines all kinds of unrelated drivel about each planet. No plot. No Theme. Nothing to focus on.
    A complete waste of a good credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Tamim Ansary
    • Narrated By Tamim Ansary
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (539)
    Performance
    (385)
    Story
    (376)

    Until about 1800, the West and the Islamic realm were like two adjacent, parallel universes, each assuming itself to be the center of the world while ignoring the other. As Europeans colonized the globe, the two world histories intersected and the Western narrative drove the other one under. The West hardly noticed, but the Islamic world found the encounter profoundly disrupting.

    David says: "A history of the world before the West mattered"
    "An Insider's view of Islam"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author, Tamim Ansary, is a devout Muslim. Born in the Middle East, he is now a professor of Islamic studies and history in the US. He lives in two worlds. In this lucid and well written book, he attempts to describe the history, sociology, and general world view of Islam. This is a tall order, but he does it well.

    In the author's view the values of the Islamic world are innately different than the values of the West. The central feature is the "Uma" -- the collective society. The aim of the Uma is to care for all of it's members. To do this requires unity and a traditional code of conduct. Women are supposed to be closeted and home oriented. Individuals are supposed to follow community rules for the good of all. Religion is the primary socializing force and so the religious leaders must be in charge.

    The author does not promote Islamic ideals over those of Western Democracy. He is just trying to explain how we arrived where we are today. I am writing this review during the Jan.8th 2015 hostage crisis in Paris. So this book is very relevant. Intellectually, Tamim Ansary seems totally in tune with the free values of his adopted country. Emotionally he seems to long for the social closeness and safety of his Islamic heritage. But you really cannot have it both ways.

    This book has helped me understand the current news much better. However it does not offer any solutions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Galileo's Daughter

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Dava Sobel
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (59)

    Galileo Galilei was the foremost scientist of his day. Though he never left Italy, his inventions and discoveries were heralded around the world. His telescopes allowed him to reveal the heavens and enforce the astounding argument that the earth moves around the sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced to spend his last years under house arrest.

    Jean says: "Eppur, si muove"
    "Geniuses have families too."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story of Galileo, the famous astronomer, is well known. Galileo had a companion whom he did not marry because she was "beneath" him in social status. They had three children together. The son was legitimized, but the daughters (ages 10 and 12) were sent to a convent and cloistered there for the rest of their lives. Galileo remained in close contact with his daughters and corresponded with his eldest Soeur Maria Cileste.

    Dava Sobel has reconstructed the life and character of Maria from the correspondence with her illustrious father. This is a double story. We are told a great deal about Galileo's discoveries, thoughts and writings. What is unique is that we also learn about the everyday life of these two remarkable people. Maria was a brilliant woman who was totally devoted to her father and her vocation.

    An absolute "must read". I have listened several times and enjoy it more with each retelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ben MacIntyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (258)
    Story
    (251)

    Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

    Scott says: "Intrigue and True"
    "Truth is stranger than fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I usually avoid both war stories and spy stories. If this book hadn't been selected for my favorite book club I never would have picked it up. It is a great read and I enjoyed every page. The Agent Zig-zag of the title was a double agent the British sent to spy on Germany in WWII. He began his career as a safe-cracker and thief. He was in prison when he was selected as a spy. I don't want to tell you the entire story -- get the book and listen for yourself. This is a true story. Most of the events could be made up. It is excellently written and beautifully read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • King Solomon's Mines

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Henry Rider Haggard
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (249)
    Performance
    (232)
    Story
    (229)

    One of the bestselling novels of the 19th century, King Solomon's Mines has inspired dozens of adventure stories, including Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan books and the Indiana Jones movies. Vivid and enormously action-packed, Henry Rider Haggard's tale of danger and discovery continues to shock and thrill, as it has since it was first presented to the public and heralded as "the most amazing book ever written."

    BJ says: "Purchase the Kindle book for free"
    "Dull, racist, and sexist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    How did this book become so famous? There were plenty of adventure tales -- both fictional and real. The plot is simple minded. The characters are uninteresting caricatures. You lean nothing about Africa. A total waste of time. The narrator is fine -- but he has nothing to work with. This book is also totally racist. The only woman in it is a witch.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    Overall
    (1220)
    Performance
    (1002)
    Story
    (994)

    We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

    Teddy says: "Excellent Book All Over"
    "For those who love torture and gore."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book loving depicts every horrible torture and sadistic punishment in the history of humanity. The author does mention how nice it is that we do not approve of these things today. However he then goes on to depict these horrors in great detail -- hour after hour. He is clearly fixated on all the ways we can torture people to death and takes great pains to describe every detail. He wastes little time in explaining how these tortures fell out of fashion. I finally just turned it off and deleted it. Only a sadist would like this book

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Bob Spitz
    • Narrated By Kimberly Farr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (218)
    Story
    (211)

    From Pasadena to Cambridge to New York, Washington, D.C., India, Ceylon, Paris, Marseilles, Santa Barbara, and Maine, Bob Spitz re-creates an extraordinary life. He takes us beyond the image of Julia as the tall, eccentric woman with a funny voice who taught America how to cook, to establish her as a genuine rebel and beloved icon, a woman who redefined herself in middle age, helped to change the role of women in America, set the standard for how to create a public personality in the modern media world.

    S. Vann says: "Deeply mixed feelings"
    "The Real Julia Child"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This lovely biography brings to life the personal and professional persona of Julia. She was a great teacher as well as a great chef. How she got to be that way is a fascinating story.
    This book lays it all out with wit and charm.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Richard Preston
    • Narrated By Richard M. Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (608)
    Performance
    (544)
    Story
    (550)

    A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days, 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic "hot" virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

    aaron says: "If you love viruses and gore and non-fiction..."
    "Brilliant"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is wonderfully written. It is science writing at it's best. It is also very scary. I kept hoping it was science fiction, but it is science fact. It flows like "the Andromeda Strain" but every word is true. This book is an adventure and a trip I was happy to take.
    I read it 20 years ago and loved it even more listening now to the audio version.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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