Although I couldn't wait to get back in my car to continue listening to this book, I couldn't figure out why I didn't feel any satisfaction each time the characters solved a piece of the puzzle. Now I look back and realize that too many of those solutions were simply "flashes of insight" or "revelations" coming out of nowhere, but of course only at really opportune times. I had placed Dan Brown's earlier book, Digital Fortress, on my Audible wishlist but now I think I'll pass....
This series is perfect light entertainment! It's the only one where I've immediately downloaded the next book in the series rather than alternating with other genres or, heaven forbid, a more "literary" book. I've rated all of them 5-stars except this one for several reasons --
1) In several places, Katherine Kellgren makes Georgie sound like Belinda ... for the first time in the series, which only serves to accentuate how good she normally is at breathing different personalities into each character.
2) I lost some respect for Georgie, who is such an independent and grounded young woman, when she starts to seriously consider the existence of vampires and werewolves.
3) Why would such a no-nonsense young woman as Georgie suffer as incompetent a maid as Queenie, no matter what her other character strengths? Not very believable, but I'll read on to see what Rhys Bowen plans for Queenie.
Despite these compalints, I highly recommend the entire series! (BTW, I find listening at 1.25x via the Audible app to be perfect.)
I fell in love with Jim Dale after hearing his absolutely amazing narration of the Harry Potter novels where each of the 20 or 30 characters had a distinct and identifiable voice. (No, not available through Audible.) Night Circus was a very enjoyable listen, both in plot and reading, but I was terribly disappointed that there was so little dialog for Jim Dale to work with. Way too much exposition ... not a good fit for Mr. Dale's remarkable voice talents.
Half an hour into the book, I thought "how can there be enough material for an entire book?" Twelve hours later, I was disappointed there wasn't more.
I totally agree with Garrison Keillor in his NY Times Book Review (12/19/10) -- it's a "dreary meander of a memoir." I wonder how many people who put this book so high on the bestseller list actually read more than a few chapters....
Several years ago, I discovered The Beekeeper's Apprentice and voraciously listened to the first 8 Mary Russell books in quick succession, but gradually lost interest with the increasing theological ruminations and weird religious sects. Still, I felt that I had to finish the entire series and soldiered on. After a break of a few years, I picked up again with The Language of Bees and I have to say that I am SO disappointed and can barely remember why I enjoyed the first few in the series so much. In The Language of Bees, both the writing AND the reading of is unbearably slow and I find my mind continually wandering. Thank goodness my car player has a Fast setting so I can listen to it at a near-normal conversational tempo!
This book tries to be both a mystery and a commentary on a barbarous wartime atrocity and, to me, it succeeds on neither score. (If you're interested in the latter, I highly recommend Iris Chang's "Rape of Nanking" instead.) The primary female character is an interesting person, but in a clinical, curious way, never evoking any real empathy for her or her quest. The back story involving the primary male character simply dragged.
As for the narrators, I appreciated their dramatic readings but was appalled at their total mispronunciations of Chinese, which detracted from their credibility and authenticity. Surely the producers could have provided an hour of coaching! One basic example -- "chi" (or perhaps it was spelled "qi," which isn't clear in an audiobook, of course) should be pronounced "chee" but the female reader pronounced it "key." When I think of how a native-speaking reader can transform an audiobook with the nuance, rhythm and intonation of even sparsely scattered foreign words -- just think of "Life of Pi" or "Kite Runner" -- I was sad to think of how rich this audiobook experience COULD have been.
I bought this book during Audible's summer $5.95 sale (I guess "sales" do work!) and was unexpectedly drawn into this far-ranging history of the discovery and development of sulfa drugs. The author does a terrific job of providing details about the personal lives of the characters so that they're three dimensional, and descriptions of the social/politic environment so that their scientific work is placed in a historical context. I would have given it five stars except that I really disliked the reader -- his overly-dramatic reading actually detracted from the book. I especially disliked how he draws out the final word of each sentence into a falling cadence, changing the final syllable of the final word into two syllables. (Sorry, can't describe it more exactly.) End result is that he continually sounds patronizing and bored.
My 11-year old son and I have enjoyed this fast-paced series -- great light listening! Unlike previous books in the series, though, this one is read by Simon Jones. We thought he was spectacular in the Bartimaeus Trilogy and very good in the Lion Boy series but were disappointed with his reading here, particularly of younger children and the women. His falsetto just sounds too fake! We still enjoyed the book, but for a really GREAT listen, try the Bartimaeus Trilogy!
I listened to this with my 10 year old son driving to/from summer camps, and we both wished the drive were longer! He loved the story, a "rags to riches" plot as another reviewer notes where the main character gradually discovers and draws upon his unknown talents and core beliefs to become rich and important, but above all, someone who "does the right thing."
But please don't think that this book hits you over the head with the "do the right thing" message! When my son and I described the book to my husband and I commented how much I liked both the story AND the message, my son asked, "What message?" Still, it's a sign of a well-written book for children or young adults in my mind -- look at Harry Potter, even look at Disney's Beauty and the Beast -- when any message is submerged in a good yarn. I highly recommend this very well read book for ages 8 and up!
Delightful read AND a real education about food -- I'll never just eat my way through a good meal again without savoring every taste! Even engaged my non-foodie teenage daughter. My only complaint is that it's very difficult to go back and find the recipes -- the audio breaks don't even coincide with chapter breaks, it seems.
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