Ever since listening to The Help, i have looked for other books read by Jenna Lamia, and she is equally wonderful reading Looking for Me. This story is very engaging and i liked it almost as much as Saving CeeCee Honeycut. I felt the storyline, as it relates to the brother, was a bit farfetched -- which is why i gave the story itself 4 stars. Otherwise a great read...funny, sad, very moving and well written.
This Other Typist provides an interesting enough background of the 1920s era (complete with prohibition, the mood of the times, and great settings) but for me the actual story was contrived and hard to believe. Plus the naivete of the protagonist was ridiculous to the extreme.
I won't repeat what others have already written with respect to the theme and agree that, up front, the less you know about it the better. Probably my biggest complaint is with the narrator. Admittedly there are many run-on sentences within the text, but that alone isn't always a bad thing. However, the narrator lacked helpful pauses and read with so little inflection that even i felt out of breath by the time the full stop presented itself.
In my opinion it's probably best to forego the audio version of this book and maybe read it instead.
It took me a while to get into this book, but overall it was an interesting listen. It abounds with scientific terminology and as a non-scientist, there were times that i got a bit lost. However, and as the title suggests, there is a lot of "is-there-a-god" discussion, addressing the philosophical question about the reality of a higher power/creator rather than the theological Christian ethic--an important distinction for me, an agnostic bordering on atheism. These heady discussions mostly occur between the paleontologist at a Canadian museum and and a very likable alien and are hugely thought-provoking and well conceived. I ended up caring a lot for the characters, and though the ending was a tad contrived, the story was engaging and the narrator excellent. Recommend...
I bought this book for two specific reasons: 1) it was on sale; and 2) i knew the movie got rave reviews and was nominated for various academy awards. I also knew it is a true story about an unwed mother who gave her son up for adoption and later spent many years searching for him. On the surface, the appeal was not particularly obvious to me but i purchased it on the strength of the movie (which i have not seen) and didn't even read the customer reviews beforehand. The story is in fact incredibly multi-layered and addresses several moral and social issues as it gradually unfolds.
As noted by other reviewers, it is mostly about the life of the child, Anthony Lee/Michael Hess, and less of his birth-mother, Philomena. Born in a convent in Ireland where his mother was able to care for him, he was then adopted (along with another child, Mary) by an American couple when he was three. Throughout his life, Michael struggles to understand why his birth mother abandoned him. He believes it must be because he is a bad and unworthy person. Concurrently he strives to come to terms with his sexual orientation in a homophobic environment, both at home and at work.
I am tempted to describe in more detail the many issues this story explores--the general attitude toward unwed mothers in the mid-20th century, how it must feel to be adopted for some people and why it might partly define who they are, the difficulties gay people encountered--and to an extent still do--in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, just to name a few--but will stop here. I feel the less one knows about the story, the more powerful the impact. The book provoked in me a whole spectrum of emotions and i thought it outstanding; plus the narrator is excellent.
I am a huge fan of Robert Harris--Fatherland and Ghost Writer among my all-time favorite books--and downloaded this book as soon as i read about it. In my opinion, this one falls a tad short of the high standards Harris has previously set. Having said that, i did learn a great deal about the history of the Dreyfus affair, which involved a series of disgraceful coverups, lies, and extensive corruption in the French military and some of the politicians of the time.
A quick recap: Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French military, was wrongfully convicted of leaking secrets to the Germans in the mid-1890s. He was subsequently stripped of his rank and military honors and thrown into prison for life. The fact that he was Jewish clearly added to the military's rush to conviction. When protagonist and fellow officer Georges Picquart found evidence that would prove Dreyfus' innocence, he went to great lengths and enormous personal hardship (including his own imprisonment) to set the record straight.
However it was difficult for me to feel much empathy for, nor particularly like any of the characters until probably halfway through the listen (though in truth many of the characters are just plain unlikable, including Dreyfus himself). As a result i struggled to care much about what was happening in the earlier parts and found my mind wondering off at times. It wasn't until well into the story when Picquart began to defy his superiors' orders in favor of following his own moral/ethical code of conduct that i finally became absorbed in the story. And while i never felt much love for any of the characters, the various outrageous behaviors of so many powerful people and the utter wrongness of their actions made me care enormously about how the story ended--I so totally wanted to see the wrongs made right and good prevail over evil.
Overall it is a fascinating piece of history and i would have given the story itself three and a half stars if that were an option. It is a good listen, and i recommend it, in spite of the above caveats. Plus David Rintoul is a superb narrator!
I greatly appreciate and depend on the reviews of other listeners for most books i select, though admittedly rarely contribute my own comments. In this case though i feel compelled to mention an aspect of The Goldfinch that is strikingly omitted in both the summary and the reviews i have read. First though, i must preface my comments by admitting that i listened to this book non-stop while driving from Alabama to Maryland and then sneaked "listens" whenever possible, despite a house full of family who gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday. So needless to say i found the story utterly engrossing and entertaining. That said, however, i was pretty turned off by the excessive drug and alcohol use that was a huge presence throughout the story. These abuses had an enormous impact on bad behavior throughout, influencing the actions and infiltrating the oft-described dreams and even hallucinations of Theo and some of his friends/acquaintances. I would have preferred it had some of these "scenes" been edited out and strongly believe the story would not have suffered by such omissions. It became a bit of an overkill for me and i found myself thinking, "Oh come on...not again!!!" In any event, overall i did enjoy the book but could not unconditionally recommend it to friends.
This is not my usual genre...the story being a rather outrageous and farfetched fantasy while i prefer mysteries and general fiction...but it was overall very entertaining and laugh-outloud funny in places. Lenny Henry is one of the best narrators i've come across--almost on par with Humphrey Bower, who i feel sets the audio reader gold standard, and i've listened to well over 300 audiobooks. Overall a fun book and worth the credit.
One of the more boring books i've listened to yet (member since 2007, ~350 books)! Came across more like diary entries than anything else: First this happened, then this, etc. Not at all compelling and never kept my interest up for a second. As a result, i didn't even finish listening to this book, an action i have taken maybe 4 or 5 times in the past. Also, and advanced apologies to all you George Guidall fans, the reader in no way enhanced the experience. Though GG is not one of my personal favorite readers, i do listen to a book he reads if the story sounds intriguing/interesting. My recommendation is to skip this book altogether...
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