These are scratchy radio recordings that give you the nuts and bolts of the classic book straight from the mouth of the author. It's a little repetative in places, but the information is worth repeating. This book has never been about "making money." It's about finding success in all manner of your life by shifting the way you see yourself and the world around you. It's hard to argue with the likes of Carnegie, Edison, Ford, and so many countless others from whom Hill drew his research. All it takes is a willingness to look, consider the possibilities of those who have done it, and apply it. Application is what separates anyone else from the giants who changed the world. What you get out of it is directly related to what you put into it and how open you are to the material. I get a new insight from the book everytime I work through it, and this audio adds another layer to it.
This would have been a 5 star work, save for the extreme repetition of facts. Ironically, the author thanks his editor up front, who probably should have been fired. This is such an issue that it probably could have reduced the size of the book by a third without loss of content.
That said, this book is a wonderful companion work to J. W. Rinzler's equally incredible "Making of" volumes. This work covers the creative story development of the 6-film saga in full in such a way that no stone is left unturned, and gives us insights into the lives of the people involved, especially that of creator George Lucas. This work is so detailed that it breaks down every single version of the scripts, stage by stage. In this regard, this book is an absolute MUST for the die-hard uber-fans of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Not covered are the technical aspects, such as special effects, sound effects, or the musical scores.
What is casually glossed over in the history is the infamous 1978 Holiday Special. There is some basic information on the Ewok movies as well as the Droids and Ewoks cartoon series, but nothing in-depth for these either.
One point of weirdness: the narrator attempts impersonations of the various people who are quoted in interviews or various characters quoted in scripts. Some of these are passable and even respectable, and others are so far off base so as to be screwball if you know what the person is supposed to sound like.
Since reading this one, I've been trying to figure out exactly what it was about this book that should have worked but didn't. I've come the conclusion that it's not any one thing in particular. The story is a simple and effective one, but I somehow I get the feeling it should go through more development. The concept is pretty straightforward, the accidental creation of a woman from pure magic. I almost hate drawing the comparison, but it's sort of the anti-Anakin Skywalker, created from the Force. And yet, I think this is where the trouble lies, not with the comparison, but with this book's overall story arc. Things seem far too easy for Gala, and I suppose they would as those in the world are completely unprepared to deal with someone of her magnitude. She almost seems like the perfect woman, with the exception of that extreme attitude switch when she doesn't get her way or feels challenged. And that's where the comparison to Anakin Skywalker comes in. It's not just the origin, it's the belief in his power. Remember, Skywalker started as a good kid too, and look how that turned out. The reason I draw this comparison is because when it comes to genre stories, many of them follow this kind of hero's journey or hero's fall and/or redemption. Gala has the potential to be sorcery's answer to Wonder Woman (who was also created by magic) or to be scary beyond all comprehension in a way Vader would envy. Both paths, or even something in between, offer a multitude of challenges in this world that we've not seen yet. Right now I don't have a bearing on where her trajectory is headed. I know where she'd like to go, but that's not really the same thing.
On the whole, I didn't hate the story, but it didn't grab me either. It's like cooking - you start out with the idea of a quiche and end up making scrambled eggs because you're hungry now. The execution isn't nearly as big as the concept, and that may be because it suffered from being more of a romance novel and less of a fantasy novel with elements of romance in it, or it may be because of what I've already mentioned above. The other characters in the story... their backstories are more or less in place, but I'm not drawn to any of them yet. This is where I think further development would have helped. But having said that, I don't feel like I can give up on this one either. There's some untapped potential that could be harnessed, turning this series into something special. It'll take some work, but I don't think it's beyond grasp. Curiosity for Gala's future will bring me back someday.
I described the first book as the X-Files meets James Bond, Steampunk style. The sequel surprised me in that it kept up the pace and really expanded on the world and the characters, cementing this series' place as one of my favorites, and certainly my favorite Steampunk series to date.
This third book... a little less X-Files, a lot more 007 - Roger Moore era, to be exact - and it's a glorious ride! As Books and Braun make their way to the rough and tumble United States, they join forces with their American counterparts to take on their scariest assignment yet. Someone has seemingly built Tesla's theoretical death ray, causing the destruction of dozens of ships in recent days. Our heroes have to fight the bad guys, the supergenius who's using them to his own aims, and each other, which forces the obligatory use of plenty of ammunition and explosives. Morris and Ballantine have knocked another one out of the park. It's impossible not to have fun with this series. I'm chomping at the bit for the 4th book, due out next year.
Langton's voice performance is a bit - ok, a lot - cartoonish for the women, but once you get used to it, it works for the Roger Moore / Wild Wild West tone of the story. There are a couple of points where I noticed he'd use the wrong voice here and there, but given the seat-of-the-pants nature of the story and the number of characters he's juggling in certain scenes, I have to say I'm deeply impressed on the whole. There are some narrators that might not try that hard, and others that maybe wouldn't convey the sense of dramatic comedy this book carries. Besides, he narrated the first two, so it just wouldn't be the same without him.
Like so many, I grew up on the TV series and have seen the movie. This is my first encounter with the novel that started it all. I was by no means disappointed. It plays out pretty much as I expected, being that they used parts of it across the movie and a handful of episodes, and I readily enjoyed the scenes that remained unfilmed. The characters were both new and familiar at the same time, and by the end of it I felt I gained a greater appreciation for the story behind the story I thought I knew.
If you've heard Verily A New Hope and The Empire Striketh Back, you already know what to expect. This falls right in line and completes the trilogy in its greatness. For those who have not yet experienced this... you're in for a treat. Shakespearean puns and mangled quotes run amuck through the galaxy far, far away, accompanied with all the ham-fisted, Monty Python style acting. And yet, there is another level of experience, as one would expect from reading the Bard's original works, so all of the drama and gravitas of the story is there to be had. Add in the familiar sound effects and classic John Williams music you remember, and this most unlikely mashup becomes a few hours of pure fun.
But then, having enjoyed the previous two, I'm already biased. You've not experienced Shakespeare until you've heard him in the original Huttese, and the songs from Jabba's band and the Ewoks just drive this performance over the top. It's a blast.
In gearing up for the upcoming July 4th holiday, I decided to revisit the Colonial effort for Independence. These days I think the hardest thing about finding a book that covers this subject is that politics often comes into play. Either the Founders can do no wrong, and their mission was ordained by Providence, or the story's focus will shift to spotlight the atrocities of the era such as slavery or the incompetence of command decisions. Fair and balanced is something that's difficult to find sometimes.
But that's why this book impressed me. The personalities, the triumphs and tragedies, the tactics, the motivations, and the possible x-factors are played out with an emphasis on fact, assessment, and perspective. The character and backgrounds of the people involved are touched upon, but with just the broad strokes so as to keep the narrative going. What was especially invaluable to me was learning of the mindsets and political entanglements that led to the Boston Massacre and other such preliminaries, giving a more holistic look at events otherwise glossed over in most history classes. When the war is engaged, the logistical problems faced by the Continental Army are examined in terms a lay enthusiast can understand, with politics taking a back seat and filling in gaps.
It could be argued that more detail could go into this book, and while I agree that it does leave a lot to be discovered, this volume is more dense than a simple beginner's history. There is nuance and detail to had here, which makes it an effective overview of the Revolution and its players. Any reader who wants more will be able to know easily what they felt was missing and what they want to delve into further. Again, what impresses me most is the balance. This isn't a dry book of basic facts, even if the battlefield issues occasionally overshadow other parts of the narrative. Where this book excels is by examining the questions and beliefs that we sometimes take for granted, reminding the reader what was at stake in the name of Revolution.
Dracula tells his own version of the familiar tale with a healthy dose of snark and conviction as he tries "once more" to set the record straight and redeem himself in the eyes of humanity. The result is a lot of fun. It's a considerably less serious take on the original Stoker classic, told in a manner that would almost seem like a parody of both the original novel and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, except it never really crosses into parody territory despite the humor. All in all, I'm now curious enough to see where the rest of the series goes.
The question of the Shakespearean "authorship problem" is addressed in a rather unique way here. The author comes right out and tells you that he believes in the idea that Shakespeare wrote his own works, but that the target of the book is instead to present a history of the debate itself, letting the very nature of the debate reveal its own merits and flaws. The cases for Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere are examined in depth, being representative of many of the other cases for alternate identity. The opinions of notables such as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Henry James, and many others are spotlighted and, in many cases, skewered as being ridiculous and unfounded. And yet, at the same time, the case for the Bard seems ever stacked against him due to a lack of supporting evidence and the ever-widening gap between what we know about him and what is revealed in his works. As a result, the process of how the problem has evolved over the course of time is as interesting as the problem itself.
This book is easily accessible for both the casual reader as well as the scholarly-minded, so the curious at every level will have little difficulty taking it all in and walking away with more than they might have expected.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every book thus far in this Red Sneakers Writing series. Bernhardt's tips are stripped down to basic common sense. The ideas are instantly executable. This series is invaluable.
I'll admit up front, I didn't finish this book. I had high hopes after hearing an interview with the author, but... well, I can't claim to be the best athlete, but speaking as someone with a footing in the world of art, when somebody makes the claim that a certain move in a given sport is "the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa with a steak knife shoved through his eye"... all bets are off. That statement is beyond meaningless, and there are so many more like this that it renders the discussion just as meaningless. I'd put down a fiction book if it were written like that. From nonfiction, there's no excuse. I skipped ahead in the book from there hoping for more meat and potatoes. I didn't find much beyond more anecdotes, hyperbole, and very little practical application. I'll go again at a later date now that I know what to expect, but as of this review, I'm just disappointed. Hyperbole may be the name of the game when dealing with extreme sports, but I was looking for something else.
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