A boy with multiple personalities (imaginary "friends"), each with amazing abilities, sells himself to those who can use his assistance. Does the boy have a mental disease or mental superpowers? Both, it seems. In this two-hour story, he is hired to find a camera which might have taken pictures from the past. All these threads sound fascinating, yet this story was only "okay" to me. The pieces were there, but came together in a way to only partly grab my interest. The main character never became someone I truly cared about, even though his uniqueness piqued my interest.
I enjoyed this mix of short stories and essays, especially the essays. The reader learns that the author, Marina Keegan, died tragically shortly after graduating from Yale. With death the theme of both some essays and stories, that fact sadly does give this book more power. Keegan's stories are best when the main characters are 20-somethings like herself. They have an authentic feel, and she is a talented young writer. Her essays are all personal, making them so strong. She drew me into about half her short stories and all of her essays. My children are all 20-somethings, and this book both was enjoyable but also gave me more insight into the world of my kids. I have some criticisms with the audiobook. You start with one essay, followed by all the stories and then all the essays. There is almost no pause between one story and the next. A different voice reading story titles would have helped. Personally, I would have liked to have essays and short stories alternating. While the reader is good, and this was en enjoyable book to hear, it might be even better to read.
I liked the idea of a 1960's coming-of-age story mixed with a mystery. The problem is that this novel did not succeed in either of those areas. Very little happened in the first half of the novel. References to Brillcream, Risk, and Gunsmoke were not enough to make that golden era of childhood come alive, and I am from that generation! The characters and world were not interesting enough for that to work without more plot. Frank is the 13 year-old protagonist, who lives with a younger brother who stutters (and gets bullied), an older sister, and his parents, a minister, and a mother unhappy being the wife of a minister. The big mystery occurs halfway through the novel, when a major character disappears. The story picked up at that point. It moved from a 2-star to a 3-star book then. A good reader helped, too. This novel felt like something I had read many times in the past. I might have liked it more had it seemed fresher to me. Ultimately, it did provide a pleasant way to pass the time, but not much more.
This post World War 1 novel takes place in English, but I would describe it as very light historical fiction. The story follows a fatherless boy (Harry Clifton) who is the son of a dock worker but as a result of an extraordinary singing voice, ends up with a scholarship to a prestigious private school. The first half felt so predictable (class differences, etc.) that I almost stopped listening. There was a bit of a mystery surrounding the death/disappearance of his father. The second half of the novel dealt with that mystery, and felt more like an unrealistic soap opera. I liked Harry and his mother enough that I did listen more eagerly to see what would happen. The end resolves the key issues of book one, but also hooks the reader into the next and very different chapter in Harry's life. No spoilers here, but even though I had already decided that one Clifton book would be enough, the end did intrigue me. If you like your historical fiction edgy and realistic, this is NOT for you. If you like a light weight page-turner, you might enjoy this.
Billy Crystal tells the story of his life in short vignettes. Some are stand-up comedy routines in front of a live audience; some of more serious (always with some humor) autobiographical pieces. This covers his growing up, his career in entertainment, life as a parent, middle age, turning 65, family, death, baseball, etc.. Rarely do these kinds of memoirs sustain my interest as something to listen to or read from start to end. While there were a few parts that felt repetitive, the next piece invariably touched me or made me laugh. You should know that there is no "tell all" aspect to this (except for his boy obsessions as a 13 year-old). Billy Crystal seems to be that rare entertainment star who had one wife and no children in trouble. Too perfect to believe? Maybe or maybe not. I did not let this bother me. His life is amazingly ordinary and extraordinary, and he comes across as such a likeable guy. I liked this quite a bit. Needless the say, the narrator (Billy Crystal!) delivers this book perfectly.
After almost two hours of listening, I checked out online reviews to see if it would get any better. Some listener reviews said that it loses momentum near the end. That sealed it. I was done. While I can see why some readers and listeners would be intrigued by the main character, I just was not. I neither liked or disliked Tom Ripley. I didn't care about him, and this whole novel seems about the inner workings of this "interesting" character. I seem to be in a minority about this, but it just did not grab me. Taste is personal. Meanwhile, I almost did not read The Goldfinch because of the large number of people who rated in a 1 or 2 on Amazon. A friend lent it to me, and it is my favorite novel in years (Mark "MTF" is my reviewer handle on amazon, my review will be up soon). Back to The Talented Mr. Ripley, if you care about plot and secondary characters, be warned that you might be disappointed. If you want a psychiatric profile of a twisted mind, you might love it or you might not. Listen to the full sample. I did not love that, but trusted the reviews, and figured I'd get into the story, but I didn't.
Parts of this novel bored me; parts enthralled me. The first quarter of the book was so slow that I almost gave up. The second half had many parts I could not stop listening too. Basically, this novel is like a season of 24. The book follows a number of characters, both good guys and bad guys (terrorists). Dewey Andreas is the main character, and the Dewy scenes were the best. While none of the characters were really believable, I liked the Dewey, an ex-Delta Force soldier, who seeks revenge for the deaths of his oil rig crew. The weakness was that I did not care enough about any of the other characters for that to sustain me. While there was a lot of great action, where Dewey defied the odds at survival time and again (ala Jack Bauer of 24), a great novel needs one to believe and care about more characters. The reader was okay. At first, his monotone bored me, but I did get used to his understated, tough guy reading. The plot of this terrorist novel is quite good, and if you want plot and action, you will get a lot in this. I'm glad I listened but I won't be looking for another Ben Coes novel too soon. But I may eventually check out his other books if I am looking again for this genre.
This is the story of an astronaut abandoned accidentally on Mars, and is one of my all time favorite tales of survival. It takes place in the near future, with science that felt very much present day. This novel consists of amazing creative problem solving from start to end. While each situation seemed realistic, the sheer volume of creative thinking did seem unrealistic, but the story and engineering feats were too cool for me to care if it was over-the-top. You don't need scientific expertise to understand this, but an appreciation of creative solutions to problems will make this much more fun to listen to. I won't say more and spoil this awesome audio journey.
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery thriller. The main character is a private detective dealing with grief over the recent death of his teenage son. The disappearance of a teenaged girl he gives a ride to draws him into mystery and intrigue in a small town in upstate New York. I found myself caring about the characters and mystery equally. This story is very well paced, and I could not stop listening. While I would characterize this as a light summer page-turner, I was totally drawn in. The plot moved at a good pace with a good amount of twists and turns. My only criticism is that the end had one plot turn too many, but I still recommend this novel. It was one of my favorites of the past year.
I don't generally read classics, but a friend recommended this audiobook, and the price was right. I was engaged at the start, and sympathized with young Jane's situation as an unwanted orphan. Her time as a student in the school for orphans slowed down a bit, and her time as a governess dragged even more. Not much happened in terms of plot or character development, and I stopped because I found myself thinking more about what I'd read next than about the story. After, I did read the plot summary online, and it sounds like lots of things were ready to happen. The author writes about a women who was eons ahead of her times in terms of feminism and her thoughts about society. I can see why school kids still read this in English class. I teach at a high school, and I can see why it is more appealing to the girls than the boys. If one loves the classics, I can see the appeal, but as a male adult reader more used to modern fiction and nonfiction, this was just too slow for my tastes.
This legal mystery is a sequel to Grisham's best novel, A Time to Kill. It takes place three years after, when Jake is sent a handwritten will from a man who just killed himself. This is a rather long novel (much longer than Time to Kill) about the contesting of a will. That does not sound too enticing. It really isn't. This book is similar in so many ways to A Time to Kill, except a lot less happens, and there is a lot less excitement. That said, a great reader and revisiting characters that I loved made this fun enough to earn a solid 3 stars from me. There were parts that drew me in, but not consistently. An out-of-the-blue resolution at the end (which I was waiting for most of the novel) was not satisfying. I also had to suspend belief when at the start of the book, I learned that Jake is still a struggling lawyer after his amazing victory in the previous book. That Grisham made this as fun as it was with such a thin plot line is impressive in a way. The great reader is the best thing about this audiobook.
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