The seventh novel in James S. A. Corey's New York Times best-selling Expanse series - now a major television series.
I almost never restart a book immediately after completing it, but I did for this novel and I enjoyed the second listen as much, or more, than the first. This starts with a 30 year gap from the last book, with a whole lot of changes. The crew is older and slowing down...until, of course, stuff happens. The depression of Babylons Ashes has been replaced with grim determination and the action ensues. Wonderful relationships and character development, exciting, interesting, and touching in turns. The story has a lot of new stuff going on, and a little complexity, so my second listen was particularly useful. The only problem with this book is that I want the next one NOW. I am usually completely patient as there are so many books and so little time...but the end of this book left me definitely wanting more.
Again the narration is basically perfect. Complete clarity, with wonderful characterization and emotionality.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge - until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth.
I am not sure what this was. It is not really bad, but I am not sure why it was written. It is kind of a fictionalized telling of a historical outrage of stealing and selling children, but everything that would create any dramatic tension is so thoroughly foreshadowed that there is absolutely zero drama. For me this was like a dark Hallmark movie. Everything, almost every word, was predictable. It seems to me this could have been a good fiction book, or a good non-fiction history, but the blend seems to suck the life out of both stories.
I was also not a big fan of the narration. The accents were all a bit off and took me out of the story. The narration did not add any emotionality or interesting characterization, but was reasonably clear.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.... Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
The female voices did leave a bit to be desired, but it did not distract me from the writing and the voice of the protagonist was excellent.
This was really engaging writing with a big dose of magical realism which both resonated honesty while being over-to-top extraordinary. I really loved the protagonist as he deals with real-life issues as he smoothly flows into a world of magic, inner life, and visions.
It is almost unbelievable this is a translation. The writing feels so personal, which can get lost in translations.
I will likely listen to this book again.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favored practical experiments over philosophical arguments.
This book is not really about what is real and the author does not know.
Instead it is yet another, middle of the pack, retelling of a slice of the history of quantum theory.
This book does a few things better than others in this sub-sub-genera:
It disparages the Copenhagen interpretation of QM as not fit to be a theory.
It focuses on Bell, Bohm, and Everett as examples of those that questioned the Copenhagen interpretation.
This was fine as far as it went, but the author either does not understand or does not believe these alternative theories. He goes on about randomness being fundamental to quantum reality while Bell, Bohm, and Everett are trying to say there are alternatives to randomness (deterministic non-locality or multi-world or something else).
I prefer The Trouble with Physics which. I think, makes similar points better and clearer.
The narration is good, clear, and has a pleasant upbeat tone.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
In his audiobook, A Higher Loyalty, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of powe, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.
The first five chapters are a somewhat boring auto-biography of James Comey. The next few chapters cover 2004 up to the 2016 election cycle. These are quite old news but try to put Comey's later actions in the context of upholding the law regardless of political consequences. This is quite old news, but might give Comey critics pause. Chapter 10 begins to cover the Clinton email investigation. Chapter 12 and onward covers post election through Comey's firing.
There is not much new in this book and the writing is not great, but it does a pretty good job of putting Comey's actions in the best possible light. I had followed the news pretty closely, so there were virtually no surprises...except for two which I had not heard. First regarding the Clinton emails found on Wiener's laptop:
"For reasons I couldn't yet explain the FBI found that Wiener's laptop contained large numbers of new Clinton related emails, after she had claimed she had produced all work related emails to the state department."
This sounds like there is a still classified or withheld explanation about why some Clinton work related emails which were not previously provided showed up on Wiener's laptop. Unfortunately this is just a teaser, the reason was not relieved.
The second tidbit was part of the reason Comey felt he needed to inform congress about the reopened Clinton investigation:
"At that time [early 2016] we were alerted to some materials that had come in the possession of the United States government, that came from a classified source. The source and content of that material remains classified as I write this. Had it become public, the unverified material would undoubtedly have been used by political opponents to cast serious doubts on the Attorney General's independence in connection with the Clinton investigation."
"This made very real the prospect that the classified material relating to Loretta Lynch might drop at any moment, not decades from now. As noted earlier, the release of that material, the truth of which we had not verified, would allow partisans to argue, powerfully, that the Clinton campaign, through Lynch, had been controlling the FBI investigation."
Whatever this material is, I had not heard of it before. From context it is clear this is NOT related to the later Bill Clinton/Loretta Lynch meeting in a airport hanger (which Comey also noted as a factor in his decision). BTW, Comey seems to believe, despite this material, Lynch did not improperly influence the FBI.
Comey's narration is not bad and was probably the best choice.
My review of all 5's is exaggerated and context dependent. Unlike some political books, like Woodward's, this book will not read for years to come. It is a book of the moment and those who want to understand Comey's reasons for his decisions may find it mildly interesting.
I went into this book thinking Comey was a bit of a Boy-Scout and by-the-book FBI, and that is basically what I came away with.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This Lovecraft classic is a must-have for every fan of classic terror. When a geologist leads an expedition to the Antarctic plateau, his aim is to find rock and plant specimens from deep within the continent. The barren landscape offers no evidence of any life form - until they stumble upon the ruins of a lost civilization. Strange fossils of creatures unknown to man lead the team deeper, where they find carved stones dating back millions of years. But it is their discovery of the terrifying city of the Old Ones that leads them to an encounter with an untold menace.
I mostly found this tedious. The style is that of a turn of the century scientist retelling a story beyond the teller's comprehension. Although everything seems to have scientific (albeit unearthly) explanations the narrator expresses horror and madness. This seemed to be trying to be like Edgar Allen Poe but ended up like a Edger Rice Burrows (with less action). There are a few Lovecraft short stories that I really like, but most of the novels seem too much for me. The novel combines a odd story of madness and horror with a godlike ancient aliens story. Neither of these were particularly interesting. I was never the least bit terrified and only mildly interested by the alien aspects.
If the terror and horror are unspeakable generally one should stop speaking about it.
The narration was completely competent and clear, but did not overcome the writing.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Among the first espionage thrillers and an acknowledged classic, The Thirty-Nine Steps well deserves its accolades as one of the best adventure stories of all time. Leaving aside the improbable denouement, the fast paced, brilliantly conceived narrative still excites and carries one along with the sheer suspense of the manhunt - a recurring theme in literature - and Hannay’s struggle against the evil that is the ‘Black Stone'.
This was an oops.
I was intending to get Greenmantle by De Lint, but Audible did not have it and had Buchan's which I did not notice (how many Greenmantles does one expect). I did notice it was book two, so got this (book one of the Richard Hannay series).
This is far from the perfect suspense novel. It has numerous unlikely encounters to move the story yet I enjoyed the action, characters dynamics, and pre-WWI history.
Although this was not the series I intended, I also enjoyed Greenmantle (Buchan) and may finish this series of five.
The narration was excellent for the novel. Perhaps overplayed, but it was appropriate for the story.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Join us on a journey through how we understand the universe, from its most basic particles and forces to planets, stars, and galaxies, and back through cosmic history to the birth of the cosmos. Conflicting notions about our place in the universe are defined, defended, and critiqued from scientific, philosophical, and religious viewpoints. The authors' engaging and witty style addresses what fine tuning might mean for the future of physics and the search for the ultimate laws of nature.
Scientific speculation without experimental falsification is impotent. The authors seem to know this and attempt to cast their theories about theories as experiments. Most of the chapters discuss what they calculate might happen if one or more physical constants were varied more than a tiny amount and determining life as we know it might not exist. They seem to hope these speculations might yield some insight into the actual nature of our physical reality. I am more than a bit dubious.
I did find the last two chapters interesting (I listened to these two chapters many times). I always appreciate a speculative book directly addressing key objections and Chapter 7 (Audible chapter 11) was a long list of objections to their ideas with their refutations. Most of these challenges are reasonable (not strawman) and well refuted. Those refutations are simply stated and make sense Objection N & O (14 & 15) were the last and strongest objections with the weakest and least understandable refutation, and are my own primary objections. These objections is how do we know the myriad (if not infinite number) of universes they consider are actually possible and if so, how can one hope to apply sensible probabilities to these universes. They contend that those universes are internally consistent since the equations & parameters are only tweaked from our real universe in ways keeping them internally consistent. Unfortunately the authors are assuming existing theories are internally consistent while we are virtually certain they are not (as general relativity is inconsistent with quantum field theory). They through it back to the objector to prove why their twiddling of knobs might not be realistic. This seems a bit like a paranormal investigator insisting that I prove the ghosts don't really exist.
Early in the book the 2nd law of thermodynamics is described as absolute and unavoidable (and sloppy entropy language is used). Much later in the book (during objections) it is more correctly described as statistical and context dependent. This is not unusual in this genre, and entropy is very often misunderstood, even by most physicists. Nevertheless entropy seems to be a key concept in understanding our universe and sloppy entropy language should be edited out.
I am generally quite dubious about author narration, particularly in science books, but in this case the narration was excellent. There were a few cases were accents clouded my understanding but jump back eventually fixed that.
Although I was not convienced by this book I am very glad I read it, particularly for the last two chapters.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Joe Mandel is a perfectly ordinary guy from a perfectly ordinary town - a college student and community volunteer who dreams of one day publishing a novel. When a series of strange intuitions leads him to a crime in progress, Joe jumps headlong into danger without hesitation. In the aftermath, he wonders about the uncanny impulse that suddenly swept over him. Until new friend Portia Montclair, the strangely wise daughter of the local police chief, explains to him what sent him ricocheting around town like a crazy pinball.
I liked this (as I like most Koontz), but it is sort and sure feels like a proto-Odd novel. There are a lot of similarities between Joe and Odd (but Odd is much more developed). This novel is short and has most of the best features of Koontz, my only weirdness is the similarity to the Odd character. Nice story, nice characterization, I thought the ending was fine. Not the best of Koontz but a fine short novel.
The narration is solid.
In 1860 William Brewer, a young Yale-educated teacher of the natural sciences and a recent widower, eagerly accepted an offer from Josiah Whitney to assist in the first geological survey of the state of California. Brewer was not a geologist, but his training in agriculture and botany made him an invaluable member of the team. He traveled more than 14,000 miles in the four years he spent in California and spent much of his leisure time writing lively, detailed letters to his brother back East.
I completely enjoyed this historical journal of an 1860 botanist on a geological (and biological) survey of California.
This is a long and wondrous journal of travels of a geological and biological expedition by foot, horse, and mule up and down central California juxtaposed against the advent of the telegraph, the railroad, and the civil war.
I have lived at the base of Mt. Whitney (Whitney was an intermittent member of the party) and Mt. Diablo (the summit offering one of the best views on earth) and visited most of the places referenced in these journals thus I did not miss the promised (but not provided) maps of the journey. If you are not familiar with California you may want to have Google maps handy. If you are not into maps, you can simply enjoy the stories of unknown California reviled by this journal. If you are a well traveled Californian, you will greatly appreciate this 1860's view of your own backyard.
Although the protagonist was a liberal for that time, there is significant racism and speciesism (he REALLY wants to kill a grisly bear!)
The narration was excellent with subtle but palpable emotionality that heightened my enjoyment of the journal.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful