Unfortunately, this book was a victim to a horrible narrator. Not only did Martin Jarvis sound like a boring British butler, he could not keep up with all the characters involved in the story. I also couldn't tell when he ended a footnote. This book was confusing enough with all the various plot lines - I didn't appreciate not knowing if something was a sidenote or an essential piece of information.
Good Omens itself was a silly story of how the world will end. Ultimately, the characterization of various demons, angels, deities, and other apocalyptic creatures won me over. I'm not sure if I liked this story enough to re-read it in the printed version.
This is a tough book to review because I was completely entranced by this book. I became very involved in the trials and triumphs of the Mason family. Still, I'm not sure who I would recommend this novel to. It's definitely a great piece of fiction, but I can't say I feel satisfied after reading it.
Unfortunately, I think that was Stegner's point - the unsatisfactory end of a family trying to take advantage of the American dream. How much should you gamble? Can you raise children while being an American pioneer? What is the modern definition of pioneering if the West is already settled? If Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her Little House on the Prairie in the early 1900s...would it seem as delightfully innocent?
I definitely think Stegner's voice is an important one in American literature. In the future, I'd read another one of his novels.
I purchased this audio book while it was on sale. I thought, "Why not...could be entertaining." I have to say it was entertaining, but it didn't make me laugh out loud. Craig Ferguson did make me say "Ha!" in agreement few times, but I finished his book feeling the same about him as when I started. I don't have a strong desire to start watching his late night show...I don't really want to search for his old stand-up clips...and I don't want to re-watch any Drew Carey shows.
The way Ferguson describes and vocalizes his love of his hometown Glasgow is surprisingly poetic. In fact, there were moments throughout this book that I found Ferguson deep and well-spoken. In fact, I do have an urge to read Between the Bridge and the River. So, I guess Ferguson did end up promoting one of his products well after all.
I wanted this book to be sexier, stronger and more exciting than it was. In the end, it was interesting, but mostly a background book. I do give Michelle Moran points for her attempt at historical accuracy, and I do appreciate her approach to the noble court in Egypt. She could have taken liberties but chose to keep it as faithful as she could to the present-day conjectures on Nefertiti's life.
The narrator did a decent job. Again, it could have been pumped up to generate excitement to the reader. I do feel like the reader did justice to the Nefertiti's sister's voice.
Moloka'i is a beautiful and haunting novel. At times the pace was slow, but I really enjoyed hearing Rachel's entire life story.
Anne Noelani Miyamoto was the perfect narrator for this book - I was transported back to the Hawaiian islands. Her voice made me want to never leave the leper island.
I would compare this book to "Fooling Houdini." Both follow the authors as they embark on competing in strange competitions to demonstrate their obsessive proficiency in weird habits. Unlike "Fooling Houdini," Foer's "Moonwalking with Einstein" was so boring at times I almost fell asleep while driving. You know it's bad if news radio is more thought provoking than your audio book.
The difference between the two books lies in the personal touches added to "Houdini" that were missing in "Moonwalking." You rooted Alex Stone's magic journey because of his passion. Foer's enthusiasm for his sport (if we can call it a sport), did not showcase until the last chapter - and that chapter was the most thrilling of the whole book. Unfortunately, "Moonwalking" felt like a text book at times. He failed to make the ancient Grecian ways personal and relatable. Still, the scientific studies that Foer delved into were fascinating. Especially when he interviewed "EP" - a victim of a virus that erased his memory capacity.
I think I was also expecting a little more practical uses for Foer's memory tools. I guess I could use a memory palace for remembering my conference attendees' names, but I won't necessarily need to memorize a deck of cards.
The audio book of "Fooling Houdini" may have resonated with me more because Alex Stone actually read his own novel. Foer opted for a professional reader, who was great but didn't connect to the text like Stone did.
If you're looking for a more entertaining nonfiction, I would definitely recommend "Fooling Houdini" over this one.
I think the format and the energy of this book was much better than the first. The alternate storylines between the past and present had a good pace for the novel. The past storyline seemed to end abruptly.
The major plot twists were really predictable, but I still enjoyed the action-packed novel. I'll probably read the next one to see where the cliffhanger leads.
1st 3/4 of the Book: 4 stars
Last 1/4 of the Book: 2 stars
The plague portion of the book I really enjoyed (that sounds weird, I know). It was dark and sad and haunting. At first described as an beautiful pasturial and hard-working community, Eyam in Derbyshire, made you ache to visit historic England and then dashed your hopes as the plague infested this village in 1665-66. You felt the pain of the villagers as they suffered through the bubonic plague. I found myself encouraging Anna and Elinor Mompellion as they researched herbs to relieve plague victims and to fight off the disease.
Then things got weird. This seemingly accurate and heart-wrenching story started to become a romance novel. Not that I mind a romance, but it just didn't fit the rest of the book. I can handle Anna getting down with the rector. Even though there were no real hints of her attraction to the minister, I could get behind Anna wanting to experience her friend Elinor's love life. To have the heroic minister turn into a dark and twisted character seemed wrong. There were only a few hints into this dark nature, and I didn't think it was ample build up for what transpired.
Next, the Bradfords turn into the ultra villians after appearing for only 10 pages beforehand. I understand by abandoning the town during the plague made them bad people - they certainly caused the town grief during their worst moments. But to become adulterers and baby murderers all of the sudden was just...puzzling.
Finally, Anna sails away (by herself...in 1666...yeaaaaaaaaah) only to become one of many wives of a Arabian doctor. So, all of the character building and strength is washed away as she willing becomes a wife to live with a doctor and learn his medical wisdom.
I don't know if Brooks wanted to make the book more exciting by building in a thrilling conclusion, but it stole the spirit of the 3/4 of the book. The majority of Year of Wonders is about a community who heroically suffered through the plague without endangering the surrounding villages. Readers felt the small joys because that's all the town had during a year of hell. As a reader, you felt pride in Anna's strength as she realized her gift in medicine. To have her just abandon the village after months of suffering with it seemed wrong.
Regarding the narration - Geraldine Brooks' narrated her own book. Her raspy British accent suited Anna, but it took awhile to get used to it. It became a little monotone - I found myself tuning her out at key points.
At times this book was repetitive, but I really enjoyed the characters and story line. The only reason why I didn't give it 5 stars was because I could predict plot developments. Still, a really enjoyable and (at times) sultry read on the citizens of Kingsbridge.
The narrator did a great job of consistently portraying characters (and there were a lot of them). He kept me engaged the entire 45 hours.
** spoiler alert ** I enjoyed this book more than I expected, but my expectations were pretty low. It's a ridiculous concept - love being outlawed and carved out of people. Still, I think the author pursued the idea well and I found myself liking Alex and Lena. Lena came across as whiny at times, but then I reminded myself about her age and I tolerated it.
The last chapter definitely kicks it into high gear. I wish Oliver spent less time on Lena's inner dialogue and anxiety and more time for the great escape.
Still, I couldn't put it down and ordered the next book. That counts for something.
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