Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the Internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: She constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the president seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; her dreams are full of disquiet.
I have a huge weakness when it comes to smart time travel stories, and so when I heard there was a book centered around a "causality violation device" that's all I needed to know. I bought it.
I feel like the author could have used some intensive coaching. Or maybe the word is editing. This book was overflowing with stuff that in the end served no purpose. I'm all for universe building but a far too large portion of the story is dedicated to conversations and episodes that simply don't matter, not even to demonstrate character development, much less character texture. Just so much blah blah blah.
Which brings me to my second complaint: the dialog. Palmer writes dialog the way people write, not the way people talk. Even really smart people, of the type that are overflowing in this story, are not eloquent when casually chatting with their friends. And yet that's how he scripts them. It felt very forced and unnatural.
One example: with about a dozen exceptions, he has the characters say "causality violation device" to each other. Ten syllables. To refer to something they must discuss a hundred times a day, every day. People don't talk that way.
The performance was outstanding, except for where the narrator assumed the voice of a male character, in which case they mostly sounded sort of oafish. But on the whole, the narrator was amazing.
As for the science, I'd have liked to hear more about how the author envisioned addressing more than just the location in space time problem.
If you don't care about dialog or fluff or the "how" of the story, you'll probably like this book. Otherwise you might come away frustrated.
In late 2010, thousands of hacktivists joined a mass digital assault by Anonymous on the websites of VISA, MasterCard, and PayPal to protest their treatment of WikiLeaks. Splinter groups then infiltrated the networks of totalitarian governments in Libya and Tunisia, and an elite team of six people calling themselves LulzSec attacked the FBI, CIA, and Sony. They were flippant and taunting, grabbed headlines, and amassed more than a quarter of a million Twitter followers.
If it were fiction, nobody would believe it. What an amazing story, flawlessly told, about a period that will be prominently featured when the history of the internet is finally written.
I had to continually remind myself that the author wasn't a participant in this story, because it's told with such compelling vividness it's hard to imagine the facts being gathered any other way.
If you took any interest in the devastation wrought by LulzSec and Anonymous, you will find this book very difficult to put down.
My only criticism deals with the (otherwise exceptionally good) narrator's insistence on attempting the accents of the players in this story. That sort of thing always bugs me. But not enough to keep me from giving the work five stars and emphatically recommending it.
Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.
I can't recall being so deeply enthralled by any content purchased on audible.com. And I've purchased a lot.
Dr. McWhorter is a master lecturer with an uncanny grasp of languages and he simply refused to be anything but compelling during every minute of this course. So enriching. Such effective delivery.
Cannot say enough to recommend this course for anybody who finds the nature of language the slightest bit interesting.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Throughout history, military engagements have altered the course of historical events. In these 36 dynamic lectures, Professor Aldrete leads you in discovering the military conflicts that have had the greatest impact in shifting the direction of events and defining our world. Across 4,000 years of history, you'll explore nearly 40 key military engagements, from the milestone battles of Western civilization to their counterparts in the Middle East, India, and Asia.
This is a compelling lecture series. The instructor is very knowledgeable in the subject and manages to bring these battles to life in the relatively short time dedicated to each. Highly recommended to any student of military history.
My only complaint deals with the delivery. Prof. Aldrete pronounces every third word as though it comes as a complete surprise to him. It's exhausting to listen to. That said, the information is well worth the effort to consume it.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.
What made the experience of listening to Endurance the most enjoyable?
The storytelling was flawless. This is a masterfully composed tale that left me awestruck.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
This story left me feeling an unusual sense of reverence for the men involved. And from now on, when I go running in the winter, I shall never again complain about the cold.
Any additional comments?
I intend to listen to this one again. And I say that about very few books.
SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as: How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa? What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common? Can eating kangaroo save the planet? Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else.
It's hard to follow up on something like Freakonomics, but Super Freakonomics does a good enough job. In the absence of the earlier work, this book would be an unqualified winner, but when compared, it falls slightly short. I simply found many of the "stories" less freaky than the first. Interesting, but not mind-blowingly so. As for the narrator, Dubner does an outstanding job, especially for somebody who does not do that kind of work for a living. Bottom line: worth reading if you liked the first.
Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship.
This title did not deliver on its original promise of a scientific examination of the co-evolution of humans and four species of plant. Not that it didn't make an attempt, because it did. And yet the author seemed to get consistently -- and deeply -- distracted in ways that I could barely abide.
It's as though the author sold the concept to a publishing house only to discover that there was not sufficient material on the chosen subjects to fill 300 pages, forcing him to compensate with vast spans of particularly annoying and formless (even...Dionysian?) sophistry.
I usually avoid abridged books but this is one title that, had it undergone an intensive (even...Apollonian?) abridgement, would have merited an additional one or two stars.
This New York Times best seller is a thrilling account of one of the most pivotal moments in United States history. Six months after the Declaration of Independence, America was nearly defeated. Then on Christmas night, George Washington led his men across the Delaware River to destroy the Hessians at Trenton. A week later Americans held off a counterattack, and in a brilliant tactical move, Washington crept behind the British army to win another victory. The momentum had reversed.
This was among the best works of military history I've encountered. The story unfolded in a focused, intuitive way, with plenty of the sidebar-type extras that add so much enjoyable texture to this sort of work. My only complaint was the Conclusion, which could have been 75% shorter.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Nothing Like It in the World is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise comes to life. The U.S. government pitted two companies - the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads - against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. As its peak the work force approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as 15,000 workers on each line. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, lived off buffalo, deer, and antelope.
First of all, I think there was a change of narrators at some point, because my version was superb, while the narration offered in the sample on this page was as terrible as many earlier reviewers suggest. So, for the record, the narrator problem appears to have been fixed.
Unfortunately, the basic flaws of story telling remain problematic. I've read many works by Ambrose and have adored them all. This book fell flat for me. Thud. Just when it seemed about to get interesting, it diverged into a morass of not-so-consequential tangents that were hard to endure.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic medication. In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.
I suspected this would be an interesting work, but was totally unprepared for how shockingly interesting it turned out to be. Having worked in the medical field, I knew of Sulfa only as the poorer cousin of penicillin, and wondered what might be so interesting about the story behind its discovery that would merit an entire book on the topic. Now I know. there are a great many lessons to be considered and internalized in this story. An outstanding work.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful