I hoped that this would be a series of lectures that talked about C.S. Lewis' life and the major themes in his writing. I already knew that most of what Lewis wrote is either an allegory of Christianity or directly apologetic of Christianity. I'm fine with that, and I expected that it would be a major recurring theme in this course. Unfortunately, this isn't a series of lectures, it's a series of sermons. Essentially, every lecture boils down to "here is one of the Truths of Christianity" (notice the capital "T") and a few quotes from one or two of C.S. Lewis' works on that theme. I'm a practicing Christian, and the problem wasn't that I was offended by the professor's sharing of his faith (he and I are probably 80% faith-compatible, if that's even a thing). The problem was that I wanted a literature review mixed with some biography, but I got twelve sermons with passing references to C.S. Lewis. If you want twelve sermons with references to C.S. Lewis, then this course is a good choice. Unfortunately, the description implies that it's something very different.
Caveat: I tried very hard to finish this book, but I gave up about 2 hours from the end. So, maybe there's some big reveal that makes the rest of this mess worth it, but I wasn't willing to stick it out any longer.
The narrator was bizarre. His entire speech pattern is choppy, and he makes a lot of bizarre choices with character voices. A lot of the characters sounded either drugged or severely depressed. I usually have a high tolerance for poor narrators, but Mr. Epstein was bad enough that I'll think twice about listening to anything else that he narrates.
Worse, huge chunks of this book are tedious descriptions of made up physics. I really liked the idea of a story set in a universe with different physics than our own. However, I'm not interested in hearing the details of the equations that govern light in that universe. A little bit would be good, so that the reader could get a handle on the "rules of the game," but there's way too much of it. It's like if you read a fantasy novel that not only described a system of magic, but also described all the necessary wand movements in excruciating detail.
The book repeatedly jumps forward in time by a few years to move the story along. It's jarring, and it gets in the way of developing an attachment to the main character. All of the skipping forward means that every character point is "developed" with a sledgehammer. There's no time for Yalda to grow, she just gets hit over and over with major life events.
Finally, this book seems to be trying to explore some feminist themes, but everything it has to say on the subject is so basic that I can't even begin to call it provocative. Nonetheless, Greg Egan seems to really want the reader to know that oppressing women is bad. He mainly presents this earth-shattering insight by repeatedly creating flat female extras and then assaulting or killing them. It's the "woman in a refridgerator" trope bizarrely used in support of (again, the most basic possible) feminism.
This book is miserable.
This book was great. It's roughly a 50-hour listen, but I wanted more when it was finished. Thankfully, Words of Radiance (the second book) was available, and I was able to jump right in. Unfortunately, book three isn't available yet, and has a projected release of Fall 2015. After that, the series is supposed to extend to ten books total. So, now I'm going to spend the next 10 years or more constantly waiting for the next book in this series. If you want to escape my fate, just don't pick this book up.
This book crams a lot of information into a short time. I thought it was a fascinating look at the intersections between statistics and psychology. A lot of the book is devoted to exploring the ways that the human mind misinterprets randomness and misunderstands probabilities. The author brings out examples from game theory, the stock market, and scientific studies, then explains how your instincts probably don't match reality when a random (or uncertain) element is in play.
I would recommend this book to just about anyone. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was that I wanted more.
This is a detective story set in a "the magic is failing" world. For the most part, you can see how the mystery is shaping up based on what the characters already know, but there are a few pieces of the puzzle that just show up out of nowhere. The story is a little frustrating, but it's also interesting. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I should also probably say that the second book is better than this one, but the third book is worse. It's not a bad trilogy to get into, but it's probably not going to be many people's favorite.
This is more of the same stuff that was in Ettiquette and Espionage (the first book in this series.) It's a light, fun story that doesn't take itself too seriously. The book is short and aimed at a young adult market, but I think anyone looking for an entertaining read will probably like it.
I think the narrator does a good job with the material. The tone she uses is a little silly, which matches the story well. She also does good voices for each of the characters, which makes the story easier to follow.
If I had a complaint, it would be that the story concludes a little too abruptly. The resolution could have been expanded a little, but it was still a fun read.
This book was a huge disappointment. The premise sounded pretty good - secret society, crazy member, potential disaster - it could have been good. Instead, it's a book where one guy works through his girlfriend issues in a batcrap-crazy memory palace.
This book is hard to follow. I say that as someone who has read A LOT of fantasy. I'm used to sorting out the details of an alternate world where things just work differently. In this book, the "garden" where, apparently, all of mankind's memories get stored is dropped on the reader and they're left to figure out what's going on. Worse, characters will often say to the newbie "That's just how it works in the garden," and there's no rhyme or reason to it. The newbie and the reader are both just expected to say "sure, that makes sense," when it doesn't. The newbie seemed to figure it out over the course of the book. This particular reader never did.
Also, there are three characters in this book - the guy, the newbie, and everyone else. It's like everyone is the exact same person, hanging out in a different body. Worse, one of the characters is actually possessed, and there's absolutely no way to tell. That character is LITERALLY another character in a different body.
This book is seriously a mess. I was glad when it started winding down, because I wanted to be done with the story. Of course, in the final few minutes, they reveal that despite the fact that it seems like they've wrapped everything up, they've actually solved nothing, and there will need to be a sequel. Keep in mind that the authors don't build this up or show it in any way, they just have the characters say it, straight out of the blue, with no support or reason.
This is a miserable book.
This book is a story about a woman in a mercenary company. The world is a pretty standard fantasy setting - castles, villages, knights, and a dash of magic. The book has its strengths and weaknesses, but I thought it added up to a good story. I'm currently listening to the second one in the series, which should at least tell you that I wanted more after listening to this one.
A large portion of this book is spent describing Paksenarrion's military training, and her subsequent participation in roughly two years of military campaigining. The emphasis is definitely on what happens, instead of on the emotions of the characters. That doesn't mean that there's no character development, it's just that it's mainly done through showing Paksenarrion's reactions to what's going on. As her reactions change over time, you see how she grows.
If you really hate battle scenes in fantasy novels, this isn't the book for you. If you enjoy action and struggle, then it's probably a good choice.
If you like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, you're probably going to like this book and the series that it starts. October Daye is a little bit broken, which makes her a good protagonist. She's trying to muddle her way through in a world that contains people who are dangerous and unbalanced, while dealing with some personal issues of her own.
The story follows the blueprint for a noir detective novel pretty closely, while being trimmed out with the details of a fairytale world. The writing is good enough that even though you know there are sequels to this book, you still wonder if October might not make it through alive.
There's good news and bad news about the sequels. The good news is that they are each as good as this one or better. The bad news is that the series isn't finished yet, so when you get all the way through Chimes at Midnight (the latest one at the moment), you'll be impatiently waiting for the next installment.
What's your opinion on fart jokes? It's going to influence your perception of this book a lot. This book is definitely not for you if you're looking for serious literature, or really anything deeper than a beach read, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's not trying to be deep, it's trying to be fun.
This book is funny in places, crude in places, and generally fast-paced. There's no character development to speak of, the story doesn't really go anywhere unexpected, and you have to wade through a lot of "weird for the sake of weird." Wil Wheaton does a pretty good job narrating.
It's kind of the potato chip of books. A little bit is enjoyable, but you wouldn't want to base your entire diet on them.
This book had a slow start. It drops you right into the middle of things, and fills in some details with flashbacks. Unfortunately, that makes it hard to be invested in the world and the story at the very beginning, where you have very little to work with.
If you give it two or three chapters, though, it turns out to be a pretty good story. The concept of zombies in a world with super-heroes is a good twist. The characters have enough depth to be interesting, but not so much that you get bogged down and lose the cool story.
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