Reviews - Jeff P. (jeffp)

1 to 20 of 202 - Page:
3001: The Final Odyssey (Space Odyssey, Bk 4)
3001: The Final Odyssey (Space Odyssey, Bk 4)
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 97
Review Date: 8/16/2006
2 member(s) found this review helpful.


"OK. Clarke spends a bit too much time on non-plot items, as well as some social moralizing that I found off-putting. The plot is a bit thin as well, but it was somewhat interesting. The end notes were the best part of the book for me. Odd but true."


The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Authorized Edition)
Review Date: 8/23/2007
6 member(s) found this review helpful.


"A must read. The first half reads almost like a spy thriller. The second half bogs down, but is full of interesting information. If you care about the whys and hows of 9/11, this is important stuff."


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Author: Mark Twain
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 6/19/2008


"A classic, I guess, but I don't see what is so loved about it. Perhaps if I was 12 when I read it I'd have felt differently, but in my early 40's, it just didn't seem all that good or important."


Against All Things Ending (Last Days of Thomas Covenant, Bk 3)
Review Date: 1/17/2011


"This may be among Donaldson's best, though I see on Amazon that the reviews are mixed. This is book three of four in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and does what it needs to quite well.

The Last Chronicles tell a very large tale, wrapping together the entire history of the Land - and the universe it exists in - to, it appears, bring the story of Covenant, Linden, and Lord Foul to a conclusion. The first two volumes in the series set the stage, introduced the characters, and - Donaldson being who he is - put those characters under tremendous stress.

Finally we start to see some things being resolved in Against All Things Ending, though not nearly everything. And the final resolution of the story is still unclear given what has been written so far.

Donaldson's writing is meticulous, as always, and he is prone to using words most of us haven't encountered. As a result, this book - and, indeed, the entire series - is not for fans of typical, lightweight, modern fantasy. His descriptions are painstakingly vivid, he's hard on his characters, and on the reader. Some people just won't like it.

But I do, and I can heartily recommend this book, though an argument could be made for waiting until the last volume is published so you can read them all in one fell swoop, without year long gaps in the story."


The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
Author: Irving Stone
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 10/21/2010


"It's been months since I had the time for any reading. In fact, I was nearly finished with The Agony and the Ecstasy when the job started, and though I finished it shortly thereafter it has been a long time since I've posted here, so this review is long overdue.

All I can do now is recommend this book highly, particularly if you're a student of the arts or an artist.

Stone's research is good, and though I cannot tell you where he veered into fiction, I can tell you that I enjoyed this work a lot.

Michaelangelo is one of my favorites, and an inspiration to me as a sculptor. I learned a lot about him and his time from this book, and highly recommend it."


All Creatures Great and Small
All Creatures Great and Small
Author: James Herriot
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 138
Review Date: 11/1/2008


"The classic book about a young country vet in England. Wonderful, uplifting stories. Recommended."


All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: James Herriot
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 11/1/2008


"Another excellent book by Herriot. More wonderful stories that give you a great feeling about the place he lived and the people he worked with and for."


All Things Wise and Wonderful
All Things Wise and Wonderful
Author: James Herriot
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 83
Review Date: 11/1/2008


"I pleasant read about a country vet during war time. Herriot discusses some of his war experiences going through RAF training and intersperses memories of his home and job. Generally uplifting and positive, it follows in the tradition of his earlier books."


Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, Bk 1)
Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, Bk 1)
Author: Richard K. Morgan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 50
Review Date: 7/9/2006
2 member(s) found this review helpful.


"A good solid cyber punk detective novel. The sex and violence can get a bit extreme at times, but it still serves the plot. There are a few things I think an editor would (or should) have helped clean up as well, but overall a good read. Recommended."


The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, Book 3)
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, Book 3)
Author: Philip Pullman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 337
Review Date: 3/30/2008
1 member(s) found this review helpful.


"The conclusion of His Dark Materials. I found these books to be uneven in various ways, with characters doing whatever they wanted rather than consistent and clear motivations. Still, for kids they may be OK."


American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 911
Review Date: 11/18/2007
2 member(s) found this review helpful.


"A great book. Nebula and Hugo winner. In it, the hero (Shadow) is employed by Mr. Wednesday after the death of Shadow's wife. We follow Shadow as he and Wednesday travel around the US recruiting. Lots of mythology in here, but bundled up into our world now. An excellent read and a lot of fun. If you like works by Roger Zelazny this is probably going to appeal to you."


Amphigorey
Amphigorey
Author: Edward Gorey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 4/13/2007


"Humor in an oddly twisted form. Good stuff."


Anonymous Rex: A Detective Story
Anonymous Rex: A Detective Story
Author: Eric Garcia
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 3/27/2007
2 member(s) found this review helpful.


"A fun, light hearted detective story set in a world where dinosaurs live among us, disguised as humans. Silly, but the prose lets it work, and I enjoyed it."


The Areas of My Expertise
The Areas of My Expertise
Author: John Hodgman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 1/25/2012
1 member(s) found this review helpful.


"Not all that funny, sadly. Mildly amusing. YMMV, but I found it to be something I could set down any time, anywhere, without regret."


The Art of Demotivation - Manager Edition: A Visionary Guide for Transforming Your Company's Least Valuable Asset - Your Employees
Review Date: 8/29/2011


"What to say about this book? It's a tough one to review.

I've seen bunches of business fads come and go in my time in the high tech industry. I have seen offshoots of the human empowerment movement, various ways of categorizing people by communication style, and a zillion pep rallies of various forms. They were all, in a word, crap.

I am a cynic, though, and I admit it.

When I learned of this book from the chief of Despair, Inc. - the makers of Demotivators (tm) and other amusements - it seemed like it might be a funny read. I wish that had been the case.

Kersten's tome comes across as all too serious. I think it's supposed to be humor, but if so it didn't work that well for me. His thesis - that management is better off creating a demotivating work environment in which employees will resign themselves to their fate, thus costing the company less in benefits (and related expenses), taking fewer chances, and even being so paranoid about keeping their jobs that they won't leave as often - sounds all too real to me in this day and age.

Personally I've been lucky in much of my work. I've had a few enlightened employers and some good managers, so I have seen how a good work environment can function. In my own time in management I've done my best to make things work like that for my employees too. But I have also seen some of the darker side of things, and I know many who have seen far worse. Kersten's suggestions could be marching orders in far too many cases.

While I suspect his tongue really is firmly in his cheek, that only came through effectively (for me) when he briefly discussed how senior management should be treated, and how they need to be kept apart from employees. A couple of those sections caused me to smirk, at least.

But nothing caused a belly laugh, and I can imagine someone who isn't in on the joke thinking this is a real blueprint for how to manage a company. It's that dry and straight in its presentation.

As a result I am not sure this book is successful. Maybe if you've read a bunch of books on management theory the jokes are more obvious, but I found myself cringing too many times at how close to reality his "recommendations" are in far too many cases. Ever since the MBAs starting running the zoo companies are less human and less caring. Squeezing every last dime out of an operation doesn't leave room for anything as simple as having fun in the office. The Art Of Demotivation could easily make that worse as far as I can tell."


Assassination Vacation
Assassination Vacation
Author: Sarah Vowell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 127
Review Date: 7/26/2009


"With Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell hits 3 of 4 with me as successful volumes.

In it she describes her researches into the history of 3 presidential assassinations: Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. It sounds macabre - and it is - but Vowell pulls it off and keeps a sense of humor about it.

She manages that by adding things to the simple dry history, things like her own opinions and musings on what those involved were saying and and thinking.

I enjoyed reading this, and I learned a few things in the process. Alas, my brain is lousy at holding on to details - I'm better at remembering emotions for some reason - so I'm afraid a lot of the actual history here won't stick with me.

Still, it's fascinating to learn that Robert Todd Lincoln - the president's son - was at or nearby during all three of the assassinations Vowell documents.

I will take a few other facts away from this, too: McKinley's assassin, Leon Czolgosz, was a depressed anarchist. Garfield's assassin, Charles Guiteau, was probably clinically insane. And Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, actually thought he was doing good for the country.

I recommend Assassination Vacation for it's quirky humor mixed with Vowell's opinions and real history. An odd but nice blend."


The Assassins' Gate : America in Iraq
The Assassins' Gate : America in Iraq
Author: George Packer
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 3/1/2009
1 member(s) found this review helpful.


"This book is full of good material, but I found it very difficult reading.

Much of that probably has to do with me and the complexity of my life while I read it, but there was one issue that I lay at the feet of the author: I had a very difficult time telling *when* things were going on. I couldn't keep it ordered in my head as a result of the presentation, and thus couldn't figure out how events went together.

The individual stories were excellent - many were moving - but trying to tie it all together into a history of the war just didn't work for me.

Hopefully others will have less trouble. I think it's an important book full of good information."


Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
Review Date: 7/28/2011
1 member(s) found this review helpful.


"Atheist Universe is an excellent introduction to the atheist point of view. It covers a wide ranging set of topics from a straight forward, "this is why we think that" perspective. If you're an atheist but not used to defending your turf, this book will help you see how do so. If you're wondering how someone can get along without believing in God, this book will explain it.

It isn't a perfect volume, though. Really deep explanations - the actual underlying science - isn't here. That's not a problem, really, and it would make the book vastly larger to include even a small portion of it. Mills summarizes it when needed, and he mostly gets it right. The years since the last update and the fact that I am better read them him in a few areas give me a couple of minor quibbles with his statements, but they don't invalidate his arguments.

More problematic is his style, which is somewhat "in your face". Some would call it aggressive or pushy. Others might call it calling a spade a spade. Regardless, he isn't afraid to tell you what he thinks is right, and in this era of political correctness I enjoyed much of it.

There is one chapter - on Christian fundamentalists and internet porn - which seems out of place to me, but the rest is pretty solid stuff. If you want deeper arguments - covering the philosophy or science in depth - you need to look elsewhere, but if you want a summary of why an atheist might think the things s/he does, this is a fine place to start. Just be prepared to be challenged if you come from that perspective. Mills is confident that all religion is silly and says so. I happen to agree with him."


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Review Date: 6/26/2008


"This is a great graphic novel. It shows Batman as he should be shown, conflicted and dark.

This one I'm keeping. I'll be rereading it from time to time."


Bear v. Shark
Bear v. Shark
Author: Chris Bachelder
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 3/10/2010


"I have no idea now where the recommendation for this book came from, but I am afraid I am going to disappoint someone.

I had the same reaction to this that I have to some modern art, like a canvas painted all one color. I thought "I could write this. I could write a lot better than this guy did."

Nearly the entire book consists of very short (1-2 page) chapters describing the story of the Norman family as they travel to watch the second bear/shark battle. This is a parody of America, though, so while most of what we see is familiar, it's all deliberately exaggerated to the point of silliness.

In an attempt to heighten the effect, most dialog isn't quoted, characters talk past each other, and all kinds of events aren't really explained. Then end result is a ball of semi-related things that sort of make up a story, but a story without any reasonable ending. In fact, it's rather like the author couldn't come up with one, so he decided to leave it open and let the reader imagine his own.

In any case, I didn't find it funny, though others apparently do. It does contain a lot of social commentary, but only of the most blunt kind.

This is the author's first novel. I have no desire to read anything else by him, and I can't imagine why a publisher would spend money on this book. Not recommended."


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