This is the first in the Mitch Rapp series that I've read, and I was spellbound. Although the level of violence is higher than I like, I think it goes along with this genre (spy thriller). I think it says a lot about a novel when the first thing you want to do when you finish is read another one by the the same author, which is what I'm doing now.
I researched the author a bit. Although he remains cagey about his own politics, it turns out Flynn is a regular on Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, so there is no question where his opinions lie. I didn't realize this when I read "Last Man", and I enjoyed it more because of my ignorance. Now I'm on to another Rapp series, and I now notice the ranting against Democrats and liberals (sort of Ayn Rand, but subtler and in pants), and it greatly reduces my interest in the series, being a Democrat and liberal myself.
I've heard this narrator doing more books than I can count, but he's good, and keeps the tenor and pace of the book nicely.
I rate this book 3 stars out of 5. I wouldn't recommend it highly. The formula here is: repeat the same phrases over and over and over to build tension. Unfortunately, instead of tension it makes you want to hit "fast forward".
To make it more exciting, a lot less description of ancient art and literature. In one section, the protagonists are on the run for their lives, and we have page after page of historical description of their surroundings. Hello?
It was well-performed, clear and with good expression.
No. The author needs to consider breaking out of his (very profitable) mold and try something different.
I love Beethoven, and as an amateur pianist I expected to love this book, but I couldn't finish it. The author makes points that are perfectly reasonable, just not very entertaining. The premise, that he went crazy performing Opus 109, could lead to all kinds of interesting conclusions, but instead he just meanders through the sonatas and piano greats without engaging the reader.
First, and last book by Biss.
It wasn't bad, but it just couldn't keep me awake.
i think this book wasn't clearly thought out in terms of a real message and point of view.
Beethoven is my personal hero, so if I can't even finish a short work about him, I blame the author, not the subject.
It would definitely be worth listening to again. There are so many cogent arguments and counter-arguments that it is hard to remember them all. The thought-provoking ideas combined with humor and personal experiences lecturing about atheism makes this a must-read for atheists and agnostics, as well as any religious people with serious doubts.
Dawkins seemed to be speaking to me when he accuses agnostics as being atheists with no backbone. My logic in being an agnostic was that there is no way to prove a negative: you can't "prove there is no god". But Dawkins chides that it isn't up to us to prove there is no god, it is up to theists to prove there IS a god. If we honestly feel the arguments supporting the existence of god are fatuous and transparent lies, then we should stand up and declare ourselves atheists, and not worry about stepping on toes or being thought unsympathetic.
This is my first.
I prefer listening to this in doses, so I can go off and think about what was said, and dive into the next chapter with a fresh mind.
I especially like Dawkins comments about the complete ostracism of atheists in US culture and politics. He notes a poll asking people "would you vote for a for president?" For being "Irish" it was "99%", "Catholic" it was 95%, "Mormon" it was about 80% (this was before Romney), and for "Atheist" it was something like 40%.
This was a good read, and I enjoyed listening to it. I'd say about 1/3 of the audiobooks I've listened to are better than this one. The supernatural parts are a real draw for readers who enjoy that. The vampire characters are pretty 2-dimensional - yes, they can be very nasty, and yes, they can be romantic and sexy, but that's about it.
My favorite character is Mathew's father, Philippe. He is so commanding, yet understanding, you can really feel why he's the head of family of vampires.
The same narrator did book 1, so it was a smooth transition to this book. Her narration of the main characters is quite good. Her narration of the Latin and foreign language passages is wooden and stilted.
"A New World Long Gone."
I recommend this book for people who've read book 1. I really disagree with reviewers who thought there were too many historical details. The historical characters (Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth) really flesh out this novel and make it more interesting, without overdoing the historical references. I'd say that is the high point of this work. After 40 hours, the character of Mathew is beginning to really annoy me. I mean, I understand he's devoted to Dianne, but every sentence, every gesture, is female fantasy of the perfect attentive mate: dangerous but pathologically devoted. There is a 3rd dimension to real people that means they don't just behave towards and away from another person - they need to have their own independent thoughts and values. Yeah I know: if I'm so good at this, why don't I write my own novel?
It is in the top few non-fiction books I've read.
I've read other biographies that either try to turn the subject into a saint, or add so much detail they drag on, but this was a winner in both departments. Jobs comes across as the genius and jerk that he really was, and the details really tie everything together. I am computer engineer, but I've read non-fiction about technology that bored me to tears. This goes way beyond technology, and really gets into the fundamental question: what is the difference between a CEO who leads a company into failure, and a CEO which turns a nearly-bankrupt company into the largest company in the world?
This book is best enjoyed over multiple sittings, because there is much to absorb and digest. Jobs is presented in all his complexity, leading his employees to absolute brilliance, and driving them out of the company with his temper and whimsical opinions.
I found this book to be excellent, in the spirit of the highest level of literature. The story is far from predictable, and yet the characters are so predictable in ways that we can't help but see our own behavior in them. Despite the message about sometimes changing one's life despite all the obstacles, I still found watching Harold's decisions frustrating to watch. I sympathize with his sad life, retired with an unloving/unforgiving wife, and I think it's noble he decided on his walk on the spur of the moment. But his decisions are too unthinking: refusing to buy decent shoes and developing huge blisters, hooking up with people who are clearly not good, refusing to pause his walk despite terrible pain and miserable weather, etc. I know the author is intelligent and deliberately wants us to see all these contradictions in his life, but when the character's lack of self-awareness swamps the plot, I think it distracts from the author's good yet complicated message to the reader.
I'm an engineer, so reading about Bell Labs and some of the most exciting discoveries and technological breakthroughs of the 20th century is of natural interest to me. This book covers all the great breakthroughs at Bell Labs, through the eyes of the executives of the labs and the Nobel Prize winners who did most of the discovering. Although this is a natural vantage point, I kept feeling like I was missing the basic intensity and passion of the individual inventor and discoverer, which is what most interests me.
I never finished the book, because I'm afraid there are other works I'm more interested in, and are really more interesting to read. I wonder how the author holds other people's attention for the whole book, when an electrical engineer like me can't maintain interest.
The narrator of this book is painfully slow. He reads so deliberately, as if he's recounting some incredibly exciting event like a political assassination, as he recounts the researcher pushing a probe into a device to measure a current. My audible.com software allows me to change the narration speed, and I highly recommend "2x" or 2 times normal speed, so you don't fall asleep, or punch the dashboard in frustration.
Including myself in the group called atheists, I found Hitchen's intellectual rant against various religions a great read. I don't imagine Christians would even read this, but I wish they would, to experience how ridiculous religion sounds to those of us without benefit of the irrationality of faith. Hitchen's speciality comes from his long instruction in Christianity, which means most of his focus is on that branch of mysticism, but he also delves with gusto into Islam and other faiths. I feel he could say more about Hinduism, which I have always found especially suspect, requiring as it does that only the high class "Brahmin" are allowed to learn the sacred texts written in Sanskrit, and the poor underclasses may only gain their understanding through the self-interested pronouncements of the upper class (I learned this from an Indian officemate of mine, who was himself Brahmin, and clearly had relished his position back in India). But Hitchen's welcome evisceration of Christianity stands as a monument for the rest of us looking for logical thought in a world of fervent, dogmatic religious nonsense.
As for the narration, it is poor. I listen to audiobooks in my car, and if I listened to this in the silence of a library (or using noise-cancelling headphones, which are illegal for drivers in my state), I would enjoy much more Hitchen's sonorous British accent. But listening to it in my car (as most audiobook listeners do, I imagine), I could only understand about 80% of this. His jet-engine-booms would start out, drifting into a church-mouse-mumble at the end of most sentences. Very frustrating when you're trying to follow the point of an especially delicate argument. I suggest putting your player on very high volume, and trying to survive the shouts so you can hear the whispers.
This is a fast-moving, captivating tale about post-apocalypse life in the US. I recommend it because it is a good story, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and ends in a satisfying way.
The only quibbles I have are some of the assumptions of the story. A full-scale nuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR is no longer possible. Using the USSR as a combatant makes the story dated. I also quibble with the level of destruction described. The author basically states that human civilization ends with nuclear war (scanning the airwaves with a shortwave radio found absolutely 0 people still transmitting). But given that there were about 8,000 warheads at the peak of the cold war, I don't see how every city in every country could have been destroyed. Do you think Fiji would be targeted? Madagascar? Also, as an engineer, I cannot picture that a nuclear exchange would have this total "success", meaning I believe that since no intercontinental nuclear missile has EVER been really tested (including blowing up a city), the vast majority of them wouldn't work. And after a few explosions, the ability of the remaining missiles to still function and find their targets seems even more suspect. So the whole setup of the story seems unreal to me. Also, although I enjoy fantasy, I thought the addition of many supernatural forces to this story was unnecessary. The challenges and situation is so remarkable on its own, that we don't really need to hear about magical lights and evil monsters.
But despite my quibbling, I think the story of groups of survivors trying to survive in a nuclear winter makes a fascinating premise for a story. I listened to it intently, and was sorry to reach the end because I wanted to know more about what happens to the survivors. Caring about the characters is what makes good writing, and that's why I recommend this book.
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