***Note*** - My review is for the Audible edition, which I didn't find so I chose this edition because it links to the narrator, Emily Janice Card. He...more***Note*** - My review is for the Audible edition, which I didn't find so I chose this edition because it links to the narrator, Emily Janice Card. Her performance is remarkable and perfect for this book. To say this book is smart is an understatement. It's closer to encyclopedic - and I mean that in a very fond way. What Marisha Pessl has written is a book that is so jam packed with literature, historical and science references that I consider it worth a merit badge to know that I "got" most of them. This is also its drawback however, because I don't think the full impact of how this book is written would be appreciated by those who aren't well read or studied. Should you read it regardless? Yes, but be prepared to wonder if you're catching everything.
The written book has illustrations from the main character, Blue van Meer, included in its pages, which is unfortunate to any audiobook listener but not a deal breaker. I found the audiobook to be excellent in its own right, and Emily Janice Card's performance was so in sync with the book that I doubt anyone could bring a better voice to Blue.
The story on it's own is fun, clever, and interesting; yet that is more an achievement than this sentence gives it credit for. I find myself baffled by how "real" Blue van Meer is as a legitimate teenager. Often when I read children that authors write as intelligent, I can't shake the feeling that I'm just reading about adult behavior and reactions that have a teenager mask - this isn't that way at all. Blue van Meer is so convincing as a teenager that I'm stunned by her intelligence and naivety fitting so neatly together.
Overall, this book was a delight to read. It was very enjoyable, and I give it my highest recommendation.(less)
I should preface this review by stating that while I intended to buy Gary Vaynerchuk's Thank You Economy on audio book, the opportunity came to review...moreI should preface this review by stating that while I intended to buy Gary Vaynerchuk's Thank You Economy on audio book, the opportunity came to review this book in exchange for a free copy. Based on what I've learned about, and from, Mr. Vaynerchuk up to now I didn't have to think twice about the opportunity.
I am an example of the fruits of the Thank You Economy; I am the easily overlooked customer, a blogger with a scattering of Facebook friends and Twitter followers who now gets to direct the few attentions I influence to the Thank You Economy and of course Mixergy.com, who bought me this book. This is the Thank You Economy in action, and while I am sure Mr. Vaynerchuk isn't putting a down payment on New York Jets because of my book review, I am glad to contribute the small amount of influence I can muster... which is really the point of all of this. Social media brought you to this review, whether via Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, Goodreads or who knows what else - and the ideas carried along by those mediums have the potential to gain a lot of momentum. This is not a book about using the Internet for marketing however.
What Thank You Economy tries to do is to win a debate that is going on in the boardrooms and meeting places of any business today -- how should we run our business? Where do we focus, and what do we focus on? In much the same way that marketing involves advertising, development, and branding, Vaynerchuk highlights an idea of "culture," which encompasses your employees, your product and your customers as he champions the cause of developing strong relationships both inside and outside of your company.
It is an idea that makes sense, but one that does not immediately affect the bottom line, and that is why Vaynerchuk wrote this book. Certainly Gary Vaynerchuk loves social media (almost) as much as he loves wine -- but do not make the mistake that this book is some sort of guide to using Twitter effectively. Vaynerchuk sees social media as a vehicle for customer interaction; one that speaks more directly to your business than sales figures and market surveys can. He explains the benefit of not only embracing the social media phenomenon, but also understanding it fully. Were the Internet simply another advertising space the Thank You Economy would not be taking the shape it has.
Vaynerchuk knows that the information age has brought about a new breed of customer. Today people are well informed - they research your service and/or product with reviews and their friends often minutes before a purchase. They do not simply flock to lower prices; they find and more importantly stay with the companies and people they like and respect. They migrate to values, not radiated through call-center scripts, but instead demonstrated by truly enthusiastic and genuine employees pushing great product.
I also find the Thank You Economy to be so relevant to the current business culture that I unfortunately knew first hand about some of the points that Vaynerchuk makes. Companies are cutting staff and increasing productivity; and walking amongst the survivors of these actions I hear the talk about how the focus on service is taking a back seat to profit. Companies that looked to cut into employee compensation and resources are unaware that employees who once cared about their job are now more concerned about keeping it than anything else. Those same companies are also losing critical ground in the debates happening behind Facebook messages and Twitter mentions. Rather than fostering cultures of employees who seek to help their employers, they only drive away the employees to companies that do care.
Perhaps the potential of a Thank You Economy revolution in business is far off from today given the battles Vaynerchuk seems to continually fight to get his message across, but to this reader it is a far more exciting and encouraging approach to business than the status quo. The Thank You Economy helps bring a much more honest and authentic method of doing business to light in a clear and straightforward way, and is well worth a read.
Regarding the audio book version: I am fairly confident in saying that the most persuasive and engaging aspect of this book is Mr. Vaynerchuk himself. Where the audio book shines is that Gary Vaynerchuk takes time to break into his reading and updates the listener on things that he knows since he wrote the book last year. Some of those interruptions can be a little bit goofy, like when he mentions with odd reluctance that he almost ate split pea soup the other day, but often he interjects some additional thoughts and commentary that really fleshes out his thoughts in the book. Really the best way to sum up the audio book version is to say that it is the second edition of the Thank You Economy; but that should not dissuade you from enjoying either version. (less)
(This review is for the audio version narrated by John Keating.)
I was first introduced to Colfer's writing via the fantastic Artemis Fowl books, and h...more(This review is for the audio version narrated by John Keating.)
I was first introduced to Colfer's writing via the fantastic Artemis Fowl books, and have since taken in anything written by him that I could get my hands on. Airman is a book that not only delivers on my expectations of Colfer's skills as a writer, but also just my desire to enjoy a great story.
In Airman, Conor Broekhart is thoroughly beat up and disheartened again and again. Even Conor's birth occurs during dire circumstances at the book's beginning, as if to tell you that things don't really calm down for the kid from that point forward. Despite the pounding he takes throughout the story, you find yourself unable to do anything but root for him. His successes are mythic and wonderfully written - perfect for a wide-eyed child to listen to with rapt attention.
The antagonist, a villainous and downright evil character named Marshall Bonvilain, is just as hate-able as Conor is likeable; and the performance of the character by John Keating is so perfect that I have little doubt I despised Bonvilain even more because of it. For those listening to this book, I think this is where you'll find your investment has paid off, because Keating's narration is excellent, but his rendition of Bonvilain and the other villains is fantastic.
It's easy to be deceived by how simple this story is put together, especially when you consider the straightforward themes of heroes saving princesses and the obvious indications of character identity and story from names like "Broekhart" and "Bonvilain". At one point I found myself thinking that this story was perhaps a youth-accessible rewrite of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo; but having finished the book I'm of the opinion that Colfer was crafting a fairy tale for the age of discovery and industry. The Airman's charm in fact comes from it's simplicity, despite that the plot is anything but simple and the adventures within are actually very clever and captivating. If the book is simple, it is simple in the themes it presents - such as "true love" and "brains over brawn"; but the unique tale within is easier to enjoy because of it.
I usually avoid spoilers in my reviews, and Airman definitely requires my discretion - you deserve to enjoy this book from beginning to end. In the end I hope you do enjoy it as much as I did!(less)
Sum: 40 Tales of the Afterlives is a collection of 40 different imaginations of what happens after death. Although the afterlife is almost patently re...moreSum: 40 Tales of the Afterlives is a collection of 40 different imaginations of what happens after death. Although the afterlife is almost patently religious, the tales inside don't follow the typical religious themes that you might be used to. In one story, the afterlife is comprised of different versions of yourself and you face the inadequacies of your own life versus the opportunities that other versions of you took advantage of. In another you live in a world comprised of only the people you met and knew, and suddenly realize that that this was exactly how you chose to live your life when you were alive. Far from being a story about fire and brimstone, Sum delivers a thought-provoking look at how we live our lives and how we perceive the world around us.
I was introduced to Sum: 40 Tales of the Afterlives through the NPR show RadioLab, which dedicated an entire episode to similar themes as those presented in David Eagleman’s book. Interested to read more I picked up the book on my Kindle and I am glad to say that what I got was a very imaginative and refreshing look at life after death. Eagleman is a neuroscientist who studies "time perception, synesthesia, and how neuroscience will influence the legal system", which makes this even more interesting to read because you wonder how is own studies have affected his creative process.
I highly recommend this book. I think that for the sake of conversation alone you'll want to read through it and recommend it to your friends as well, but if you're anything like me you'll find that the stories within have value far beyond simple small talk. (less)