Another good Elm Creek Quilt addition to this most enjoyable series. This one follows Elizabeth and her new husband from Elm Creek to California during the 1920s where a ranch awaits them in an idealic valley. Unfortunately, things don't turn out quite as they hoped and life takes a difficult turn. I very much enjoyed the interesting characters in this Elm Creek story. Chiaverini has developed several complex and interesting "real people" to enhance this story and, as always, her storytelling ability is evident as it's hard to not care what happens to Lars and Rosa and May and others. My only complaint was that I found Elizabeth's tolerance of her husband's self-pity a bit annoying, but I also realize I'm reading about a "good girl" from the 1920s. I enjoyed the book very much and, as always, Christina Moore does an excellent job with narrating Chiaverini's story.
I read this series as a girl and loved it. Anything that featured a bright, capable, brave girl as the main character thrilled me. And my name is Anne - with an "E," - and I had freckles as a girl, so I was even more bound to to this wonderful character. So when I bought this book to revisit this special little girl and her wonderful community, I was prepared to love it.
I didn't. And it was the narrator. Ms. Caruso had very little range for the various characters, but I rather got used to that. But her Anne was just too over the top. I understand the temptation to portray her precociousness and her excitement, but I simply could not get over mostly finding Anne annoying up until she was in her teens.
As Anne the girl spoke, all I could think was "annoying!" But Anne doesn't - or shouldn't *read* that way. It took me a while to figure out that the narrator's voice was too mature. Anne didn't sound like a girl. She was too "adult" in tone. The narrator couldn't seem to "youthify" the tone of her voice. I'm not sure that makes sense, but it's a bit like a male narrator who doesn't know how to give voice to a female character.
Anyway, I was disappointed.
I enjoyed this book very much, mostly because Ms. Harper's sense of humor is a sharp as a shark's tooth. Any potential the characters had for sliding into caricature was carefully avoided, but there WERE some sharply drawn archetypal characters. Molly Harper is a great story-teller and the highest compliment I can give any author is that one of his or her books makes me want to read another. This book made me immediately buy another Molly Harper.
Amanda Ronconi does a wonderful job with the narration.
I love books that take me where/when I can explore how others live. This is one of those books.
The interesting thing about listening to this book is that at first I thought the narrator was somewhat flat and I found it annoying. Then I realized I was listening to a 5-6 year old tell a story about things exactly as he saw them, without filters or mature "judgement." Which is how a child this age would likely see the world. After that, I just listened without judgement and enjoyed this story very much. Actually, these stories. The book is a series of vignettes chronicling Little Tree's time in the mountains with his grandparents and others, as well as some of his other adventures (no spoilers from me.)
I am aware of the controversy surrounding the author, but I wasn't until I was about half-way through the book and found it didn't bother me. I didn't catch any racism in the work on the author's part, so I am curious about what changed for Mr. Carter, but it really isn't important in my consideration of the work itself.
My son reads nightly to his 6 year old son, so I've gotten them a copy of the book on paper. I think it's exactly right for this age, cuss words and hilarious and sad and scary parts and all the rest.
Wounded characters come to Virgin River where they find themselves, heal what ails them, fall in love, and everyone mostly lives happily ever after.
There, now you know what happens in this and every Virgin River novel. Having said that, Carr does know how to draw a good set of characters and a great setting and, if you don't feel the need to challenge yourself on any given day, her novels are perfectly suited to not challenging but still entertaining the listener.
Therese Carr narrates these novels very well and listening to her voice makes me think of rich caramel or warm, drawn butter. She has a good range of characters and no distracting vocal habits.
I enjoyed this novel. Not raving but not complaining.
I have enjoyed the "Irish Country..." series for their sweet, uncomplicated stories. They are both historical fiction and medical history, set in Northern Ireland in what seems like a "time of innocence" (if Ireland can ever be said to have had such a time.) This latest one was, however, rather long on details and short on story. There was rather too much introspection for my tastes - more so that in the previous novels in the series. I found it distracting. Having said that, the familiar characters of Dr. O'Reilly, Dr. Flaherty, Kinky Kincaid and the other denizens of Ballybucklebo in Northern Ireland are all there, comfortable as old shoes and familiar as the back of your hand.
John Keating does an excellent job with these books; he may be among my favorite narrators.
All in all, the place and characters are familiar to fans of this series, but there are some surprises as well and just enough humor and pathos to remind you why this series is such a delight.
I dearly loved "A Boy's Life,” although I have read but not listened to it – I may do that soon. So the chance to revisit Robert McCammon was very appealing and the description of the book made it more so as I love historical fiction. While the book almost lost me at first for the same reason that I don't give it 5 stars, it didn't disappoint.
The beginning is, IMHO, off-putting as it starts off very slowly due - again IMO - to too much detail. The author needs to grab you and get a strong grip on your attention before he bombards you with detail. There were a number of other places in this otherwise gripping and interesting narrative, where I simply longed for some judicious editing. McCammon put me a bit in mind of Diana Gabaldon (the "Outlander" series, a brilliant author of historical fiction who does amazing research and sometimes just can't help sharing every excruuuuciating deeeetail.
Having said that, I stuck with "Speaks the Nightbird" through the first difficult hour and don't regret it. In fact, I'd love a sequel to find out what happens to Matthew, the protagonist.
The setting is very well done if you're a lover of historical fiction. In spite of previous criticism of too much detail, I really felt like McCammon's research and skill let me enter the town of Fount Royal - swampy, miserable, haunted, evil place that it was - and walk around and see it and smell it and sense the claustrophobic walls of the inhabitant's lives. He adds detail that, as they accumulate, help the reader understand what it must have been like to live with the amount of ignorance and fear and the almost complete lack of control these people had over their existence. You come to understand what desperation can do to humans and cause them to do to one another. The book is about the many levels of evil that result when superstition and desperation and greed combine in an uncontrollable world.
I loved the character of Matthew almost from the beginning (or, rather, once the difficult first part was over.) The other characters are all fairly well drawn, although Rachel the witch (a central character) lacked depth until near the end of the book. Some of the characters border on stereotypes, but by the time their stories come together and draw to their conclusions they begin to fit much better and actually make more sense.
The performance was OK. Not spectacular, but not bad. It didn't annoy me. He has a fairly good range of voices.
I have avoided rehashing the story, as others have done that quite well, and I have also avoided any spoilers, as this is also a mystery story, but I won't avoid telling you that I liked it a great deal.
I first read Methuselah's Children as a young woman and, although I was already hooked on Robert Heinlein, I fell in love with the characters of the Howard Families. I especially loved the amazing and swashbuckling free spirit, Lazarus Long (Woodrow Wilson Smith.) The story is sheer fun, although the message about the value of life and the importance of knowing it will end and facing that without fear, along with other thought-provoking themes elevated it above just "fluff."
The original story was serialized in a Science Fiction magazine in 1941 (very common in those days.) It was expanded into a novel and published in 1958. It is part of what Heinlein called his "Future History" series. For me, having been alive - albeit very young - in 1958, the anachronisms seem both shocking and hilarious. As wise and "forward thinking" as Heinlein was for his time, there was much he didn't foresee. Two aspects most stand out as products of the time. The first is the ubiquitous smoking everyone was doing, which was hilarious. The second was the role of women, which was less hilarious. Admittedly, they weren't pictured quite as fully second-class citizens as they really were in the first half of the 20th century, but the firm hold of power that the men hold in this story is a stark reminder of what life was like then.
Nevertheless, if you bring your imagination and remember when this was written, you'll enjoy it.
Now I shall begin "Time Enough for Love," the sequel to "Methuselah's Children," and my absolute favorite Heinlein novel (well... along with "Stranger in a Strange Land," my other absolute favorite Heinlein.)
First, a little heads-up: The book apparently was once titled "The Shifting Fog." When you first start listening this may confuse you a bit. Fortunately, someone eventually figured out what an awful title that was. Anyway...
I love all sorts of historical fiction because it gives me a chance to try to understand how others lived in other places and times. This is no exception. The setting is one I have always enjoyed - the "manor house" in the late 19th and early 20th century - and it's an excellent story, full of mystery and some suspense, as well as finely drawn characters and settings.
Caroline Lee did a wonderful job with all the voices, although her Americans certainly sounded hard-edged and harsh to my ears. They also sometimes slipped the British in just a bit. But it wasn't so bad as to be distracting. Overall, I enjoyed listening to her.
It's a leisurely story, as befits the time in which it is set. Just relax and go with it. I enjoyed the pace and Kate Morton is a wicked good story-teller.
First let me say that, overall, I liked the book. Mr. Ballerini did a very good job with the narration overall, but the men were better than the women. I had no difficulty keeping track of characters after the first half hour or so.
I will advise you, however, to hang in there for the first part of the book. I had trouble "engaging" with it but once I did -after the story moved from Italy to Los Angeles - I became interested. Although I thought there were a number of points where a bit of editing would have improved the flow, all in all, the author does a good job of setting atmosphere and moving the story along. I wouldn't call it "best seller quality." But that's just my opinion. It's not "wow" material but it's worth both a credit and the time.
I liked the history about the Dockland area of London in the mid-20th century and how the people lived. It did much to bring the area and its people to life. I did not like the narrator.
Sister Monica Joan was great fun and had the most depth of character.
Oy. Ms. Barber clearly has a good range of voices, so her decision - and the director's decision to allow her- to read the main character in the tiny, near-whisper, sometimes whiny, nasally voice is beyond my understanding. It was extremely distracting as the voice would get so soft I'd have to turn up the volume and so nasally and whispery that I'd have to strain to hear. And then, suddenly, she'd do a different louder voice, and I'm backing down the volume in exasperation. By the time the book was ending (and the last chapter was, without question, the most annoying of all) I was so distracted by the affectation that I could barely concentrate on the story.
It was OK, but could have been SO much better!
Listen carefully to the sample before you buy it and realize that, for much of the story, she modulates this voice down to even more of a nasal whisper. .
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