I've followed David Sedaris for years and seen him speak twice. Before this book, his recent material included a lot of parables starring animals. They were not to my taste, I was disappointed that his work was heading in that direction. I'm so happy he is back. This book is filled with new yet classic Sedaris material with stories of his travels, his childhood, and his family. This book is a little darker than his past works, it feels a little more raw, but that doesn't make it any less great. I enjoyed this book like getting back in touch with an old friend.
Be incredible? Really? I wish ALL the characters of this book would have taken that advice. The first part of the story is good. Meeting Teresa, the mom who has cancer is great. The characters around her and her relationships are great. But I lost interest during the rest of the 3/4 of the book.
If you are like me, you are interested in this book because you loved Wild. Strayed's style is in here. It's in here in the shocking, raw things that the characters do because they are flawed and because of their grief. I liked those moments. Where this book failed though was redeeming those characters and making them likable. In Wild, Cheryl obviously is super likable and does things and shares things that made me like her including and because of her flaws--I liked her because of her complete-ness.
The characters in Torch were selfish and narcissistic and shallow and single faceted in their flawed-ness. I had no reason to cheer for them, they were just kind of lame.
The end of the story was the worst part. It just fizzled as the characters continued to have things happen to them and as they just stumbled through their mediocrity.
I also did not like Cheryl as the narrator. She had an annoying lilt in the way she finished each sentence that got tedious.
I hope Strayed writes more books. Fiction or non-fiction, I'll read (listen to) it, because I like her style and I think she'll only grow as a writer.
I don't recommend this book.
I really enjoyed this book, but I had to alter my expectations away from "horror." I was bracing for a scary story based on the description and some of the early reviews. I was picturing IT, The Shining, etc. It's classic Stephen King, but it's more in the line of the Green Mile, or 11.22.63 style.
The story is great. I became interested and totally invested almost right away. King is a master story teller which is why I can enjoy his books no matter which way they go. The character development of the main character Jamie was deep, extensive, and very interesting. I liked him and even more, liked his relationships and interactions with all the other characters. That's what drives this story is the people. I was interested in what happened to them without wavering, and was interested right up until the end.
Pastor Jacobs is a great antagonist. He is a great vehicle for the creepiness. He has the hubris, and the lack of humanity that kept me on the edge of my seat. He remained unpredictable which helped create a great pace to the story and kept me guessing.
Why only 4 stars? I love the book, but it could have had more. It could have been creepier, Jacobs could have been a little more evil, or there could have been a side-kick to Jacobs that could have been really evil that would have created a little more action.
The ending was good. It was worthy of the rest of the story and worthy of the characters. I enjoyed the ending.
I loved Morse as the narrator. I've already looked at other books he narrates for, I like him enough to seek him out. While I was listening, I took note that Morse's voice for Jacobs was perfect. He made him sound overly patient, a little patronizing, and a little edgy, he really brought Jacobs to life for me.
I would recommend this book.
This is a story that truly "unfolds." There are tons of layers that reveal themselves that made me more and more invested as I got to know Ruddy and Alan and Katie.
Just when I thought that I knew how the story was going to go, a small twist or a new fact was revealed that delighted me and kept me super interested.
The writing is great. The author, Cameron, is funny without feeling like he's trying very hard. The chuckles in this book are subtle and surprising which makes them even more fun.
The action in the story drives the pace really well. A TON happens to Ruddy, there are several stories woven together at the same time, but it is all done smoothly, and believably, and in a self-effacing, funny, natural sort of way. I'll say it again, the writing is great.
The character development, especially of Ruddy is really well done. That's another aspect that unfolds really well--I got to know him more and more as the story went on.
Why only four stars? I felt like Cameron could have pushed it just a little bit more. It could have been a little funnier, a little faster. It's really 4 1/2 stars, it just wasn't quite, quite perfect. On the other hand, maybe it was perfect, because it left me wanting more. I'm assuming there is a next book based on the title, and I'm really looking forward to a sequel.
The narrator is great. George Wilson does the funny, tongue in cheek, sardonic books so well. He is a perfect choice for this book.
I recommend this book.
Remember John Grisham? Remember the books that shot him to #1 over and over again? The Client, The Firm, etc? Gray Mountain is a pathetic shadow of one of his good earlier stories.
I kept waiting for the action to start. The beginning was great, loved meeting her parents and having her get fired, and getting the internship--all the parts that were written in the publishers description of the book. But after that, nothing happened. I was patient for hours as the story developed, but there was no climax. There was no one and nothing to cheer for, there was no John Grisham moment! The story is set in Appalachia, filled with colorful characters, but none of them really did anything. The stage was set, and then nothing happened.
The main character, Samantha, wasn't developed to the level you would expect in a 12 hour story. What she eats or doesn't eat is not enough for me to care about her as a character. What details were developed left her simpering and weak and a victim, when she was supposed to be the "heroine" of the story. Everything happened TO her, she didn't actually do anything. In the end, I just didn't care.
I know John Grisham isn't high literature, but I think it is fair to expect a level of entertainment from him and to hold him to the standards of his past books. I was very disappointed.
As for the narrator, yeah, she was terrible. She spoke way too slowly, which didn't help the fact that there was no action. She made me feel like she was reading to a group of 1st graders at a library. She also didn't change her voice for men vs. women so I sometimes couldn't tell who was saying what.
It's a John Grisham, so lots of people will still read/listen to it. But at least go in with much lowered expectations.
I do not recommend this book.
This was my first John Twelve Hawks. Before I chose it, I read reviews from his other books and reviews for this book. He is loved and has many loyal followers, so I was looking forward to Spark.
The main character, Jacob Underwood, was the problem for me with this story. As the description says, he's a man with a brain injury that gives him perfect characteristics to be an assassin. He thinks he is dead so he feels nothing, no empathy, no sense of something being beautiful vs. being ugly, and no concept of the future. The problem with that premise is that there is no reason to care about him one way or the other as a reader. There is no character development because he doesn't have any personality. I wanted to care about Jacob, as he did is job, as he experienced the world around him, like traveling to foreign countries, and as he met the people he's supposed to murder, but there was nothing there. I didn't get to experience any feelings, any sensations, any change of heart because he has no feelings, senses, or heart.
The whole premise is interesting, but it needed another facet introduced, like he needed a handler, or he needed to have ONE part of his conscience work, so there would be something I could latch on to and care about.
The pace of the story, the action, the other characters, and the general idea of the book were good, but not enough to make it a great book.
There were all sorts of deep, thought provoking ideas around are we alive, what defines "alive," and how are we different than non-sapient beings. But again, that wasn't enough to carry the book.
Scott Brick as the narrator was a good choice, or maybe he was a bad choice, I couldn't tell. He did a nice job of interpreting the lack of emotion and sensations, but it got tedious. A couple times I wondered if I would like the story better if I read it instead of listened to it because the narrator really highlighted to stark-ness of the story.
The ending set up the possibility of a continuation of the story. I will not be getting the sequel if one comes out.
Bummer, I wanted to like it, but I do not recommend this book.
I loved this book.
"How to Build a Girl" has it all. The character development, the relationship development, and the pace of the story are perfectly done.
The main character Dolly/Johanna is beautifully developed. I was completely invested in her, in every decision she made, and in everything she did. I rooted for her and cringed and held my breath and laughed out loud a lot.
The surprising, and best part of this book is how much I laughed, the writing is clever and really funny. As Johanna/Dolly developed I thought that the story would get more serious, as most funny movies go, they aren't funny by the end because all the problems get ironed out. But Moran's writing was so good, it was consistently interesting and clever right up until the end.
The ending was great, really great, and worthy of the rest of the book and how the characters were developed.
The couple things I would say as a review:
1. I wished it was longer. A couple moments felt overly edited, I'd wanted more color, description, follow-up that weren't there.
2. This is a very Rated R book. I was never offended, but I certainly gasped and cringed more than once. This book is gritty and raw and naughty which is part of what makes it great.
The narrator was great, she seemed perfect for the part, her accents and voices were perfect.
I highly recommend this book.
Let me start by saying that I like Lena Dunham. I like her series and I love that she has made it all happen without being anywhere near the typical Hollywood woman.
This book exceeded my expectations. I loved it. I have a new level of respect for her. She's funny, truly laugh-out-loud funny, insightful, self-effacing, and a gifted writer.
Her honesty about her own pain, trials, and mistakes is refreshing and is what makes this book great. Bold, often shockingly honest statements and moments seems to be her style in her show, and it is pervasive in this book.
The 6 1/2 hours flew by as I listened, I couldn't believe it was over. I immediately started it again. I felt an immersion while listening to her that I don't think I've ever felt before with another author or memoir. I cheered for her, but more often, I laughed-out-loud while thinking "oh, hon, I'm sorry." I really admire her for her bravery, her boldness, and for the way she has turned her "flaws" into her greatest strengths.
I loved her as the narrator. Anyone else narrating would have not done the content justice.
I've told several people about this book already and will continue to recommend it.
The premise of this book was great and there was some good things to like. Unfortunately, there were some major flaws.
There were too many stories and too many characters and it made for a disjointed final product. There wouldn't have been too many stories if they joined better and if there was enough of a main character. Instead I was left waiting for the different characters' paths to cross and getting more and more bored with a couple of the stories as I realized that they weren't going to even be key to the actual plot.
There also were several moments that I perceived as important, that I kept waiting for the author to come back to and address or close the loop on and that never happened.
I enjoyed the "main" character and her daughter and their story. Their character development was good and I cared about what happened to them. They drove the action and they were believable and fun to follow. Unfortunately there were too many things around their story that diluted the book until it wasn't enjoyable.
The ending wasn't very good. It just was too unbelievable and didn't go with the rest of the story.
I didn't think I would like the multiple narrators, but I did. They made the story a little more enjoyable.
I do not recommend.
I just finished listening to the story of your last unintentional adventure. You know, the one where you get called in to fix an international crisis because from your past, you are the only one that can save the day? ...Yeah, that one.
I loved it. It seemed like this story and the last couple of your adventures have been solved with more cerebral effort than just 100% violence. I appreciate that about you. You are not only a big guy, trained in every possible fighting technique, but you are also generally smarter than everyone else in the room. The humor in this story was what I especially loved. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times. You've become snarky and funny as you've gained wisdom. I'm not used to laughing during your stories, it adds a great dimension--well played.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the action in this story. It was all there. You haven't lost your step, your cunning, or your speed. And you threw in some surprises which made it especially fun. The bad guys don't have a chance with you on the case.
I liked your relationship with the female in this story too. In your younger years, I flinched at the occasional sexist moments. You guys were great together on this adventure. You were supportive, and taught her a bunch, and helped her along--it was another very satisfying part of the story.
We've been through 19 stories now together. They haven't all been 5-star worthy, you've had your ups and downs. This one has the depth, the surprises, the pace, the relationship development, and a little bit of fun that made it a full 5-stars--well played.
As for Dick Hill being your narrator, as always he's the right choice. His accents and voice changes are smooth, and he captures the spirit of your stories every time.
I'll recommend it to friends.
Does the title of my review make you feel like some of your brain cells are dying? Well, be prepared for 20 hours worth of that kind of scintillating conversation in "The Secret Place." (By the way "totes" is short for "totally" in case you aren't up on high school girl vernacular.)
I love Tana French. I devoured her first four novels in this series. I loved each one and I recommended them to several people. This book was a complete disappointment.
The story is of a murder that happened a year ago near an girls' school, and two Dublin police-people get a reason to go back to try again to solve the case. The entire book is about eight high school girls--did one of them commit the murder, and why.
90% of the content of the book is conversations between the girls and the girls and detectives. It gets tedious to the point of annoying. It was filled with squealie "OMG!!" and "Totes Amaze-Balls!!" and "Duh!!" A major part of the detectives job is to determine who had a motive, so that leads to literally hours of discussion about who had a crush on whom, and which girl doesn't like the other girl because she said her thighs were fat.
There is also this underlying theme that some of the girls have slight magical powers, which just made zero sense, had no actual bearing on the story, and was never explained. I kept waiting for that to be explained, but it ended up just being another annoying distraction.
The story reads like a really bad novel written for tweens. The content and dialogue were shallow, overly-simple, and embarrassingly cliche. It was like listening to a 20 hr "Keeping up with the Kardashians" marathon.
Concerning the narrators--the female narrator was great. The male narrator had a terrible time with the high school girls voices, they were bad. Luckily, he didn't speak as them very often.
A LOT of people are still going to listen to this book no matter what I say in this review, because it's Tana French, I don't blame you, I would have too. But I feel burned by this book. I will now hesitate before I listen to another Tana French. I will certainly wait until it has been thoroughly reviewed.
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