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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 2012

98
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 102 reviews
  • 235 ratings
  • 537 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
11

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Michael Chabon
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (959)
    Performance
    (848)
    Story
    (865)

    It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, they create the Escapist.

    Darwin8u says: "A World I DON'T Ever Want to Escape From."
    "Great Writer with a LOOOONG book..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Other than being way too long, this was a pretty good book! I really like the ending and felt a great affection for the characters by then. The writing was terrific. Chabon's is great at characterization. His use of imagery is fantastic, as evidenced by this passage about Rosa's letters to Joe after he left her.

    "(Joe)... took out the thick sheaf of letters that he had received from Rosa after his enlistment at the end of 1941. The letters had followed him, irregularly but steadily, from basic training at Newport, Rhode Island, to the navy's polar training station at Thule, Greenland, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he had spent the fall of 1943 as the Kelvinator mission was assembled. After that, as no reply from their addressee was ever forthcoming, there had been no more letters. Her correspondence had been like the pumping of a heart into a severed artery, wild and incessant at first, then slowing with a kind of muscular reluctance to a stream that became a trickle and finally ceased; the heart had stopped."

    The history of comic books in America was interesting, and I liked the way he connected a variety of themes to that history. Mostly, these themes centered on the idea of ESCAPE. For example, Chabon showed Sammy and Joe working tirelessly for the Jews' escape from Hitler's bondage in their "The Escapist" comic books, Sammy finding himself and beginning to escape the bonds of America's prejudices toward gays, and Joe escaping from his "survivor guilt" after his immigration to America as well as working for his little brother's escape from Prague, and also Joe's escape from Rosa after what happens to Tommy.

    Chabon showed a caustic sense of humor, too. For example when the name of the bedroom assigned to the gay lovers is revealed as "Ramcock." There were lots more examples, and I chuckled out loud quite a few times.

    I felt so touched by the close bonds between the main characters at the end and they way they dealt with the way their lives had unfolded. I just wish Chabon had left out the whole episode of Joe enlisting in the Navy and traveling to Antarctica. That was over the top and way too drawn out. Other episodes could have been edited out or cut down as well, and then the book would have made a bigger impact. (You're probably thinking the same thing about this review, if you got this far :)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Orphan Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Christina Baker Kline
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5335)
    Performance
    (4732)
    Story
    (4745)

    Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" out of the foster care system. A community-service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse.... As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

    Kathi says: "Moving story of sharing and transformation."
    "Doesn't live up to the reviews"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book didn’t live up to all of its 4 and 5 star reviews. Although the story of the orphan trains itself is interesting, I found the book to be stereotyped and shallow.

    One example is the foster mother of Molly. The author threw in so many stereotypes which she obviously found to be “evil” but which don’t necessarily ring true to me as definitive markers of an evil person: she listens to conservative talk radio, she is NOT a vegetarian, she has an anti-abortion bumper sticker, etc etc. SO, the author is definitely prejudiced against conservatives, BUT I think there could have been a more skillful way to portray a person who is supposed to be as judgmental and uncaring as the foster mom. This author took a short cut, but it didn’t work.

    The book seemed like it should be categorized as a young adult novel. It was too oversimplified and moralistic for me. The ending packs a big emotional wallop, and did make me cry. I believe that is why it ended up getting such good reviews. As a whole, it is really not worth it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Trunk Music: Harry Bosch Series, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2505)
    Performance
    (1503)
    Story
    (1498)

    Back on the job after an involuntary leave of absence, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch is ready for a challenge. But his first case is a little more than he bargained for. It starts with the body of a Hollywood producer in the trunk of a Rolls-Royce, shot twice in the head at close range - what looks like "trunk music", a Mafia hit.

    Dan says: "Another Harry Bosch winner"
    "I like spending time with Harry B."
    Overall
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    ***SPOILER ALERT****
    I thoroughly enjoyed Trunk Music and would have given it my highest rating EXCEPT that the ending seemed so contrived and phony that I had to knock it down just a little. It seemed just wrong to have Victoria Aliso blurt out as she died to, “… save my daughter.” What daughter? That’s the first we hear of it. And really? Her daughter turns out to be Layla, the Las Vegas dancer that Victoria’s HUSBAND is having an affair with? As if that weren’t enough, THEN Bosch and Eleanor run across Layla when they leave L.A. and Vegas and begin their honeymoon in Hawaii on the very last page. That coincidence seems just way too contrived. If there had been a plot of some dimension about Victoria, Layla, and their histories, then fine. However, to just throw these two facts in at the very end does NOT work to make the book and the plot seem believable.

    Other than that, I found the book very readable and compelling, as with most of the Harry Bosch books. I’ll keep on reading about Harry Bosch. I wondered about the title "Trunk Music," and found what it means: ”...a wise guy saying outta Chicago.. when they whack some poor slob they say, “Oh, Tony Don't worry about Tony. He’s trunk music now. You won’t see him no more. “



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Jenna Miscavige Hill
    • Narrated By Sandy Rustin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (915)
    Performance
    (836)
    Story
    (837)

    Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

    Tim says: "The Despicable Truth Behind Scientology"
    "Eye Opening!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow! I think Scientology has to be one of the most messed up, horrible organizations I've ever heard of. I won't call it a religion; that would be a sham. The book was fascinating in that it opened my eyes to the reality and the inner workings of Scientology. At the same time, it was pretty boring in its details and the reality which seemed to go on and on. I've heard some bad things about Scientology, BUT now my eyes have been opened to the extent of the rottenness.

    As I was reading about the constant "auditing" (questioning sessions with an e-meter designed to elicit a certain result from the person being audited) and "sec-checks"(confessional given on an e-meter) , it made me think of North Korea in Orphan Master's Son! Seriously, that is how BAD it was. Well, they didn't hook the person up to a pain machine, BUT they did use constant belittling, questioning, humiliating, separation, isolation, and on and on to elicit the response they wanted. I also feel like this girl's parents were partly to blame for allowing her to be taken from them and to be separated from them and sucked into this horror. Of course, she was/is from a 3rd generation Scientology family, so they were ALL brainwashed, I guess.

    The book talks about how the celebrity Scientologists are treated differently, and the world never sees that horrible stuff that goes on in the background. The hypocrisy of Scientology is stunning in its breadth and depth.

    I've got to give this girl credit for getting out and exposing all this to the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Redbreast

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1163)
    Performance
    (906)
    Story
    (909)

    It is 1944: Daniel, a soldier, legendary among the Norwegians fighting the advance of Bolshevism on the Russian front, is killed. Two years later, a wounded soldier wakes up in a Vienna hospital. He becomes involved with a young nurse, the consequences of which will ripple forward to the turn of the next century. In 1999, Harry Hole, alone again after having caused an embarrassment in the line of duty, has been promoted to inspector and is lumbered with surveillance duties. He is assigned the task of monitoring neo-Nazi activities....

    David says: "Bravura writing"
    "Reaching His Stride"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes! With this #3 book in the Harry Hole series, Jo Nesbo has reached his stride and has written a tense and exciting thriller/crime novel. I particularly liked this book because the reader gets to see how Harry Hole meets Raquel (the woman he is so in love with in later books) and find out Raquel's "interesting" background. Having started with some of the later Harry Hole books, I was disappointed when I went back to the beginning with the #1 and #2 books (The Bat and The Cockroaches), but having enjoyed this book so much, I'm now ready to continue on to #4, Nemesis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • We Need New Names: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By NoViolet Bulawayo
    • Narrated By Robin Miles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (58)

    Darling is only 10 years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. But Darling has a chance to escape: She has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

    FanB14 says: "African Girl Does US"
    "First part is best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While the writing was often beautiful, this book fell flat, in my opinion. I couldn’t care very much about the main character. Perhaps I did in the beginning, but she and her story became less interesting to me as the book went along. Perhaps it’s because I felt the author was trying to make her story TOO much about the recent history of Zimbabwe and not enough of a novel. The characters all became archetypes of the various problems that immigrants face. First, there was the harsh life in Africa, then there were the harsh realities of trying to fit in to American life, and finally there came the realization that in many ways immigrants can never fit in to the new country, but they can never go home, either.

    I thought the first half of the book was more compelling. In the middle there was a section that was told in the first person plural, like the book about Japanese picture brides, The Buddha in the Attic. That approach is really unsuccessful, in my opinion. It removes the reader from the action, and just seems preachy or false.

    I’m sure that one is supposed to feel pity for the main character and sympathize with her, and I do feel sad about all the harsh circumstances. Somehow, other books with similar situations have managed to pull me in more than this one, however.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cleaner of Chartres

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Salley Vickers
    • Narrated By Pamela Garelick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (8)

    There is something very special about Agnès Morel. A quiet presence in the small French town of Chartres, she can be found cleaning the famed medieval cathedral each morning and doing odd jobs for the townspeople. No one knows where she came from or why. Not Abbé Paul, who discovered her one morning 20 years ago, sleeping on the north porch, and not Alain Fleury, the irreverent young restorer who works alongside her each day - and whose attention she catches with her tawny eyes and elusive manner. She has transformed each of their lives in her own subtle way, yet no one suspects the dark secret Agnès is hiding.

    KP says: "Not my favorite S.Vickers, but worth reading!"
    "Not my favorite S.Vickers, but worth reading!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sally Vickers used to be a psychoanalyst, and her past profession lends a depth to her characters, and an interesting air to her books.

    She usually has interesting references to some cultural aspect as well. In The Other Side of You it was painting. In this book, the references to Greek mythology were interesting because they were symbolic of the situations in the book and of life in general. The story of Theseus and the Minotaur was one example. When Agnés finally confesses what she had done as a young girl, her friend Alain says, “The minotaur is dead!” I thought that was great, but then I love symbolism. Agnés’ secret had been trapped like the evil Minotaur, and now it was released - rendered powerless. Her life had expanded and healed a lot already, but now she was truly free.

    I found the writing good, the cultural and psychoanalytic aspects interesting, but overall the story was a bit underwhelming. I enjoyed The Other Side of You much more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cathedral of the Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Ildefonso Falcones
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    Overall
    (542)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (175)

    At last: The international best seller - which has already sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide - comes to America! Cathedral of the Sea follows the fortunes of the Estanyol family, from their peasant roots to a son, Arnau, who flees the land only to realize spectacular wealth and devastating problems.

    Joseph says: "Very good historical novel."
    "In the mood for BARCELONA!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm glad I read it. I finished as I arrived in Barcelona, so that made it really fun since the book has so much to do with that city. Now I HAVE to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar! As for the book itself: good on the history of the city, but I have to say that it was a potboiler and extremely overdone. At first I thought it seemed a little like Ken Follett in Pillars of the Earth, but really I think Ken Follett was a better writer. There are just too many heaving bosoms, too many characters who are extremely good or extremely evil, OR too many characters who could also change on a dime from one to the other.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Americanah

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Narrated By Adjoa Andoh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (775)
    Performance
    (701)
    Story
    (702)

    Anna-Bo-Banana says: "Dazzling, Romantic, and Witty"
    "Didactic to a fault!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a beautifully written book, and I enjoyed the story. The author’s keen insights into issues of immigration and race and what it means to be black in America AND in Africa were really interesting. It was particularly interesting to read about Nigeria from the viewpoint of some very well educated people. The main problem I had with the book is that it was too didactic. The author was critical of whites, critical of blacks - Nigerians, and Americans. That’s ok, and a lot of it was interesting, BUT it just went on too long. All of the preaching bogged the book down. Much of it could have been edited out, and the powerful main points would still have had as much or more impact.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Cockroaches: The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (402)
    Performance
    (358)
    Story
    (359)

    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...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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
    (7400)
    Performance
    (6689)
    Story
    (6692)

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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