The preview recording that accompanies this book is misleading in two ways. First, and happily, the narrator for the bulk of the text is not the shaky voiced author who squeaks her way through the introduction. The pompous British narrator is easier on the ears, if effusively enthusiastic in her delivery of hours of fawning words. The second surprise is the personal observations and behind-the-scenes glimpse implied by the content of the preview are non-existent in the book proper.
The bulk if this book is an astonishingly positive, squeaky clean and obviously biased history of an historic figure, as gleaned from the official statements of the palace and scrubbed down news sources. It is a historical narrative without a hint of scandal, intimacy or insight except in so far as it agrees with the thesis that the queen is an awesome, consistent, heroic figure and as flawless as any monarch who ever lived.
Is there a contrasting view point? Who knows? This is my first biography of Queen Elizabeth II, and I certainly didn't get a hint of of controversy from any part of this unbalanced narrative.
Lev Grossman writes a good story, with a mature view of the world and a tart view of magical tales. If you're an adult who enjoyed Harry Potter, you'll find a witty twist in the series, well worth your time.
That said, I wish I'd read these books instead of listening.
Only after I finished all three books, and starting another narrated by Mark Bramhall, did I realize why I have a faint distaste for this series:
Every character in The Magicians et al sounds snotty, supercilious, or whiny. I thought that was Lev Grossman, but having sampled another author's works read by this narrator, I now know, it's Bramhall.
If you have a choice, and can read -- I have eye sight problems, so rarely do -- buy this series in written form, and supply your own voice.
Lev Grossman writes a good story, with a mature view of the world and a cynical view of magical tales. It's worth finishing the series if you've made it this far.
That said, I wish I'd read these books instead of listening.
Only after I finished this book, and started another narrated by Mark Bramhall, did I realize why I have a faint distaste for this series:
Every character in this series sounds snotty, supercilious, or whiny. I thought that was Lev Grossman, but having sampled another author's works read by this narrator, I now know, it's Bramhall.
If you have a choice, and can read -- I have eyesight problems, so rarely do -- buy this series in written form, and supply your own voice.
A summary of this this book will do it all:
5 percent of the population are sociopaths
It may be an inherited trait
They don't have any empathy
Watch out for them.
Now I've saved you a book credit, and hours of tedious listening. The so-called case studies are largely dull and pointless, and do not justify the (still short) length of this book, which does not rise to the level of scholarly, nor meet the challenges of creating colorful pop psychology.
This IS an important topic.
I suggest you Google it.
Light hearted, tongue in cheek, and witty. Best "guilty pleasure" book I've had in a long time. Full of twists and skewered characters. Have fun.
If only David Mitchell could write plot as brilliantly as he developed characters and vignettes, or sustain a viewpoint through an entire novel, he'd be a literary hero. Alas, he can only write entrancing pops of person and situation, then drop the viewpoint and move on.
Not as philosophical as Cloud Atlas, nor as cohesive as "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoot," this new string of novellas is worth the listen.
I almost quit this book several hours in, wondering if it would ever stop the depressed ruminating. Eventually, a plot developes, as do characters worth knowing. There are clear problems with pacing, but this has some literary merit.
A book which transcends so many genres coud attract a large audience -- or pick up on the flaws inherent in each. Sadly, this does the latter.
As a romance, it is filled with shallow, pretty people who paradoxically fall deeply and deathlessly in love.
As a magical tale, it has convenient spells and powers popping up whenever the plot needs them, with a logic adjusted after the fact.
Action scenes reek of predictable outcomes.
And chic lit can be so ruminative it bogs down in the heroine's internal process.
The Hawley Book of the Dead does all of these things.
This novel isn't awful, it's just a pleasant diversion, like a B movie, with too many weaknesses.
Readers wanting magical romance should seek "Garden Spells," or "The Language of Flowers." Action fans with a soft spot will like "Reamde" and literary fans seeking magical realism should try "1Q84."
Save "Halley" for a sale book and a sick bed with no real attention demanded, and no value lost if you snooze through a bit..
Somehow I didn't realize I was getting sucked into a series with this book. If the plot had come to a conclusion, I would have rated this "okay, non-literary." But, as it stands, it's just a taste to getting buyers into the franchise, and suffers form all the flaws common to the genre: super-power, super hero people, shallow character development, and of course, the cliff hanger. Add to this the heavy handed Christianity and anti-Muslim bias, lots of super natural events of both good and evil import, and you've got a wannabe "Left Behind" series. Okay if that's your kind of thing, and also want to spread a bit more hate in the world. Not for me.
I really enjoyed this read, and have added experiencing Grant Achatz' food to my bucket list.
That said, this is a two-character narrative, read by only one person. It made the first person story telling confusing. This isn't Johnny Heller's fault, exactly, though he could have made some effort to distinguish the two voices. It is a huge production error for an audio book, though, and markedly diminished my enjoyment.
I'm not a horror or action-adventure reader, but I wanted some long, popular-fiction to get me through my travels. I bought this book despite those potential categories, and disregarding the description of multiple narrators, each telling stand-alone stories (also not usually my thing.)
I am so glad I followed intuition and not biases in choosing this juicy tome.
To begin, the all-star cast does a fabulous job reading. Real stars -- people like Alan Alda and Rob Reiner, whose voices you will recognize -- lend depth to many sections.
But the real star of the book is the thoughtful, sophisticated analysis of the world we live in, and how that would affect responses to an epidemic of violent corpse attacking across the planet.
How would modern China contextualize a virus into an ancient curse? Japanese society disintergrate with the shame of contamination? What would a first round US Military response look like, and why would it fail?
There is some, but not a lot of hand-to-hand combat and gore in this book. For me, not too much, or too little. And there is almost no continuity -- no named characters, followed through, giving emotional attachment to a story line plot.
Normally, I would find that a problem.
But the richness of imagination and intelligent comprehension was sufficient to make me forget the things I wasn't getting from this book; and shaking my head in wonder at the mastery of storytelling in these precise, humorous, provoking sketches and novellas about the pet monster of our times, the zombie.
Whatever type of reading you usually enjoy, don't miss this book!
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