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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.
This is Yannick Murphy, sitting at her computer, typing out her novel with an unusual storytelling approach. This is Karen White, sitting in front of a microphone, excellently reciting the books to future listeners...And so goes this book.
"This is" (Murphy's literary technique for bringing the reader into the story as though examining series of individual photographs) will be ringing in your ears by the time you finish listening to this book. It's a rather different way to depict each character's moments as she moves the reader/listener through a story about a small community, more specifically the parents and teens who comprise a local swim team, who have been terrified by a murder that has occurred in their midst.
Most of the time, the use of "this is..." was quite effective, and seemed much like looking at a series of pictures (in fact one character is a photographer). But sometimes the old nursery rhyme, "This is the house that Jack built" kept echoing through my mind in the background in some eerie fashion (perhaps that is the point of all this--that we understand stories through our own memories of momentary observations).
The book was at times very interesting and engaging--characters are vividly depicted through the most mundane observations about them. The story itself is a complex weaving of thoughts, feelings, reactions from--at first--the parents and kids on a swim team, but eventually, even the killer. It felt as though one was inside many of them, understanding the situation from each of their perspectives. Chris, who worries that her husband is having an affair. Annie, absorbed with her brother's suicide, the killer who is obsessed with his next murder, and so on. These mothers are sitting on the sidelines, watching their daughters swim. But someone else is also watching the daughters swim, and soon the plot (and the things that absorb the community) will change dramatically.
In the end, I find it impossible to use words like "I liked" or "didn't like" this book. It is more to the point to say that I found myself very drawn into it, realizing how much we define ourselves by each moment's focus in our lives. This book is actually well worth the read, and I do not think I have done it justice in this brief description of it.
George Gideon is a superintendent in Scotland Yard, written (I believe) in 1955. Unlike most books that are contemporary, where the heroes seem often to be on the outs with their peers in some fashion, this book (much like the Ellery Queen mysteries) still depicts the police as admirable heroes, and the criminals as somewhat stereotyped "baddies."
This book is a bit interesting, because the author has taken a slice out of Gideon's life by making this all be about what a typical day is like for him. There are a couple of threads that go through the entire book--cases that are dangerous, important, must be given full attention with use of his forces and wits that provide the ongoing interest for the reader. But this book also humanizes him, as well as providing some back story, by having insight into his personal life which has a bitter-sweet quality to it. Gideon is portrayed as a tall, large man with good powers of observations and memory for details. He works at the Yard, and often delegates, but also feels the necessity of being on the spot with what is happening himself. He seems well-liked and respected by the other police, and appears to have earned his place with sharp, honest work.
What is different about this book, is that it is not one case that keeps the whole force tied up for weeks or months (though they are tackling cases that have that sort of history behind them). This is all portraying things that take place in a 24 hour period of time. I think it is the introduction to a series that will most likely be told in more the conventional way. Here, serious cases get taken on/solved, though the stereotyping is what one might expect for the time. It is quite interesting, actually. At first I had thought it might not be, but as I got into it, I found it was a good window into the mindset of the times, as well as having one or two threads running through the whole book, which hold it together. I would not exactly call this a mystery, it is more a police procedural story. In the end I enjoyed it, and now plan to find more. Recommend.
Although this book was filled with lots of details that gave a very thought-provoking window into the Indian culture, and I think most people would find that interesting, this still seemed like a "Chick Lit" kind of book to me. Or perhaps a story we'd see on the Hallmark Channel.
Suneel Sarath (known as Neel) is a doctor, educated in America, living and working in California, dating an American woman. However, his family really want him to marry a "good Indian girl," and so, when the chance arises to call him home to India (his grandfather is very ill) his mother and aunt seize the opportunity to connect him with Leila, a lovely young woman who, for various reasons, has been turned down by past potential Indian grooms, and who feels she will never be a bride. They do marry, but when they return to California, he has to decide what to do about his long-time girl friend Caroline (pronounced, she insists, "the French way"). This leads to his having something of a double life for a while, till things force the situation as the book moves toward it's end.
The good parts of this book are, that I enjoyed hearing about the Indian culture, the characters were interesting, and the story did move along. However, I felt that it was kind of predictable, the narration was a bit bland, and in the end, there was little about it that I'd call memorable (for myself, at least). It was a good listen--and worth the time, but not as deep or exciting as I had hoped when I purchased it. I think I was expecting something different. But if you are seeking a light summer read--this is well worth the credit.
P B Ryan has written this mystery series set in the 1860's wealthy area of Boston. Ryan parallels Nell's own entrance into the book with her assistance to Dr. Greaves who is managing a particularly difficult delivery. Afterwards, it turns out that the maid who gave birth doesn't want to keep the baby, so it is wealthy Viola Hewitt, wheelchair-bound, grieving the loss of two sons in the Civil War, who decides to adopt the infant. She hires Nell to be governess, and so the connections between Nell Sweeney and the Boston Brahmin Hewitts begin.
Very quickly into the story, there is a murder, and reason to think that William Hewitt, one of the sons long thought dead, is the killer. Viola is desperate to find out if it is her lost son, so secretly sends Nell to the jail to find out. This will eventually lead the curious Irish immigrant girl back into places she thinks she has gotten away from, as she cannot resist investigating the murder on her own.
This is a book I read previously, and enjoyed comparing the written version with the narrated one. In the beginning, I was not too fond of Leigh Ryan's reading of some of it. But as the book moves along, I think her narration gets much better. I find her voice a bit soft and gentle for parts of it, but she did very well with the Irish accents, and Nell herself. This is an interesting book, which is why I wanted to re-read (hear) it. I like the author's skill with dialogue, with creating good characters, maintaining a good flow and fascinating details, and just the right amount of tension. I think this is an excellent beginning to the series. Recommend!
The story itself was good enough and held my interest. A professional book binder goes on a tv antiques appraisal show in her capacity as specialist in valuing books. A woman brings in an old copy of "The Secret Garden," which Brooklyn Wainwright identifies as quite valuable, and Vera--it's happy owner-- confesses she purchased it recently at a garage sale and expresses interest in Brooklyn restoring it for her so she can sell it. Then things get dicey, because a violent man who says he had owned the book tries to frighten Brooklyn into giving it back to him, things are kind of tense in the studios where Randolph--who is in charge there--believes someone is trying to kill him. A murder does occur, and Brooklyn is drawn into helping to solve it.
I recognize that I read this book out of order in a series, so I'm just not going to comment much about the characters (though they seemed interesting and appear to be well-developed). What might keep me from going back and reading earlier ones, though, was the narrator. In most respects she was adequate--but she really did have a terrible time trying to do men's voices. I cringed at her reading of Derek (Brooklyn's significant other), because he was British, and she just could not capably capture either a man's voice or a British accent. If I do read another, it will be because I want to follow up on the story line--not due to the narrator.
This is one of the delightful series written in the '70's by Harry Kemelman that focuses on David Small, the rabbi of a conservative congregation in Barnard's Crossing, Massachusetts. Sometimes I hesitate before getting old books--but because I read all these in paper form "back in the day," I could recall how interesting they were.
In this book, Hurricane Betsy is in the background while one of the temple congregants is very ill, a pharmacist and his son have previously had a bitter dispute--leading to the son leaving home, and there are people who want to do some interesting real estate deals. All of these components are parts of the intrigue that arises out of what appears at first to be a patient taking medications for a treatable infection--and leads to murder. Several people are suspect, one in particular that Rabbi Small wants to help (as only he can do, using his particular knowledge of Talmudic law).
This series has a very good mix of personal and logical--with development of characters like Rabbi Small and his wife and son and the local chief of police as on-going characters. There tend to be different townspeople and temple congregants and boards of directors featured. But one thing that never changes is that the books are a wonderful combination of good story, intriguing mysteries, and fascinating look into the Jewish culture. I have always loved them--but finding that the incomparable George Guidall is narrating them brings them fresh life. Highly recommend!
Graeme Malcolm's narration carries the story in this episode of the Highland policeman who wants nothing more than to be left on his own turf, to take care of matters as only he can do best. However CI Blair has always been jealous of Hamish, and thinks up a plot he hopes will get rid of him at last. Since there is a movement to down-size the police force, Blair gets Cyril Sessions, a young policeman, to secretly follow Hamish, take pictures and document that he and his partner really do not do any work, in the hope that this evidence will get MacBeth removed from the force. Unfortunately, this will lead to a murder instead.
The fun of Hamish Macbeth books is always the characters more than the mystery (although that part is good, too). Hamish is a life-loving man, who doesn't take himself too seriously, does his job quite well in fact, but has little interest in doing anything that would take him up the ladder of promotions, because that might mean leaving his beloved town of Lochdubh. He loves the Highlands, the townspeople, his cat and dog, and wants nothing more than to do what he does best, where he is. That lack of ambition puzzles some and infuriates others, which is where much of the tension in the stories comes in.
This book is typical of most in the series, but it lacked a bit of the usual pizzazz, and I don't really know why. I love the narration of Graeme Malcolm, and that compensated for what I think is one of the weaker stories in the series. It is still good--I haven't read a bad Hamish MacBeth book ever. But would not call this Beaton's best. I would still recommend it to any faithful Hamish fan!
In my own mind, I kind of think of Agatha Christie mysteries as being sort of "A list" and "B list." To me, this book is on the "B list," but not because it is bad; only because it is not quite as wonderful as some others (I don't personally think there are any bad AC novels).
In this one, Poirot (along with Supt Battle, Col. Race and Ariadne Oliver--a mystery writer who one senses is created by Agatha in her own image) must solve an odd murder. Mr. Shaitana, a man who has boasted he can pick up on clues to people who have committed murder, invites the four sleuths, along with four other people, to play two tables of Bridge. Alas, the man who believed he could figure out who was a murderer quickly becomes the murder victim. And the hunt begins. Poirot cleverly uses the score sheets from the bridge game to ascertain who was playing the game at various times. But there are many more twists and turns till the murderer is revealed in the end.
I think High Fraser does a good job with the narration, and it is all the more fun since he played Captain Hastings in the Poirot TV series. This is a fun read. Agatha Christie is always a winner, and even though I read them all many years ago, I'm having a lot of fun listening to them again. Recommend!
I don't typically review kids' books. But we are just back from a vacation with our 5 & 7 year old grandkids--and we listened to this book, as well as "Henry & Beezus" and "Henry & the Clubhouse". They were all wonderful!
I'm so used to serious lit and adult mysteries, that it was a pleasant surprise and change of pace to listen to these. My husband and I found them as charming as our grandsons did. The kids never uttered a whimper of protest or "when are we going to get there?" during a fairly long car trip because they were just fascinated by the various adventures of Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy. There is also a lot of interaction with Beezus and Ramona Quinby (from the "Ramona the Pest" series).
These were originally published in the 1950's I think--and believe me when I say--they have lost none of their charm since then. Our kids read them a generation ago, and now our grandchildren are listening to them. There is something totally timeless about the way Beverly Cleary touches so perfectly on the behaviors and feelings and behavioral strategies of elementary school-aged kids.
Charming. Delightful. Amusing. Perceptive. Clever. Fun. Captivating stories. And here is a shout out to Neil Patrick Harris who narrated them all. If you want something for kids of this age range, you can't go wrong with the Beverly Cleary series. And this narration is simply wonderful! Though I don't read or listen to too many kids' stories these days--I highly recommend this series! Kids can totally relate to the situations that are described, despite the span of years since originally published.
I took a chance on getting this (first book) in a series, after having previously read a later one out of order, and thinking maybe I found it kind of lackluster was because I didn't have the background the first books would have provided. So it turns out that that was sort of correct--I liked this one considerably better than the other one, but it still had a quality of seeming like an over-long listen.
Alex Plumtree is desperate to keep his publishing house going, and is depending upon a mystery writer whom he knows as "Arthur" to provide him with the remainder of a best selling novel about kidnapped children. Except there is beginning to be suspicion that this might not be fictional, but true. Furthermore, where is Arthur? He, and the missing end of the manuscript have disappeared. So it is a really good setup for a book. Dangerous things begin to occur and Alex is beginning to wonder who is trustworthy?
I think two things kept this book from being more interesting (to me). For one thing, it seemed longer than necessary, but more importantly, I didn't feel as if the characters (however well drawn they were) were that interesting (some more than others). The other concern was that Alex is portrayed as a rather young man, someone who is physically fit and has love interest, but my ears heard the narration making him sound more like an older man in the part, which left a disconnect in my listening experience somehow. But that is only my own opinion, others may not hear it that way. The premise of the book is interesting, and it has lots of places that are interesting, but it just seemed to be a little too stretched out somehow. Could have used a bit more editing. Better than I had expected, less engaging than I had hoped for. And I did like it better than the other one in the series I read previously.
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