I had seen the movie many years ago, and was in the mood for a little mystery noir, so I bought this book. Having forgotten most of the plot, I was easily caught up in this complex story of lies, liars and treasure. The narrator did an absolutely fabulous job of differentiating the characters by voice, and his Joe Cairo actually sounded like Peter Lorre! (Sam Spade did not sound like Humphrey Bogart, which I think would have distracted me.) I enjoyed the book so much that I listened virtually nonstop until I finished it. A wonderful book for a long trip or a rainy day at home.
I had never heard of Seth Rudetsky, but now I crave more of him. Coming from a family prone to burst into song at any moment (to the mortification of related teenagers) we love our Broadway musicals. This book provided lots of interesting behind the scenes details (I never gave a moment's thought to musicians or the allotment of dressing rooms or Broadway producers). The arcana is frosting on the delicious cake of Seth's cast of characters. The perenially depressed Stacy (a dead ringer for someone I've known 20 years). the annoyingly perky (and probably treacherous) francophile Francoise, and the world's cheapest Broadway producers, the sly and ancient Giesenschlags. Besides hilarity, there is romance, cunning and all-around enjoyment. I can't wait for Seth's next book.
I bought this book a while ago but never listened to it and couldn't remember anything about it. When I started listening, I was at first mildly amused by the author's essays describing of her life and family. As the book went on, I got a very good idea of her and her many, many frankly admitted foibles. Wendy seems to realize her own quasi-craziness and doesn't mind sharing it with us for laughs, but she also has a deep and abiding love for her family and her boyfriend Amos (who seems long-suffering and worthy of her devotion). Some of the essays at the end of the book were so funny that I embarassed myself by laughing out loud in a restaurant where I was dining alone and, later, in a public bathroom stall (I'm not sure if anyone else was in the bathroom). I'm a fan of David Sedaris, and Wendy will also be on my list of essayists to enjoy.
This book was incredibly difficult for me to complete. I had heard about the dustbowl but had no idea that people and animals literally suffocated and/or starved over time from the dirt that filled their lungs and bellies. I never knew that the dust clouds reached New York City and Washington, DC. It was also nearly impossible to believe that only 80 years ago, soil conservation was a totally unknown concept. I wanted to scream at the farmers who tore up the prairie "Don't do it! You're ruining your lives and the land!" Nevertheless, I couldn't help but admire the strength and courage of the people who endured. When I finished the book, I wondered when the mistakes we're making now may cause a similar environmental disaster.
The writing in this book is not polished, but the story is so amazing that I wish everyone could hear it. Flory and her family suffered and survived horrifying Nazi cruelty during WW2. Even at the worst of times, however, there were kind, decent, courageous people willing to help save the Nazis' prey. Many times in the book, members of the Dutch underground describe themselves and others simply as "good citizens". Unexpectedly, this story of cruelty and evil was also a story of strength, kindness and good.
I've read and enjoyed many of Koontz's books, but this one reads like a first draft. I didn't connect with most of the characters, and actually laughed out loud when the hero's mysterious organization was revealed. After that, I found it very difficult to believe the rest of the book. I will give Koontz credit for an unusual idea, but he did not successfully carry it off.
I bought this on sale, and it was money well spent. The book took a while to hook me (4 hours or so, IIRC), but then I couldn't put it down. I listened non-stop, even when I woke up in the middle of the night. There are so many sub-plots with the secondary characters that even as I was listening to one, I wondered what was happening in the others. Narration is very good, and the suspense builds as you wonder how each evildoer will be punished. I have loved listening to Dicken (_Nicholas Nickelby_, _David Copperfield_, _Oliver Twist_) and this book has the same epic feel, although the characters, except for the protagonist, are not nearly as memorable.
I've listened to many Dickens novels, and this is one of the best. My favorite (so far) is _David Copperfield_ (Frederick Davidson narrating), and this has many of the same qualities. A young man's adventures through life, a cast of interesting characters, wonderful narration. _Nickelby_ takes longer to capture your attention, but you do come to love Nicholas and the family, to curse the villains and rejoice with the lovers. It's a very good listen.
Although this book verges on the macabre at some points, with extremely graphic descriptions of, say, bodies rotting in an empty lot, I found it fascinating. I liked the many uses for cadavers, the descriptions of the science of various specialities, and the history of anatomical and cadaver studies. The author has a quirky sense of humor, and many of her quips are things I would have thought myself. I also liked the narrator's voice, which was pleasant and not too serious. Unfortunately, neither the narrator nor the producer ensured that the narrator pronounced all the words correctly. Almost every chapter had at least one mispronunciation that jarred me. Among them "Oriana Fal-ah-see" (Oriana Fallaci - which I admit is not a common name), "Rooters" (Reuters), and "apokethary" (apothecary - which she pronounces correctly a few lines later.) This book has by far the largest number of mispronunciations of the seventy or so I've listened to. It is nonetheless an interesting, informative and strangely enjoyable listen.
I loved the descriptions of the Afghan women, their hardships and daily life. I also found the protagonist quite interesting, in a good-hearted but flaky way. She is obviously very kind and courageous, but she also seems to have poor planning skills, a reckless nature and little sense that her actions could put other women at risk, sometimes of death. There are many unanswered questions (why is Debbie so carefree about abandoning her sons for one) and except for friendships and language skills, Debbie doesn't seem to have learned much from her adventure. Still, the story moves quickly, some of the Afghan women are unforgettable, and it does seem that Debbie helped bring hope to a group of women who really needed it.
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