This is another excellent story form Bryce Courtenay. Fans of his books will recognize familiar themes from previous books. The characters are engaging and the narration by Humphrey Bower is excellent (although many of the female voice characterizations sound similar). The real impact comes in the epilog where the author, "facing his own use-by date", outlines the plot for the remainder of the never-to-be-completed trilogy. Few people leave this earth with as much grace and completeness as Bryce Courtenay.
I enjoyed this book, but I'm a bit of a numbers junkie myself. Silver does a great job of explaining complicated subjects in plain English--good enough to make best-seller lists. He explains predictions for politics, weather, baseball, poker, economics including the stock market, earthquakes, global climate change, and terrorism. He ties this together with Bayesian statistics. He describes this in terms that anyone can apply. Along the way he explains over fitting and under fitting of models. He describes the advantages of models based on physical principles. I enjoyed the way he used betting terms (hedgehog and fox) to describe political pundits. I would make this book required reading for a statistics class. It won't thrill everyone, but anyone who is curious about predictions will enjoy it.
I was ready for a classic finale including the ultimate confrontation between Katniss and President Snow. What I got was more teenage angst and "who do I like" questions. The end leaves enough threads hanging to allow for a 4th installment, but Suzanne Collins has lost me with this mediocre effort.
As I started listening it felt like a homecoming with familiar characters and familiar narrators continuing a story I had listened too years ago. When I finished, I wasn't fully satisfied--I wanted to spend more time with this book.
All of the characters seem to be descendants of either the tin woodsman, the scarecrow, or the cowardly lion. In this world where everyone suffers from a major personality flaw, it is no wonder that the heroes are those with brains and courage, and no heart. All of the characters suffer from verbal diarrhea. A homeless stowaway on board a train talks for an hour about the takeover of a motor plant by brain-dead descendants of the founder. He has them quoting Karl Marx (without attribution): "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." One of the main characters delivers a national radio address that would make Bill Clinton or Fidel Castro seem like models of brevity. I've enjoyed Scott Brick in many other books. In this case his characters either speak in a monotone or are constantly whining. Maybe this was just a faithful representation of Rand's characters. Before you buy this book, you should look up Ayn Rand's views on objectivism. If you have serious problems with this philosophy, you will have serious problems with this book. Personally, I find some elements of objectivism useful, but taken as a whole, the philosophy is woefully inadequate. One of the protagonists directly attacks St. Paul's treatise on love: ("The kind who never asked you for faith, hope, and charity, but offered you facts, proof, and profit."). I don't believe that my highest calling is personal pleasure. I also found Rand's foray into science fiction wanting (a motor that gets its energy from static electricity in the air?) I rated this book a 2 rather than 1 because I managed to finish all 63 hours of it. There is a narrative that has a reasonable conclusion.
An excellent story well told. Only the recent demise of Osama bin Laden kept this from being a heart pounder. The characters are engaging. This book featured some of the best villain character development I've encountered. With "Exile" as a 5, this story rates a 4.3.
Good science fiction is hard to find. Too much of the genre has been contaminated by fantasy. I like to read a book where I understand the laws of physics (or at least most of them). This book proposes some plausible scientific developments and weaves a skillful thriller story around them. The setting for the book comes from McEuen's home town of Ithaca, NY and the surrounding area. This area has enough interesting features that the author did not have to invent any.
I'm waiting for McEuen's next book.
Some works of literature are best read aloud. This is true of most of Mark Twain's writing. Unfortunately this is not true of most scholarly work. I appreciate the amount of scholarly research that was necessary to assemble the Autobiography of Mark Twain. That doesn't mean I want to listen to it. The narrator commences this work with an introduction that contains detailed descriptions of the various hand written and typed manuscripts and the multiple edit marks. After an hour of this tedium, we are finally treated to some of Mark Twain's writings. This might have been tolerable if they had quit there, but each section of each chapter is introduced with more details about how it was selected and assembled. When I go to a concert, I want to hear music. I know there are musicologists who have studied the intimate details of the compositions. There is great skill that goes into this study, but scholarship is not music. Neither is it literature. I have some advice for editors who insert their scholarship into fine literature. Words written about literature are not literature. There are some people who care about these details, but they are exceedingly few in number. This is what post notes are for. If you ever again feel compelled to contaminate a work of literature with your own composition, go take a nap. Bye and Bye, the compulsion will pass. If it doesn't, find another line of work.
I enjoyed this book. I can tell that Ken Follett spent a long time researching the details. I'll bet John Lee enjoyed himself with seven distinct accents to deliver. Winston Churchill sounded like Winston Churchill. This book contained engaging characters and provided a good feel of what life was like for people before, during, and after WW I. My only real criticism is that historical accuracy seems to have gotten in the way of a great story. Compared to his prior epic novels, in "Fall of Giants", the heroes and heroines were less heroic, the villains were less villainous, and the climax was less climactic. It is probably more realistic, but it "only" rates a 4 instead of a 5.
Most of the action is in the court room, but you know with Patterson there will be some decisive moments outside the court. In contrast with Paterson's other stories, in this case the hero has no history with the other characters. I suspect we may see one or more of these characters again. The portrayal of the Iraq war seems accurate with honorable soldiers doing their best in impossible conditions.
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