Dower does a fantastic job of research. The story of post-war Japan is much more complex than I would have suspected. His history explains a lot about current Japan - the pacifism, the conflicts over Japanese textbook depictions of WWII, and the close ties to the USA. I liked his stories of everyday life, as well as his description of the development of the innovative Japanese post-war constitution and the retention of the Emperor system. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to understand modern Japan. The reading is also top-notch.
Another terrific effort by the series of writers. It's like a relay race with the baton (plot) being passed on and changed by each contributor, but with no idea where the finish line will be. Of course, there are improbable plot twists, but that's the same in many novels and movies of horror and intrigue. You just suspend your disbelief and plow ahead despite any confusion because the story and characters just propel you along. Molina is a superb narrator. The interview with him about the book - in a separate, free download - shows his intelligence and humility. I can't wait for the next in this series!
Divakaruni did a wonderful job of introducing me to the Mahabharata. She is a master of simile and metaphor. I am sad that this story ended. It inspired me to read through the Wikipedia entries on this Indian epic, on Princess Draupadi (Panchaali), on the Pandavas and Kauravas, and the battle of Kurukshetra. Though it tells the story from the viewpoint of the key woman in the tale, it is not "chick lit" but a compelling tale of gods, demigods, sages and humans, with a climactic battle that seems like harbinger of nuclear holocaust.
I've read and enjoyed immensely two other McCarthy novels, "All the Pretty Horses" and "The Road", so I was eager to try what some call his masterpiece, "Blood Meridian." After reading/listening to one-half of the book, I couldn't go on. The story is just one awful violent scene after another, with no indication of a saving grace. This book makes the bleak landscape and doomed world of "The Road" seem like a walk in the park. McCarthy uses odd and arcane vocabulary, which seems unnecessary, and frequently his lyrical descriptions of scenery made me think he was too infatuated with his own writing and not concerned enough with moving the narrative along.
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