We often take it for granted that we'll never know what might have been. If only we'd chosen a different path. If only that one thing had never happened. If only that one thing had actually happened... This book lets us see it, and it's interesting, and refreshing, and exciting. We know Ursula is experiencing life after life, but it appears that the people around her are as well. And that thought that everyone is blessed (doomed) to live again and again until they get it right is such a big idea that this book hasn't left me in the six weeks since I finished it.
I really enjoyed this book. Granted, it took a while to get into because her lives in the beginning were so short. But after an hour or so, as her lives get longer and her choices and the choices of the people around her become more complicated, things get more interesting. What can she change? What can't she change? And are the people around her also experiencing this (for lack of a better word) déjà vu? (I think they are.)
I found the book surprisingly easy to follow despite the number of times the book jumps around in the timeline, and I was so engrossed in it that paying attention was effortless. Fenella Woolgar narrated it excellently, especially considering all of the languages contained in the book.
I would highly recommend this book, especially to those interested in what it was like to be a civilian in England or Germany during World War II.
When this showed up for sale, I picked it up. The synopsis looked good and I needed a book. I still regret the purchase. This is one of the worst books I've read in ages. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to an amazing degree sometimes, but this book demanded too much of me. It was as if the author forgot parts of his own mythology. The magic and science of Lorien are interesting, but ultimately inconsequential. The bad guys were cartoonishly awful. His characters (none of which I found remotely relatable) acted bizarrely for the sole purpose of moving the plot along. If you're going to have an unrealistic plot, you need for your characters to behave realistically. The level to which the authors failed in this endeavor is hard to overstate. And (I'm sorry, but I just wanted to scream this the whole time this book was playing), who tries to escape from baddies from Mogadore by moving to a state that literally has a city called Mogadore?
I'm familiar with Neil Kaplan's work in some video games he's done. You can hear that he is a gifted voice actor, but the only voices passable in this were Four's and Henri's. The other characters sounded like caricatures and every single one of the female characters he voiced sounded utterly vapid. Granted, the writing didn't help these female characters, but the voice put it right over the top.
My $5 were not completely wasted, however. My nine-year old son really enjoyed this. He's begging me to purchase the next in the series. I refused. He can just go get it from the library and read it himself. I'd rather be thrown to the Mogadorians than hear any more of this.
I don't give five star reviews very often, but this was one of the most enjoyable recordings I've purchased from Audible. I enjoyed every second of the book, and when I wasn't listening to it, my husband and I (who don't often agree on books) were discussing it. Frequently, I literally laughed out loud. "Off to Be the Wizard" is just fun.
I've read some of the other reviews of the book, and I think that many of the complaints about it are valid. The protagonist is not drawn very well and has very few attributes (likeable or otherwise). However, he stands as an audience surrogate. This book may as well have been written in second person like those old Choose Your Own Adventure books. You discover things alongside Martin and the things that surprise him, surprise you. There are little hints throughout the book that tell you where the story is going, but even if you miss them (and you will probably miss at least a couple), the situations Martin finds himself in are genuinely entertaining even without the overarching plot. So even though I generally like my characters better developed, I didn't have any issues with characterization in this story.
Luke Daniels did an excellent job with the narration. He added vocal tics to some of the characters that made the book feel more like a radio show than a narration. His delivery really added to the overall joy I experienced listening to this book.
This is a tricky book to rate and review because it's not bad, it's just too much. I get the impression that Elwes used this opportunity to tell every story fans have ever asked him about the making of this movie, which means there's a lot of stuff in here that I just don't care about. Further, every person involved in the making of this movie is the best, nicest person you could ever hope to meet. While this is ideal on a work site, it doesn't make for compelling stories. I felt happy that the cast and crew enjoyed their time together, but I wasn't particularly interested in their always kind and thoughtful interactions. I did find the very large section about André the Giant interesting, and listening to the cast tell stories about him made me wish that I'd had an opportunity to meet him.
I don't want to be too negative about this. I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't particularly like it either. In my opinion, it deserves a solid "ok."
I'd recommend this book only to hard-core fans of "The Princess Bride." If you've got the movie poster on your wall, you'll probably really enjoy this.
I read this as a book club selection. It isn't one I would have chosen on my own, and to be honest, I didn't enjoy it. I found it a bit dull, and a lot dated. This is not to say that the information Lindbergh shares isn't relevant or important; it just didn't speak to me. I didn't learn anything new from the book and I didn't walk away from it feeling any stronger or uplifted. In my opinion, the postscript is the best part of the book as it gives an update on Lindbergh's view of the topics she covers in her essays.
Claudette Colbert narrates it very well. Her voice adds nuance to the text and her reading feels very much like a theater performance. A very good one.
I'd recommend this book only to spiritually-minded women. If you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed by the responsibilities placed on you and you also like sea metaphors, you'll probably enjoy this book.
"Bad Feminist: Essays" is one of the best books I've read all year (and since it's only January, I'm including all of 2014 in that statement as well). These essays are well thought-out and well argued and I found that even when I didn't agree with Dr. Gay's conclusion, I understood how she got there and respected her opinion. Her writing contains all of the hallmarks of excellent academic writing, though they are more entertaining than any book or article I read in college. I especially enjoyed her essays on the representation of race in entertainment and her explanation of what it means, to her, to be a feminist. I'd give her six stars if it were an option. This is an excellent book.
The narration by Bahni Turpin is also quite good, though her pronunciation of French and Latin words is a bit painful.
I always like to finish a review by listing to whom I would recommend this book, but I can't narrow it down. For the first time ever, I would recommend this book to everyone. I'd recommend it to self-proclaimed feminists, to people who are feminists but refuse to label themselves as such, to people who claim they are anti-feminist because they might see that they aren't, and to people who are genuinely anti-feminist because they might gain a better understanding of what feminism is about.
If the cover of this book had given away what it was really about, I would never have picked it up. This sub-set of horror fiction will never be my favorite, but this was a good read with a great plot and an excellent, goose-bump-raising ending.
Narration by Finty Williams was perfect. She has a nice, low-toned speaking voice with an English accent that is never difficult to understand and she gives each character a distinct voice without sounding silly.
I was in the mood for something funny, so I did a search for Fiction / Humor and this one was at the top of the page. I was excited about it because I thought it would fill the "Dead Like Me"-shaped hole in my heart. Unfortunately, what I got was a huge list of one-note characters and ton of sophomoric humor. Literally every character in this book is a stereotype. The Russian neighbor says everything is "like bear." The Chinese neighbor speaks only in the present tense and eagerly eats the protagonist's dead pets. The lesbian sister steals the protagonist's tailored suits. The ex-cop employee is a meathead. The list goes on and on.
Fisher Stevens does a decent job with the material. I couldn't help but think of him in his role in Short Circuit where he played a man from India (Stevens himself is white), but that's probably an unfair comparison. He's not responsible for the content of this book. However, his cadence was a bit off for an audiobook and he ended up sounding like Marc Summers narrating "Unwrapped." I can handle that for a one-hour documentary on how certain foods are made, but not for an audiobook.
I listened to most of the book hoping that the plot would pay off. Souls are defined a bit differently in this story. In this book, people do not have souls, only personalities. However, souls look for vessels to inhabit and move from body to body. I was really curious to see how this would play out and hoped the book would discuss what this meant as far as people, as individuals, are concerned. However, after the part where the protagonist is humped by two four hundred-pound hellhounds that live in his apartment (because that's funny, I guess?), I no longer cared. This book is going back.
I like Amy Poehler. I'd like to say I've liked her since watching The Upright Citizen's Brigade, but that would be lying. I merely found her interesting back when that show was on the air and I was forced to watch it because my boyfriend liked it. No, I've only really liked Amy Poehler since LiveJournal's 2012 Fandom March Madness event. Leslie Knope's stans were so enthusiastic that I almost changed my vote from my own beloved Donna Noble. Almost. I knew from what those people showed me that I had to check out a little show called "Parks and Recreation." "Yes Please" is perfect for people like me.
A lot of people will compare this book to Tina Fey's "Bossypants," and I want to recommend not doing that. It's tempting because these are both books by very smart, very funny women who happen to be good friends. But these books are the life stories of these ladies, and as such, are going to be wildly different from each other.
Poehler is very clear that she is not good at writing books, and honestly, she's right. This is not the cleanest, best written autobiography I've ever read. However, there's a lot of really good advice for just being a good person. As I write this, it is election day in the United States, and things seem very angry and very grim and this book was both a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine. Plus, there are sex tips. Bonus.
The recording is fun. Poehler got several celebrities to do little cameos and the last chapter was read in front of a live audience. Four stars for her performance. Three stars for the story. If you're already a fan of Poehler, check it out. If not, you might want to move on to the next title in your wish list.
Before you read any further, you should know two things. One: I have never seen the movie. Two: I hate zombie stories. So it's surprising that I not only picked up "World War Z," but that I absolutely loved it.
This story is told through a series of interviews conducted after the Zombie War. It was this format that I found so appealing. It gave human faces to the events in the book. This isn't a book about a guy saving the world. This is a book about people coping with the horror of a seemingly unstoppable pandemic and threat of annihilation. Even though you only get to spend a small amount of time with each character (there is no hero's journey here), they're all realistic and you care about what happens to them. Max Brooks was incredibly ambitious with this project and I was thoroughly impressed with his grasp of international history, culture, and politics.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cast in this review. The talent they got for this project is amazing and each reader gives an excellent performance. This is the most impeccably performed book I've ever purchased on Audible.
I see a lot of criticism from people who would have preferred not to know the outcome of the war as they began the story, and their complaints are valid. However, I found that the point of the book wasn't the survival of human beings. The point of the book was discovering how the world's cultures (histories, governments, economies, militaries, technologies) would help or hinder us against an enemy like the zombie plague. The exploration of this question is what makes this book so fascinating, so horrifying, and so satisfying.
This is the story of the descendents of Tommy and Angela who were marooned on an alien planet in an unknown part of an unknown galaxy. The 500 descendents of Tommy and Angela have outgrown the little area of Eden they inhabit, but only one person is willing to face the challenge of spreading out across an unknown world.
This was an interesting premise and the world building in this book is excellent. Everything from the source of the planet's warmth, to the lights on the living organisms, to the common birth defects in the Family Tree that never branches. It's these two points that made me give this a 3 star rating (if I were feeling less generous, that would be a 2 star rating). The rest of the book... not so great.
Firstly, there is a language issue at the beginning of the book. The people in this story speak a different dialect of English that has evolved over the 160 or so years they've been on Eden. Certain "a" sounds are pronounced up in the sinuses which makes words like "lantern," "valley," and "family" sound like "lee-antern," "vee-alley," and "fee-amily." This was well-coordinated amongst the narrators so when you do finally get the hang of the lingo and accent, its not too difficult to follow the story. Still, it took at least 20 minutes for the words to begin to make sense as I was listening, and it still bothered me at least 3 hours into the recording.
Secondly, the portrayal of women in this book is extremely problematic. The society on Eden is matriarchal, and yet the women just seem to be the administrators (when they're not busy procreating) while men do the actual leading. There are women leaders, but we don't really see them leading; we see them deposed. Additionally, the rules of their society state that men and women can only "slip" when the woman grants permission (and women in this book usually do the propositioning), but there are three rape scenes in this book. In the first, a woman makes a boy touch her and that is upsetting not just to the boy, but to his entire community and the woman who did it is ostracized. In the second, a girl is raped and just thinks to herself, "man, he must have been really upset!" and then there is no future mention of it. The third time, when the same girl is nearly raped, the incident is the catalyst for the big conflict in the book not because the girl is nearly raped, but because of what happens when that rape is interrupted.
But let's go back to that procreation angle. The women do the vast majority of the propositioning in this book. But they don't do it because sex is fun, or because it's enjoyable, or because they like it. With the exception of the aforementioned rape scene, they do it because they want babies. They want the "baby juice." Grown women proposition 15 year old boys for the sake of procreation. This leads to some of the most awkward and unsexy sex scenes I've ever read. And that's before you're reminded for the umpteenth time that all of these people are very closely related.
Thirdly, the characters are static. When I read a book, I expect the characters to learn and grow. That doesn't really happen. The protagonist remains handsome and arrogant. The antagonist remains ugly and belligerent. The main "love interest" (for lack of a better word) is the only character that changes, and her motivations for that change are never explained (see previous paragraph).
Lastly, this book just stops. The dramatic structure is interrupted just before the climax. We have exposition, rising action, and then just when you think the climax is about to happen, the book ends.
This is the first Chris Beckett book I've ever read, so I am unfamiliar with his personal beliefs. That said, I think that Dark Eden was meant not as a cohesive, stand-alone story, but as commentary on the Biblical Adam and Eve story. This would explain the static characters and the lack of any climax or resolution. It's an interesting thought exercise, but I feel this book would have been far more satisfying if it had used the creation story as inspiration rather than a source. This would have given him the opportunity to finish what he'd started, resolve the conflict, and let us know where the characters go from here.
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