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review 2018-03-14 06:41
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness - Peter Godfrey-Smith
Other Minds - Peter Godfrey-Smith

I don't know quite how to rate this one, so I went for 4 stars.  This is likely to be more a collection of disparate thoughts rather than a cohesive review of any kind.

 

Most people are not going to find Other Minds a 'popular' science book.  It's not dry, but it is dense.  The author merges what is currently known in evolutionary science with philosophy, and has written what is largely a thought experiment on the concept of consciousness and it's origins, and not just for the octopus; this covers all life.  Octopuses get more page time than other creatures, but still only make up about ... 40%, maybe 50%?  Not quite what I was expecting, but I was willing to go with it.

 

I listened to the audiobook, although I have the hardcover as well.  The narrator, Peter Noble, does an excellent job with the narration; his voice is crisp and clear and he reads it as though he has a thorough grasp of the material. 

 

But ... I don't know if it was me or if the title of the book was too open to interpretation, but I did not realise how deeply philosophical the material was - this made the audiobook very challenging for me; I'm not a fan of other people's thought experiments in general, so I really struggled with a wandering mind as I listened to this book.  I understood the general concepts he covered, but whole sections of the narration would just wash right over me before I'd realise my consciousness checked out.  

 

Conclusion: I'd have been better off reading the physical edition, I think.  It's a very well written book, but it's heavy material for someone like me, for whom listening requires a conscience effort.  I'll likely re-read my hardcover sometime soon, so I can determine how much I missed, and give my mind a chance to reinforce some of the points I found most interesting.

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review 2018-02-27 05:21
Murder in the Museum
Murder in the Museum - John Rowland,Peter Wickham
Murder in the Museum - John Rowland

Wow, this was really not good.  I started listening to it on audiobook, and meant to DNF it, but my phone doesn't unlock while I'm in the car and I kept forgetting to pick a new book before driving off again.  By the time I got home last night I was 90% finished and thought 'to hell with it', grabbed my print copy, and just finished it off.

 

What I didn't like:

Henry Fairhurst:  He's sort of the co-MC of the book, along with Inspector Shelly.  He's a damp, hen-pecked, Walter Middy sort of fellow; whingey too.

 

Henry's sister:  every horrible stereotype about single women, crammed into one book.  Truly a horrible character I would not be able to resist smacking in real life.

 

Inspector Shelly: the other MC of the book, the Scotland Yard Inspector that goes around not only theorising before the facts, but telling all involved in the case that they are the facts, never mind silly things like official coroner reports, or post-mortems, or blood analysis.  Shelly says the man died of cyanide poisoning, then by golly, that's what he died of.  And speaking of cause of death:

 

The cause of death:  A man does not fall asleep in the British Museum Reading Room and peacefully die from cyanide poisoning mid-snore.  The author was a contemporary of Agatha Christie; I hope she smacked him upside the head with his own book before setting him straight.  Cyanide is a nasty way to die and I'm certain his snoring would have been the least offensive thing everyone in the Reading Room that day would have had to witness.

 

The writing:  Rowland writes as though he imagines his reader to be an idiot, the result being his characters all sound like idiots.  There are some very Dick and Jane moments in this book.

 

The plot:  Let me put it this way:  I read cozies, and I thought it was preposterous.  

 

What I liked:

The cover.  The title.  The British Museum setting, which ended after page 24.  I gave each 1/2 star, but it was all downhill from there.

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review 2018-02-14 08:46
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection - Carol Burnett

As I said in my recent status update, I loved this book.  The Carol Burnett show was such a staple growing up in the 70's; it wasn't until I started reading/listening to this book that I realised how much I missed the kind of comedy she and her cast served up every week.

 

The book is broken into individual anecdotes that cover her early life and career.  Almost all of them are light, interesting, amusing and often laugh-out-loud hilarious.  A couple towards the end will bring tears as she relates particularly heartbreaking moments, but mostly the tears are from laughing so hard.

 

I don't know how well this book's promise would translate for anyone who hadn't at least watched a few episodes of The Carol Burnett Show, but for those that have and enjoyed it, this is a welcome trip down memory lane.

 

Burnett herself reads the book, and she does an amazing job.  At no point did it ever feel like she was 'reading' anything; her delivery is as natural as if she was right there talking to you.

 

I'm thrilled to find out she released another book last year, In Such Good Company.  All behind the scenes stories from the show.  It's taking all my self control to not check it out and immediately start listening, but I'm going to make myself listen to a book from my shelves first.  

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review 2018-02-07 19:34
Not exactly a review
Conspirata - Robert Harris
Imperium - Robert Harris

I loved listening to these two books! Therefore, I am incredibly disappointed to see that Hoopla does not have the third in audio. I will definitely have to check other sources - and get them all in paper format to read again. Great stuff! 

 

Funny thing, I only started reading these because I am writing about Reginald Pole and he made his own annotated book of the writings of Cicero, so I thought I should get an idea of what Cicero was like. If these novels are any indication, I like him just as much as good old Reggie did.

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review 2018-02-06 04:36
Murder on the Links
Murder on the Links - John Moffatt,Agatha Christie
Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie

Meh.  But probably 'meh' because I listened to the BBC Audio full cast dramatisation and it wasn't as well scripted, or whatever it is they do, than the last one, Crooked House.  It was shorter, but somehow much more scattered, less cohesive.

 

What I can say that applies to any edition of this book is that:

1.  Dumb title; there's nothing here to do with golf, except the location of the body.  

2.  I really can't stand Poirot.  Sorry, but I just wanted to reach through the speakers and yank on his silly moustaches.  Hastings doesn't come through so well here either, although that might have been how he was played in the audio; hopeless romantic falling instantly in love?  Ugh.

 

I'm going to have to read the print book to have anything more to say, i.e. plot and characterisation.  The murderer in this one totally blindsided me, but how much of that is to Christie's credit and how much because I never knew quite what was going on, I can't say.

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