Listening to "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 2014, what strikes me are the three eras. Here we have a very personal book written 54 years ago about a time 30 years in the past of the author. I constantly kept thinking about 1960 and 1930 and whether the same story would be told the same way by a modern version of Harper Lee.
Lee wrote fondly but with the judgement of an adult about a white child growing up in the south in the 1930's. It's clear that the civil rights movement, though yet to really get started in 1960, was building to a boil at the time she wrote her one and only novel.
Lee tried to subtly apply her beliefs to the book and slowly separate the bigotry of the past (and her present) from the enlightenment that is even now slowly coming to our culture. Her writing is not unlike the true authors of the New Testament Gospels writing about the past decades later but writing for their time and for their audience. Lee's writing is with purpose but also knowing that if you beat the reader over the head with your message, you will lose them every time. No, you have to wrap the medicine in sweet candy and let the reader enjoy the sweet and endure the bitter.
It IS a sweet book and Atticus Finch is the kind of man we can all aspire to be. It's an important book that reminds us that there are good people and bad people everywhere and in every time. It's a great book that tells us that even though we are in many ways products of the culture we live in, right is right and wrong is wrong and we just can't let injustice stand simply because it's "acceptable" to our current society. It's an enjoyable book that takes us back to the innocence of childhood and portrays a very special set of relationships and how they appear to an 8 year old girl.
Beyond the book itself, there is also Sissy Spacek. I was concerned that her reading would not live up to the material, but I was wrong. I came to the book after watching and loving the movie. I worried that the voice of Scout I had heard from Kim Stanley (Scout as an adult) and Mary Badham (Scout as a child) in the movie would not be "right" coming from Ms. Spacek. However, all of her voices match perfectly. This is one time where the book and the movie are not in competition. The movie is as good as the book and just helps you see better than your imagination what Macom looked and felt like. Not to plug the movie here, but Lee and Horton Foote did a masterful job of taking this book and faithfully transferring it to the screen. No, not every detail from the book is in the movie, but it's still a complete telling of the story and was deserving of all of it's accolades, too.
This is not a riveting mystery or a great biography. This book is a timeless yet timely book so well crafted and with a clear message.
You need to listen to this book. Whether you are a baby boomer like me, a gen-Xer, or a millenial, it's a great experience that will stay with you.
First, I want to thank Stephen King. Had he not written such a brilliant book ("11-22-63"), I would not have sought out other time-themed books and found this one.
Up until "Replay" I believed that Stephen King's book was the best treatment of time "travel" I had red/listened to and one of the best audio books I had enjoyed overall. Now, Ken Grimwod's "Replay" is right up there with Mr. King.
At first, the book seems almost like the pattern King might have used for his book. I won't offer any spoilers here, but if you have read "11-22-63" you will know what I mean within the first couple of hours of "Replay." However, Grimwood's take on living in the past is so novel and, in the end, so different, that any resemblance to the King book is quickly forgotten. (Note that "11-22-63" was released 20+ years after "Replay").
Some books are so formulaic that you can see what's coming. Grimwood fools you into thinking that you know what's coming, but then takes you in a completely different direction. After being fooled the first time, just stop guessing and enjoy the ride.
This book is gripping, but not just tension-filled. It's focus isn't always on "what would you do if you could live part of your life over and over" but on what happens to the characters when they do things differently.
It's hard to say more without giving the plot away. What I can say is that it's a great book that I highly recommend.
William Dufris does a very good job as well. His voices don't vary significantly, but he does a fine job of capturing emotions.
There are thousands of books set in World War II, but I would bet that there are none that like The Persimmon Tree.
Is it a book set in WWII that happens to contain a love story?
Is it a love story about how experiences can change young love that happens to be set in WWII?
Courtenay has done a good job of combining the love story with essentially two separate stories about Anna and Nick while they were apart and trying to survive war with the Japanese. The book bounces back and forth between Anna and Nick and except for the beginning, where they met, and the end, where they reunite, their lives have no real connection other than their pledges to each other before they parted.
Courtenay has obviously well researched the world Nick and Anna were placed in and the framework is rooted in history. The portrayals of Japanese military and the Javanese population are not always flattering, but they appear to be realistic.
Humphrey Bowers reading is top notch and adds to the enjoyment. He handles the different accents well and the characters are, for the most part, distinct.
This was my first Bryce Courtenay book and it will probably not be the last.
I don't really care that J.K Rowling wrote this under as nom de plume. I don't really care who wrote it. I am simply glad that I found it as it is a very good book and, I hope, the first of many Cormoran Strike detective stories.
If you happen to be a fan of Michael Connelly's "Bosch" detective books, you will be right at home with this book. I don't mean that J.K. has copied the formula, but just that whatever grabs you about Connelly's books will grab you here, too.
As the book unfolds, you can tell that the main characters are being written for the long haul. Rowling's touch with character development has, if anything, improved from the Harry Potter days and she has written some very flawed but likeable ones here.
The overall story is one that left me saying "I have no idea where this is going" the entire way. Stories that end up with some implausible conclusion that no one could have figured out bother me. Stories like this one, though, that are challenging to figure out but make sense in the end are what you want.
Finally, Robert Glenister is an exceptional reader and I trust that he will be kept around for all of the series--I hope so. Jim Dale MADE the Harry Potter books to me and Robert Glenister seems after this first book to be in that same league.
How in the world do you make a 22 hour audiobook about an obscure Naval officer from 70 years ago work? Well, Elliot Carlson/Danny Campbell find a way. A large portion of this book is dedicated to a detailed account (almost day by day) of code-breaking in the Pacific theater from mid-1941 to mid-1942 period, but it's not boring. Before and after those detailed accounts is the story of Joe Rochefort and his career's many highs and lows; a compelling story itself.
Obviously, this is a book meant for people with a high level of interest in WWII (like me) and I can't imagine my wife sitting through even 30 minutes of this book. However, even for someone who finds the stories from WWII compelling, this could have been TMI if not written with as much care and style.
Danny Campbell's reading is adequate. He does have an occasional inflection/emphasis issue when pronouncing certain words and names (e.g. "Rabaul" comes out as "ra-BOW-el"), but overall it does not detract from the story.
Finally, when writing a book about a somewhat controversial figure from this period, Carlson could have sided with Rochefort unilaterally to make his subject an absolute hero. Instead, he does a good job of balancing the account and provides a well researched and fair treatment of Rochefort and his primary adversaries, the Redman brothers.
This book is so "personal" and so heartfelt, that, as my headline says, it's hard to believe it's not true. With all of the positive reviews of the book here and in print, all I can do is join the chorus and say that it's a wonderful listen and a book I will remember fondly for years to come.
You'd think I'd learn. "DaVinci Code" was great. Everything else Dan Brown writes is just a poor copy of that formula.
I did enjoy the first 2/3 of this book and I think Dan Brown enjoyed writing the first 2/3 as well. From that point, though, realizing he had written himself into a corner, he looked over to bookshelf with the last 6 books and sighed "well, I can always do THAT again."
Paul Michael does a very good job again. His reliability matches Dan Brown. In Paul Michael's case, this reliability is a good thing. In Dan Brown's case, reliability breeds contempt.
Don't do what I did...learn from your mistakes and pass on this one.
I had this book on my Wish List for about 4 years. Finally, I bought the book and started it anticipating the movie later this year. I listened without knowing much of anything about Orson Scott Card. After completing it, I did Google him and learned the basics...and the controversial things he has said.
I'm glad I did these things in this order, because if I had researched Card first, I might have missed out on a wonderful story placed in a unique universe. I have since listened to "Speaker For the Dead" and "Xenocide."
"Ender's Game" is vivid, engaging, and well paced. The multiple narrators do a good job with most voices and the characters are all memorable.
It's hard to reconcile a person with the creative mind that Orson Scott Card possesses having such narrow views on social issues. However, as this is an audiobook review, I will end with suggesting that you don't let any news reports about him keep you from this book. It is an excellent listen and should be on your short list.
We actually went to hear David Sedaris read two days before this book was released. Going into the auditorium I was thinking how cool it was that he picked Columbia, SC as the feature stop on his tour; the stop right before the release. However, when he admitted that he didn't really know anything about Columbia (despite growing up in North Carolina), my hometown shriveled back down to it's normal lowly status.
As for the book, it is very good; much better than "When You are Engulfed in Flames." David has left most of the really personal reflections about his youth and family behind in "Me Talk Pretty One Day," "Naked," and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," but still manages to find some new ones for this book. It is amazing how many good (and funny) stories are to be found in one family.
This book is his most polished so far and David has nearly perfected his unique delivery. After hearing (watching) him live for the second time, I realized that though his speech patterns are his own, he does plan his cadence and pauses very carefully for maximum effect. I have listened to all of his books and several of his broadcasts and having done so, I don't think I could "read" his books. Hearing him read his own stories is a big part of what makes David Sedaris so enjoyable.
If you have listened to David Sedaris books before, then you will feel right at home. If not, then listen to one or more of the earlier books mentioned above first. Either way, you will enjoy this audiobook.
Let's hope there isn't 5 more years before his next one.
Oh, and the music played between the stories IS great, too.
This is a good time to learn about North Korea. Having listened to the biographical "Nothing to Envy..." earlier, this novel seemed the logical next choice.
This book is fascinating, disturbing, and surprising at every turn. The first half of the book is stronger than the second and the story becomes less grounded as you go, but it never loses momentum. The characters would be unbelievable were they placed in our society, but given how other worldly North Korea is, they make sense.
The readers change as the point of view moves between characters. The reader during the title character's view is more effective, but as a group, they are very good.
If you don't know much about North Korea, my suggestion would be to listen to "Nothing to Envy..." or another slice of life book about the country before this one. By all means, though, take the time to enjoy "The Orphan Masters Son."
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