San Francisco, CA | Member Since 2010
Though I don't usually read family stories, I found Red Hook Road overall very enjoyable. It's about the aftermath of a tragic incident that brings together two very unlike mothers who are forced to deal with situations together as life goes on. It's touching and for the most part very well written. I've read some criticisms that the two main characters, the mothers, are unlikeable, and while I get that, I found them rich enough characters that even though there were definitely unlikeable things about them, I still felt empathy for them and understood how life had shaped them in those particular ways. Iris, in particular, while extremely irritating in her desire to control anything and everything in her path, was still vulnerable enough and showed enough kindness and love that her negative qualities didn't really bother me. On the downside, the plot is a little contrived, and there's a bit of deus ex machina at the end. But it's well worth a read, if this is the kind of novel you enjoy. I also thought the ending dragged out a bit -- as I was listening to it in the car, I kept thinking, "Okay, that's got to be the last sentence . . . " but it wasn't. As far as the audiobook is concerned, the reading is very good with one minor complaint -- the female reader speaks the male voices in a register that's so low it really sounds forced and unnatural. I get that they have to differentiate the voices somehow, but I found it distracting, especially the voice of the father. But overall, the audiobook was great, and the book itself worth the read, if you like that type of story. It's not my usual choice, but I enjoyed it.
It actually took me three tries to get going on this book. It starts off slowly, you have no idea of who the people are, and twice I put it aside to read something else. But finally came a time when I had nothing on my iPad I hadn't read but Speaks the Nightbird, so I sighed and turned it on again.
Wow. It certainly picked up, and turned into one of those books that you feel obsessed about -- looking for reasons to drive the car, sitting in the driveway listening long after you're home, and so on. There are so many plot twists and turns, it's guaranteed to keep your attention and keep you guessing.
And the narrator is wonderful. He does the voices beautifully, including the women, which I can't say for all narrators. Others have given you information about the subject matter and details, so I'll just say, Read It. Now.
We're on our way to Italy in the fall, so I'm reading my way through a long list of both fiction and non-fiction histories. I enjoyed this book -- it was engaging and entertaining. Some of the "magical" parts of the story I found to be a bit much, and at times it veered more towards romance than history, but overall I think it was a good read. Caterina Sforza was an amazing woman.
This is a great follow-up for Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. This novel brings that great book to life. It fills in all the details in a thrilling narrative. The narrator is excellent. Highly recommended.
I thoroughly enjoyed every hour of this book. The narrator is extremely good, and the story never flagged for me. It's a big novel, with many characters, and the echoes of Dickens (Pip and Estella, The Artful Dodger) are definitely there. It's dense, and lyrical at times, and suspenseful from time to time -- overall, an excellent way to spend a long commute for a few days or weeks.
I'm a huge fan of every Dave Robicheaux novel that Burke has written. If I have one tiny quibble with this one, it's that more than a few times while listening, I thought, whew, this is getting really dark. The character of Asa Surette, as brilliantly brought to life by Will Patton, is one of the creepiest characters I've ever encountered in fiction. But overall, the book is excellent, and Patton's reading is nearly flawless -- I say "nearly," because along with another reviewer, I feel his voice for Gretchen doesn't quite work, and because Clete just doesn't sound like the Clete in my head, though I've made my peace with it. If you're a fan, don't hesitate to get this audiobook; if you're new to Burke -- start at the beginning! I totally envy you for what you have ahead of you.
If you are a foodie or food history buff, you will enjoy this book. It's fascinating in its detail of kitchen equipment, appliances, and so on. It reminded me, in a way, of Bill Bryson's "At Home," another excellent book about the history of the home. It's a good read.
I enjoyed this book, though I understand the criticism of it. I don't necessarily agree with all the criticism that says Grissom plays off stereotypes -- I think she does a little more complex job than stereotypes. The characters, white and black, are complex and nuanced, and the slaves' characters and attitudes, I thought, were a far cry from Bojangles or Stephan Fetchit. They understood their situation, they found ways to cope, but were devastated when families were broken up or other horrific things happened. The main character, Lavinia, skirts the edges of being unlikeable at some points, making her a bit more complex. All that said, I do think the story was melodramatic in that so many kinds of unhappiness and abuse are woven into the story that at times it became somewhat hard to swallow. Marshall, in particular, seemed to be a flat character, going completely black upon his return to Tall Oaks, doing a complete about-face as far as Lavinia was concerned. I also grew irritated that so much of the plot turned on one character or another overhearing the conversation of others -- as a plot device, I felt it was overused. The two narrators were terrific -- the women voicing the stories of Lavinia and Belle were right on, very believable. They made the book for me. It's a page-turner, that's for sure. But you may have a bit of trouble buying it all.
I haven't finished listening yet, but I already know what I'm going to say. I enjoyed "The DaVinci Code," but this is almost unlistenable to me. The narrator's fine, and does a great job, but I'm sorry -- Dan Brown is such a horrible writer that you have to be able to totally focus on the plot and ignore everything else to enjoy this book. He tells a good story. Yes. But the story is so often interrupted by repetitions, self-indulgent "look what I know" facts, endless descriptions of places of interest, and utterly unrealistic thoughts by the main character -- e.g., they are running from people who are trying to kill them, they look at a historical artifact, he notices that one side is yellowed from the sun, and he makes a note that he has to double the SPF in his sunscreen. Huh???? He also rips off T.S. Eliot: "a patient anesthetized upon a table" -- does that remind you of "a patient etherized upon a table"? Oh yes, and he couldn't believe he was leaving Florence without having paid a visit to The David -- this, again, when they are being chased by all kinds of people who want to kill them. Come on! I guess you could call me a snob, but I love a rollicking good story, as long as the writing doesn't make me cringe. This one is way too cringy for me.
It took me a while to warm up to this book -- I found it confusing at first and wasn't sure I liked it. But I finished it over a week ago, now, and it's haunting me still. It's a complicated family story, but also a family mystery that doesn't come clear until the end. I grew to feel very sympathetic toward the narrator, as her family history was revealed, bit by bit. The narrator is excellent -- give it a try. It's a great listen.
Wow. I totally enjoyed this book, the true story of Nancy Wake, a New Zealand-born Australian who was a major figure in the French Resistance in WWII. The story of how she got there and her activities during the war is riveting; I enjoyed every minute of it. What an amazing woman. Read it. You'll hardly be able to believe it.
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