I am a big fan of The Colbert Report and Stephen Colbert. But this audiobook just wasn't as great as sitting down for an episode or two of his show. II am a big fan of The Colbert Report and Stephen Colbert. But this audiobook just wasn't as great as sitting down for an episode or two of his show. It was funny, but not so much laugh out loud funny. And you can't watch Colbert's facial expressions while listening to it (which is kinda one of the best parts of the show). All in all, I don't feel like I would have been missing out on anything if I never had listened to this book. On the other hand, it's very short and reasonably entertaining if you have some time to kill or a long commute....more
This book is perfect for someone who doesn't know much about Buddhism and wants to set a good foundation of understanding before going into more speciThis book is perfect for someone who doesn't know much about Buddhism and wants to set a good foundation of understanding before going into more specific and in-depth readings about the topic. I particularly liked Maguire's sections on the three Buddhist forms--Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana--and the differences between them. Definitely an easy, informative, and interesting read....more
David Mitchell is clearly a master of the craft. He writes fascinating stories and characters. The depMy rating is probably more accurately 4.5 stars.
David Mitchell is clearly a master of the craft. He writes fascinating stories and characters. The depth of meaning and thematic exploration in this book could occupy several hours of one's time in contemplation. And the format itself, in some ways the focus of the book, is very fun to watch unfold.
The few criticisms I have are that, for one, the first section is a little slow to get into, and I can see how it might lose a lot of readers who don't push through until the story really starts to grab hold. Another problem with that section is the writing itself. I was rather off-put by the use of &'s in the diary entries as well as other language choices. I'm not saying I think he should have changed any of those things. And I understand that, by the dictation of the format he chose, that section had to go first. It's just too bad that when I recommend it I will have to include a little warning to people that it really does get good and interesting.
For two, although the worlds Mitchell creates are extremely interesting, his points of view extremely detailed and easy to sympathize with, Cloud Atlas had no page-turning value for me. I wasn't reading as fast as I could to see what would happen next. I was motivated by the quality of the writing, and the stories, but not in a desperate way that would have had me hanging on every page. I think this was primarily because, through the entire first half of the book, I didn't know where Mitchell was going. I had nothing to look forward to or anticipate because I had no idea in what direction the story was taking me. After I got through the middle-section hump, and had a solid sense of how the remainder of the book would unfold, it got a little better. But still, I wasn't really anticipating anything but just knowing what section would come next and now having an understanding of why. ...more
As a memoir or a biography, this was a terrible example. Actually, it reads more like a biography written by someone else. The narrative is distant frAs a memoir or a biography, this was a terrible example. Actually, it reads more like a biography written by someone else. The narrative is distant from Schultz, giving you zero insight into him personally or how he personally coped with the struggles of these years bringing Starbucks back to profitability.
Onward comes off more as a biography of the company itself. Or, more accurately, as a very detailed presentation to investors and potentially investors: here's how we messed up, here's what I did to fix it, here's how we're so great now. On top of being rather dry and impersonal, Onward is also extremely repetitive at times (I can definitely point to a few places where Copy and Paste were utilized) and the organization of the book really needed some work.
Having worked as a barista at Starbucks for almost two years, up nearly through the end of 2008, I was already familiar with a lot of the new products and initiatives Schultz outlines in this book. If you're a really really big fan of Starbucks and don't already have an inside view of their mission, vision, and philanthropic initiatives then sure, give this book a read. Otherwise, flip to the back of the book and just read the "Tribute" section to get a one-chapter summary of the entire book. Or skip this book all together and read my CliffsNotes instead:
Starbucks is actually not an evil corporation. They have a ton of philanthropic partnerships, not to mention providing health insurance to their part-time employees (they were the first to offer such health benefits). They are also a leader in the fields of fair business practices (they go above and beyond just buying fair trade beans) and environmental stewardship.
They make yummy drinks and food. (The "burnt" coffee flavor of some of their brews is actually bold and is supposed to taste that way. Some people like bold coffee.) And their cafes have a nice vibe and are awesome to hang out in.
Ender's Game meets Contact, plus alien-created, Harry Potter-esque sorting hat. This graphic novel felt like it had a lot of rich detail that, in my lEnder's Game meets Contact, plus alien-created, Harry Potter-esque sorting hat. This graphic novel felt like it had a lot of rich detail that, in my limited experience, doesn't often find its way into such works.
I liked little things like their selection of the code word Grampa "because he's cool"--seemed like a Card-family inside joke and/or a tip of the hat to and appreciation of Grampa Card. The nickname Nine for the character Ixchab was also very clever. The fact that Azure thinks Robbi is clumsy but that the truth is (view spoiler)[she's actually mildly abused by her step father (hide spoiler)] adds immediate depth to the character.
This is a good start to what seems like it will be a very interesting series.
Addendum June 20, 2013 - Review of audio-book version It's interesting that the authors and publishers chose to release an audiobook version of a graphic novel. For the most part, I think they did a good job adapting it. I found the present-tense a little strange, but I think it makes sense if you use the audiobook as a companion to the graphic novel and enjoy them both at the same time. (I haven't tried this yet, but I imagine it would be awesome). Since descriptions had to be added, to bring across a lot of the visuals shown only graphically in the print version, I felt like in some instances I got a lot more depth of understanding out of this version--primarily character motivations that were meant to be implied through their graphically depicted facial expressions but weren't necessarily that easy to interpret.
Addendum June 29, 2013 And Why, WHY hasn't the next installment come out yet?!?! Grr.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Power continues Rhonda Byrne's explorations of the secret in her first book of that name, The Secret, which explores the laws of attraction. We atThe Power continues Rhonda Byrne's explorations of the secret in her first book of that name, The Secret, which explores the laws of attraction. We attract both the good and the bad things that come into our lives. Both The Secret and The Power give the reader the knowledge and tools needed to begin to control that power by controlling our thoughts and, therefore, what we attract to ourselves.
While the first book gives a general overview of the laws of attraction and then some useful advice on how to think more positively and create positive affirmations for change, this second book focuses more on the powers of gratitude and love to attract good things. Although The Power doesn't offer anything incredibly new, only the same thing talked about with a slightly different emphasis, there is an intrinsic value in reading it just in the positive mindset it can generate within you as you read. I found that I wanted to ration it out, instead of consuming it in one big rush, because almost every time I finished reading (listening, in my case) I was practically buzzing with love and joy....more
What you think about is what will come into your life -- whether positive or negative. If you most often think about things you don't want, those areWhat you think about is what will come into your life -- whether positive or negative. If you most often think about things you don't want, those are the things that you will get.
In The Secret, Rhonda Byrne reveals the secret known to the greatest thinkers of our time -- Da Vinci, Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, etc. -- that allows you to dictate the outcomes of your own life through positive thinking and the power of self-actualization.
The audio version of this book comes complete with cheesy, feel-good music. But the message is a powerful one. Definitely worth reading. For the skeptics, there's even a chapter that touches on the science (metaphysics) behind the theory....more
This "self-help" book by best-selling memoirist Augusten Burroughs is not what long-time fans might expect. In fact, if you are a fan of Augusten butThis "self-help" book by best-selling memoirist Augusten Burroughs is not what long-time fans might expect. In fact, if you are a fan of Augusten but aren't very familiar with the self-help genre, you might as well skip this one. This is actually a self-help book. However, if you do read self-help, you might find this a sometimes humorous, often very alternative addition to the genre. Augusten does a great job of countering some of the common and often misleading self-help fluff that's out there, like that positive affirmations work (or, I should say, work for everyone).
Those sections that I could relate to in some way, I found interesting and enjoyable to listen to. (I always listen to Augusten's books in audio because he reads them himself and does a great job at it.) I also enjoyed any section where he talked about his own personal experiences relating to the subject. However, any section that I couldn't really relate to--what primarily comes to mind is the very long bit on eating disorders, in the section on "How to be Skinny"--seemed to drag on a bit for me. However, of course, different people will relate to different sections. So if you're not such a big Augusten Burroughs fan, you might even just skip to the chapters that seem relevant and not read the whole thing cover to cover....more
Not a whole lot of plot or tension. But then, it is a short story. Nice to see old friends again, read about how Viscount Winslow first came to be undNot a whole lot of plot or tension. But then, it is a short story. Nice to see old friends again, read about how Viscount Winslow first came to be under Riyria's employ, and see another interaction between Royce and (view spoiler)[the Black Diamond crew (hide spoiler)]....more
Considering this book is essentially Twilight for grown-ups (lose the vampires, add lots of sex), I expected to like it a lot more than I did.
Considering this book is essentially Twilight for grown-ups (lose the vampires, add lots of sex), I expected to like it a lot more than I did.
A little background on E.L. James and this book: she started off writing Twilight fan fiction. Fifty Shades of Grey, as stated above, is very much a rewrite of Twilight where James changed the character names, changed a few geographical and circumstantial details, and moved the story from the paranormal romance genre into straight, contemporary romance. Fifty Shades retains the same male/female dynamic where Christian Grey/Edward is overly controlling, protective, demanding, and threatening while Anastasia Steele/Bella is naive, head-over-heels in love, and ready to form her entire identity around her new-found man.
Fifty Shades offers several annoyances right off the bat. First, I dislike the first person present point of view. It is awkward to read someone telling me they're doing something as they're doing it, as opposed to something they did in the past. I know this point of view has gained some recent popularity, but I'm just not a fan. Definitely took me a few chapters to adjust. Second was the almost scene-by-scene similarity to Twilight, and the nearly carbon copies of Twilight's characters in Fifty Shades. At the beginning of the book, the purpose/function of the scenes and character interactions were almost exactly parallel to Twilight. I would have liked to see E.L. James take the story to a more original place and give the characters some real personalities! Later annoyances included repeated use of the same phrases--"Oh my!" being the most frequent and irritating of them. And Anastasia referring to her nether region as "down there." Uhm...this is a book for adults, right?
Despite all these little irritations, I still expected to enjoy the book. Yet I found myself putting off reading it. When I did read it, I was annoyed at the sheer frequency of sex scenes and the poor literary timing of those scenes (although I applaud E.L. James for her creativity in that arena; Fifty Shades is definitely kinky!). For some well-written sex scenes (in all-around well-written books) check out The Valley of Horses)--okay, this is the second in the series so you'll have to check out The Clan of the Cave Bear first, which is also fabulous. During the moments between sex scenes, I found myself growing bored and wondering when they were going to get down to business again. There was altogether not enough plot to sustain this novel to the end.
I must say that I was quite satisfied with the end, though, and almost happy to just leave it at that and not read on through the rest of the trilogy. Even if I do weaken and pick up Fifty Shades Darker (even the book title makes me gag), it will certainly not be for many many months, and it will definitely be a copy from the library....more
The two-star rating is for the abridged audio version. There doesn't seem to be an unabridged audio version, and the copy I had was not very forthcomiThe two-star rating is for the abridged audio version. There doesn't seem to be an unabridged audio version, and the copy I had was not very forthcoming about the fact that it was abridged -- couldn't find it anywhere on the cover; only suspected since it was only 6 discs long. I would not have listened to it had I known it was abridged.
As far as what was included in the audio version, it was most interesting to learn about Clinton's upbringing and political career before the presidency. I find myself wishing he could have continued on in the oval office because he did so much good for the U.S. as president. His claims of misunderstanding about the whole Monica Lewinski debacle were pretty pathetic. But his private life has no place in politics and he owes me no excuse or apology.
Wish the audio version had been unabridged so I could have read the book in its entirety, but the shortened version wasn't intriguing enough for me to go back and read the whole thing in print....more
I guess I was expecting something written by a sociologist/inter-communications specialist, with data points and practical advice based on scientificaI guess I was expecting something written by a sociologist/inter-communications specialist, with data points and practical advice based on scientifically gathered data, that addressed practical and nice ways to deal with difficult people. This book, on the contrary, is about the personal experiences of two highly successful business women, who put their emphasis on the culture of nice to work for them in the often cut-throat world of advertising. While their anecdotes are quite interesting, and their "nice cubes" of advice certainly make one think reflectively about one's own behavior and frame of mind, this just wasn't what I was looking for....more
Felt like I ended up on the wrong side of the bookstore with this one. I'm not entirely sure this is a manga for boys who like boys, but the other manFelt like I ended up on the wrong side of the bookstore with this one. I'm not entirely sure this is a manga for boys who like boys, but the other manga advertised at the back of the book seem to indicate that it is.
I stumbled onto this manga while searching for children's books on gender issues and gender acceptance online through the library. The synopsis made it sound rather amusing. The idea of a young boy dressing up as a princess, as a stand-in for his runaway sister, spoke to some of the gender topics I was already thinking about.
Overall, though, it was just a rather confusing read. All the characters pretty much looked the same, with big jewel-like eyes and flowing blond hair. I couldn't tell them apart nor whether one was supposed to be a girl or a boy. Okay, the girls looked like girls (wearing dresses and with hair dressed up) but the boys also looked like girls. The tone was confusing, too. I couldn't tell, the whole time, if things were supposed to be funny or homo-erotic. Lastly, I'm not that good at reading manga, so I always get confused about what order to read the dialogue in. Not helping matters at all was the fact that a lot of dialogue on the inside edges was hidden by the binding, so I couldn't read it....more
If you've already read The Da Vinci Code then you're already familiar with the plot of this book: (view spoiler)[A knowledgeable man murdered in a criIf you've already read The Da Vinci Code then you're already familiar with the plot of this book: (view spoiler)[A knowledgeable man murdered in a crime scene laden with religious symbology, leaving an accomplished and attractive young female relative behind to be Robert Langdon's companion in solving the mystery of the killing. Some dumb oaf is blinded by religion, or in this case his hatred of religion, into serving the needs of the mastermind behind it all, resulting in murderous zealotry and general criminal behavior. Langdon et al race around, in this case Rome, solving a mystery that ties together art, history, religion, and the occult, in a historical revelation of colossal scope. And don't forget the last-minute switcheroo where the mastermind turns out to be one of the people you never would have suspected. Except, I did suspect, because I already knew the structure the plot would take.
There were one or two good surprises in this book, but on the whole I've decided that once you've read one Dan Brown, you've pretty much read them all. The middle was too long. The resolution after the climax was too long. And there was nowhere near the page-turning tension I felt when I first read The Da Vinci Code. I think the first Dan Brown you read will always be the best because, after that, there are very few surprises. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
Iron and Silk is essentially a collection of short stories from Salzman's two years living and teaching English at a medical school in China in his eaIron and Silk is essentially a collection of short stories from Salzman's two years living and teaching English at a medical school in China in his early twenties. Having studied martial arts since he was a child, he also found himself studying under one of the most renowned wushu (Chinese martial arts) masters--among many other wushu teachers--as well as studying the exacting art of Chinese calligraphy.
Although Salzman's prose are rather sparse, his insights and stories definitely make an impact. His adventures and characters are all fascinating, as are the huge cultural changes that China has undergone since his visit in the early '80s. (I was there in the early 2000s, and it was like a completely different world from his experience.)...more
I've been putting off writing my review on this book I suppose because I had such high expectations but found myself just a little underwhelmed. I heaI've been putting off writing my review on this book I suppose because I had such high expectations but found myself just a little underwhelmed. I heard Alexandra Fuller speak at the 2012 Sun Valley Writers' Conference and was absolutely blown away. She is funny, uncensored and often uncouth, endearing, captivating, and she has a delightful accent.
I expected Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, her debut memoir about her childhood growing up in South Africa, to be all of that and more. And it was, to some degree. Fuller certainly doesn't shy away from difficult topics, and has no qualms against telling it like it is. Yet I found that I was never drawn in emotionally. When death touched the family, I was sad of course. But I was never devastated for the loss felt by the characters themselves. She did not hesitate to tell us the dirtiest details about what happened, but was much more reticent about revealing how she felt about what happened.
For example, at Fuller's Writers' Conference presentation, she talked about almost dying in early adolescence from drinking bad water, how she had been forced to face death, and had been brought to recognize her love for Africa and make a promise never to leave it. Her verbal recounting of the event was mesmerizing, intimate, and powerful. And yet the recounting of the same event, in the book, was disappointingly conveyed in only one sentence something like, I vowed never to leave Africa. Little mention of her coming to grips with mortality, of the emotions that go with realizing your at the cusp, or any connecting train of thought to how she came to realize her love of Africa through her near-death experience.
Many other emotionally charged moments in the book fall similarly flat, making Don't Let's Go a very interesting and well written read on life in Africa with a quirky, whiskey-toting, rough and tumble, often tragedy-stricken British expatriate family, but a story that probably won't rock your world in any way. It may make you sad at times, but it won't move you....more
Lords of Finance explores the actions and decisions of the world's bankers of the time that eventually led to the Great Depression of 1929-1935+. ForLords of Finance explores the actions and decisions of the world's bankers of the time that eventually led to the Great Depression of 1929-1935+. For my part, I had no idea how large a role World War I played in the financial turmoil that eventually led to the GD. I learned more about World War I in this book (despite it supposedly being a book about events that happened a decade later), than I ever knew before. In fact, I felt the book was a bit misleading in implying a focus on the Great Depression and its causes. It would have been better marketed as a book about WWI and the financial aftermath thereto, that eventually led to the Great Depression.
I listened to Lords of Finance in audio, which made it palatable. But the information was often presented quite dryly, so that I don't think I would have even tried to make it through in print. Plus, the book is rather a beast, at almost 600 pages in hardback. The part I found most interesting was that about the U.S. stock market, leading up to the crash of 1929. It was one of the only times I felt like I was reading something relevant and relatable to me (as a U.S. citizen). Otherwise, Ahamed never quite managed to give me something to stand on in his narrative, to connect me to this world of a century ago. How did the contracting economy of Germany after the war affect its citizens daily lives? What does unchecked inflation mean for the mother running to the store to buy milk? He touches on some of these questions with the briefest and vaguest of explanations. But the whole book really would have benefited from the use of more personal accounts. I not only want to know about the bankers who caused this world-wide financial catastrophe. I also want to know how that catastrophe affected the world....more
I was really not in the mood for this, but it was the shortest audio book on my iPod. I've been slowly working my way through all of Burroughs's TarzaI was really not in the mood for this, but it was the shortest audio book on my iPod. I've been slowly working my way through all of Burroughs's Tarzan books. This installment, in the form of eight or nine short stories, goes back to Tarzan's adolescent days as a young man-ape. Before he learned to speak, while he was still fawning over she-apes and terrorizing (and murdering) the Gomangani--the black tribal men of the jungle.
Burroughs's racism and class-ism often subtly nuance the Tarzan books. But I found them much less subtle in this book--or maybe I was just paying more attention to that this time around. I felt like he constantly reminded his readers of the Gomanganis' (see definition above) inferior intelligence and imaginations. And we were also reminded (hypocritically in my opinion) that Tarzan's innate virtues, intelligence, and potential were all due to his high English breeding. That he had, in fact, inherited his innate sense of human culture, of reading, of morality from his genes. Hypocritical because Tarzan, before he learns to speak and interact with humans, is much more wild and blood-lusting than his black-skinned jungle counterparts.
How can Burroughs refer to his refined breeding in one sentence and then have Tarzan murder another human being in the next? Burroughs may try to justify these acts by discrediting the Gomangani, comparing them to little more than animals--and they're cannibals, to boot, so...don't they deserve death anyhow? But the only real justification for Tarzan's often brutish acts is that he was raised by wild animals; he doesn't know any better. Which effectively discredits his claim to superior genes.
Enough with the ranting...other than the infringement of Burroughs's own annoying beliefs, I liked these stories, particularly those that illustrated new moments of self-discovery for Tarzan....more