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Scott

Scarborough, ON, Canada | Member Since 2013

160
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 99 reviews
  • 200 ratings
  • 472 titles in library
  • 26 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
4
FOLLOWERS
12

  • Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Andrew Blackwell
    • Narrated By Ax Norman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (43)

    For most of us, traveling means visiting the most beautiful places on Earth - Paris, the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon. It’s rare to book a plane ticket to visit the lifeless moonscape of Canada’s oil sand strip mines, or to seek out the Chinese city of Linfen, legendary as the most polluted in the world. But in Visit Sunny Chernobyl, Andrew Blackwell embraces a different kind of travel, taking a jaunt through the most gruesomely polluted places on Earth.

    Paul Luthi says: "Better than I predicted"
    "Lightweight fun but wears thin after awhile"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Blackwell's travelogue has some interesting parts (oil sands gift store anyone?) and the tongue in cheek manner keeps thing from getting too heavy. A balanced environmentalist view is woven through this recognizing our inherent conflict between conservation and what maintains our lifestyles. Still some parts are more interesting than others and I can't really say I learned a lot from this book. In fact, I found it less interesting and somewhat repetitive the further I read. Still, it is a lightweight page turner that is hard not to like and you can fast forward through parts and probably not feel you have missed anything. The narration is good.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rust: The Longest War

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Jonathan Waldman
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    In Rust journalist Jonathan Waldman travels from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to meet the colorful and often reclusive people concerned with corrosion. He sneaks into an abandoned steelworks with a brave artist and nearly gets kicked out of Can School. Across the Arctic he follows a massive high-tech robot, hunting for rust in the Alaska pipeline.

    Norman B. Bernstein says: "Almost too geeky for geeks"
    "Not enough material for a book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    There are parts of this book that are interesting – the deterioration and restoration of the Statue of Liberty, the process of rust proofing beverage cans, the overall scope of corrosion and the daunting but largely unseen fight against it. However, these are outnumbered by aspects that are far less interesting, leaving an overall feeling that there is not enough informative and interesting material here to warrant a book treatment. Often, I found long sections boring and the author has an annoying tendency to write (alliterative) lists. If you are going to read Rust it may be worth a skim but as an audiobook it doesn’t work. The narrator does his best with the dry material. One interesting takeaway from the book was just how prevalent, yet largely unnoticed, rust is in our everyday lives. As I was listening to the book on a longish highway drive, I counted how many commercial vehicles I passed that had visible rust. I was surprised to discover that it was every single one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Little Failure: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Jonathan Todd Ross
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (173)

    After three acclaimed novels - The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far.

    Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own. Provocative, hilarious, and inventive, Little Failure reveals a deeper vein of emotion in Gary Shteyngart' s prose.

    HRD says: "I loved this book - funny, sad, all that nonsense"
    "Funny in doses"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This amusing, frequently hilarious memoir chronicles Shteyngart journey from Soviet era childhood in Leningrad, to his family’s emigration in the late 70”s to New York, to his college years and first time book deal. Shteyngart indisputably has a gift for storytelling and turn of phrase and the narrative breezes along. His experiences are heavily dosed with self-deprecating humor and one liners that sometimes border on shtick. Though the book is often funny, I found that if I listened too long, it tended to lose its charm and grate a bit. I found I liked it much better when I listened to it in small, measured doses. The narration is spot on, capturing Shteyngart’s angst ridden persona. The mimicry of his parent’s Russian accents humorously (and without insult) enlivens what they are saying. If you haven’t read any of Shteyngart’s fiction (I hadn’t), don’t let that deter you from Little Failure. In the end, this is a lighthearted, breezy read that won’t change your life but will distract you from it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2563)
    Performance
    (2072)
    Story
    (2071)

    The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues.

    Robert says: "Interesting but wandering"
    "Illuminating while being far from heavy handed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Psychopath Test?

    Ronson’s investigation into the shadowy world of psychopaths has his usual mixture of self-deprecating humor, man on the street reporting, and tongue in cheek sleuthing. At the heart of the book is the question of what is a psychopath, can we reliably identify and diagnose it, and if so, what is to be done anyway. Robert Hare, arguably one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject, serves as Ronson’s guide slash mentor and their interchanges are often amusing. Ronson also interviews incarcerated psychopaths, as well as one former CEO of a major corporation among others. Their dialogues with Ronson are expertly self-revealing and chilling. I found the parts of the book that focused solely on psychopathy interesting and illuminating; other parts that digress away from the topic (e.g. a mysterious manuscript sent to Neurologists, the dubious over-prescribing of medications to children among others) felt out of place. As usual, Ronson makes an excellent narrator of his own work, conveying the anxiety, uncertainty, and exasperation these investigations seem to bring out in him (love his bits on iatrogenic illness) Though The Psychopath Test isn’t Ronson’s best work, it is still an amusing and worthy read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Seth G. Jones
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Following September 11, the United States successfully overthrew the Taliban regime. It established security throughout the country, and Afghanistan finally began to emerge from more than two decades of conflict. But Jones argues that, as early as 2001, planning for the Iraq War siphoned off resources and talented personnel, undermining the gains that had been made. After eight years, the United States had pushed al-Qaeda’s headquarters about one hundred miles across the border into Pakistan.

    Curt says: "Interesting Book but- Worst Narrator Ever"
    "Concise and persuasive"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a tidy examination of Afghanistan with particular emphasis on 1) its history from the 1970’s through 2000’s and 2) the U.S. led war and counter insurgency efforts post-9/11. The book is critical of what might be characterized as waning US commitment once the Taliban had been displaced and the Iraq war commenced but the author’s arguments are rational rather than ideological which imparts a certain gravitas. Having been written in 2009 the book is somewhat dated but still resonant with the benefit of the intervening years affording the listener hindsight and a greater opportunity to form their own conclusions. In the end, this audiobook is a good overview of the perils of foreign adventurism in Afghanistan.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Them: Adventures with Extremists

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (718)
    Performance
    (647)
    Story
    (645)

    Them began as a book about different kinds of extremists, but after Jon had got to know some of them - Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen - he found that they had one oddly similar belief: that a tiny, shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, Jon sets out, with the help of the extremists, to locate that room. The journey is as creepy as it is comic, and along the way Jon is chased by men in dark glasses, unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp, and more.

    aaron says: "Dated but VERY Good... and FUNNY!"
    "Quickly becomes tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Ronson’s foray into the worldview of extremists has its charms and moments of humor but soon becomes, like its subjects, tedious. Ronson’s journalistic shtick is to more or less ingratiate himself among his subjects, get them to open up, and report on the results in what amounts to narrative transcripts with a bit of commentary thrown in on the side. Kudos for his bravery, ingenuity and chutzpah. Still, like anyone who has ever been trapped at a party by a droning bore, the listener’s initial amusement soon gives way to tedium. Are any of the extremists in this book interesting? Not so much, unless you are perhaps a fellow traveler. Does this book shed any light on why Ronson’s subjects have adopted such beyond the mainstream worldviews? Not really, apart from the obvious. Are his repeated attempts to validate suspicions about the highly secret Bilderberg group compelling? No. I like Ronson as a journalist, as a narrator of his audiobooks, and for his humor but Them is an audiobook I don’t recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    Overall
    (677)
    Performance
    (569)
    Story
    (566)

    From the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most underappreciated forces: shame. 'It's about the terror, isn't it?' 'The terror of what?' I said. 'The terror of being found out.' For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work.

    Megan says: "You'll never look at public shaming the same way"
    "The Scarlet Letter for the Internet age"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    More entertaining than perhaps enlightening, what you have here are the experiences of a collection of individuals who have all experienced public shaming, most of whom, ironically, the typical reader has probably never heard of. Ronson has a knack for highlighting the issue without lapsing into cultural critique or self-help condescension. Are we living in a shameless society, as Ronson quotes one commentator, or an overcharged infocentric era where internet social media places every user under the scrutiny of countless, anonymous eyes (and commentators)? Ronson doesn’t really say, but the experiences of his subjects – who come across as neither loathsome or pitiable but instead, rather banal - leaves little doubt. In the end, I found this audiobook a worthwhile, enjoyable listen as well as a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever hit the send button on an e-mail, Facebook posting, or Twitter feed perhaps a little too quickly as well as for those who are apt to pin an electronic scarlet letter on someone without giving much thought to the consequences. The narration, by Ronson himself, is emotionally charged and first-rate.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Helen Thorpe
    • Narrated By Donna Postel
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (95)

    Soldier Girls follows the lives of three women on their paths to the military. These women, who are quite different in every way, become friends, and we watch their interaction and also what happens when they are separated. We see their families, their lovers, their spouses, their children. We see them work extremely hard, deal with the attentions of men on base and in war zones, and struggle to stay connected to their families back home.

    Constance says: "Healing and Insightful"
    "Engrossing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Soldier Girls the most enjoyable?

    This audiobook documents the lives of three women enrolled in the National Guard, from pre-9/11 through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the women – Desma, Debbie, and Michelle - share many commonalities and experiences, their motivations and ultimately, outcomes and views on their service diverge. With bravery and candor, the women have seemingly provided Thorpe access to their diaries, records, and innermost thoughts and experiences. The result is at times uplifting, horrifying, and sad but always compelling. In short, I was engrossed. To her credit, Thorpe skillfully lets the women’s voices and experiences drive the narrative and by doing so, their stories offer much to say about the National Guard, the role and treatment of women in the armed forces, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how as a society we re-integrate our veterans back into civilian life. The narration is competent. Though this book is a good listen for anyone to enjoy, I would say this should be compulsory reading for anyone thinking of enlisting in the National Guard or armed forces as well as those who are already serving.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • H Is for Hawk

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Helen Macdonald
    • Narrated By Helen Macdonald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (184)
    Performance
    (165)
    Story
    (166)

    When Helen MacDonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral anger mirrored her own.

    Sara says: "Mabel The Hawk--The Fire That Burned The Hurts Away"
    "Genre defying"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about H Is for Hawk?

    What to make of this book? Guide to taming your hawk? Check? Mournful eulogy to a dead father? Check. Biography of T.H. White? Check. In whatever genre you may wish to pigeonhole H is for Hawk, I found this audiobook enthralling and this has mostly to do with MacDonald’s brave “bare your soul” honesty as well as her adept, fictionesque turn of phrasing. Grieving the sudden and unexpected death of her father, MacDonald retreats into two worlds: the solitary taming of a young goshawk she names Mabel and the life of tortured author (and one time goshawk trainer) T.H. White, with whom MacDonald obviously senses a kinship on several levels. Through both, MacDonald loses and then reclaims herself from the grief for her father. This is a moving, elegiac memoir that connects the listener intimately with MacDonald, her father, White, and Mabel (whose personality is slowly and fascinatingly revealed). For those without much knowledge of falconry there are lots of interesting historical, cultural and taming tidbits that left me wanting more. The parts about White I found less compelling but certainly understood MacDonald’s fascination with him. This book had me at every page and I honestly didn’t know where it would end up. The only criticism I had was the narration, by the author herself, which I found a bit leaden. Nevertheless, I will look forward eagerly to her next book


    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Matt Ridley
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (149)
    Performance
    (118)
    Story
    (116)

    Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers - questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life. Matt Ridley here probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome.

    Gary says: "Still useful today."
    "Interesting but wish it were more up to date"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    Equal parts fascinating and informative, Ridley offers a tour of the human genome with each chapter focusing on a different gene(s) within one of 22 chromosome (the 23rd sex linked chromosomes are omitted). Thankfully, rather than an exhaustive A to Z treatment that would have been numbing, Ridley chose wisely to focus on a sample representative not only of the traits and qualities that define us as humans but also illustrate the vast promise and hidden shortfalls of genetics, heritability, disease and at the end, free will. I found this very intriguing and the arguments/science are well laid out. A few caveats though: this is a step above an introductory/layperson guide so at least a general familiarity with genetics will make this much more understandable (and enjoyable) listen; secondly, the author’s foray into behaviourism, Freudian psychology and some arguments about free will and determinism were a little shaky and perhaps out of place here; and finally, the book was written in 1999 which may as well have been a millennia ago given the pace of genetic research. Though I wouldn’t say this disqualifies the book, I was left yearning perhaps for a second edition that might be more current. Still, the themes of the book remain relevant and I found it a very worthwhile and enjoyable read.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • My War Gone By, I Miss It So

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Anthony Loyd
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    With elegance and unsparing honesty, special correspondent for The Times of London, Anthony Loyd records this harrowing account of modern war. My War Gone By, I Miss It So exposes the unspeakable terror, visceral thrill of combat, and countless lives laid waste in Europe’s bloodiest conflict since World War II. Unsatisfied by a brief stint in the British army and driven by the despair of drug dependence, the author was searching for excitement when he set out for Bosnia in 1993.

    Scott says: "Grim"
    "Grim"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Was My War Gone By, I Miss It So worth the listening time?

    Loyd’s memoir of his time as a war journalist in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990”s is an odd mix of war story, addiction tell all, and biography of a troubled upbringing. To Loyd’s credit, he interweaves the three threads in a back and forth timeline that works better than if the whole had been told in a linear fashion. But overall I found this audiobook grim and not terribly enlightening. There is extensive, vivid recounting of battlefield scenes of viscera and horror that loses all shock effect after awhile. Is this supposed to be the true confession of an adrenaline junkie, war fetishist, drug addict or all of the above? In the end, I wasn’t sure. Though Loyd is undoubtedly brave, both in his exploits and in his willingness to bare all on the page, I found myself unable to relate to the person or the plight. For those who want a journalist’s unblemished view of the horrors of war, then this may be the audiobook for you, but it left me cold and frankly, slightly repelled.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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