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  • 14
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  • Hit Makers

  • The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction
  • By: Derek Thompson
  • Narrated by: Derek Thompson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,344
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,212
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,209

Nothing "goes viral". If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today's crowded media environment, you're missing the real story. Each blockbuster has a secret history - of power, influence, dark broadcasters, and passionate cults that turn some new products into cultural phenomena. In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A lot more interesting than I expected...

  • By Mr on 04-22-17

Disappointing ... not enough meat

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-25-18

I was excited to read about the science of popularity and learn the secret behind why some things become massively popular. I'm still waiting.

The Good: This book tells several interesting stories about hits (movies, music, books, etc.) and their journey from creation to worldwide sensation. I enjoyed those stories, most of which I had never heard. I also appreciate the variety of stories and the fact the author included examples from different centuries. The narrator does a very good job reading the text. His voice fit this type of book. His reading style also fit well.

The Bad: This book uses the term "science" in the subtitle, but there is very little actual science, very few studies, very few experiments. Most of his evidence is expert opinion and a few studies that could be interpreted in many ways and need additional follow up studies to confirm the conclusions. The author also makes many assumptions that could easily be wrong; his conclusions need more testing and more rigorous studies to confirm them. I also didn't appreciate the author's sexist language.

Overall, this book is good if you are just looking for stories of hits and their rise to prominence. This book is disappointing if you are looking for the reason why hits became so successful and/or a formula to create or predict a hit yourself.

  • Soonish

  • Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything
  • By: Kelly Weinersmith, Zach Weinersmith
  • Narrated by: Kelly Weinersmith, Zach Weinersmith
  • Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 967
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 883
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 876

In this smart and funny book, celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of what's coming next - from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters. By weaving their own research and interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, the Weinersmiths investigate why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bravo, encore!

  • By Lauri Clark on 11-23-17

A lot of potential derailed by bad jokes

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-09-18

The idea of this book is really cool and unique--looking at the costs and practical concerns that affect whether new technologies will be successful in everyday implementation and why. The authors have spent a lot of time researching emerging technologies and point out the cost and practical engineering problems that must be overcome. Neither are actively involved in research or development of the technologies, so all their information is second hand and probably not as complete as it could be, but it still could make for an interesting read.

If only they had stopped there. But no, the authors had to inject their poor sense of humor into the book. They are constantly injecting footnotes into book (when they really mean sidenotes), only half of which are relevant or interesting. They also try to make jokes that just aren't funny. And their delivery of the narration is very flat and expository which is a little boring to listen to. And I didn't appreciate the sexist language used throughout.

Overall, this book had a great idea and great potential, but the bad jokes, poor narration, and not understanding the difference between a sidenote and a footnote yet inserting one in every 10-20 seconds took away from what could potentially be an excellent book.

  • Originals

  • How Non-Conformists Move the World
  • By: Adam Grant, Sheryl Sandberg - foreword
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders, Susan Denaker
  • Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,715
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,088
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,067

With Give and Take, Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation's most compelling and provocative thought leaders. In Originals, he again addresses the challenge of improving the world but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Read before listening

  • By Michael on 07-18-16

About Changing the Status Quo NOT being Original

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-29-16

This book is called "Originals", but that is a misnomer. It has little to do with being original. It's really about Social Change and those who brought it about. Adam Grant presents many case studies about both well-known and obscure cases where individuals and groups challenged the status quo and succeeded. The stories are very interesting and well told and come from a variety of times, places, and situations from social change to business change.

I liked the case studies, how they were presented, and the variety of situations. I also thought the narrator did a great job capturing the voice of the book.

The parts I didn't like are the explanations and conclusions. The author presents several studies and expert opinions to support his assertions, but more often than not he merely expressed his opinion to explain why something worked or didn't work. This lowered the quality of his conclusions. I also got tired of the author constantly goes back to Martin Luther King and the "I Have a Dream" speech over and over and over again. Mentioning it once would have been plenty.

Overall I enjoyed this book and am glad I listened to it. I just wish the author had put more effort into supporting his conclusions instead of just expressing his opinion as fact and getting down to the real reasons and motivating factors.

  • Voodoo Ridge

  • A Cordell Logan Mystery, Book 3
  • By: David Freed
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,070
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,013
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,010

In 1956 a plane bearing mysterious cargo takes off from a small airport outside Los Angeles and disappears into a raging storm. Nearly 60 years later, while flying over the Sierra Nevada, retired military assassin turned civilian flight instructor and would-be Buddhist Cordell Logan catches a glint of sunlight on metal and spots what appears to be an aircraft wreckage. His life will never be the same.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another A+ Cordell Logan story

  • By W. Brooks on 05-02-17

Intriguing Mystery, Great Reader, Tight Plot

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-14-16

What a great story! It had me hooked from the beginning until the end. The plot was very tight with the twists and turns making sense without being obvious. The reader did an excellent job capturing the voice of the main character and the other other characters. I loved the sarcastic but intelligent outlook of the protagonist and his commentary on pretty much everything. The characters each were interesting and felt like actual people. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Where the Hell is Tesla?

  • A Novel
  • By: Rob Dircks
  • Narrated by: Rob Dircks
  • Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,097
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,900
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,892

I found the journal at work. Well, I don't know if you'd call it work, but that's where I found it. It's the lost journal of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors and visionaries ever. Before he died in 1943, he kept a notebook filled with spectacular claims and outrageous plans.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Had A Blast Listening To This One!

  • By Cheri on 08-11-16

Funny and Thoroughly Entertaining

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-05-15

This is a speculative fiction story about an unproduced invention of Nicola Tesla. While this story has a pretty decent plot, the real charm is the way the story is told and the way the characters are developed. The writing is sharp, witty, funny, and sounds like a buddy telling you about a crazy adventure he just had. There is little science in the book and the twists and turns are nothing earth shattering, but the ride is so much fun you don't care about that because neither are the point of the story. The characters are fully fleshed out as real people who will probably remind you of someone you know.

If you want a fun read with lots of clever, modern humor; this is the book for you.

The language in this book is definitely for an older audience with curse words every 5 seconds, so if you aren't a fan of profanity, this isn't the book for you.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Smartcuts

  • How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
  • By: Shane Snow
  • Narrated by: Shane Snow, Erik Bergmann
  • Length: 5 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 995
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 831
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 835

How do some startups go from zero to billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon Michelle Phan, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion? What do high-growth businesses, world-class heart surgeons, and underdog marketers do in common to beat the norm? One way or another, they do it like computer hackers. They employ what psychologists call "lateral thinking: rethinking convention and breaking "rules" that aren't rules.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Smartcuts Delivers The Goods!

  • By TRENDS on 09-22-14

Disappointed - This could have been so much more

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-30-15

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you have a fairly liberal mindset, you enjoy sexist language, and you just want your worldview reinforced, you'll enjoy this. If you are looking for insight, useful perspective, or specific ideas to help you improve in work and life then I'm afraid you'll find yourself disappointed. The stories are interesting but unrelated, and the author's explanation is over simplistic and lacks the research and logical rigor of other books I've read. If you just want an entertaining read about interesting true stories, you'll probably enjoy this.

Has Smartcuts turned you off from other books in this genre?

I will be more cautious in the future and probably read the Kindle sample before wasting another credit on a title that sounds interesting but is by an author I'm unfamiliar with or that wasn't strongly recommended by a trusted reader.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The performance was very competent but nothing out of the ordinary. It fit the book and never got on my nerves.

Any additional comments?

I read a lot of these types of books, and they are hit or miss. Some are excellent and I can't wait to recommend them to everyone else and put the things I've learned into practice. This wasn't one of those. It felt like someone had read the books I have read, loved them, and wanted to write one himself but lacked the insight to do so. It was entertaining, but not as educational as I've come to expect. And I was put off by the sexist language.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful