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Amazon Customer

I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

ratings
352
REVIEWS
249
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
80
HELPFUL VOTES
745

  • Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Christopher Reeve
    • Narrated By Christopher Reeve
    Overall
    (60)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    Christopher Reeve has mastered the art of turning the impossible into the inevitable. In Nothing Is Impossible, Reeve shows that we are all capable of overcoming seemingly insurmountable hardships. Published on the eve of both his fiftieth birthday and the seventh anniversary of his spinal cord injury, Nothing Is Impossible reminds us that life is not to be taken for granted but to be lived fully with zeal, curiosity, and gratitude.

    Amazon Customer says: "Book not about"
    "The Title Says It All"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Maybe I'm biased. Like so many others like me, Christopher Reeve has been a role model for me since Superman first hit the big screen. As I grew up, I got to learn about the man behind the Man of Steel, and his "can do" attitude continued to inspire. Between the accident that left him paralyzed and his death years later, Reeve's inner strength proved the title of this book to be true. Nothing is impossible.

    So many years later, it's still heart-wrenching to hear him speak about his experiences in his own words, so it's no surprise this book packs quite the punch. At the same time, this is one of those stories that only he could tell with all of the humanity and personal conviction he could bring to bear. There's nothing sugar-coated here; the tragedy and the optimism are both as genuine as the man himself. This audiobook is written and presented in such a way that he's speaking directly to you.

    Before the end of his life, Reeve was able to walk again, with assistance, and only a few steps at a time. But it did happen. The force of will to do that is unquestioningly great, and it's something few of us can fathom. This book helps to fill in the picture a bit, and to show that this level of commitment to an idea is not only human, it's within us all. Whatever the situation, whatever the misfortune, we are gifted with untold reserves that help us to adapt and to (as Reeve himself has said) "go forward." This is the legacy of Christopher Reeve. It's a message all of us deserve to hear.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Octopussy and The Living Daylights, and Other Stories: James Bond, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Tom Hiddleston, Lucy Fleming
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (36)

    In Octopussy," a talented but wayward British major pays a high price when his wartime past catches up with him, while in The Property of a Lady, a Fabergé egg leads Bond to a KGB spy. In The Living Daylights, Bond has a perilous rendezvous in sniper's alley between East and West Berlin, and 007 in New York (read by Lucy Fleming) sees him sent to America to warn an ex - MI6 operative about a dangerous liaison. All part of the job for 007.

    Dani says: "Enjoyable stories, excellent narration'"
    "The Final Fleming 007 Stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    And so we come to the end of Ian Fleming’s original run of James Bond. This is a short story collection, published post-mortem at the height of the spy craze that was caused as a direct result of the successful 007 film franchise. Sean Connery had been in four Bond films to that point, with a fifth on the way, and by this point it was assumed (rightfully so) that regardless of any legal issues from Thunderball, 007 was going to live on for quite some time. Cashing in with the last of Fleming’s remaining stories would have been an easy call to make, especially since Fleming himself had planned to do so anyway before his untimely death.

    As with For Your Eyes Only, this collection is largely more about Bond's character than big missions against supervillains. There are four stories here: Octopussy, The Property of a Lady, The Living Daylights, and 007 in New York. Each are very different in their tone, but all of them express sides of Bond's character and Fleming's interests in ways that Fleming has given us before, so the result is a comfortable and familiar end to the original canon.

    Tom Hiddleston is a magnificent narrator on the first three of these stories, with his only flaw being that perhaps he's far too charismatic for Fleming's version of Bond. Even so, it's clear he has a great deal of fun with the character voices and performance opportunities. In keeping with my running commentary on how to pronounce "007," Hiddleston proves he's a proper fanboy and gives us a true "double-oh seven" instead of the awkward "oh-oh seven."

    The fourth and final story is narrated by Lucy Fleming. While her range isn't nearly as broad as Hiddleston's, it doesn't need to be as the last story is mostly a fluff piece. Since this these stories are her heritage, and since she's producer of this 007 Reloaded series, it's only right to have her for the final tale.

    All in all, this collection of short stories is a fun and satisfying end to Fleming's writings. It seems strange to come to the end at long last, but all good things...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Abiding in Mindfulness, Volume 1: The Body

    • ORIGINAL (8 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joseph Goldstein
    • Narrated By Joseph Goldstein
    Overall
    (96)
    Performance
    (81)
    Story
    (77)

    In the words of the Buddha, the four foundations of mindfulness (the four satipatthanas) are "the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of dukkha (suffering) and discontent, for acquiring the true method, for the realization of Nibbana." Within the quintessential discourse called the Satipatthana Sutta, we find the Buddha's seminal teachings about the practice of meditation.

    Robert says: "Not for beginners"
    "Expansion of Ideas"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Essentially, this is a lecture series recorded live in front of a group, covering the basic ideas of Buddhism. At my current level, I can only imagine what the well-versed would get out of this. I've only recently really started expanding my understanding of Buddhism as part of my continuing education on the religions of the world, and I found this easy to grasp but still difficult to fully appreciate. I think that's more the nature of the teachings, however, that understanding will unfold in time with practice and repeat exposure. I found the expansion of the ideas presented to be of immense value. To my mind, this might be as easy as it gets, if one can truly say such a thing of this system.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • In Defense of a Liberal Education

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Fareed Zakaria
    • Narrated By Fareed Zakaria
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (27)

    The liberal arts educational system is under attack. Governors in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina have announced that they will not spend taxpayer money subsidizing the liberal arts. Majors like English and history - which were once very popular and highly respected - are in steep decline, and President Obama has recently advised students to keep in mind that technical training could be more valuable than a degree in art history when deciding on an educational path.

    Howard says: "Almost"
    "Thinking for Yourself Is a Good Thing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having grown up in Texas, one of the biggest offenders against the idea of the masses thinking for itself as individuals, I can look almost anywhere in my surroundings and directly apply Zakaria's arguments. There is so much practical wisdom here that most will never see or take advantage of that it hurts. Zakaria's thoughts here are well-organized, well-defended, and transparent on every level, and yet, implementing it to its fullest goes beyond the level of the individual. Those in power have very little incentive to change the status quo because that's how they got to power in the first place. Even so, Zakaria makes an excellent case for the practicality and value of liberal arts and the power of a people who can hink for themselves. My personal suggestion would be the one path unthinkable to most: for an individual to continue such studies on their own. There are resources aplenty in the age of information. Play the game, get the degree you think you need, but never stop learning. If someone says a body of knowledge isn't necessary in modern society, there are many good reasons that knowledge should be pursued with enthusiasm.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • I Am America (And So Can You!)

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Stephen Colbert
    • Narrated By Stephen Colbert
    Overall
    (1988)
    Performance
    (601)
    Story
    (600)

    What The Daily Show is to evening news, The Colbert Report is to personality-driven pundit shows. Colbert brings his sarcastic charm to a half-hour report, tackling the important issues of the day and telling his guests why their opinions are just plain wrong. Stephen stands for "truthiness" and his American right to copyright that word and claim ownership of it. The author describes this as a simple audiobook from a simple mind: Stephen Colbert's.

    Ty says: "Funny, but disappointing."
    "For the Colbert Nation!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you know Colbert's brand of humor, you already know what to expect. Let that be your guide, because this is the self-proclaimed constitution for the Colbert Nation. I've got this in hardcover and on audio, for two very different reasons. The hardcover has a lot of side margin snarkiness and footnotes that you won't find in the audio, as well as stickers, signs, and other visual bits of awesome that you have to see to believe. The audio is narrated by the man himself, so it's all about presentation, which is jazzed up with music and sound effects here and there just because.

    And if you don't know Colbert's brand of humor... what rock have you been living under? The Colbert Report has now ended, but the legacy lives on!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: James Bond, Book 13

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Ian Fleming
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    If you try to assassinate your boss - even though brainwashed at the time - you must pay the price. To redeem himself James Bond is sent to kill one of the most lethal hit men in the world … Paco "Pistols" Scaramanga. In the sultry heat of Jamaica, 007 infiltrates his target's criminal cooperative - only to find that Scaramanga's bullets are laced with snake venom. When the end comes, every shot will count.

    Calliope says: "Good combination of book and narrator"
    "The Weakest of the Series"
    Overall
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    Published post-mortem, The Man With the Golden Gun is, for me, the weakest of the original 007 books. For those familiar with the movie, put it out of your mind. In this case, the golden gun is just a gold-plated revolver instead of one of the most iconic gadgets ever conceived for film, and the man wielding it is nowhere near as cool as Christopher Lee. The more Fleming's characters describe Scaramanga, the more laughable he becomes, ultimately coming across as a cheap thug.

    The setup for this novel is interesting. A year after the events of You Only Live Twice, Bond has been missing in action, presumed dead. Now he turns up at MI-6, brainwashed by the KGB into assassinating M. The assassination fails, however, and M believes the best way to get Bond past his brainwashing and to strike back at those who did it is to send the assassin back at them. Bond's assignment is to kill Scaramanga, the freelance assassin who has given many state agencies a problem since the war.

    Bond returns to Fleming's classic stomping grounds of Jamaica, infiltrates Scaramanga's group, and spends much of the novel thinking "it'd be easy to put a bullet in him right here." For as much short as this novel is, and as detailed as it's not by comparison of the other entries in the series, this one suffers from way too much padding. This is likely due to the novel being finished by someone else after Fleming's death. Even so, it's still a good read for the diehard Bond fan. It's just not the greatest. It ultimately comes down to how big of a fan you think you are.

    To offset the story, Kenneth Branagh puts forth his thespian talents to carry this tale about as far as it can go, and he does a remarkable job, all things considered. Some voices are stereotyped, but nothing's over the top. In keeping with the running report on pronunciation, I'm pleased to say Branagh gives us a proper "double-oh seven" instead of saying "oh-oh seven."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Takuan Soho, William Scott Wilson (translator)
    • Narrated By Roger Clark
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (35)

    Written by the 17th-century Zen master Takuan Soho (1573-1645), The Unfettered Mind is a book of advice on swordsmanship and the cultivation of right mind and intention. It was written as a guide for the samurai Yagyu Munenori, who was a great swordsman and rival to the legendary Miyamoto Musashi.

    Darrell says: "An Enjoyable Truth Revealed ! !!"
    "The Unfettered Mind of a Genius"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When a legendary Zen master corresponds to a legendary master swordsman, the result cannot be anything other than special. To have these writings today, translated with care to other languages... this is truly a great treasure.

    I've commented on other reviews that I study western swordfighting and incorporated martial arts, which I believe is more versatile due primarily to the nature of the weapon, but is considerably more limited mentally. The object is "I hit you, you hit the floor." The very things that make the martial arts an "art" is lost without the mental and spiritual applications that the eastern counterparts have refined to perfection. It's the difference between being a cheap thug and being a true warrior in every sense of the term. Honor and victory are in the warrior, not the weapon.

    In my quest to cross-pollinate these disciplines and reap a greater reward, I discovered this audiobook. I could tell you how mind-blowing it was. I could tell you how these words opened myself to a new level of understanding and appreciation. I could even tell you how further elaboration on these concepts might water them down due to how perfectly presented they are.

    But I won't. Instead, I will say that if your interests lie here, you will find exactly what you hope to find and so much more. I know I did. And I now I will listen again, because I know that such wisdom does not unfold itself in a single presentation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hundred Years War, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Alfred H. Burne
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    After a long period of uneventful sieges and skirmishing, lasting from the death of Edward III in 1377 until the accession of Henry V in 1413, The Hundred Years War is suddenly and dramatically fanned into full fledged war in a third and final phase. Henry V is determined to end the conflict once and for all on the field of battle. After assembling an army, he crosses to Calais in 1415 and marches toward Paris.

    Amazon Customer says: "More Balanced Due to More Available Information"
    "More Balanced Due to More Available Information"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm working under the assumption that if you went through part 1 of this, you already know what to expect, but just in case... this is a military history, not a biographical or political history. That means it's deals with logistical info and battle data such as troops, routes, supplies, equipment, and other such things. Political background is limited, so for those looking for an overview, this is not the place to begin. But for the advanced scholar of this era, this is more suited for war gaming simulations and such.

    Where volume 1 of this deals with Edward III's campaigns and has English bias due to a lack of French information from the period, this volume has considerably more to work with on both sides of the fight. There era between Edward III and Henry V is largely glossed over, mostly due to lags between skirmishes, but from the road to Agincourt to the end of the war, it's all here in magnificent detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hundred Years War, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Alfred H. Burne
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (80)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    The bitter conflict between England and France we call The Hundred Years War, and lasting 116 years between 1337 and 1453, was fought over claims by the English kings to the French throne. By the end of this titanic struggle, it can fairly be said that the Middle Ages had come to an end.

    M. says: "100 Year War"
    "Targeted for a Niche Audience"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are few offerings on Audible for this particular set of campaigns, so anyone interested in this really needs to know up front what they're getting into.

    The first thing to note is that there are different kinds of historical accounts, and these serve different functions. This account is NOT a political history. It's a military history. That means that, just as the synopsis says, the causes of the war are briefly touched upon, but the bulk of this narrative deals with troop movements, battles, and the overall progress of the armies involved. For the armchair war gamer, this book will be the type that gets people to pull out the old maps and push around plastic markers.

    For those not familiar with the time period, please understand that this work isn't targeted for those seeking to learn the basics, and it was never meant to be. In other words, you will not find here an understanding of who these people are and why they're doing any of what they do. This book is targeted for those who are already interested in (and thus have a solid idea of) the biographies and politics of the age and want to dig deeper into the campaigns themselves. Personally, I'd recommend starting with overview histories of Medieval England and France so as to learn who the key players are and to get a sense of the politics. Start broad so you can see how each era molds the next, then start narrowing the focus to this era. Get to know the likes of Edward III, the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, Philip the Fair, Henry V, and Joan of Arc. From there, move to a working knowledge of armor, of castle sieges, and of swords, longbows, and cannon, as these things will inform your understanding of what these troops were dealing with. And then if you decide you absolutely love the idea of a military history, this is the book for you. Most general history enthusiasts never get to this point. It's not a mark against the historian or the audience, it's simply a measure of the specialization involved. Some might take a book such as this as an opportunity to test their personal limits.

    If you ARE in this target audience, you might want to know that some details within are compared to battles and movements through the same areas in World War I, and there are even parallels to the American Civil War, so if you know something about those campaigns, even better.

    It should also be noted that this is not a fair and balanced account of the war. This is a more British-centric account, by a British historian, for a British audience, using mostly British resources. And while that might also be a big negative for some, it's folly to assume every history has to be a balanced account. There are considerably fewer Muslim-centric accounts of the Crusades available in English, for example, than there are Crusader-oriented accounts by the very nature of the historians. Understanding the strengths and interests of the historian helps to better understand the history being provided. General audiences will have a harder time wrapping their heads around this, but this is common, especially for military histories. It's also important to note that the French forces were largely pounded, especially under Edward III's campaigns, so their records are simply harder to find. That we have anything at all is of value.

    Other reviewers have commented on the quality of the narration. I'm predisposed to enjoying Charlton Griffin's work, though admittedly most of what I've heard him narrate up to this point is more literary. For example, he did an amazing job with Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, but you won't find such poetry here. Griffin is clearly aware of it too. He brings some level of drama to this account, but the account doesn't lend itself to melodrama. It's dry and scholarly reading for a niche audience, as you might expect an historian to deliver. Griffin does his best to kick it up a notch, and to my mind he does so admirably. As to his pronunciation of French... I don't know French, so I can't tell how close to the mark he is. I only know that most British speakers have peculiar but consistent ways they mangle the French language as a cultural prerogative that goes all the way back to 1066, and this is probably in keeping with it. All things considered, it sounded good to my ears, but as I say, I don't speak French. My advice is to listen to the sample and judge accordingly.

    Having understood up front what to expect, and being interested enough to give it a go anyway, I think my only real gripe is that this title is broken into two parts. For the life of me, I can't imagine why, especially since the physical book is a single volume. If I can get the entirety of the Bible or the original Sherlock Holmes canon spanning dozens of hours for only one credit, why can't I get 20 hours of military audio for the same? Also, it'd be nice if there were maybe some PDF material that gave us some workable military maps. Still, for what it is, I'm rather pleased with it. I'd still love to get some better political overviews of this era on Audible though.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Thomas Asbridge
    • Narrated By Derek Perkins
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    In The Greatest Knight, renowned historian Thomas Asbridge draws upon the thirteenth-century biography and an array of other contemporary evidence to present a compelling account of William Marshal's life and times. Asbridge charts the unparalleled rise to prominence of a man bound to a code of honor yet driven by unquenchable ambition.

    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds says: "Rare biography of a true knight"
    "The Biography of a Legend"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Credited as the very embodiment of chivalry in a time with the concept was just coming into its own, William Marshal was very nearly executed at the age of five yet would go on to serve as the backbone of the Plantagenet dynasty. He would rebel against kings, serve alongside kings, go on Crusade, and become instrumental in the signing of Magna Carta. By any measure, this man is a legend in the annals of knighthood, England, and the whole of the Middle Ages.

    This new biography is nothing less than impressive. While it does help to have some background knowledge of the Plantagenet dynasty and its key players (I highly recommend Dan Jones' The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England), the great thing about this book is that it does stand on its own for those who are just dipping their toes into this part of history. This means it works very well as both an introduction to the man and his times and as supplemental reading to other works. It's an easy read, but it's by no means lightweight in its approach. The result is that the Greatest Knight steps out to shine as one of the most respected men in history, fully accessible to modern readers some 800 years later.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Diamond Conspiracy: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris
    • Narrated By James Langton
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    Having narrowly escaped the electrifying machinations of Thomas Edison, Books and Braun are looking forward to a relaxing and possibly romantic voyage home. But when Braun's emergency signal goes off, all thoughts of recreation vanish. Braun's streetwise team of child informants, the Ministry Seven, is in grave peril, and Books and Braun must return to England immediately.

    Amazon Customer says: "The Steampunk Fun Continues!"
    "The Steampunk Fun Continues!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Right from the beginning, this series has been a steampunk story flavored with one part James Bond and one part X-Files. This time around it's a bit more 007 (with shades of Skyfall), and we get a little Doctor Who type vibe thrown into the mix. I won't say how, because that would ruin some of the surprises.

    Picking up in the immediate aftermath of Dawn's Early Light, our intrepid agents have kindled a romance, but their time to savor it has been cut short by a distress signal that calls them back to London. One of their Ministry Seven, their street urchin informants, is missing. Worse still, the Crown has disavowed the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and its agents are now systematically being picked off by agents of the Department of Imperial Inconveniences. Our heroes must survive the culling, expose the villains, and rescue one of their own. Secrets are revealed! Backstories are explained! And if you pay close attention, there are a few jabs at modern pop culture to be had.

    As with the previous entries in this series, it's a light, fun read with all of the humor, pseudo-science, and historical cameos you've come to expect. And as with the previous entries, the further this story goes, the more outlandish it gets. For all of these reasons, this continues to be my favorite steampunk series.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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