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.
I chose this book because I just finished "A Warm Place to Call Home" by Siemsen. That book was amazing. I recommended it to several people. I was ready to read (listen to) anything that Siemsen wrote.
Wow, "The Opal" is bad.
Where to begin...
The very initial premise of this book is a good one, seems fun, seems like it could go places. But the implementation is terrible. The reader/listener ends up in strange worlds meeting strange people and needing to follow along with strange stories that have nothing to do with the actual story and Siemsen never brings the two together or gives any reason why you should care about these other worlds.
The worst part of this story for me was the relationship and what happens between the main character and his wife. I'm not sure what I was supposed to feel about the wife, but I hated her and blamed her for a bunch of what ends up happening, and I don't think that's what Siemsen had in mind.
At the end, I said "oh, you've got to be kidding me." The ending was so bad. The story just limped to a pathetic halt.
The one tiny interesting thing about the story was the question around if one of the bad guys is actually a bad guy--it made me think "hmmmmm" for a minute. I liked that particular story line.
The narrator was fine, no complaints.
I will not be buying any more of this series. I really hope Siemsen writes more books outside this series--I would give those a shot.
The first couple hours of this book were great. I laughed out loud several times, Coupland is funny, no doubt about that.
Once the story started to unfold, things fell apart.
Neil, the main character's homeless friend was good. I liked him. He was funny and a good foil to everything happening. Other than that, all the characters were lame, including the main character.
He wasn't a bad guy, his character wasn't developed enough for him to be "bad." He just had weird, unlucky things happen to him all the time, which gets old, and isn't enough for a coherent or even vaguely interesting story.
The other characters, his mom, his ex-wife, the odd women, were all very forgettable, underdeveloped, and not interesting.
With about one hour of the book left, I started watching the time, trying to decide if I could even finish it. I considered stopping again with only 17 minutes left, it was that bad. I did finish it, but it was painful.
The narrator was fine, no complaints there.
This book was especially disappointing because the first part was so promising and funny.
A Warm Place to Call Home is an awesome, awesome book. I hope it gets discovered and read (listened to) by thousands. I can't wait to read more from Siemsen.
I'm going to gush--here we go.
I loved the writing. The author surprised me right from the start by speaking directly to the reader in a casual funny way. He's a little irreverent, and funny, but then as the book went on, I almost forgot that he could be funny because I teared up in spots as he drew me into the story.
The story is so creative throughout. The premise is super interesting, but then it just gets better and better as he develops characters and as the story unfolds. There are twists that blew my mind. I cheered and gasped.
While I used the title that I didn't want it to end, the end was awesome. I said "NO WAY" out loud, it's so great.
The narrator is perfect. He changed voices in a way where he became invisible and let the story shine through.
I've already recommended this book to friends.
Get this book.
I'm really enjoying this series. It has just enough twists to keep it interesting and make it different and surprising compared to other cop series.
As expected, in this book, the relationship between Stevens and Windermere gets more complicated. There is good tension without taking away from the action and the story.
The bad guys were good in this one. The mastermind and minions kept me guessing and kept it interesting. The action, complexities, and level of badness in the criminals were great. The pace of the story and action were good too.
The thing that dropped it to four stars was the continuous attempts to try to describe the mental illness of a couple of characters. It was too abstract, filled with hyperbole, and was repeated way too many times which made it tedious.
The first two in this series were both based on amateur and almost reluctant criminals which I really, really liked, but maybe that's not scalable in a series.
I don't like the narrator's voice and accent sometimes for Windermere, that's why he only gets for stars.
I recommend this book and I'll listen to the next one.
This is the third installment in a series by Bruce DeSilva about a newspaper reporter and his cast of friends, peers, co-workers, and enemies.
It's a fun series. I was first drawn to it in the very first book because not everything wrapped up with a neat little bow. Things are messy, which keeps it really interesting.
In "Providence Rag," the "bad guy" is colorful and surprising and not-cookie-cutter and the story spans three decades which is also a great twist. All of the characters that you've gotten to know from the first two books are back, so DeSilva weaves the expected and unexpected together in a great way.
You don't have to have read the first two books to enjoy this one. He catches the reader up in a smooth way, without repeating too much from previous books. But you'll have a deeper understanding of the characters and relationships if you start from the beginning.
I only gave it 4 stars because it's still not to the level of a Lee Child, or Tom Clancy, or even Owen Laukkanen. The depth of the characters can still be improved. I wanted to know a lot more about the blond lawyer, and the character "Mason" also known as "Yes Dad" could be explored better and deeper. There were a couple chunks of this story that were slow, but overall it had a great pace. It's really a big improvement from the first book, which I liked enough to keep going.
The narrator, Woodman, is good. He changed accents a couple times which was weird, but overall he does a good job.
I recommend this book and am excited for the next one.
The idea for this book is great, and most of it was very interesting. Coffey gained interviews with the biggest names in mountaineering and gets their stories. But more importantly, she gets them to talk about the dangers and what motivates them to keep going back for more.
Coffey seemed to get access to people and stories that no one else has, which makes this a unique and rare collection of stories and insights.
It seemed to me that she built up her own "qualifications" a little too much, I didn't care at all about her actual story because there wasn't much for her to tell. But she kept that to a small part of the book, and the rest of it was great.
I really enjoyed hearing from the parents and children of the different climbers.
The narrator was the wrong choice for several reasons for this book.
#1 She mispronounced key words. Arete, Couloir, John Muir's last name, and the worst, Mt Rainier. There was an entire chapter on Mt Rainier climbing so she said it over and over again, it was grating, and annoying, and unacceptable. Arete & Couloir she pronounced them differently in different parts of the book.
#2 She had a Mary Poppins, sticky sweet British accent and lilt to her voice, which was the wrong choice for subject matter this dark. While she was describing maggots eating away frost bitten fingers, she talked like she was happily reciting a recipe for Bannoffee Pie.
Bad editing, bad direction, bad choice for the narrator. I have NEVER said this before, and I have over 600 audiobooks, I wish I had read this one instead of listening.
If someone had told me that they wanted to recommend a book to me that had romance, gore/horror, sci-fi, and mobster mystery, with just a hint of spirituality, where the main character was a mathematician, I'd probably pass. But if any author can put all those pieces together in a great story, it's Dan Simmons.
I haven't loved everything that Simmons has written, but this book gets an A+, I loved everything about it.
The romance between Jeremy, the main character, and his wife is beautiful and heart warming. The set-up that leads to all the action is masterful, one shocking moment rolls right into the next and it's all oddly believable.
Simmons alternates between present and past between chapters and it works. I looked forward to picking up on the story between chapters and it added to the suspense in the middle of hair-raising situations.
The pacing was great, and it was super easy to follow along with everything, which is a feat in itself considering just how much happens in this story.
The narrator was flawless. I've never heard Boyett before. He disappeared perfectly, never detracting from the story. I especially loved any scene where the characters were whispering. He's just really good.
There was an annoying technical error in the first two chapters of the 2nd half of the book--it seemed like almost an entire chapter was duplicated. Hopefully that's something that Audible will fix, so by the time you are reading this, it won't be there.
I highly recommend this book.
The writing of this book is beautiful. The style is almost poetic without being tedious. The descriptions of smells and facial expressions and room decor and cooking techniques are so specific yet so well done that it really takes you there. I can picture the table in the front of Haji's restaurant and the smells as he walks by street vendors.
This story is driven by food and cooking. If you are a fan of cooking and/or the cooking channel on tv, you'll love this book. Note that the first review of this book is by Anthony Bourdain, a famous tv "chef."
There is more to the story than just cooking, which is what makes the story very good. The characters are likable and multi-dimensional and well developed. I was very invested in what happened to Haji, and his mentors and his family.
When reading reviews for this book, it's some of the pieces that people rave about that make the story flawed for me. I also had to remind myself that this was not a true story, but that wasn't a positive for me. It felt like a true story during the last quarter of the book because not much happened. It felt like the author had to record facts that weren't actually interesting.
Also, occasionally, the food references went too far for me. There is one action scene where Haji's life is slightly in danger and he stops to describe the smell of the food that the homeless people are cooking while he's running for his life--that seemed odd to me,
I also wish that the author would have put more energy into the development of Haji's friend towards the end of the book. He becomes a big part of the end of the book and of Haji's life and there wasn't enough detail about him for me to care as much as I wanted to.
The narrator was great. He struggled sometimes with the voice and accent of the French lady in comparison to the French men and then leaping back to an East Indian accent, but he did an admirable job at it.
I recommend this book.
Starting off this book, I said "oh noooooo" to myself. The Tortoise and the Hare has been done, it's not clever, every essayist has re-done that story. Novak's version wasn't great, I was dreading the rest of this book. Then he surprised me. The stories not only got better, they kept getting better. I loved this book.
Novak's stories are full of just really smart humor. It is a glimpse into the mind of a super observant guy who then has the talent to turn his observations into approachable, clever, and funny stories. I don't think I've ever used the word poignant before, but many of these stories are. They are deep and thoughtful while being witty and modern. I found myself thinking about several of the stories and telling people about them. His stories about John Grisham and Elvis (both fictional) were just awesome, and I also really loved "Missed Connection," "Outran the Rain," and "Confucius."
It's not just that the stories are great. They rhythm of the stories are masterful. There's no tedium or predictability that often come with essays or short story collections. The order they are put in allows the reader (listener) to laugh out loud, and be surprised, and look forward to the next story, and wish for more--it was really smartly done.
I know us "listeners" of books are in the minority, but in this case, we win the prize. The narration of this book makes it just that much better. Mindy Kaling, Rain Wilson, and Jenna Fischer are such a treat, and Novak's narration brings the stories to life even more.
This story was witty and quippy, fast-paced and quite funny. I laughed out loud within the first 10 minutes of listening and thought "this is going to be a great ride." The way the characters unfolded was so good. The story telling was smooth and interesting with Banks jumping from present to past.
I loved the main characters and all of his side-kicks. I could really visualize the little town he lived in and his crazy house and the bar he frequented. I was completely invested in everything about the story.
I loved the snippets of the song lyrics peppered throughout the story. I would stop and sometimes rewind and listen to them again.
Then, Banks started to wrap up the story, and things fell apart for me. The ending was cliche, and predictable, though I didn't expect it because the book was so good. I didn't expect the ending to be that bad, so I guess it wasn't entirely predictable. It was a lame attempt to make you really like Weir,D (the main character) in the end when I already liked him. The wrap-up and the ending just really did not do justice to the rest of the book. It felt hurried and uninspired.
The narration was great. When I very first turned the book on, it took me a couple minutes to understand what he was saying his accent was so thick. But then I got used to it and the accent just added to the charm. His voices and distinction between characters were really great.
If you keep expectations a little low for the ending, I recommend this book.
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