This is the second book I have read by this author and the second I have reviewed. I've never done this before. They are the epitome of chick-lit romance. They come across as light and fluffy. The whole "Marriage to a Billionaire" tag line screams "shallow".
But the author has a way with words and a great sense of humor. Even though the plot in this book, just like in the first, is totally implausible, the characters that move the story forward are totally believable - if you take away the "billionaire" part, the repetitive fake marriage plot and the disconnected issues with the language - the American character uses Italian slang and only some of the Italian characters use any Italian and then only rarely. They sound like they are from Chicago.
The characters are complex, sympathetic, quirky and funny. Several of them have unexpected depth.
With just a little push, the author could become a really great talent. She doesn't have to give up the romance or chick-lit genre, she just needs to make her plot more plausible and realistic. Her characters are ready for it.
I enjoyed the narrator as well.
I've put off reading this series for a few years and I am not certain why. It covers one of the most fascinating times in recent history - the First World War - and I tend to read anything I can about that time period. It is by an author whose other works I enjoy - to a degree. I found the first few books of the Monk series fascinating, the Pitt series far less so, although I read several of them. The problem with Perry is, while I like to read series books in order and one after the other, when possible, the books in her series tend to run together and they all begin to sound like essentially the same book with different secondary characters and London locations inserted into the same plot line.
I was hopeful that would not be the case with this series. I enjoyed No Graves as Yet, the first book in the series. It takes place at the cusp of the war, the main event that drives the plot actually occurs the day the Archduke is shot. There was a family of main characters to get to know and while they all seemed dry and stiff, based on Perry's style of character development, as well as the time period the book was set in and the class of the family, that probably makes sense. There are more colorful characters when the plot moves to Cambridge and London, which keep the reader engaged. The problem was there wasn't anybody the reader could really like or really hate. There were several characters I found very annoying though. But the storyline was complex enough it kept my interest even if the characters always didn't.
The mystery revolved around a plan to keep England out of the war.It seemed a little far fetched and overly complicated, but since this plan was the reason for the mystery that drove the book, I was OK with that. The end held a few surprises, which was great. In her other series, the endings quickly became predictable.
The book was full of details regarding the ramp up to the war and Perry did an excellent job with her research and her ability to so clearly define a specific time and location.
I usually enjoy Michael Page's narration, and he did a good job with this as well. The only problem I noticed with the narration was there were too many middle-aged male characters for him to give each a unique voice, inflection or diction and I had trouble telling who was talking sometimes. And he contributed to the annoying qualities of a few of the female and younger male characters by the shrillness of his voice sometimes.
I am on a roll that started with The Girl With All the Gifts. This is the fourth post apocalyptic book I have read in the last 12 months. Which is 4 more than I've read in the last 20 years.
The Dog Stars covers much the same ground as Station Eleven, or I guess I should say that the other way around since The Dog Stars came out first. It was perhaps better written. Heller's MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop shows. He writes almost lyrically. His magazine background shows as well. The writing is tight and he doesn't use any extra words. So much so that many of his sentences are just a single word. That can be annoying when reading, but I listened to this so I did not have that problem. And the narration was wonderful.
The plot revolves around a guy's guy - a carpenter, outdoorsy Colorado guy who loves to hunt, fly his Cessna and most of all fish. His best friend is a dog and his companion is someone even more macho than Hig is. The author soften's Hig up a bit by confessing that he writes poetry and he clearly loved his wife. But Hig's response and reaction to the events occurring around him are definitely from a guy's perspective, so it was sometimes difficult for me to relate or wonder at his response.
But Heller does a wonderful job of capturing the loneliness Hig deals with constantly. It is so thick you can physically feel it. He portrays Hig's lonely existence so well, that this is the first book of this type I have read where I found myself thinking that the 99.9% of the population that died got the better end of the deal. There seemed very little in his world that encouraged him to live. Especially after he loses his best friend. The chapter retelling that loss is one of the best pieces of writing I have seen in a very long time.
There really wasn't a climactic end to the book, no resolution, no closure. I know that books in this genre can't have "happy" endings, but I always feel like I must have missed a couple of pages at the end, because the words just stop. And that is the only way you know the story is finished.
I recommend this book. Especially in audio format. It is well worth reading.
I enjoyed the first book in this series, as well as the novellas. I believe Ms. Hunter is an extremely talented author. Desert Bound was not a bad book and was eminently readable. If written by someone else I might have rated it higher. However, I felt that she wasn't terribly committed to this plot. After the years of tension, hurt feelings, anger, frustration and regret between the two main characters, their differences seemed fairly insurmountable. Then they reunited so abruptly it seemed almost anti-climactic. And while her books are usually chock full of characters, that works because she either proves their value to the story by the end of the book or makes it clear she is setting a character up in this book that will reoccur in future story lines with a purpose. I felt like there were superfluous characters in this book, involved in fairly heavy scenes and then disappearing without any idea of why they were included.
Again, enjoyable book and definitely worth reading if you liked the first book in the series. I recommend you read the first book in the series and the novellas before reading this book. Just not up to her best efforts
This is the story of a young woman who discovers the cancer she previously defeated has come back with a vengeance and now she has "lots of cancer." I know this sounds strange but to me, that phrase "lots of cancer" which the author uses frequently is the most original and inventive thing in the book.
Rather than a story about a young woman and her husband who discover their marriage is about to end along with her life and how they handle that knowledge, the tragedy is used as a hook to lure the reader into yet another book about a troubled relationship that would quickly be fixed if only the characters would start talking to each other instead of to themselves. This is no different than so many of the contemporary chick lit or romance novels. The impending death of one half of the couple is nothing but a gimmick, not the driving force moving the plot along.
I expect a a young woman facing her own mortality in the very near future would naturally be introspective. Introspective about her upcoming demise, how she feels about death, her fears about the process, how her beliefs and her faith or lack thereof affect the process, her concerns for her loved ones, etc. But there is very little of this. I admit I skipped through some of the numerous soliloquies she engaged in ad nauseam, but there seemed to be very little thought given to the actual act of her dying and death.
The main character in this book spends her time obsessing about her relationship. Not the upcoming end to it, but whether this spouse who has already gone through so much with her really loves her or if he has already crossed her off and moved on. The male character is fairly well written and it seems obvious that he cares for his wife, at least obvious to everyone but her. She comes across as an 8th grader with her first boyfriend. A boyfriend she has so little faith in she is certain he cannot survive without her constant guidance.
I liked the narrators. However, the female narrator already has something of a sing-songey voice and the author substitutes dialog for internal prose so often that the narrators lyrical voice just made the character more affected and less real.
I admit i picked this book up hoping it would expand on the dialog that accompanied the recent death of Brittany Maynard. This seemed like a timely subject. And a subject that is sometimes easier to digest in fiction. But instead of a discussion regarding death and the choices faced by a young woman and a young married couple now facing that subject, we got a chick-lit romance in disguise with all of the angst of the worst of that genre and none of the depth of the best of that genre.
I will say that the end of the book, written after her death begins to address the subject I expected to be addressed throughout the book.
I cannot recommend this book.
I admit I have read the rest of the books in this series and enjoyed the first couple of them. They seem to get progressively weaker. And Karen White's narration, which used to not bug me is now like fingernails down a chalkboard. Her voice just drips with sincerity and has a catch in it right when you are ready to strangle the character for being so vapid. It sends me over the edge.
But even a less annoying narrator could not save this book. There is no way the main character has the brains to get through vet school. She could not think herself out of a box and has absolutely no control over her thoughts, actions or emotions. She is the kind of person everyone hates - always trying to "help" others who don't need or want her help and are far better at taking care of themselves than she will ever be.
The main male character, Wyatt is totally one dimensional. He is supposed to be some alpha male, but he seems to be so laid back that he might be asleep and no one has figured it out yet.
The other problem I had was the author does create some interesting secondary characters. And not just characters from future books. The most interesting character in this book is Emily's sister. Why did she have multiple degrees, including a Phd in Philosophy and work construction. Why did she get away with using her student loans as an excuse not to pay her share of the rent? She should have thought of that before she decided to get multiple degrees and not use them. And the breakup with her girlfriend is never really explained. What could have been a very interesting character was basically introduced then ignored.
After the previous book in this series, I swore I was done with it. And definitely done with Karen White as a narrator, no matter how much I want to listen to a book. However, in a moment of weakness, aka an Audible sale, I relented and got this book. I wish I had not.
This book has garnered quite a bit of positive noise. I had fairly high hopes. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed. It had good bones, but the primary characters, especially the mother, who was supposed to become gradually redeemed and sympathetic, were simply not likable. The only sympathetic character ends up being the character you should not sympathize with. I usually appreciate novels where the characters each have their own agenda and that agenda isn't revealed up front. But this book makes everyone without ulterior motives, seem like chumps at the end. It makes fools of characters who are trying to do the right thing at the expense of those with no redeeming value. Mia is no better than her father, so it is hard to appreciate his comeuppance.
But the absolute worst character is the mother. She is worse than the evil father. She is so whiney, mealy-mouthed and shallow that you hope that whatever she wants she never gets. The narrator for the mother was terrible. I am not certain if I would have found the character quite as offensive if I had read it or if there was a different narrator. But I could easily tell why her husband and her daughters ignored her. I would too. To me, this character was so weak, so problematic and so unsympathetic, it affected my opinion of everyone else.
There were also far to many holes and implausible plot twists. The detective just drops Colin's mother at a Nursing Home and they automatically accept her, no questions asked and with no funds? The detective takes weeks to check out a lead he learns about fairly early on. A lead that he knows instinctively should be followed up. The mother goes from ignoring her daughter, admitting she seldom talks to her daughter, is totally unconcerned when her daughter's friend calls and says she is missing, then we are supposed to abruptly understand that she really cares about her. The other daughter is defined as a bitch who dislikes her sister, then abruptly disappears from the plot. Why bother? Colin gives Mia his gun and isn't even concerned enough to know where she hid it?
If you want to read a book about a kidnapped daughter that is well written, suspenseful, has engaging characters, and continually surprises you, I recommend Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, a much better book.
I would not recommend The Good Girl to anyone.
(3.5 Stars) This book is on so many "Best of" lists and has received generally glowing reviews, so I was optimistic. Plus Caroline Lee is a strong narrator. And much of it did not disappoint. It was an interesting plot and the characters were well developed and generally likable. The author included several small mysteries that she wrapped up throughout the book and the ending neatly tied most of them together. I admit that I did not expect the ending. I assumed another character died than the one who actually did.
What kept this book from being a 4 or even 4.5 star book was the length. It was about 30-40% too long. Any time an entire chapter is devoted to a character thinking and the character of their thoughts, there is a problem. A great deal of this book was devoted to internal thoughts, miscommunication and "what-ifs". And even though the author attempted to use these sections to advance the plot and answer questions, that could have been accomplished far more successfully and far more succinctly. A character's introspective thinking doesn't move the plot forward. It isn't action. And miscommunication and "what-ifs" are overdone and generally a sign of a weak story.
This wasn't a weak story because the author writes well. But it could have been a stronger and a better story, if she had not written quite so much.
I always feel foolish when I begin a book that I know is going to be sad based on the synopsis and reviews, proves itself to be sad from the very first page and continues incessantly in that same vein throughout the book, yet I still hang on hoping for just a glimmer of redeeming happiness until the bitter end. That is what happened with this book. There was absolutely nothing that even hinted that this might be a tragic story with a miraculously happy ending. Yet I continued to hope. Probably the main reason I have generally avoided the whole "end of the word" genre in the past.
This book was mercilessness in its doom and gloom. No matter how deeply you dug, there was no silver lining. However, that isn't to say it wasn't a well written book with an engaging young girl as the central character. The author did a great job of engaging the reader, keeping the interest level up with enough suggestions and hints, even if none of the hinted at or suggested positive events or actions ever happened. You knew none of them would come to fruition, but you had to hope.
My original complaint with the character was that she seemed far too mature for her years. She was only 11 when catastrophe struck, but she reacted like a person 3 times her age would be expected to react. However, as I progressed through the book I realized how quickly an 11 year old would be forced to grow up in that situation, so the further I got into the story the more natural her maturity level seemed.
I thought the author did a great job of presenting a plausible "end" to the world. Nothing that happened seemed totally unrealistic or didn't fit with the facts of the situation. The most disturbing concern I had with her scenario is none of the experts seemed to be able to explain what happened or why. You would like to think that in this age of science if a similar event occurred we might not be able to alter its course or stop it, but we could figure out what happened and why.
The author also did a good job of bringing the catastrophic event and its consequences down to a personal level so the reader could relate. Discussions about shifts or tears in the magnetic field may not make a great deal of sense, but a simple statement like "That was the last grape I ever ate." made the crisis relatable.
There is absolutely nothing uplifting about this story. But it is definitely worth reading. It makes you stop and think about the plausibility of such an event and how you would react in that situation.
The narrator on the audiobook did a very good job.
I highly recommend.
realize that saying a book is "interesting" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement, but this book is actually just that - interesting. It has received so much hype this year, and the publisher's blurb piqued my curiosity just enough that I decided I had to read this, even though I don't usually like dystopian books.
I did like this book. Primarily because it kept my interest. There were several threads and several time lines and experiencing the author tie them all together was fascinating. I appreciated the way she made a man who died before the world altering event even occurred a major character in the plot. As if she recognized she was taking the reader off into the unknown, so she used this character, who lived and died in the world we all live in, to keep us grounded in the here and now.
I would assume that if I was one of the lucky survivors of a plague that wiped out 99% of civilization, and I am not sure that would qualify me as "lucky", the last thing I would worry about was keeping orchestral music and Shakespeare alive for the dwindled masses. But maybe that is what survivors of an apocalyptic event should worry about. And a museum dedicated to now useless human accessories like cell phones and credit cards seems almost cruel.
The book was full of unique twists that when thought about seem obvious. Who hasn't been stuck in an airport so long they began to believe they lived there? So why wouldn't survivors see an airport as a natural home. And if you knew the world was about to end wouldn't the perfect fantasy running through your mind be that you had a grocery store all to yourself and you could fill up an unlimited number of carts without worrying to the damage to your credit card.
It would have been easy for the author to fill pages with the expected fighting, blood and gore. But she dealt with the fact that the human race was being wiped out gracefully. And by allowing the reader to contemplate this fact one death at a time, rather than en masse, made it more plausible and easier to accept.
I actually ended up finding the authors view of a post-apocalyptic future rather attractive and not terribly scary. Except for the part about the prophet and his followers. I would hope that if I survived such an event all of the prophets and zealots would not survive with me, nor would the survivors be inclined to create new ones.
If I had one criticism of the book - or maybe I should say one question to ask the author it would be - what happened to all the cows? Animals evidently weren't affected by the virus, because dogs and deer survived. And the survivors are perpetually killing deer and eating venison. None of them would have to have traveled too far to find cows or cattle. Or pigs or chickens for that matter. Those would have been far easier to kill than hunting deer. And fried chicken, country ham or a sirloin steak would have been a familiar tie to the past.
The narration fit the book. The narrator did a very good job. I enjoyed the author's writing style and pace. I highly recommend the book.
This was an engaging book about a fascinating man who at one time was one of the most powerful and important figures in American History. John Hay served the government in various roles from private secretary to Abraham Lincoln, to Secretary of State for Wm. McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He also served in the administration of James Garfield, so he worked for the first 3 presidents assassinated in office. While Secretary of State to Roosevelt, there was no Vice President, so he essentially filled that capacity as well. He was next in line. Along the way he also found time to write poetry, fiction, serve as a newspaper editor and writer, served in several foreign consulates throughout Europe, including a stint as Ambassador to Great Britain. The scope of his life would be considered wide-spread even now. During the time he lived, it was almost unheard of.
But, more than the politics, I found the narrative describing the time that Hay lived in fascinating. He came of age during a period of great upheaval and chaos, yet he spent most of his adulthood among the upper class, moving in circles that remained constant to tradition and resistive to change. He followed the norm for his class and married for money and position yet he and his wife seemed to genuinely care for each other. He very much cared for his position in society, yet his closest friends were either snidely critical of society or secretly flaunted its tenets. And he lived through several scandals that might have brought others down. The writer does a good job of moving between the distinctions in his life, allowing us to see Hay change and grow gradually through the years.
Hay knew essentially everyone worth knowing during the last half of the 19th century and seemed to maintain good relationships with them all. The author spends quite a bit of time addressing his relationship with Henry Adams, and after this book, I am now willing to try and retackle The Education of Henry Adams.
His experiences and adventures through the Civil War were told in an engaging and easily readable fashion. The details of the crisis he dealt with during his years as Secretary of State were a little harder to get through. The writing seemed to slow down and become heavier, as Hay aged.
My only complaint had to do with the discussion of her personal life. I understand that this is a serious biography and the focus is not on his personal life. And it is difficult to prove the accuracy of personal stories relayed 100 years later. But the author skimmed over his adult relationships so fleetingly, that what was said didn't jive with the public persona the author spent most of his time portraying. Hay was hyper critical, and made derogatory statements about his oldest son, yet was devastated by his death. The loss of a child would be devastating regardless of your relationship with that child, but he has Hay doing such a 360 degree change in his feelings and emotions, it doesn't make sense.
The author makes it sound as though Hay was fascinated by the woman he eventually married. He at least a crush on her. But there is no explanation why a 30+ year old man who had avoided commitment, fell at least temporarily in love with a woman that no one describes as attractive. I have to assume it was money. Then once they are married, even though they have four children, she is seldom mentioned.
I also found it odd that a 60+ year old man who essentially serves as the Premier of the United States, conducting multiple complex treaties at one time, still maintained a decades-long school-boy crush on a woman considerably younger than him, a woman that his best friend also loved, who, based on what I read, had no interest in him.
A little more backfill on his personal life might have made these discrepancies in his behavior and actions a little more understandable.
However, my overall impression of the book was very favorable. The narrator did a good job. I highly recommend.
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