ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States | Member Since 2006
Welcome back James Marsters!
Not only is Marsters great, he IS Harry Dresden. 'Nough said about that.
I don't know of any author but Jim Butcher who can pen a 14-novel series and never make you feel that he is just churning-out another block of words for a paycheck. If anything, he gets better. 'Days' has all of the action and humor that we expect Jim, Harry, and James to deliver. I can't wait for the next installment.
Very xmen-ish and lacking in original core ideas. Humans who have gained super-powers of various kinds after the arrival of "Calamity," which goes unexplained in this first volume. The domination of these gifted people over others. A resistance leader called the "Prof." Some of the the super-powers, and those of one minor character in particular, are just too cartoon-like for my tastes.
All of that being said, the story itself was very entertaining. It has several twists and turns. Sanderson drops enough hints that I had guessed most of them by the end, but I think that was what he intended.
The reading was very good, but several of the character voices sounded too similar to me, hence the five to four reduction for performance.
Overall, I'm looking forward to giving the next installment a go. Don't expect anything as epic, or as deep, as Sanderson's contributions to 'The Wheel of Time' series. All-in-all, an enjoyable ride and worth the credit.
I have found the characters in all three volumes of this series to be childish beyond belief. I'm not sure about Bova's background (note to self: have to look that up), but I can't accept that the type of people who would be selected for a series of missions to Mars would behave like 5-year-old children. It's routine, in this series, for team members to flatly refuse the orders of their assigned superiors with no attempt to hide/disguise it. Sorry Ben, but I believe the carrot and the stick wielded by any future interplanetary mission commanders would be too potent for mutiny to be a routine occurrence. Sure, there are behavioral outliers in any system, but not to the extent that Bova would sell to us. The ending of the series, was contrived and uninspired.
Bova tries to explore, throughout the series, the conflicts between science and religion. In fact, it's a major theme. It could have added value to the work, if not done in such an unrealistic, over-the-top way. Bova puts large numbers of significant religious leaders on the intellectual level with those who still say the moon landings were all a hoax. Again, there are always a few nuts in the mix, but they are not dangerous unless violent. It's the sane-sounding extremists in any belief system (secular or religious) who are a threat. Bova totally missed the mark. It will take several tremendously positive reviews before I will be spending my reading $$$ on Bova's work, again.
That said, I always enjoy Stefan Rudnicki's work. He has the kind of voice that adds enjoyment to the experience and a great deal of ability.
It's not very often than I laugh out loud when enjoying a book, but this one did it for me several times. If you are easily offended by language or sexual themes, then this might not be for you. It's what you would expect from a late-night comedian. Ferguson takes aim at several deserving targets, including Hollywood and televangelists. No race, religion, or nationality is safe. While having a good time with us, the author asks serious questions about life and death, religion, sexuality, marital fidelity, and human gullibility.
Unlike some authors that have read their own work, Ferguson does an outstanding job. This is as you would expect, since his is an entertainer. Some books make better audiobooks than others. This work jumps from protagonist to protagonist and location to location without immediately obvious ties. You have to follow closely and remember the characters from earlier scenes. I wouldn't listen to this one when distracted, or you might get lost.
I didn't see the tremendous depth that some reviewers claim to find, but I had a really good time.
The 'Ender' series has been one of my favorites since it's release. This presentation is first-class.
To me, the quality of a work of fiction is defined in two parts, the basic idea/ideas of the story and the execution. IMHO 'Ender's Game' rates among the best in both areas. The unique storyline constantly revolves around the ethical question of whether the end justifies the means. Given a choice, in our daily lives, to win, or to stand on our principles; which is correct? Is true victory the art of finding a way to do both? Ender and his teachers face these questions daily.
This version is basically true to the intent of the original. Since it is dialog, rather than narration, some changes were necessary to fill-in the missing narrative. I found the net result to be entirely positive. The performances range from pretty good to outstanding.
Overall, this is an excellent way to enjoy the beginning of this epic SciFi series; however, I recommend that those who are new to Ender begin by reading/listening to the original.
This work is a classic for a reason. I, personally, found some of the manipulation of the populace by the elite to be a bit too much for belief. However, after finishing this book, you will begin to see Orwellian ideals manifest themselves in the present world. The near complete control of information by N. Korea, China, and some Arab states comes to mind. You will see examples much closer to home, such as the practice among western politicians of stating something that they know to be wrong with great conviction to convince the public of its truth. The phrase "food for thought" must have been invented with '1984' in mind.
Simon Prebble's performance was outstanding.
This is my second series of lectures by Professor Mark W. Muesse. Both have been a pleasure to hear. I would classify this series as freshman- or introductory-level. It probably would not benefit any but the most casual religious scholar.
I feel that I came away with a good basic understanding of the historical facts, as they can be determined, and the teachings of these four individuals. Great care was taken to provide historical and cultural context for each. The work avoids any judgement about the validity of any religious doctrine.
When we experience deeds performed in the name of a doctrine, the obvious question is whether or not the actions reflect a rational interpretation of the originator's intention or are simply extremist excuses for the actions. An impartial scholar would be the ideal individual to examine this question; however, Professor Muesse makes no attempts in this area. Perhaps this issue was just not the focus of the series, but since the atrocities committed in the name of various religions are a part of their history, he loses one star for political correctness.
From my review of 'The Bat':
The Harry Hole character reminds me a little of Jesse Stone. He's definitely not your squeaky-clean hero. This series was recommended to me by someone who saw that I enjoyed Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and its sequels, and I'm grateful that he did. The summary is that it was worth the credit, but I'm not yet hooked and pining for the next book. I've purchased the next available audio book, number 3 in the series. We'll see how it goes. If I don't get a little more out of it, Harry may have to go on the shelf for a while.
Keep in mind, when reading my opinions, that darkish detective fiction is not really my thing, so I don't have a lot to compare Nesbo's work. I thought it was solid believable fiction, and, like Larsson's, very well translated. It felt like it was written for native English speakers. In a number of parts, I was amazed see that the humor translates well. Someone did a great job. Sean Barrett's performance of the various accents was very good, but the voice of Harry never quite fit the character for me. Other reviewers have stated a preference for another reader as Harry, but as this is my first in the series, I can't say. Sometimes, when the reader of a series changes, the new one doesn't get a fair chance. We (fans) like of character's voices to stay the same.
If you like the genre, give Harry a spin. You won't regret the credit, and may get to really like him.
Review of 'Phantom':
Well, I'm not at book 9 of the series. I find that I do prefer Robin Sach's narration, and I've come to think of him as Harry. As always, he does a very creditable job with 'Phantom.'
My views on the series and the Harry character haven't changed. It's too dark for me. Each release in the series shows Harry giving in more and more to his personal demons - drugs, alcohol, and ruined relationships. I understand that there is trauma in real life, but real life usually has some ups and downs. Harry never seems that get off of his slippery-slope. In addition, I prefer my heroes to have redeeming values besides just a particular skill. The only consistent positive in Harry's life is his uncanny ability to solve crime. By book 9, Harry has dropped all pretense of caring anything about the rule-of-law. I find it disturbing when fictional characters like Harry are made into heroes, or at least examples of the real world. It doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, that way.
I thought that Harry's downward slide might be a literary gimmick to keep us reading in the hope that there would finally be a turn-around, but after 9 books, I don't see it coming. I'm not likely to continue the series.
All that said, 'Phantom,' like the rest of the series, is solid fiction. If you disagree with my perspective on the character of Harry, and enjoy dark detective fiction, then you will probably like it.
This novel is not my thing. So, take this with with a grain of salt.
Over the top statements early in the book turned me off beyond recovery. For example, stating that the protagonist is the only person in world who could do a particular assassination. I just couldn't go on.
For those who like war stories and the like, the author did seem to have a lot of military knowledge, or did a lot of research.
Don't expect this series of lectures to be entirely about the mechanics of mindfulness meditation. Once the basic practice is described, Professor Muesse spends a great deal of time on Buddhist philosophy and the reasons why conscious examination of our mind's wanderings is beneficial. Very little of this work is guided meditation; however, the guided mediations and instructions provided are consistent with what I have found in other authoritative works.
Because we are creatures of habit, i.e. our brains actually adapt to make it easier to repeat common patterns of thought, breaking the habit of allowing our minds to wander uncontrolled, can help us prevent unproductive patterns of thought from becoming habit.
Both mindfulness mediation and Dr. Muesse's introduction to it are highly recommended by this reviewer.
Christian Rummel's performance is, as always, almost spot on. I can easily distinguish the voices, even the female ones, from each other. Not a minor achievement! If he fails to excel at any part of the performance, it's when the characters display strong emotion.
I won't recap the publisher's intro here. If you are considering this book, then you should just know that this is the last in the series, and wouldn't stand alone well. You wouldn't be totally lost, but the experience wouldn't be the same as if you start at the beginning of the series. Aside from the existence of hyperspace travel between systems, this is space combat with the normal laws of physics applied. It's also about political combat with all the laws of human self-interest applied. It's the story of humanity's attempt to end an internal civil war and deal with an almost unknown external threat.
I completely enjoyed this series and can't wait to start 'Beyond the Frontier,' which continues this story line for another three volumes.
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