Phoenix, AZ, United States | Member Since 2010
Kafka on the Shore was my second Haruki Murakami novel, which I sought out after 1Q84. These two stories are extremely different, but many of the undercurrents are the same.
The story alternates between two voices; that of Kafka, the young boy with no family ties he feels he can call his own - and Nakata, the older, simple man who is the "Finder of Lost Cats". We track the slow progress of both of these characters through their individual journeys and challenges, and patiently wait with faith for the time when their paths will converge.
This book is not for all people. It's nonsensical, surreal, and sometimes patently bizarre. There will be many events left completely unexplained, and story lines left uncompleted. The novel requires a relinquishing of control, and an acceptance that in the end, some of the story will make sense, and some of it will not.
For those people who are willing and able to enjoy the journey - and let go of the destination - this book may end up being something that takes a hold of you, and and touches you with it's moments of kindness, vulnerability, and beauty.
Reconstructing Amelia was an enjoyable book with some a very interesting premise. The chapters go back and forth between the mother's point of view, and the daughter's narration from before her death. We as the readers do finally know the whole truth, but true to life, the mother can only hope to put together enough information to get the basic outline of what happened to her daughter.
I did read a review that compared this book to "Gone Girl", acting like this was the next big thing. While I did find it interesting and enjoyable, I personally would not compare it to Gone Girl. The stories are required to have very different tones since this is a mother/daughter that were close, and it lacks the dark wit and hard edges that made Gone Girl such a great summer read.
There are some issues with the recording towards the beginning; nothing that hinders your ability to hear any words spoken, just a jump in sound quality a few times from an almost echo-y sound to a more dull and muted tone; it made me wonder if anyone listened to the recording before releasing it. It was like bad splicing. Still, this was only a few times towards the beginning; and while it caused some irritation and concern, it did not continue through the book, so don't worry if you notice it towards the beginning.
Speaking as someone who gobbles up a book about every other day, I enjoyed reading this and it was a good selection for me. If that is you also, and you need to find a high volume of selections, I do recommend this. I liked it. If, however, you have less time for your audiobooks and can therefore be super selective in your purchases, then perhaps there are enough books that are even better than this one to read.
Overall, I liked the story. It got a bit far fetched towards the end, but I still enjoyed it overall.
"Life After Life" is both the examination of one woman's life, experiences, and destiny, and also a larger vision of how our lives can take substantial turns based on very small decisions or actions. It's beautifully written, and the narration is excellent.
I had a surprisingly easy time following the time jumps and re-sets; if you note in the beginning that Ursula is born in 1910, it's a nice even number to judge the years and her age by, as the story goes along. Every time jump/reset is prefaced by a a clarification of exactly when and where you are.
Along with everything else the book has to offer, it's set in a fascinating time that covers both the first and second world war, and the story highlights what a woman's life was like during that time in England. Ursula's character was extremely well defined and presents you with an authentic, genuine person with a full family life, history, and personality. I enjoyed spending time with her.
There's one sub-plot that the book starts out with and picks up again towards the end that could be considered a bit of an overreach, and in my opinion the book would have stood up will without it. I found it's sensationalism at odds with what was otherwise an intimate and believable portrayal of a woman that could be any one of us, dealing with the extraordinary situation of repeated lives. If I had a vote, I would have left it out; but it did not ultimately hinder my deep enjoyment of the story and the people found within it.
As has been noted by another reviewer, this is not the story of a grand adventure; it instead takes your hand and allows you to step in and view the story of a family, and one member in particular; Ursula. I loved the relationships they all had with each other; they were true to life; an authentic family.
I recommend this book.
There are very few books that I've waited as long for, or in as much anticipation of. I was a big fan of "The Passage" when it came out, and made a point of reading it again just before the release date of "The Twelve". This turned out to be a much smarter thing to do than I had anticipated, and I encourage anyone that's considering doing so to do it. "The Twelve" takes the surface story we got in "The Passage", and adds depth, breadth, and context to it. One of the main ways Cronin does this is by fleshing out the background and history of the characters; some of which were not major players in the first book.
Readers of "The Passage" know that part-way through, there was a very... unexpected (and for many readers, myself included) unwelcomed turn of events that meant we were not going to continue with many of the characters and plot lines we'd come to care about. I know from other people's reviews that some readers even stopped reading at that point. I made the choice to continue, and was incredibly glad that I did - but it was still a hard pill to swallow at the time.
Now I realize that I should have given more credit to Justin Cronin's grand plan for his trilogy.
The first thing that really struck me as I began was that the quality is just as good as the first novel; the tone, the pacing, and the mood were all consistent and it was great to have Scott Brick back as the narrator. Once the story begins, we are promptly taken BACK to Year Zero. We see what happened to other characters we knew, and get a view of how the country handled the beginning of the crisis. More importantly, we slowly start to understand how these people end up affecting the world of 97 AV. I really enjoyed being able to fill in these holes, and the connections that are artfully woven between the characters in both times.
Time moves fluidly in this novel; transporting us not just to Year Zero and 97 AV, but also too a "mid-way point" of 79 AV, which allows for more background and history of the world and people in 97 AV.
This novel crystallizes what a huge, clear vision the author has for this trilogy. While I hate that it's over, and waiting until 2014 for the final chapter, I thought this book was fantastic and took the level of story-making to the next level, compared to the first book.
Finally, I just want to note that although we visit a few different times to allow for more plot development, I never felt I was being kept from the characters I wanted to spend time with. The book was done so incredibly well, it leaves me at a loss - so all I'll say is 5 stars, and enjoy the adventure.
(The kindle version of this book provides a list of all characters, organized by what year and place they were in, at the very end of the novel. After not having much luck online finding a list to help clarify a few things for myself, I got the Kindle version and just opened up the cloud reader option to open the book. If you choose "Table of Contents" from the books menu, right near the end you'll find an option in bold caps: "Dramatis Personae". If you click on that, it pulls up the characters. For me, this ended up being worthwhile. I have a feeling there are even more character connections than I picked up on yet; and I'm sure more are coming with book 3.)
I was so impressed with this story. The writer, Graham Joyce, brings his characters to life in such a realistic, believable way; the interactions between the family members, the tone and text of the dialogue... as I listened I was really taken with how true and life-like these people were.
The novel weaves several different narratives together beautifully, and we circle through them smoothly throughout the book. We alternate between the present, as Tara returns after her 20 year absence and tries to join the world again. In this thread, we look at how her disappearance and homecoming affect her brother, ex-boyfriend, her parents, and Tara herself as she works to rebuild both her life and her relationships. At her brother's urging, she agrees to see a psychiatrist, and the scenes and conversations between Tara and this doctor are facinating.
Another thread takes us back to the time when Tara first went missing. We see how this impacted her boyfriend (who was also her brother's best friend) as he is suspected of having murdered her. We see the loss he feels as the people he considered to be his second family (Tara's family) pull away from him, as their faith in his innocence slowly crumbles.
The third thread addresses Tara's time away from her point of view; the incidents surrounding her initial disappearance, and what her experiences were during this time away.
Finally, peppered within the other rotating threads, there are short moments where we are read excerpts of a trial transcript from a court case in the 1800's, regarding a woman's death at the hands of her husband and family, who believed her to be a fairy posing as the real woman.
This is a fantastic work of literary fiction. While there are aspects that deal with the possible existence of a parallel, mystical world, that is not what this story is about. It's about loss, regret, love, and sacrifice. At it's core, it's a story about family.
Be aware that there is some language and a few very brief references of having witnessed some sexual situations.
*Technical Issue: As of 7/11/2012: There are a few brief glitches in the recording near the beginning of the second file. They do not result in the loss of text, with the exception of about one word. They are minor and did not affect my experience in any significant way. I did report the bug to audible, and have received a confirmation that they anticipate having a corrected file in about the next 2 weeks. At that time, you can choose to re-download the second file (without these glitches) from your library, if you like. Personally, I did not find the issue to be anything that would cause me to postpone getting this book. Download away!
I learned after finishing this book that the author listed is actually a pen name for a pair of authors that write together. I found that interesting, because while 90% of the book was a well written crime mystery that I enjoyed very much, the other 10% was comprised of short sections and sub-plots that seemed to come completely from left field. One event was so bizarre I had to wonder if it had been written as an inside joke that inadvertently made it into the final version.
While most of the issues weren’t that dramatic, there seemed to be a dissident chord running throughout the plot, right up to the end. After learning about the dual authors, I wondered if that fact might explain the dueling voices in the story.
Except for that issue, I really enjoyed this book. You just have to be ready to overlook a few scenes that don’t fit the rest of the narrative. If you can do that, you’ll be rewarded with some interesting characters and a solid mystery.
Ever since this book has come out, I’ve stubbornly held on to the belief that the novel was not for me. “That’s the video game book, right?” I asked people over and over again, whenever the story was mentioned. No matter how many times people tried to tell me that it was far more than a book about video games, I somehow didn’t hear them. I’d made my decision.
What a huge mistake.
If any of your formative years took place in the 80’s, this book is for you. It’s like a grand, wonderful party that greets you warmly at the door as you arrive, and puts you immediately at ease. The story will make you laugh, and remember, and sit on the edge of your seat as you follow Wade and his friends on their great quest.
The story also provides us with a cautionary tale for both individuals and society; an allegory highlighting the damage that can be done to people and worlds when we opt for spending too much time in our virtual worlds, and not enough working on our real life and world.
The narration by Wil Wheaton (who has his own cameo appearance in the story) was a fantastic fit for the story; I doubt anyone else could have done half the job he did with this book.
This story was the perfect love letter to the 80’s; the music, the movies, the culture, and yes, the video games. I loved it all. So even if one of those aspects wasn’t your strong suit, have no worries; just pick up your joystick, download this book… and ready player one.
I purchased this title with few expectations. It struck me as a “candy novel”; something that can be fun, but contains little nutritional content. That’s all I was looking for when I selected this novel, since I was looking only for a “filler” while I determined what I really wanted to read next.
For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised as the story began to unfold; the author was able to weave together an oppressive, eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere that pulls the reader in completely. The narrator, William Dufris, took this mood to the next level; elevating the story to a whole new experience that would have been impossible to achieve by just reading the text of the story. It was great.
As the story progressed, it leveled out into a plot that was good, but didn’t fulfill the full promise the start of the book hinted at. I still enjoyed the vast majority of the book, despite the fact that (for me) it began to get too far-fetched by the time we reached the point that some of the story’s mysteries were beginning to be explained. The book is currently listed under “Mysteries & Thrillers”, and would be far better categorized as “Fantasy & Science Fiction”.
The end of the story, however, was executed so poorly that it felt much like the story had been handed off to a different author to complete; an author whose past credits were limited to Lifetime Original Movies. I was extremely disappointed with the quality of the end of the story, and it was bad enough that it did impact my final opinion of the book in full. Even as a fun filler book to enjoy on a summer day off, I don’t feel I can recommend this based on the last few chapters. It’s a shame for a story that started off with such great promise.
What a romp!
Reamde begins by introducing us to a strong and varied cast of characters. Once the story weaves them together, it then tears them apart; with events scattering them across the globe. Some end up on their own, others in small groups. The rest of the story slowly works towards bringing all these people back together for the story's climax and resolution. Some will make it, others will not.
The book rotates between these different individuals and groups as they deal with everything from hijacked plans, to adrift boats at sea, to navigating wild mountain passes, to working their way through different cities around the world. Each plot rotation is long enough to allow you to miss the other groups and wonder what's happening to them. The focus then rotates, and another piece of the puzzle is revealed as we move to another part of the world, and another group of our intrepid characters.
Malcolm Hillgartner did a fantastic job with the narration, and I appreciated his style of reading. He didn't try to do female voices different than male, which I was glad of. He also did a solid job with the accents from the different nationalities.
An added bonus of the book was the fascinating world of T’Rain that it introduces us to. T’Rain is the online role playing game that plays a pivotal role in the story's plot. T’Rain's virtual, mystical world provides a chimerical quality to the story that I greatly enjoyed.
The downside of the novel was that the last 4 hours were in desperate need of an editor. It went on far too long, and would have been more effective if written in a cleaner, more concise style. I will also admit that it came to mind several times that you could build an entire new drinking game based on how many times the author uses the word "inferred" in his sentences.
Overall, a very enjoyable way to spend some time, and I will certainly be checking out additional novels by Neal Stephenson.
It continues to amaze me how my reading habits seem to line up with the other reviewers that I follow; with that in mind, let me say that Melinda just wrote an excellent review on this book yesterday; so I'm just going to add my additional two cents.
I want to stress that as a religious person myself, I know there is a HUGE difference between what an individual person interprets their religious views to be and the actions of some people running the "church institution". Religion is the set of beliefs in an individual's heart and mind that guides them to be the best person they can be. Churches are fallible, man made organizations that are susceptible to corruption. When I reference Scientology here, I'm referring to the fallible man-made organization, not any individual that uses that word to describe the set of beliefs they use to to guide them in trying to be kind and useful.
As referenced in other reviews, this can be DRY reading. I especially had trouble getting through the first two or so hours; I thought I wasn't going to make it. Then it picked up a little and became more interesting, while still admittedly dry. I hovered between giving the narration a 2 or a 3, but decided that My Hoye did the best he could have with the material he was working with.
I found it fascinating that Scientology was never meant to be a religion; that it was always a money making scheme, and they decided to categorize it as a church to avoid the regulatory issues they were having with the fact that their "councilors" had no legitimate accreditation, and also to avoid paying taxes. Saying they were a religion helped with both these issues. Being from Phoenix, I also found it fascinating to find out that L Ron Hubbard spent a little time living here while setting up the church, which I'd never known.
If you're picking up the book because of certain current events going on in the news, particularly a certain divorce in the headlines, I'll admit this book gives you a lot of information regarding some of the specific concerns or accusations that are flying out there. In particular, the book spends a good deal of time going over the inception and first few years of "Sea Org", which is the ship based program that (if you believe the stories) is one of the main concerns in the current divorce; the fact that the mother is concerned that her daughter was soon to be sent to this program.
The other big take away I had from the book is how little L Ron Hubbard had to do with what the church is currently; how out of touch with it he was in his last years of life, with other power players taking the helm.
Do you want to read this? I don't know. It's dry, it's very detailed, but I'm glad I did; I found the information was good and it gave me a lot that I didn't know before. It's certainly not a light beach read, but if you're really interested in learning more about how this organization morphed into what it is, it certainly gives you that.
This book has received many glowing reviews, but it would take wiser minds than mine to figure out how or why. The narrator sounded like Mr. Moviefone. Half of the book is just a phone book's worth of technical lingo that will mean nothing to non-programmers (if it means anything to them) and the plot is just offensively absurd.
This is not my typical book review, but this was not a typical book. It was hopelessly bad, and I can't find anything more thoughtful to say on a book that lacked any redeemable qualities.
Awful. Just... awful.
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