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Contemporary

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Cariola

Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA Member Since 2005

malfi

HELPFUL VOTES
712
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334
161
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6
  • "Absolutely Charming!"

    Overall

    This book is a bit lighter than my usual fare, but I was absolutely charmed by it. If I lived in Edgcumbe-St.-Mary, I think I'd be in love with the major, too. It's the gentle tale of a widowed retired major who is grieving for his recently-deceased brother when friendship blooms with Mrs. Ali, the widow of a Pakistani shopkeeper. Friendship inevitably turns into stronger affection--but what will the members of the club say (let alone the major's son, a broker schmoozing his way up the corporate ladder)? And will the major ever succeed in reuniting a pair of Churchill shooters given to his father by a maharaja and divided between his sons at his death? Much of the novel centers on conflicts between the "older generation" values of the major and the new values of "progress." Mrs. Ali, too, has conflicts with her own beliefs and the traditional Islamic values of her husband's family. But all is not so serious--particulary due to Major Pettigrew's wonderful wit (which often goes over the heads of others) and some delightfully comic scenes.

    More

    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Helen Simonson
    • Narrated By Peter Altschuler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2425)
    Performance
    (1142)
    Story
    (1135)

    You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction.

    txkimmers says: "A great surprise"
  • "Definitely deserved the Booker Prize"

    Overall

    The White Tiger is in the form of a first-person narrative written in a letter to the Chinese premier. The narrator (known as The White Tiger) relates how he rose from being a poor, lower caste Indian to the driver for a wealthy family, from a wanted murderer to a Bangalore entrepreneur. Full of insights into life in modern-day India, his story is sad, funny, witty, shocking--you name it. All told in a fascinating voice. John Lee was an extraordinary reader.

    More

    The White Tiger: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Aravind Adiga
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1876)
    Performance
    (729)
    Story
    (724)

    Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life - having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Through Balram's eyes, we see India as we've never seen it before: the cockroaches and the call centers, the prostitutes and the worshippers, the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger.

    With a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create morality and money doesn't solve every problem.

    Mark P. Furlong says: "Entertaining, thought-provoking, darkly funny"
  • "Very Good (but why all the secr..."

    Overall

    Little Bee is a story both sad and hopeful, horrific and funny. It's told in the voices of two women: Little Bee, a 16-year old from Nigeria who, after two years, finds herself "unofficially" discharged from an immigration detention center in southern England; and Sarah O'Rourke, magazine editor, mother, reporter's wife. Among Little Bee's few belongings are Andrew O'Rourke's driver's license and business card. Not knowing anyone in the UK, she decides to head for the address on the driver's license. And thus begins a journey for both women.

    If you've seen Little Bee in print, you know that the dust jacket warns that there are many surprises to come, that the publisher won't spoil them by telling you much, and that you shouldn't tell anyone else either. I didn't see what all the secrecy was about, beyond a marketing ploy. The book is no more "surprising" than many others. Still, Cleave has a wonderfully lyrical style, especially in the character of Little Bee.

    As to the reader, the unvarying cheerfulness apparently intended to represent Little Bee's accent did get a bit monotonous and annoying at times. While that lilting African accent is charming, I doubt that Africans use exactly the same tone and pacing for every emotion they verbally express. Still, overall, this was an engaging book with some important messages.

    More

    Little Bee: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Chris Cleave
    • Narrated By Anne Flosnik
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1496)
    Performance
    (778)
    Story
    (779)

    British couple Andrew and Sarah O'Rourke, vacationing on a Nigerian beach in a last-ditch effort to save their faltering marriage, come across Little Bee and her sister, Nigerian refugees fleeing from machete-wielding soldiers intent on clearing the beach. The horrific confrontation that follows changes the lives of everyone involved in unimaginable ways.

    Katerina says: "Good book, well told"
  1. Major Pettigrew's Last St...
  2. The White Tiger: A Novel
  3. Little Bee: A Novel
  4. .

A Peek at Robert's Bookshelf

Helpful
Votes
3489
 
Yamhill, OR, United States 214 REVIEWS / 366 ratings Member Since 2009 2136 Followers / Following 12
 
Robert's greatest hits:
  • Four Fires

    "Hit in the solar plexus"

    Overall
    Performance

    I try to rate a book not so much on how much I liked it but on how well I thought it was written. This becomes even more compounded/confounded by the fact that I mostly listen to audiobooks and there is the matter of this person called the narrator. I cannot say this too strongly, I believe a narrator can make or break a book. So, for my reviews, there is this other dimension to consider.

    I believe that Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay is a phenomenal book all by itself. It is not, however, a book I probably would have gravitated to nor enjoyed as much in paper form. I picked this selection based on reviews and particularly the reference in these reviews to the narrator Humphrey Bower. I was not disappointed. To call Mr. Bower a narrator does not do him justice. An actor? Okay, that works. He flawlessly plays the roles of so many of the characters in this book. And that would make him an artist. That's good too. But, like the author himself, Bower is a Storyteller extraordinaire and for me, that was the magic of this selection.

    I was blown away by every aspect of this book in a "good way" until Mole's dad takes him into the bush and tells him of his time in the war. For me, at that moment, the book became something completely different. It was like it was not even the same book written by the same person. And, while I concluded that the descriptions of all the brutality of war could be taken in context, it might not be for everyone. These events are not pure fiction, but, we are told, are descriptions based on historical facts and perhaps we should not avoid nor look away from such things if we are to diminish their chance of reoccurrence in the future.

    So, for the record, I give the Four Fires:

    5 stars for personal enjoyment
    5 stars for general skill in writing
    5 stars for storytelling, acting and narration.

  • The Persimmon Tree

    "Not for everyone."

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is another one of those times when I agree with both the positive and negative reviews of a book. With a greater than 4 star rating, clearly the positive ones outnumber the negative. However, I always try to read the lower scoring reviews of any book I’m interested in to glean something valuable possibly missed by the popular audience. If you have not read it and are interested in this book you already enter with a preconception that you will probably enjoy reading it. I suggest that you read the negative reviews.

    I have read many of Bryce Courtney’s books. With the talented Humphrey Bower reading/performing any book it is hard to go wrong especially when he teams up with this author. But I think this particular book was not either’s best effort. What is surprising to me is that The Persimmon Tree is not one of the author’s earlier books written at a time (2007) when perhaps his writing skills were less finely honed.

    While I don’t agree with many of the negative reviews for their stated reasons, personally, I think the writing itself of this book is at best only mediocre. I’ll almost always bump up a book’s rating because of good writing even if I’m not crazy about the story/plot itself. This lacked both of what we find in Courtney’s earlier works.

    Bottom line, while the book is not for everyone, particularly if you are offended by some of the S&M sexual content (I was not), many will probably enjoy it. I cannot say this book was bad nor can I say it was good. I can say that it is not of the calibre of Four Fires. It’s at best only 3 stars for me.

  • The Forgotten Garden

    "Six stars if I could"

    Overall

    I rate a book probably more for how it is written than for any of its other facets. I enjoy an interesting plot. I hope for well-developed characters and surprise endings. This book has it all and much, much more. On the surface, these are three stories beautifully woven into one. But there is much more. It is a story about the writing of a book of faerie tales that is a faerie tale itself. It is challenging to critique this book without giving away too much. I will just leave it to the lucky readers to discover the many wonderful aspects of this book for themselves. In short, of the last fifty books or so that I have read this year, this is one of the two very best hands down.

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    "Wondrous Book!!!"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (TBWLoOW) deserves every star that I can give it and its narrator. This is not a book I would have selected to read on my own. Had it not been a monthly selection of my local book club, I would have missed it and what a loss it would have been.

    This is a book about a weird (just happens to be Dominican) kid growing up in Patterson, New Jersey. Coming from that part of the world myself, I can relate that much but not That much... I’m not Dominican and that’s a whole lot of what this book is about. TBWLoOW explores growing up in that part of the world and also the life of family members in the Dominican Republic under a brutal dictatorship. This book is about so many things. It’s about what it often means to be a nerd... to being a male virgin, to growing up in the New World in a family with Old World values. One might say the book’s about the Fuku, the superstition or curse of an insane, cruel dictator but that’s really only the thread that pulls all the fabric of this wonderful story together. TBWLoOW contains many stories that are all beautifully woven into one incredibly well-crafted book.

    The passion and the authenticity of the author comes across in every page. There is humor and pathos sometimes in the same sentence but it is delivered so smoothly and, by the narrators, with such grace it becomes masterful. The narrators Staci Snell and particularly Jonathan Davis are extraordinary readers. The protagonists, POV and person change back and forth throughout the book. The narrators keep them straight for us in our minds and there is never any ambiguity. Frequent changes between first and third person can sometimes challenge the reader/listener; again, not here. The book is just a masterpiece. I am tempted to say read this book especially if you are _____ (fill in the blank) but that might dissuade someone else from reading it. This book has something for everyone.

    Unfortunately, I read lot of crap. Just look at so many of my other reviews. This book just goes to show that we do not have to go back to another century to discover a truly gifted author.

cristina

cristina Somerville, MA, United States 03-12-12 Member Since 2009
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  • "Terrific!"

    40 of 41 helpful votes

    Despite the reviews, I hesitated downloading "Defending Jacob" because of the subject matter (kid/parent angst, bullies, person-trapped-in-the-legal-system, etc.). It seemed like it would be a predictable plot. I couldn't have been more wrong!

    This is one of the best court room drama?family drama? suspense novel? I have read/listened to. The characters were incredibly well developed -- the parents' relationship with their son was almost painful just because it was so believable ("this could have happened to anyone!"). The plot is incredibly intense. I literally sat in a parking lot with my mouth open as the final minutes were read. And the PERFORMANCE!!! A tour de force. The reader did such an unbelievable job that I am actually afraid to recommend the novel to people who might just 'read' it because I felt he added so much (was the novel THIS good in print?). Could not praise this audiobook enough.

    (I read Mr. Landay's two previous novels recently -- I saw the great reviews of "Defending Jacob" but, like I said, I was avoiding it because of the plot, so I chose to read his earlier books first. Obviously, the author is mastering his craft. I can't wait for his next novel!)

    More

    Defending Jacob: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By William Landay
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4015)
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    (3427)
    Story
    (3422)

    Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

    Shauna says: "Defending Jacob"

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    Doctor Sleep: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (6355)
    Performance
    (5893)
    Story
    (5915)

    Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

    D says: "The sequel to the book; not the movie"
  • Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good: Mitford Years, Book 10 (






UNABRIDGED) by Jan Karon Narrated by John McDonough

    Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good: Mitford Years, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Jan Karon
    • Narrated By John McDonough
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    After five hectic years of retirement from Lord's Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors. While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he's offered one, he decides he doesn't want it. Maybe he's lost his passion. His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion - for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet.

  • Haunted: Bishop/Special Crimes Unit, Book 15 (






UNABRIDGED) by Kay Hooper Narrated by Joyce Bean

    Haunted: Bishop/Special Crimes Unit, Book 15

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Kay Hooper
    • Narrated By Joyce Bean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper returns with the new novel in her riveting Bishop/SCU series. How do you make peace with the dead if the dead aren’t ready to forgive? In New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper’s new novel, the answer lies in the twisting shadows of a small town, and its secrets yet unearthed.... When Deacon James’s younger sister Melanie calls him, terrified, he goes to her aid in the small Georgia town of Sociable. What he finds is a scared young woman in the grip of what she insists is a paranormal nightmare—and murder. Two local men have been killed under mysterious circumstances. And Melanie is the prime suspect.

  • The Secret Sky (






UNABRIDGED) by Atia Abawi Narrated by Ariana Delawari, Assaf Cohen

    The Secret Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Atia Abawi
    • Narrated By Ariana Delawari, Assaf Cohen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures, and the Taliban to stay together.

  • To See the Moon Again (






UNABRIDGED) by Jamie Langston Turner Narrated by Eva Kaminsky

    To See the Moon Again

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Jamie Langston Turner
    • Narrated By Eva Kaminsky
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    The first step to letting go of the past is forgiving it …Every day of her life Julia Rich lives with the memory of a horrible accident she caused long ago. In the years since, she has tried to hide her guilt in the quiet routine of teaching at a small South Carolina college, avoiding close relationships with family and would-be friends. But one day a phone call from Carmen, a niece she has never met, disrupts her carefully controlled world.

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  • Under False Flags: A Novel (






UNABRIDGED) by Steve Anderson Narrated by Corey Snow

    Under False Flags: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Steve Anderson
    • Narrated By Corey Snow
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Forced into the brutal Battle of the Bulge of 1944, two soldiers on opposing sides find the courage to desert a war gone sour. For both American GI Wendell Lett and German seaman Holger Frings, the relentless bloodbath of World War II has become a treacherous prison and a curse. Just as Wendell Lett meets Heloise, a wise Belgian woman who offers him a chance of deliverance from the physical and emotional carnage of war, he is pushed into a reckless false flag mission.

  • Below Zero (






UNABRIDGED) by C. J. Box Narrated by David Chandler

    Below Zero

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By C. J. Box
    • Narrated By David Chandler
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    'Tell Sherry April called.' That simple phone message shakes Joe Pickett’s oldest daughter Sheridan and the rest of the family to the core. To Joe, it doesn’t seem even remotely possible that April could have survived the massacre six years before. He was there, and he was unable to save her. But Sheridan starts to believe there’s a chance that April is still alive, and her suspicions are confirmed when the person sending texts to her cell phone is able to recall family incidents only April could know.

  • Bullets in the Sun: A Western Story (






UNABRIDGED) by Robert J. Horton Narrated by Nick Sullivan

    Bullets in the Sun: A Western Story

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Robert J. Horton
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Sunrise, despite its name, is a wicked town. It is the only wide open town in the Crazy Butte country. It attracts gamblers, above all Dan Farlin, who works in the Red Arrow, the most prosperous saloon in Sunrise, owned by Big Tom Lester, who runs the town if anyone does.

  • The Rainbow Troops (






UNABRIDGED) by Andrea Hirata Narrated by Kenneth Moraleda

    The Rainbow Troops

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Andrea Hirata
    • Narrated By Kenneth Moraleda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Ikal is a student at Muhammadiyah Elementary, on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a major achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends - a group called The Rainbow Troops - face threats from every angle: pessimistic, corrupt government officials; greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they've replaced; deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure; and their own faltering self-confidence.

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  • The Grotesque Menagerie (






UNABRIDGED) by Nibric Stymes Narrated by Russell Webster

    The Grotesque Menagerie

    • UNABRIDGED (44 mins)
    • By Nibric Stymes
    • Narrated By Russell Webster
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    In the ancient nerkshire town of gryme, a girl stands watching. She observes an old zookeeper approach and enter his dilapidated realm. She has been waiting for him. With a heavy heart, she recalls the joy and excitement of days gone by when, as a small child, she had been taken to the zoo by her father, to see the great wonders of the natural world. What awaits her now, however, is far from natural.…

  • An Unequal Marriage (






UNABRIDGED) by Emma Tennant Narrated by Anne Dover

    An Unequal Marriage

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Emma Tennant
    • Narrated By Anne Dover
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Mr Darcy and Elizabeth now have two children, Miranda and Edward. Miranda is a model daughter, well attuned to life at splendid Pemberley and, were it not for her sex, would make a perfect heir. Edward, alas, would not, and as he and his grandmother, Mrs Bennet, fall into the clutches of those who are not what they seem, awful questions arise about the succession at Pemberley - must the entail be broken and Edward disinherited, ending the Darcy line on the estate?