I downloaded this book, mostly for my husband. We were headed on a 4-hour drive on a vacation trip. Naturally, the hype about the Navy Seals and the killing of Osama Bin Laden has been a lot of PR about our special forces. The book started out to be really interesting. Unexpectedly, I got sucked into the story, though I usually listen to historical novels or mysteries. That says a LOT. My husband, having worked with Navy Seals, enjoyed the way the author shares his humorous and yet very serious stories about his training. Once he began to share the story of his mission in Mogadishu, I was riveted to learn more about this very sad chapter in our history. I found myself getting angry all over how the political mess that caused these people to suffer so much. Then, the storyline went flat. I felt as though Howard had just scratched the surface of what I thought could have been a more compelling story. I won't give the ending away, but suffice it to say that it's not what I had expected. Overall, it's a good listen. Maybe I'm spoiled after listening to "Unbroken", which is one of the most riveting stories I've read in a long time.
I've downloaded the unabridged audible version of almost all of Bryce Courtenay's books. The primary reason is that Humphrey Bower is one of my favorite audible book narrators. He makes a story come alive with his uncanny ability to change accents, and even makes me believe I'm hearing a woman's voice. As for the story-- this one is very epic. I had just finished listening to "Jessica" which is one of the saddest stories I've heard in a long time. With this book, I found the Maloney family to be fascinating. Nancy, as the feisty mom, is a woman I grew to admire as the fought to make sure her kids were given every opportunity to make something grand of their lives. She wanted them to have a better life than she did. Rough as she was, around the edges, I admired her devotion to her children. I've noticed a repeating theme, with the author's books-- the Christian characters are often portrayed as hypocrites, and misguided in what Christianity is all about. I notice this, because I'm a Christian. I won't get into my religious beliefs/views, except to say that not all Christians are hypocrites. So, it saddens me to see a rather unfavorable view of Christians...though, I have no doubt there are plenty of evil people who go to church. Moving on... I'm a bit of a girly-girl, so I have a tough time reading about war and torture and gore. So, when Tommy finally reveals the story of his time as a prisoner (and this is not a spoiler, because you know it's coming), I found his story to be like a train wreck. I wanted to look away) albeit, fast forward. Yet, I listened to it. It's heart-breaking, to be reminded about prisoners of war, and the suffering they endured. Yet. we need to be reminded.
I'm sad that Bryce Courtenay has passed away, and there will be no more of his books to read/listen to. I've never been to Australia, so his stories are my armchair to traveling the world. Well done, Mr. Courtenay. Thank you.
I don't recall if I've ever read a Nora Roberts book before, but I'm not a fan. The story grabbed me right away, and the narrator is a large reason why. Her narration made me feel each character, including the male voices. The very beginning (and I won't write a spoiler) had me sitting in a parking lot, and listening...wondering what would happen. The romance part was very transparent. Abigail is so darn "Dr. Spock-ish" with her logical mind, but I found her endearing. The end was just a tad bit of a letdown-- I felt it was also predicable, yet I found the entire story to be engrossing enough that I found myself cleaning my house a lot more thoroughly than normal, because I just didn't want to stop listening.
At the risk of upsetting die-hard Debbie Macomber fans, this was the least favorite of her books that I've read. I found myself rolling my eyes most of the time. Why do these characters play such games? Grace, refusing to fall in-love with a puppy. I can't even remember the characters names anymore, and I just finished the book-- the whiny pregnant girl who ditched the hunky doctor (in the last book). Will and Miranda... good Lord, that was a boring and predictable thing waiting to happen. Worst of all was the whole Rachael fiasco-- with the bratty daughter. My eyes almost rolled permanently in the back of my head, when Rachael refused to accept money from Bruce, while pregnant with his child. Really? It seems like all the characters are just playing games-- heaping on the guilt and stubborn pride. All the story lines wrapped up in a neat little bow-- as predictably as I figured they would. This is good, clean reading. Nothing wrong with that, but I guess I've outgrown the Harlequin romance type of novels. Now, for an exciting history fiction-- with knights sweeping damsels onto the back of their horses, swords, fights, and all that stuff-- I'd rather read about women of character who have guts and courage. You won't find it here.
My first audio book that had Humphrey Bower as the narrator was Shantaram-- which is on the top of the list as favorite story, author and narrator thus far. I loved that book so much, that I searched for other books narrated by Mr. Bower. I hesitated downloading this book for a couple years, but now I'm glad that I did. I really enjoy reading series, and have listened to all of the Outlander Series (Diana Gabaldon and narrate by Davina Porter...who is one of my favorite narrators). I just finished listening to this book and immediately had to download the second of the series. I enjoy historical fiction, and the story of Australia in the early 1800's is poignant, and very interesting. The story begins in London, and introduced Ikey Solomon, who I envision as a rotten scoundrel. Of course, I related to Mary Abacus as a Woman of Substance (which is the title of a novel I read in the 70's and began my appetite for stories of women who overcome hardship and become successful). There are dark periods of history-- the mistreatment of prisoners, who are sent to Australia to serve out their prison sentences...to the cruel mistreatment of the Aborigines. I loved every minute of this story, which has a fair balance of sorrow, compassion, humor, revenge, and determination. I grew to see Ikey Solomon in a new light, as having a heart-- albeit misdirected, at times, as he was self-serving. When I listened to the end of the story, I had to continue on-- so I could find out what happened to Tomo. Great read!
The narrator did a great job. The story grabbed my interest from the beginning, but I have to say that this isn't the most uplifting story of all time. In fact, there were times I struggled through getting past all the cruelty. You can't wear rose colored glasses, while reading this book, because the story didn't end as I had hoped it would. I won't give it away, but at the very end I found myself wishing things would tie up neatly-- and more happily. Overall, I liked Lavinia's character, her strength and integrity.
I have ready every one of Lisa See's books. This one kept my interest, yet made me shake my head at the plight of the people of China during the Great Leap Forward. Such a poignant story, yet a lovely story of a mother's love, forgiveness and I look forward to the next book.
I'm a fan of historical fiction. This book didn't deliver much on history, but opened my eyes to the aristocrats, but not in a flattering way . The narrator does a great job, with both the female and male characters. But, I found myself rolling my eyes at the droll English accents-- wondering to myself "do the Duchesses really talk like this?" How would I know? I've never met one. The book droned on a bit, I felt. I found myself growing weary of the characters-- until, at last, the plot began to thicken. Not the best book I've ever listened to, but the narrator kept me wanting to stick to the end.
I'm not a big fan of reading or watching films about war. My husband loves to watch The History Channel, and I can't handle seeing film on corpses, or emaciated prisoners. I bought this book for my husband, but decided I'd give it a listen. Lo and behold, I found myself completely engrossed in reading the story and I couldn't stop listening. The narration is excellent. As I begin to listen to the true story of the men who flew bombers in the Pacific, I began to have a new appreciation for their courage. The tale of how three men survived on two small rafts, with sharks all around-- starved and thirsty was a miracle in itself. Yes, reading about the cruelty these men endured at the hands of the Japanese was very hard to listen to. It broke my heart. I made me wince. But, I needed to be reminded that this really happened. I found myself hating "The Bird" and wishing someone would kill this cruel person. It was saddened to hear how difficult it was for the rescued POW's to adapt to life after the war. Louie's descent into his alcoholic hell broke my heart. What I did not expect to read was how and what changed his life. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it. It was powerful for me, and had me weeping at this point. It's a powerful book, and one that I will think about for some time to come. It's an epic movie, no doubt. I'm so glad I decided to read this story. It's brilliantly told and I'm glad I read it.
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