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Sharon G. Mensing

Book Lover

ratings
7
REVIEWS
6
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
5

  • The Return of the Dancing Master

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Henning Mankell
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (425)
    Performance
    (249)
    Story
    (245)

    Stefan Lindman, a young police officer recently diagnosed with mouth cancer, decides to investigate the murder of his former colleague, but is soon enmeshed in a mystifying case with no witnesses and no apparent motives. Terrified of the disease that could take his life, Lindman becomes more and more reckless as he unearths the chilling links between Molin's death and an underground neo-Nazi network that runs further and deeper than he could ever have imagined.

    Richard Delman says: "Plodding. Ponderous. Heavy. Slow."
    "Murder of a Nazi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Herbert Molin, a recluse living in the small town in the forest in Sweden, is gruesomely murdered. The police are in the early days of investigation when his neighbor is also murdered. Mollon had been tortured before death, while Anderson is shot execution-style. But two murders in such a remote location have to be related. A visiting policeman, Stefan, on sick leave as he tries to come to grips with his diagnosis of tongue cancer, helps local police and forms a friendship with the investigator in charge, Joseppi.

    Stefan, not officially on duty, follows questionable practices such as breaking into people's houses, to find clues, which he then passes on to Joseppi. The two men brainstorm and talk through the investigation as it gets closer and closer to an underground Nazi organization. The book indicts Nazism in both its historical and present incarnations, as links between its practice and the deaths surface. Introspective Stephan also deals with how Nazism has played a role in his family and upbringing.

    After an initially very tense scene, this book develops slowly. The reserved manner in which the characters interact with one another creates a space between the reader and the characters. Even scenes which have to do with passion are told rather dispassionately. For this reason, the book didn't draw me back as strongly as some. However, the very intricate plot is interesting, and I wanted to know how it ended and what the crucial connections were. Mankell did a good job of holding the last pieces of the puzzle until the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Townie: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Andre Dubus III
    • Narrated By Andre Dubus III
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (143)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (94)

    After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed—or killing someone else—or to beatings-for-pay as a boxer.

    Suzn F says: "More like a 3.25 star rating"
    "Violence, violence, violence"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Andre Dubus III is a violent man. I felt that after finishing his novel, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG; having read his memoir, TOWNIE, I am certain of it as well as a bit more knowledgeable about the origin of the violence. Dubus III and his siblings were essentially abandoned by their father, short story writer Dubus II, when they were very young. Their mother then raised them (but mostly neglected them) in the slums, where they had to learn survival tactics. Dubus’ violent streak served to both protect him and impress his father.
    TOWNIE is Dubus’ story of growing up poor with educated parents, using boxing and street fighting as survival strategies, and eventually learning to fight with his words rather than his fists. The book is filled with one exquisitely told brutal event after another. I listened to the book on Audible, narrated by the author, and the flat intonation with which he read his own writing is monotonous enough to counteract the ferocity of the prose . His dispassionate reading helped take some of the sting out of the brutality and probably fairly represented how inured to violence he became during his adolescence.
    Violence was one theme of the book; the other major theme was Dubus’ striving to earn his father’s love. When his parents divorced, his father moved to the other side of town and lived a relatively elite college life while leaving his wife and children to live the deprived life his ex-wife could provide. Dubus and his siblings had dinner with their father occasionally, but otherwise saw little of him. It was only when Dubus began fighting that his father took notice. Dubus became a sort of alter-ego for his father, and he supported his father emotionally during his final years. As the book ends, Dubus seems proud of how far he’s come. However, he did not manage to make me like him or even feel that he was ultimately the “good” man he’d like to think he is.
    It was hard for me to like TOWNIE given its heavy emphasis on violence and the fact that I really didn’t much like Andre Dubus III as he portrayed himself. The writing is very descriptive and evocative, however, so while he may not be a wonderful guy, he is a good writer.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rules of Civility: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Amor Towles
    • Narrated By Rebecca Lowman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1741)
    Performance
    (1385)
    Story
    (1369)

    Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising 25-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

    Emily - Audible says: "Like a Country Pastoral for City Rats"
    "Jazz Age"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I actually listened to the Audible.com version of this book. That may have added to my rating since it was so well done.

    I am not generally a lover of historical fiction, so I wouldn't have picked this up on my own. I am so happy that it was a book club choice, since that's what got me to read it. It starts and ends in the 60s, which is close enough to the present for me. But the bulk of the novel takes place in the late 30s. It's the story of Katie and Tinker, both from working class backgrounds, and the different ways that they joined the upper crust as well as how their social climbs affected them both. At one point, Katie uses honeymoon bridge as a metaphor for life. You draw a card and then must choose whether to keep it or discard it and draw another. And each card defines in some way how your life will proceed.

    The book was beautifully written, the characters so real, and it felt as though I were right there in 1930s New York. I did some extra driving because I didn't want to leave it, and now I'm sad that it's over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Land More Kind Than Home

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Wiley Cash
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan, Lorna Raver, Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (197)
    Performance
    (179)
    Story
    (176)

    For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to - an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared.

    Janice says: "An American Tragedy"
    "Snakehandlers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up A Land More Kind Than Home in three words, what would they be?

    Rich, dramatic, inspiring


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    The sheriff


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I never have that much time, but I was anxious to get back to it


    Any additional comments?

    The characterization in this book is some of the strongest I've ever read (or listened to in this case, where I "read" the audible version). The three narrators' voices provide windows into their lives and thoughts while at the same time telling the story of powerful events taking place in the small backwoods North Carolina town. As we come to know the speakers, their insights into the main characters involved in the events bring those characters to life as well.
    I would recommend this book in whatever format suits you, but if you are able to listen to the audible version, you will be rewarded by excellent readers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Cheryl Strayed
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2992)
    Performance
    (2626)
    Story
    (2631)

    At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

    FanB14 says: "Glad I Took the Trip"
    "So self-involved"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Folks who enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love


    Has Wild turned you off from other books in this genre?

    yes


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disliked the character, who couldn't talk about anything other than herself.


    Any additional comments?

    Couldn't finish it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. Kimble

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Jennifer Haigh
    • Narrated By Martha Plimpton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    A captivating exploration of human love, marriage, and the illusions upon which it is founded, Mrs. Kimble presents a fascinating psychological portrait of a mesmerizing opportunist and the women who believe in him. Beautifully wrought, stunningly original, Jennifer Haigh's sparkling debut marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent.

    barbara says: "Enjoyable and interesting"
    "Didn't Like Mr Kimble"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about Mrs. Kimble?

    MRS KIMBLE was well written, but I had little patience for the characters and this made it hard to continue.

    The book opens with the death of Mr. Ken Kimble, and then we are taken back through his three marriages: first to a child-woman who is completely unable to take care of herself or her children when he leaves, then to a working woman who hadn't found time to get married until she met Ken, and finally to a woman who was once his children's babysitter. Each woman is flawed, which allows Kimble to exercise his power over each in turn.

    There is very little to redeem Ken Kimble, and it is hard to be sympathetic toward the women who stayed with him. I would not have stuck with this book if it hadn't been a book discussion book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jennifer Haigh again?

    Probably not


    What about Martha Plimpton’s performance did you like?

    Good characterization


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disgust at Mr. Kimble and all the Mrs. Kimbles


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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