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KP

There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

Oakland, CA | Member Since 2006

81
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 94 reviews
  • 223 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
8

  • Norwegian Wood

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By James Yaegashi
    Overall
    (375)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (186)

    Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.

    Louise says: "Lots of Fun"
    "Fantastic!"
    Overall
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    Story

    What a fantastic, sad, beautifully written book this is! I am happy that it does not contain the magical elements like the other Murakami book I read, Kafka on the Shore (fish raining out of the sky is what I remember most; give me a break!) . But the writing is just as beautiful and ethereal as that book was. It's a love story, but also an examination of life and growing up and coming to terms with love and loss.I love the main character, Toru Watanabe! He's a wonderful young man growing up in Japan in the 60's and 70's. He's basically caught up in a relationship with a very unattainable young woman, Naoko, whose favorite song is "Norwegian Wood." As Toru says about her, "She and I were bound together at the border between life and death; it was like that from the start." She really seems to represent death, and there are many deaths and references to death in the book. So, the tension in the plot revolves around whether he will basically end up with her or with Midori, who, I think, represents life. I also liked Naoko's older friend, Reiko, who acts as some sort of guide and sage for both Naoko and Toru. As she says to Toru at the end, "If you feel some kind of pain with regard to Naoko???s death, I would advise you to keep on feeling that pain for the rest of your life. And if there???s something you can learn from it you should do that, too. But quite aside from that, you should be happy with Midori. Your pain has nothing to do with your relationship with her. If you hurt her any more than you already have, the wound could be too deep to fix. So hard as it may be, you have to be strong, you have to grow up more, be more of an adult." So, even thought the story is SO sad, it does seem to end on a hopeful note as Toru calls Midori. I love what he says about Midori's silence: It is..."the silence of all the misty rain in the world falling on all the new-mown lawns of the world." Oh no, I???m starting to cry again??? ???

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cockroaches: The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbo
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (293)
    Performance
    (260)
    Story
    (261)

    When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case. But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls.

    L. O. Pardue says: "The Rest of the Harry Hole Series is Excellent!"
    "Nesbo is Warming Up Here...."
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    This #2 book in the Harry Hole series was just recently translated into English. As with the 1st book in the series, The Bat, I think the reason they weren’t translated before is because neither #1 or #2 are as good as the later books written by Jo Nesbo. I started with The Snowman and was hooked! I had to wait for #1 and #2, and I hope now that I’m done with those two, the series will get better. That’s what the reviews seem to tell me. The Redbreast, #3, has been around for a while; I’ll move on to that one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Invention of Wings: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Sue Monk Kidd
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye, Sue Monk Kidd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4788)
    Performance
    (4362)
    Story
    (4351)

    From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world - and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection. Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

    Jan says: "Historical Fiction - beautifully quilted!"
    "Entertaining and Educational"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed reading The Invention of Wings for two reasons. First, it was a good story. Second, when I realized it was based on the true story of the Grimke sisters, I appreciated it even more. As real characters, the Grimke sisters in this book were fascinating to me because they gave me a way to imagine how two women of the early 1800’s in Charleston could become such rebels! They became abolitionists, which was radical enough, but they also were some of the very early feminists. That part was fascinating to me. I liked the structure of the book: the way it went back and forth between the point of view of Sarah, one of the Grimke sisters, and then the point of view of one of the slaves, Hetty. I thought the writing was serviceable, but it was more the story and the history that stood out in my mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Brass Verdict: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Peter Giles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4153)
    Performance
    (1715)
    Story
    (1705)

    Things are finally looking up for defense attorney Mickey Haller. After two years of wrong turns, Haller is back in the courtroom. When Hollywood lawyer Jerry Vincent is murdered, Haller inherits his biggest case yet: the defense of Walter Elliott, a prominent studio executive accused of murdering his wife and her lover. But as Haller prepares for the case that could launch him into the big time, he learns that Vincent's killer may be coming for him next.

    Jeff says: "Five Star Book; Three Star Narration"
    "Two of My Favorite Characters Together!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wanted to read this book because it brings together two of Michael Connelly’s best main characters from two different series, Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. It was enjoyable in a crime fiction kind of way, but I didn’t think it was as enjoyable as either The Lincoln Lawyer (with Mickey Haller), or most of the Harry Bosch novels I’ve read. Also, I thought it seemed a little too forced to have those two characters end up finding that they are half brothers. The origin of the title, The Brass Verdict is interesting: it simply means “street justice,” and it is how the bad guy in this book ends up getting his due in a twist of fate at the end of the trial .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Brené Brown
    • Narrated By Lauren Fortgang
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1196)
    Performance
    (970)
    Story
    (951)

    Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?

    A. Yoshida says: "Feel good therapy session"
    "Nothing new under the sun."
    Overall
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    Sorry, I just wasn't that impressed with Brene Brown. There's nothing wrong with the book per se, but I feel like it's all been written before and in a way that impacted me more powerfully. She definitely did a lot of research, but when it boiled down to making her points, well, as i said, it was nothing new.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elders

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Ryan McIlvain
    • Narrated By Brian Hutchison
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    A glorious debut that T.C. Boyle calls "powerful and deeply moving" that follows two young Mormon missionaries in Brazil and their tense, peculiar friendship. Elder McLeod - outspoken, surly, a brash American - is nearing the end of his mission in Brazil. For nearly two years he has spent his days studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon, knocking on doors, teaching missionary lessons - "experimenting on the word". His new partner is Elder Passos, a devout, ambitious Brazilian who found salvation and solace in the church after his mother’s early death. The two men are at first suspicious of each other, and their work together is frustrating, fruitless.

    KP says: "Interesting look at Mormons from the inside!"
    "Interesting look at Mormons from the inside!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ryan McIlvain, the author of Elders, did a great job of writing the story of two Mormon missionaries and creating enough conflict between them to make a good book. The tension between the two characters builds and builds to a level where the reader just HAS to know how it’s going to turn out. The even bigger conflict is the internal one in the mind of Elder McLeod, the American missionary. It becomes apparent to the reader that Elder McCloud is not really suited to the Mormon way of life, but he’s been brought up in it and has to realize this in his own way and on his own timeline. It is a real feat that the author is able to make this timeline interesting by combining these two conflicts and coming up with a very readable, enjoyable book.

    Elders is also an interesting look at the Mormon religion. Most of the rules that are revealed in the book are almost unbelievable to me, but I found it fascinating to read about them and how the young people, or all the people, in the book deal with these rules. I’ve been on the inside of the door which I’ve locked to avoid the Mormons because I do NOT want to hear their proselytizing, but this book gave me an opportunity, without having to open the door, to read about what they are like, and what it might be like to be a Mormon. I can’t help thinking of Mitt Romney and wondering if they told HIM to wear his blue jeans to bed at night to help guard against the evils of masturbation!

    After reading Elders, I found an interesting interview with the author, Ryan McIlvain on Fresh Air with Terri Gross on NPR, by the way. That is worth a listen!





    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dinner: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Herman Koch, Sam Garrett (translator)
    • Narrated By Clive Mantle
    Overall
    (875)
    Performance
    (766)
    Story
    (773)

    It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families.

    Jane says: "Dining at its most distubing"
    "Not Your Usual Dinner Guests"
    Overall
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    Story

    This book was billed as a “European Gone Girl, “ and at first I could not see why. However, as the plot evolved and the dinner went on, the comparison became clear.


    (Spoiler alert - this paragraph :)
    As in Gone Girl, the narrator starts out innocently enough. It seems he doesn’t care much for his famous brother and he has lots of musings and philosophies that seem interesting and make it seem like his goal of being a happy family is an innocent one. However, again like Gone Girl, the plot seems to take a turn after one particular incident in the book, and then the narrator becomes more and more “unreliable.” Whatever disease or condition he has makes him crazy, basically. It was annoying to not ever know what the name of the condition was supposed to be. Also, the way that the narrator won’t reveal what was wrong with his wife when she was in the hospital is annoying, as well. I wanted to know more about his wife. By the end, she seems as crazy as he is, but it is not clear why. She seems the more logical of the two, but in the end, she is not. Her evolution to this state is too unclear, in my opinion.

    The book was like a manual in how NOT to be a good parent that is for sure. This father did everything possible to screw up his son, and it worked!

    I really liked the structure of the book. It was built around one particular dinner, but in fact the plot ranges far back before this dinner. With each course, more is revealed. It is tantalizing in that way, and interesting to see what will come next.

    In both books, though, the extreme actions of the characters seemed unbelievable, as did the endings. Overall, though, The Dinner wasn’t quite as exciting, or edgy, as Gone Girl.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7224)
    Performance
    (6617)
    Story
    (6624)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Like Catnip"
    Overall
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    I loved, loved , loved this book. I loved the plot, loved the characters, and loved her beautiful writing. This quote sums it up for me: “Donna Tartt is catnip for educated people who want to read entertaining but not difficult things about lofty topics and cosmopolitan people.” (Lydia Kiesling, The Rumpus, 11/30/13)

    The goldfinch, it turns out, has been a symbol of Christ’s resurrection for hundreds of years. This may have started because of the thistle seeds that the goldfinch eats, which supposedly remind one of Christ’s crown of thorns. The painting, “Madonna of the Goldfinch” from 1506, exemplifies this Christian symbolism.

    And even in ancient Egypt, this little bird was used to decorate coffins and remind the viewer that the soul is in the hands of God. This symbolism works perfectly in the book, The Goldfinch.

    (Spoiler Alerts! )

    The place where the symbolism becomes the most apparent is in Amsterdam. I love the way the final scenes there take place in the winter. Theo has hit bottom, he is about to commit suicide. It is cold, there is snow –traditional literary symbol for death. THEN it is Christmas day, and that is when he has his awakening, conversion, or rebirth. “ … after Amsterdam, which was really my Damascus, the way station and apogee of my conversion as I guess you’d call it, ….. “ (p. 768 ) A snowy Christmas: how perfect for a symbol of rebirth and regeneration.

    That scene in Amsterdam is the main crisis in the book. For the rest of it, he pretty much tries to sum up the philosophy of life that he’s developed in going through all the horrors and yet the beauties of his life. This is a wonderful, emotionally moving, section. The painting of The Goldfinch has been symbolically representing how Theo’s soul has been in the hands of God – bumping from city to city and crisis to crisis - and now he’s wrestled with his demons and come out on the right side and can continue with his life in a better way. He’s doesn’t necessarily have a positive or happy outlook, BUT he is surviving, has reset his moral compass, and is ready to move on. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, he has had a conversion.


    In addition to thinking about the Christian symbolism in the book, I am also trying to figure out if it could be considered a “picaresque” novel – the part about the bumping around from city to city like Don Quixote. The Goldfinch does take the main character, Theo Decker, to many locations on many strange adventures. First it’s NYC, then Las Vegas, then back to NYC, and finally to Amsterdam, and then other locations around the globe are tacked on at the end. So , that part qualifies as picaresque. However, in looking up the characteristics of that genre on Wikipedia, it is not quite so clear. I’m not sure if I have a point or not. Here’s a list to help make a decision:

    1. Written in the 1st person as an autobiographical account.
    Check this one as a YES. Theo tells his story and reflects on his life.

    2. Main character is of low social class, gets by without and rarely deigns to hold a job. This is not so clear. Theo Decker is not of low social class, however, he is often very poor and he does many things that could qualify as “low class.” The picaresque hero is usually a rogue, BUT he is a lovable rogue and so doesn’t really seem like a “picaro.” I would put Theo Decker in this category, since he IS lovable, he does get by on his wits , and he DOES commit many roguish acts. He does have a job at some point, however, he commits some of his “roguish” acts on the job.

    3. There is no plot. The story is told in a series of loosely connected adventures or episodes. This doesn’t work for “The Goldfinch. ” It has a plot, although, again, this is somewhat ambiguous since the plot does wander all over the globe. I guess, to me, the plot seems to be about Theo Decker growing up and finally coming to peace (of sorts) with his life and what has happened to him. This is a story of redemption, and that is the plot. So, I think this is NOT like a picaresque novel in the area of plot.


    4. Little character development in the main character. Once a picaro, always a picaro. NOPE. Theo definitely has a conversion – a redemption. In fact, that is the major point or theme of the book, so this part doesn’t work as picaresque.


    5. The picaro’s story is told with a plainness of language or realism. I would say this is true. The writing is lovely, but it is very easy to read, and it is realistic. There is no magical realism; there are no obscure passages. In fact, that is one of the things I loved about the book: it was a good story, easy to read, but still it contained many beautiful passages, literary references, figurative language, symbolism, and interesting thoughts on the nature of existence. So it was a great combo of the simple and the complex.


    6. Satire might sometimes be a prominent element. At first I didn’t see it as a satire. However, I’m re- reading it, and now I can see the satirical elements: the social workers trying to help Theo; Dave, his therapist; the characters and the very geography of Las Vegas (the Playa, the empty houses, Xandra) and the snootiness superficiality of some in the art world. It is dark in parts and could be considered to be critical of life or segments of society. Although overall it doesn’t read like a satire, I’d say parts of it seem to be written in a satirical vein.


    7. The behavior of a picaresque hero stops just short of criminality. Carefree or immoral rascality positions the picaresque hero as a sympathetic outsider, untouched by the false rules of society. This one seems true to me. Theo is thrown outside of society by the explosion in the beginning. He is always lovable, even when he commits his worst acts in the book. Although he seems to be taken in by others (his dad and Boris, mainly) he is always sympathetic, innocent, and lovable.

    It will be hard for me to find a book that I like as much as The Goldfinch! Maybe I’ll try Donna Tartt’s other books…..


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Doctor Sleep: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (5908)
    Performance
    (5474)
    Story
    (5493)

    Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

    D says: "The sequel to the book; not the movie"
    "Fantastic Stephen King!"
    Overall
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    What a fun book! I liked it BETTER than The Shining. Of course, that could be because I already read and vaguely remembered The Shining. In any case, Dr. Sleep transported me to another world… the world of a good book. It was a good story, and Stephen King knows how to tell good stories. I really appreciate the naturalness of his writing.

    Although a person would not HAVE to have read The Shining first, I DO think it adds to the enjoyment to have the details from The Shining in the mind while going through Dr. Sleep. It adds to the fun to remember Dick Halloran, Wendy Torrance, Horace Derwent, and even Mrs. Massey from room 217!






    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dog Stars

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Peter Heller
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (974)
    Performance
    (866)
    Story
    (867)

    Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life exists beyond the airport.

    Melinda says: "Absolutely Stellar!"
    "A different view of the apocalypse!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the writing in The Dog Stars! The author did such a great job of evoking the main character’s personality. Hig was a combination of an outdoorsman and “man’s man,” and then also a poet and philosopher. He was sensitive and often compassionate; I really loved his character.

    The Dog Stars reminded me of “The Little Prince” in which the narrator flies around the world in his airplane, is stranded in the desert, and meets the little prince who expounds on the beauties and also the frailties of the world. Like The Little Prince, The Dog Stars presents a lesson about life. This famous line from The Little Prince is really the theme of that book: "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye." In the Dog Stars, it seems like the apocalypse has made Hig’s past life “invisible, “ and somehow allowed him to live more in the present, appreciating every small beauty, like the little prince said! Hig is has a poetic nature anyway, and so his observations throughout the book are poignant and touching.

    At the end of The Little Prince, the prince tells the narrator that when he leaves it will make the narrator sad, but it will be consoling to look at the stars and think of the prince's lovable laughter, and that it will seem as if all the stars are laughing. It seems like Hig uses the stars in this way, as a sort of consolation, and that the name of the book refers to the nostalgia and beauty in the memories of all the stars he has named that console him in his current, post apocalyptic life.

    The Dog Stars is the type of sci-fi that I like. I think you could call this science fiction in that it takes one aspect of the world today and fictionalizes it, but still lets all the characters interact in totally realistic way, and the lessons learned apply to us today in the real world. All the ruminations that Hig dished out over the course of the book seemed to be useful not only in a post apocalyptic world, but also in our modern day world.

    I loved Hig’s relationship with Bingley. They are forced together, and they both learn from each other. The evolution of Bingley’s character is interesting and heartwarming.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Shining

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Campbell Scott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2005)
    Performance
    (1866)
    Story
    (1885)

    Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

    Kristin says: "Don't expect the movie..."
    "Revisiting The Shining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I only vaguely remember having read The Shining back when it first came out in 1977. The movie version is more firmly stuck in my mind, but it is hazy, too. So I decided to re-read this classic Stephen King book before trying the sequel, Dr. Sleep.

    Although I really enjoyed reading it, I was somewhat disappointed as well. I thought I’d be on the edge of my seat and terrified. The first half or 2/3 of the novel seemed almost overburdened with foreshadowing and character development. The final 1/3 was much more exciting, and so I did come away feeling that the book almost lived up to its reputation.

    Also, as usual, I really appreciated Stephen King’s writing and the structure of the novel. He is good! Now I can’t wait to watch the movie again! And then on to Dr. Sleep!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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