Sugar Land, TX, United States | Member Since 2010
I have read one review making the inevitable comparison to Forrest Gump's long run, and I confess that I had made that same connection. But while we could never really access Gump's inner world during his unplanned journey, we do get to travel intimately with Harold Fry, and that makes all the difference. From the beginning, when he is moved to tears by Queenie's letter saying goodbye, we realize that there is a much deeper story here than mere sadness over an old friend's illness. There are dark, secret waters flowing through Harold's memory, and that river sweeps him onto the road of self discovery with the reader in tow. Through the author's direct and deceptively simple language we connect with Harold's character and find a much more complex person than any of his own acquaintances would have suspected.
We also encounter a wider cast of characters, some major (wife Maureen), many minor, but through these encounters we learn more about Harold, and he about himself. When he is at his most alone and despairing point, I found connection to a different Tom Hanks role - Cast Away, especially when things he held precious on his journey were lost - as Hanks lost his WIlson. I could feel his spirit draining away.
The author has created a uniquely clear-eyed tone - poignant without sentiment, tragic (in places) without melodrama, and humor without comedy. Read with utter believability by Jim Broadbent, we grow to love most of the characters, even some of the apparently insignificant ones. This is a journey in the most common sense - one footstep after another. It is not an adventure. Readers who strain for the destination, impatient for journey's end will not get it. Those who arrive with Harold will be well rewarded.
When I selected this book after listening to the free preview, I expected to enjoy a story full of Gaiman magic and whimsy, narrated to perfection by the expressive author. I got that and so very much more. This is a truly magical exploration of dreams and nightmares, fear and courage, youth and timeless age, and the ultimate sacrifice for things that matter more than one’s own life. What might at first glance appear to be merely a fantasy of childhood, for me was deeply moving, woven together with almost mystical wisdom and heart, and the often asked question "is it really true . . ." Children can be so very wise.
I rarely re-read books once I’ve finished. I think this will be an exception. There are layers to be re-examined, and I really loved these people, especially the children, not simply written, but created, inhabited by Gaiman. His words and his voice in my ears made them real. He IS the little boy. He is a master craftsman and this is a work of art.
I cast my vote with the other fans who miss George Wilson and hated Atre Johnson's reading. Hiaasen's humor may sometimes be dark, but the mood is never heavy, and Arte read this story like a 70 year old New York curmudgeon - Buddy Hackett came to mind more than once. He was especially bad with accents and kept getting mixed up with which one he was supposed to use at any given time, so the old Bahamian fisherman sounded like the young female Cuban doctor, and vice versa.
Sorry to say, Carl has to own some of my dissatisfaction too. The first half of the story built up very slowly and was woefully devoid of laughs. Just past halfway there was a surprising reveal that allowed things to take off and I finally felt like I was reading something Hiaasen. But it's not one of his best efforts - laughs were generally few and far between, and I just didn't find the characters to be as loveably quirky as usual. As another reviewer said, with a better reader perhaps the characters would have fared better, but we'll never know.
At one point as the Colclough family are driving as fast as they can but unable to shake the headlights behind them, I thought of the immortal words of Butch Cassidy - Who ARE those guys?
This is a breakneck speed thriller that is nearly impossible to put down as this family runs nonstop from the relentless pursuit of who-knows-who. I devoured it almost in one sitting. But it's not for everybody - I had to wonder more than once why I was sticking with it. It is extraordinarily violent, far more than I would usually tolerate. But I just had to find out how the family could possibly escape and what the hell was causing all of the mayhem.
I can't give it 5 stars for reasons others have already pointed out: the wife's annoying complaints at her husband which blessedly subsided once she had to be the one making the decisions for a while. The daughter could also be a bit of a pill instead of just keeping her head down and doing what she was told. The narrator was just ok, with not so ok voicing of women and kids, and strange accents (Irish sounded Australian, north westerners sounded like bad imitations of deep south). I will give the overall score a 4 for keeping me on the edge of my seat, but for some missteps in the story just a 3. The final chapter offers what explanation we will ever get for the chaos. Each will have to decide if it's enough.
In a world that has taught our children that winning is not possible because losing has become taboo (everyone gets a medal for just showing up), Dr. Seuss gives us a 7 minute lesson in trying your best, perservering and not giving up when the going gets tough. It's a lesson many adults need to learn as well. I read this book to my daughter when she was small, and she now reads it to her son. I wondered if Dr. Seuss without the illustrations would be worth it, but John Lithgow's reading and the whimsical musical accompaniment provides the ambience needed for an audible rendering. Thanks for the free gift, Audible.
I had high hopes for this story based on the positive and generally affectionate reviews from the author’s loyal fans. I was therefore disappointed that in my opinion, the story, while generally good, had some execution flaws that brought it down. The narrative is saturated with similies and metaphors, many of them repeated more than once, that were distracting in their lack of imagination. The dialogue felt self-conscious and stilted, leaning way too often into golly gee “Leave it to Beaver” territory. An editor needed to help delete a few scenes that added nothing to either plot progression or character development (a marriage counseling session for instance). And the narration, while not the fault of the author, was only adequate, especially in the interpretation of the dialogue – generally failing to communicate genuine emotions of the characters.
Regarding the plot, as I said, it was generally good, and I did develop affection for some of the characters, especially Gus, Jake and Dad. There were a couple of characters who seemed to be written as though they had greater impact on the story but then kind of fizzled out red herring style. I figured out the solution very quickly and was impatient with the wrap up. I give it about a 2.5, so I’ll round up to 3 stars, and probably won’t be looking for more from this author.
I watched Johnny Depp’s “Finding Neverland” on TV the other night and had a craving to revisit this favorite childhood classic. Except that I am one of those poor souls who never read the original story, but was raised first on the Mary Martin TV musical production, then the Disney animation. As other reviewers discovered, there is more in the story for adults than I suspected from the child-focused versions. Filled with social commentary, current day critics of the home-and-child role imposed on Wendy need to remember that this was written at the tail end of the patriarchal family-first Victorian era.
In spite of the unexpected grown up tone of the story, there is no denying the timeless charm and imagination that has endeared Peter Pan to over a century of readers. Suspending my grown up self and experiencing it through my child-self retained the magic. The final chapter, after the return home, touched me the most. It well deserves to be experienced in its original format.
Unlike the majority of listeners I had conflicting feelings about Jim Dale’s reading. As the objective all-knowing narrator he was excellent. But when it came to the character voices, especially the children, I guess I wanted to hear a little more child-like wonder. By focusing on the false bluster of the children trying to be brave and self-sufficient, some of the charm was missing. His voice was just so obviously old-mannish, in my mind a contradiction of the youth oriented tone of the story. But he is still a talented enough reader to rate 4 stars. Listening to the sample may help others to discern if his style works for you.
This jolly little caper was recommended to me based on my favorable review of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”. While I did enjoy that lovely book very much, this selection resembles it only in the premise of an impromptu journey by a geriatric gentleman. This story could be the result of Carl Hiaasen blending Harold Fry with Forrest Gump and adding his own patented lunacy to the mix. There are two storylines at work: the current day journey of Allan Karlssen and the entourage he accumulates while trying to evade a biker gang and the police, and the historical journey of his very eventful Gump-like life that collides with every major global event from 1920 to the fall of the Soviet Union.
I found the current day story line the more entertaining of the two. Readers of Hiaasen’s books will enjoy the very dry, dark humor and root for the inevitable come-uppance dealt by karma as our merry band of fugitives dodge every peril, encouraged by Allan’s optimistic belief that “it is what it is, and what will be will be.” The historical sections were very Gumpish (as noted by many other reviewers), but better because through Allan’s stubbornly apolitical viewpoint, no country or political party escapes a dark satirical skewering. My only complaint was how revisiting history slowed down the more entertaining escape story. Still, it is only a small complaint, because there comes a scene near the end when all those previous historical encounters are bundled together to great hilarity at one person’s expense.
For those who enjoyed Harold Fry for the sweet, gentle tone and ultimately life redeeming message, you may not respond well to the darkness in this story if you are hoping for a repeat. Hiaasen’s fans will have to adjust to a very British reader and a more dry delivery than that author employs. But if those adjustments can be made, if you can just hop on board and take the journey with Allan, then you may be very pleased with “what it is, and what will be.”
At one point of this story, the protagonist is advised “nothing is as it seems”. That is a vast understatement in this tangled web of deceit, double-dealing and revenge. As with my prior outing with Goddard, I must work at not giving away any of the plot as spoilers would be difficult to avoid. Suffice it to say that there are few truly good people involved, and they are put upon badly by the self-serving villains whose bad deeds flow into and escalate over six decades, erupting when a young history researcher is given a commission to look into a memoir found in an old villa. The narrative is liberally dotted with familiar names from Edwardian parliamentary politics, and I did have to pay attention to keep up with political issues that I had only a passing familiarity with.
I liked this story. It’s not a thriller but it is a mystery, very complex. It’s constructed like a puzzle, and Goddard gives us the pieces in a manner that we can work it out along with and sometimes ahead of the other players. The characters are well thought out and feel real to me. The history researcher at the center of the story was flawed, and proved himself slightly unscrupulous or at least pretty gullible at one point, but pulls himself together before it’s all over. The resolution was handled just right, leaving a question mark with one character in the final moments. I hope that the title of the book hints at how he will answer that question.
This is my third Inspector Rutledge mystery, and as with the previous two I found the premise and the set-up extremely well done, drawing me in very early. But somewhere past the halfway mark I realize that the execution is falling just a bit short in delivering information that moves the action forward. In this case, there are two mysteries to solve, including whether they are even related. The suspect pool is large and development of each character sparse enough that I can't even start to judge who may have done it. By dividing our attention, both mysteries lack the impact they might have had on their own. That said, I have suffered through far worse mysteries with absurd results. Never once have I had to roll my eyes and yell at Rutledge "Get a grip!"
I think there is some similarity to the style of the Holmes stories, in that they are actually more character driven than plot driven. The fun of Sherlock Holmes is watching Holmes work, not figuring out the solution in advance. What brings me back for more Rutledge is Rutledge himself. He is one of my favorite detective characters - complex, tormented, but such a good man. Simon Prebble personifies him with his low, calm, almost melancholy voice, yet brings his passion to the surface when justice is on the line. In the early stages of this story, Rutledge has to deal with a group of frightened little boys, and he is the perfect balance of compassionate authority. And the boys themselves are a hoot. A very worthy entry in the series.
Audible apparently changed the free short selection from Gaiman's "Smoke and Mirrors" from Cold Colors to Shoggoths Old Peculiar. I like the new selection much better than the first one. I've become a little better acquainted with Lovecraft recently, so I was able to recognize what was going on. I got a chuckle out of the bewildered Texas boy. But I still prefer Gaiman's longer stories to these bite sized ones because there's so little meat on the bones.
I really enjoyed the preview to the upcoming Ocean at the End of the Lane. The little boy revealing his story has captured my attention and Gaiman's voicing of the boy has captured my sympathy for his plight. Have already pre-ordered the book and look forward to the rest of the tale.
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