I loved the start of this classic western - the reader was amazing and he transported me into the old wild west. There was a lot of action, which kept me interested for the first half of this novel. And then the action slowed a bit, and with time to think, I realized that I didn't really care about any of the characters. They were neither real nor interesting. There were two kinds of characters - good guys and bad guys. Nothing in between. I felt like I was watching a very long episode of Bonanza or Gunsmoke, which I enjoyed for a while but then it got dull. If you love classic westerns, I expect that you will like this. The writing is good western writing and a lot happens. I enjoyed seeing how the two partners built a huge ranch from nothing. But this so paled in comparison to Lonesome Dove, another western novel about a cattle drive. Lonesome Dove, though, has truly unforgettable characters. The Lonesome Dove audiobook has a lame reader, and so the paper version is best for that. I rated The Beginning 3 stars because I was drawn into the story and enjoyed the first half. I'd say the story is 2.5 star story, but the great reader and fun language boosted the experience to a 3 star one for me.
This multi-generational saga takes place in Texas from the 1850's and goes to the later part of the 20th century. It focuses on one family, and alternates narration and story from Eli, the patriarch, to his disappointing son, Peter, and to Eli's great-granddaughter Jeanne. Eli is captured as a boy by the Comanches and raised as a tribesman. Eli's story is by far the most engaging from start to end, and takes up about half the novel. Eli is a fearless boy and man, and goes on to be a major force in ranching and oil in Texas. Peter the son cannot get past an incident where his neighbors and townspeople slaughter a neighboring Mexican family. His sadness gets weary and boring, and this part only picks up with a love affair later in his life. Jeanne's story starts slowly but does gather steam up as she gets older and assumes the reins of her family. I like that Jeanne and Eli have some great qualities, but flaws as well, making them not totally likeable but believable. The novel jumps from one character to the next advancing each of those lives. There were so many parts of this novel that I loved, but too many times when I was impatient to return to a thread or character which was more interesting. The readers were very good. Only Peter's might have overdone the sad/whiny quality. The readers for Eli and Jeanne were excellent.
I listened to The Shining last year and enjoyed it, but made it through the first three hours of Doctor Sleep, and was just plain bored. What made the Shining great was that King developed his characters as people that I cared about, and he created a sense of place with the Overlook hotel. None of that happened with this sequel. The kid Danny is grown, and King assumes that the connection we made with him from the last book would be enough. It was not for me. I see most reviewers have loved Doctor Sleep, and wonder why I am in such a minority. Maybe most other readers and listeners loved The Shining so much that they felt connected to the sequel instantly. Not me, though. Unless you loved The Shining, I would suggest Joyland as a much more enjoyable Stephen King novel.
I had read this novel many years ago and loved it. It had been my first Anne Tyler novel. Listening to this now, I was disappointed throughout the first half. The characters were quirky, almost typical Anne Tyler characters, but the freshness of the experience was gone for me. This is the story of Macon, an odd, finicky man dealing with the demise of his marriage after the tragic death of his son. When Macon meets Muriel, an unlikely mate, his life begins to change in big ways. Halfway through the novel, the characters became alive to me, and I loved the second half of the book. It was hard to rate this, as the first half is a basic 3 star novel, but the second half was a 5 star story which kept me glued to my iPod. This does not feel dated, and I recommend it to anyone who likes Anne Tyler or quirky middle-aged romances.
I had enjoyed North and South, and looked forward to this sequel. The reader was good, and I enjoy historical novels and the Civil War in particular. I stayed with this story for about 14 hours before I decided that I was too bored to go on. At first, I thought that it was the long recap of the first book that made it dull. This book had too many characters doing too many different things to keep momentum going. Too little happened in the "war" parts, and the "love" was pretty sparse and unengaging. Maybe it would have gotten better, but I was not going to waste any more time. The fact that I considered listening to more is the reason I gave it two stars. I had cared about some characters from the first novel, but this one did not sustain that interest.
I enjoyed this pre-Civil War novel. The stories of the characters are interwoven well with the history of the time. It took me a while before I connected with the characters, but the novel grew on me as it progressed. Love, rivalry, revenge, and slavery are big parts of this story of connections between people in the North and the South. Two families are bound by a deep friendship between West Point cadets, and the drama follows from there. The characters are a little black and white, with the bad people truly despicable and the good people almost all good. But Jakes did successfully get me rooting for the good guys and hating the bad guys. While it felt a bit manipulative at times, I let it happen and enjoyed the listen. The story has a good number of characters and subplots, and is wrapped smartly into a cohesive whole. The history was more believable than the characters. I rarely read or listen to a sequel right away, but I have already bought the sequel to this and will listen to it next. The reader is solid and well suited to this story.
Damien Echols tells his story - a tale of being a poor boy in Arkansas who was sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. The good parts were the story of his life before being imprisoned. This was interwoven with snippets of life on death row. After he is convicted, there is a lot more on life in prison. Echols focuses much on his state of mind. He is self-educated and a deep thinker, and I enjoyed this. Both his upbringing and imprisonment were depressing, but interesting. Now, my complaints. The second half of the book had so much about prison life, and the injustice and immorality of the treatment from sadistic guards. He seemed to repeat this theme and similar stories for a long time. My other complaint - he skipped almost every detail of his arrest and trial and conviction. We are told that he had an alibi for the time of the murder, but we don't hear much about why that was never brought up in the original trial. What was his lawyer like (except incompetent and eager to not anger the judge). Why was Echols picked as the scapegoat? Was he found in the wrong place at the wrong time? This book addresses almost none of this. And then suddenly there was an HBO movie about his plight. How did that come about? What changed to convince many he was innocent?
So, I heard too much about some stuff and not enough about other stuff. I was left a little bored and a little frustrated by the book's end. Echols makes a good case for the failure of the legal adversary system. As so often happens, the prosecution is more interested in a win than in justice, and I hope that books like this and PR from the Innocence Project will change things.
The basic plot: a 16 year-old girl witnesses a Russian mob murder. The mob with FBI moles tries to kill her before the trial, and the girl must change her identity and hide in order to stay alive.This novel is equally a romance and a mystery/thriller. The plot is far-fetched, and the romance is even harder to believe. Elizabeth, the main character, was compared to Lisbeth of the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, in some reviews. Not even close. This Elizabeth is a genius who has led a totally sheltered life and clearly has a touch of Asperger's Syndrome. She is predictable and not especially interesting. Why Brooks, the police chief, falls in love with her is a mystery. I am also disappointed that none of the reviewers said that this was written by a women and was clearly meant for a female audience. With all these criticisms, why did I rated this a 4 star novel? With the exception of a 2-3 hour lapse near the middle, the plot moves forward quickly and is an engaging and fun one. I liked the Brooks character as well as many of the minor characters in this novel. I eventually got used to Elizabeth and found myself rooting for her to take down the mob and lead a normal life. I am a middle aged man, and was a bit embarrassed by the sappy, predictable romance which seemed clearly written for women. I almost gave up on this halfway through, when the romance dominated the book. And then the action resumed, and I suspended belief and did enjoy listening to this quite fun story. It felt like a bit of a guilty pleasure given all that was wrong with this book, but I found myself swept away with the story for almost the whole second half. The excellent reader and the really fun second half of the novel got me to bump up the 3.5 star novel to a 4 overall. If you want a woman's romance, too, you might like this even more than I did.
I enjoyed this Stephen King novel as much as any I have read of his in a long while. King captures the life of a 21 year-old in 1973. At the center of this novel is an unsolved murder on one of the rides at an amusement park, Joyland. Some claim that the ghost of the murdered woman comes out at times. King drew me in to the time and place, and I liked the fact that there was just a small supernatural twist to this. Mostly, it's a college student and his friends enjoying their summer and trying to solve an old murder on the side. I found myself caring about the main character and the subplots. It's a short, fun, fast-moving novel. The reader is good. Overall, it was a 4.5 star book to me. It's a perfect summer book (light, escape fiction), with a good ending that made me round my rating up to a 5.
This book is the story of that epic 33 inning baseball game in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Even more, it is a profile of a city and its minor league baseball team. It profiles so many (players, coaches, announcers, batboys, owners, etc.) who participated in that game. And it captures the highs and lows of trying to make it in minor league baseball. I enjoyed this book, but must confess that I am the perfect reader for it. I love baseball, I am a big Red Sox fan, I have lived in Rhode Island, and I have a family member working his way up through minor league professional sports. I found every aspect of this interesting - both the sports stuff and the human interest part. It is well written. The epic game itself takes up less of this book than the backgrounds (past and future) of the people.
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