YAKIMA, WA, United States
I enjoyed this book, though some of the pieces of information or anecdotes weren't new to me. I liked how the author clearly laid out his arguments, though I didn't always need 15 examples of the phrase or concept he was explaining. The book was a pleasant listen and I was pleased that it was broader than a basic discussion of language. The author allowed himself to spend time explaining related concepts and instincts to put the language stuff in perspective.
My main concern with the book was that it was a bit dated in places, including one reference that was just ridiculous from a 2012 perspective (but not central to the story Pinker was trying to tell). The book was first written in 94, I think, but was updated more recently. The end of book addresses those dated items. It was nice to hear a short update on some of the affected topics, though it sounds like Pinker's general theories did not change. The dated bits were mostly just pop culture references, I think the science (or theory) holds up.
So, if you've reached the point where you've read and/or listened to all the Discworld books and The Long Earth books, but you need more Pratchett, this is a good book.
Actually, my daughter kept commenting that it sounded like Harry Potter. She's right in that the stories that helped build the Discworld are the same ones that support the stories in Rowling's world, and probably others, for that matter.
The book is enjoyable and interesting, though I'm not sure I'd recommend it to someone who hasn't read many Discworld books.
I can't even say if the story was good because the narrator was so annoying. She was like a British Valley Girl? At the end of every sentenceeeee, or pauuuuuse, she would drag out the last syllabllllllle?
Why did they choose a female narrator anyway? The book is written entirely in the voice of the male protagonist. Who cares that Eliot is female if her subject is male. Oh, l mean "maaaaaale?"
I found words like brothaaaaaa and othaaaaa to be especially annoying in this narration. I actually sped up the playback which put most of the narration at normal speed but the extended endings were still quite evident.
I got the story because I really enjoyed Middlemarch. In Middlemarch I found the main characters interesting, realistic and though they didn't make decisions I would make, their actions made sense for them. In this story I didn't sympathize or even understand any of the people. Too bad. Maybe with a different narrataaaaa, I would have enjoyed it moooooore?
I often like histories that focus closely on one person like this and both the time and the place sounded fascinating before I began. During the reading, there were moments when I thought the story was going to pull me in, but it never did.
There was nothing glaringly wrong or problematic in the story, but I never got excited enough about what happened to really care--though I kept expecting I would. I would pause and think, "now this is going to get good" but in never quite did.
The thing I missed the most was the lack of connection to what came before and after the time of the "action" in the book. How did this historical event/battle/plan stem from events decades before or decades after. The subtitle is the "making of the modern middle east" but this book ends with the end of the lives of the major players. We are left to remember ourselves what the middle east turned into during and after WW2 and beyond.
I am left with an idea the Lawrence was a remarkable boy and young man, a conflicted adult who felt rightly betrayed by various people and the British government and then he died. the end.
I'd seen the movie long ago, as a kid with my parents. I'd never read the book or had it assigned in school. I was glad to discover it as an adult, since some of the insights would have passed me by as a teenager.
I was especially interested in the book's insights into education, small towns, poverty, family, society, judicial progress, femininity and parenting roles. There is so much in this book to enjoy and so much to wonder at.
I have heard it described as a book to read to understand America. I think that is apt. I would highly highly recommend it.
After the first half hour I really wanted to like this a lot. I was ready for a rockin' hilarious feminist jaunt. It almost was, I guess.
Some parts were really funny. I generally agree with Moran about life and stuff. I'm not a big fan of listening to lots of graphic talk about masturbation and the first two or three chapters felt like a forever of, well, I don't know if Audible edits language in these reviews, so I'll leave the actual words unsaid.
General warning for listeners: NSFW or for listening around kids.
I certainly liked Moran more as a mom than as a teenager in this book. I'd be curious to know more about her working life between those two stages. I think her other book or books might focus more on that time in her life.
As other reviewers have said, this is really two books, a non-fiction brief history of time/evolution kind of thing with sarcastic jokes thrown in every so often and a mini disc world novella featuring the wizards of Unseen University.
It took me a while to get into this book, for two reasons which may relate more to me than to other potential readers: First, while I enjoy learning (and re-learning) about evolution and science fiction and extinctions, I really dislike learning or thinking about deep space and vast time. It gives me the heebie jeebies and makes my tummy hurt. If it doesn't do that to you, potential reader, you'll enjoy the first part of the non-fiction-y part of this book better than I did.
Second, I don't particularly like the Unseen University professors. I'd always rather read about the witches, the watch or, Vetinari. Especially Rincewind bugs me. Though he wasn't so bad in this one.
That being said, I pretty much enjoyed the second half of this book and got used to the interweaving of the two books. I was looking for the sequel but it looks like Audible doesn't have it. Shame--it sounded like there would be less deep time/space stuff.
One last suggestion: if there are any regular disc world books (besides color of magic) you haven't yet read, do those first. If you are through the whole set and need a Pratchett fix, read the Tiffany Aching books first. Still need more funny Pratchett? This one is it, I guess. (of course the less funny Long Earth books and his earlier stuff and YA is still out there for your enjoyment too).
The title space doesn't allow me to write my whole title: Probably the best short story collection I've ever heard. And certainly the one I've enjoyed the most.
I usually dislike short story collections because they seem to be all depressing and incomplete. These short stories feel just like small, complete books. Connie Willis is so talented and so good at crafting interesting, surprising situations and complex, lifelike characters. I can't get enough.
This collection also includes short messages from the author after each story. I loved these, particularly the one that talked about how she became a successful author. Inspirational and fascinating.
One qualm with the audiobook: My tracks were out of order for parts of two stories--the numbers were in order, but the reading jumped from the end of one story to the middle of "The Winds of Marble Arch" and then put in the afterward to the earlier story before jumping back to the start of the "Winds:. I'm still a little confused about "The first (middle) track I heard form Winds, but since everything else made sense, I didn't worry about it.
I've been listening to a bunch of Wheaton/Scalzi books lately. They never seem to disappoint. This one too.
The story is absurd and odd, but somehow everything makes sense and fits together. The author is talented at creating unusual characters, particularly alien characters, who don't operate based on our logic, but somehow their decisions still make sense based on their own motivations in the story universe.
Scalzi manages to give us enough made up backstory and "history" and cultural background to ground his characters in a "real" fictional world without bogging down the story with heavy info dumps.
Also, Will Wheaton is excellent.
If you're considering this one, you've read the other two already. No? Go read The Long Earth--now.
The Long Mars was as enjoyable and interesting as the two books that came before it. I always feel a series of connections to my own life, starting with the setting in Madison (sort of) where I used to live. I love that the authors talk about specific locations and connect their world to mine.
I had a little more trouble than usual following the timeline in this one, but I think I was distracted, maybe. I kept confusing which ship we were following on which trip. However, it didn't seem to matter much and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Before listening to the book, I thought it sounded an awful lot like the time traveling series by Connie Willis. Willis' books are so good--and I've gone through them all--that I thought I'd try Taylor's. The voicing (as well as, probably the accent) and the odd sorts of things that happen remind me of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. The story reminds me of Willis and, sometimes, Fforde.
Unfortunately, both Fforde and Willis write better books than this one. Taylor's time traveling seems to be a rough copy of Willis' but with less rationality or logic. It may be silly to ask for logic when talking about science fiction, but I felt too many things in this booked happened that way because it allowed the author to easily dispatch a problem she had written in.
A lot happens in this book and it seemed really too much to handle carefully in one book. We are introduced to the main character, her life, her introduction to St. Mary's her first mission, second, etc, on through 5 or so years of her adventures before we even get to what might be the big adventure. But because of our fast paced introduction, we never really get to know most of the supporting characters particularly well. Things happen, then we're suddenly rushed past the results and the unsatisfactory explanation and we're racing on to the next event.
In Connie Willis' books, she gives us all the information we need to understand why things are happening in this future world and why they can't happen another way. We understand character motivation and the movement of the narrative is towards some significant events. Reading Willis I felt satisfaction in the resolution of conflicts or crises. Reading Taylor I just felt vaguely annoyed and vaguely entertained throughout. I also felt like several things that maybe were supposed to be surprises were telegraphed far ahead of time--or I'd read them before from another author. Or maybe they were just cliches.
Oddly, though I guessed a few secrets/surprises early on, while I listened there were several times when I missed the actual revelation of the secrets. The character had a mysterious something (no spoilers), then the event finished and later the character talked about how surprised she was by the revelation of the mysterious something. But when did anyone actually reveal the mysterious something? I didn't hear it--and I was listening with full attention. It happened at least twice.
As to the Fforde comparison, the zaniness and non-stop action seem similar (and there is a mention of bringing back the dodo). Fforde's writing is a zany, enjoyable ride. This book left me feeling uncomfortable throughout, asking three sorts of questions: How did that happen? When did they tell us that key bit of info? and Did Taylor actually steal these ideas from other authors?
The narrator was fine, but some differentiation between character's voices would have helped me keep track of dialogue in one or two spots where, even afterwards, I couldn't tell who was speaking.
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