Oakland, CA USA | Member Since 2006
This was my first David Sedaris book, and it won't be my last. I would listen to this going to work and found myself smiling as I walked in the door. I don't usually start out my day in a good mood so that was a great side benefit. He is absolutely hilarious and unique and makes a great narrator of his own life. The French classes and Easter story were so funny and evocative I felt like I was there with him. You get the sense he would be fun to hang out with, like a modern version of Truman Capote, and go through these experiences with. And a family that produces both him and Amy has got to be a riot as well.
This book turned out to be both amazingly rewarding and incredibly exasperating, which is why I can’t make it a 5-star favorite even though I’m terribly tempted. Unfortunately, there was a huge chunk I really didn’t enjoy enough to justify doing that. Bear with me though because I just might change my mind. But before I get to the reasons why, anyone curious about reading Earth Abides should know that a good 2/3 to 3/4 was pretty much ALL observational narrative. Supposedly, although how could anyone really know, this is more of a realistic vision of a post-apocalyptic world, at least much more than the Hunger Games variety oh so prevalent these days. As such we get drawn out accounts of the life cycles of ants or rats and other fauna, post-mankind of course, as well as the minutiae of mundane daily activities. Still, there were several inconsistencies for me, such as where were all the dead bodies? For a quick acting virus to seemingly wipe out the entire human race (in less than two weeks!), there were no bodies in the streets (save one in the very beginning) or in any of the homes which merely appeared to be abandoned.
In addition every single character frustrated the hell out of me, including our protagonist, Ish. It seemed all he could do was bemoan the stupidity of those who survived even as he himself continued to be ineffectual – and all the while cultivating a god complex. One could see how that could occur, however, since everyone was so completely complacent, content to live off the remnants of civilization after “The Great Disaster“. Ish alone could see the dangers and futility of this, yet he was all too paralyzed by his cerebral nature and lack of leadership skills to do anything but worry. He was esteemed by his community of survivors as a visionary, if not mildly indulged, but certainly not taken seriously. Perhaps complacency is a more accurate portrayal of the response to a true apocalypse than we’ve been led to believe. I don’t know though, either it just didn’t ring true or I’ve been brainwashed into the vanity of human specialness and ingenuity. I’ll just say they really could have used an action oriented “Type A” person around, but nope, not a one in sight. I’m guessing the plague must have taken them out first.
What's more it was sometimes difficult to get past the outdated views of race and gender presented in this book, which was written in 1949; although I think an attempt was made to portray Ish as somewhat progressive due to his status as a scholar and intellectual. Every time some comment or characterization served to remind me of the publication date, however, I had to tell myself he, through the lens of the author of course, was thinking and acting realistically as a white male product of the era. It was certainly a reminder that we have come a long way despite lingering attitudes and unresolved issues.
Yet, regardless of these criticisms, some moments were beautifully written and captivating, arousing my curiosity enough as to want to see where it would all lead. And lead somewhere it most certainly did, enough to ultimately view all of my complaints as nitpicking, moreover, as imperative to the story’s denouement and essential message. It’s just too bad it was so protracted, or more likely that I am too much a product of our short attention span times to appreciate such a nuanced build up for what it was. The unending minutiae, the frustrations with the characters, even the race and sex issues to some extent, were crafted with such subtle intent as to come together in a powerfully emotional, meaningful climax. The long-awaited denouement was not only deeply satisfying, but probably the most effective, beautiful, and emotionally wrenching of any book I have ever read. I came to realize how invested in Ish I had become.
I can’t say much more without taking away the possibility of this same affective experience from anyone piqued enough to give this book a go. All I can say is everything that happens matters. It is a story about life, its ebbs and flows, how it endures and how it comes full-circle. Ultimately it is about the nature of man (yes, mostly man rather than woman, sorry to say, but again - 1949) and faith in humanity. But in its essence it is about faith in the earth, in both its constancy and change, and in its transcendence. Despite constant frustration throughout most of the story, I haven’t been able to let this one go. It is one of those books. The beauty and power of its conclusion will stay with me for a long, long time. If you listen to it, ignore all my nitpickings and stick with it. You won’t regret it.
Yes, it was a good, spooky paranormal story with great characters. Overall it's a creepy, gothic ghost story with mysterious deaths, haunted characters with tragic pasts, hopeless love, and scenes that make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
I don't know of other similar books, although I'm sure they're out there. I like a good gothic ghost story, but I haven't actually read many. This one definitely delivers to the point that I've gotten the remaining two books. I grew to care for Amelia and Devlin who were both equally strong and vulnerable. I really want to see what happens with their relationship and how their obstacles will be resolved.
There were many. Any of the ghost scenes involving contact with Amelia, running their hands through her hair ... oh so creepy. I didn't enjoy the murder mystery as much; it was standard in and of itself, but the paranormal aspects of the story were done really well.
Absolutely; it only took me a couple of days to get through it. The writing was mature, the prose almost lyrical at times, and the tension and mystery well-developed.
Amelia has become one of my favorite characters. I pictured Anna Torv in my mind as I listened; she has such a haunted vulnerable quality which added to my experience of Amelia. I think this series would make a great TV show. Oh, and Khristine Hvam has probably become my favorite narrator. She can do anything.
Although I'm an urban fantasy aficionado, I guess I had been avoiding this type of PNR erotic fiction. Since a friend told me my book recommendations weren't sexy enough I thought I would dip my toe into the genre starting with Sherrilyn Kenyon since I've seen her books for years and always wondered about them. Night Embrace turned out to be a great choice. I got my UF fix, an interesting story, great setting, really likeable characters, AND hot smut that was NOT cheesy; not only that, but actually really well done. Who'd of thought?! I think that's why I've always avoided hot and steamy books, especially in audio: most are done soooo badly I just can't take it .... I know you all know what I mean... But SK really knows what she is doing, so much so that I may be a convert. In fact I've already moved on to additional books in the series, but so far NE remains my favorite. Having said that, I was not a fan of the narrator. I actually skipped the first book because her southern accent was far too grating, even from the short sample snippet (say that 3x fast). She is somewhat tolerable in this one, however, and I don't feel I missed too much.
In short, if you're looking for a hot yet sensitive alpha male, a quirky, perky, plus-sized heroine, great chemistry, and lots of steamy sexytimes, all within a unique paranormal universe and a gothic New Orleans mystique, this is a good place to begin.
I had been curious about this novelization of the Shakespeare classic for some time, and after seeing it on sale decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did! The listener is immediately drawn in from the very first scene with the weird sisters, which establishes the creepy, foreboding tone from the start. A glimpse into the role the sisters play is provided which lets us know we are in for something different than what might be expected. We know this story is going to lend greater insight into the motivations of the characters. The sisters are witches, yet so much more. They not only embody the themes of the play but are also weaved into the tapestry of the tragedies yet to unfold. We ultimately learn something of why they are there and where they come from. There is no black or white, but a multitude of shades in between. From the sisters to Macbeth and to Lady Macbeth, all are both despicable and pitiable at once. As the tension rises with each tragic event we feel sorrow, anger, frustration, heartache, shock, and consternation in turns, yet we never grow to truly hate any of them. At the heart of it we know they merely represent insight into, a warning of, the human condition. The shining threads uncoil revealing layers masking raw primordial instincts beneath. Macbeth is both brave and loyal warrior and paranoid, power-mad ruler; Lady Macbeth, heartbroken mother and ambitious schemer; the sisters, gleeful puppet-masters and helpless victims.
Ultimately it is a story about the perilous traps of greed, power, and ambition and their eventual, uttermost consequences. The authors have successfully translated these themes in a manner more accessible yet still honorable to the original. The narration by Alan Cumming is inspired, and in a word ... brilliant. Listen on if you are prepared to hold up the mirror of this centuries-spanning collaboration into the dark heart of human drive and weakness.
I just discovered these types of cozy, paranormal mysteries, and I have to say I am ready for more. Secondhand Spirits is light and breezy fun with a bit of darkness for some edge. For me witches can always add to the recipe for a good time; throw in some vintage fashion, a cool San Francisco Haight-Ashbury setting, a haunted house, a gargoyle that can morph into a pot-belly pig, herbs, spells, and demons and ... what more can you want. And there are NO vampires, a huge plus as far as I'm concerned! The characters were all likeable as well, especially the magic-wary Lily who can no longer deny her powers when she discovers children have been going missing in the City (what can be a touchy subject is handled in a sensitive manner). This is certainly not rocket science I know, but it IS terribly fun brain candy which we all need at least from time to time (me more than most probably)! As of this writing Audible has no other books from this series, so I hope more are on their way.
I usually round up when I think a book is somewhere in between ratings just because someone had enough imagination and gumption to sit down and write a book. It's certainly more than I can do. Anyway, this was a decent enough book. I particularly liked the characters, especially Eve. She is strong, complex, and vulnerable all at the same time - a total combination that is rare in urban fantasy/SF women (men as well, but it's nice to see a fully fleshed out female character). Roark is promising but there just wasn't enough character development with him yet, at least in this book. Yes, he's perfect, but some nuance would make him more believable and sympathetic. Women like a hint of vulnerability in their fantasy men (Jamie Fraser anyone?).
While I also liked the futuristic elements they are not used in any real relevant way. In that respect the world-building could be better in order to draw the reader/listener into this universe. It reads like standard crime fiction, which is fine, but I'm also really over serial killers that prey on women. Of course men who hate women exist in excess in real life, but enough already with these violent story lines; certainly with enough imagination other types of crimes can be explored. Maybe something like the Fringe crime scenes in order to capitalize more on the genre that J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) has tried to develop? I'm not sure I'm going to move forward with the series because of this as they seem to be more of the same. I really did enjoy this book, but I'd like to see something more than what was offered here. It is a long series though, so maybe there are some interesting developments that take place in subsequent books.
The topical premise of corporations taking over and running society with the goal of profit above all else, including human life, should have been quite intriguing. The book's presentation of privatized police and schools was utterly horrifying, but the story didn't really put forth much of a message to me. Although not quite as blatantly presented in this novel, corporations have already taken over, and it doesn't take much research to find out what many of them are doing out in the world when it comes to human and environmental exploitation (and, yes, even the taking of human lives). Another reviewer said it was preachy, but in a failed effort to be funny and absurd I found it didn't go far enough with it's message of the possibilities of all-powerful corporations.
Of course, that in and of itself wouldn't make for a bad book; however, it was just plain boring. Don't get me wrong: I was looking for a prophetic, cautionary tale delivered in an entertaining and humorous style, but this was a cheesy detective style potboiler with a tedious plot and uninteresting characters with little or no redeeming qualities. No one was likable or sympathetic (except perhaps Jennifer's daughter), and the humor fell flat. I'm giving it two stars for a good idea and the attempt (albeit, a failed one) of it's message.
I would consider myself a radical atheist, according to the Dawkins definition; however, I found this work boring, tedious, and condescending. I'm barely through the first section and am deciding if I want to continue because I can't focus on it anyway. Maybe there is too much science for my taste: I am more interested in the damage religion has done throughout history - evolution is a given. Maybe this book is for people who are questioning their beliefs, and in that case I suppose it could have some value, but Dawkins and his wife are so snooty and condescending in their reading it almost made me question why I was listening to them and almost made me a little sorry for the believers they were attacking. I could not give this book less than three stars due to the message, but I really couldn't recommend it, at least to those who already feel strongly about their atheistic beliefs. Maybe if you want to learn a lot about Darwin.
I did really enjoy this book. It does jump around a lot, and I found myself confused from time to time. I could forgive that though; you just have to suspend disbelief and roll with it. I would also recommend reading Plato's Crito first if you can; I had read it for an Ethics class so the context gave the book extra interest for me. It's fairly short and can be found on the internet. I would recommend this book if you enjoy time travel science fiction, with an intelligent female lead character, and interesting and orginal historical connections.
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