Sugar Land, TX, United States | Member Since 2010
This is one of the best told stories I have encountered either in print or as an audible offering. Hillenbrand goes beyond a strict narrative of wartime experiences and transports us into the lives of people we will never know, but feel that we do. Over and over I found myself literally praying for the safety and rescue of Louis and his colleagues, even though obviously the outcomes were decided over 60 years ago - the sense of immediacy was ever present. Intensively researched, the attention to detail successfully avoids the sense of being drowned in statistics, but allows the awareness of "Man, I never knew that". Adding to the story telling experience is Edward Herrmann's flawless reading. I have been strongly recommending this book to all of my friends - one does not have to be a history buff or a fan of war stories to recognize and appreciate the humanity at the center of the story. Anyone who can be inspired by personal courage and perserverance will enjoy this book.
While striving to explain the complexities of the vaccination issue, this book has actually done little to satisfy either side. Because the author eventually (and seemingly reluctantly) comes down on the side of pro-vaccination, anti-vaxers call the book a promotion of big pharm and big government, ignoring what science was presented. For the pro-vaccination camp, there were too many emotion-fed anecdotes on motherly fears, including the author’s own obsessive fascination with vampires, which led to a Dracula metaphor being stretched beyond the breaking point. While I appreciate her attempts to show the rationale and concerns of those opposing vaccination, I have to wonder how many really think of Bela Lugosi coming through the window to consume their child’s life force. She was at her best when she stuck with science and history to make her points, but lost me when her politics got in the way, including diatribes against capitalism and the insistence that military metaphors are inappropriate to any discussion of fighting disease.
Readers looking for a coherent discussion of the pros and cons of vaccination may find some useful information, but at the expense of muddling through multiple angst-ridden stories of her labor and delivery, blood transfusions (which just confuses the picture) and her ongoing fears of the contaminations her child must face in this world. I was hoping for a more reasoned presentation of the issues at hand, including suggested solutions to bring the camps together, but this book simply confirmed that the discussion continues to be clouded by emotions and prejudices, whether they are justified by science or not. Viruses and bacteria are shrewd survivors, evolving past the medications we have to treat them. I’m afraid we will have to face a full-blown outbreak of something terrible before people realize that prevention is the world’s protection.
I'll round up to a 3 because the science that was presented was well described in terms that should be understandable to non-medical readers, and because the author does seem to have tried to make a balanced presentation of both sides of the vaccination questions. I just wish her editor could have convinced her to make it less of a personal confessional of parental angst.
It’s been decades since I first read Jane Eyre, and I have since seen many of the film and BBC adaptations. What few if any of the filmed versions succeed in communicating is Jane’s strength and independence of mind and character. Too often she comes across as passive, even wimpy, when she was written with spirit and temper that she had to struggle to control. But her moral compass gave her the inner strength to be true to herself without compromising for expediency. For me she is one of the great heroines of English literature. It was wonderful to experience this classic again in its original form.
Before choosing this audio version I listened to all of the samples of the Jane Eyre choices. I thought this one fit my mental image of her best, and I was not disappointed. Lucy Scott gracefully managed the wide range of Jane’s emotions, compelling me to root for her through her difficult journey. A good choice for anyone wanting to experience the story for the first time in audio.
Although I chose this title out of curiosity about the principle characters, what I ultimately found most fascinating was the process of creating the dictionary itself. I had never given any real thought to the significance of cataloging the entire English language, how it contributes to our understanding of our culture, how in a very literal sense it gives us a common language and therefore common understanding. The undertaking was heroic in scope and Murray and Minor were just two of the many volunteers who worked for decades for the remarkable outcome. Minor's prolific contributions not only advanced the progress of the dictionary, but likely preserved his own mental health as a form of occupational therapy. The stories of the politics and competition as well as the dedication of various player made for a stimulating read. Simon Winchester did an excellent job reading his own work. Well recommended for those who enjoy historical non-fiction.
I’m afraid I have to throw a wet blanket on the love fest over this book. For me there were just too many problems with how the story was rolled out.
I was intrigued by the premise of an atmospheric (Louisiana) mystery mixed with coming-of-age in the face of tragic events. This story could have taken place in any upper middle class neighborhood in any city, any state. No atmosphere beyond frequent comments about mosquitos and an essentially irrelevant chapter comparing Baton Rouge to New Orleans that pretty much proved my point by describing Baton Rouge as the normal city compared to New Orleans’ exoticism. Having a narrator without even the hint of a southern accent put the nail in that coffin.
The majority of the story is taken up with the un-named narrator’s pathetic angst over the object of his obsession. And the obsession goes beyond creepy even within the norms of hormone driven teenage fantasy. Much of his fantasizing is fairly explicit and bears no resemblance to love or even a recognition of right and wrong. A scene at a drunken party nearly made me quit the book altogether. For all of his apparent worship, the boy really just objectifies Lindy, leaving her an empty shell of a character. The first person narrative by a kid who has no insight or empathy means that we see everyone around him through his eyes – mean, selfish and emotionally disconnected.
I could not buy into the notion that his erratic behavior and the fact that he himself was a suspect in the rape (not a spoiler – we learn that in the first pages) did not prompt more engaged action by his parents. This was a string left dangling by the author – when damning evidence that led to suspecting the boy were discovered, the only response we hear about is his mother constantly crying. No one followed up, nothing was done.
Finally, the wrap up. Within the last hour of the book, suddenly all of the cookie crumbs are swept together into a pile and questions that should have been investigated years earlier are opened up, doors are unlocked and there’s the answer, and our narrator explains why this has made all the difference and he can see clearly now. I found it unbelievable and manipulative. And I don’t buy for one minute who he turns out to be writing his narrative to.
I enjoyed this selection as a refreshing change from the myriad police procedurals and crime thrillers that recycle the same old characters and the same old plots. William Heming is a true original, remaining completely invisible as he indulges his obsession to exist within the lives of those to whom he has sold homes – searching their photo albums, eating their food, sometimes even creating secret nesting places where he can hide and observe. Sinister and decidedly creepy, there is also surprising and welcome humor as Heming takes care of his community by dishing out his own style of justice to those who are less than model citizens. He cultivates an affable, easygoing but forgettable personality to maintain his invisibility, and it’s easy to be charmed by this façade. But through his first person perspective he reveals the darker side of himself. The flashback sections of his childhood were the most riveting for me, revealing the building of a sociopath through his own eyes – with a few convenient omissions he may or may not remember. This reminds me of the kind of stories seen on the old Alfred Hitchcock Hour – not gory or violent, but seriously twisted and impossible to look away.
Maybe if I didn't have such high expectations for Russo’s writing ability I would have enjoyed Straight Man better. And to be fair, the writing IS good – it’s the story that disappointed. Underachieving academics trying to survive their own mediocrity in an atmosphere of budget cuts and departmental backstabbing had potential and started out well, but the whining and self-pity got old and I just wanted to tell everyone to grow up. The choice of first person viewpoint didn't help, as supporting characters can only be known through the protagonist’s perceptions, leaving them somewhat flat. It seemed that Russo tried to fluff them up a bit through silly quirks, but it didn't work well for me. I much preferred the subtle ironic humor of “Nobody’s Fool” to the forced silliness of “Straight Man”. At one point Devereaux’s mother chided him for his literary laziness saying he had “become a clever man”. That line summarized my feelings about Russo’s effort here.
The editor's summary describing The Jonah Watch is obviously the summary of another book. I have made it through half of this book and so far it bears absolutely no resemblance to the description. What I have been listening to is the story of the crew on a Coast Guard cutter, focusing slightly on a new sailor and his difficulties getting used to ship life. I have jumped ahead in my iPOD and later chapters just continue the sea story. There is no character named Megan, no dreams, nothing that matches the summary. Furthermore, I can't get into the story I'm stuck with because of poor writing and droning narration. I'm returning it today.
As you read through reviews for this offering, you'll see that those who already know and love the story through the full book version also enjoyed this dramatisation. I am one of these. But if you have never read or listened to the full book, it would be very hard to understand what's going on as the audioplay is essentially an abridgement of the story, losing a great deal of the character and plot development. That's the reason for the 3 star story mark - it just doesn't stand alone for the uninitiated. This really is a story that deserves a complete hearing. The voice actors are superb, especially McAvoy and Cumberbatch, but I did drop one performance star for the somewhat scratchy quality of the sound effects.
Neverwhere (the book) was my very first Gaiman experience, and it got me hooked. If you are at all intrigued by the story premise, do yourself a favor and go to the source. Gaiman reads the entire story himself and does his usual remarkable job.
Having seen (and loved) the movie numerous times, I have put off reading the book for a very long time, concerned that it would not live up to my expectations. Having Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy and Bruce Willis permanently etched in my mind’s eye as the main characters, it’s impossible to separate my response to the book from my feelings about the film. To my great delight, Sully in the book is every bit as ironic, rascally and endearing as Newman portrayed him, so my fears were groundless. The other residents of North Bath are fully developed, bringing in more characters than the film did, and significantly changing others.
This is very much a character study. Don’t look for action, mystery, or broad comedy. What you will get is a well-paced slice of life, saturated with subtle and ironic humor, that illuminates what makes people tick in a small dying town. All of the characters are flawed, many to the point of being unlikable. But Russo gives them enough dimension to allow us at least some sympathy for what has brought them to where they are now. Fully understanding the story behind Sully’s relationship with his dad makes make you wonder why he is merely philosophically dysfunctional instead of stark raving mad. His humor and native intelligence makes him one of the best characters I have read in contemporary American literature. I would give anything to be able to meet him for a beer at the White Horse just to shoot the breeze. I suspect I would fall in love with him. As Toby observed, he’s a man among men. Only unlike her, I mean it as a compliment.
I'm familiar with Susan Hill for some of her ghost stories, and downloaded this free offering because I enjoy her writing. This is not an especially compelling story outside of the context of the main character's detective series. But the writing is very good, the narrator excellent, so based on this snack sized sample, I am interested in looking at more of the series. Thanks for the freebie, Audible.
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