Be in on the very beginning of author & narrator, Chris Colfer's debut book, which has also been scooped up by Hollywood - both of them, to be the Star of his own book, first book, no less! A very bright high school kid who learns how to manipulate his otherwise non-literary co-students, esp a few of the more popular kids who have secrets to hide, secrets that they'll do anything to make sure they stay hidden -- even if it means writing an article for this 'unpopular' kid's Literary Magazine. Why is he so driven to break his own code of ethics? Because he'll do anything to get into Northwestern so he can get away from these people who've bullied him so long AND, more so, to work his way up to becoming a writer for The New Yorker magazine, a mag most his schoolmates haven't yet heard of. Another great find at Audible, which made it possible w/it's Exchange Program (I.e., you don't have to be stuck with a book you don't like; you can now exchange your old choice with a better one. Thanks Audible!)
Some wrongly believe you need to suffer through the entire performance, because that's what an audiobook is, before rating it. I couldn't get that far. I'd like to encourage Audible editors to keep its acquisition standards 'high', if not 'higher' to avoid narrators who are terrible at the accents they're attempting, to protect Audible customers from low-quality production values where, for example, the audio editor doesn't take the time to erase the sound of a narrator swallowing between each sentence or dramatically stating each and every sentence to such an extent that it all becomes the same over-dramatized pitch, etc. When Audible does this, we can be more assured of quality (like Breakfast at Tiffany's, say). Because even with the exchange policy, our time is worth something that can not be replaced. Please Audible, be discriminating, offer more guidelines, whatever, but protect us from the poor execution of books.
This writer has the ability to make writing look as hard as it is, unfortunately for the reader. Yet he has great potential if he learns what dialogue to leave out. Right now it's as boring as the dialog between two kids in high school. That isn't to say it needs to be unendingly clever, either - but a happy medium between the two might suffice. The potential? He creates two characters that appropriately exhibit tension thru dialog, pauses - then again, it could be that I so wanted the story to take off that I felt anxious for the characters. And the narrator? He was split - good in his male voices yet every time he had to 'narrate' a female character, the voice suddenly turned into a caricature of a female, not a real person at all.
Three stars for finishing. Now learn something from it and try again. Why? Because there's something there that hasn't yet been developed, called Voice. Don't stop. (Unless you're the potential reader.)
Some people are multi-talented, and this author is one! Plus he's got a self-deprecating sense of humor, which only the most confident people pull off (or even try ...). He describes himself as a filmmaker but then immediately humbles the title by saying, basically, in Los Angeles, EveryOne's a 'filmmaker'. His delivery is clear & basic but not so basic you want to tear your hair out, which is helped also by a steady pace when delivering new info. This is not a book about what cameras to buy or technical advice, but about basic yet hugely important info everyone must learn, practice, relearn and then deliver in order to create a video 'that doesn't suck'. For example, he says it's crucial to "use your feet" to get "the whites of their eyes" (two tips here - don't use your zoom, instead use your feet & always try to get so close to people that you can see the whites in their eyes). Many more tips too.
This is a classy professional with a great sense of humor (he dedicates the book to his partner, adding, something like 'by now, you really deserve a statue' or something, instead of his dedication). His delivery is fun, not overdone. And if you're someone interested in learning more about the law of attraction in action, this guy's an example. You just know he focuses more on what he's grateful for than complaints, a worthwhile goal for us all. Sincere & fun-loving. I'd want to go on a shoot with this teacher, which, in part, is the 'likeability' factor in action too. But nothing superficial; nice.
Just by listening, your mood will be lifted. Basically his book content is an example of his video philosophy: If you're bored with what you're shooting (or writing, talking about), then your audience will be bored too. When in doubt, cut it out. The tips he suggests ensure you will snag exciting content/images. So, tips that are timely and well worth repeated listening, plus you get a narrator that exudes a certain je ne sais quoi. Live, learn & keep editing to ensure your visual&audio memories, how-to's, and/or blockbusters just don't suck.
Here's a new author who feels the need to introduce a Novel. Come on, man. Let your book speak for itself. And if you NEED to hear your voice, More, do it at the end, and let an Audible editor interview you. But don't stop our anticipation in its tracks to hear mundane stuff. That's like a character (on film) who suddenly breaks out of character and starts talking directly to the viewer by looking directly into the camera. Jarring! And then when we hear the 'important' reason why you decided to do this (Hamm), you then become irritating. Please don't ply us/the readers with your administrative decision making about whether or not the book is open-ended, or why, as a writer, you decided to resolve all the character's/s' issues! It not only breaks the flow, but forces, yes FORCES the listener to listen to, well, boring crud. From what the reviews show, the book really should be enough. Wait at least until the end of the book, except in cases where the reader truly must know your process as part of the introduction. Most of all, always, or LISTEN TO, your editor. Now I'll try to read the darn book, again.
This isn't a brand new series, but it's new to me. Here's my philosophy on choosing a book: Sometimes you just want to relax, not to work at learning a new skill or theory. And that's where Audible shines, esp when story & narrator merge so seamlessly as they do in this series. Fancy Pants is about a female who wasn't prepared for the world, at least not in a way that would allow her to function well as an independent, self-sufficient person. That's something many females can relate to, unfortunately. This author deals with this serious subject in a humorous, confidence-inspiring (well, it is fiction but it does/ can apply to our lives too). Yep, it's about the need to be self-sufficient as a pre-requisite to real, mature (and exciting) LOVE. But there's enough fun and intelligence, so much so that you just might not dwell at all on the underlying message. Love it. But the second book in this series, Lady Be Good, had me laughing out loud. First things, first tho. Start at the beginning, here, if you want some relaxation and delight. Over n out.
This is one of those books that has a great story yet it's execution is lacking. I'd guess it's an example of the author who doesn't want to keep editing and re-editing - or writing and rewriting ... She stopped too soon. For example, after reading a few other books by this author, I noticed two similarities throughout all - even tho the characters have different names from one book to the other, all the male characters were essentially the same person. I believe this author was trying to model her male characters based on her idea of Jesus, really! Which means they were, well, as perfect as a human being can be in values, actions and emotional responses. That is, no chinks in their emotional makeup, no real signs of anger b/c the author seems to believe that for a man to express anything but a twinge of this or that feeling (shown only by subtle expressions, like clenched teeth or jaw, or whatever) would be a dreadful sign of weakness. Being 'real' isn't exactly valued here, with all the messiness that implies. But they do seem to be an idealized persona; and after all, this is both a mystery and romance with Christian foundations&aspirations. Each subsequent book in the series shows yet another person (of a small group of orphans who weren't chosen by adopting parents, and thus decided instead to form their own family) - who, one by one, find their way to Jesus. Born again. Actually, although I'm not a practicing Christian by any stretch, I still was drawn in by these characters and their story. My only complaint is that a writer with such a great story and characters didn't take the time or effort or get the feedback that might've helped her to truly make this a literary achievement. That is, to not rely on stereotypical characterization but instead to create 3D people, warts and all. Lastly, to not use a word so often that it brings attention to the word choice instead of the story it's trying to convey. Yeah, that one word for this author is ROILED. Great word but not six times b/c it stands out a lot. This roiled and that roiled. Now whenever I hear that word, I can't help but think of this author and smile.
I do hope she keeps writing and honing her craft b/c she obviously has a talent for the hardest part of writing, for many: coming up with unique story ideas and creating characters that, intermittently at least, touch the heart. But hold the relish when it comes to 'roiled.'
Artist with two young kids, down on his luck, meets swashbuckling conman who charms the artist into copying less-known works by the masters, for his own personal collection, he says. But not long after, during a visit, the younger artist notices his paintings have disappeared from their prominant place on the conman's walls. It's awhile before this artist fully understands hat his new 'friend' is doing with his paintings, for which he's been given increasingly large(r) sums of cash. And when his wealthy, well-dressed, smooth-talking friend asks him to attend an auction at one of London's most ite art museums, he realizes and is stunned to learn that his friend has donated, as well as sold, many of this young man's forgeries, which have passed the watchful eyes of the art world's elite. An incredible, fast-paced story that explains how the stuffy art world was initially taken for millions, during which its 'provenances' were fabricated to such an extent that many still believe there are fakes out there being mistaken for real. Fortunately, these authors write much better than me. If you like art and a fine story, you won't want to miss this one!
Do you know what triggers your shame? And do you engage in a daily 'gratitude practice'? And creatively involved in something you love, too? In addition, do you get plenty of sleep, and also know what it means to regularly laugh, play, and prioritize friendship as well? Well, guess what the latest research shows? These are the similarities of people who choose, and experience high levels of happiness over following the conformist tendencies of the 'in' crowd.
After a handful or so years of doing hours-long 'interviews' of research subjects, and picking out repeating themes in American life, researcher and professor Brene Brown's focus on shame, fear & vulnerability almost brought her to her knees -- until she realized another emerging theme: Authenticity. That is, among and within an epidemic of irresponsibility and blame (which have increasingly been our 'default responses' to the fear and insecurity brought on by 9/11, 2008's Wall Street meltdown, plus the corruption we see everyday in our so-called leaders), Brown was also able to identify and focus on a more positive trend leading us toward more authentic lives. Let's hope that the 'hundredth monkey' theory continues (see book with same name, by Ken Keyes) in which a small group of people can literally change the way we live!
This small group of people who resist cultural pressures to conform, not only live a certain way (see paragraph one, above), but are happier than others because of their choices in bucking the stultifying trends toward falseness -- who, instead, embrace authenticity. Yet be forewarned because no matter what you've been taught, showing your feelings and learning to be/embrace vulnerability and authenticity is not a journey for the weak!
In this hours-long taping of a live seminar where Brown speaks in her down-to-earth, often funny, manner with an audience of two-thousand mental-health professionals, she's more than able at reaching her audience, revealing her OWN cringe-worthy journey (which we can all relate to) from a tough Texan with a quick-draw ability to defend at all costs, to a woman, who, "saved by her data" and research, begins, and unashamedly continues, her own journey at being and teaching the how/when& why a 'whole-hearted life' is as good as it gets! But it's not an overnight scheme, nor a scheme at all. I've already listened to this fantastic presentation three times. My only request is that Brene Brown present & record ALL her material, even to the point of redoing the two books she's had others narrate. Because this is your main, and your most intimate, channel in which to reach the most people. Please do so, I beg you. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. I can't say enough about the importance of Brene Brown's work. It's the antidote in this otherwise increasingly false world of ours.
This story and narration, together, boggle the mind. Yet having heard it right out of an unexpected gallbladder surgery, it'd be an equally perfect (read, 'perfectly insipid' - and, yes, sometimes 'insipid choices are 'perfect' for the right circumstance) - oh darn, I've just moved above my own ability to think right now. Just don't buy it unless you're trying to find the right book to tear apart in one of your beginning creative writing courses. "What is this book missing? Or after so manner better books, why would Steele even bother (money . . ., to get over a back relationship, who knows, who cares).
But if you're over 15 or intelligent or if you like to learn something while you're reading, please don't shed your shekels on this young girl's fantasy-come-true (which doesn't even emerge until, well, near the bitter end, I believe) . . .
In short, spare your money. Instead get, 'The Cottage', if you're wanting a story showing growth (I guess you could call it 'growth') - a much better D. Steele. Or, if you haven't yet read 'The Walking Series' books, by Richard Patrick Evans, give it a go. Talk about having an author touch your heart (altho he skimps out a bit around book 4 or so, with the shorter books. (Note: Just make sure you start from Book 1 - read some 'reviews' to find out.)
Or my fave, by Evans, 'A Winters Dream' narrated by the incomparable Fred Berman.
I was going to say that this is a grownup Nancy Drew for the young and mature - especially those who are fascinated by a mix of WWI-era history, the plight of vets (who survived that war, and there weren't many) - yet as Maisie gets her Investigation biz underway, using her Cambridge education, her nursing experience on the front lines of war (poise) & her years of psychological training by a Freud-like elder (perception & intuition) - she hires one of these surviving vets, Billy, who's young, streetsmart, no real formal education but perfect as the right-hand, investigative-trainee to Maisie. A good team, and she's definitely got the lead role, which she earns compassionately, shrewdly, and via networking with the Inspector Chief of Dectives of the Police Dept. Imagine what intelligence that took in the early 1900s. But above all, Maisie's one dogged, tireless worker.
The book's focus, mainly, is about finding people, finding who done what, etc. - and a healthy mix of family & romance. But mostly work, like any new entrepreneur. Romance is seemingly just around the corner, and that corner is approaching. But Maisie is wise beyond her years due to great advice and being open to it, plus she wants a good job. And as most wise women know, if you don't get your own career in place BEFORE you get married or seriously attached, you're not likely to meet the partner (and I do mean partner, not master/mistress) of your most contented dreams. Or she dates, has crushes, and more I dare say. But like any serious biz-building person, her nose is to the proverbial grindstone. And she loves what she does!
Maisie Dobbs is one character who evolves from book to book; she learns from her clients, as the best people do, at their best. I admit, gladly, being swept away, delighted, even captivated by both the author & this cluster of 3D characters circling around this young woman, nurse-veteran of WWI, psychologist by training from the best in the field (not the coke-addled, client-abusing Freud, who's never mentioned but is around at this same historical time. In fact, Freud meets Carl Jung via letters around 1911, so it's very contemporary to the WWI era.)
There's so much in this story, yet it's effortlessly revealed, because, as in all the best work, the 'art is concealed'.
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