I used to loved mysteries and thrillers, but in recent years, I find myself bored with the genre. I read "Absolute Power" many years ago, and loved it. I decided to revisit it in audio format, worried that it would fall short of my very high expectations. With a great narrator and an amazing story, this novel exceeded my sky-high expectations. I could not stop listening, from start to end. In the first chapter, a high-end career burglar witnesses a murder involving a tryst with the president of the United States. The novel grabs you there and does not let go. This story of political cover-up and murder has characters I cared about and plot twists that kept coming. This is by far the best of Baldacci. My other two favorite novels of this genre were Finder's "Paranoia" and DeMille's "Gold Coast." While I enjoyed both of those audiobooks, "Absolute Power" was by far the best.
Most of this story kept my interest, with some parts dragging on a bit. It's a Holocaust tale with a twist. The main character at first seems to be Sage, a scarred and sad young women still grieving over the death of her mother. She befriends an old man (Josef), who tells her that he was an SS officer in Nazi Germany, and he want forgiveness and help in killing himself. I was drawn into these characters and their stories over the first third of the novel. Sage contacts the FBI. The second third of the novel is mostly told through the voices of Minke and Anna. Minke is Sage's grandmother and a Holocaust survivor. Minke's tale seems pretty generic, if you have read a lot about the Holocaust, which I have. Eventually, Minke's story did draw me in, but Anna's never did. It really dragged on. The final third of the novel connected all these different characters and stories, and picked up again. The ending of the novel seemed much too far fetched to me, and I did not believe Sage would act the way she did. I think it was just Judy Picoult trying to be clever and surprise the reader. She did surprise me but lost me in the process. I give this three stars because I was engaged by about 70% of this novel.
I was a big fan of the Siskel and Ebert movie review TV show, and really looked forward to this memoir. I enjoyed the beginning which covered Roger Ebert as a child, high-schooler, and college student. I liked his early years as a reporter. But then there was about a 90 minute stretch which talked about places he loved in Europe. Not much about Ebert or other people, Just one place after another. It got really boring to me. Then, when Ebert gets into reviewing movies, there was one snippet after another about entertainers he meets. Not too interesting to me as I did not know too much about those people, nor care. I skimmed ahead a bit until I got the the Siskel chapter, which I loved. The rest of the book was very good. We got to the love life of Roger Ebert, including learning about Chas, his wife. He finally dealt with his alcoholism, and then with his cancer. Those last three hours were very engaging. So, for me, good first third, boring middle third, and very engaging final third. I expect that if you are a real student of the movies (and even better, of Europe, too), you will like the whole book.
I enjoyed this mystery, with my favorite part being the relationship between Officer Scott James and his police dog, Maggie. Both man and dog have been wounded physically and emotionally and the story of them bonding was a fun one. The other plot is James's search for the murderer of his partner. That part felt like a standard mystery, and when Maggie was not in the picture, this felt more like an average mystery. Fortunately, Maggie did play a big role in much of this novel, raising this to a four star story to me. Overall, this was very pleasant entertainment.
Tony Danza chronicles his year as a part-time high school teacher in this funny and touching memoir. Long after he achieves fame as an actor, Danza answers his longtime calling to be a classroom teacher. He ends out teaching one class of 25 students in an urban public high school in Philadelphia. The deal includes teaching a double block each day, with a TV crew filming for a possible reality series. Danza makes it clear that he is there to serve his students, and the television piece is secondary. It becomes clear that he means that as he wades through his first year of teaching, full of mistakes, successes, humor, and constant up-and-down emotions. I am a high school teacher myself, and really enjoyed this book. Danza is exhausted physically and emotionally by his experience, and uplifted as well. He readily admits that with one class of 25 kids, he is not a "real teacher" and wonders how they do it. This book is from the heart and sheds great light on so many real issues in the field of education. Whether you are a teacher, high school student, or former high school student, I think you may enjoy Danza's humorous, emotional, and insightful journey through his year as a teacher.
This amazing novel of murder and racism in a small southern town grabbed me and did not let me go. It takes place at three different times, in the 20's, 40's and 60's, with different chiefs of police in Delano Georgia playing a big part in each segment. Each shift in times brings about both a continuity of characters as well as new ones. This novel starts at a slow pace, introducing the reader to the characters and way of life without rushing into the crimes that would run throughout the novel. I found myself caring about the characters, making gut-wrenching tragedy so much more powerful. I don't want to give away any plot details, so I will not say more. I have read a lot of crime fiction in my life, and find myself a little bored with so many popular novels of that genre now. Not this. "Chiefs" is one of the best crime novels that I have either read or listened to. I so wanted the experience to last, but I was driven to listen so much that I finished this novel much too soon. At first, I did not like the reader. He spoke too slowly, but gradually I got used to his slow drawl and found it added to the authentic atmosphere. I give this story a 5+!
Most of this story happens in the summer of 1960. Tom Harry is a bartender in rural Montana, and lives with his son, Rusty. Rusty is twelve years old, and loves his life with his single father, living above their bar. During that summer, twelve year-old Zoe moves to town and befriends Rusty. Twenty-something Delano also moves to town working on an Americana oral history project and connects with Rusty and his father. This is a sweet, slow-moving story, much like life in that small town at that time. I enjoyed being part of that time and seeing the world from Rusty's innocent eyes. The reader was great, with distinctive voices for all the main characters. I really enjoyed listening to this story, and rate the story as a 4+. My only criticisms - it felt a bit similar to other rural coming-of-age stories, and lacked any sharp edges to take it out of that comfortable idyllic world. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. One more comment - the book promo talks about Proxy and his daughter coming into the lives of Tom and Rusty. I was waiting for that to happen, thinking it would be central to this story. It does not occur until the book is 3/4 over. Rusty's relationship to his father and his bar, and his friendship with Zoe are much more central to this book.
This novel of survival on the river is every bit as great as the classic movie. Told in the first person, narrated by Will Patton, this story goes deeply into the decisions of life-and-death survival against the elements and crazed hillbillies. This is a scary and engaging story that I could not turn off. When I finished, I had to watch the movie. "Dueling Banjos" is the one thing that the book fails to capture as well or better than the movie. Despite this being a short audiobook, it contained so much depth that the movie did not have. If this genre appeals to you, I strongly recommend Deliverance.
This true tale of survival and rescue has everything to make it fascinating. A plane in WW2 crashed in Dutch New Guinea, and three injured American survivors had to survive among an uncivilized tribe from a Stone Age-like world . I was intrigued from the start. The problem was that this is a book that must be about 250 pages, but the story could have been well told in a third of that length. The background information on all the characters was interesting, but sometimes overwhelmed the narrative of the survival and rescue. The reader was good but not great. Still, the tale was memorable, and I am glad that I listened to it.
This novel is what I expect of Anne Tyler - quirky but very believable characters that I care about. The gimmick is that a widower in his mid-30's starts to see his recently deceased wife at various times. Most of this novel, though, is a series of flashbacks about the narrator Aaron's relationship with his wife Dorothy. I was drawn into the world of the main and secondary characters, through Aaron's early relationship, marriage, and then his grief after the freak accidental death of his wife. The least engaging part of the novel was Aaron's encounter with his dead wife. I liked this novel quite a bit in spite of the ghost theme. The reader is not easy to listen to, but the narrator is not the most likable, and so I suppose the voice does match the character. I did get used to hearing him.
This amazing audiobook covers the years before the US entered WW2. It revolves around one family, the Henry's. Pug, the father, becomes the Naval Attache in Berlin as the Nazi movement becomes more aggressive. One son is in the navy while another is in Italy and Pug and Rhoda's daughter takes a break from college to work on a radio show in New York. This epic novel deals with the lives and loves of all the Henry's. Pug's job turns into being an advisor to FDR, and lands him in the USSR, England, and Italy. Military and political history is seen through his eyes. After the war, Pug translates a German's interpretation of the war, and throughout the novel, we hear that perspective. I loved this whole story. I was as interested in the lives of this family as I was in the story of global conflict. There is a lot of history in this, and it helps to have some interest in it. The reader is amazing!!! While there were times that I was incredulous that Pug found himself in so many historic hot spots, I accepted that as a result of his role as the president's eyes overseas. This classic novel has not dated. It brings you back to a different era and does it so well. It is one of my favorite audiobooks, and I will certainly be listening to the sequel in the near future.
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