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This was a fantastic debut novel. The story revolves around 3 African-American women who became friends in childhood and stayed friends while growing up and growing older. The story goes back and forth between their childhood histories and their present day problems and every day situations. What most impressed me about "The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat" was Moore's ability to tell a story through a woman's point of view. If I had known that the author was male, I would have guessed that a woman wrote the book. So, kudos goes to Moore for getting inside our female heads. The story is about love, reckoning with one's past and present, relationships (friendly and romantic) and the afterlife. All of this is told with humor. The narration was very good coming from both Ojo and D'Pella. I recommend this one highly!
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.
This book was a fairytale to me, a very adult and gotham fairytale. I loved the story of the golem more at first, but as the story went on I became very entranced in the jinni also. For 2 characters that are not of this world, one made of fire (the jinni) and one made of clay (the golem), they possess many human characteristics. Chava, the golem, is a creature made of clay to resemble a human woman. She is made to be bound by a master, but her master dies soon after she is brought to life on a boat bound for New York. Ahmad, the jinni, is a being who is able to change forms, but is trapped as a male human by a wizard and locked in a flask. He is accidentally set free by a New York tinsmith, but doomed to remain in human form. Chava and Ahmad struggle to live amongst humans while keeping the secrets of their identities. Few know the truth of where they came from. Eventually they cross paths, each sensing an un-humanness the other possesses. Wecker introduces many other interesting characters that add layers to make this a complex story that is rich in imagery. As a reader, I felt the grittiness of the city and the strange qualities of the golem and the jinni to be so real. I read that the author spent 7 years researching this book and it shows in the details of the city and it's immigrants. The historical fiction aspect of this book did not disappoint.
I am not a huge fan of fantasy books. In fact, I usually avoid them unless they are getting outstanding reviews. To me, this book was worth all the hype. I found the protagonists to be strange and likable and I ultimately cared about what happened to them. I have read other reviews in which readers have said the book needed some editing because it was too long and maybe this is true, but I didn't find myself getting bored at all. I was captivated. This is the first time that I tried Whispersync and I found it to be a great tool, esp. for this longer book. Also, George Guidall did not disappoint, he was an excellent narrator and I look forward to listening to more of him in the future.
This book is full of brutality and emotion, but it is also about hope and change. It takes place in the early 19th century in Charleston during the time of slavery. The book switches between 2 narrators, Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a prominent white family, and Handful/Hetty, a young slave of the Grimke family. Sarah loses the ability to speak at a young age while witnessing cruelty against slaves on her family's property. Later, she finds her voice, but struggles her whole life with a speech impediment. Handful is given to Sarah as a gift for her 11th birthday. Sarah resists this present of Handful as her personal maid, but is forced to live with the situation. This marks the start of Sarah's and Handful's relationship. Sarah tries to help and befriend Handful, but there is always a chasm between them seeing as one was rich and white and the other a slave. Still, there is a connection between them that endures their whole lives. Both Sarah and Handful have many significant life experiences that Monk exposes with grace and wit. I was especially drawn to Handful's and her mother, Charlotte's, story. It was easy for me to become emotionally invested in their plight and their desires for freedom. It was easy to get swept up in Charlotte's story of the blackbirds and the quilt. Monk's symbolism involving the blackbirds and the soul tree(?) added depth to Handful's narrative. For someone who lost their voice, Sarah was able to find it and use it to her advantage on the behalf of slaves and women everywhere. I was surprised to learn that this book is based on real people. Sarah Grimke and her family did exist. I went into this book thinking that it was purely fictional, but learning that Sarah and her sister, Nina, were real people shed a whole new light on the story and made the book more significant. The narration is very good, especially Oduye's (Handful's) part. It was a bit hard to listen to Sarah stutter so much, but that wasn't the fault of the narrator, it's how the book is written. I have heard that this is going to be THE book club book of 2014 and I agree wholeheartedly.
I also want to say off the bat that this book shouldn't be compared to "The Help". This book is a much different story than "The Help". It takes place in Virginia on a slave plantation in the late 1700's, while "The Help" takes place in Mississippi in the 1960's. They are both amazing books, but not similar except that they both deal with injustice and cruelty towards black people.
The basic plot was intriguing. The idea of a young white orphan girl being taken to live on a slave plantation and placed under the care of the slaves is a unique take on this time period. Lavinia, the orphan, was a very likable and naive character. I thought that maybe the slaves would resent her more since she lived and worked in their midst, but they took her in and loved her like she was their own. Maybe they realized how helpless she was. This book had strong characters, both wonderful and despicable. The kitchen house characters brought the life into this book, e.g. Mama, Belle, Papa George, Fanny, Gertie, Ben, Sukie, etc. I just wanted to hug Mama and sit with her, push Rankin off a cliff into shark filled waters and shake Lavinia once in a while to wake her up to the reality that she sometimes missed in her naivete towards what it meant to be white and what it meant to be black. Lavinia was a white girl… no matter how much she identified with the slaves she loved. Lavinia also learned that even though she was white, she was very powerless in her plight to help her kitchen house "family" from the cruelty of slavery. This book was horrifying and brutal and heartbreaking, but I found it to be so good that I couldn't stop listening. I enjoyed the way the book switched between Lavinia and Belle. I liked getting Belle's perspective in addition to Lavinia's. Bahni Turpin did an excellent job of narrating Belle, but I had mixed feelings on Orlagh Cassidy's narration of Lavinia. I don't know if she was the best choice for the job, but she was good enough. The book ended a bit too quickly in my opinion. I could have used another 10 minutes of detail from that last chapter.
On a side note, if you listen to this audiobook, take the time to listen to the last few minutes of the author speaking about her motivation and passion for writing this book. It was very interesting.
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