So, it does seem somewhat pointless to write a review about a book that so many others have already written about. My hope is that other people will also write purposeless reviews, so that if their taste seems to match mine, I can follow their recommendations.
Time Traveler's Wife is really a love story, in fact, awfully similar to the original "Love Story," with some time traveling literary license. Problem for me is, the characters are somewhat unbelievable, and the story is way too long. I say this despite the fact that I live on audiobooks, and happily devour 100 hour sagas on a regular basis. This one is purposeless at times, with rare artsy descriptions and digressions that are annoying and seem completely separate from the rest of the narrative. Other than these, the author's main descriptive power seems to be in the endless insider naming of streets and bars in Chicago, most of which are mispronounced by the narrators. In fact, this is also a major downpoint to the book; audible and other publishers are making millions on these books, but the narrators can't seem to garner enough effort to actually investigate words they're unfamiliar with. Street names, along with words like "tra-PEE-zoid" and "vi-CO-din" appear with alarming regularity, and are distracting from the listen. Otherwise, it was ok, but I am confused by the rave reviews.
I was a bit worried after the first installment that this trilogy would be another copycat fantasy with limited plot. Happily, I was nicely surprised that this second book surpassed the first, and was a really enjoyable and engrossing listen.
Michael Page gives one of the best readings I have ever heard (right up there with Rob Inglis and Roy Dotrice) and manages to have distinct, recognizable voices for each and every character. I look forward to the finale!
Imagine a B Movie, filled with campy delights and obvious plot. Then take away the camp. And the delights. Then you have a really pointless, unbelievably poorly written, boring, predictable pile of goo. Break for another zombie/vampire conversion interlude. Ohhh, this one's in the subway... While I realize it's a serial, I hung in just to see if anything would happen in the end, but - NADA. Save your time and money.
It is, of course, difficult to judge a trilogy by one book, but I really enjoyed this first installment. There is a lot of description of new characters - at least five are introduced at length before the story gets under way, but I found the entire listen engaging and exciting - one of those I couldn't turn off, where I ignored the rest of my life just to listen more. I don't consider myself easy to please, but this book definitely swept me away. Of course, there is lots of magic realism (and lots of plain old magic) but it didn't seem silly. The character "types," while not entirely unrecognizable (small people, "awake" animals, sorcerers), were unique enough, and felt solid and interesting. It is not fair to compare this with George RR Martin (should he EVER bloody finish the Song of Ice and Fire), since his goal is sophisticated psychological character development and intrigue. Mr Redick seems more interested in the creation of a different universe, with more description of possible/unique types of creatures and societies - makes me think more of "Eragon," and Robert Jordan. Though, certainly the rest of the trilogy could prove me wrong on this point.
The sample on the home page of Michael Page's narration is not a good one - while his basic reading voice is a bit Stiff Old Brit, he does incredible character depictions, as good as I have ever heard. I really can't wait for the next book, and hope Audible gets it, as this was one of the most enjoyable listens I've had in a long time.
I think it's completely possible to live a life of extreme abuse, neglect and addiction, and not survive to be a great writer. Kudos to Cupcake for her journey to sobriety - she is clearly a person of tremendous inner strength - but the outcome of her writing is repetitive and hard to get through. This seems a bit odd, because the events themselves are pretty outrageous, so I guess the problem could be the writing style. The book reads like an expanded first step (of the famous 12), with exhaustive recounts of the rape, crime, beatings, loss, and excessive quantities of drugs and alcohol, endless missed opportunities for change, and the, FINALLY, minutiae of recovery, all using the same 3 adjectives. Perhaps it should be a required listen for people new to recovery, but as a memoir it's not so compelling. I found the book by searching for Bahni Turpin, since she was such an excellent narrator in The Help, and she did try to enliven the "negative behaviors" and events of Cupcake's life, but it still doesn't work for me.
This was one of the best audiobooks I have heard in years, right up there with the best of the best - Angela's Ashes, Memoirs of a Geisha, Lord of the Rings - this is epic. The visceral and cerebral saga of a family, told step by step, with full blooded, gorgeous characters, and accurate medical descriptions. Dr Verghese grew up as an ethnic christian Indian in Ethiopia, and the cultural details seem real and are mesmerizing. History, medicine, religion, love, sex, culture, brotherhood, it is ALL there. I can't possibly say enough good things about this book, and am filled with admiration for Dr Verghese. He describes why medicine is an amazing profession, and why the narrative of life, no matter what the story, is important. Sunil Malhotra does a fantastic job as well.
This is definitely a fitting sequel to the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and was every bit as suspenseful and quirky. The protagonists are tantalizingly odd, and their bevy of magic-realism-level gifts and talents seems almost believable. Its easy to picture the late (and great) Mr Larsson downing the same incredible quantities of coffee that his characters drink (in fact, the only thing they seem to consume...) in order to work himself up to the frantic pace of the plot. Knowing that part of his goal was to draw attention to the plight of women caught in the sex trade, who have such limited power to defend and protect themselves, makes me appreciate the book even more.
One down side - some of the characters seem to be built entirely around odd medical diagnoses. In addition, the characterization of psychiatry as a profession is rather appalling, while Mr Larsson's own description of psychopathology is frequently limited to "antisocial" and "extraordinarily violent." That said, I enjoyed listening to it, and got completely carried away by the plot.
Simon Vance is a brilliant reader, and I am a huge fan; everything I have listened to which included him was compelling. I agree with the reviewer who mentioned how much cleaner her house has been since she couldn't put the book down - mine is too!
After reading the first Ladies No 1 Detective Agency book, I wrote that it could cure any existential crisis. This latest is just as good - extremely pleasurable and captivating. A few of the other books in the series have not been quite as fantastic as the original, but this installment keeps the series alive and kicking. There is not much going on in the way of suspense or "detection," but the characters are compelling, and I remain captivated by the cultural tidbits that McCall Smith provides. Lesette Lecat is a fantastic narrator, and the tempo of the book is slow, calm, and lovely.
Well, it just goes to show that people can have very different opinions. I thought this was a great book, with an unusual style describing a fascinating culture in full 3-D. The disgust with greed, consumerism, and the disregard of those less privileged is timely and refreshing. However, I disagree with many of the reviews because the narrator, John Lee, is just not my cup of tea. He seems to suck the life out of many of the books he reads, and I found his faux accent to be most annoying. I did enjoy the story itself but, wish I had just read the book.
Silly me for wanting a thriller to be plausible in the first place, but Dan Brown has pushed this one far beyond the spot where I am comfortable suspending disbelief. At least with the DaVinci Code I recognized that the characters were living in the same time/space dimensions as I do; here I'm not so sure - how many times can one person survive near-death in 24 hours? And, how many times can I hear about Michael Langdon's claustrophobia and then suffer through some sort of anaerobic disaster?
Angels and Demons reads as though he was writing the screenplay rather than the novel, complete with "stunning" visuals, hand to hand combat, heroes hanging off of balconies one-handed, and sexy women. It is fun to listen to at times, but nowhere near as good as his original. Maybe he's trying to appease the religious zealots he offended in the DaVinci Code, and maybe he's trying to drum up more bad blood (and hot press), but the tired "science vs religion" debate leaves me rather bored in the end.
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