I don't usually read mystery. Had I known going in that was going to be a mystery, I might have passed it over. I'm glad I didn't know. I enjoyed this mystery set in 1699 in which a colonial magistrate and his clerk preside over the trial of a woman accused of witchcraft including multiple cases of murder, perverted acts and arson. Edoardo Balleri gave voice to the characters wonderfully.
I have only one bone to pick -- and that is the use of sulfur matches, which didn't exist in 1699.
However, I'll forgive that anachronism, suspend disbelief, and enjoy fiction for the sake of fiction.
And now, on to"Queen of Bedlam."
A thought provoking must read. Similar in many ways to "Alas, Babylon" but with far more emotional punch. As one character points out, a traditional nuclear attack is actually not as devastating as a massive EMP.
The first person to recommend this book to me is a good friend works in our county's emergency management department. When he described the book, I thought it sounded much like Alas, Babylon (if you haven't read or listened to that, I'd recommend doing so first, then taking on One Second After following a little period - the audio version of that is excellent as well). In fact, in the foreward for One Second After, we learn that it was, in part, inspired by and modeled on Alas, Babylon.
There might not be radiation fallout from an EMP, but the fallout for people accustomed to and dependent upon technogy (and better living through chemistry) who are, in one second, thrown into the dark ages, with no preparation is absolutely devastating.
A resounding line is "a Prosac nation, quitting cold turkey."
This is the first time a Ken Follett book isn't getting at least a four star review from me. This last installment of the Century Trilogy spans from the presidency of John F. Kennedy through, in epilogue, the election of Barak Obama (the novel, proper, ends with the fall of the Berlin wall), and deals largely with the Cold War, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Civil Rights Movement. Where Follett failed, in my opinion, in this work, is dwelling too long on some topics while skimming over others and leaving parts of the story of the last 60 years that were factors in the Cold War, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Civil Rights Movement out entirely. How can you have a novel, in which characters become rock stars, and in which the Vietnam War (and protests) are a plot element, without a mention of Woodstock? How is Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech only a mocking afterward while Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech is referenced several times? How is the space race, which was an element of the Cold War, not mentioned? The Russian boycott of the 1984 Olympics? I could go on... In that there are female characters struggling against the glass curtain or the career/home balance, the feminist movement is touched upon, but not a focal point.
The previous novels in this trilogy dealt with WWI and WWII, and, in that they spanned shorter time frames, were, I think, more thorough in their treatment of the relevant issues and events of the periods.
Perhaps the Century Trilogy should have been a cycle instead of a trilogy, with a fourth novel to allow for more thorough examination of the period covered by the last novel.
Biases in the way the story was told were also quite evident. Perhaps they were as evident to people who lived through the periods of the previous novels in those novels. Certainly novelists are free to entertain their bias, but in the context of this work, it bothered me.
John Lee's narration was wonderful, as always.
This Sue Monk Kidd novel did not have the impact of her novel The Secret Lives of Bees for me, but it's a good read (or listen - I listened to the audio narrated by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye, who deliver a beautiful performance). This novel explores slavery and women's rights from two different perspectives - the daughter of a slave owning family who, herself, abhors slavery and has ambitions considered impossible for women, and a female slave gifted to her on her 11th birthday. The separate narratives are stitched together as wonderfully as the story quilt that is an element of the novel.
I pre-ordered this last installment of the Divergent Trilogy for my son so it would arrive on release date and also purchased it in audio for myself on release date. I made a point of getting ahead of my son in the story to prevent him from dropping spoilers, whether by intent or accident. I'm very glad that I "read ahead" of my son in this case. This is a YA read that explores some very adult (and heavy) concepts. I'm glad that I know what he'll be experiencing through literature very soon, as there are things that will be good for us to discuss.
I'll do my best to avoid spoilers as I expand on that.
Veronica Roth did a fantastic job of making us fall in love (and hate) with the inhabitants of her dystopian world in Divergent and Insurgent. First person narration gives us a very intimate understanding of the characters and their motives (and gave me a clue that filled me with dread throughout Allegiant).
In Allegiant, we travel along with those characters that we've come to love and hate as they confront some very adult concepts. Among those concepts are genetic modification, genocide, prejudice (even the 'benign' forms of prejudice - something akin to Affirmative Action), forgiveness, sacrifice, and living in a glass bowl with the oversight of a too-powerful centralized government. The difference between sacrifice and waste of life was explored in Insurgent. In Allegiant, that discussion is taken further.
This is a thought provoking read for young readers and adults alike. I predict this will be one of those novels that really "sticks" with a young reader. It packs an emotional punch. If your young reader is reading these novels, I especially recommend that you read these novels as well, so you can discuss the social issues explored with your young reader.
... but this just never got off the ground for me. The first chapter was good but then it got bogged down in names, places, religions - too much to slog through.
I've had the audio, narrated by Ruby Dee, in my Audible library for some time. I tried to listen to it before, but initially found the speed of speech and regional patois difficult to follow. I recently gave it another, and longer chance. I'm glad I did. This book is considered a classic for good reason. Ruby Dee's narration is full of feeling and a great match for this novel.
I was so very glad that the author avoided the middle-east religious quagmire that having Jewish & Arabian culture meet could have led to.
This novel is an original breath of fresh air, drawing together the folklore of different cultures, the history of immigrants in New York, and fantasy. Those strands were beautifully woven together and the narration by George Guidall was spot on.
I look forward to more works by Helen Wecker. What a debut!
I enjoyed the disjointed dream-like quality of the non-chronological telling of this tale and the way that it maintained the suspense. I thought I had it all figured out relatively early on, but I was mistaken. Then I was mistaken again. Then I was mistaken again. Well done, Kate Morton.
Narration, by Caroline Lee, was spot-on job for the genre and period.
This series is fun. I especially enjoyed the potty humor in this one. Yes, I'm a grown-up. I think that makes me enjoy it all the more. Excellent performance from Nathaniel Parker.
Follett delivers again - no surprise. Narration from John Lee is fantastic. I love his accents - all of them.
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