this is the book for YOU! I bought it as a general interest travel narrative, and it does work as that, although at some points better than others.
Part 1 struck me as the least "general interest" section, as the author spends much of that time alone on the high seas in the middle of nowhere, although there are (eventually) stops in the Marquesas, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, etc.
Part 2 is largely concerned with Australia, both sightseeing on land, and sailing its vast coast, finishing up with the trip to Arabia, with a lengthy stopover in Sri Lanka.
Part 3 covers the most in terms of miles - Arabia to California, via the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Panama Canal. Starts out with adventures in avoiding pirates (he never really is threatened, though friends have a lot less luck) from Arabia to Israel, through the Suez Canal. Stops, including sightseeing trips, in Israel, Italy, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, and Trinidad, until the not-so-simple Canal crossing, and home to San Diego.
Michael's a really nice fellow, without being particularly sappy about it, making lots of friends along the way; he uses the convention of referring to them by their boats' names ("Beatrice" etc.) and as he meets up with some after a long absence from the story, that did get a tad confusing at times. He's also quite a foodie, so it wasn't exactly hardtack and sardines for him; at one point he has so much surplus fish he makes a quantity of "fish jerky" out of it all! He did a terrific job in picking out the highlights of the trip, so things never really dragged for me, as I'd feared they might.
Parker's narration works quite well in terms of maintaining enthusiasm, although I wish he'd done (more) prep work in getting place names correct, as at times it was almost painful to hear him get some wrong.
Final verdict: definitely recommended!
When it was good, I really got into the author's depictions of Russian culture, but when it was not ... we're talking "Rich Peoples' Problems: Moscow" as a reality show, which is just the teensiest bit difficult to identify with. Your Mileage May Vary here, so AYOR as they say (At Your Own Risk).
Author's self-narration worked fairly well here, which isn't usually the case.
An excellent travel narrative of the nation, beyond the tourist zones of Jakarta and Bali. Pisani visits some fairly remote areas, running across ethnicities that even the folks in the cities aren't aware of themselves ("It's all 'tribal' out there ..."). While she does a great job in relating stories that weren't so funny at the time, but she can laugh at them now (such as going back into a quicksand-like mudhole to retrieve a sandal out of sheer determination); however, the sections of the legal system, and ecological problems, were a bit grim.
Definitely recommended for an insight into the country from a westerner who has spent serious time there, speaking the language fluently. Audio narrator was well-matched to the material.
Most of this book is a fairly evocative description of pre-war Romania, tough to read in hindsight knowing that a decade later the places he visited were (largely) reduced to wasteland. Still, that's true of continental settings of the period. I was struck how Sitwell freely refers to poor agricultural workers as "peasants"; would he object to poor, rural Englishmen being called that? Hmmm ... I wonder ...
During the travels, he has rather ... uncharitable things to say about the Jewish "masses" he observes, but those can be (grudgingly) chalked up as ignorant, Victorian-era generalizations, the occasional nasty, noisome belch. However, the last section focuses on what he calls the "Jewish question" - what to "do" about the millions of Hasidim in Eastern Europe? He suggests relocating these unproductive, backward folks to somewhere remote, such as Madagascar or South America. Although never coming close to a "final" solution, I was left wondering how much he regretted the one that was implemented?
Audio narration is excellent.
I found the narrator's European accent (Iberian Spanish) made the story a bit hard to follow. In a nutshell, it's an old man's quandary of reconciling a sense of obligation and desire, where he can't do both. So, not a whole lot actually "happens" in the book.
even if 50% of the information is true, there must be something there. That's kind of how I felt about this one, given the author's admitted hatred of Democratic politics. I like President Obama, though have felt frustrated by his "hands off" approach to the actual political process, until recently at least. In a sense, I can't argue that the White House team did behave amateurishly in terms of letting their opponents define them on issues.
I'm no fan of the Clintons either, though I felt Hillary managed her best to bring her people to the nominee's side for a 2008 win. I've never been a fan of Bill since he appeared on the national scene in 1992 - ugh. Here, he's bitter and obsessed over the way he and Hillary have been treated by the Obamas since 2008. Supposedly, his 2012 all-out effort on behalf of Obama was motivated by fantasies of a "third term" (his, or Hillary's, they'll have to thrash out if and when it happens), with Obama obliged to strongly support Hillary from the moment she announces (which the author absolutely asserts she will). I was left unsure whether such an agreement really existed, or is something Bill felt was implied?
The bottom line is that the un-named sources were likely present during the events, giving (relatively) accurate reports for the book, even if spun rather ... dramatically.
So, I found the book worth reading, even if the author's bias did intrude a lot. Of the four principals, Hillary came off as the most sympathetic, and Barack as the most negative, with his aloof manner, allowing himself to be duped by the modern day Rasputin, Valerie Jarrett. I had a very hard time reconciling the largely upbeat-in-interviews Michelle with the entitled prima donna she is portrayed as having become; the truth must be a little of both, but how much I couldn't say.
Most of the book consists of re-hashes of daily meetings of the president and congressional figures over the debt ceiling crisis, with balanced re-hashing from all sides' points of view.
I read this one after the others, even though it's set earlier in the series, so was a bit confused; I kept thinking Brenda was home recuperating from the stress of the most recent story. I see it was written in 2012, but I wasn't aware of the book until its release as an audio book.
Unfortunately, the audio edition drags down an otherwise so-so plot. The narration is just awful! I stuck it out from determination to see if the story might be worth it - not really; I ended up regretting I hadn't read a print copy instead. Instead of the voice of Buffalo native Jeff, we get a guy who sounds more like he spent his life in the New Jersey suburbs. Richard seems a bit of a well meaning, loyal sidekick, whose main feature is to be a handy doctor when needed, as well as being rich enough to splash money around as needed.
I didn't care who committed the murder, as I found the suspects largely a boring lot. Jeff's psychic ability, which comes into play regularly (more than I recall from the other stories) was the redeeming feature for me.
This one is definitely NOT a stand-alone at all. Read the first book to understand Jeff's background, and Richard's. This one adds nothing to the series as I don't recall these events affecting later plotlines.
Simon Prebble's narration was fine, but didn't make these stories stand out at all ... they were just sort of ... there. Final one I found a bit creepy, and hard to believe.
First of all, many listeners will find the American narrator's voice a complete deal-breaker; however, that wasn't a problem for me. I did notice at one point Holmes calling their young female client "My dear", something ACD's Holmes would never have done. The story itself was okay, though as others have mentioned, brief with a beginning and end, but no real middle section. So, I'm open to reading another, but not in any hurry at all about doing so.
I have to agree with a reviewer who said he found the author's regular "We're not a 'couple'!" protestations a bit off-putting; moreover, the audio narration came of as a bit effete to me, which didn't help in that regard.
As a travel narrative, it was okay, although there was a fair amount of emphasis on the other hikers they met as part of the story; that aspect didn't fully work for me. There's much juvenile humor, unfortunately made worse by the narration as well. I suspect the print version might be a full three stars, with 2.5 for the audio edition. I will say the writing itself is fairly good in terms of flow, so it's not a matter of needing "editing" as such.
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