This book has been rated several thousand times, so I'll just say my piece and go. The author has been blessed with that rare gift of pure storytelling. And the narration is the finest I've ever heard in an Audible novel. The post-apocalyptic epic (and it is an epic, along the lines of Stephen King's "The Stand") does require the listener/reader to be willing to let go of beloved characters, abruptly skip ahead a century, and embrace a new cast of characters. The reader's patience here will be richly rewarded, trust me. And it ends up being a lot more seamless, if you hang in there, than this makes it sound. In my humble and very personal opinion, quite possibly the finest piece of post-apocalyptic fiction ever written (and one of the finest novels to be produced in any genre).
Let me start by saying I enjoyed this story. The three stars and the remarks that follow will make this sound like a more negative review than it is. It suffers mainly in storytelling style, and by comparison with other novels in the post-apocalyptic UF genre. Taken on its own terms, it was very entertaining, dark, and imaginative. The author has succeeded in creating her own version of a world shattered by, and rebuilt anew after, an apocalyptic catastrophe in which the threats still abound. And her vision is remarkably unique - something increasingly hard to find in the glut of "zombie-apocalypse" books. Kudos for that.
All the wonderfully dark, gritty UF details here have been diminished, however, by the flippantly adolescent style - this applies to both the book as written and the audiobook as narrated. The story is told, not in the first person but nevertheless from the protagonist's point of view, and that person, Chess Putnam, is a young girl, teens or early twenties, I believe. A multiple drug addict and exorcist/witch/debunker for the Church of Real Truth, yes, but a young girl just the same, and much of her style - and thus the style of the narration here - sounds like a flippant, eye-rolling, sarcastic 16-year-old. I managed to enjoy this story despite this annoying style, certainly not because of it, and that must only be because I am so addicted to the whole genre.
The plot moves along nicely, although most of it is not exactly a nail-biter. The characters, except for Chess herself and the utterly engaging Terrible, are largely flat, cardboard stereotypes, from "Bump," the drug dealer/pimp to the church officials to the middle class families whose homes may - or may not - be haunted.
Bahni Turpin's narration of Chess has the hip-but-squeaky affectation of a 16-year-old, one who is trying to make it in a hard, strange world by being just a bit too casually "whatever" about nearly everything. Turpin voices Chess just so, and gets it right, true to the author's style (much as this style annoyed me), but she struggles, and often simply fails, to give credible voices to the male characters. I found myself substituting my own version of the voices in my mind, something an audiobook narration should relieve you of the chore of doing. A second, male narrator would have greatly improved the experience.
So there you have it. Many will no doubt take issue with my comments, and I do hear that the books that follow get progressively better. I will listen. But I will say, as a true lover of the whole postapocalyptic and UF genres, that it is hard to come from "The Passage" or "The Stand" or "Swan Song" and find nearly as much enjoyment here. That said, three solid stars for the sheer imaginativeness of the world Stacia Kane has created for us.
If you have a strong interest in learning the spoilers, or inside secrets, to a lot of stage magic tricks, you may enjoy this book. But anyone looking to find useful, relevant, interesting applications to our "everyday self-deceptions" will fall asleep from boredom - which is fine, because the rest you will get will be more valuable than the education in applied neuroscience (or lack thereof). The premise was clever, but for everyone except stage-magic buffs, this will disappoint - there are many better books out there on the subject.
Sally Hogshead does a wonderful job of reading her own book (she admits she's never read an audiobook before, but you would never know it, she's a natural), and BONUS TREAT: She includes MUCH new material and commentary in the Audible version, that is NOT in the print book, so this is the way to go if you want this book. Why just 4 stars? There are lots of "personality tests" out there (the Myers-Briggs probably being the most well-known), but Ms. Hogshead says what's different here is, the other tests measure your innate personality characteristics, while her test (which is online, takes 10 minutes to complete, and is surprisingly accurate) measures how OTHERS see you. Well, oo-kayy, but they probably see these traits in you because they are inherent personality traits that you employ, consciously or unconsciously, to attract attention and be persuasive, so she may be making a distinction that isn't much of a difference. Still, it's always interesting to see a different set of categories and descriptions applied to yourself, (if they are valid and insightful, as these are), so this is recommended.,
You're probably here because you'd like a really good book on human behavior - specifically, why we think, feel, act and react the way we do, especially in social interactions. You know that the reasons we are attracted to some people and ideas, and repelled by others, aren't always clear, and in fact are often a complete mystery. If you're anything like me, you've read "The Tipping Point" and "Blink," maybe even "On Second Thought," "I Live in the Future," "The Invisible Gorilla," or the dozens of other offerings that promise to reveal your brain's perceptual errors, and your hidden motivation and those of others, the blind spots in your experience of other people and everyday life - all that cool stuff that will finally have you saying "Ah-HA!" But no matter what the reviews on Amazon or the New York Times (or all those gushing testimonials) say, when you finish, you feel a bit "cheated," oddly dry, like you weren't really provided with useful insights.
You weren't. But take heart, because here is a book that delivers! Clifford Nass, Stanford professor for the past 26 years, wanted to conduct social science experiments in human interactions and reactions to various common everyday scenarios, but he wanted to overcome the problem of the "confederate" - the "planted" person in the experiment, who all too often can skew the results by his or her own biases, unconscious facial expressions or other unintentional behavior. Then he had a brilliant insight: he noticed how antagonistic people were to Microsoft's infamous "Clippy," the animated paper clip "helper" that would pop up when one was in the middle of word-processing. He realized that people react to interactive computers with the same attitudes and emotions that they do to fellow human beings, and computers were the perfect "confederates," since they could perform exactly the same with every person and in every situation.
So he and co-author Corina Yen, his colleague from mechanical engineering, together with various graduate students (and many computers!), began devising experiments, the astonishing results of which are in this book. There are some genuine eye-openers here. To begin, just why did people hate "Clippy" so much? But it gets more practical: why do most businesses, large and small, fail abysmally at performance reviews and "team-building" exercises? And what would be EFFECTIVE ways to do these things? Why do you find one movie reviewer (or authority on anything, for that matter) much more likeable and engaging, yet find another, less likeable authority more believable and trustworthy? What is the REAL reason a car salesman gets you to agree to his terms, while thinking they are yours, when you know in advance their entrenched reputation for slick tactics? (You haven't heard it explained like this before!) And so much more!
Sean Pratt's narration is measured, "comfortably slow," with frequent brief pauses - but never in an annoying way. In fact, it is the perfect reading pace for absorbing the fascinating contents of this book.
If you are a frustrated "student of human behavior," skip the many other books on the subject (or box them for your next yard sale) and get this one!
Amid an over-abundance of books on reading auras and clearing your chakras and "living in the now", Nirmala gives us instead a practical, yet beautifully written (and read) book on how to shift the "place" from which you are perceiving your life, from your head to your heart and even to your solar plexus or "gut." Not how to look with the head at the heart or gut, but how to actually perceive from - and live from - those centers in the many situations where doing so would be superior. A few other authors have attempted to tackle this subject, but have ended up either being vague and overly "new-agey," or have been rather dry and academic (appealing to the "head"!), such as Peter Wilberg or Karlfried Graf Durckheim. Nirmala makes this fascinating and important, but little-discussed, subject come alive in a warm, listenable book. Don't be put off by the many "exercises," either - they are all very easy and just take a moment, and will richly reward the reader. Looking for a truly fresh take on personal and spiritual growth? Listen to this book!
The many places where Smoley made New Testament passages come alive with an unorthodox, "esoteric," yet plausible and never "new-agey" interpretation.
The various historical references, and the "light-bulb-on" interpretation of many previously-puzzling biblical quotations.
His voice was conversational, clear, very easy to listen to. It was like having an old friend or a father-figure sitting next to you and discussing these interesting ideas with you. His reading style was very natural and pleasant.
No - parts of it (historical overviews, and especially the chapter on "Symbols and Sacraments,") would make the book "too much" for a one-sitting listen!
Overall I immensely enjoyed listening to it, and felt I learned a lot. It is a little uneven - the material in some parts was, for me, more enjoyable or instructive than in others. For instance, there was a warm and wonderful discussion of the esoteric view of "Love, Evil, and Forgiveness." There was then a jarring shift (for me, at least) into a dry and academic (and sometimes pretty speculative) discussion of "Symbols and Sacraments," material I just could not engage with, and felt would never end! Overall, however, the book was fascinating and instructive, with just a few of these "speed bumps," so "four stars."
The author's grasp of GENUINE meditation (not the binaural beats, not the guided visualizations that pass so loosely for "meditation" techniques these days). Also, his staightforward (yet comprehensive) discussion of the experiences one may encounter in meditation, and how to easily deal with them.
No "moments" - this short book should be absorbed as a "whole."
The book reinforced the "best practice" approach to true meditation and provided many useful reminders.
The serious student of meditation should probably receive instruction (and regular follow-ups) from a bona fide human teacher of true, mantra meditation. Failing that, this is, in my humble opinion, the only other place to go (or at least the only other place one NEED go). The would-be meditator will save miles of ink (or hours of audio!) and many hours spent on what will at best be overly-verbose, theoretical and needlessly complex material, and at worst will be misguided advice and shoddy or erroneous instruction.
The solid journalistic and investigative research that supported every statement in the book. Remember, the authors originally initiated their investigation in order to DEBUNK the Roswell UFO incident once and for all. But the more they investigated, the more that creepy evidence for the event itself, and its shockingly brutal coverup by the U.S. government, became clear, until their finished product (the first version of this book) ended up being 180 degrees different in its findings and conclusions, from what they expected when they began. I also appreciated their "trial of the facts to a jury" approach: what is the evidence on each side, and who has the preponderance of the evidence? Finally (finally!), someone has called the debunkers on their claims of "it's just circumstantial evidence" and "it relies only on eyewitness testimony." These are perfectly valid forms of evidence in any court of law - people have even been sentenced to death based on this very type of evidence! What makes this evidence so flimsy in the minds of the debunkers? Hmm? True, the Roswell incident does not rise to the level of "scientifically-established fact" (and how very many things we all routinely rely on in our day-to-day lives which do not), but the "alien theory" would actually be the hands-down winner in any court of law that heard all the available evidence. And this book, more than any other available on the subject, presents ALL the available evidence.
"The Roswell Legacy," by Jesse Marcel's son, Jesse Marcel, Jr., for further support that what the highly-trained Major Jesse Marcel originally found and reported was not the "foil, balsa wood and string" of a weather balloon, but materials never before recorded as having been encountered. The focus of that book is tighter, not as panoramic, focusing more on Major Marcel's discovery, the unique materials found at the impact site, his initial report and subsequent coerced "retraction" news conference, and the effect all this had on him and his family for the rest of his life.
Absolutely perfect narration and emphasis for this book.
The horrific, unconstitutional and illegal treatment of private citizens (such as death threats to a 12-year-old girl, among many others!) by the military, in order to silence any talk about -- a crashed weather balloon??
For the listener (as no doubt for the reader), this can get to be dry, stale and repetitive in places. Despite my intense interest in the subject, I found myself glazing over at several sections. (That may have had as much to do with the time of day and the low caffeine level in my bloodstream, I don't know.) That said, for its sheer comprehensive treatment of the subject (and it's many startling and engaging sections), this book deserves no less than all 5 stars. With the many first-hand and even second-hand witnesses starting to pass away, this book may (sadly) represent the "final, best record" on the Roswell UFO incident (much as I believe "Columbine" by Dave Cullen is going to represent the "final, best record" for the Columbine massacre).
I think even devout Christians - perhaps devout Christians especially - would find their intelligence insulted by this alleged "visit to Heaven" memoir, filled with the author's alleged adventures with a cartoon Jesus, a cartoon Satan, and a whole supporting cast of other cartoon characters which could have come straight out of Scooby Doo.
He could have never written or read it.
He has a listenable reading voice, especially given the loopy nature of his material.
No, none. As I alluded to before, listening to it insulted my intelligence. It would be very inferior even as a work of fiction (which I firmly believe this is).
Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, stay away from this turkey.
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