After many weeks on the best-seller lists, I expected a merely artsy story, but I was delighted to find a novel worthy of Dostoyevsky, rich with full-blooded, flawed characters who semi-connect with each other and the semi-criminal world we live in. The narrator has an amazing range of voices with distinct personalities, not just accents but emotional persona. The author, a middle-age woman, does an extraordnary job of creating realistically reckless young men. Oddly, her female characters are thinner. The only flaw to my mind was the closing chapter, a redemption of the sort imposed by Victorian publishers.
This is a sly futuristic tale without being dystopian. The style morphs from bare-bones homey, to comedy-of-manners, to thriller, somehow making the story of a teen daughter of professors and sabotage in the reference library interesting. Nice dry satire of academic and feminist lifestyle, as our girl finds her true self.
Sacks thoughtfully reveals how strange music appreciation is, by presenting many examples of unusual musical perception. In addition to dysfunctions related to accidents and illness, he describes the quirks of "earwigs", perfect pitch and color-sensed tones. Neurology still does not explain how acoustics are connected to emotions, or how simple rhythm is physically compelling. Nevertheless, it makes you think about what your brain is doing when you listen to music.
Hornblower's command of a tiny ship engaged in the stressful and boring task of blockading Brest during the Napoleonic war is surprisingly engaging. Particularly when he is prone to seasickness and bouts of doubt about his personal and professional life. The story is a convincing tale of how a competent guy with a bit of cautious initiative and courage can do important work when the opportunity presents itself.
This book proves that it is difficult to write a good book about a halfwit orphan growing up in NAZI Germany. It has the flavor and starkness of depression-era and post-war German fiction. I gave up half-way through -- perhaps it got better.
The gritty fight by a vastly outnumbered Aussie militia to stop the Japs from crossing one of the worst jungles in the world to threaten Australia is one of the smaller battles of WWII. The day-by-day, person-by-person accounts from both sides keeps up interest in an obscure historical event. The Aussie fighters are occasionally portrayed a bit too heroically, bordering on wartime propaganda, but the scorn for distant and bungling military command rings true. Both sides lost more than half their men fighting for a tiny outpost on a footpath in the middle of New Guinea, a awesome example of men at war.
The notion of bonding a PTSD cop with a PTSD dog in a thriller was attractive to me as a sometime dog-resuer. But, the plot is a bit contrived and the characters, including the dog, rather one-dimensional.
This story is a gem of plausible circumstances that carry a home-hobby mechanic of mini-mechanisms around the world to rescue the inheritance of his orphaned niece, aided by the kindness of strangers and a vivid set of circumstances and characters. The physically accurate descriptions of the fussy steps in manipulating a wide variety of devices ranging from sailboats to sawmills provide engineering authenticity as well as plot action. Read with the excellent expression and gravitas of Frank Muller, this gentle tale of humanity entangled with technology would make a great feel-good movie.
The plot is an extravagantly violent adolescent magical fantasy (not necessarily a bad thing), which is truly enriched by a reader who makes the characters sound bigger-than-life with a rich repertory of pitches, pronunciations and pacing. It's rare to hear one person voice as many distinct characters as a Disney animated movie.
A nice adventure into magical police and the gods of the Thames in modern London, with well developed out-of-control complications.
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