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I was tempted to say I was blown away by this sensitive and informative book about the inner minds and emotions of animals. But I'm not really. For anyone who loves and respects animals, this is more a confirmation of what we may have suspected than a surprise.
Virginia Morrell does a wonderful job of explaining some of the ways humans have been discouraged from believing in the intelligence and emotional connections of animals. She then goes on to explore case after case where people (scientists usually) who have spent great time studying certain kinds of animals have learned about what creative, intelligent and interactive lives they have. (Think Jane Goodall, but with every species...insects, birds, fish, mammals...)
In the beginning she states that we study animals' minds as a "better way to share the earth with our fellow creatures." And as she lays out her findings, one is repeatedly reminded that they *are* our fellow creatures.
This book may leave hunters, lab experimenters, even maybe just meat eaters re-thinking some of their positions. But whether that happens or not, it is undeniable that the book will leave you feeling amazed and far more respectful of our other animal kin.
Kirsten Potter does an excellent job of narrating, but I did find myself wondering what it might have been like if the author had read it herself. I am sure I will listen to this over and over.
In most books, I have to listen for a while to get all the characters and situation in my mind. In this one, I was hooked almost from the first sentence. I'd had this in my library for a while, and passed it by, not feeling inspired by the notion of an amnesiac detective trying to solve a separate, different crime. What astonishment I felt when I realized that this is one of the best-crafted, well thought out, engaging and wonderfully narrated mysteries I've encountered in quite a long time.
Anne Perry, who wrote this many years ago,has assembled a challenging story of a double mystery (Monk's own identity and that of a murder) in a way that is neither overly complicated to follow nor challenging to one's belief system. I had thought the premise might have been a bit over the top, so avoided this book. Don't do it! This is a great book--one that I find notable for both it's writing style and it's good mystery.
I believe the beginning, the unfolding of how Monk discovers that he doesn't know who he is, is exceedingly interesting, credible, and works so very well with the story as a whole. His search for his own identity is taking place as a quiet, private matter while he works a very public case for the "Peelers" (newly formed police department in Victorian era London).
Many people have already written reviews about this--I want to echo the ones that praise it. Perry's weaving of the two plots in and out is very skillful and very rarely strayed into a forced conversation or interaction between characters to get to where she was leading the reader (listener). Just for the actual skill of assembling this book I would give it 5 stars. The narration by the excellent Davina Porter is a plus that just put it over the top for me. I only wished it could have been longer--I didn't want it to end! Highly recommend!
I am enjoying listening to the books of Martha Grimes which I read in paper form many years ago. With this book, she has shifted her tone a bit--there is less emphasis on the silliness of some of the characters (though that is there a bit) as she has crafted this mystery around a more serious social/ethical concern--animal abuse.
I think Grimes appropriately down-played the amusing characters (such as Aunt Agatha, Melose Plant's impossibly pompous and irritating relative) so as not to detract from what I presume was her intent to blend the usual good mystery with attention to animal needs and rights.
This book begins with pets mysteriously disappearing and dying, and one of the main characters is a young girl who has dedicated herself to trying to rescue abandoned or injured animals. Against this background, murder occurs in the oddest way--and is discovered by Polly Praed, who calls in Melrose Plant and their friend from Scotland Yard, Richard Jury... and the detecting process begins.
Does this mixture of a mystery for reading enjoyment mix well with commentary on a serious ethical concern? Well, yes and no. Yes, because she has worked the plot around it sufficiently well to have an interesting story, but maybe not totally because (as much as I genuinely believe in and support her message) it felt a little forced. I would have preferred her point to have been a bit more subtle. I hate to make any criticism of Martha Grimes--I so enjoy all she has written, so please don't let that keep you from reading this book. I would say that if her emphasis on the plight of animals was a little heavy-handed, her heart was in the right place. The message is important. The book is good and I quite recommend it.
In many ways this book is a story of closeness and distance. Twin brothers are born joined at the head--and though soon separated, have a special closeness for the rest of their lives, regardless of time, emotions and geography that eventually separate them. Raised by two doctors in Ethiopia--after their mother dies soon after their birth and their surgeon father disappears, Marion and Shiva's lives are impacted by the political events around them, their early years raised in a hospital environment, and their eventual separation (again--this time not by circumstances forced by their being conjoined at birth but by choice) and reconciliation. The back stories weave themselves in and out through the chapters, especially aspects of their father who, even though apart from them, has deeply impacted their lives.
Abraham Verghese has written a book that is almost impossible to stop listening to. This is one that I know I will come back and listen to again in the future, so filled was it with not only a deeply engaging and well-flowing (at times anxiety-provoking) story, but a sense of something almost magical about the atmosphere, the detailed descriptions of everything--especially the medical aspects--which are clearly a central part of the book, and the emotional connections among the characters. Excellent narration by Sunil Malhotra. This is a book which feels to me as though it should very well enter the halls of classics in time.
This was my first book by Arnaldur Indridason and I'll admit that at first I was drawn to it because I so love to listen to George Guidall's narration, so thought I would try it. I haven't read too many Icelandic novels, so didn't know what to expect. Happily--the result was unexpectedly good.
It begins with the uncomplicated-appearing murder of an old man in Reykjavík. There are a couple of clues that give it an odd sense, but Inspector Erlendur cannot yet imagine what he will be facing as he and his police team set out to try to solve it. This mystery has so many twists and turns that it stays moving at a good pace. The settings change over the course of the story, so that it has a feeling of wandering into entirely unexpected territory, ultimately that which deals with the name of the book (Jar City).
I will have to say that listening to unfamiliar Icelandic names was hard (even with a really helpful explanation of them in the beginning), but the story was well told. It related a bit about Erlendur's personal life (which I assume will be developed in subsequent books), but in general, just a good mystery. I would not give it 5 stars, but it was solidly good with what seems like potential to develop into something even better.
Georges Simenon, a Belgian writer in early 20th century, wrote many novels--perhaps most notably the Commissaire Jules Maigret series. Maigret is a detective in the French police, and he seems to find his criminal without using the customary procedural methods, but just following his own instincts.
In this book, the first in the series, Maigret is seeking a criminal who eludes him most cleverly. He seems to appear everywhere, only to be elsewhere instead. It begins with Maigret examining a body in the lavatory of a train, who looks like the man he is chasing, but he finds that Pietr has escaped, which begins his pursuit of him in many cities.
The writing is plain, lacking some of the exciting twists and turns of later detective stories, but fun because Simenon has created a character with a distinct personality (his pipe, his hat, his individualized way of pursuing his adversary). He tends to seek "the crack in the wall," meaning he uses a bit of psychology--waiting until he can observe his criminal in a way that shows the parts the man would not have liked to reveal about himself.
This is a very good translation of this book. And the narration is excellent. Recommend to those who enjoy books from the early era of detective fiction.
I never grow tired of the books by Patrick Taylor, and narrated by John Keating, about Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, the sometimes crusty, often surprisingly kind old doctor who takes care of a delightful group of villagers in Ballybucklebo. He began his career in the poorest area of Dublin, where he met the nurse Kitty O'Halloran, whom he loves but does not marry for the next 30 years.
I cherish the stories that Taylor weaves in and out of his books--and this one gives us a look at the newly married O'Reillys, with contrasting flashbacks between the village where he practices now (at the time of this story--which I think is in the 1960's) and the earlier time in Dublin. If you have listened to all the books up till now, you will feel as though the characters are people you would love living amongst. Taylor's gift is to give what feels like wonderfully thorough depictions of the deep humanness of those who move in and out of these stories--with all their idiosyncrasies and quirks.
Although this is (I think) the 8th book in the series--and it might help to have listened to others, it is not necessary. Each stands alone very well--and I might add, that even within the books themselves, different stories move in and out so that this whole series is somewhat a collection of vignettes about the movements (and ailments) of people who become (or usually remain) very much alive on the pages of his stories. I always feel I have been drawn into the tales in a very satisfying manner.
I have read a couple of reviews that suggest this book is not quite up to the standard of past ones. I don't know--maybe there is some truth to that, but I still love it as much as every past book--and I hope there are many more in the pipeline for readers (listeners) who love them. And I have never read one of these in paper form--so to me, John Keating *is* Dr. O'Reilly and all the others. I doubt I would want to read them, so much do I enjoy his narration!
Oh Bertie, Bertie, Bertie! He is so innocently devoid of any common sense! He follows his social callings (hence the name, Code of the Woosters) without any consideration for what he's getting himself into, nor idea of how to extricate himself (and sometimes his friends) from the silly dilemmas they get themselves into. However, there is always Jeeves, the miraculously competent and clever "gentleman's gentleman" who quietly provides the rescue every single time.
In this case, in addition to Bertie's helping his best friend with his love life, he is forced to help his aunt obtain an item from an antique shop at a lower cost by pretending to eye it beforehand while uttering disparaging remarks about it to the shop owner. If only it had been that simple. The entire thing turns into a comedy of errors as the object turns up elsewhere and has to be retrieved by subterfuge (or so they believe). The result is a laugh out loud scramble for the possession, which, of course, only Jeeves can resolve through his background resourcefulness.
P.G. Wodehouse is, of course, the most famous English author who ever took on the pomposity and sometimes silliness of the English aristocracy. He does it in such a light-hearted way that one does not feel he meant to be hurtful, but merely to poke a bit bit of innocent fun and perhaps show the contrast between people with nothing but idle time on their hands and the harder working classes. These books have found their way into the classic realm (at least as far as I'm concerned), and I like to read/listen to them when I've just had a bit much of the serious stuff in life. The narration of Jonathon Cecil seems just perfect to me. I so enjoy this book (and all Wodehouse books), and hope you will too.
This was a very interesting book. I have long been interested in Chaucer as well as that entire period in history. I have only an average person's knowledge about the times, but very much wanted to hear more. John Gardner has written a great book--I listened at a leisurely pace over two nights--hearing about who Chaucer was, how involved he was in government, how he was cared about by others, and his place in literary history. There is a lot of insight into his writings and details of his life I found fascinating.
I want to emphasize that this is a truly good book--one that is worth the read. But if you are hoping to hear the excerpts of Chaucer's written works in the way you might have read them yourself as modernized translations, you'll have to be fluent in the Old English language instead. That was lovely and melodic, I tried very hard to understand what I could take in between just listening and my knowledge of the works of Chaucer (in modern English).
But at some point in the book, early on, there was a comment by the author that there was a glossary at the end of the book that translated the unfamiliar OE words into modern English. I felt a loss that Audible did not (to my knowledge) do anything to provide a link to a site somewhere where we could do that. I still think the book is worth 5 stars--it was well-written by a man who has a treasure's worth of information, and the narration was lovely--I really enjoyed the sounds of the Old English, and tried to use my limited knowledge of Chaucer's works to fill in what I could. What I was not able to understand (of the passages he quoted) I enjoyed, simply because the sounds were lovely. And I think that it was worth it, not having full understanding--I got to listen in a different way. Just wish Audible had made that part clear (or else this book might have been written for people the author assumed were more familiar with the Old English versions. But I don't think so, since it mentioned a glossary). Hopefully Audible can correct this--give us access to the glossary somewhere? I still recommend this as a lovely listen (to the Old English passages, just as they are) and information about Chaucer himself.
This is a novel which, by turns, reveals the agony of love, grief, and movement into madness. It begins with a dreamy, brief scene depicting Arthur Winthrop, a headmaster in a Vermont boarding school, with his wife and small son, enjoying a family moment in Central Park. This scene is told in a way that evokes sense of a lovely impressionist painting. This is quickly followed by an abrupt shift, Arthur having been arrested for nudity in the park, and now being pressured by the police for an explanation. Only his mind is a jumble of confused memories.
Told in three parts, with only the first is related by Arthur himself, as he reveals to the listener an escalating plunge into confusion and loss of self control, losing his grip on the steady reserved life he has previously led. He says he is seeking "eternal truth," but the listener is witness to a man losing his hold on reality.
This is a story told through flashbacks, first and third person viewpoint, and a great deal of poetic language providing the atmosphere and mood. We piece it together as the author gives us glimpses into the slow decompensation of a man's mind.Although Arthur is far from an admirable character, I felt compelled to want to learn what led to his dissolution, and what follows is a revelation of events that clarify emotions so powerful that they are, to him, almost incomprehensible. The narration is quite good. It is a challenge to write a review without saying things that would give too much away. However, I found this a very intense story, well-written and well read.
Robert Goldsborough has done a very credible job of reviving the the old Nero Wolfe series. I imagine Rex Stout would greatly approve. In this book, Hale Markham has been killed. He was a popular university professor of political science, who was far right in his leanings. However, he had plenty of colleagues who were quite liberal, who had their own reasons for wishing him out of the picture.
The book is a hoot to listen to. Rex Stout and now Goldsborough both managed to create characters who almost slide into being caricatures of types of people. I think this one succeeds very well. Although there is always a good mystery in Nero Wolfe books, I laughed out loud in a couple of places. Especially when the man who first approaches Wolfe to take the case appears. He is portrayed as being a pompous academic, overly full of himself, and sort of a walking thesaurus. Wolfe, himself, tends to be given to using erudite language, and this book is worth the credit, just to listen to the first scene where there is this hilarious mockery of grandiose language (the author's mockery of people who can't seem to speak in simple words).
My only discomfort comes from Archie and Wolfe being so modernized. I still think of them in the 50's and 60's, so it comes as a tiny shock when they are finding clues in computer files. I mean, technically, this would actually make Archie and Nero--what?--in their 80's or 90's? But if that doesn't bother you, count on this being a light, charming book, with the same great characters doing the same outstanding sleuthing that we all remember from the originals.
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