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Barry

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Irritating narration distracts and detracts.

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

Reviewed: 16-10-19

The narrator's random emphasis of words and overly dramatic reading, in breathless excitement, and whispery awe, of every bit of discriptive prose and narrative, is tiresome at first, and unbearable after a few hours. Very amateur effort. Can't countenance listening to a whole book of this, let alone a series. i am very disappointed. I was looking forward to this and had bought the first three in the series based on previous experience of TW and good reviews. Hard to imagine how this got by any recording director or even TW himself. Very badly misjudged. Can't hear the book for the distracting cadence of the narration so based on respect for writer I gave the story the benefit of the doubt with my rating of the story.

Precious little psychology, fewer facts.

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

Reviewed: 17-08-19

I have listened to the first three of the lectures in this course, and I have to say I am finding it increasingly irritating and off subject. The lecturer spends the first lecture attacking Science. He claims it is untrustworthy because Newton got the law of gravity wrong. One wished for a quiet clearing of the throat and a gentle voice from the back of the lecture theatre which would point out to him that it was not wrong so to speak, but necessarily incomplete. This quiet academic scientist would point out that Newton was a man of his time and had not included space-time, quantum mechanics, or relativity, but had been as honest and objective as any human being had ever been in his examination of the world as it existed beyond his belief system. The physicist would add that, notwithstanding its incompleteness, the Newtonian theory with its rules of the mechanics of gravity is still useful for most of us, even in the Einsteinian universe, as long as we stay below light-speed. Unfortunately there was no such interruption. In the absence of rebuttal the lecturer was free to run on with his tautological “proofs” that science can not be used as a measure, and that there is no established scientific method, meaning we must fall back on the revealed word of some enlightened authority, yet to be mentioned.

In lecture two he meanders through the Greeks. He appears to be seeking more proof that the senses can not be trusted. He begins cherry picking Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, and others so that he can say what you know is more important than what you can prove. He seems to come to the conclusion that the spiritual concept of a mind is a logically superior one. He again skilfully suggests that the Greeks arrived at this very conclusion: that enlightened revelation was the only thing that could be trusted and that you already know all you need to know internally and that the mind is naturally front-loaded with the fundamental truths of the universe; only that our fleshy senses occlude them from us.

Ahem... On to lecture three... Witches…! Here one of the most breathtakingly tortuous pieces of logic takes shape. The long and the short of it is that because the finding of witches during the 16th century (also the century of Galileo and Newton, the lecturer hastens to point out) involved expert opinion from those who had made a science out of it, by producing experts science is guilty of trying to explain things that have no explanation. He actually seems to equate the efforts of scientific enlightenment, rather than religious bigotry, with the witch trials. I waited for the explanation that the “science” of witch finding was based on the clearly religious/supernatural starting point of a belief in pacts with the devil, and a belief in the intereference in human affairs of the devil, and the belief in the entity known as the devil; and that this was considered to be one of those fundamental truths of the universe that people “just knew” for three centuries. It would have explained that his opposition to scientifically honest enquiry had been a joke. I waited in vain. He stuck to his guns. He says that the evidence may show, but he is not sure, that the secular state was worse in its treatment of witches (witches, not women accused of imaginary witchcraft, I noted throughout!) than the religious authorities. After giving it three hours of my life, little doubt was left in my mind that this guy has an agenda, and it is not the exploration of psychology as a fact based discipline.

I wondered why a lecturer on psychology would take three lectures to state that Science is unacceptably deterministic, and then to muddy the waters with conjecture rather than facts (he frequently uses the phrase the evidence “may show” rather than “does show”)? I looked ahead with the provided PDF at the forthcoming lectures, and the mists cleared a bit. I suspect that our man is a Freudian. These days the main criticism aimed at Freud is that he did not use any scientific method but did all he could to conceal his failures and explain anything that did not agree with his theories as some sort of concealment or unconscious lies on the part of his patients. There are three lectures directly dealing with Freud and the third, which proposes dealing with criticisms of Freud, does not introduce any real criticism or questions about his methods and theories, but merely doubles down on Freud and how he is above criticism.

While there is some argument for philosophy continuing to burden itself with religious and spiritual questions of supernatural prime movers, I find it hard to excuse a set of lectures about psychology in the 21st century for dredging the murky waters of the philosophy of religion and superstition, looking for explanations of human behaviour and seeking to side step cause and effect. This set of lectures seems to attempt to prove, through carefully chosen philosophical and semantically suspect arguments, that psychology, psycho analysis in particular, is beyond the reach of scientific rigour. It will be just the stuff for you if you have a desire to see the world through the prism of a mystical dualism or a supernatural mind/soul wedded to a physical body in a demon haunted world. For anyone interested in the psychology of actual human beings in the real world, I suggest you do as I intend to do, and look elsewhere.

7 people found this helpful

Irritating and purile

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

Reviewed: 22-04-19

The first in the series had some good ideas and some discipline in the writing. The second was formulaic and and childish I just about made it through. Time passed and I got this one when it was on special offer to see if things improve. Alas after a couple of chapters of toilet humour, some very weak writing, and a narrator who may have been sending rescue notes about being trapped in a studio with the worst dialogue ever, I threw in the towel.
"Oh," says A.
"What," says B.
"Something," says C.
"Something else," says D.
"Oh," says A again.
"That," says B.
"What," says B again.
"Something truly idiotic," says C.
"Lets do something moronic because we have a time machine the septic tank is full," says D.
'You've got pooh on your face," says A.
"Oh I slay myself with my fearless wir," says the author.
"I wonder if I can disguise this strained dialogue with a Liverpool accent and by reading it really fast," says the narrator.
"Unless you are a particularly dumb nine year old boy, you are out of luck," says this reviewer.

4 people found this helpful

Beware. May liquefy your brain.

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

Reviewed: 06-03-19

Got it on a daily deal because the premise looked interesting and it had good reviews. My guess is that it is aimed at people who have not read a lot other than horoscopes. Would need far better narrators to lift the awkward prose and clunky worldview. I got an hour in but the introduction to characters and their two dimensional soap opera world was painful. Maybe it gets better but there had been nothing in the writing or narration to indicate it had any redeeming features coming any way soon. It was not worth the risk of my brain liquefying if I continued. Sorry. Not for me.

So good, words fail me - don't they though, Alex J

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

Reviewed: 19-01-19

I had been given the impression that this was a dreary unpleasant book by others who had read it. Instead I found a humorous masterpiece that took over Christmas. The entire family listened whenever we sat down together. We finished with a gluttony of listening on a very long drive back home and agreed it had been something quite wonderful.

Newmann Noggs and John Browdie - friends and confidants to Nicholas - have personalities that burst from the pages as friends you wish you had yourself. Nicholas, while being full blooded and ready to stick up for what is right, is still not one of Dickens's idiot young men like David Copperfield or Pip, who seem to think with their elbows and what they mix their elbows up with. No indeed, while Nicholas veers into and out of trouble, it is hard to find fault with his behaviour when you consider the provocation.

The book has been criticized for lack of character development and there are certainly roles in the book who seem less character and more vessels of exposition - the Wititterlys for example. This should not distract from the cast of memorable and wonderful characters, many of whom deserve a book all to themselves.

Now to Mr Alex Jennings. I had been avoiding him because I think I had been mixing him up with somebody else. Then during the summer I got The Kraken Wakes and realised that he is amazing. Against of field of such major Dickens reading talent as Martin Jarvis, David Timson, Anton Lesser, Simon Vance, and Hugh Dickson, who have all drawn superlatives from me, Alex Jennings stands out as one of my favourite DIckens listening experiences to date. He masterts this book and delivers a masterful performance. His range of voices and the sheer spot on accuracy of characterisation made it nigh on impossible to stop listening. His Smike breaks your heart, his Ralph chills your blood, his Browdie makes you cheer, and his Newman Noggs makes you want to hug someone. Jennings single handedly represents and gives life to some of Dickens's most wonderful grotesques, including the odious Wackford Squeers and his vile family. I am considering going back to get second recordings of books I already have so that I can hear what he does with other Dickens books.have added his name to my "top readers" list and I already have a backlong of his narrations to listen to. Brilliant.

Got to love Ruiz speaking truth to Joe!

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

Reviewed: 23-07-18

These O'Loughlin books can be harrowing and previous entries had me listening through my fingers while the skill of Robotham as a writer kept me going. This one is lighter than some of the others and does not suffer from it. THe plot is "out there" and initially seems to forget some events from earlier books, but stick with it - all is explained.

The exploration of motives, human frailty and strength, response and reaction to changing perspectives, and all encompassing compassion for even the monsters, makes these books shine in the genre. Please keep writing them Michael Robotham. Sean Barrett, keep reading them, your characterisation of Ruiz is one of my favourite things in all of Audible.

Not the messiah, a very naughty trope.

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

Reviewed: 23-07-18

I am an hour from the end of this and I am thoroughly depressed. The idea is that women, if they had the opportunity, would subject men to the worst excesses of inhumane treatment that has been visited on women through history. Don't tell me that I don't get it, that it is really shining a light on how women are treated by reversing the roles, i got it and I still didn't like it. I found this "shoe on the other foot" not challenging but childish. It is not truthful or honest about actual gender roles. It assumes that all men, with one or two exceptions, are beasts and not actually human beings at all. It relies on an oversimplified view of the world and sexual politics. It is not the messiah, it is a kind of wish fulfilment revenge porn masquerading as a clever concept. Sorry, but the concept is threadbare and obvious.

Parts of it are well written and it is well executed for what it is. The gushing reviews about blown minds and suggesting it should be mandatory reading at school are worrisome.

Fortunately for reality many men are prepared to defend the lives and the rights of others. Thank goodness life for the majority is not a game of men against women. Men and women get on much better than this author and others would like to admit. I fundamentally reject the notion that you can define a person by their gender. Nelson Mandela said that racism is racism whether practised by a white person or a black person. I think you can also say that sexism, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the perpetrator, is sexism. No one has a right of revenge against a whole gender or race - to suggest so is sexist and racist.

10 people found this helpful

The cold clarity sticks in the mind

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

Reviewed: 02-03-18

I am writing this review some months after reading the book. It is a book youvwill think about after reading. In retrospect the story is clear and tightly written. It has some imagery that will stay with you for a long time. I enjoyed the listen. I found it very immersive, which is what I like in an audio book.

I liked the construct of the book using diaries letters and other means to give you a sense of immediacy, You can see the end coming for a while but I think you are meant to. The bookend pieces work very well and the horror is subtle and so very well done, chilling you without grossing you out.

Themes of isolation, culture clash, brutality, and love, remain clear in my mind months after reading it. It is an unusual and satisfying book. Highly recommended.

Well written but deeply unpleasant book.Be careful

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

Reviewed: 02-03-18

From the graphic description of the rape of a young boy to the seemingly endless bodily fluids and brutality it portrays, this book is full of deeply unpleasant mental images. The narrator is very talented and does a great job of presenting the book as I think it was intended, an assault on the reader.

I pressed on to the end and now I sort of wish I could unread it, or at least parts of it. As I said, much of the unpleasantness comes from the power of the writing at describing deeply unpleasant things and the skill of the narrator at delivering it. The focus is unremittingly on the worst aspects of human nature. It highlights how the innocent, particularly children, suffer at the hands of self interested, pitiliess men. I respect the author for having the stomach and the stamina to tackle his subject matter.

It is hard to know how to review this book and be fair. It does what it sets out to do and as such the writer and narrator deserve congratulation; but as a personal recommondation I can't give it high stars. I have settled for giving it four for both story and perfornamce but an overall three because as good as it was technically, i did not like it. I can appreciate the need for books that expose the horror created by us as a species, but I don't have to like them. I am not sure this sort of thing is not a sort of violence and disgust porn.

If you liked the themes of isolation and the effect of these environments on groups of men, then you might like Michelle Paver's Dark Matterr which deals with an expidition into the Arctic in the early 1900's and has many of the same themes. I enjoyed it immensely which is why I took up this one. The setting and themes are fascinating in both books but be careful of North Water if you are at all squeamish. Parts of it make for particularly upsetting listening,

Enjoyable nostalgia

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

Reviewed: 11-09-17

I really rather enjoyed this. I was never a video game fan but the logic and passion of the characters draws you in. I also liked the stark warnings the book has in its first chapters about global misuse of energy and political power. As the book goes on the virtual reality versus physical presence theme is well thought out. I was reminded a bit of Tad WIlliams's Otherland books which deal with VR and games on a far grander scale. They would be a great read for anyone who liked this.

Will Wheaton must really have had fun with one or two of the eighties' references and overall he does a great job. He is well cast as the main character and since most of this book is in the first person it really works out very well indeed.