Beautifully written book. Really makes you think. Has a lot of personality. The narrator is top-notch as well. I'll be reading/listening-to more Flannery O'Connor.
Zafon's writing is dramatic, but not tacky. His characters are well-defined, but not flat. The story is both exciting and well-woven with a mature complexity.
A modern style gothic novel, Shadow of the Wind is full of surprises described with exquisite word-weaving.
Jonathan Davis is a top-notch narrator. His intonations for different characters supports the story.
The book certainly has some good insights, or at least speculations, about the social and psychological evolution of the East-West cultural divide. That said, the author wastes a lot of time following his own bunny trails and ranting about how he views the world. All authors who write about historical events spin their narrative to support their beliefs to some extent, but Padgen's lack of objectivity is blatant. Having to weed credible ideas out of an overbearingly-obvious philosophical agenda gets tiring. Several times he made statements as if they were fact that are merely weak historical theories. Other times he employs bizarre logic and an obvious 21st-century filter to draw sweeping conclusions about complex causes in the progression of history. Worst of all, the author categorically rejects any historical example that contradicts his already-drawn conclusions. If it is a person, he brushes them aside as insincere and probably a liar. If it is a historical event, he immediately assumes it is historically inaccurate...
Padgen could have double checked his facts, avoided presenting theories as definite truths, and at least attempted to be a little more objective in his narrative. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad, there were some positive insights in the book. However, while the cover looks like a respectable, academic work, it reads more like the opinions of a wanna-be historian who read Wikipedia and delights himself in making philosophical conclusions about history.
The narrator was solid. Good voice, good pace.
Disappointment. I was looking for something with a little more complexity and the mature ability to see situations from multiple angles. Instead, the author reads history strictly through the lens of his conclusions and his philosophy.
The books starts a little slow--I had my doubts at the beginning--but slowly Wiesel paints a capturing psychological portrait. After listening to the first quarter of the book, I couldn't stop listening. The writing is so...different. So Wiesel. Mystical and dramatic, yet cynical and direct; theological and grotesque, yet academic and insightful. I found myself connecting with the main character a lot.
Oh, and Mark Bramhall's narration is--well--it's one of the few times I would say a book is improved by the narrator. Bramhall is remarkably talented. And Kirsten Potter does an excellent job too.
Lawhead's skill with subtly developing a dynamic main character throughout a story always amazes me. Byzantium is no exception--Lawhead's exceptional ability to lead the reader through Aidan's philosophical and spiritual journey demonstrates not only his skill as an author, but his intimate understanding of personal development, faith struggles, and the weight of life's unanswered questions.
I bought this book because of my interest in the Middle East; I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of an odd character like Lawrence. I was surprised, though, to find that his writing was actually quite good. The narrative is a bit confusing at times, but the writing itself and the sensations he conveys are definitely worth the download.
Ellory's prose is rhythmic and moving, descriptive and direct. The plot is thrilling and unpredictable. The characters are dynamic and have great depth. This story combines the entertaining capacity of a thriller-novel and the elegant writing of a classic, and still manages to have soul and personality. This is one of the greatest books I have ever read/listened-to. Tremendous writing, great storyline, well narrated. I can't recommend it highly enough.
The book is an easy read--more exciting than many novels I have read. Omar recalls his spying adventures vividly and offers tremendous insights into his feelings and his assessment of the psychology of those around him. You do have to wade through his neuroticism, paranoia, and blind hypocrisy, but in the end the gain is more valuable than being perturbed by the author's personal shortcomings.
The rawness of the idea behind this book--asking controversial Muslim leaders what they think about Jesus' teaching of the Good Samaritan and loving our neighbors--is absolutely brilliant. Far better than academic dialog or second-hand speculation about the thinking of those in the Middle East, these men just ask simple questions and record answers verbatim. A well written, revealing project that promotes genuine understanding.
If you're looking for an exciting adventure story--this isn't it. But if you enjoy listening to a slower story that deals with adolescence, peace and war, and the relationships of different personalities, this is a great read. It is well written, thought-provoking, and does a great job drawing emotions that most of us experience but rarely think about.
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