We are always wanting our authors to write something "different" - - and J.K. Rowling really did. For my fellow Potter fans, remember that only 3 of the seven books ended on a positive note; most ended with the dread that was hanging over Harry's head and/or with major characters that we had grown to love dead. Why are we so surprised she writes characters that are flawed and not always easy to like? It's in keeping with her pattern and I quite like that. That's why I'm so surprised at the harsh criticism that is being leveled at this book.
With that as the backdrop, this is a book with a lot of well developed characters each living their lives of, "quiet desperation." I really liked how well the author blended the people and their miserable lives together by drawing patterns and cross purposes through what might be considered normal lives.
Yes, there's rough language, sexuality, and crime. And yes, this is a book for adults. Having made that the premise, it much less graphic than most crime novels, has tamer sexual encounters than most romances, and is much more complex than a young adult book.
The story did struggle in parts - - sometimes in the effort to define the characters it was easy to lose where we were in the plot. I think as she continues to write single books rather than series, the need to so well define someone who only has a tangential role in the plot will be abandoned. But, even with that criticism, I liked it, and I really look forward to her next book for adults.
We all know Grisham: a definitive plot, at least one protagonist that we can relate to, and a couple of colorful sidekicks. This sequel (we're reminded again and again of the book we all read a decade ago) is elevated by an absolutely wonderful narration that is never condescending and characters that are ridiculously easy to identify. I'm not sure if it because of familiarity with the material or just plain talent, but Michael Beck is pitch perfect in delivering the over the top characters and amazingly restrained with the more shy and less flamboyant. Just really well done. Oh yeah, and the book is pretty good, too.
I don't always have to have happy endings and triumphs, but I do need to have characters I care about (whether good or bad). This was just gruesomeness from three areas: a meandering unfocused plot, really poor narration (that was probably intended to follow the dour nature of the story), and savage assaults on women and children. I am an Amy Tan fan and stuck with this far longer than I would had it been any other author, but ultimately this had very little redemption. I cannot justify recommending this to someone other than people with a strong stomach and a desperate need to say they've read all of Tan's works. Very disappointing.
Fans of the series, here is another book that will strengthen our friendship with the people we've come to know and love. This series has become that wonderful annual conversation you have with the closest of friends that you don't see often, but have strong feelings for.
This is not a series where you can start in the middle, it requires you to put in the time to get to know the players and the rhythm of the narrator - - who is marvelous. This story is slightly less family-friendly than some of the others, so a slight note of warning if you're listening with small ones. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the trip back to Botswana.
I love when a book feels like a warm bath followed by a fluffy robe and hot chocolate. Fannie Flagg writes those kind of stories that are just grounded enough in tragedy and misfortune to make the triumph feel even more joyful at the end. This one includes a fascinating, but little known, historical context that makes it even more fulfilling. As always, patience is required for a Fannie Flagg book, the story never runs forward, it meanders as you get to know the main characters who are always Southern women through and through. So, when you're ready to slow down a bit and dedicate some time, this is the book to pick up.
Malcom Gladwell makes me a smarter person. With every book there is a new explanation of what is commonly understood as a universal fact - - that he convincingly explains is just plain wrong. With this book, I've learned that being "disadvantaged" may be my strategic advantage. Very cool.
As a narrator, Gladwell comes well armed with research and facts, but delivers it in such a cool and calm low-key way, that as he's explaining how silly you've been for believing what seems like common sense, it's not one bit insulting.
Be prepared to revel in being "the underdog" and in discovering that giants really aren't that scary.
I hesitated at first because I really don't need a comedian, even an excellent one like Crystal, to tell me what aging feels like. This is much, much beyond that. Truly laugh out loud funny and surprisingly poignant, the decades of Billy's life are full of colorful (and often famous) characters that will fascinate you if you're acquainted with them or not. Yes, there are the old guy jokes, and they're funny, but it's when he's playing straight man to what is happening to him and around him when this book really zings. This is a book that you should NOT read on paper (or screen), but listen to performed by a master joker. Great fun.
I confess that all I knew about this novel was the premise before I downloaded it. The idea of people coming back from the dead was such a lofty notion I was completely intrigued, so I didn't listen to the "prequels" I went straight to the book. And I just loved it. It's a homespun tale told from the point of view of real people trying to take an incomprehensible idea and having to live it out with all the day-to-day consequences of their actions. I admire a writer who doesn't feel the need to have everything sewn into neat packages, who has good and bad guys that aren't easily discernable and who deals with the human-ness of our decisions rather than trying to teach a great moral lesson. This is one of those great books that with each section you have to stop and think: what would I do? - - how would I feel?
If you've had the experience of having loved and lost someone, if you're willing to let yourself go (which isn't an easy thing to do), you can get lost inside what these characters are feeling. That's always the sign of a master writer - - and this guy is a great storyteller.
This book made me squirm uncomfortably and put it down occasionally just so I could do a little soul searching. This story is so cleverly told through hindsight and foresight and answers that universal question: if I could go back would I make the same decisions? It brilliantly points out that the obvious choice, the easy choice and the smart choice while easily discernable from the outside, on the inside, with circumstances and issues nagging at you - - the choices are much more difficult. And while the characters and narrators are Australian, the circumstances are universal. I *think* this might be more appealing if you have a few years under your belt, but I sure as heck would have loved to have read it 10-years ago!
Silly, but I avoided this book because I was put off by the title and cover art. When every review began with the word, "quirky," that was enough to put it on the bottom of my list. Glad I got to the bottom of my list. This was fun and funny especially if you've spent time in Seattle and environs. This author is really smart and quite clever, and just when you think you've had just about enough of THAT, she tumbles down to earth with a vulnerability that touches the hardest of hearts. But the best part, without a doubt, is the narrator. She took a good book and she made it amazing.
This is an excellent book that beautifully builds and draws you into the lives of three ordinary Australian women during extraordinary circumstances. The secrets that lie at the heart of each of them are easy to relate to and told masterfully. It is that wonderful mix of complex charcter study and great plot that makes you form a love/hate relationship with each of the characters. Caring so much about what comes next makes it hard to put down. This is the perfect summer read/book club/gift book because you'll want to run out and find someone else to talk with about it when you're done. Do be careful of spoilers on this one - - there is great pleasure in each revelation.
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