I love a novel in which I learn about an interesting subject wrapped in a compelling story. The Last Chinese Chef does all that quite well. I was fascinated to learn about the importance of food in the Chinese culture and how differently the Chinese view the experience of eating than do westerners. Simultaneously, I couldn't wait to find out what was happening with Mones' well wrought two main characters as their parallel stories intertwined. Mones successfully brings together the experience of an American writer looking for closure re her husband's life and sudden death and the experience of a Chinese-American Chef competing in a national competition as a lead up to the Beijing Olympics. A fun and different novel.
I loved John Sandford's first book in the Prey Series "Rules of Prey". Classic, well written crime drama - a rogue cop who bends a lot of rules but ultimately gets the job done. Shadow Prey follows the same formula, but I found this story to be a snooze-fest and thus never got "gripped". I'll try the 3rd in the series; depending on my reaction I'll be in for #4 or out the door with Sandford.
I usually love Michael Connelly's books. There is so little action or intrigue until the very hard to believe end. My mind wandered and wandered while listening. A large part of the problem was the lack of established emotional connection with either his partner, villains or victim and the rambling story without enough detail about the Saudi Princess, which is critical to the tale. There was just an overall lack of emotion - suspense, emotional connection, etc... If you're a diehard Connelly fan like me, go ahead and listen. It will make you appreciate his many well written books. If this is your first, don't judge his body of work by this one oops.
I loved Sycamore Row and did not want it to end. Grisham is a skilled story teller who delivers both a compelling plot and raw, relatable emotions in Sycamore Row. If you like Grisham or other well written mysteries, you will certainly enjoy this book.
....you can't look away. I feel so incredibly normal after listening to Miller's tale of life with two hoarding parents. She draws a clear picture in the listener's mind of the filth and chaos amidst which she lived as a child and the impact that situation had on her as she became an adult. Though the book is relatively short, it is just the right length to keep your interest.
One of the very best Michael Connelly books I have listened to. The character development and plot twists and turns kept me listening into the wee hours of the night. I love his Lincoln Lawyer series as I find them the most interesting of Connelly's books.
I really enjoyed Lookaway, Lookaway. I should put in the caveat that I am from NC, so it was fun hearing about so many places familiar to me. That aside, Barnhardt does a great job with character development and tells the story through an interesting method. For the first few hours, I thought it was going to be all sorority and debutante fluff, but then the novel took a sharp left turn and never looked back. The matriach, Jerene Jarvis Johnson, is incredibly well drawn. Hats off to Barnhardt for his clever story line that always kept me surprised.
It was so intriguing listening to alcoholic Hildy's story which all seems so reasonable, then hearing what actually happened from the non-inebreated supporting cast of this novel. Leary does an excellent job drawing the character of Hildy and letting us love her while still seeing her bumps and bruises. Well done!
I was intrigued to learn more about the orphan trains of the early 20th century after reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity. The Orphan Train is compelling, though at times heart breaking, as you learn how the older children on these trains were often viewed as free labor vs new members of adopting families. The story centers around a nine year old Irish girl who is shipped from NYC to the midwest in search of a new home after her family is killed in a fire. The story felt a bit forced and certainly was not the quality of Moriarity's tale, but overall it was a good listen - 3.8.
Carl Hiaasen is what he is - a rollicking writer of fun fluff set in southern Florida. If you want a light read that does not command your unerring attention, this is a good choice. There were definitely scenes that made me laugh out loud.
The Art Forger tells the story of the recovery of a painting (perhaps) from the famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. The main character - the art forger - is well drawn. Shapiro did a good job creating a character who is nice, though a bit simpering, but is able to tamp down her morals for money. Usually characters who do this are drawn to be sinister so we do not like them. This was a pretty realistic depiction of the choices perfectly nice people make when weighing options. The story itself I found to be just average. An interesting companion is the non-fiction book Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures which is written by the FBI agent who worked on the Gardner Heist.
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