Coaticook, QC, Canada | Member Since 2011
I had no idea what to expect when I downloaded this book, good or bad. This was a very satisfying read : tightly-packed information, yet very clearly written and narrated. I enjoyed the fact that there is a good amount of info on the years leading to the Revolution giving me a good feel for the social and political background. There are not many superfluous details or anecdotes, as one might expect from an 80 minute-short review of a historical event that spanned over almost a year. Overall a must read for people who, like me, are looking for an introduction on the subject : short, informative, to the point, and paints a good overall picture and, in my case, has triggered the need to read more on the topic.
Only negative point : the narrator's pronunciation of Russian names was sloppy to the point where it was hard to understand what was being said.
I have never, ever, laughed out loud this much while reading a book. I laughed when I first read the paper version in 2003 and then again a few years later when I read it for the second time.
Are jokes still funny the third time around? When Scott Brick's narrating Plum Island, they are.
I read Plum Island a grand total of four times over the course of ten years. It is THE novel I periodically go back to pump some humor back into my life.
Murder, bugs, pirates, a cynical retired cop making stupid sexist comments... this novel has it all!
This is the perfect novel to read under the sade of a tree on a warm, lazy summer day. You should time things so the last few chapters are read during sunset and the book ends when the sun is gone.
It is that kind of story : very light yet not shallow, delicious and touching. This short novel stayed on my mind for much longer than I expected.
Very good first novel by this author. Read it. Here's why :
What attracted me to this book are the few but positive reviews and -- most importantly -- the fact that the story takes place in Sarajevo in 1943. It is an unusual (exotic?) combination of time and place for a novel about a murder investigation. I find many of the modern attempts at publishing historical novels end up featuring bland/overused stories disguised as something new, missing yet another opportunity to tell us what it was like during those days.
The Man From Berlin did not fufill my apprehensions : it was entertaining, original, fascinating and un-pretentious. The narrator did a very good job of speaking with just a touch of a German accent and his intonation fit the style. I learned a lot about the sad and complex history of the peoples of the Balkans. For instance I learned that Sarajevo, today the capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina, was forced to be included in the short-lived Nazi puppet-state called "Independant State of Croatia" and that the Croat pro-Nazi party (the Ustaše) was in charge. A significant number of ethnic Croats were enrolled in German SS divisions made sure Germany's politics were carried out locally. While many atrocities were commited, the author wisely chose to mention it clearly and not dwell emotionally on the subject. The Nazis are favorite villains in fiction and I applaud Mr. McCallin for not feeding the trolls in this work. The subject of Jews cannot be avoided and the author did a very graceful job at casting an era-appropriate view of Hitler's most known ethnic policies.
There are many bad historical novels out there, and quite a few ordinary ones too. The Man from Berlin was a gamble for me. I will definitely be following this author in the future.
I bought this book in the hope to get a feel of how it was like to be living in Moscow during the Great Purge. Never had I hoped to find such a gem.
Reading 'The Stalin Epigram' over the course of three or four weeks, slowly, savouring it, was on of those experiences that left a mark in my mind and in my soul. It cristallized my understanding of the Soviet dream and how it skidded out of control under Stalin's regime. The sights, the sounds, the smells and, above all, the fear of this era are beautifully and intelligently put down on paper often with a disconcerting economy of words. It left me convinced the author is portraying the truth (or as close as it gets) of what life in the Soviet Union was like during those dreadful, crazy times.
As the book revolves around the art of poetry, the narrative features many different instances where symbolism is delicately disguised and once I learned to look for it, I begun appreciating the novel in a whole new different way. For this reason and many others, I know I will read it again, which is something I try to do as little as I can (since there are too many books and life it too short). I know to look for things I have missed the first time.
This is a sad, sad story. However it must be told to the whole world that this happened. I applaud and I thank Mr. Littell for his powerful yet humble effort at portraying the life of the poet Mandelstam who, like 20 million other intellectuals, workers, peasants, bureaucrats, children, elderly etc. became crushed under Stalin's fist.
I went as far as 6 hours into this book before I decided had enough. While some historical details and settings are accurate (as far as I know, being interested in the subject of the USSR during and after Stalin), the sterotypes portrayed in the novel are so boring and the main characters are completely un-believable.
Picture an MGB officer who's been denunciated by someone under the chain of command in order to get a promotion after said agent is found guilty of being a spy and shot. Now picture this same MGB officer pondering whether or not he should try to convince his superiors he did nothing wrong. Let's accept the fact he neither gets shot on the spot, nor gets sent in exile to a camp in Siberia (for some reason). Instead he gets demoted and is forced to join the local militia in an industrial city in the Urals. Upon moving into the city, he starts questioning an official state report concerning the murder of a young teenager and decides to re-open the investigation on his own. When his boss finds out, he proceed to warn not to do any harm to his reputation or that of the men under his command or else he'll kill him. This isn't Harry Bosch ladies and gentlemen, this is Soviet Russia right after the passing of Stalin.
And that's when I stopped reading. The characters and what they touch/who they talk with are so blatantly Westernized it's laughable. I can only imagine the ex-MGB officer fleeing from his old co-workers in a ZIL limousine stolen from a PolitBuro member, dodging in between the statues of Josef Stalin and the endless queues of grim Soviet citizens waiting in front of a state-owned grocery store for a piece of bread or a few drops of cooking oil while supersonic Tupolev bombers fly in formation over the Kremlin to attack the rebel agent on specific orders of the Secretary General of the Party.
If you are looking for good USSR historical fiction, look elsewhere.
This book, about the adult Dan Torrance using his shining ability to meet a person and then fighting off a horde of evil "shiners", is actually more -- a LOT more -- about his process of drinking, hitting the bottom of the barrell and then coming off through the Alcoholic Anonymous.
What makes this story special we have a glimpse of King's positive story with the Alcoholic Anonymous organization. The author poured himself (no bad pun intended here I swear) into this side story and told it like only a drinker who went through hell and then came out bruised and scarred can. It was an eerily personal tale from S.K., especially when reading the very last scene involving someone who dies after having been hit by a speeding car (driven by a drunk driver). I was personally touched by Dan Torrance's long journey to recovery following years of drinking. For that reasonI give 4 stars.
Hadn't it been for that and had it been only about the tale of the True Knot, I probably would have given 3. It felt like the King had to write about Dan Torrance (which he did wonderfully) but decided at the last second he should also be fighting monsters.
I'm sure King is still capable of something completely new, very profound and very different from what he's ever written. I'm quite convinced (and I hope) it's what's coming next.
Nevertheless, Doctor Sleep is, as always, beautifully written. The man could write for pages about some random person sitting at the table drinking coffee and reading tje papers and it'd STILL be fascinating to read.
The narrator wasn't bad, but I wish they'd chosen another one.
It was a pain to listen to. I still have 4 hours of listening to go and I don't want to listen anymore. On top of a passable storyline, this may be the poorest narration I've ever heard. Full of exaggerations and skewed facts (like acetone described as a thick liquid... it's less viscous than water), I felt stupid for even keeping on listening to it for so long.
I'll add my voice to the hundreds of others : Who on Earth made the decision to have that book read by such an inept narrator??!
I want my money back. I barely made it to the end, and by then I was counting the minutes left. I NEVER would have thought I'd make such a critic of a Bosch novel... I read them all on paper and then I bought all the audiobooks.
We ALL want Len Cariou back. Please hear the fans, we are the ones buying the books and paying for the product. We have a say!
Etienne Dauphin, Coaticook, QC
What a great duet of main characters. I just love the setting - Sweden - a country we don't hear enough of. The story is interesting in itself. What's better is the atmosphere, the intrigue and the characters. The narrator does an impressive job too.
5 stars well deserved, and I'm buying the whole series.
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