I'd read this book first in 1989 and fell in love with it from the first page. Naturally I thought the narration of this story I'd fallen fast and hard for in print would've worked magic on me in a great listen.
It didn't. I'm disappointed.
What I Loved/Adored Most: the fantasy/otherworldly angle the story held. It's a storyteller's story, one of "The Princess Bride" or "Dragonheart" caliber, and I loved the ever-present good-versus evil this tale spun. Bronson Pinchot did a fantastic job with voice characterization, and how the villain's speaking lines came across was a delicious, unexpected surprise as were the General Judeg's butler's characterization, too. Put me in mind of his Balki role of "Perfect Strangers," and it made me smile.
What I Thought So-So: Pinchot's narration was an 'eh . . " for me here. Some books just aren't a fit for the narrators, others are a natural match. The first half his reading came across too fast and breaks at chapter closes weren't long enough for a decent pause, He seemed more relaxed into his task in the book's second half, though. The story's execution also came up short in too much backstory on the King & Queen and not enough time, I thought, spent a bit more on the prisoner in the Needle cell spent his waking hours.
What Was Poor: there's no sequel for this, the ending lackluster, average writing execution and repeated words--"flabbergasted," "HADs," adverb over-reliance-- and we don't know if King Peter ever married and had children during his tenure. Pinchot's narration could've fared far better on the whole.
All in all, three stars. It's one of those books you'll either be sorry in spending the credit on or it won't be. Had I known before purchase--since the audio sample was NOT WORKING to hear it prior to order!!! *grrr*---I'd've spent the credit on something else.
Women like Mackenzie, Tatum, Valerie and Maureen I'd always wanted as friends, maybe because each have a single struggle tantamount in their lives I've struggled with all four of: drugs, weight issues, special needs, abandonment and parental issues. I'm not famous enough to do my own memoir, but came away with from each knowing that, if they hold hope for themselves, I can for me, too.
Mac's life didn't make me cry more so than it made me think of how my own family wouldn't talk about the taboos they know about, but won't discuss. Although I don't have holes in my memories like Mac does and have dark secrets like she divulges here--my dad was a bigot to whites and being born with albinism, talk about God slapping a does of reality upside his head with that idiocy of his--I'm glad she talked about it and opened herself to the dark side of it all. I think she did it for her son's welfare more so than for her own, and she desperately, imploringly didn't want him to travel the road she had to to get here. I think it's a disgrace her stepmoms Michelle and Genevieve think Mackenzie's lying to promote a book; no one makes up something like this for the sake of selling a book. And in her drug-soaked mind, who's to say these things didn't happen? And if they say it didn't happen, why are they the only two saying so? Where're the others? IOW, this is either a lie worthy of an Oscar-winning performance. . .or she's telling the truth.
Four stars b/c of the abridgment constraints, but overall, a solid read and backstory the E! True Hollywood Story doesn't fill in or give justice.
Maureen McCormick told her story in a poignant, open way that confirmed my hunch this book would be good. It got 4 stars from me for two reasons: every one of these memoirs always must end in hope rather than ambiguous endings and the abridgment doesn't always serve the story justice. I do wish McCormick were more the fighter than the "nice girls don't make waves" type of gal--her relations need their collective hind ends kicked for their treatment of their kin--but I could relate to her in a way I didn't think plausible.
She narrated this well with her own inflection in memories causing listeners to hear she'd been crying in spots, and laughing in others, but for the whole, it was a fine read for an abridged book. Not many child stars associated with the roles they're known well adjust to their pasts well, but McCormick sounds like she's taken this in stride and did her Marcia Brady and other characters well--and did herself justice.
This is where Law & Order SVU mingles with the Scooby Doo Mysteries, minus the Great Dane and Scooby Snacks.
Zindel's way with words left me chuckling at his turns of phrase. His narrator, P.C. (Peter Christopher) Hawke is son to a famous archeologist, Steven. Employed at NYC's Museum of Natural History. A lifelong NYC native, it was easy to follow Zindel's NYC layout even if a reader's never visited Gotham. Kudos.
The supporting characters--Aunt Doria, Jesus, Mrs. Riggs, Mrs. Xanthe, Spaulding Grizinski, Tom Boggs and his mom, and others--are well developed and leave a mark in the role Zindel had them cast. As a writer doing homework in how to construct my own YA mysteries, Zindel doesn't leave time, room or space in the plot to allow excess subplot flab to sidetrack or get detoured in with the readers/listeners--and it marches straight to its finish in a Flap A/Slot B conclusion.
Two big nits with this--aside from my own aversion to cockroaches and other crawlies with more legs than necessary: Zindel's virtual info dump in great detail in the story. Needed info yes, info glut, no. The editor in charge of this--and the writer, too, sorry to say--left this info in more to show off than advance a plot, IMO.
I also didn't get the sense P.C. was the teen Zindel presented him as. Sometimes authors insert their own personalities/traits/mannerisms and other speaks into their characters; this was evident in P.C.'s personality, making him not fully P.C. P.C. needs to read more lived in, good in his own skin, and show the untypical side most sleuths-in-training seldom show. SCREAM MUSEUM had more Freddy, Daphne & Velma in it than how Mac, Jesus and P.C. would ever come across. And, oh, I guessed the perps from Chapter 3.
It's a great story for kids in the 9yo-12yo bunch, but for older kids, the NYC savvy or quick solvers for logic puzzles and those familiar with every mystery sub-genre around, you may want to pass on this.
I found the imagery of Soto's work pulling me in, the narration by Ramirez top-notch. . . but that's about it. Chuy's learning in the afterlife (the narrator dies in the story), to me, felt self-absorbed and forced. I did want to like this more and it's a solid story, but I felt Soto's story was over-the-top and trying to impress because he told this frmo a point-of-view he's not yet known--or maybe has, but told frmo another account.
I did want to like this more, but it just left me slightly depressed in a manner I didn't come away learning a lesson. Chuy learned his after he passed. . . and found love in an unusual manner. Soto did one gaffe most writers shouldn't have: permitting the love interest to know one another after they'd pased, but that could be the twist that didn't work for me.
I initially picked up this book to see how its title compared with my soon-to-be-published MG read BREATHE, then understood it had nothing to do with that at all.
Domestic abuse knows no boundaries, and the affluent have their share of said concerns as does anyone else. Nic Andreas is a 16 year old in love with his first girlfriend--yet he can't show love to her not knowing he didn't learn it from his home life to begin with. Thankfully, the author of this book doesn't turn the ending into a typical Brady Bunch one, nor does it hold an "Afterschool Special"-esque romp through a serious issue. How Nic handles his problems--or more accurately, how he was forced to handle his business--is a refreshing, touching, sometimes witty look inside the many hearts and souls of abused and abusing men. This story does any guy in Nic's position justice and kudos to Flinn in telling this from the male's POV as gracefully as she does for a change.
You won't see this book on one of Oprah's Book Club selections, though considering this topic is often on her program, it should be. I found myself feeling for the characters deeper emotions than just sorry or regret, to my surprise; I wanted to get deeper why abuse does what it does, and how to resolve that voice when it still hits close to home.
My one issue with this read: the author fails to resolve why Nic's mother isn't in the picture. . .but as a writer, I understand within the context of the story why the author didn't spell this out. It's already understood why she's not around--and for Nic to relive this would've sunk this otherwise fine read into the politically correct, touchy-feely tissue-fest afterschool specials and Oprah is well-known for. I don't thing Nic's finding this out would've boded well for him, either.
This download comes highly recommended and is one of many re-reads that'll remain in my library.
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