I bought and listened to this book to determien whether or not I wanted to purchase Butcher's Dresden files, as well as to determine if any of the other author's were worth reading.
My conclusions in order:
1) Yes. Bought 2 of Jim Butcher's books immediately (and was a little surprised that neither the writing nor the characters were as developed as the novella here). Still worth reading his other books, though.
2) Maybe. I enjoyed Sniegoski's work, and it was reasonably self consistent. Green, however, was pathetic--perhaps I am expecting too much from the modern school system, but I don't expect zombies to be named "Deadboy", and when I kept hearing "The Car of the Future" referred to, I kept thinking on how "Boy, that will be tough to trademark and make consumer products out of." I would recommend it to any aspiring writer, however, in the vein of "If this dreck can get published, so can I." I keep thinking that maybe I'm missing an attack of the killer tomatoes kind of absurdity, but sometimes bad is just bad, not funny.
Richardson's work was better than Green's, in that she at least came up with some interesting modern magic approaches, but I kept waiting for something to happen, and the only thing that happened was that it moved on to the Sniegoski piece. No tension during the listen, and no "oooh, what a cool idea."
Mediocre, but not "throw my ipod away and burn my ears".
The book's key premise was one that I quite enjoyed:
"What happens when the hero doesn't win." While the plot is moderately more complex than that, the world is one in which the bulk of humankind is enslaved and working as plantation slaves. Not a pleasant place to grow up.
Sanderson's approach to magical powers and the expenditure thereof is unique. Like any good modern fantasy writer, Sanderson's magic comes with substantial limitations, and like any great artist, painting on restricted size canvas provides greater creativity. His world is an oyster worth eating.
The "putting the band together" piece of the book goes well enough (perhaps more "The Sting" than the "Magnificent 7"), but one of the treats for those of us who used to play D&D was finding a sentient, conversant creature related to a gelatinous cube....while I won't spoil the fun by going into the details here, having this particular henchman made for good listening.
Finally, the interweaving of religion, faith and society is quite interesting--after all, if Darth Sauron is a god, what kind of religion would he have? Not a pleasant one, as it turns out....Sanderson's bad guys, while they lack depth (as in most fantasy milieus), are pretty scary SOBs. Enjoy thew world, and enjoy all 40 odd hours...
Sanderson covers a substantial amount of ground in this solo effort--I first discovered him through the last of the Wheel of Time series, and thought I would try this as a follow-up. Treating Sanderson as a ghost-writer, though, would be a severe disservice. Not only does he have his own voice, the internally consistent world that he puts together has several interesting spins both on magic and on swordplay--I particularly like how magic is not clearly dominant, and how magical swords and armor don't just happen to be mithral mined by elves or some such.
Like any excellent fantasy novel for adults, the political intrigue is at least as interesting as the swords and sorcery, with a good mix of humor, honor and treachery. Unlike the Game of Thrones, however, this particular read is a bit more in the PG rated range than R. Tactics matter more than in Game of Thrones, and betrayal, when it occurs, was much less obvious to me (With GoT, I would frequently find myself thinking "No, don't go in there!!!, which didn't happen with this book).
Be warned, however, this book is not easy to put down, and may keep you up listening later at night than you intended to.
I've been a George Carlin fan since my teens and have enjoyed both his stand up and his occasional movie appearances (especially with Keanu Reaves). This book is classic Carlin, but it reminded me that too much of a good thing is, well, sometimes too much. Listen in small doses and it's brilliant. Go for a half an hour, and it's ok. Go for an hour, and the pieces of the book(s) which are dated really become obvious and annoying, and his with is less effective.
The best part of the book, though, is George's narration--given the way he wrote, it is hard to imagine anyone else doing an even adequate job. I would buy this book again, but I'd be a little hesitant to recommend it to a friend--too many other good things out there.
The story is a compelling one--set at the turn of the century in Chicago in 1904, the author covers both one of the largest serial killers in American History and weaves him in and out of the architectural extravaganza that is the Chicago World's Fair.
That is probably both the strength and the weakness of the book, however--I feel that there were possibly two short books available here rather than one longer one. While the writing is good, and the narration well performed, the interweaving of the stories neither deepened my understanding of either subject nor provided me with a greater emotional impact moving back and forth.
I would recommend the book if you generally enjoy reading history, particularly mid-AMerican history, if the serial killer bit doesn't turn you off. If you're more into serial killer histories, this one is interesting (due to his relatively unique, custom made house) but much more conjecture due to the lack of detail in the historical record.
I had heard of this book from a number of other parents with children of various ages, but was not all that convinced--often, titles like this conceal a bunch of crappy, half-baked not well thought out ideas.
That's not the case for nurture shock.
Working in tech, the name Po Bronson was familiar enough to me that my first thought was "What does he know about child rearing"--after all, the book I knew him by was "Nudist on the Late Shift", so there isn't a lot of obvious correlation. It turns out that he felt the same way--he's just a dad who was trying to do things the right way, and started looking at the studies on child rearing, and the way that children actually turn out.
Similar to Freakonomics, it turns out that when the entire set of science related to child raising (including teenagers) is consolidated, there are many, many surprises in store.
A few examples:
Peter and the Wolf vs. George Washington and the Cherry Tree--which is more effective in stopping children from lying, and why?
Parents who argue with their teenagers frequently vs. rarely--how does the perception of the adult differ from that of the teen in the relationship?
Is spanking good, bad or indifferent? Does it matter who spanks, where and when?
How "colorblind" approaches to child raising are the wrong way to go...
and much more.
If you buy it, be warned--you may end up buying others for other parents you know so that you can talk and compare notes.
The book covers the history of the psychopath test, and starts with a rather interesting inquiry into someone who faked madness to escape punishment for assault...and then ends up with an examination of similar behavoir in everyday life, including such famously non-empathetic individuals as Chainsaw Al Dunlap, the former CEO of Sunbeam, and a few others.
* Just because people score highly on the test, they are not necessarily dangerous--the test mainly shows a lack of empathy.
* 1% of society typically scores high enough to be considered psychopathic
* 4% of senior management at large companies scores similarly
* Journalists (especially on TV) like people who are crazy, but not TOO crazy (the book became an exercise in navel gazing towards the end).
If you're interested in how the mind of a serial killer works, have a look instead at Morrison's "My Life Among the Serial Killers". It's an excellent work by someone who spent 30 years working with what most people consider to be psychopaths.
I loved "The Wire", and did not love this. Simon's is writing, rather than storytelling Homicide, and while a few of the vignettes are interesting, unless you are a die-hard fan, there are better things to do with your time.
I would not buy again, would not recommend this to a friend. It gets two stars rather than one because (a) some of the stories held my attention and (b) Simon's worst writing is still better than some other author's best.
This particular book brought together two things that I independently am interested in--chocolate and business. Unfortunately, this is a case of two great tastes that don't go that well together. The book is slow, and while there are interesting factoids, I feel like the wikipedia information on the subject is probably at least as well written and as interesting. I would not buy it again.
While I had read the Jordan novella before, it happened to be one of my favorites in the series, where Lan and Moiraine first meet...and, unlike some of his other books, it is short enough to be finished without abandoning your friends/spouse for a week.
Pratchett's story is a Granny Weatherwax tale, where she maxes out her Headology skills. If what I just wrote sounds interesting, you will love the short--if not, get one of Pratchett's earlier books first.
Card surprised me--I've only read his first two books, and having one set in 1820s America really surprised me. The short is still fantasy, given the subtle powers of some of its characters, but certainly not of the conventional "set in 15th century England" type...and for that reason, that particular novella was my favorite of the three.
This is one of the worst books I've listened, or tried to listen to. While I am a science fiction fan, and understand the whole concept of willing suspension of disbelief, this particular writer does not seem to understand that you only change a couple of things at a time.
For example, the book has psionics, energy weapons, projectile weapons and swords all occurring in the same combat selections. While this is well and good, anyone with a smidgen of military history knowledge understands that projectile weapons beat swords. I won't claim to know for sure how psionics and disruptors work, other than to say that the cardboard characters on the side of the bad guys don't seem to either.
The worst part, however, is general lack of creativity, whether reflected in character naming (Jane Psycho, Jack Random, Cat the burglar) or in the interpersonal interactions. If you like Heinlein for his characters, Asimov for his plots and Vinge for his amazing societal characterizations, you will be categorically disappointed by this particular edition.
Finally, the dramatization is annoying rather than exciting. I do wish the authors would have listened to one of the Terry Pratchett novels narrated by Steven Brooks before deciding to include a wide range of special effects, as Brooks does excellent characterizations without going over the top on the sounds of magic.
Spend your money elsewhere--I wish I could.
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