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Not what I expected

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-20

I gave up with this book when Bill was describing in graphic detail how breast cancer used to develop. When he wrote about the foul smelling liquid oozing from the gaping hole, I thought I'd read enough.

Sadly with this book there were times when I felt that Bill actually revelled in the gorey and repugnant descriptions of medieval and Victorian treatments. Often I asked "why do I need to know about this you sicko?". I felt there was no reason to describe the stench of the rotten flesh of autopsies nor the detail of the excruciatingly painful procedure that was a bladder operation in Pepe's day and many many similar examples. At times it was stomach turning and to my mind had nothing to do with how the body works.

Similarly, I don't want to know about every person who Bill feels should have won the Nobel prize and nor to be honest do I want to know about those who won them. What I do want to know about is the body and not - what it seemed most of the book dealt with - our often misguided efforts to understand it.

if you want a book about diseases and unpleasantries that have afflicted the body over the centuries and to learn about various people who helped our hindered our knowledge of it, then fine, but be aware that many times this isn't a book to read while eating or with the kids due to its graphic content. As I say, at one point I felt Bill was enjoying the repugnant side too much.

Narration was okay but not as good as a professional. He droned on at times. There was no humour or at least nothing that made me laugh. There were very few "oh that's interesting, I never knew that" moments and at times I felt the information he was giving was not quite right (for instance when he said we had no idea of the purpose of something, there were times I had read theories as to what the something did).

Overall I felt deeply disappointed. I loved his science book, but this left me feeling a bit dirty after reading it. I'll be returning it and I'll not be recommending it to anyone. Why oh why did he felt he had to describe in such detail so many of the unpleasant experiments on the body that were in my view far better off left in the Dark Ages I don't know.

Reading shouldn’t be hard work

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-10-19

I tried, but this isn’t for me I’m afraid. Life is too short to plough through what is actually a very boring story because it’s apparently written in an amazing style. This felt like the equivalent of literary modern art, too clever for its own good and forgetting the point, which is to tell a story.

The writing style for me was so dense that I couldn’t grasp what was actually - very slowly - happening and I can’t say I cared all that much. Literary classic it may be, but I get a lot more laughs from Terry Pratchett.

Felt like I was an awful lot older by the end

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-10-19

I'm not sure if this is a 3 or a 4 to be honest. The performance was a bit dull to listen to for so many hours with little to no humour or anything more engaging. I thought the information was on the whole pretty obvious and felt a bit laboured.

Main points seemed to be:

1. Exercise
2. Eat wholefoods and a varied diet. Organic preferably (and the Mediterranean diet)
3. Avoid saturated fats
4. Try and avoid stress
5. Try mindfulness
6. Pack in smoking (and probably drinking)
7. Keep your connections with people (though he's not sure why)

There was more to it than that, but that was the main thrust of it all.
It wasn't very Americanised I didn't think with only a couple of chapters discussing American specific things and they didn't really mess up the message.

Exercise he recommended seemed very personalise and I was very surprised that he advised martial arts (which he used to do) and I'm not sure that's what the older people out there would think of that.

I thought some of the dietary information was a little out of date and I felt that a lot of it was lacking older evidence. Some of the things that he advised (e.g. turmeric is only useful against inflammation in huge doses) were not correct or had limited information to support them.

It was okay and has made me get back into exercise and switch to cholesterol lowering fats, but very little else. Keeping active seems to be the main thing that he advises over all else.

Boring

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-09-19

I got 18 hours into the book before I decided life was too short for this snail pace story. Apparently the last tenth of the book is good, but the run up to it was dull. Took much too long to do far too little.

Narrator was doing her best, but she read the female characters as though they were constantly on the verge of tears / a nervous breakdown. She was a bit slow too so I sped her up.

World building wasn’t for me (almost entirely in one city) and the magic system although new was not the most exciting. I was utterly fed up of Vivenna by the time I packed in. The best characters in the book were a talking sword and a sarcastic god. The rest were all a bit boring.

Should have been half the size

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-08-19

Cast were good but the music at the end of the hundreds of small chapters was irritating quite quickly.

Story was reasonable until about a third of the way through (same point as the film gets to) and Hubbard should have quit there. It descended into drivel by the end of the book with Hubbard using it as a vehicle to attack psychiatry.

Characters were less than one dimensional and most didn’t even have names. All aliens seemed to be two legged versions of human animals and all of them appeared to be universally stupid.

Last two thirds of the book dragged and that is many hours of dragging. Cast I enjoyed though I was getting sick of Jonnie by the end and Bittie was irritating as hell.

Now I think back, it was a really poor book with huge plot holes. Ker was the only likeable character and even he acted odd. Shame as to my embarrassment I loved the film.

A really good “read”

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-07-19

I read this years ago and thought the idea of returning to it on audiobook sounded good. I was a bit concerned by the slating the narrator got though.

Thankfully, he was actually pretty good. There were accents for the different nationalities and I could tell who was saying what. He changed his tone when things got exciting and was not at all monotonous. There was also no “first word cut off in most sentences”. Maybe that was an old recording and maybe that earlier recording was robotic, but this wasn’t.

I don’t think expecting the narrator to have - and remember- different accents for each person over 30 hours is realistic. I enjoyed it anyway. Did get a bit sick of hearing veehiccle which was a very American way of saying vehicle and very grating after a while.

Story had way too much submarine stuff and a lack of much character forming. The romantic subplot felt awkward and the word “cringe” was way over used. But that’s all being a bit picky. Felt biased (obviously) but apparently in reality the Russian kit is much worse than depicted

Highly recommended.

A disappointment

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-07-19

I hoped this would be good, but it was another disappointment.

Little in the way of SBS and way too much slagging off of “ordinary” people. I get it, you’re amazing, we’re dull. But coming from someone who until he got offered a TV contract was a neglectful, selfish drunk, that doesn’t really bother me.

What did bother me were two things, one that he’s peddling The Secret drivel of wishing for something and you will get it and if you don’t it’s your fault not The Secret’s fault. Secondly, the book increasingly became an advert for his Break Point training courses which are for the very people he appears to loathe. Not really sure how my company rewriting its Mission Statement would bring in the bucks when no bugger reads them or cares about them in the dull world of corporate reality.

However he’s obviously lucky, fit and determined and I like the tv series, so I’ll not return the book. I did feel like I didn’t want to actually support his life through my purchase, so guess I went off him as I read on. I’m ex military so can relate to a lot and the drinking culture is a serious problem that it took me years to realise was a problem and that most people didn’t drink like me. I quit a few years ago.

Anyway,first half was interesting, last quarter was insulting at times.

I don’t think he was great as a narrator.

16 people found this helpful

Sehr Gut (sorry!)

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-06-19

Can’t understand the complaints about the narrator at all and I thought she was ideal. She made what could have been dull sound chirpy. Yes she did mispronounce Amygdala and a couple of other words (camomile for instance) at the end, but otherwise was flawless.

I didn’t mind the humour either. It made it all easier to listen to and less up itself. It’s nice to have a smile now and then.

The content was great and I learned loads about the subject and thought I already knew a lot. The suggestion that you can google it all assumes you’d know where to look and what to believe. This book does all that for you and is really well put together with lots of facts and information I didn’t know that fascinated me.

I’m also surprised by the people saying they wanted more practical tips as the book is packed with them. I’m a couple of days into prebiotic and probiotics now and just bought kimchi and sauerkraut. There’s so much in there and so many tips. I’ve changed the eggs I buy, will clean surfaces less and fruit and veg and my hands more. I’ve also cut out gluten and lactose. I’ve already had someone say I look loads better and the brain fog I had was lifted as soon as stopped gluten. I’m stopping sugar too.

Anyway, great book. Packed with information that I think in years to come will be found to be “common sense”. I’m going to listen to it again almost straight away so that I can memorise the important points that much better.

Lots of times I just had to tell the rest of the family about their guts. Oh that reminds me, there is not all that much on “poo”. I’m squeamish and I managed. Just one chapter really.

Pathetic drivel...with derivative Greek fantasy

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-19

I bought this on the daily deal believing from the description that it was some kind of coming into power fantasy in the vein of Magician.

Instead what I got was a tale of a 23 year old walking mess of hormones, sort of... not really, as the heroine constantly says as she acts like a 12 year old with her first boyfriend (including wiping her mouth after a kiss and saying “gross”).

If you want a badly written (same phrases used over and over, same descriptions, steals wholesale from Greek mythology and uses the gods to save the day when needed, characters are one dimensional, plot is dull) book about a supposedly hugely powerful mage (probably the most powerful in the world) who has a huge crush on a guy who kidnaps her, then go for it. Me, I got fed up reading about the freckles on his neck and the hot feelings growing in her stomach and how she blushed red yet again and and...

I returned it before I finished the book, which is one of the worst books I’ve listened to for a long time. Didn’t think the narrator helped as her voices were not great imo. Very hard to tell what was being thought and what was being said.

Seems a lot of women enjoyed this book, but I can’t see why

A bit over written

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-05-19

I like Derren Brown (or at least the persona l see in the media and the underlying message here was good. However, I found the message was a bit lost in the wordiness.

Where Derren wanted to review the history of western philosophy, I wanted to know what I could do to be happier. I’ve listened to the whole audiobook (previously gave up on the actual book) and it felt a chore at times and I’m not really sure what the messages were. I felt they were lost amidst the words ( some of which seemed unnecessarily large which didn’t help) and I also felt his stressing of certain words was a bit off putting.

It’s a shame, because the points were good on the whole, but needed to be clearer and stressed more. A wrap up at the end of each chapter of the key take aways would have been good. I can’t recollect much of what it is that will make me happy.

I’ve taken away a few things, but not as much as I’d hoped. I found the dismissal of the afterlife and religion to be unconvincing and religious examples were from a purely western perspective.

It’s a good book with some good points buried away inside it, but it was dull at times and almost impenetrable at others. I’m quite educated but had to look up a few words which didn’t help much.

I’ll probably listen again and hope to pick up more pointers, but it didn’t quite work for me.