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I found myself rooting for Auggie in this story. Auggie has a severe facial deformity and is about to go from homeschooling to the 5th grade in a real school. This book reminded me of the right ways to treat people who are different from us. It reiterated the lesson you learn as a child from your parents, to not stare and not treat people differently just because they are different than we are. This was a beautiful story about all the obstacles Auggie faces and how he overcomes them in the end. I enjoyed listening to the many character's perspectives in the book and glad that it wasn't just told from Auggie's voice. Also, I enjoyed having 3 narrators as it enhanced the listening experience. Even though this is a young adult book, I think readers and listeners of all ages would enjoy this story.
I really wanted this book to be so good. I think I fell for the pretty cover and the fact that it’s a genre I am known to love. BUT, the book really was lacking in details about the plot and the characters were rough around the edges, not as refined as they could have been. Also, this book had about the worst narrator that I have listened to in over 35 books. When a narrator is good, it enhances the book and when the narrator is bad… well you get the picture. She sounded too young and had terrible inflection. She also paused too much. If you decide to read this book, do just that, read it and don’t listen to it.
The plot had a good premise. I liked the way that L.A. and the rest of the country disintegrated due to weather extremes, energy depletion and sickness. Gas was too expensive for everyday use and medicine and food became hard to get. Frida lost her job and people could not rely on the normal means to stay safe and secure. The rich communities were able to close themselves in and the rest of society had to fend for themselves. Cal and Frida decide to go out into the wilderness and try their luck at surviving. This works… until it doesn’t. They find themselves a shack to live in and later find people nearby to befriend, but their luck soon goes south. Frida becomes pregnant and her and Cal decide to see what’s beyond where they live. They find a community that has more secrets than the secrets that Cal and Frida keep from each other.
Frida’s character was very mousey and both Cal and Frida were emotionally inward. They didn’t communicate with each other. They never seemed to be on the same page. This didn’t seem to work in the community when they were so unsure of their future and whether the community would agree to keep them. There were many details that seemed too quirky for me (i.e. the turkey baster and the color red) and this made the book awkward. There were also many characters that were unlikable and others that weren’t developed enough. The ending was somewhat abrupt and I felt like both Frida and Cal resigned to their fates. I could have used more information here. Maybe 5 more pages to explain what was going on. The ending, even though it was interesting, was kind of a let down in my opinion.
The best part about this book for me was that it got me thinking a lot about what I would do in a scenario of society’s breakdown and what exactly might lead to this.
I don’t know what I expected from this book, but it was very different than I had imagined it to be. I’ve never seen the movie, so I went into the book knowing the bare bones from the description. It’s a good thing this was on sale or I may not have found myself hypnotized by the narration of Michael C. Hall or the literary genius of Truman Capote. Also, this book is so short that even if you dislike the book, not much time is wasted.
The narrator, Holly’s man neighbor who is a writer, finds himself in a sort of friendship with Holly (the main character). We get to see Holly’s life from the neighbor’s point of view and it is an interesting point of view. She is a socialite, a party girl and the neighbor hears the parties and even gets to attend one. For how young Holly is (18 or 19?), she seems to be very intelligent, albeit shallow, and this comes across in the way she speaks. At times I couldn’t quite picture a young girl like this coming across with so much wisdom at times, but it was easy for me to forgive Capote because the book was written so well. Holly also seems very lost and doesn’t seem to comprehend consequences at times and this was spot on for a girl her age. Holly thinks she knows how to find what she is looking for… thinks she knows how to find that place you call home. The narrator who is sometimes called “Fred” (even though that’s not his real name) is a likable personality and I cared about what happened to him, but mostly I cared about what happened to Holly. There were surprise twists to the story that added drama and I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for other readers, but this classic is worth a listen in my opinion. I got lost in the story and narration. Michael C. Hall was just that good and I hope he narrates a few more books.
On a side note, I guess Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to be cast as Holly in the movie and I think maybe he was right. The persona of Marilyn seems to fit the character of Holly more than Audrey Hepburn.
Liane Moriarty has written another fun and dramatic book following "The Husband’s Secret" that is easy to get sucked into. The thing I have found about Moriarty is that she can write chick-lit that isn’t too light or cheesy and still has thrills in the drama that keeps the reader guessing. She also is really good at creating believable, flawed characters that are endearing. This book reminded me of “The Husband’s Secret” in the sense that their are 3 main characters who are women and big secrets that slowly unfold. The story is told through each of the 3 women’s narratives who are all kindergarten mothers. This book contains mystery as well as secrets because the reader learns in the beginning that the Pirriwee’s school trivia night has ended with one parent dead. (And that’s what I like about these books… is that even though the characters seem believable, something over the top and sometimes ridiculous happens to keep the plot juicy and entertaining.) I was second guessing myself on who I thought was murdered the whole way throughout the story. The murder is a big part of the story, but the secrets and details of the character’s lives also play a huge role in the book. At the end of each chapter there are gossipy tidbits and opinions from the police investigation that come from lesser known characters adding some humor to the book. The narrator, Caroline Lee, is awesome in this book, her accent is great and so is her ability to switch characters voices. I feel like the story combined with the narration drew a variety of emotions from me.
I hope there is another Liane Moriarty book in the works because she is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.
This book is written in the same vein as the newer, more popular novel, “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion. The main character, Edward Stanton, is 39 with OCD and Asperger’s syndrome. Edward’s personality comes through by way of his routines and the facts that matter to him, like recording the weather, watching re-runs of Dragnet everyday, painting his garage and being a Dallas Cowboy fan. After about 4 hours of this, I have to admit I was kind of bored. Things happen to Edward in this 600 hours that are out of the norm for him. For instance, he tries online dating which was amusing and tries to make friends with his neighbors which is good for him, but also incurs lots of drama that Edward isn’t mentally prepared for. Edward also has to deal with his father, who is less than sensitive to Edward’s plight. These situations added depth to the book, but didn’t save the story for me. The narrator was very robotic sounding which was probably a correct choice for the role, but was tiring to listen to by the end of 7+ hours. If you want to read a funny novel about a 39 year old man with Asperger’s syndrome, I would opt instead for “The Rosie Project” which was much more charming and heartfelt in my opinion.
As far as chick lit paired with romance goes, this is one of the better ones I have read/listened to. As other reviewers have said, “this book is fun,” and it is definitely that. I liked how the book brought more characters into the story rather than just focusing on the girl and the guy. For a light read, there was character development to be had for each of the main characters. Jojo Moyes seems to be really good at creating interesting personalities in her books. Maybe it was a bit of an extravagance to have 4 narrators, but I liked listening to them all, especially because the narration switched between 4 points of view anyway. The narrator for the young girl, Tanzie (I’m not sure which female narrator she is), was really good at relaying her unique and quirky disposition and was the most easy on the ears of the 4 readers. It is probably not a good idea to go into this with high expectations. This is not another “Me Before You” or “The Girl You Left Behind”, “One Plus One” doesn’t have the serious dilemmas that those other books deal with. It is much lighter fare that is easy to focus on and is charming to boot. Oh, and it gets bonus points from me for being British, it just makes it so much more fun to listen to.
This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. On one hand I loved the 1962 story set in the Italian cliff side village with Pasquale and Dee Moray and felt that the book could have stood on this story alone. Walter set up the italian atmosphere so beautifully and the narrator was amazing at relaying this. I got a little bored at times with the present day (well 2008) Hollywood story and the story of Pat’s life and I was always waiting for the story to switch back to the Italian cliffside. I kind of felt like the author stuffed too many “important” characters and time periods into an average sized book for it too really be balanced. With those complaints said, I loved the italian story enough to keep listening and did give the book 4 stars. The are many reviewers gushing over Edoardo Ballerini and I agree with them that he was awesome with his italian accent, but thought that he was just average on the “american” parts of the story.
This was an interesting mystery. It is interesting because the investigation is pursued by Maud, an 82-year-old British woman suffering from advanced dementia. Poor Maud. She is confused and sometimes she knows why, but mostly she is just confused. Maud insists to her daughter, Helen, and everyone around her that her friend, Elizabeth, is missing. As one could guess, Maud’s search runs her around in circles and involves many written notes to herself. It also finds her in precarious situations that are maybe a bit dangerous for her. At the same time, another story is being told of Maud’s older sister, Sukey, who goes missing when Maud is a girl. The book switches back and forth between Maud searching for Elizabeth and Maud recounting the story of the search for Sukey. There is entertainment and heartbreak to be had in watching Maud untangle the web of Elizabeth’s disappearance and in watching Sukey’s story unfold. It was quite interesting to see the author’s perspective on what may be going on in the mind of one who has severe memory loss. I don’t know if the author got it right, but what she delivered was very believable. As the book progresses, so does Maud’s memory loss and sometimes she was able to glimpse this decline. To me, those were interesting moments. As a reader, I felt the pain and frustration of Helen, Maud’s daughter, in dealing with the physical and emotional care of Maud. Maud could be a bit frustrating at times because she was always repeating herself, but I fell in love with her anyway because of her determination to find Elizabeth and because of her pain in losing Sukey and all those emotions that go along with that. I have to admit that I was more captivated in finding out what happened to Sukey than Elizabeth, but I was also second guessing myself on the “whodunit” and the “what happened” the whole way through the book. This is not a fast paced read. It is entertaining, but not action packed. I know this sounds weird, but I think this is a mystery that non-mystery fans will appreciate more than mystery fans themselves. The narrator was spot on for this role. She related a good young Maud and a good old Maud.
This was an amazing debut book. Kent writes such a dismal, bleak and heartbreaking story about Agnes Magnusdottir. This description is not meant to dissuade anyone from reading the book because it really is a beautiful story, though not necessarily cheery and uplifting. The worst and maybe best thing about this book is that it is based on a real woman, Agnes, and a real crime, murder, that takes place in Iceland in 1829. Agnes is sent to live with a family on a remote farm for the last year awaiting her execution. As one can imagine, the family is not keen on taking her in. Agnes is made to receive spiritual counseling and she has chosen a young priest to do that for her. The truth of what happened at the crime scene and Agnes’ past slowly unfolds as the book progresses. The author really has a talent with her descriptive language. She gives such vivid imagery of the scenery in Iceland and of Agnes and the other characters surrounding her. The living conditions, weather, and sicknesses described foreshadow the somberness of Agnes’ eventual demise. Morven Christie was a perfect choice for narrator especially when it came to pronouncing the Icelandic poems and conveying the many emotions of Agnes.
This book follows 6 people that live in NYC (but only 4 intensively) that met at a summer camp for the arts in the 70’s when they are teenagers. They become best friends and stay connected throughout the next 40 or so years. The book is mostly told thru Jules Jacobson’s eyes, the most normal one of the bunch. Jules and her friends are all interested in becoming artists of one form or another, but only one of them actually becomes famous for his talents. They all differ in their levels of talent and creativity and we see how this affects each of them. There is not a ton of plot in this book unless you count normal life as a plot. People get married, have babies, become famous, don’t become famous, experience death of loved ones, and a whole slew of other life experiences. I guess the getting famous part or knowing anyone famous isn’t really part of any normal life, but the rest of the book is about “normal” life occurrences. There is a bit of heavier drama that happens between 2 of the friends early on in the book, but it isn’t really the main focus of the story. I found all of this to be interesting, even though I think “The Interestings” is a bit of a misleading title for the book. The friends decide to call themselves this while attending Spirit-In-The-Woods, the summer camp. These people are semi-normal with flawed personalities and I think that’s what makes them interesting to me. These friends differ widely in money, class and fame, especially in relation to Jules. She is not as talented or rich or as beautiful as the others and sometimes this matters and sometimes it doesn’t. As in real life, secrets exist and the reader is left to ponder the morals/ethics behind them. Wolitzer created interesting (no pun intended) enough characters that I ultimately cared what happened to them even if there wasn’t terribly engaging plot twists along the way. I thought there was a bit a of hole in the book when Jules’ and Ash’s children are growing up… somewhere in the early teenage years. I felt that the rest of their lives was explained more thoroughly, but that was only a minor bump I found in the road of “The Interestings.” Wolitzer provides a lot of flashbacks from the past as she moves forward through the story and it can be confusing at times to keep up with the timeline, but after a while I got used to this writing style. Also, she is pretty amazing when it comes to imagery.
I loved this book, but I know that it has lots of mixed reviews. I think readers who enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life” and Niffenegger’s, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” will have a better chance of liking it than those who did not. The protagonist, Greta, travels back in time to 1918 and 1941 from her life in 1985 through electroshock therapy she receives for depression. She doesn’t really travel back in time though because she is the same age and living in the same apartment with the same people surrounding her in each of these eras, but details of each of Greta’s lives differ. So, she really is visiting alternate dimensions of her lives in 1918 and 1941. The Greta of 1918 and the Greta of 1941 also “travel” due to the electroshock therapy administered to them, but this tended to be unclear for me at times because it wasn’t always explained well. So each of the 3 Greta’s rotate between 1918, 1941 and 1985. We only get to meet 1985 Greta, but we get glimpses of how the other Greta’s live and whether or not they are happy. If you think about this too hard, it doesn’t make sense that this kind of therapy would allow for one to wake up in a different time and life, but it provided the necessary transportation method for Greer to tell Greta’s story. The book is melodramatic and romantic and the narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, portrays this well. Greta is often nostalgic and sentimental about her family and friends in each of her lives and this is what I liked most about her character. I don’t want to reveal too much because I liked being surprised by the twists and turns of the story. Like I said, I loved this book, but I know many others did not. I think this book will mostly appeal to fans of romance and time travel books. I really like Cassidy as a narrator, but I know she is not everyone’s cup of tea, so give the sample audio a listen before making your decision. This book isn’t perfectly executed, but it really tugged at my heartstrings and so I felt it deserved 5 stars.
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