I bought the Potato Factory with my monthly credit. What a great deal! Phhhffffttthhhh... No 6 hour novel for me. I'm getting 23 hours of Audible magic for FREE!!! That's what I thought, until only three days after spending my bright and shiny new credit, I finished the book. NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I had to suck it up and buy this book. Jeez. 21 hours of book isn't cheep. Let's see. 21, divided by....carry the one....equals...86 cents per hour. Ok. I guess that's not too bad. I would have paid twice that. Ssshhhh... Don't tell Audible. But really, the book was worth every penny.
So, here's what the books about:
Hey! Let's go hunt whales! Yeah. That sucked. But being wrongly imprisoned and likely being hanged for murder sucks worse. Wait. What's that? The Maori saved us. Well, since we're already here, let's teach them better ways to win fights with these a**hole white guys who won't quit trying to take their land. Also, let's get with the ladies. They're hot! (Tragedy and sadness and spoilers.) Now we're in Sydney. Let's play cards and do drugs and drink stuff. Oh yes, and meet women, feed poor kids, save some Mongolians (or are they Chinese?) from a mob, try to earn some legal money, and become a bare knuckles boxing champion. And finally, once and for all, take down the mongrels.
It's like Forrest Gump goes to Australia. If it had been any other writer, the book would have failed miserably. But Bryce Courtenay is a genius. It's never unbelievable, but it is often tragic. I was boohooing within the first three minutes. As with the first book, the sex scenes bothered me. I may have the punctuation skills of a child, but I am an adult. An adult with a dirty mouth even. But, phew! Those sex scenes make me blush. Go on, Mr. Courtenay! Get your freak on!
Great! Now I'm done with the second book, and only six days since I got my last credit. Ok. No more Starbuck's or fancy nails for me. I'm saving my pennies for the next book.
I think this is the first book I've read by a Japanese author. I think there's a definite cultural perspective in this book. Every time I came across something that seemed odd, new or different, I tried holding it up to the light, turning it this way and that, and trying to see it with new eyes. I'm not entirely sure this strategy worked. Perhaps it's the fantastical aspects of the book, instead of the cultural one, because I didn't really enjoy this listen. Not to say that I hated it. It just wasn't my thing. It was an interesting adventure, though, that took me out of my familiar literary groove.
This book made me feel not quite as old as I usually feel. My teenage son is constantly asking me if I remember things about the past. Did you feather your bangs in the 80's? What's the thing about going to the mall? Did they even have computers when you were a kid? Seriously? I was only two when we hit the 80's. And I lived in a tiny little farming community in Southern Missouri. All I remember about the 80's is the corn fields, going to Walmart and how much my mom hated the one kid in town who dared to have a mohawk. Come to think of it, that's what I remember about the 90's as well.
Anyway, about this book. I loved coming across things in this book that I do recall from the past. And Will Wheaton? Genius pick as narrator. How crazy it must have been for him to read about his fictionalized self as president of the whole online world.
The story, however, did get a little clumsy toward the end. And I began to get a little bit tired of the nerd-fest. OK. I get it, Mr. Cline. You're an old nerd. But it's still a good book overall. You don't need to know about all things geeky and gamer to understand what's going on.
So, while I was waiting on my shiny new credit to show up, I found this awesome free podcast called "This Is Audible." I know what you're thinking. "What an Audible noob. I've been listening to TIA since 2007." Well, fine. So I'm a little bit behind the times. Instead of freaking out and having Audible withdrawal for two weeks while waiting on my next credit, I decided to listen to the last, oh, seven and a half years. Yes, yes, yes. I clearly have a problem. But there's no support groups for recorded book addiction. I checked. Anywho, that's where I heard about Justin Cronin's series about vampire-ish like people. Let me give you a list of all the reasons I really, really wanted to listen to this book.
1. An author who wrote a book about vampires, without using the word vampire. (OK. He uses that word 2 or 3 times, but only to tell the reader he's not going to use it.)
2. I'm a sucker for a good end-of-the-world book.
3. A 37 hour book?!?!?! That'll keep me busy for a few days.
4. From some of the reviews I read about this book, it sounded like it veered far, far away from the brain-sucking blah blah blah of Stephanie Meyer and the like.
5. Scott Brick.
When my Happy Credit day rolled around, I did my WOOHOO dance and immediately logged onto Audible to purchase this book. I was very entertained until he switched from Amy and the non-vampires, and started telling us all about the people living in the future California. For some reason my eyes started to glaze over and I had a hard time caring whether he was talking about Peter, Michael or....wait...sorry. I zoned out there for a second. Who were we talking about again?
While I liked that he put some thought into how our language would change in his fictionalized future (everyone calling bluejeans Gaps, for instance), I started to get really annoyed at the euphemistic word, flyers. We don't have just one word we all shout out when surprised/startled/scared/happy/angry, so why would they? I even started to get a little irritated at Scott Brick. I pictured him pausing before reading, "Flyers!" for the 86th time, looking up, taking a deep breath and exclaiming, "Flyers! I'm done with this $#&+@% no-plot-deadpan-dialog-havin book." Flyers! That would have been awesome!
These 2 negative things would be enough to make me dislike this book, but there's more.
I'm not a Stephen King fan. Since the age of 12, when I had an unfortunate encounter with the movie 'It,' I have avoided all things Stephen King. Until, that is, a couple of years ago when I was pressured into watching 'The Stand.' (Watch out! I'm about to spoil the end of 'The Stand. If you've never seen it, please avert your eyes.) I found the God/Satan struggle in that series to be a little hokey. But then, at the end, when the actual hand of God descends from the sky, it went from cheesy allegory to repulsive stupidity.
Through most of this book, I kept thinking of 'The Stand' and how angry I was after watching it. Many of the themes are similar between this book and that miniseries. I kept expecting some crazy religious aspect to reach down and save humanity. I've read that it goes that direction in the other two books in this series, so I will definitely not be listening any further.
I think I'm more disappointed in the squandered potential of this book than I am in it's actual flaws. It could have been the best vampire book of all time. But instead, it's a revised take on a book that's already been written and made into an HBO miniseries.
I've been putting off reading this book for 2 reasons. First, it's on the Oprah book list. I'm not a huge fan of Oprah. She's the reason we have Dr Phil and I can't forgive her for that. Secondly, guilt. Plain and simple. We are a product of our histories. Many white people claim that they don't understand the anger black people have for us. They say, "I've never owned a slave. I'm not responsible for what happened to their ancestors." Perhaps not. But we are still guilty. We're guilty of turning a blind eye and of forgetting our collective history. And for this reason, I was afraid of the pain this book might cause me. A tightness in my chest, and a desire to do anything I can to make it right, knowing there is nothing that can be done.
But I had nothing to fear. This book blew me away. I can't even describe how beautiful and brilliant it is. I can't believe that people (men, of course) rejected this book during her lifetime. Since there is nothing I can say to convey how glorious this book is, let me quote some lines from the book:
"Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jodie tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it, she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over."
"She didn't read books, so she didn't know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop. Man, attempting to climb to painless heights from his dunghill."
"They didn't talk too much around the store either. Anybody that didn't know would have thought that things had blown over. It looked so quiet and peaceful around. But the stillness was the sleep of swords."
"Rumor, that wingless bird, had shadowed over the town."
"Then she starched and ironed her face, forming it into just what people wanted to see."
Wow. Just wow. These are the most beautiful words I have ever heard.
There is one thing about this book that disturbs me though. It is the way the men treat the women. In part, it is the time in which the book was written. But I can not write it off so easily. Ladies, don't we still sometimes let ourselves be treated in a less than honorable way? It can be so easy to give up our dreams for comfort and security. But isn't that the point? This is one woman's journey of shrugging off the dreams of everyone else and finding her own happiness.
I only got this Audible book because it was on sale, and because I hadn't read it in a few years. You can never go wrong with Pride and Prejudice. This will be the 5th time I've listened/read the book, and it just keeps getting better.
I know that Flo Gibson was an amazing woman. As a woman myself, I have absolute respect for what she accomplished in her life. But her voice annoyed me. I think of Elizabeth Bennett as a delicate and feminine character, but Ms. Gibson made her sound like a man. I wanted to reach through time and space to give her a throat lozenge and some hot water with honey and lemon.
But really, it's just a minor thing. I still enjoyed the book.
What I didn't like about it:
1. In the letters that the father writes to the daughter he goes into waaay to much detail. No real person would describe how a person sat, what they ate, the way the wind felt, what someone was wearing down to minute details, in a letter.
2. Parts of the story were too contrived. The author was trying too hard.
3. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with the characters, especially the ones they meet in Istanbul. I think I needed to see those names instead of just hearing them spoken.
What I did like:
1. I love books that give lengthy explanations based in history.
2. I don't like gorey, suspenseful books, so I thought it was great that Dracula is mostly an historian, even though he still bites people.
3. Books! I love books about books!
4. I liked that the author didn't go into too much backstory about how Vlad became a vampire. He just did. Now we have to deal with it.
Overall, I liked this book. It had it's flaws, but I was entertained.
This is the second Barbara Kingsolver book I've listened to. The other one was Flight Behavior. I feel exactly the same way about both of these books. I was entertained while I listened to them, but afterward they left me feeling underwhelmed. Nothing in me changed because of these books. But perhaps my expectations are too high. I've listened to several interviews with Ms. Kingsolver and I found her to be quite entertaining and fascinating. I know that both of the books I've listened to by her are based loosely on her own experiences. I could listen to her tell stories about her real life all day long, but I could do without her books.
My husband is very much opposed to listening to audiobooks, and don't even get him started on ebooks. "If you can't hold it in your hands and smell the pages as you turn them, then it's not a real book." But every once in awhile I'll entice him with a book by someone he loves. Penn Jillette is one of those people.
I have been an atheist for a long time, but my husband is still on his spiritual journey. It was very funny to me when he finished this book, took out his earphones and declared, "Oh my BOB! I'm an atheist!" I've known for awhile that he was headed in that direction. He just needed Penn Jillette to push him past his fears. Humor can sometimes do the job that scientific proof can't.
The downside is that Penn Jillette is a loud, over the top entertainer and my husband is a tech nerd who works on computers. While it's just fine for PJ to go around shouting out about the glories of atheism, it's not so great for a nerd from NC to do the same. I learned a long time ago that you have to feel people out before you tell them you don't believe there is an almighty creator. But the hubs is so excited about his new self-discovery that he goes around telling random people. The car salesman for instance. Thankfully we had already signed all the papers, otherwise I think we would have been asked to leave. The man got very pale and spluttered some unintelligible words before getting up and walking away from us.
What the other reviewers have said is true. Penn Jillette is obnoxiously foul mouthed. But didn't you know that when you bought the book? Haven't you seen his show? Or worse, that movie all those comedians did about the dirtiest joke in the world, The Aristocrats? I find it interesting that the biggest objection to this book isn't that he rejects the existence of god, but rather, that he has a dirty mouth. Oh yes. And he name drops. Well, of course he does! He's a famous guy that knows other famous people. He isn't very likely to say, "I was hanging out with this guy I know that does magic, I think his name is Bob..." No. He's going to say, "When I was hanging out with Siegfried and Roy backstage..." These are the kinds of people he is surrounded by, so of course they will be part of his story.
I liked many things about this book. He speaks so lovingly of his parents and sister, and has the right idea about what being a father means. I also loved what he said about saying, 'I don't know.' As you get older, you start to realize that you aren't always the smartest person in the room. Sometimes the only answer you can give is, 'I don't know.' So, for now, I don't know if there is an elephant in my bathtub, but now that I'm thinking about it, I better go check.
I'm a book lover. I don't mean, I like to read and have a few books. I mean, I read a couple hundred books a year and have a room devoted just to books. (Oh what I would give to have an old fashioned library with a fireplace and a sliding ladder!) This being the case, I was immediately in love with this book. The gentle, slow way the author talked about rare books, you could tell that she loves them too. I liked the slow, plodding pace of the book. It didn't drag, nor did it rush.
I was totally in to this book until about hour 12. It started with a little irritation at the frequency that the author used the word twin. I was thinking of starting a drinking game. I would take a shot every time she said twin. Then I thought better of it, as it was before noon, and I would surely be too trashed to make dinner for my family that night. I digress. Back to the twin irritation. As I said, it was a mild irritation. I would roll my eyes and continue listening in the hopes that Miss Setterfield would pull herself together and get back to the good stuff. But then....
But then...no. It's too terrible to talk about. But I must continue, if only to caution future listeners.
I can't quite put my finger on the exact point that it started. It was a slow, gradual slipping. One that you could dismiss because the first part of the book had so much promise. But by hour 14 there was no denying it. The book was taking a headlong leap into the deep abyss.
I know that an author can't make everyone happy. They would go mad if they tried. I read reviews for books that complain the ending was too abrupt and left them scratching their heads. (Her Fearful Symmetry, for example. Hmm. Also about twins.) Then there are the reviews that say the ending was too well explained. (Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore.) I liked the ending of both books. But this book was different.
The reader is taken on a strange journey and asked to believe some things that seem outlandish. After the outlandish bits, then we are told the Thirteenth Tale. That part is interesting and should have been the end of it. But no. There is an epilogue, then a post script, then a...well I don't know what to call it. It just got weirder and weirder.
I am disappointed that a book with so much potential turned out to have an unbearable ending. It ruined the whole book for me.
I had tickets to see David Sedaris and I was brushing up on some of his older books to refresh my memory beforehand. As always, a delightful listen. I've read all of his books, but I much prefer listening to him read them. The very best part of this book is that he sings in the voice of Billie Holiday. It's one thing to read the story and the words say, I sang a commercial jingle in the voice of Billie Holiday. It's a whole other thing to actually hear him sing a jingle like Billie Holiday. Brilliant!!!
I'm a huge fan of David Sedaris and would recommend all of his books. And if you have a chance to see him perform, even better. Not only is he funny, he's also very nice. When he signs your book, he looks directly at you and asks you questions, then writes something personal just for you. When I saw him recently, he stayed and signed books until one in the morning. He looked exhausted, but he was gracious and engaging.
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