Allen, TX, United States | Member Since 2006
The title, and first 30 minutes of listening may lull you into thinking you've got a cozy little mystery, but do not be fooled! This book moves abruptly into child abuse, madness, kidnapping, murder and many other horrors. The story is compelling, with complex characters and plot twists, but it is often overshadowed by the stilted dialogue. Her characterization of a couple married more than 40 years is awkward and reserved. The author seems to pause the story periodically to stand on various soap-boxes regarding a number of worthy social causes, but they are weird breaks in the story telling and don't serve the book. The narrator uses an artificially low-pitched voice for the main character, making her a bit irritating when the listener should feel sympathetic. She does a far better job with other characters. I'd recommend it for the overall story, but be prepared to overlook some awkward writing.
If you enjoy Greek history and are curious about the figures who make that historic period memorable, this may be the book for you. After a number of "Who Dunnits?" and thrillers, I was in the mood for something unique. and so enjoyed this book a great deal. I can't imagine that I would always want something this dense, however. The story is of the rise of Marcus Cicero, a major figure in oratory, politics and theatre, told from the viewpoint of his slave/servant, who he apparently treated as a trusted secretary. (According to the tale, the secretary invented shorthand!!) The book takes the Golden Age of Greece out of the hands of those who would make it Olympian, and illustrates that the characteristics that make today's public figures interesting were also the characteristics that make Julius Ceasar and others in the story fascinating. The narrator was excellent and made each character, and there were many, unique.
I always enjoy the adventure/religious symbology of Dan Brown's novels, and did so again in this book, BUT... the first 15 minutes of the listen was exactly what I expect he turned in to Ron Howard and Tom Hanks as a treatment for the next Robert Langdon film. The writing throughout was very cenematic (not necessarily a bad thing, but obvious). The characters were believably" in our worst nightmares," and the descriptions of Florence and Venice were beautifully realistic. Brown had a story to tell, but has chosen to fill up the pages with snippets of art and religious history to bring the story to novel length, it seems. 30 minutes could be cut from the length of the tale if he reduced the number of times he describes the same watery cave. All-in-all, a reasonably good experience, but not up to the standards of the previous in the series.
Hasidic Jews typically keep themselves separate from everyone, including other Jews, so naturally, as a Protestant, I knew little about them, but have always been interested. Billed as a "memoir," this book presents Deborah Feldman's life as a Hasidic child, growing into a questioning (and thus, disobedient) woman in a narrative style that reads like good psychological fiction. I won't give away the ending so that you can enjoy this journey along with Deborah. I hope she continues to write, whether about her life or other topics.
A pretty good "who done it" for any generation, but made far more interesting through the lens of 17th century witch fears and a picture of the real role of the hangmen of the period. Who knew they had families and lived regular lives? Although not gratuitous or overly gruesome, the violence is a bit shocking, but apparently accurate for the era. Recommended for lovers of historic fiction and mysteries.
We've all read/listened to books in which a seemingly perfect family has a crisis, which causes lots of secrets to unravel. This is NOT one of those books! Well, yes, I guess it is, but with carefully developed characters and a complex plot line that is unlike anything in this genre I have ever read. Some of the bad guys commit heroic acts. Some of the good guys commit unforgivable acts. The story could have come to a conclusion several times and still have been satisfying, but Lisa Garder milked every ounce of drama she could out of the situation. There are a number of pivotal characters, so pay attention at the beginning: You'll need the information before it's over! Elisabeth Rodgers does a fine job of switching between the first person narration of Libby and the third person objective story-telling with dialogue of everyone else. A really compelling experience!
I am not familiar with this author beyond this writing, so can't compare this book to her other work, but it is an odd package: compelling story told in a serial fashion with each character telling the tale from their own viewpoints. Interesting. Several climactic events which change the course of people's lives in ways the reader can believe might have happened, but with a bit of operatic flare. Also interesting. One character is not what he/she appears to be to the family until emotions flare. Interesting again. ...and then it stops. No resolution of any character's situation. No moral conveyed. No one either has a happy ending OR gets their "just desserts." It just quits in the course of a scene. Wholly unsatisfying.
This is one of those books for which you really must be "in the mood" to enjoy. Of course, it's hard to know how that mood can be described, because I THOUGHT the story was about one or two fairly obvious things, but about 10 hours into this 14.5 hour tale, I realized that the book was about something else entirely! I wont give away the story by telling you that the tale is an intersecting story of the lives of 3 sets of people in contemporary Switzerland: an American high-rolling call girl, the mentally simple bell-ringer in a midieval cathederal and a British....what? Spy? Consultant? Posing as a security consultant to the International Olympic Committee. As the tale unfolds, we find who he is, but that's part of the twist. I recommend this book to anyone who likes the juxtaposition of reality and mysticism, and the idea that they just may not be that far apart.
This is a wierd one: a really interesting story with unique characters and a fascinating outcome, but told with really sophomoric dialogue. I was initially interested because the lead character is, like me, a music therapist. Not your typical mystery character. She has some personal history and gifts that make her really unique in the police procedural world. I was able to get past the 8th grade description of the drama and the dialogue between this PhD psychologist and the FBI agents until, at the height of the dramatic action, while jumping over gulfs to save a man, she says to an agent,"if you drop me, you'll not be my favorite person." throughout the last 20 minutes, there are a variety of laughable varieties of this memorable phrase: "I want you to die and be on your way to hell." I don't think I'll listen or read the rest of the series. It really needs a better writer. Cudos to the narrator who made a valiant effort to make dumb dialogue seem dramatically compelling.
A refreshingly new approach to the action "hero" who happens to be a woman. Monroe cares about right and fairness, but doesn't mind getting her hands VERY dirty in the process of achieving it. A wonderfully flawed character who tries to keep her work as "just a job," but can't manage it, as her inner life is so complex. Fighting her own demons and fighting the bad guys are all in a days work. The story literally covers the globe and introduces us to lawyers, oil men, mercenaries, child victims, government officials and....Vanessa. One of the freshest characters I've read lately. Caveat: LOTS of vividly described violence, but not unnecessary to the story. I am usually hard on narrators who can't do dialects, but have nothing but praises for Hillary Huber: male, female, African, French, Standard American, Southwestern--she does it all beautifully.
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