Shepherdstown, WV, United States
Yep, I fell in love with this book! With 2 of the Chiefs, with lots of other characters and a town, and especially with a narrator!
Narrator is too weak a description of what Mark Hammer accomplishes with "Chiefs". His voice seems relaxed and unhurried, but it conveys all the heart and soul of a small town called Delano and its residents. He's flat out fabulous!
The book, too, is a real find. I agree with all the reviewers who note that this is obviously a deeply felt, deeply personal work by Stuart Woods. As the section for each chief ended, I grieved and thought the next one couldn't possibly be as good, but each time I was wrong and got just as engulfed in the lives and cares of the next set of people. There are wonderful and sometimes surprising connections among the 3 stories. There's suspense, emotion, and a just-plain-good-old plot in "Chiefs". And a progression through the years which reflects perfectly the changes in all of America during the period from 1920 to 1963.
Everyone can relate to this story and to these people. And that's pretty much what a good book and a good listen should be, isn't it?
I loved Vivien, the 1919 title character of "The Obituary Writer". Her story is haunting and leaps off the page. She's a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake with unresolved issues of loss and uncertainty - and she fills some of her own need and anguish in dealing brilliantly with the grief and mourning of others in her obituary tributes.
The book is divided, alternating Vivien's story with that of Claire, an early-1960's suburban housewife. Claire's life and trials are, unfortunately, not as compelling. She's a very familiar example of "Feminine Mystique" discontent of the era. There's a wonderful bit about the local wives' betting pool on what Jackie Kennedy will wear to the Presidential inauguration festivities, but mostly I was just anxious to get back to 1919.
Much of the anticipation and suspense of "The Obituary Writer" is in connecting these two women somehow. Unfortunately, that process isn't entirely successful and comes across as rushed and pretty much contrived. It's not a crime for a novel to leave some unanswered questions and unresolved issues - confusion, frustration, and the feeling that something is deeply wrong do not, however, add up to a satisfying conclusion.
So, there was disappointment in this listening experience, but I will not soon forget the lessons that Vivien has to teach about grief and memory. Because of that, and because of Vivien's early story, I do give something of a qualified recommendation to this book.
I thought this started well, and I liked the premise and the initial mystery. Somehow, however, my interest was not sustained. With one notable exception, the characters just never came to life and remained one dimensional. I won't be continuing this series. Not terrible, just not special enough to spend a credit or cash.
The full consequences of the rise and (perhaps especially) the fall of the British Empire are still very much unfolding in our world. In Africa and the Middle East especially, the transformation to independence has been so recent that no historian can give true perspective to the influences, rights, and wrongs of the Age of Empire.
That said, it seems to me that Professor Allitt's course is very comprehensive and as balanced as any modern European historian's can be at this point. I learned a tremendous amount and am so glad for the recent inclusion of "The Great Courses" series into the Audible library.
There are 400 years of stories in this (some familiar, some not), well organized and very entertainingly presented. My husband has been abruptly disturbed many times by my exclamations of "did you know?" and "can you believe?" and "wow, I didn't know that!"- always a sign that I'm deeply involved in an absorbing and valuable listening experience!
This is certainly a wonderful overview of a long arc of history which has so influenced the development of today's political map. The evolving and widely differing motives and opinions about empire are presented with modern sensibilities (of course), but also with an attempt to recapture the mindset of the times, both in Britain and in the countries of the Empire. Non-Western historians no doubt have differing points of view, ones of equal value, but this is a great introduction to the complexities that have defined the age of imperialism.
Whether inclined or not to agree with his perspective and his conclusions, I believe anyone will benefit from listening to Professor Allitt!
There have been a lot of literary interpretations of other women from the Bible; Mary Magdalene, for example, has been reexamined and interpreted in many ways. But rarely has an author taken on the prospect of transforming the Holy Mother herself into a flesh and blood woman and mother. Our religious images are too imposing: the serene, sorrowful, and eternally loving and patient virgin and Saint.
This is an exceptional performance of an impressive monologue. Meryl Streep's expressive, clear and powerful voice conveys what actually might be the thoughts and feelings of a mother in the circumstances in which Mary finds herself. She's an old woman now, weary and heartbroken still, sometimes questioning and untrusting, even angry. All that, and yet the qualities of her strength and honesty shine through.
Some will of course be offended to see Mother Mary presented in this way, without the trappings of 2000+ years of religious teachings. I was very moved by Toibin's writing and Meryl Streep's interpretation. The "Testament" is brief, thought-provoking, and just about perfect in every way. This Mary is truly full of grace.
This is cynical stuff. There's not much of anybody to really like in the story, and extreme violence makes it not for the faint of heart or stomach.
BUT, this is a really effective view of what it must be like to live in a war zone such as Northern Ireland was at the time of this action (and many places in the world, alas, remain today). McKinty is chillingly good at description, and the constant fear, guardedness, emotional numbness and lack of hope seem very real. There could be no more suitable narrator for this than Gerard Doyle.
If you like gritty, realistic mysteries about the worst of characters and situations you may appreciate this one. It's a lot of bleak, but I can say that it took all the "romance" out of the fabled "troubles" of Ireland for me - an outcome very much intended by the author, I think!
You can't argue with "The Grand Sophy". Here is one of Georgette Heyer's most memorable heroines, full of courage, charisma and feeling.
The "minor" characters are so essential in these books, which (it must be admitted) have pretty thin plots. No fear, Sophy and those around her make for rich entertainment. Not a lot of hot romance, but mayhem and comedy aplenty. I love the way Sarah Woodward voices these eccentric characters, male and female. She is an excellent narrator - so very important in the enjoyment of Heyer's books.
This book was written in 1950, at the height of the author's powers. How I wish that she had refrained from the cringe-worthy stereotypes which make a (thankfully short) episode in "Sophy" uncomfortable to listen to. I know she is writing about Regency England, where such perceptions were commonplace, but, by 1950, she should have known better than to have dwelt on them.
Aside from that, "The Grand Sophy" remains one of the best of Georgette Heyer, and therefore very entertaiing indeed! In the mood for light, well written diversion, and with a great narrator like Woodward, the listener can't go wrong with Sophy!
If you have ever been to or wanted to visit any of the great museums of the world, then you should read this and marvel!
It's a great book, but the real marvel is that we have never heard of this endeavor before. There are many stories of inspiration from WWII, and I think this ranks with the very best of them! It's the story of how we nearly lost most of the great and irreplaceable treasures of Western culture - and why that would have been a tragedy of unthinkable magnitude.
Of course, so many people died too. And, understandably perhaps, that story has been the focus of most books and movies about WWII. This book acknowledges that, but it also asks an important question about the role of art in the identity of nations.
Is any work of art worth a human life? Should military decisions include an attempt to preserve important cultural sites and works of art? These are questions well worth our consideration and "The Monuments Men" offers a terrific argument about why the answer should be "yes"! It was important in the past and should be in the future.
This book is fascinating! These people and their mission make for a "you couldn't make these things up", true and suspenseful story. The narrator does a great job.
I'll never again visit a museum without thinking about this book and the movie made from it. I know the movie didn't get great reviews, but it did bring to light a fantastic and hopeful story. Those who like books about history and/or art will enjoy both the filmed and audio versions.
This is important stuff!
It is with thorough approval that I declare "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon" to be just exactly like all the other Mma Ramatswe stories.
Predictability, reassurance, comfort are not bad things in every case, and Alexander McCall Smith keeps reminding us why. In a modern, fast-moving, cynical world it's a wonderful pleasure to put up your feet in front of the fire, relax, and listen to the superb Lisette Lecat reading about the good woman of Botswana. Reader and character are never cloying, never "cute" - just a reminder that simplicity and goodness can still exist.
I like that this world changes little, that the quiet humor and unfailing kindness and tolerance of our lady detective can be depended upon.
These gentle books are not for every mood, to be sure. But I hope they keep coming - I love these visits!
Behind the main story of this book, a real controversy of current politics looms: in times of stretched budgets, does a small town/city really need its own police force? It seems the debate will continue in this series, as that particular question is not resolved here. But it adds another note of timely reality to the Fergusson/Van Alstyne novels.
"Through the Evil Days" also adds a darn good thriller to a fine series. There's lots of action and suspense, a real terror of an ice storm, and innocents aplenty in peril. For my taste, there's one or two too many "top this" twists and turns, but the story certainly moves quickly and holds the readers' interest.
Clare and Russ have proven to be a likable, believable characters who complement each other. Their marriage has not brought boredom or total peace of mind to the relationship. I like their feisty individuality and their differences. This volume also throws a great deal of light on the secondary romantic relationship of the series, and this relationship is every bit as interesting and complicated as the one between Clare and Ross. I marvel that Spencer-Fleming is so good at developing these romances while still maintaining a religious/philosophic element and first-class suspense in the series. I will definitely be back for the next adventure!
The narrator is a different issue. Although I like her basic reading voice very much, I find her extreme attempt to change tone for different characters a bit disconcerting. She tries too hard: those overly gruff male and sickeningly sweet female voices are distracting to a point nearing the absurd. There's plenty of drama in the book. I'd prefer a little less overdone narration.
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