Toney, Alabama | Member Since 2009
This is book number four in the Cork O'Connor series, and so far they have all been excellent. My husband and I have listened to all four together, so they are definitely for both men and women. The twists and turns in this one are REALLY unpredictable . . . we were guessing until the very end . . . The story begins with the murder of a beautiful young high school girl . . . You will find yourself wanting to learn more and more about her and her family . . . and you will grab all that is close to you and treasure it, fear for it, and wonder, "what, who is out there that would hurt a kid?" Some of the reviewers are critical of this book, saying it is overly "religious" . . . I did not find that to be true at all. In fact, since the beginning of the series, ex-sheriff, Cork O'Connor has been pretty much open and honest about his "crisis of faith" since leaving the Catholic church, where he grew up, went to school, and even served as an altar boy. If readers were paying attention, this theme of "examining the heart" has been there all along. The story line has included the church, priests, and a very faithful and grounded sister-in-law, Rose, who lives in the house with Cork and Jo and helps to raise their three kids. The moral compass which has been Cork's guide from day one has been from God . . . a God that is plenty big enough to allow Cork to question His existence . . . I love the inclusion of the spiritual stories of the Indians, who know God on a very personal level . . . so whatever you call God . . . even when you deny His existence, He always brings you around . . . This book in no way "preaches" to anyone. It leaves readers to their own conclusions. It isn't "goody goody" or even full of theology. So if anyone is offended, maybe they should check to see who that voice is that is speaking to them . . . These books are mysteries/thrillers which include all areas of the lives of their characters. To exclude this one area would just be dicing up the story. Can't wait for book five!!!
The simplicity with which dogs love and accept us is one of the most amazing and healing gifts that we humans will ever encounter. I can't begin to tell you how this audio book by Jon Katz blessed me. The narration is perfect, soothing, calming, gentle . . . like a pup nuzzling up to you in the night. The story of Izzy, the border collie left wild in the fields to his own devices, with no one to call his own, abandoned by his owners . . . then adopted by Jon and joining him and the animals on his farm, learning to be a hospice dog . . . well, it is a story of healing, for Izzy, for the hospice patients, and for Jon . . . I think what I appreciated most of all is the honesty with which this story is written . . . the story of the valleys that all people encounter, whether in middle age or not, the ghosts of our pasts, which pop out of no where and suck the joy out of our lives, and threaten our future . . . the choice we all must make is to WALK THROUGH that valley and confront the ghosts . . . oh, and the comforts of having a pup to journey through it with us . . . a pup that never judges,never questions, just comes right along with us, come what may, until we come out whole on the other side.
After listening to Shanghai Girls, I couldn't wait to start the sequel. The story of young idealistic Joy, sweet innocent daughter of Pearl who flees INTO communist China is absolutely engrossing, and like so many young people who get caught up in a dream. And the lives of May and Pearl also continue, as they face heartbreaking truths about themselves and their past. The historical facts included in this fictional story about what happened inside China during the early years of Mao are chilling, eye opening, even to us who think we know the evils of communism. The first hand accounts of the suffering and death of the Chinese people at the hands of this regime are horrifying, and the shift from glorious hope in equality to eventual utter despair of these proud, resilient people . . . well, it is evil in it's purest form. It is about power. It isn't and never was about equality.
Historical fiction at it's best . . . this novel of two sisters, their family, and the old China of the early 1900's is beautifully written and narrated. This is a China and Shanghai that I really knew nothing about, since I was born in 1955. The American Chinese that I have been privileged to know have been some of the most honest and hard working people I would ever want to meet. This story which tells the hardships facing the early immigrants of the Chinese to America, makes me understand how these wonderful people came to be who they are. I did know that missionaries served in China prior to the communist regime, though I knew little else. The customs, the tight family framework, the sacrifices that generations of Chinese people endured for their offspring impacted me as I listened, as well as the exploitation of those virtues by fellow Chinese citizens. It is clear that evil preys on the most innocent in our society. As the two sisters, Pearl and May eventually escape from China to the United States, and enter through Angel's Island (also unknown to me) in California, I am amazed to learn at the interrogation they endure upon entry to America. I had never heard of "paper sons". I can't wait to listen to the next book by Lisa See, "Dreams of Joy". I am totally intrigued by the determination, love, and sacrifice of these people who are frugal, humble, and put the love of their family above all else. Their appreciation of America and the freedoms that many of us take for granted is refreshing and is a lesson for us all.
It is seldom that I choose nonfiction books, and when I do I am often disappointed. Not this time. I haven't seen the movie . . . doubt if I will . . . they usually come no where near the book. I am one of those people who have really been angered by the laws which put the mentally ill out on the streets many years ago, when "in their best interest" the mental institutions were eventually all closed down, along with all the other institutional placements for the severely handicapped. You see, I am the mother of a severely mentally retarded, severely autistic adult, who only through the grace of God, lots of work on our part (mine and my husband's), and constantly advocating for her, is now in an appropriate group home close to us, where she is safe. Mental illness is very different. But I'm not entirely sure that we've done these precious people any service by closing all the facilities which once housed them. There are so many ethical questions, so many questions of safety, not only of the mentally ill themselves, but that of the family members who spend years trying their best to care for their loved ones, many of which end up injured and sometimes killed by the person they are trying to take care of. One of the saddest stories happened here in Alabama when a teenage boy killed both his parents, and severely injured his siblings, several years ago. This family could not get any help from authorities or physicians, because the boy "had not actually harmed them" YET. The Soloist is a hauntingly beautiful, deeply moving story of a gifted musician who is unable to make health, cleanliness or other basic choices in life. Therefore he is "free". But everyone around him, everyone who loves him is TRAPPED in a vicious cycle of needing to help him, of continuing to hope, and of fighting the illusion that he CAN be helped. Nathaniel Ayers life has VALUE. God created Nathaniel. God created our sweet daughter. What we learned, over many, many years, is that God also created these special people to be adults, in whatever shape or form that is. And that God releases us, as their parents, as their caretakers, to also take care of ourselves. I fear that our society and our nation have not done well by those who truly need help the most, and cannot help themselves, while continuing to subsidize those who are ABLE BODIED. And the answers are not simple. But they are WORTH seeking.
This was the first Lee Child audio book I've listened to, although it is in the middle of the series. It's still a great stand-alone story, and caught my attention from the start, kept it until the end. I'm a sucker for ex-military types and love it when they are the good guys, and this one is full of ex-military guys, good and bad. The back story (ten years prior when Reacher was still in the army) was very interesting and central to the current story, and if you don't listen carefully, near the end of the book, you may get confused. I didn't. Great story, great narration. I will be listening to more of the series.
I really liked this story of a widow with two children who inherited a huge Spanish house in the country. Isabella, the young widow, whose deep passion for her violin and music, perhaps is too high a priority, has to learn a totally new way of life. But what I appreciated and most loved about the story was the honesty in which it was written. People DO have to go through hardships and work through grief in order to value what is most important in their lives. This isn't a cheap or tawdry tale, although there are some in the small town who make some unfortunate and selfish choices. There are MORE that make better choices and are loyal and end up doing right by their neighbors. The novel is hauntingly beautiful and meets my criteria of having an ending worth the wait.
Although this book has been around for many, many years, I had never actually read it. I had heard quotes from it, little snippets of it, but the book in it's entirely is so much more. And very different than I expected. I cannot begin to tell how "The Hiding Place" blessed me as I listened. Although it is a wonderful story of a Christian family helping and hiding Jews during WWII, the foundation of the book begins many years prior to the war in the home and town of a humble watchmaker. A watchmaker who "forgets" to bill his customers, who takes pleasure in his daily work, who loves his family, and who passes down to them the treasures of God's knowledge that will sustain them in the years to come. It is with a quiet courage that this family eventually answers the call to help their Jewish friends and neighbors. The work that Corrie ten Boom continued following the war is also miraculous and something that isn't as commonly spoken of. Instead of being BITTER, she chose to become even BETTER, following her imprisonment. She chose Jesus. She chose to serve. I cannot recommend this book enough. It will bless you beyond measure.
I just become more and more impressed with the writing of Nevil Shute. I'm not an engineer or a skilled craftsman. But I VALUE that which a person puts their mind and heart into and strives to do their best at. And I fully understand and appreciate a person who does not build their self worth on material things. As for readers/listeners who were bored because they were not engineers, I find that a bit odd, because this wonderful book, though it includes some technical data, is so very much MORE than a procedural manual. It is the story of a simple man, who is full of skill and talent, yet chooses family, joy, and the simple goodness of continued work with his hands in lieu of selling himself to the highest bidder. I couldn't foresee the outcome of his journey, but oh, how I enjoyed traveling along, as Keith Stewart, humbly accepted new responsibilities and sailed half way around the world to fulfill them. The flow of the book, the narration, and the culmination were absolutely perfect. So satisfying.
When I hear of or read a book like "Sold", the first thing that goes through my mind is this, "There but for the grace of God, go we." Though this book is fictional and supposedly geared toward a teen audience, it's a book that EVERYONE needs to read/hear. We, as Americans, have gotten so comfortable in our living rooms with our electronic gadgets, in our fancy SUVs and cars, living in a world where our bellies are full and sometimes our spirits are empty. Even when we HEAR about girls like Lakshmi who are sold in order to work and provide money for their families, it's all too easy to push those unpleasant thoughts back out of our tidy little minds. And it's too easy to say, "Oh, we could never do such a thing . . ." This story of 13 year old Lakshmi, whose step father decided she must be sold to provide money for the family, made me once again re-examine my own values, my own pride and status. I was NOT born in Nepal, Praise God for that. My own parents, though far from perfect, didn't have to decide whether or not to sell me. I was not forced into prostitution as a child. I am humbled by these facts,and I KNOW they are not mistakes. We are NOT given gifts to be squandered. We are not shown the truth to cover it back up again. "Sold" is a mighty story of strength and love, of depravity and abuse. Let's not allow this book to go into one ear and out the other.
I had been looking forward to listening to this story about four pioneer women who lost their minds out west after enduring horrifying hardships. I totally "bought into" the story, loved it, felt for the women and the men who loved them and had to send them back east, back home to heal. Mary Bee, a strong homesteader, who offers to take the mad women back east when the husband who drew lots refuses to go, is ahead of her time, knows how to shoot and defend herself, cares for her livestock, and is independent and unafraid. A woman of strong character, who loves the women she is transporting, respects them, and cares for them with dignity, and is traveling along with a man whom she has hired to help her . . . a man who is self-serving, a claim jumper, who failed to complete his service to his country, but who perhaps deep down has a shred of decency . . . all I can say is that it's a dirty rotten shame that the author decided to go off on a wild goose chase and take the story out "in the weeds" and rob the book of GREATNESS. It left me disgusted, not fulfilled. This one did not meet my criteria of providing an ending worth waiting for . . . it was a dud.
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