Winchester's books are always fascinating, and his droll reading always enchants me. Here he captures the many facets of geology, social development, economics, geography, population, etc., that bring a locale to life.
I live in Hawaii, amidst earthquakes and volcanoes, and he intimates the mystery and attachment to the core of a region that can keep people living on the edge. His narrative is also reminiscent of our local "talk-story," which is casual and rambling, can encompass several different tales at once, digresses and focuses, and then wham: there's the point, just when you were beginning to think there wasn't one. It's so much friendlier and illuminating than a diesel-driven, one-lane story.
My problem with this book is that, while it seems to be about strong, resilient women, it's really a relentless and unsparing description of the experiences of women who have to choose between starvation and a life of being raped in exchange for cash and gifts. Certainly, there are still millions of girls sold into sexual slavery, and maybe it's our duty to acknowledge this, but 25 hours of it? I feel blindsided, like I bought a novel and got a diatribe. Moments of relief and humor, intimations of "courtship," and a ragged story line do not make this an engaging read. Amy Tan's editor was clearly too intimidated to insist on the reworking that might have made this book even tolerable.
It was generally tedious listening, occasionally droll, often unremittingly dull, and at times excruciatingly painful. Never fun. Never.
Another outstanding mystery from McDermid. A perverse serial killer is on the loose, and the attacks seem to center on Bradfield's gay community. The two main characters, Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, are dedicated and likeable and reassuringly flawed (even if Tony's problem seems somewhat overblown: a major issue resulting from what was a minor critique). They move ever so slowly into mutual trust and honesty with authentic caution.
The author's conceit of introducing the victims to us inspires our sympathy and keeps us cheering on the investigators. While the detail can be quite gruesome, especially when you've become fond of the victim, it isn't gratuitous, and the author does turn our eyes away before it becomes unbearable.
As grizzly as the book can be, the narrator is steady and impassive. He reads with the reassurance of one who knows everything will turn out fine in the end. I'm off to unearth more of McDermid's older mysteries, and search out what Graham Roberts is reading as well.
I was surprised, not expecting a "romance" (I should be more careful), but certainly not expecting one of Howard's favorite characters to be an abusive, bullying, stalker who terrorizes women until they just beg for more. He uses his physical size and local influence to dominate, assault, and tyrannize, in a way only a masochist would call sexy. His actions often descend to the level of criminal offenses, and the "strong" heroine merely flutters. Faith is lamentably inconsistent: her character is supposed to be capable and successful, yet she makes one stupid and dunderheaded decision after another.
Amazingly, unchallenged throughout the book is the way Faith as a child is held responsible for the sins of her mother, while the sins of Gray's father are (reluctantly but casually) accepted, and never reflect badly upon his own children, and no one ever notes the hypocrisy. This incongruity, while perhaps unremarkable in the 50's or 60's, is both glaring and repugnant in a book published in 1995.
While I understand that the point of romances is for women to fantasize taming and winning the erstwhile unbreakable beast (perhaps why girls like horseback riding), this chauvinist pedophile was merely a sadistic terrorist with intermittent explosive disorder, no conscience or self-awareness, and absolutely no long-term relationship value. The concept of "romance" was entirely absent from this plague chronicle. I do not have enough thumbs to turn down on this travesty.
Another author, another reader, and an interesting plot. The characters were predictable and hackneyed, the dialogue was forced and improbable, the story line was boring and unsatisfying. The only thing that could make this muddle worse is printing it backwards.
It has certainly turned me off from the author. Never again.
The reader seemed as bored by the story as we would be. The best parts of the performance were the subheadings: "Sunday morning.... Monday evening."
1. Disgust, that the subtext was so offensively Christian, and bordered on the absurd at times. 2. Irritation, that I'd wasted actual cash money on this trash. I'm not particularly anti-religion: I like Katherine Hall Page and Faye Kellerman. But when one can't pick up a physical book and leaf through it, reading the front leaf or back cover, one becomes dependent on the reviewers, and the integrity of Audible. I wish Audible would warn us in advance about explicit Christian proselytizing...
Unpleasant and occasionally darkly humorous. Written by a phalanx of whining, casually vicious 14-year-old stoners, who are getting back at the teachers & parents who "don't understand them" by rewriting children's fables. Like that would work.
I'm a long-time fan from SantaLand days, travel long distances to hear Sedaris read, and have bought every book he's published, but the whingeing tone and the callous cruelty were a complete turn-off. If you're a big fan of adolescent badinage, this is the book for you. If not, wait for his next one. I deleted this after cringing through almost half of it, and am disappointed that I didn't move on sooner.
Before you buy this, note that [at this writing-Ed.] the rating isn't even 3.5, and his other books still run between 4 & 5. The 3.4 would be even lower if Audible permitted a no-star review. Squirrel is an appalling low point in the Sedaris oeuvre, and has apparently dissatisfied, not only me, but a huge number of fans. What a waste of Elaine Stritch, to boot! Buyer beware.
Everything in the story line revolves around the viewpoint of Love Liu, a particularly self-obsessed teenage boy, perhaps an unnecessarily redundant description. Set against the background of the cultural revolution, this coming-of-age story keeps the cultural revolution way too far in the background to inform the listeners. The immensity of the cruel and erratic politics of the time are merely hinted at in the novel, but explicated in the afterword (should have been the "Forward."). Love Liu does not seem to register anyone else's reality as having any validity, and as a result creates catastrophic problems for his parents, best friends, teachers, and himself. Themes and events are introduced and then dropped, leaving enough loose ends to be frustrating and dissatisfying. The ending was limp and bathetic.
I love books by Chinese authors and nonfiction about China and was looking forward to this. Alas, thumbs down.
...With his little tableau of a modern day nuclear family [hunter, "wife"(!), one girl, one boy]. The boy frolics, a Neanderthal appears, the children panic, mother comforts, father menaces. Come on, with this kind of ignorant and ill-considered anachronism, what could possibly be expected from the rest of the book? Anthropological, zoological, and archeological evidence all argue for the extended family unit, comprising, most often, enate family groupings of hunter/gatherers. So why should we believe whatever he says next?
Many thanks to the reviewer who suggested skipping Part 1. I'll try Part II to see in any actual data enliven the narrative.
A delicious read on many levels: a honest-to-goodness mystery with a fallible, dedicated detective; a psychological study of casualty and loss; a geographical and political lesson, For me, most of all, a delightful anthropological glimpse into another culture, in fact an amalgam of societies, where old-time mysticism meets new-age mysticism meets contemporary pragmatism. The characters we meet in Ghana are occasionally as incapable of understanding each other as a Tea Bagger is of fathoming a Secular Humanist, and equally as tolerant. New Paragraph:
I take issue with a previous reviewer who decried its "cruelty" and violence. This was a story with very little violence, but when it did appear it was an integral part of illuminating a crucial aspect of a character or a way of life, and viewed as the abhorrent behaviour it was. It was not glorified, certainly not enjoyable or admirable. It is not offered as entertainment; this is no "24." Rape takes place off stage, with none of the slavering and lascivious delight in the barbaric that some American writers like to wallow in. New Paragraph:
While occasionally the descriptions seemed hackneyed and the dialogue seemed false, Simon Prebble still presented with complete faith in the narrative, bringing us through the rough spots with aplomb and his cloak flourished over the puddles. My guess is this book listens better than it would read, and the credit for that belongs with Mr. Prebble. I look forward to their next collaboration.
A spare and stunningly conceived and written biography of bullying. However, listening to it was like watching a kitten being prepared to be boiled alive. It was literally painful at times to hear the distress of Kingshaw, the main character. I only continued to listen because Hill continued to dangle the hope that the worm might finally and irrevocably turn. In the end, the evil boy triumphs and the sensitive lad succumbs. This at least illuminates our current political situation, in which lies can overwhelm truth, cruelty overpowers kindness, and relentless and prolonged inhumanity, united with mass indifference, defeats the will to fight back. I felt utterly wrung out by the end of the book, but better informed about our political process.
A lame cross between Nancy Drew and the Powerpuff Girls, except that the supportive father-figure is not her own, and the mother is a bitchy shrew. We have chubby Bess, mouthy George, and a hunky Ned, wildly improbable Powerpuff plot twists with a totally insupportable finish. Haunted by insecurities and uncertainty, the heroine still manages in all situations to perform heroically on an almost superhuman level. The jumping back and forth in time might have worked if there were secrets to have been revealed; as it is, it's merely annoying.
While purporting to have feminist themes, even characters in their fifties are referred to as "girls," career is trumped by "love," and the cast of stock female characters were hair-rippingly stereotyped and formulaic. If this is chick lit, I'm going back to dick lit. This was way too uneven to recommend even as kid lit, but that's the classification it deserves.
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