Near the top...probably in the top 5
Um, is this a trick question...there are no characters in On the Origin of Species, but many animals...I like birds I guess...
He did alright.
I greatly enjoyed this book and wish I would've read it while in college.
After reading Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" I can see why its been noted as one of the most significant books ever written - especially when it comes to scientific literature and observation. I've come to realize that many of Darwin's ideas are over emphasized, underestimated, and way ahead of his time.
To my point on being over emphasized, I have heard many assumptions by many people that assume Darwin wrote this book in a way that pushed evolution to being the explanation for all of life's origins. Many of his ideas and observations are either taken out of context or argued in a way that makes it seem like Darwin had all the answers. If people who openly debated evolution actually read this work, they would come to understand that many of his ideas make perfect sense within the context of his observations. He also dedicates a full chapter to problems with his theory - many of which are some of the arguments still made today.
To my point on being underestimated, I think that when people have taken Darwin's ideas out of context they are missing a grander point in that natural selection is a means by which we can explain evolution and change through time. I think that many people also misunderstand Darwin's observations in that he was able to use empirical evidence to support his ideas, which can be easily overlooked by individuals that attack his theory as an "opinion" or theory without explanation.
To my point on Darwin being ahead of his time, I found it extremely interesting that he was able to make predictions about tectonic plates and the movement of the earth's continents that allowed for the geographical distribution of species 50-60 years before scientists began working off of the theory of plate tectonics. I think many of his other observations have since been confirmed regarding inheritance, now that we have the technology to craft phylogentic trees and such - even to the extent of using mitochondrial DNA and rRNA to track ancestry.
Altogether I found this book fascinating and look forward to reading it again. I'll also look forward to checking out his other writings at some point. Part of me wishes I would've read this book in college when I would've had more opportunities to explore his ideas as well as take advantage of professors that could have spoken at great lengths on the subject.
Pros: Truly a classic when it comes to scientific observations and how science should be performed.
Cons: The chapter on hybrids was a bit dry and hard to follow.
Bottom line: Excellent read for anyone interested in life's origins or how there is commonality among life forms.
Not having to read an 800+ page book, and being able to read this series during commutes to and from work.
The only other non-trilogy book series I've read is Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. I think George R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice series is already off to a much better start than Dark Tower, only because Marin writes every scene with purpose. With King it can get frustrating because he adds a lot of "fluff" and sometimes you never know why certain things were added into a scene, or what is driving a character's motivations or dialogue.
So far I've been quite pleased with F&I and am eager to continue on in the series.
He did a great job on having different accents for the various characters...and there were plenty of them!
No extreme reactions, but very dramatic and well written.
Although lengthy, I felt that Game of Thrones was great start-to-finish. Without going into details or spoilers, I thought each character was developed in an excellent manner and there was never a story arc that felt rushed or out-of-place.
I also have to admit that I was apprehensive to begin the series since most of the low-rated reviews indicated that the sex, language, and violence was gratuitous. I did not feel this way at all. There was little-to-no vulgar language and nothing perverse or offensive. After watching the HBO series, there is (for some strange reason) a large amount of unnecessary language and nudity that is not part of the book.
I'm eager to press on in the series and felt that every page added to the overall story.
Pros: Every written word has purpose to the story and there is not any "fluff" that some authors use, just to add more pages.
Cons: The very end of the story (which I won't go into to avoid spoilers), but none really.
Bottom line: an excellent beginning to a series that I am eager to read more about.
Yes - when Michael Shermer read's his own book, it feels like I'm listening to a lecture or debate of his - which I enjoy.
I liked Shermer's unbiased approach - to everything. I also appreciated his personal testimony in the beginning as I have always wondered what his personal belief structure was like and where it came from.
He did a fine job.
No extreme reaction, but I supposed I was impressed by his unbiased approach.
"The Believing Brain" was an excellent read on belief systems ranging from religion, to the paranormal, and even to politics. I didn't expect the section on politics to be that engaging, but I felt that Shermer did an excellent job presenting an unbiased approach to discussing political beliefs. Bias is something that has to be avoided in science, so I greatly appreciated his ability to remain unbiased when discussing topics that tend to polarize people.
I thought the section towards the end regarding the history of cosmology was a bit stretching and really brought the book's momentum to a screeching halt.
Overall it was an excellent read and I would read this again, as well as recommend to my friends. I also took great insight to Shermer's arching thesis in the book: people first establish their belief and then justify their belief system.
Yes - I wish King would've done a better job of "bringing his fellowship together" rather than how it played out in the book. I felt that the reasons for the characters to band together in defeating the enemy were a bit flimsy.
Most interesting - the villain.
Least interesting - the "hero's" sidekicks and reasons for joining together.
About the same...sometimes I do get a bit tired of the constant "grittiness" that Will Patton is known for and he does not voice female characters very well. Overall he's alright and you know what to expect.
Yes, but unsure of the cast.
If you're an avid reader of Stephen King, you'll quickly pick up on the template that King has used in many of his writings to bring people together where they accomplish a task. In some ways, I think King uses this "banding together" successfully and in other ways pretty weakly.
To start with the good, lets compare his greatest works: The Stand, IT, and Dark Tower series to name a few. In these stories, King was able to bring a group of strangers together in a Tolkein-esque kind of way where they join forces, journey together, and ultimately defeat a greater enemy. I really enjoyed all of these books and when layered you're able to identify the common theme of "unity", "purpose" and "good verses evil".
To cite lesser examples where the template didn't work so well, I would place The Talisman, Black House, and Doctor Sleep. Unfortunately, Mr. Mercedes also falls into this category in my opinion. I had a hard time buying into the "fellowship" that forms to defeat the bad guy; however I thought that King crafted a very interesting, and well-defined villain.
King does a great job (as always) setting up the characters; however once they start interacting with each other I began to have problems. Without going into details or spoilers, I felt like some of the relationships that formed were strange and irrational. I also had a hard time buying into the story at times...the classic "why would they NOT turn it over to the cops/authorities at this point" which, for me, the story begins to lose any authenticity it may have started with.
Now that it's been made clear that this is the first book in a trilogy, I'll probably read the rest, but with lower expectations.
Pros: well constructed and written bad guy.
Cons: obligatory sexual references and foul language, which is typical King-style writing.
Bottom line: decent story, but not King's best.
I enjoyed how Dr. Hare divided the topics of psychopaths, which made reading more enjoyable and less mundane (see extended review for details).
I liked how Dr. Hare identified areas of society were the term "psychopath" is misused and even in criminal justice system, doctors and such are misusing the psychopathy checklist.
I also liked how he explored the area of psychopathy in children, which is rarely discussed due to the moral and ethical implications.
The chapter on children psychopaths.
Considering this book was published in 1999 and is now 15 years old, it is still a relevant and insightful read on psychopaths. Dr. Hare is also an early pioneer in trying to develop, and correctly administer the psychopathy checklist, which I found interesting to hear how this technique came about.
Like most books on psychopaths, there are plenty of examples of murder, deceit, and injury to others; however Dr. Hare did an excellent job in breaking the book into a few basic sections:
- Defining the Psychopath
- White Collar Psychopaths
- Psychopathy in Children
- Appropriate Use & Misuse of the Psychopathy Checklist by Society
- Methods to Identify & Protect Yourself From Psychopaths
The book length is just right and it was well edited. I would recommend this read to anyone interested in psychopaths and trying to understand psychopathic behavior.
Pros: Addressed the issue of psychopathy in children and made me really ponder if people can be born "bad."
Cons: Book highlighted all negative aspects of psychopaths, but did not touch on any positive features - which have primarily been addressed in Kevin Sutton's "Wisdom of Psychopaths"
Bottom line: Quick and interesting read - would recommend.
Probably top 10
I liked how PHotUS stuck with the facts and historical events of our country's founding and growth rather than leaning on political bias and socio-economic side items. I thought that this was a great, comprehensive look at America's history and seemed like a fair snapshot of all the people who have influenced the shaping of this great nation.
World War II
"Come see America's Heritage & History come to life!"
"A Patriot's History of the US" was an incredible and exhaustive history of the United States and was exactly what I have been looking for in terms of a comprehensive look at our nation's history.
I previously read the highly recommended "People's History of the US" by Howard Zinn and found it biased and preachy - constantly promoting socialism and anti-capitalist view points. It spoke very little to the actual historical events and instead used them only as a platform to make a point.
With "PHotUS" I thought it did a fairly decent job of keeping to the historical record of events and attempted to stick with the facts. I know at times it would be hard to not go into detail with motivations or even political bias (especially when dealing with presidents); however I think that it was at least fair and balanced.
"PHotUS" was able to cover everything from America's involvement with world wars/conflicts and also the early expansion of America, basically Manifest Destiny. It also provided great insight into our nation's founders, leaders, and influential citizens that brought about innovation, advancement, and change (for better or worse).
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the events that have shaped the United States of America into one of the greatest societies in our modern age.
Pros: a comprehensive read of our country's history and heritage.
Cons: when writing about presidents, it's hard not to cover their activities without some type of political bias.
Bottom line: highly recommended read for anyone looking to get a refresher of our history and to also get a better understanding of what has happened 'then' that has gotten us to 'now'.
The left sided political bias was a bit disappointing. When I picked up "People's History.." I was hoping for a comprehensive telling of America's history. Instead Zinn highlighted all of the political motivations for certain events in American history. He implied that every war was fought to protect the wealthy or protect/exploit international people and resources.
It became tiresome to have Zinn constantly bash capitalism and promote socialism throughout the entire book.
I thought the ending was self indulgent and preachy. Zinn basically encouraged everyone in the middle class to "revolt" and turn on the wealthy so that the top "1%" of the country is forced to share the 30%-40% of the nations wealth with everyone.
For being a historian, I'm surprised that Zinn has not taken into account that the countries exercising socialism and communism haven't exactly been too successful.
Zinn also pointed out that he was regretful that he was unable to include the gay rights movement. I have to admit, I was not sad he left it out because I was under the impression this was a "People's History of the United States" and not a "People's Political Movements of the United States." I just wish Zinn would've stuck to the facts and not political leanings and assumptions.
Yes - there were terrible editing mistakes and changes in volume. The producer did not do a good job and it seems like nobody bothered to listen to a final cut. There were even times were you could hear an engineer or someone talking to the narrator. Plus there were times where the narrator would read lines with sarcasm or smugness.
There were no "characters" aside from people groups.
A more appropriate title would've been "A People's History of the (Political Platforms) of the United States." At least Zinn was honest in telling the reader upfront that this history would be told through the eyes and stories of Native Americans, African slaves, oppressed women, and the less fortunate. I was actually looking for a decent, comprehensive overview of American History when I came across this book so I thought this would be a good read.
With that being said, I liken this book to a time share pitch. When you sign up for a time share, you're at first eager to go and get the free overnight stay, sometimes in a city you'd like to visit, along with maybe some free food and/or take home gifts. Then once you're actually sitting through the time share pitch you're ready for it to be over with and be on your way home - even questioning why you thought it was a good idea to start with. But when you sign up, you know what you're signing up for, even for small trade-offs and Zinn made it clear in the beginning that he was going to tell American history from a biased, minority perspective of our country's history.
I couldn't wait to be done with this book. It was negative, depressing, and removed every stitch of national pride. I was captivated with stories of how European settlers drove the Indians off the land and we all know the brutal history of slavery in the US, but when Zinn started bashing capitalism every chance he got and condemned every US President I grew pretty weary.
I was also hoping to hear more about the US involvement in every major war from a fighting/action standpoint, yet Zinn was able to turn that into a platform of the US fighting every war to 1) Protect the wealthy 2) Push an agenda 3) Oppress US/international citizens and 4) Exploit international resources. So needless to say, there were not many details in what America's involvement was unless it had to do with money or power.
By the end of this book I was exhausted by Zinn's pro-socialism/anti-capitalism stance. To demonize capitalism is like biting the hand that feeds you. I'm positive that if the country was founded on anything except capitalism, then I'm sure the US would not have risen to being a world power. And I'm not an expert in economy or even a political scientist, but I'm pretty sure other countries have tried out communism and socialism which hasn't worked out so well. Last time I checked people were not pouring into China, North Korea, and Russia by the thousands to take advantage of those country's welfare systems.
I also grew very tired of hearing about the "1%". I think it's certainly become more of a buzzword after this book was published, and certainly since 2010, but Zinn was constantly reminding the reader that the top 1% held 30%-40% of the wealth at that time, or the 1% this and that. If I wanted to read about the 1% and how people think that wealth should be redistributed among the people then I'd read a political science or economics/social science book. I'm reading a history book to get some history of our country, and not to be convinced that rich people are evil and conniving. I should've been tipped off when Zinn made the comment that "competition and conniving" were trademarks of capitalism.
Pros: a few nuggets of history that may not be covered in main stream texts.
Cons: Zinn's preaching of socialism and need for redistribution of wealth.
Bottom line: probably more of a political book than historical, in my opinion.
As for audiobook, maybe top twenty. The story was great, but the performance was a bit off. When the reader did the voice of Flagg he'd get real quiet and it would be hard to hear at times.
Probably one of the more obvious choices: Peter. He was obviously the hero of the story and underwent the classic movie plot where you love the lead, something happens to out the lead in detriment, the climax rises to the lead confronting those that did him in, and eventually coming out on top.
Stephen King wrote Peter in a very good light and made him enjoyable to have as a lead character.
I thought the performance was okay. There wasn't anything that I truly liked about it, but I did dislike his voice as Flagg. When he got real low into a whisper-like tone it made it difficult to hear what was being said.
Not really, but I guess in theory you could since it's only 10 hours. I don't have time to sit and listen to anything for 10 hours straight.
Excellent read - not too lengthy and was a self-contained story, even in Stephen King standards. Had I not known King wrote this story, I wouldn't have necessarily associated with his work. With that being said, I greatly enjoyed his refrain of nudity and cursing. I tend to find these things distracting in his other works.
Overall, I thought King's medieval take on a king's family and fight for the throne was well thought out, well written, and enjoyable. The characters were developed just enough to either love or loathe them and the plot was constructed in a way that made sense and kept the reader engaged.
I also enjoyed having Flagg as a primary character. Being a fan of King's Dark Tower series and also The Stand, it was great having the overlap. Also having the story set in Delain, which is set within the DT series was a nice touch.
My only complaint with the book would have to be how the 'narrator' keeps speaking to the reader. Things like "As I've already told you" or "I could keep going, but it is none of my business to tell" and the like. It was okay in different places, but at times just seemed a bit overkill and awkward.
Pros: Quick read and enjoyable.
Cons: The narrator's dialogue to the reader - could've done with out.
Bottom line: Fans of the DT would enjoy reading this story before The Gunslinger (DT Book I).
Yes - take out the elderly psychic vampires. Lose the vampires, or at least change them and the rest of the book is great.
I was left very pleased with the ending, and without going into details (or spoilers), it was a satisfying ending.
Will Patton did an okay/decent job. I felt like his voice was a bit old for what Danny's voice should've been. I'm guessing he was picked for the narration because he has a scruffy, ragged element to his voice that sounds like a recovering alcoholic; however I thought Danny's voice would've sounded about 20 years younger.
I did not like Patton's dialect for the grandmother. It wasn't very consistent and became distracting. He did the other female voices just fine - light and airy. He also did a good job when switching to the vampires, which is admirable that you can tell the POV just on the tone of his voice.
Yeah, I suppose. Matthew Broderick would probably be a pretty good Dan Torrence. I couldn't get a feel for how the vampires looked - most are all senior citizens, but the leader - Rose, was kinda hard to tell.
I wouldn't say King knocked it out of the park with "Doctor Sleep" but he certainly had a few base runs. I went into DS with high expectations after re-reading "The Shining" and unfortunately my hopes of this sequel slowly slid downhill.
To start of with the things I liked about DS, the first part of the book was riveting and held my attention. King did an excellent job bridging the events and time over from TS into DS. Daniel "Danny" Torrence was well developed and his story kept the reader engaged. I would even be willing to say the first half was very well done as we followed Danny around. It was up to the point where the psychic vampires were introduced where I began to lose interest and groan.
Going into the parts of the book I didn't like, I'll stick with information provided in any synopsis provided and steer clear of spoilers. Just by reading the dust jacket, you'll learn that Danny is contacted by a young girl that is being chased, or rather threatened by psychic vampires. That's right: psychic. vampires. Trust me, it's as lame as it sounds.
This group of psychic vampires also had a mix of X-Men quality super powers like the amazing ability to...wait for it...put people to sleep...hack the internet...sense and locate others. My only suggestion: if you're going to give psychic vampires super powers, why not throw in lasers shooting out of their eyeballs, controlling the weather - heck, even levitation and flying - at least that one would've been plausible when writing about vampires...I suppose. Then again we're talking about psychic vampires. Did I mention they're all senior citizens? That's right - they're old, mind reading vampires that travel the country in RV's sucking the steam out of children who also have psychic abilities...and yes, you read that correct - they suck steam, not blood. This is probably the lamest group of vampires I've ever read. They're even worse than Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan's vampires in "The Strain" trilogy. Anyways, back to DS...
The leader of the pack walks around with a top hat, which I felt was out of place. Maybe it's a nod to the Bram Stocker era of vampires...I don't know. I thought the hat was stupid. King spent time describing a stupid top hat that sat at an odd angle on top of the leader's head which left me just as uninterested as before I knew she was wearing a top hat. If anything I was slightly annoyed because now they character just looked ridiculous. Then again we're talking about elderly, psychic vampires.
Another thing I didn't care for was a (light) twist near the end. I won't go into details and avoid any spoiler, but for some unknown reason I think King tossed it in thinking "They'll never see this coming" which just seemed strange. Maybe I overlooked a subtle point he was trying to make, and if so I apologize for ripping on his twist.
Back to another item I liked about the book - the little girl seeking Danny's help, Abra. As dumb as the name sounds (actually a name deserving of a character walking around in a stupid top hat), the character was excellent. She was likable, well-written, and one of the best parts of the story.
To wrap it up, I'd say the biggest feature of DS was King's plot device of psychic ability. If you read TS, you know that Danny's "shining" was a part of the book and not the full focus. On the flip side, DS exhaustively explores psychosis. If that sparks any interest, then you'll love DS. The best thing about TS for me was the ghosts, which DS was lacking.
I found it extremely interesting, too that King decided to tie TS & DS to his Dark Tower series. I didn't know that going into it, and as any King or DT fan will know, TS has never been directly linked to DT (although assumptions can be drawn in any of his books that they are related in some way). In DS, being a sequel to TS, King lays down a couple of threads that tie it to the DT universe. I thought that was very cool.
Pros: Getting to see how Danny turned our after the events at the Overlook Hotel in TS.
Cons: You probably guessed it - psychic, senior citizen vampires. The book would've been so much better without these characters.
Bottom line: Still a decent read if you've read and enjoyed "The Shining". Even if you hated "The Shining", you still might enjoy "Doctor Sleep" since it's almost a different kind of book. I also greatly appreciated the Dark Tower reference that has now tied both books to the DT universe.
Yes - excellent character development (and degeneration) and in my opinion one of the few titles that earned Stephen King the title of being a "horror writer." The book is a great length, where it never feels too short or too lengthy.
The gradual degradation of Jack Torrence and how the hotel sucked him in.
He did a great Jack Torrence, but not so good on his wife Wendy or Dick. He also did a pretty good job on Danny and Tony.
I'd probably take Dick Holleran since he was probably the most enjoyable, laid back character. I've known people like him growing up.
Probably one of the best works by Stephen King. In my opinion "The Shining" is one of the few books that gave King the title of being a "horror writer". I feel that most of King's books are actually more science fiction than horror; however others may disagree.
Many of the elements from "The Shining" are executed very well, such as the ghouls that haunt the Overlook hotel, Jack Torrence's degeneration, and the general fears that come with being a small child in an unruly family.
King does an excellent job blending the ghost encounters with Jack's reality. I also think the horror pieces such as the ghouls, hedge animals, and gore were done very well. They were done so well, I wish King would gravitate towards them more often rather than focus on sci-fi plot devices such as telepathy and time travel for starters.
"The Shining" is a piece of work that readers can visit time and time again and never get tired of reading. The length is perfect and the characters are consistently developed.
Pros: One of King's best pieces being nothing more than a family trying to survive in a haunted hotel.
Cons: King tended to reach far, far back into the character's life experiences which could have been abbreviated.
Bottom line: Excellent read and chilling.
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