A friend sent me this book but I found it difficult to read as the print was too light and the paper it was printed on cheap and added to the books unreadability. It's a measure of how much I enjoyed it though that I came here and purchased it in audio format.
I found it intriguing because I don't think I have ever read a mystery set in China that did not have a western character in it anywhere. And It's a good book. But I had to adjust my expectations in order to enjoy it. I was expecting a mystery, and it is that, but only sort of. The whole mystery thing is not developed very well. What interested me about the book was place and people. I enjoy arm chair traveling and this book did a pretty good job with time-and-place. It says this book is the first book in a series that the author is planning and I think she was laying a lot of background introductions to the characters and Mei's family situation. If there is a book two I plan to give it a try. There was just enough in this book to like that I will give this author another chance. But when a book is advertised as a mystery I expect the mystery to be the focus so I didn't give this book top marks.
This is one of the two really outstanding non fiction books I read recently. The book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew that won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
But this is a book about more than just a story about overcoming hard times but about what we are made of and what we can accomplish if we really make up our minds to do it. It's a shame that the title True Grit has already been used for a story because it would really fit this book.
I purchased this audiobook the minute I saw it was out and available on audio. It is a sequel to "If I Stay" and I am sorry to have to say that I was a little disappointed with it. I loved "If I Stay" but this one just didn't have the charm and poignancy the first book had. It felt flat - especially when compared to it predecessor. Still I'm glad I bought it because even though I knew "Where she went" I really wanted to know what happened when she got there.
It was well written and the subject of the book was interesting to me. I just couldn't get past that author presumed to write about dying peoples last thoughts and actions in a way that he could not possibly have known about.
The book is a non-fictional account of the lives of a selected group of the survivors. All of them very deeply effected by the experience, some of them so much that it changed the entire course of their lives. A few were unable to cope and committed suicide. Some of them did not leave notes. However the author described the dying thoughts and actions of several people as if he had been there and was privy to their last thoughts. This really bothered me. It bothered me a lot. I felt like the author was being disrespectful to the people he was writing about. These were real people! He didn't even write any kind of disclaimer that explained why he decided he had the right to co-opt their last minutes. And then as a result of that I had another issue. How much credence can you give to anything in the book once you feel the author did at least part of his research in thin air. Otherwise I would have rated it at least four stars.
I was actually looking for a biography of George VI on audible but couldn't find on so I got this one as it was the closest I could get. I'm beginning to think audible is prejudiced towards male monarchs.
She wasn't really all that special but she brought humanity to the Royal family at a time when they desperately needed it. And she did it with grace and an abundance of charm. She was the right woman at exactly the right place and time.
This book is a cautionary tale if there ever was one. Be Careful What you Wish For is the message that comes through loud and clear.
Because I have never been particularly interested in gossipy enquirer type articles I had never looked very closely at either the Duke or the Dutchess of Windsor. But lately I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately about WW2 and several of the books I have read have mentioned that they were both suspected of having pro Nazi sympathies I decided to search out a biography of the Duke. I didn't find one on audible.com but did find this book. My goodness, what a to-do!
The conclusion that I came up with is that neither the Duke or the Dutchess had pro Nazi sympathies. In fact I got the impression that both of them were so self absorbed that it was impossible for them to connect with or even understand any concept beyond their own personal desires at any given moment. That is not to say the wouldn't has assisted the Nazi cause- but only if they perceived that by doing so they would advance their own interests.
I felt a little sorry for the Duke because if the facts of what happened were represented accurately then a real good argument could be made for him having a developmental disability of some sort. Perhaps autism. He really did seem to be unable to understand cause and effect throughout his life. In the end he got exactly what he pushed so hard for and gave up so much to get and then spent the rest of his life unhappy because he was never able to understand why when he shed all responsibilities all his perks went away as well. I thought he was honestly bewildered by that.
As for the Dutchess, well I have less sympathy for her. I don't think she ever wanted Edward "for keeps" but thought she could carry on an affair where she could enjoy royal patronage, snub her nose at Brittain's society types, advance her husbands career and then when Edward inevitably tired of her like he did all the mistresses that came before her go back to her long suffering second husband that she truly loved and her life would go back to normal. Instead she found herself in way over her head and ended up losing the husband she loved and stuck with an obsessively clingy husband that she didn't love.
The only ones who came out ahead in this mess were the British people who ended up with a much better king at a time when they had enough to deal with without having to put up with a King who displayed all the maturity of judgement of a six year old brat.
I enjoyed this book very much in spite of its being classified as Inspirational. Charles Martin is a competent writer and a first rate story teller. Both of which are rare for Inspirational books.
I had to suspend my disbelief a time or two but hey, this is fiction and implausible situations are allowed as long as the story is good. And this story was very good. It kept me listening with my full attention all the way to the very end and there was no way I could have shut if off until I learned how it came out. And it satisfied my urge to read a Romance novel although this was not exactly one. It's more of an adventure that accidentally ends up being a love story.
Leaving Everything Most Loved
Winspeare said that this was book was going to change the entire playing field and the woman did not lie. She changed almost everything we were familiar with over the course of the book.
I have loved every one of these stories even when I got a little annoyed with the character of Maisie for clinging to tightly to her past and not moving on as fast as I thought she ought to. I am no longer annoyed. Plus she managed to change everything while leaving all the bare bones of the series firmly in place. This book just came out and I am already wishing for the next one.
And as for the mystery, I didn't figure it who-done-it until the very end. I absolutely love twisty mysteries and this one had a grand twist at the end. The book reminds us that regardless of how much we want to see Masie and James wrapped in each others arms Winspeare is a mystery writer and any romance that floats by is strictly secondary and is meant to advance the plot only.
I grew up watching Perry Mason mystery in the early days of TV and my brother and I competed every week to see which one of us could figure out the Grand Denouement first. I'll admit I had an advantage over him for a while because whoever casted the shows had a weakness for weak chins and all I had to do was look to see which character had one and I had the killer. But eventually he figured this out for himself and I had to fall back on thinking which is not usually my brain's default position.
And I say this in every review that I write for the Maisie books. Winspeare is probably better than any other writer of mysteries set in this era. She does such a good job of setting the atmosphere of time and place that the reader is left as fly on wall as they experience the story in whatever format they have chosen.
And, as a personal note to whoever reads this comment. I know I am sounding a little gushy but if you have read any of my journal entries in the past you know that I pretty much call them as I see them. It has gotten me quite a few negative votes on amazon and a few on audible. But happily I am not running for election to anything and I paid for my book and am not obligated to write a positive review for anyone so I will continue always to call them as I see them.
The first half of this book pieces together a credible story of what actually happened to the Romanov family and of how their remains were finally discovered after team after team of scientists, amateur archeologists, the KGB and just plain adventurers looking for their 15 minutes of fame spent fortunes and sometimes lifetimes searching for them.
It then goes on to describe the sickening in-fighting between teams of scientists and politicians from any country or region with even the most tenuous claim to have an interest in them fought over the bones. It was pretty disgusting and I was amazed how people with so much education could stoop so low. The few scientists who did have integrity were almost buried in the avalanche of mud and had to fight tooth and nail to protect their reputations. As I said, disgusting.
The second half of the book was pretty much devoted to Anna Anderson, the Polish peasant woman who was able to perpetrate such a long running and fairly creditable hoax for so long. I Her story was very good though and I guess it must be pretty easy to convince people who really want to be convinced of almost anything.
At the time this book was written the bones of the Romanov family were still laying in a morgue in Moscow while the Government fights over where and how to bury them. Sad!
A very good friend recommended this book to me and even loaned me a copy of it because she thought I would like it. She was right. I liked it so much I used one of my audible credits to purchase it in audio format. I am so glad I did because the books was read by Madeline Albright herself.
This book is basically a history of Czechoslovakia during the periods before, during and after WW2. I found this interesting because the events leading up to both wars and their aftermaths have had a lot of impact on where we find ourselves today. It's my contention that you cannot fully understand what is happening around you today unless you know what happened yesterday. That's just my personal take however and probably an excuse to myself for my fascination with conflict when I consider myself to be a pacifist.
By reading the book herself and thereby describing the events in her own voice she transformed the story from being dry history into her story. Sometimes you could tell by her voice that many of the events she was describing were very painful. I especially enjoyed the parts relating to her childhood during WWII. The one thing that I do not understand is why her parents kept so much of her families personal history from their children. I am sure they had their reasons but still it is hard for me to understand. I am about seven years younger than Madeline Albright but I still have some very vivid memories of those days. But I grew up in the oh so safe American mid-west so if I have memories I can imagine that people who lived through those times must have memories vivid enough to evoke some strong emotions.
This book looked really great from the summary I read before I purchased it. And in a lot of ways it was a pretty good book. It's just that I had to keep suspending my disbelief so often that I finally got tired of doing it. But let me be clear, I am not complaining about the writing. While I thought this book was well written it could have definitely used some professional editing to keep the plot from drifting off into implausibility so often. Had this not been basically such a good book (interesting plot line, good writing) I could have shrugged this book off and I would not now be going to all the trouble of writing a long review to critique it.
The story of the slave Josephine Bell was the most interesting to me. I thought the parts of the book relating to her life very poignant and probably basically true to life. But even here I had to quibble with the fact that she was so educated and had so much opportunity to spend time not to mention access to art supplies that she was able to produce the body of work that was apparently floating around in the 21st century. At first I wondered at some of the risks she took but then I realized at the end she was only 17 years old and at that age one does not consider risks as carefully as a say, a 27 year old would have. I was able to suspend mild mild disbelief while reading her portion of the book ecause it was a very good story line.
Lina came across as even more unbelievable. She didn't fit the type one would expect to have even been hired at a high powered NY law firm that specializes in corporate litigation. The amount of the damages being sued for also struck me as highly unlikely. No one, especially the Government is going to sit still for a suit asking for that kind of damages without pulling some major strings to stifle it and the fact the author had all the attorney's sitting around with sugar plumbs dancing in their heads just did not work for me. High powered corporate lawyers ought to have a firmer grasp on reality than the ones in this book did. Still, they are part the 100% and reality is not their strong suit so . . . . . . . .
Also that all the research necessary to prove this case just fell into Lina's lap from a source that was least likely to help her was the final straw for me. And last but not least, I thought the ending was messy. There was not closure to any of the plot lines.
Still, this was still an OK read. I think I am complaining because I think it could have been so much more.
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