Seattle, WA, United States | Member Since 2007
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.
This has happened to me previously. Audible brings another narrator's version of the story online, changes the title for the North American audience, and I end up buying it, unaware that I have already listened to the novel. I am a bit torqued over this because now I have to go through the hassle of returning the book. I have purchased 1257 audio books and I want to be able to rely on Audible to get this stuff right the first time.
Buy the "Purity of Vengeance," narrated by Graeme Malcom…he is a much more compelling narrator.
The premise of this book is excellent; a Christian, Jew and Muslim play poker for twelve years to determine who gains control over Jerusalem. Where the plot lost me was the digressions into the extended metaphorical references to various historical villains whom have vied for control over the Middle East, but failed miserably. Perhaps it is the writer's former CIA cynicism rearing its head when he falls back on prurient cliche' to make his point that the French are inept theives (and pederasts), the Arabs are ignorant sodomites, and the Jews are clever business hands who take control of the world's riches by guile and ruthlessness. This is all silly type casting for an audience of former spooks and expatriates who drink Johnny Walker Red Label in smokey Third World bars under false identification papers that identify them as trade representatives (when you know that they all work for the "Company").
The author presents long digressions into the mundane minutia regarding the lives of minor characters only to tell us (after 30 minutes) that some tangential relation to the minor character is, in fact, a major player in the plot. Except, after falling asleep during the digression we no longer care about the tangential and irrelevant connections the author attempts to make to the overall story.
This could have been great literature with some decent editing. Alas, the author died at the height of his writing career before anyone took him serious enough to say, "Hey Edward, you need to say more by saying less."
Unlike Atkinson's first two extraordinary treatises on North Africa and Italy, The Guns of Last Light lacks previous compelling and well-developed personalities. Yes, the usual and important historical figures are there (Patton, Bradley, Ike, and Audie Murphy), it's just that they are lost in the details of Arden, The Bulge, and D-Day. And, this is why I was not enthralled with this historical fiction/non-fiction.
In the first two books we saw into individuals and their thinking, with all the appropriate disclaimers about 'this might have been said, but we don't know for sure.' In "Guns at Last Light" the author strays from risk-taking and speculative history to recite the facts and dates of battles already familiar to previous readers of WWII history. I felt like I was taking a military history course at an academy while listening to this final installment of Atkinson's trilogy.
Sooo…would I recommend this final installment? Yes, if you are new to WWII history, but No if you already know what happened before and after the allies crossed the Rhine.
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!
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