If you don't know the story of Mamah and Frank, don't Google it. I didn't and I did, and regretted having done so. It would have been more satisfying to let the book unfold without knowing the end.
This is an excellent audiobook. It brings to life a woman heretofore relegated to a footnote in the history of the brilliant and famous Frank Lloyd Wright. I think Mamah Borthwicke would be pleased.
The book dragged a bit somewhere around the middle, although this might have been because Googling it spoiled it a bit for me. But the ending was powerful, gut-wrenching, and I actually cried. After listening to Frank's letter to the Chicago Tribune -- which is an accurate rendering, btw -- I realized that like the Trib's readers, I had fallen into some shallow opinions of Mamah. This too, may account for the dragging I noticed.
This is a great read, treat yourself. Take stock at the end and ask yourself if you too, have judged Mamah as Frank charges. It's a stimulating exercise.
It was hard to read this book as anything other than a romance, bodice ripper type of novel. It certainly isn't up to the standards of Tan's previous works. Viewing it as a well written potboiler (is that a non sequitur?) allowed me to keep reading. Had I been looking for meaning, I would have put it down unfinished.
The characters are almost caricatures, who learn little if anything, and what they learn is predictable. Even the main characters aren't particularly likable, and it's hard to identify with them.
The plot is predictable, and long passages are just boring. This may be because it's larded with minutiae; some description is necessary, but Tan takes it to ridiculous, and somewhat dull, levels.
There are many passages where the reader can just skim through at a good clip, without losing anything necessary for comprehension.
The use of three narrators saves the book and weighted in the balance when I was deciding to stop reading or not. The breathe life into the characters, and add interest.
Overall, I don't recommend the book. I bought the companion Kindle,and without it, would probably not have finished the book. I did, but was glad to be done with it.
I've read all the books in this series, and was looking forward to this new release. What a huge disappointment. I've tried twice, and just can't finish it; it just doesn't hold my interest.
The plot is thin, and presented in a scatter-gun manner. The details are uninteresting: the whodunnit doesn't beg to be solved.
The characters are similarly uninteresting. Goldy, always a scatter brain, is no longer charmingly so; she's just irritatingly stupid.
The performance is similarly annoying. The sotto voce so often used is just boring.
Goldy has been a favorite for light reading since I picked up the first audiobook. This was to be a swing book between heavier reading, but I couldn't force myself to finish it. A light book should hold the reader's attention.
Redeemer might be another excellent book in the Harry Hole series, except that the narrator does such a poor job as to make the book hard to follow. I almost stopped listening several times, but it's Harry Hole, and I don't quit on Harry!
I know we're used to Robin Sachs, and I was entirely prepared to cut John Lee some slack because inevitably he'll be compared to Sachs. I'm sorry to say that after finishing the book, I'm not prepared to cut him any slack at all. His narration of this book was unacceptable, standing on it's own, without comparison to Robin Sachs.
John Lee doesn't do voices. This makes it difficult to follow the characters. The book skips between characters and places without transition, so I often found myself wondering which "he" was speaking, and where, and about who/what. The transitions weren't marked by pauses of suitable length either, again, making the book hard to follow. Many times I was simply lost, and kept rewinding until I thought maybe I was back in sync. Sometimes it wa just a lost cause and I had to plow on.
This is a shame, because there are good themes and good character development in this book. The title isn't empty, but a theme that runs throughout. In this book, Harry himself seeks personal redemption.
I found myself getting mad at Harry sometimes. Mad at his inability or unwillingness to get sober and stay sober. Maybe Harry's mad at himself for the same reasons, and that's one reason he seeks redemption. Decide for yourself, I won't give away the book!
We also wonder about the future of his love for Rakel, Is there a future at all?
This almost felt like it might be a last book in the series. I hope not.
If there is a next book, I do hope they'll try a different narrator
If you like the Bachelor Party movies, you might like this book. The book is absolutely silly with the flat, stereotyped characters stumbling from one hackneyed situation to another. If this is the best Dave Barry can come up with after 10 years, he needs to rethink his calling.
He should also rethink narrating his own audiobooks. His performance if somewhere between lousy and just OK.
I was looking for light fare to transition between books, but this certainly wasn't it. It's light, but not particularly amusing.
Had this been my first Jo Nesbo/Harry Hole book, it would probably have been the last. Harry isn't the same character he is in The Leopard, or The Snowman. He's much more tentative here, less forceful as a character. When he falls off the wagon, it's hard to keep going because he's not just a sloppy drunk, he allows himself to be physically damaged, with a foolish grin on his face. Hard to imagine the Harry of The Leopard behaving in such a manner, even when drunk. He's less self-aware, and less willing to challenge the authority of the police department.
The plot of the book is fairly simple, and the actual killer is easy to suspect very early on. Without giving it away, the manner in which the killer "gets his" is a surprise, but I had a feeling it was also a facile ending, one designed to appeal to a mass market.
The narrator, not Robin Sachs of the later books, saves this book. We hear the correct pronunciation of the both the author's and the characters names. Jo isn't Joe, but more like Yo. Nesbo is more like NesBuh. Hole isn't pronounced at all as spelled, but more like HullUh. His tone and pacing are excellent throughout. He differentiates the characters nicely.
Several times I was tempted to pull this out of my ear. I'm glad I didn't because it's the first book in the series, but it wasn't easy.
The Special Agent Pendergast series is character driven; he is a shadow of his former self in this book, and the character we've grown to love is largely absent until the last five minutes of the book. His motivation for this absence involves the back-story of his wife Helen. It's very hard to believe that Pendergast, as he's been constructed over the series, would be so blind to evidence generated by his own wife. His usual hyper-awareness seems totally absent for her; she is truly a blind spot, and yet it wasn't so in past books. This back-story provides the plot of the book, and Pendergast's motivation, and because we expect a lot more of him, it's disappointing.
This isn't one story line either. These other threads revolve around Constance, Corey and to a lesser extent, D'Agosta. They add nothing to Pendergast's mainline, and I wonder at their inclusion. Yes, it was interesting to fill in Constance's story, but unnecessary.
The main story is lackluster not only because Pendergast is out of character, but because the plot relies on grisly details in parts to move it along. There's a lot of stereotyping so that most of the characters are also one-dimensional.
Renee Auberjonois does an excellent job of narration. Without him, I'd have downgraded my overall rating to just two stars.
I hope that Preston/Child aren't making the same mistake made by Cornwell in the Scarpetta series. Eviscerating a popular character that has sold millions of books carries the risk that loyal readers will use their dollars in search of more deserving works. I've stopped reading Cornwell; I hope that won't be the case with the Pendergast series.
Classic Cussler action tale. Doesn't require a lot from the listener, and is fairly predictable. It's perfect to fill in between heavier fare. Relaxing and enjoyable.
Zoltan; he was a welcome addition to the usual cast of characters. A well trained, loyal dog is a delight in books as well as life.
Scott Brick's popularity mystifies me. He can't do accents at all, doesn't voice characters particularly well so the listener can differentiate among them, and he still doesn't moderate his voice well for different situations. He's obviously trying to correct these deficiencies (which I and other reviewers have noted in the past) and has succeeded in not making each line sound like a question. He's just OK for a Cussler potboiler, but definitely not for better writing.
It's enjoyable, but it wasn't so captivating that I couldn't hit the stop button.
This book is like the ham and onion sandwiches Dave and Clete eat a lot in this book. They are the two pieces of bread encasing the meat (ham) of the plot; this isn't an open face sandwich, the two pieces of bread are necessary and complimentary. The onion, strong and pungent, slightly funky, and likely to leave a taste in your mouth, are the lessons you may learn.
And it was a welcome addition to the series, after the Glass Rainbow. It picks up where that book ends.
No other author currently writing in the US does as good a job showing the friendship between two men. There is not a hint of homosexuality which seems to be a popular device. Their friendship isn't as understated as in previous books. It's the centerpiece of this one. In some places, it's almost painful as we, the reader, actually experience the emotions binding the two men. It was on display in Glass Rainbow, but here, the emotion is featured more than the action.
Burke also develops the character of Clete Purcel more fully in this book than in others. I was glad to see it, as Clete is my favorite character. We learn many new things about Clete; I won't say more because I don't believe in spoiling books through my reviews; it's also why I don't do plot summaries. They're available on Audible and many other sources. Clete's flaws and motivations are blunt. We get a clear glimpse into what makes Clete tick. It will stick with you, just like onions do.
And through the observations of Alafair and Gretchen, we also get a clear look at why Dave continues his relationship with a raging alcoholic. They are two pieces of bread cut from the same loaf.
Don't worry, there's plenty of action and the usual mayhem that characterize the series. Both Dave & Clete retain their ability for violence. Given their ages - I estimate them to be in their late 50's - one wonders how much longer these characters will endure. I was sure Burke had killed them off in Glass Rainbow. I suspect he will at some point and I'm not looking forward to it.
It can be easy to miss parts of an audiobook. I found myself rewinding to a part I was sure I read and understood before going forward. This book is that good. You don't want to miss a single word.
Burke's opinions on Angola prison, Louisiana politics, and the despoiling of Louisiana's natural beauty for profit, are more on display here than in any other book. They're onions in the sandwich.
Ever had a ham and onion sandwich? Me either, so I had to try it. I liked it, I hope you will too.
This is the perfect book to read while sipping your favorite libation on a hot beach. The plot moves well without requiring much from the reader, the narrator does a decent job, the characters fit into the plot but again, don't require emotional involvement from the reader.
The premise behind the plot is pretty weak. I found myself asking why Isaac Bell and the Dorn Agency were so worked up about the development of the first motion picture camera. Even when the reason is revealed, it doesn't yield the big AHA. That's why it's a good beach read -- it doesn't really matter.
The setting of the book on the Mauretania is perhaps the the most entertaining part of the whole book. The description of how the engines were fed by coal is detailed and paints a vivid picture of a hellish job in a nightmare environment.
I've listened to a lot of audiobooks narrated by Scott Brick, and have given him some scathing reviews. In this one, he succeeds in controlling his worst flaws as a reader. Every sentence doesn't end with an uptilt of his voice, making it sound like a question. His attempts at character accents are improved. He even tries to add emphasis rather than reading every sentence as if it's all of the same degree of gravitas.
All in all, this is light fare. It's mindlessly enjoyable and keeps the listener's interest. Don't look for anything more. If you're tired and looking for a filler before starting something more substantial, I recommend it.
There are over 400 reviews of the book; this one will touch on what I believe to be a new slant.
Should we really like Jack Reacher? Because in this book, he kills at least four times. One is arguably self-defense when faced with deadly force. But the other three are cold-blooded executions. Two of them he takes pains to conceal, so that his killing will be hidden to forensic evidence. One seems to be spontaneous, but the others are premeditated. I'm not going to give the character names because that would spoil the book (and I hate reviews that give away the book farm).
Yes, there's justification for three of them. The fourth is, in my opinion, questionable because the individual has not taken life but Reacher exacts that penalty anyway. What troubles me most is that in this book more than any other, Reacher is judge, jury, and executioner. He believes he has the facts and the moral justification to take these three lives. Several times the character clearly expresses his own lack of remorse for his conduct. It's applicable to his behavior throughout the series.
I like the books, and have read most of them. But this one makes me question my own taste! Should I really like this character? What does it say about me? What does it say about me if I keep on reading Reacher novels?
Maybe Child will save me from this moral dilemma by making this the last book in the series.
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