This is a great listen for any age. It grabbed my attention from the first and didn't let go. I will eagerly buy and listen to the other three in the trilogy! The narration is really well done, offering a distinct set of voices, excellent modulation and really nicely paced. The story is gripping and scary and sometimes even funny. It offers excellent characters of depth. You really care about what happens to them - even the bad ones!
I recently finished "Found," the first of the "Missing" series. It's also for young people (which I am not, but find some youth publications to be very good.) I rated it poorly and returned it because it is exactly the opposite of "Gideon the Cutpurse." There is just no comparison.
One of the best parts of this book was the history of the era in which Peter and Kate find themselves (1763) when life was dirty, dangerous and difficult. I love that it gives young people such a delightfully fun way to learn about this other era and I suspect that, for many, it might spark a lifelong interest in learning about how people live in these "other whens."
Tim Conway should not read his own work - that might have helped. Unfortunately, probably not much. He's a comedian and as a comedian, he is quite funny. But his life - at least up to the point where I stopped listening - hardly qualifies as hilarious. It's not een particularly interesting. Thanks for the effort, Tim. But don't give up your day job to become an author.
I love Molly Harper's novels... usually. This one - not so much. The characters, especially the women, had Harper's usual wit but were largely not well rounded out. The story - and at just over 5 hours, I'd call it a novella, rather than a novel - was as thin as gruel and a so full of simply unbelievable bits as to be distracting. She does a nice job introducing us to Kentucky but I was otherwise seriously underwhelmed and disappointed.
I note she's written a second sort novella as a sequel. I won't be spending cash or a credit on it unless, perhaps, if it turns up on a daily deal. And if her novels get any shorter, she's going to have to be reassigned to the short story category.
Amanda Roncini gets full marks for once again nailing a Harper book.
This is the first part of a novel that should have been one book and I feel cheated. It doesn't stand alone except in the most "generous" sense because the characters are all fairly flat and while one storyline for one character is resolved, the rest are left lying there like fish on the counter.
I eventually bought and finished the 2nd and 3rd installments and by the time I finished the last one I was genuinely annoyed. This is one book puffed and plumped and pumped up with unnecessary "stuff" until it can be called three books. By the third book, I had had all I could stand of long bits about flowers and the increasingly unbelievable ability and behavior of the "Harper Bride".
Roberts has written some really very nice novels but I don't recommend this one novel pretending to be three (the sequels are The Black Rose and The Red Lily. Ditto this review for those. By the end of the third book you'll be laughing with scorn at the increasing nonsense.)
It starts out a little confusing as we are thrown into Maisie's "current" private investigations in such a manner as to suggest we ought to know more than we do. But I hung in there, mostly because I think the "period" Winspear has written was deftly evoked with wonderful details about daily life at the time (a weakness for me.) It's London, about a decade post WWI. I enjoyed being immersed in the period and the atmosphere, so I was willing to just go along to see what would happen.
In a reasonable time, Winspear takes us back to Maisie's youth and lets us be there as Maisie grows to adulthood and becomes who she is as the novel opens.This part of the story takes us through 6 years of Maisie's life from 13 to 19 (or maybe 20 - I got a little confused.) With a great deal of strength and love, the help of some very interesting people and just a dash of magic, Maisie transforms herself into a brilliant, independent and strong young woman. You will follow her to France as a Red Cross nurse to a frontline casualty station where her life changes forever. It's a wonderful story full of down-to-earth suffering, struggle and loss, but also love and devotion, humor and triumph.
The mystery she is given to solve at the beginning begins to make sense as her personal story unfolds and at the end, you won't want to leave her behind. I don't want to give away any spoilers because I want this lovely novel to surprise you too.
I fear McCall Smith is beginning to phone these in. This book doesn't reflect the usual wit that Smith brings to these characters. I appreciate that the principle characters are experiencing some changes, but the pace has become glacial. And I was disappointed by the nature of the "cases" the agency is handling in this book. I'd like Smith to not forget that this is a detective agency... the last two books are only marginally "detective stories."
I suspect Smith has stretched himself thin. We'll see.
Having said that, Lisette Lecat continues to do a brilliant job narrating these lovely characters.
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.
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