Seattle, WA, United States | Member Since 2007
The Klamath Indian Tribe, like many other tribes across the North American continent, were bamboozled out of their treaty-granted lands through cynical and twisted policies designed to prey upon the frailties of impoverished peoples. This novel, "Buy the Chief a Cadillac," retells the story of the Indian Termination Act through the eyes of a fictional and righteous character, Pokey Pitsua, a Klamath ("half-breed") whose virtues are vast.
The novel is both entertaining and tragic at the same time. You will be torn between your guilt at finding humor in human tragedy and discovering that every tragic character is a mirror to your own personal demons. Rick Steber writes about us...now, not about a tragic land grab and rip-off fifty years ago.
Read this book...it entertains, and enlightens.
Somehow I don't feel like I am the only listener who pines for the next installment of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (read by Lisette Lecat). Each new installment is like a visit by a lovely old friend.
Dang…I feel so positive when I am done listening to each book…if I needed therapy I would choose Mma Precious Ramotswe as my shrink…she can fix just about anyone except Violet Sephotho.
This series makes me want to do two things: rejoin the Peace Corps and drink Red Bush Tea (which I now have in my pantry). That picture to the left is me in Liberia in 1978.
Friends, here is another spectacular winner in a long series of great listens written by A.M. Smith.
If you find yourself saying, "Why did they do that?" -- or asking the question, "Wouldn't that kill them?" -- then you are listening to Black Cross. Naturally we expect commando missions are fraught with danger, but this venture is so far-fetched and ill-conceived that it could only be a work of fiction (even if that is the genre). There was absolutely nothing about the events in this story that made me say, "Yep, that's real!" At one point I found myself wondering, "Why would they do that when one bombing mission would address the whole problem."
The storyline probably had it's origins in a book about bombing a very bad Nazi place but the author realized that "death from the air" lacks all the emotional drama of hideous medical experiments on humans. Racking up up some ghoulish points for the reviewers and editors may have lead to some the very poor rewriting decisions (all surmise on my part of course). Add to the horror a concentration camp romance and you have all the makings for kitsch writing in very poor taste.
I am not going to recommend this book to my fellow listeners. It plays our emotions intentionally (and cheaply). Concentration Camp stories are best left for the tellers of non-fiction or those fiction writers that have the capacity to explain the truly horrid without the need to interject cheap romance to gain our sympathies.
Jo Nesbo can do gritty-city-OMG as well as any of the best contemporary writers publishing today. So, why in this novel do we have to experience the very predictable - "is he dead…not dead…dead…not dead" gimmicks of serialized comic strip writers. Of course he's not dead. If he were dead we would all pack it in and download Arnaldur Indridason instead of Jo Nesbo.
Serial killers are Nesbo's forte, but I am going to have to say (if reluctantly) that this Harry Hole Novel will leave you feeling a victim of serial manipulation. Please note that I own every Nesbo audiobook available and I know I will buy more. However, in the case of this audiobook (Police)…I am a victim and not a fan.
Listening to the narrator (also our main character) describe the "powers" of the "Epics" (tyrannical enemies of freedom), I was (bit-by-bit) driven insane by the time I was one-fourth of the way through this book. During several monologues I was sure that my iPod was broadcasting a Magic: The Gathering tournament. Or, worse yet, it was like listening to my child read her Pokemon Cards to me..."Charzard can spit fire and has 90 hit points. Wow dad, who can beat him?"
This book is silly...its premise is silly...the characters are flat...and, it is guilty of the greatest sin of all for young reader literature: it has no driving moral compass by which the characters can steer their violence. Revenge is so yesterday...even to teenagers.
Let this audiobook rest in the digital dustbin.
Without getting too allegorical here, I am going to have to say that this story is an allegory. The protagonist is the wandering Jew in the desert (albeit Texas circa 1850). He is righteous, moral, indignant, and a tad bit blessed with some powerful karma that makes his life good and that of his detractors not so good (ultimately). The story is a Western in all its various forms, but the compelling thread that binds all of the story's disparate characters together is that bad people get what they deserve and good people learn (as they go) how to be better people.
This book will image a landscape in your consciousness (it's subtle, but effective writing in this regard). And, I promise that you will murmur several breathy OMG's for the tears repressed by its main characters (remember someone has to weep for the Wretched of the Earth!).
I believe that the author, Nina Vida, wants us to grok that the flow of life and death in 19th Century Texas was a tragic, but ultimately, beautiful piece of poetry. The tragic part is obvious with all that Comanche stuff going on, but Vida takes us beyond the usual torture and kidnapping pulp fiction into a more divine understanding of the truly horrid. Don't worry about gratuitous violence...this book is too matter of fact to be bogged down with sort of stuff.
I think there was a sequel planned for this book, but it was never written...thus the four-star overall rating. The book does deserves a sequel.
I give it five stars for "truth telling."
Jim Harrison sneaks into the headspace of middle-aged men whose greatest fears are diminishing libido, loss of purpose, and the death of adventure in their lives. He's is so good at this that readers/listeners of both genders become spectators in the secret rituals of the society of men.
The Great Leader: A faux Mystery messes with our heads. It asks us to make value judgements about his main character, a washed up detective whose last case nags at him like his fears of losing his libido. We don't know whether to cheer for our hero or curse him for his behaviors. But, what we do know is that our personal tolerance for edgy behavior and thinking is questioned by the actions of the protagonist.
You should listen to this book, if nothing else than to test your own values about ethics, sexuality, and justice. Don't be afraid to challenge your core beliefs with this excellent mystery.
There is a story thread you can follow along the twisting pathway that is this broody and bizarre post-apocolyptic novel. However, if you are the kind of listener that runs your audio book while driving, cooking, or engaging in mindless tasks, then avoid this purchase. There are entire segments of this story that the listener must replay to determine if we are engaged in present or past tense (always a bad sign in the first hour of listening). Other times, we wonder if the science fiction/fantasy metaphors are part of the novel's structure, or if we are listening to an author's prose whose stream of consciousness has run totally amok.
The premise of the book is sound...the Dollar ($) collapses. Then we get the big "and." For Slattery, the author, his big "and" is to address the crisis by inventing the dream team of anti-heroes to save the day (maybe). To make these misfits more plausible, the author endows them with characteristics better left for bar room braggadocio. And, herein, lies the failure of this novel. It's all so out there...so far fetched...that the book is just a jumble of loosely connected stories leading to...well, I won't say because that's a spoiler. But...whatever man! It certainly is not Heller's "The Dog Stars." His post-apocolyptic novel was brilliant, believable, and left us empathetic with it's characters.
As for the main characters in "Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America," I could care less about them. Feh!
Sometimes we listen to a futuristic novel and say to ourselves, "Yup, that could happen" or, "That is in the realm of possibility." We did not make our purchase expecting Fantasy, or Sci-Fi Comedic Opera; we purchased good old-fashined science fiction. Even if our story has a crime thriller theme, we still made our purchase based on the expectation of some solid, thought-provoking, science fiction brain-candy. Well, my experience with with Red Plant Blues was just the opposite. I found myself saying, "This is totally bogus. This is not Sci-Fi, it's a Jack Reacher on Mars novel." (Note: For those who have not listened to a Reacher novel...think Dick Tracy on steroids [sans the badge])
Everything about the novel, Red Planet Blues, is far too fantastical to even contemplate. Not that human-consciousness androids are out of the realm of future possibility, its merely that Robert J. Sawyer, the author, presents them as such ludicrous characters that they lose their viability as plausible entities.
The novel begins by asking us to empathize with a down and out private detective who is (for reasons unknown) exiled to Mars. The theme is thus: A Private-Eye, with nothing, gets a case that could make him rich if he pursues an unethical pathway (if he was ethical in the first place - we don't know that). However, the plot is so muddled with extraneous characters and unbelievable events that we, as listeners, lose sight of the big ethical questions. Hence, we are left with listening to a drama unfold about a guy that does pretty dangerous stuff on Mars without a believable motivation to risk dying in the near vacuum of its hostile planetary atmosphere. As the audience you will say to yourself..."That was pretty stupid, why did he do that?"
If you can suspend credibility for ten hours and listen to this book as a sequence of interesting, but wholly unbelievable incidents on a planet with a hostile environment, then by all means, go for it. Otherwise, let the data-bits of this novel rest on the Audible servers.
In memory of Mr. Ebert...two thumbs down!
Louise Penny is a trickster. In Still Life she sets up the reader/listener to view her characters as parochials by virtue of their rural isolation and narrowly focused priorities; that is, until their natures are unveiled in the search for a murderer.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, a Quebecois, is the character Penny relies upon to peel away the folksy veneers of the potential culprit(s) in order to reveal the dark (and light) secrets in the village of Three Pines. However, and it's a pretty big however, Gamache is such an unsympathetic character, so arrogant and self-righteous, that the listener begins to sympathize more with the possible murderer than the protagonist.
To soften Gamache's character, the author has him do quaint and good things like think about his wife regularly, mentor a young female officer, or sit in cozy cafes. I didn't bite! What I heard in this book was a story about a small community of people living a contemplative life of art, dinner parties, small shops, and good bakeries, but all the characters were caricatures channeled from too many dusty romance novels. And, the suspense and tension (if you are looking for that) is right out of a B-movie, gimmicky and silly.
I believe Still Life is a reasonably entertaining listen as a drama, but as a contemporary detective novel it's as sleepy the setting of Three Pines.
Two of the most colorful characters in audio fiction are Dave Robicheaux and Cletus Purcel of James Lee Burke's Iberia Parrish. Contrast them with this novel's Billy Bob Holland and Doc Voss and the reader/listener of Bitterroot is left asking the question, "Why so flat?"
Holland and Voss might be good at slugging it out when pressed (or if the virtue of a female character has been besmirched), but their inept emotional responses to truly terrifying and painful traumas in the lives of loved ones makes them seem like a couple of dullards. Dave and Clete wear their emotions like tattoos on their biceps...that's what makes them compelling, particularly Clete whose "take no prisoners" response to threats on those he loves is raised to a unique art form.
Something else is missing from this story of Mafia Meets Western Motif; there is none of the painfully beautiful prose to describe the striking Montana landscape that listeners experience when they hear Burke's descriptions of Bayou Teche, Louisiana, or New Orleans (pre and post-Katrina). Montana may be a rugged and forested landscape in reality, but in Bitterroot it is a pancake-flat character. In Dave Robicheaux novels setting is character. In Bitterroot, Billy Bob, Doc, and the mountains from which the title derives are mere obstacles the reader must endure as he/she passes the hours waiting for the story to erode.
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