"Found" started out well with the mysterious appearance of the plane with no pilot and no crew at the unassigned gate at the airport. And the babies inside. It abruptly switched to 13 years later and two boys receive mysterious, threatening notes. I was hooked.
Then it just limped along until I wanted to scream. The plot is disorganized and very poorly rendered. The characters are alternately blindingly stupid, horribly stereotyped or just plain boring. There are parts that seem to be just starting to get interesting... and that's where the author will drop into "can I make this interesting bit into something deadly dull?"
The storyline was so poorly developed and chaotic that, when it abruptly ended with no resolution of anything at all except the clear expectation that you'll buy the next book, I felt simply ripped off. Clearly the author has taken one book and tried to make it into three books in order to sell books.
And she didn't even do it well!! She left me with no reason at all to care what happens next.
The next book I started was "Gideon the Cutpurse." Now THAT is literature for young people! I haven't even finished the first one yet and the second and third are already in my shopping cart.
This book, however, is awful.
I don't know where to start to explain why this is so bad. Maybe a list...
1. OMG, the narration! Ms. O'Donnell made me shout at my IPod. Seriously! She breaks into whispering at key scenes. It's maddening. I listen when I'm doing other things - driving, cooking, gardening, etc. - and her voice would get softer and softer and softer until the words would begin to run together like a low frequency vibration, rather than actual speech. So I'd stop what I was doing, wipe my hands if working, turn up the volume and go back to work. Then someone "else" would speak in a normal tone and I'm frantically reaching for the volume to back it down to avoid permanent hearing loss. It was maddening. (I've since apologized to my IPod.)
I suppose that might have been OK if she'd at least had a nice variety of voices. She didn't. Sara sounded like Cora who sounded like Jen who sounded like Sara. Michael sounded like Matt who sounded like Peter who sounded like ... well you get the idea. She could begin with slight differences, but the voices all quickly returned to her "baseline" man and her "baseline" woman.
2. The story started strong and the scenes during Megan's illness (when I could hear the whispering!) were very moving. Sara's year following Megan's death seemed correctly imagined. But when the whole frozen lake thing began, I felt thoroughly manipulated. This plot device was simply cheap. Instead of working through the challenges and mysteries her main character faced in the real world, the author did the "Poof! Magic will fix it!" miracle solution.
3. Even if you accept the "miracle" part, her story line was full of the unbelievable and I started to get a hint of what was coming when Sara's perfect, amazing, 10-year fairy-tale, he's-my-best-friend, flawless marriage to perfect Michael went completely to hell and it was ALL HIS FAULT!
4. The Cora/Peter/Matt subplot was much too long and much too contrived to be believable ... in a novel that had enough "unbelievable" to qualify as science fiction.
There's more, but this awful novel doesn't deserve any more of my time - and NONE of yours.
I have read/listened to nearly everything Burke has ever written. His Dave Robauchaux novels are some of the best written and Billy Bob Holland series is also very good. Burke also does a great job of evoking locations so that you can "be there."
Patton has a compelling and wonderful voice, but he is a "scenery chewer." He doesn't seem to want to let the story compel the reader; he forces emotion into nearly every scene with equal ferocity so that mild annoyance and a moment of happiness and sheer terror are all read with the same fierce ee nun see ay shun. It's quite distracting. You can almost see him squinting and pulling his lips back over his teeth in order to speak every syllable. The book (and most of Burke's work) is already pretty intense. Patton's narration makes it exhausting.
I don't feel like any of it was particularly "interesting" as, except for the minute study of abject misery that was the prison camp chapters, not much depth was given to any aspect. Every plot line seemed to be a vehicle for setting up Holland's rage and unrelenting self-destruction and justifying his often selfish, amoral or merely unconscionable behavior (although Burke really does love this sort of character; he writes them a lot.) Yes, Holland redeemed himself in the end but it all seemed terribly predictable.
Truth be told... boredom. Oh, and he isn't great at reading women. They all tend to sound the same.
Write this review and not listen to another Burke novel narrated by Will Patton (this is my third and last.)
The author covers his own life and career, which parallels the rise and fall of the Third Reich. His focus is on his experiences, however; not the political issues or overall situation in Germany unless these things directly touched his life. His history is fascinating and his story gave me an insight I had not previously had about what life was like for "ordinary Germans." I am very glad I completed this book.
Having said that, the depth of the characters and the breadth of the story were not done ANY justice by the narration. It was flat, uninteresting and delivered as if the author was some kind of stereotypical extreme of the Nazi automaton. By the time the book was half completed, I was truly angry with the narration. If the main character was having dinner in Paris the narrator gave it exactly - EXACTLY - the same intonation, emotion and impact as he gave the death of Knappe's brother. I could read a grocery list with more depth and humanity.'
Having soundly criticized the narration, however, I am still glad I listened to this. Flaws of delivery notwithstanding, it was moving, fascinating and gave me an insight I have never had before.
Breathtaking story. Sue Monk Kid has matched "The Secret Life of Bees" and I didn't think that was possible. This is a wonderful story, based on the life of the Grimke sisters of Charlotte, NC who were pioneers in the abolitionist and women's suffrage movement. At the end of the novel, Sue Monk Kidd spends a few minutes telling us how this novel developed and helping us understand what parts were historical and what parts were invented by her.
The narrations of the two main characters - Sarah Grimke and Handful, the slave - by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye were extremely well done. They managed the tone and rhythm of each voice beautifully, along with the other characters in the novel.
The story encompasses about 35 years of the lives of these two women, beginning when they were about 11 and following each of their parallel paths through some trying and, in some cases, harrowing times. Each is enslaved in a different way and the battles they must fight and the sacrifices they must make are sometimes difficult to reconcile with the idealized history of the USA that is often fed to us these days. Slavery was a terrible institution, backed by the mainline churches, enabled by financial and political institutions and supported by lies and more lies about what it really was like.
The story also lays bare the helplessness of women at this time and the degree to which they too were enslaved, albeit often in velvet-lined cages that made it very difficult to escape. And if they tried, even the most ardent of male abolitionists often didn't want the womens' voices heard or their situation addressed.
Kidd gave her characters depth and bredth, flaws and errors, but you really care about them.
This is a good story and Handford is a good storyteller. The narrator did an excellent job. My problem was that, after about the the first couple of hours, I'd had about all I could stand of the unrelenting self-absorption, self-centeredness and self-pitying of Helen, the central character of this book. She really spoiled the story for me only because she was so endlessly whiny and self-pitying. I do understand that the author had beset this poor woman with many woes in her childhood and young adulthood, but her life wasn't exactly horrible. I just got so sick of her endless self-pity. Even when she did things "right," she still seemed terribly self-absorbed and constantly ready for life to deal her another blow.
And, of course, it did. And in the end, she grew up and grew a backbone, so I suppose that was the point. But she was very annoying.
I very much enjoyed the part of the book that dealt with the adoption of her first child from China. That was very interesting.
It's not that I don't think you should buy the book, but I was mildly distracted by Helen.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters had depth and breadth and personalities that are complex and interesting. The readers did a really good job with all of the characters so that I could follow without difficulty. The transitions were seamless and their voices were distinctive and "real" enough that you forgot they were "characters." The story is very sad, but told with rich humor and much "humanity." These are real people.
...I'm a little bit in love with Walt Longmire. I just want to make this clear up front.
The Serpent's Tooth is the latest (9th) in the Longmire series and it is excellent. I really enjoy Johnson's imagination and his wry sense of humor and he is a skilled storyteller. He also does a wonderful job of presenting both characters and places so that the reader feels "present" for both. Sheriff Walt Longmire is, of course, the heart of the story which has Walt trying to deal with a fundamentalist Mormon cult which has invaded his county and is causing a variety of serious difficulties. Johnson has written a great plot in this one.
The story begins with Walt in an interview with an old woman who has angels in her house and ends with a hard tug at the readers heart, but in between Johnson pulls in murder and mayhem, love and loss and laughter and the usual cast of Craig Johnson's brilliant characters and ties them together with "can't stop reading" intensity. It may be my favorite of this series so far.
George Guidall does an outstanding job of narration giving depth and individuality to each character. Even when I am reading a Longmire book (rather than listening) I can still "hear" Walt, Henry, Vic, Double-tough and all the other characters of Absaroka County, Wyoming in Guidall's voices.
You don't need to have read any of the others in the series to enjoy this book (although you may be briefly confused when Walt refers to other characters by odd nicknames such as referring to his best friend Henry as "The Cheyenne Nation.") You will also not understand what he's talking about when he refers to events from previous books, but I don't think that will hinder your enjoyment. And if you like this novel, you're lucky, because there are eight more and I predict you'll be anxious to start at the beginning.
I had no idea what to expect with this book and was most pleasantly surprised. The concept is certainly new to me - a British aristocrat in Melbourne in the 1920s who apparently "collects people" and solves mysteries. There is a lot of potential in the premise and Greenwood takes full advantage of it. The plot of this particular novel involves disappearing women and the solution offers us, among other things, a visit to the Magdalene Laundries which were quite real in the 19th and 20th century (and mostly quite horrible.) It's a high compliment when a novel sends me off to research something just because it's so interesting. I was fascinated to learn about the laundries and spent a few hours on the internet researching them.
The plot involved the genuinely awful but also provided a nice balance of humor and detail. It was clever, complex and interesting and, while there was not much chance for the reader to solve the mystery, I didn't mind just letting the story unfold as Greenwood is an excellent storyteller.
Stephanie Daniel does a good job with the performance and I had little difficulty keep the characters sorted out.
I have every intention of revisiting the world of Phryne Fisher and her minions in Melbourne.
Sandra Burr does a pretty good job with very little. The characters are self-absorbed and mostly one-dimensional - especially the men. There is no appreciable plot that I can detect and what little content there is to this story unfolds with painful slowness. I'm giving this one back to Audible half finished. I can't risk listening to it while driving for fear I'll nod off.
I like this character and I love the setting. I am also enjoying the development of the characters in Aurora and on the reservations. I especially appreciate that these are complex characters, full of strengths and flaws and good and bad.
In this story, the wilderness plays as big a role as the human characters and I think the author did a brilliant job of "taking us along" as the various characters dealt with the wild lands in which they found themselves.
It's a "rip-snorter" of a story full of complex characters and interesting plot lines and Corcoran is, of course, right in the middle of it.
Just purely good story-telling.
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