I liked Antares Victory, a good cap to the series. All the characters come in to their own and play a role. The battles are well described, thought out and detailed. The space travel is very 'realistic'.
My main point that I love about McCollum, is that he is "fair". What I mean by this is that he doesn't give the bad guys superior advantage or have the hero's do stupid things to progress the plot. Both sides are well balanced. A lot of books give handicaps to the protagonists to make it exciting. In this book, the humans are just as likely to win the day as the enemy.
What I liked least is actually connected to the above... It goes a little too well for humanity. This book is really fun to listen to, but it seems to go all in humanities favor. No main characters die off, and by the end of it, I'm thinking, "oh new space battle! how is humanity going to kick butt this time??" instead of "oh new space battle, how is humanity going to faire?"
Overall though, I think this book is very fun.
My favorite character is most likely Adimiral Gauer. A hard steadfast, and unsung hero of the Sandar fleet.
A very good job. While I think he comes off sounding a bit creepy when doing women, they all sound different. I can recognize who's talking just by listening to them speak.
It would be nice! It leaves you with a good feeling, but still open ended
Found this book thanks to Steve Gibson's Security Now! podcast!
Okay, So this is my second completed Murikami book. I really am torn by this author. His writing style absolutely puzzles me at times. The first Murikami book I read was 1Q84. A book that while parts of it were very unneseccary in my opinion, it left me really really moved and I consider it a favorite of mine. I was really hoping for the same level of 'dualism' that was present in 1Q84. To a certain extent there was.
My biggest complaint with Hard Boiled Wonderland (HBW) is that it falls into so many cliches and cheesy dialogue that really distracts from the story. I'll cite two examples. The first is that Murikami flirts with perversion way too much for my liking. His women are these overly sexual cliches that create distracting literary potholes. I'm reading, enjoying the normal sensible dialogue, then he goes off on a tangent describing women's panties, sexual habits, the main character's hidden sexual desires, fetishes, etc.. All of this is fine...IF it had any bearing on the story. Forgive me for any spoilers:
The grandfather's daughter makes numerous advances and these completely unrealistic ways of hinting that she wants to sleep with the main character. This leads to some pretty unrealistic, cheesy dialogue that just makes me groan. The same crap was done in 1Q84. Larges parts of that book were designated to completely unneeded scenes of sexual perversion that had absolutely no effect on the story.
Murikami does this far too often, and to be honest, it's annoying and really takes away from the story.
Anyway onto the good parts! What I did enjoy with this story is that it presents two completely different stories up front. In fact not only are they different characters and places, but even the writing style is different. One is written in a more straight forward fiction novel. That has very faint traces of cyber punk/ dystopia themes. (color me interested already!) The other story is written more like an allegory, where the use of metaphors is common and the characters talk in cliched tones. I was very off put by this storyline at first, as I thought the characters were all just overly cool motifs that were trying to be wise and mysterious. I think this was more of an issue with me, because of the narrator, who made every character in the other 'world' sound like a chain smoker... Anyway, once I began reading a bit longer, and I saw where the over all story was going, I realized that there was a point to all of this, which actually makes sense. Kudos to Murikami for the creativity on this one. Both stories are very much linked. Murikami does indeed have a way of bringing two seemingly separate stories together nicely.
That being said, I don't think he went far enough. Tying everything together I'd have liked to see a stronger link and some wrapping up of the main character and his...other side. I get the concept of leaving it to the imagination, but c'mon! Things end pretty abruptly, and not even an epilogue! Anyway I enjoyed the book... but I'd have loved to see more interaction between the worlds. I thought this might actually be the case, where the character does something in one world, and it effects the other character is his 'world'. (i'm a sucker for cross world/dimension/time interaction and effects)
An enjoyable storyline, marred by Murikami's usual babbling, If you enjoy a surrealism, with a pinch of cyberpunk,
First and foremost.... I am writing to Random House and getting them to seriously rethink the direction of the audio of book 6 when it comes out. Roy Dotrice....what in the 7 hells happened?? I just...can't believe my ears..the changing voices and the MUCH over used Irish/Scottish accent on almost every character really lives me cringing... Books 1-3 were masterpieces....It's such a shame and a baffling mystery how that could turn to the horrible job done in books 4 and 5... They all sound like leprechauns of various ages...I just had ignore it..but it was very distracting...I just hope that Random House Audio actually reviews the voices done for books 1-3 and has Roy re-enact those...
My take away from this book is 'characters that never meet their goals' Seriously, does anyone in Games of thrones actually succeed in their goals? While it's a very cynical but realistic writing style, it gets a bit frustrating. It becomes predictable at times, in that you know that 9/10 times if a character has a goal or idea in mind, it's going to go awry.
Also the sheer amount of character points of view in this book is staggering. While it features a lot of interesting scenarios it's often weighted down by just the fact of the amount of different takes. This I still feel is series' greatest strength and greatest weakness. Having such a wide and broad array of points of view means that we don't get much in the way of deep story progression. In fact a few story lines and characters are introduced, but they get lost in the shuffle 'playlist' of chapters. Like the Prince Aegon storyline I caught myself having to go back to re-read the first chapter where it is introduced, because it just is lost amid other, no offense, more interesting story lines. There is a lot of setting up in this book. As stated characters are introduced and given roles, and it's sure that these events will build up to something bigger later on. This is different that Book Four, where not a lot happened either, but it seemed more character building.
A Dance with Dragons is entertaining, I'll say that. I enjoyed the pacing, and story lines much more than Book Four. What I've found is that I enjoy the supporting characters actually more than the main ones. Theon's situation as reek is a surprising turn of events. A more interesting option than just killing him off which is Martin's forte. Seeing him in such a situation seemed like justice for his earlier crimes. But Martin really has a way of turning your initial emotions for a character. Vile disgust of Theon turned to pity of course. He pulled the same stunt for Jamie. We all start off hating Jamie and then by Book 4, Martin wants you to feel bad for him.
As stated before, the story doesn't really progress *too* far. Just keep in mind that this book takes place concurrently with Book 4. Martin seems to be placing his characters in key positions and setting the stage for the next book. Many characters are moved around, and the political climate of many area's changes. From the Wall, to Meeren, there is change in the political borders. And this is good. No enemies and allies will be stagnant.
One of my complaints about the book is the chapter naming scheme. This bothered me in the previous book as well. The chapters now have names such as "The Windblown", or "The queensguard"...I'm not a fan of this as it doesn't tell me who's narrating. In the first three books I could always look at the chapter list and know who the point of view character is. Instead, for nearly half of the chapters you have to actually go in and surmise who the P.O.V is.
I'm also really happy with Arya's storyline so far... Out of all the characters, she's the most "useless" so to speak, as of now she doesn't have much impact on the greater storyline, but she's my favorite character so I enjoy seeing all of her personalities... This continues in book 5. While her story doesn't have much impact on the grand scheme of things, it gives you a bit of a break, even though she only has like 2 chapters. ( Another thing that irks me...)
Lastly Daenerys....She was never one of my favorite characters...so now that she has book 5 almost dedicated to her, her story is really shoved in your face...Yes I get it...dragons...power... much fear. But book 5 should really be called A Dance with Daenerys. Her and her naivie self, create a somewhat annoying character to follow around. And her story quickly dissolves into what feels like a fantasy soap opera. While I don't mind her love triangle thing going, it feels like taking up nearly half the book to discuss who Daenerys is more in love with seems a bit much. Though of course this could be my male perspective. I enjoy the political chess game that is going on on the Lannister home-front.
On a positive note, we got some good backstory for likable characters, case in point Ser Barriston Selmy. He always stood out as one of my favored characters. One of the more chivalrous men in the Lannisters service. Martin has a way of playing into stereotypes a bit too much, so it's good to see his characters break the mold and throw you for a twist. Selmy is one of that characters. Good natured, and mild mannered. (means he's going to die xD)
This book also seemed to be a bit of 'payback' to the 'bad guys'. A lot of the people we came to hate or disapprove of from the first few books have the tables flipped in this book. Cersai's current story also is one such example. While I'm certain Martin will bring these characters back up on this dramatic roller coaster, it's good to see the 'bad guys' with their own set of problems. This is a fun book to read, that seems to be the set up of a bigger showdown. Certain house alliances are showing strain and other alliances are starting to form. There seems to be something coming ahead...
Especially at the Wall.... I did not see that ending coming....
Let me first say that I may be a bit biased in my review for this book. When I was younger in 1996 my father took me to the planetarium where I had one of the best memories of my youth. We spent the day together, learned about Mars, and I got a map of Mars poster, and information about the Pathfinder program...Also I was nuts about space and astronomy. My father even bought me a telescope for christmas. Anyway, sentimental value aside, this is a really really good book. The author, Andy Weir does an excellent job at blending suspense and narrative. It's told in a sort of strange way though. Half the book is told through the 'log' updates of our hero Mark Whatney. And the other half is told 3rd person through the people back on Earth.
I enjoyed both points of view. I thought perhaps the 3rd person view from the NASA teams on Earth would be boring, and drag the story down...nope. If anything it added to the suspense. Problems arose on both sides. Problems that I as a non-physicist can only assume are accurate. Boy oh boy does it seem that Andy Weir did his homework. People praised that movie "Interstellar" for being true to astro-physics? That seems like mere child's play. This book gets really into the nitty gritty of what it takes to set up a pressurized, habitable station on Mars, and keep it going. Again I can't fact check any of it, but by god it does sound good. All of the chemistry and molecular issues really keep the book grounded in serious science, which I love. I was awe-struck at the attention to previous real life things on Mars, like Pathfinder and Opportunity.
The narration was great! Really added to the book. All of the characters sounded spot on to their ethnicities. He does accents very very well!
My main issue with this book is two fold. As much as I appreciate the "Macguyver-ness" of Mark..there is a point where suspension of disbelief is called upon. NASA trains the greatest, smartest minds alive... we get that, but the author has Whatney pulling stunts and figuring things out so spontaneously, and quickly, that often times I found myself saying "really...he just thought that up??" It doesn't take away from the story too much, and it helps that Mark Whatney is such a likeable character. If he had been written as some pompous "holier than thou" cliche, then I wouldn't have been so forgiving. That being said, some parts are just a bit too much of stretch. Also I feel that by the time Mark was through, he should have been very very weak... Living off potatoes, and a ration pack here or there, should have laid waste to his muscle mass. But the book doesn't mention this..
Which leads me to the ending. The ending to be was just a bit *too* Hollywood for me. Not to say that I wanted Mark to die... but the rigging of the ship and detenation of the airlock.. and the amazingly spectacular EVA rescue... Alright..relax.. and turn down the special effects.. Besides this 'made for a movie' ending, I really enjoyed the time spent reading this. It's not too long, not too short, all of the supporting characters were engaging, it wasn't just about Whatney, which I liked. The other crew mates each had personalities, that were semi fleshed out. I previously read Game of Thrones book III and IV, so if a character doesn't have a 10 page backstory...they are only "semi-fleshed". Having just finished the Game of thrones III and IV, I needed something lighter, with some actual humor, and perhaps a happy ending.. Well delivered Andy Weir! I thoroughly enjoyed this with a minor drawback due to my own personal preferences.
First...I must agree with nearly everyone here... Roy KILLED this book for me.. I honestly was floored by the change in voices.. EVERYONE sounds like badly cast Irishmen.. Even the women! This is the most disappointing narration because we were really given a treat with books 1-3. Roy NAILED the characters...from the pronounication of names, to voices...they all sounded very elegant and fit the atmosphere of the story.. But this... is just appalling.. My favorite characters ..Arya and Sam both sound the same, like old leprechauns from cereal commercials. It was hard to listen to..I really hope Audible cues him him for the next book... .Anyway with that off my chest...onto the real part of the review.
I'll have to admit, this book started off as dull as drying paint. I normally don't need (or even want) action, and in your face dramatics all the time. After the events of Book III, it was perfectly acceptable to have Book IV be a big more laid back. That being said, I just could not follow or get into the events in the first few chapters. The thing is, Book III ends making you crave more to find out what happens, and the first three chapters of Book IV aren't even dealing with characters that we've met. Martin's very liberal use of names, and history works against him here I believe. I simply did not care for the new characters introduced. Don't get me wrong I like the Greyjoys, but Martin's writing is at fault here. He dumps a ton of characters and names on you and expects you to get attached to them or even remember them.
To this effect, the last chapter of the Book IV references a character you meet in the prologue. I had no idea about this until I read the book's chapter summaries. I may be in a worse off position than my fellow readers who have the book in front of them. It's easier for you to go back and re-read a passage if you need to. Also your book as the appendix of characters in the back.. My audio books does not have this.
My other complaint is that lack of direction. Actually let me amend that, I'm sure Martin has a direction, but it's such a slow, ponderous journey, the average reader losses interest. I love Arya, my favorite character, but in this book, i feel as though her misadventures are pretty pointless. Brienne as well. Like her as a character, but she accomplishes nothing. This book was unfortunately for me, seen more as a filler. Things happen, but i don't feel any character's have developed.( maybe the relationship of Jamie and Cersai perhaps). But even characters like Asha and the Greyjoy's are introduced...then forgotten. It takes the fun out of reading the book, when I don't know which characters I need to really focus on.
I'm also not a fan of how we're now supposed to feel empathetic for Jamie..I like dynamic characters and all...but giving him a soft side and adding that 'human element' just feels off.
Also, the book's theme of scheming behind closed doors is wearing thin for me...
What I did enjoy though was the interaction between characters. Martin's ability for dialogue is great. Most of the characters have a distinct way of talking, and it's fun to read.
I enjoyed the book to a point. I suggest you read the wiki for the chapter summaries though. Really helped me get the concept of what Martin was babbling about at times.
Ehh... considering this book was written for a specific topic, that heavily depends on what jon writes about.
Heading back to the arena of fiction for a bit..
Performance was ok.It's not a book that needs much emotion
Umm considering this is no more Bell Labs...no.
Okay, so this review is going to be biased. I'm telling you straight forward. I've always had a fascination with the idea of Bell Labs, and admittedly, have been ennamoured with the place for years. I now work at Alcatel-Lucent (owner of Bell Labs) so I sort of achieved my goal in life. Anyway, I felt the book was a very very good review more of the people's lives who worked at Bell Labs, rather than actually focusing on the individual inventions. They glossed over a lot of big inventions such as the creation of UNIX. And the C programming language. Instead focusing on mannerisms and traits of the people who worked there. I don't mind obviously learning and reading about the great pillars of creative thought, but there are so many presented in this book.
This book is also a fun read due to the fact that I live in New Jersey, so it was like a who's who of townships, that received recognition. (even my own tiny hometown was mentioned). I enjoyed reading this, but I can see how anyone without a love of innovation, science, bell labs, at&t and such interests would be bored to tears.
I just wish they would have expanded on certain parts, especially the rivalry between AT&T and MCI.
My own score is a 3/5, but I can see anyone not interested in this may give it a 2/5.
The relationship between Yumi, and her parents... and Yumi and her friend, Cas... I wish Ruth would have spent more time on it, instead of dragging out the Elliot story.
The narration was very 'meh'. While the acting for the women was very good. The narrator for the oldest son, Phoenix was way to stereotypical and over the top. In fact most of the boys in the story all had very generic, skater voices that sounded like they were from a bad cliche about california surfers.
Yes, but it's definitely a once listen. No interest in visiting it again.
So, this was an...odd book. I went in, knowing it wouldn't be really live up to her other book, A Tale for the Time Being. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised. While I still agree with that statement, it was an enjoyable book... for the most part. Yumi Fuller...is one interesting character.
The blasie attitude she gives off is frustrating and cringe worthy when reading! I mean that as a compliment to the book. I found myself getting angry at her, and her choices, which is the mark of a well written character. Her relationship with her parents was sad, if a bit melodramatic. But I liked her dad/daughter relationship early on and how it started to unravel. Even the play between her and her childhood friend was very real and well founded.
I loved the idea that "Cas" had taken over Yumi's responsibilities since she left. And even upon her return, basically was the "mom" of Yumi's own kids. Yumi, I can imagine, would have been completely lost and swallowed up if she were at her current age, in the 60's. She's prone to temptation, caring, but self centered, a free spirit, and not the most attentive person.
The fact that each of her kids has a different father says a ton about her character. Again all of this was well written and very realistic. Her kids for the most part seemed spot on to how I'd imagine 3 step brothers and sisters living with a mom who wasn't really meant to be a mom. Her son "'Nix" seemed a bit overly dramatic, and over written for a boy of 15, but it's forgivable and not too distracting.
What I didn't really enjoy about the book was the 'evil subplot'. The character of Elliot would have been good enough. But we didn't have to have him reporting to his evil overlord. The dramatic, writing between him and Edward was a bit cheesy, and distracted from what I thought was a very human-centric story. If the whole book ignored the elliot subplot it would have been a much more entertaining read for me.
The story of "the seeds", I feel mixed about. While I get the point and like the idea of a bunch of stoner hippie kids showing up and helping out, it wasn't very realistic that they'd be just invited in and allowed to stay with the family all of a sudden. (atleast not my family!) Their story was ok, led to some tension which I suppose helped progress the story. I'll leave out the spoilers, but the explosion was to me, not needed and just further made the story more 'hollywood'.
I enjoyed it, for the most part, some parts I'd have dumped, and gotten rid of, other's I'd have expanded on.
Sheesh...Okay...let me preface by saying, I don't really enjoy books that go out of their way to shock their readers. I think many people read these books just to see unexpected characters die, and not for the actual story. Martin creates a very convincing world in the Game of Thrones world.
Now I won't even lie and say that it's not exciting. It is...especially with the epilogue of this book. In fact I'm eager for book 4. The characters he spins are very real, but he falls into the trap that many do, in giving a constant advantage to the under dog. Or giving godly clairvoyance to characters that always manage to escape the odds.
This effect wears thin... So much so it becomes easy to predict. For example, Tyrian goes on trial on punishment of death. I knew he wasn't going to die. Whenever a character is up against staggering odds, he or she will find a way to win. This takes the impact out of it really. Book two made a habit of this as well. I like my books to have a 'balanced' playing field for all characters and situations.
Despite this, there were many things that Book 3 did right, the usual Martin faire... invested time in character development, which is always useful. The pacing is well kept, even though these books are very long, they seem to go by pretty quick. And one of my favorite pieces, is Martin's use of names. Gosh there are a lot, but each one sounds distinct.
I enjoy the series, but I think he focuses a bit too much on how to 'wow' the reader rather than on a realistic story. Despite that though, I enjoyed the book, and really can't wait to start the 4th..
Okay, so yes, the game of thrones series is very good. We know this. My main issue with Martin's writing style is thus... I enjoy when there is a realistic sense of human limitation. What I mean by this is that too often when writing, Martin's characters are unrealistically exaggerated. For example Tyrion in this book was suddenly elevated to near god-like status. He's a good character but for the sake of making it interesting, Martin makes Tyrion untouchable, invincible and just too all knowing. Each character, like someone in real life, should have weaknesses, and should not be so unrealistically clever and always one step ahead of everyone.
I don't like when things happen for the sake of story. Another example of this is the night before battle with King Renly. Renly should have won against Stannis with ease. But he is murdered the night before.
Again this happens during the sea battle. Joffrey's small fleet is able to hold and stave off Theron's entire armada several times vaster than his own. \
And once again, when ser Roderic is about to reclaim Winterfell, suddenly the bad guys get the jump on them, and kill everyone.
Nothing extraordinary, the standard fare. It was good.
Of course, and there is one.
Using this writing style, of having the under dog always somehow manage to outsmart and defeat the protagonists, is tiresome. By the end of the book, I KNEW that winterfell wasn't going to be saved.
There is a HUGE difference in writing an entertaining well planned story, and writing something for shock value. I enjoyed this book, but I can't take it too seriously, because of the way Martin gives such unrealistic odds to one side, just to keep it 'interesting' and to propel the story.
If you have read McCollum's Antares series, this is definitely up your alley. Same writing style, very similar characters, and even similar plot. What I liked best is McCollum's sci fi action style. Lots of fun moments, interesting character situations and some twists!
The relationship between the capture alien and the main female protagonist. No spoilers, but a lot of things change by the end of the book...
He actually can give a VERY unique voice and accent to all characters. Even women which is hard to do. All of the accents sounds very real, if maybe a bit exaggerated.
Maybe not in one sitting, but going towards the end, was riveting!
Good, fun book, if you liked Antares series, this is really a good read!
Suspense, Obdurate, Consequences
Deek Simmons. Few allies were around for Jake Epping. I really liked the fact that Deek, while older was always on the side of Jake and his love, Sadie. He really watched out for them.
His impression of JFK was pretty damn good! But I suppose the character of the janitor (henry I think) was the most dramatic.
Not really moved, but really gave me chills, was seeing the immediate reaction to JFK's life being saved. the motorcade breaking formation, and them escaping...What could have been...
Ok, so the idea of this book is what got me reading, not that it was Stephen King. But wow, what a concept! Not spoiling anything by saying this, but the time travel aspect was really wild. This was a very unique book. Perhaps it was the reader (I listened to it on audiobook) but all the characters felt very real. I really liked them. The last few books I've read have sported very bland, dull characters so this was a refreshing bonus.
I honestly don't have a lot of complaints here. The setting of Dallas in the late 1950's early 60's fit. I mean I wasn't around then, but the way King wrote this, seemed spot on as to how I'd imagine it.
The aftermath of our protagonist's attempt to save JFK (trying to tread carefully no spoilers...) seemed a bit of a stretch, but it's all in good fun. This was a really fun, if a bit *too* long book to read. Some parts I could have done without, but those were few and far in between. There were parts that reminded me heavily of Back to the Future, and American Graffiti. The book has a real gritty feel as well. Usually when media relives the 50's it's all polished cars, smiles, and sunshine. King was careful to make each town that Jake visited feel very distinct, and memorable. Not every area was nice and bright. Parts smelled, looked horrible, and were filled with a very conservative and bigatory peoples.
The events leading up to Jake's saving of JFK, proves long and hard. As King notes through the book, the past is obdurate. It resists change. So our hero is challenged literally up to the moment of the assassination to hurdles to over come. A trail of aftermath is caused because of it...
I won't get into details, but it's really fun if a tad too long at parts. But I really enjoyed this one. Another S. King book on the shelf!
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