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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Moneymaker Effect by Eric Raskin

This isn't a topic we tend to cover on Dan Dan the Art Man's Book Reviews but it’s an interesting book in the respect that it documents how one man single handedly changed the landscape of poker in one foul swoop. Not only did he manage to change the dynamics of poker forever, he also enthused a whole nation with the belief that anything in this world is possible.

In 2003, Chris Moneymaker, a Tennessee resident won a place on the World Series of Poker Event via an Internet qualifying tournament – a qualifying system that had only just been devised. Through this mode of qualification, Chris Moneymaker, a virtual unknown in the poker world, went on to win a World Series Bracelet for the first time in the sport’s history. To this day, it remains the most important moment in poker history. As Moneymaker reveled in the fame and fortune of such a surprising victory against some of the world’s best professionals, the ripple it sent across the sport was phenomenal. For the first time in the sport’s history it was now gaining mainstream coverage, ESPN was once more screening the WSOP and the world of online poker became huge business.

It wasn’t until the 10th anniversary of the so-called ‘Moneymaker Effect’ – the moniker that was pegged on Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP triumph – that a comprehensive book was written about this dynamic shift in poker. Writer Eric Rankin was a journalist for Grantland at the time when he approached his editors about covering the monumental feat. After the article ‘When We Held Kings’ went down with his readership so well, he then went on to find a publishing company, in the form of Huffington Press, to publish his full version of the accounts that happened in 2003.

Not since the rather influential ‘Positively Fifth Street’ by Jim McManus had a book on poker so charmingly told the story of a rags to riches narrative in the way the Raskin captures the seismic shift in the poker world. Raskin enlists the likes of fellow poker luminaries Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivery and Dan Harrington to add their thoughts to the proceedings. They voice their points on the influence that the “Moneymaker Effect” had on the sport, the uprising of online poker, with the catalyst being the first online poker since launched in the late 90s through InterCasino and the belief invested in your average Joe that anything is possible if you pursue your dream.

'The Moneymaker Effect’ epitomizes everything the ‘American Dream’ stands for and ultimately was the catalyst that made poker so popular. Even if you aren’t familiar with the mechanics of poker, or not particularly interested in the sport, Raskin’s detailed account of what happened on that monumental day makes for an enthralling read.

This article was written by Ethan Moore of

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 9
Virgin River by Robyn Carr

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In this ninth episode I tackle Virgin River Robyn Carr - my very first romance novel. Guess what? I actually liked it! Listen to hear why a guy who prefers action scenes, cool science fiction technology, or richly imagined fantasy stories liked a fun heart felt romance novel.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Virgin River Written by: Robyn Carr Narrated by: Therese Plummer

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Settlers by Jason Gurley | Book Review

This was a cool book. Jason Gurley is a good writer. The ideas in this book are awesome. You will probably really like this book. So why did I give it 3/5 stars?

The narrative of the book felt disjointed to me. It was like reading a bunch of short stories that all took place in the same story world, and then parts of those short stories were broken up and shuffled around with other parts from other short stories. You might love the author's approach, but I found it hard to get to know the characters when the story would shift so often to another set of characters. Like I said the ideas in this book are really cool and actually sucked me right in from the start. When I read the first few chapters of this book I was hooked right away. Then I was forced to hop around between different narratives and I just kept waiting for them to become more connected by the end. I think if this book was simply reorganized a bit by shifting parts of the story around so they're more connected I would have given it 4/5 stars.

I get that this novel tackles a huge idea of people having to leave earth which calls for maybe more than one narrative, but I would have much preferred the stories to be more connected by the end of the book. The stories themselves were good and I enjoyed them, I just kept wondering why the author suddenly switched to a different set of characters. I never felt grounded in the story.

All that to say you might love the way this book was written, and Gurley is a talented writer. He has cool ideas and writes well. Maybe it's just me. A lot of people loved the book World War Z which has several accounts of different characters dealing with a huge event and that book didn't appeal to me either. I'm thinking this is more of a personal preference of storytelling style than that this book isn't a great read. For me it was at times a good read, but overall I felt like I was getting thrown all over the place as a reader.

So before I end this review I have to mention the audiobook. Listening to it is how I read the book. Maria Hunter Welles did an amazing job narrating the novel. She came up with great voices for the different characters and did a fantastic job delivering the lines of dialog. Her voice is just so genuine even while reading the narrator lines that you feel like she's sitting across from you at the bar telling you a great story. She's a real talent and I would jump at the chance to listen to another audiobook she has narrated. I think her performance made this book one I enjoyed much more than I would have if I were reading it in paperback or eBook format.

I'll end by saying that I would read another book by Jason Gurley. When he was focused on one set of characters for an extended part of the story he did a great job. It looks like he's written a lot of books too so I'm sure another one of his titles will find it's way onto my phone from either the Kindle store or as an audiobook from Audible.

Get the book:
Available at Amazon in Kindle eBook, paperback, and audiobook.
The audiobook is also available at Audible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn | Book Review

This novel is book 1 in the The Thrawn Trilogy and part of the expanded Star Wars universe. Part of the reason I decided to read this book is the fact that the new Star Wars movie, Episode VII is coming out next year thanks to Disney buying Lusas Film. It made me curious just what happened to the film characters in the novels all this time. Now when I watch the films I'll be able to pick up on any little Easter eggs they might throw in for fans of the Star Wars novelizations that have kept the story going in the absence of movies all these years. It's probably not likely they'll use anything from the novels as they've said they're only going to use the movies as cannon moving forward, but I was still really curious. I'm really glad I decided to give this book a read, and that I chose to consume it via audiobook.

The author Timothy Zahn does a tremendous job with some of the most beloved characters known to science fiction fans. Honestly I was a little hesitant to read this book because I have concrete ideas about who all of the Star Wars characters are. How they react to situations, the way they talk, the way they interact with others. They all felt very much like the characters I have come to love from the original Star Wars trilogy. Zahn also did a fantastic job developing some new characters that played a major role in this book. Of course there is Grand Admiral Thrawn, who the trilogy is named after. Zahn does a remarkable job of having this character come across as a terrifying individual. Someone who is calm and calculating in the face of cataclysmic events. A person with enormous powers of reasoning and deduction. Someone whose determination to see his plans come to fruition is unshakable no matter what setbacks may occur. Thrawn is a villain I loved to hate and someone who came off as impressive, incredibly capable, and scary to me. Any story is much better when the bad guy your heroes face is an extremely formidable foe that sends chills down your spine. A person you would never want to meet in real life, even if you were on their side. I really enjoyed the character development of Grand Admiral Thrawn in this book and I look forward to seeing him in action again when I read the next book.

Another great character was a man named Talon Karrde. You hear rumors about him for a while before you meet him. Before he appears in a scene you have a sort of reverence for him and his reputation precedes him. When you get to see him in action he lives up to all the hype. I loved Karrde's interaction with some of my favorite characters.

All the favorites are in this book. R2-D2, C-3PO, Leia, Han, Lando Calrissian, Luke, Wedge Antilles, Admiral Ackbar, and of course Chewbacca who's home world you get to visit!

The courage and bravery of the good guys in this book was exciting to read. There were a lot of slow scenes where big parts were moving and a lot of exhilarating action scenes. This book has a lot. I can think of intimate scenes where you get to see what it's like for Luke and Leia to use the force. There quiet scenes between characters where not much is happening but a lot is going on emotionally and internally. This novel had to be done this well because it handles some of the most loved characters of all time in a universe that fans around the world are crazy about. Timothy Zahn more than pulled it off. I'm so excited there are two more books! And that I will get to watch new Star Wars movies in the theaters with my kids! Woo-hoo! Sorry that has nothing to do with this book, but I'm just excited!

Last but not least, I can't end this review without touching on how fantastic the audiobook version is. I listened to the 20th Anniversary Edition narrated by Marc Thompson. Marc's ability to voice all the characters so well was nothing short of brilliant. The guy does all the voices spot on and there are a lot of characters in this book. Major props to him from one newbie inexperienced audiobook narrator to veteran pro. I can't stress how good of a job Marc Thompson did narrating this book. He makes this audiobook come alive as a sort of audio play but all acted out by one man with a thousand voices. His versatility as a narrator is something you just can't miss.

This audiobook also had much more production than any other professional audiobook I have heard. There were always complex weavings of sounds making up the background atmosphere of the scenes. You always knew if the characters where at a space port, on a ship, or deep in a forest. From massive epic space battles, to quick action scenes with intense fighting to quiet moments where hearing R2-D2's emotive beeps to Luke make you feel like you're right there in the Star Wars universe. This audiobook is easily one of the most entertaining listens I have ever experienced. I can't wait to listen to the next book in the Thrawn Trilogy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 8
11/22/63 by Stephen King

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In this eighth episode I bring you a review of Stephen King's brilliant book 11/22/63. Quite a departure from the book I reviewed in the last episode, and next weeks will be even more of a change in genre. Listen to hear just why I think Stephen King's book is a must read.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

11-22-63: A Novel Written by: Stephen King Narrated by: Craig Wasson

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

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Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.