toronto,, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2005
What if your life could have a “do-over,” at least on paper. This is what Gregory David Roberts seems to have done in his novel Shantaram, which means Man of God’s Peace. Linbaba, as he is affectionately known, is an escaped prisoner from an Australian jail, hiding in Mumbai. Lin gets involved with the underworld in India doing everything illegal from forging passports to trafficking and doing drugs. Yet this criminal, who wouldn’t hesitate to stab you in a brawl, writes himself as a saint, a healer, with integrity, ethics, decency and love, and everyone whose path he crosses seems to love him right back. If you can get past the author’s huge ego, the book is actually quite good.
Roberts, has created some very intriguing characters, like Didier the gay, Jewish, French, criminal or Abdel Khader Khan who is similar to Don Corleone and becomes like a surrogate father to Lin, or Karla the woman he falls in love with. My favorite character by far, is Prabaker or Prabu, as he is affectionately known, a local guide who gives Linbaba his name and through a series of adventures shows him the ropes of life in Bombay. The two of them become great friends and end up living in a Jhopadpatti or slum.
Roberts has a way with words. His rich descriptions in scene after scene, such as a crowded train, a car accident, slum life, a dog fight, prison life, the Afghani war, a whore house, a fight to the death for power or a setting sun are better than most authors. His words transported me to India and right into the actual locations and events. His writing also moved me emotionally. He ties you into some of these people, especially Prabu. I actually developed endearing feelings for this very special character.
I found the biggest problem was the lack of a plot. There was no one real story to follow, it was one adventure after the next, a series of a lot of little plots, and therefore I found that there was nothing to keep drawing me back to “see what happens.” There is so much to digest and learn in this epic novel. Some parts are a little too run on, and I could have lived without all the philosophizing, but all in all this book will stay with me for a long time. It’s one of those you remember for years and definitely one of my favorites of all time.
What can I say about Humphrey Bower the narrator. BRAVO! I take my hat off to you sir. I have listened to hundreds of books and this narration by far is the best I've ever heard. I dare say that because of the narration, listening to this book is far superior to reading it.
I can’t even think of starting a new book. This is one of those that has to linger for a while in my soul.
I read almost every Silva book and this one was weak in plot, characters and suspense. George Guidall did a fine job with the narration as usual, but this one fizzled and died for me.
The plot revolves around a kidnapped woman and what happens to her and why. The "what" is predictable and the "why" is lame.
Not even a good filler book.
I was so looking forward to this book. I loved both Hosseini's previous books. He was his own narrator on the Kite Runner and did a really good job, but this book was totally ruined by the readers. It doesn't happen often, but once in a while I have to admit to preferring reading over listening and this is one of those times. Sorry folks, can't agree on the high ratings on this one.
I'm sure once I let a little time pass, purchase the actual book and read it, my review on Amazon will be much different.
Hosseini only narrates one of the chapters, the rest are read by a man who sounds like he has marbles in his mouth and an accent too strong to be narrating and a woman with a raspy monotone voice.
The Witness came up on so many reading lists, I decided to give Nora Roberts a try. After the fact, I found out she writes romance novels, which is not really my thing, or so I thought. I really enjoyed The Witness. Actually, the romance part took a back seat to the surrounding drama unfolding.
Elizabeth, a young 16-year-old girl has grown up more like her mother’s science experiment, than a child. Elizabeth attempts to break out of her cocooned life for one night with her friend Julie. Sporting new clothes, hairstyles, and fake ID’s the two girls go to a nightclub owned by Russian mafia. Drunk and naive, the girls accompany these crime lords back to their place for some added enjoyment. Alcohol, guns and the mob don’t mix well, and Elizabeth witnesses a double homicide. In police protection her world is rocked again by crooked cops and Elizabeth is on the run – alone.
Fast forward 12 years and Abigail Lowery, AKA Elizabeth Fitch, is living a secluded life behind a cloak of security cameras, artillery and computers in a small town in the Ozarks. She spends her time using her brilliant mind to make money and stay one step ahead of the murders who have never given up looking for her.
Enter Brooks Gleason, the chief of police in her new town, who is intrigued by Abigail’s need to always be packing, her secluded lifestyle and her attack dog who takes orders in a number of foreign languages. He picks away at her hard facade until her finally breaks through her robotic-like existence. Slowly and patiently, he makes a little progress at showing Abigail she is capable of having real emotions and that not everything in her life has to come down to cause and effect. The duo team up to put an end to Abigail’s life on the run.
I really liked this book and definitely would not hesitate to read another Nora Roberts novel. Quirky protagonist, compelling story line and a little romance are all present in this entertaining novel.
Julia Whelan reads the part of Abigail perfectly and really brings this unusual protagonist to life.
This novel seems to have two distinct threads. The first is about Fin Dolan, 39, an advertising copywriter working in a New York advertising agency. He has recently broken off his engagement and is working on a bio-degradable diaper commercial scheduled to air during the superbowl. While there are plenty of stories in the first half of the novel about different brands, scenes and experiences of working at an agency, Geery is great at spinning these scenarios though humour and sarcasm.
As we enter the second half of the novel we get more into the family dynamics and what makes Fin the person he is. For me this is the meat and potatoes of the book. We meet his siblings and his parents. His estranged abusive father is dying and he struggles with the guilt of doing the right thing.
He also struggles with information he’s suppressed about his mother and old memories are rekindled. I’m really glad I stuck it out, because while the first half was rather shallow and cute, the second half gave me what I was looking for – a connection to Fin. One of my favorite people in the book is Keita, a wealthy Japanese client who has issues with his own father and takes a liking to Fin. The two of them commiserate to make sense of who they are.
The book is funny, but it really hits home that you are a product of your upbringing. People are who they are for a reason. Robert Petkoff did a great job. Had it not been for his engaging narration, I'm pretty sure I would not have finished this book.
I felt like I was watching an entire season of “Homeland.” Daniel Silva is a master storyteller and his protagonist, the retired Israeli spy turned art restorer, Gabriel Alon, is constantly being jolted out of retirement to foil yet another murder and solve another mystery. Gabriel jumps from book to book from plot to plot, the quintessential good guy with plenty of guts, charisma and brains.
In this book Gabriel is busy restoring a Caravaggio in the Vatican when he is called to solve the murder of Dr. Claudia Andreatti who is found on the marble floor of St. Peter’s Basilica. Her death, masked as a suicide, looks suspicious. Pope Paul VII put Monsignor Donati, his secretary and right hand man on the case. Enter, Gabriel Alon who carefully examines the body, surroundings and circumstance and springs into action.
Familiar characters from Silva’s previous novels come into play, Ari Sharom, Uzi Navot and Eli Lavon and of course Gabriel’s second wife Chiara.
Alon’s search for the murderer takes him from Rome to Paris, Denmark, Vienna, Berlin and of course Israel. His investigation leads him to foil terrorist attacks carefully planned by Hezbollah. There was even a torture scene, which brought to mind the movie Zero Dark Thirty.
This book is steeped in the conflict of the Middle East, and it brings forward the reality of the region and the very real problems Israel is up against from neighbouring terrorists. To be honest I felt quite unnerved at the end of Fallen Angel. Although Silva’s book is fiction, it hits a little too close to home, and confirms the reality of what is happening to our world. Through the eyes and actions of his characters, Silva verifies that the Middle East war is very real. That part is not fiction.
I finished this book on January 27, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Being a daughter of two holocaust survivors, Fallen Angel unnerved me. Although we repeat the phrase “Never Again” over and over, that may not be a realistic statement anymore.
As usual George Guidall does a stellar job of his narration and brings the book to life.
Having struggled with weight and also being Jewish, allowed me to really identify with the book. I too remember the Weight Watcher "tips" like removing the center piece of bread from a Big Mac to save calories. I too have been to many Bar/Bar Mitzvah's where the elaborate affair overshadowed what the Bar Mitzvah ceremony was all about. I too know of many dysfunctional families, as a matter of fact, I don't know too many who aren't. With all this identifying, I still couldn't really make a connection to the characters in Attenberg's book. The closest I came was to the protagonist Edie, the one who was eating herself to death. But Edie is an extreme case. Even being diabetic, having to go through surgery after surgery, having her husband Richard leave her, having her children and grandchildren look at her with pity and repulsion, did not deter Edie from even one dish of Chinese food. Edie had an addiction and she just couldn't stop. At times I felt a little nauseous "watching" her eat. There was a moral to the story though, you can't help someone who doesn't want to to be helped. Even though the book hit a nerve, I didn't love the black comedy, I barely liked it.
Molly Ringwald did an average narration, maybe if I had read this one instead of listening I would have liked it better.
It took me a long time to get through Mosaic. I have to admit to almost giving up a few times especially in Part 1. It's more of a memoir, albeit an important one, since it follows a family through generations before WW1 to present. Much of it revolves around the Holocaust and how it affected the lives of the central family, the Baldinger's & their 11 children, cousins, aunts uncles. Lots of Polish names, which made it hard to keep the characters straight. Armstrong must be commended on her research of each of these family members from birth to adulthood and the challenges they lived through. She did a good job, but there was no real pace to the book to keep me going. It was like reading a diary – factual and chronological. Armstrong does a good job at showing the effects of the Holocaust on individual lives long after the war is over. I'm glad I finished it. Although it wasn't one of the more interesting books I've read on this topic, it is very still very important.
Deidre Rubenstein did an okay job of narrating. At the start I found her long pauses after every sentence annoying and it almost caused me to stop listening. But I eventually got used to it and she stopped exaggerating each pause as the story progressed.
I know this won’t be a popular review but I have to be honest. I picked this one up because of the endless five star ratings. Unfortunately I cannot join that club. I found the book choppy and the characters shallow. I didn’t connect emotionally to any of them, not even Pasquale and Dee Moray. Sure there were parts that I enjoyed, especially the scenes in 1962 Italy. The descriptions of Porto Vergogna were enchanting. It was the change to the present day Hollywood storyline that I found rather dull. Even the addition of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor didn’t manage to light my fire. I found my mind wondering often and that’s never a good sign. Too many characters, too many storylines, none of which were terribly compelling. I did force myself to finish the book, but it was a chore. I guess it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Edoardo Ballerini did a good job narrating. His knowledge of Italian added authenticity to Pasquale and helped bring me into the beautiful setting.
After reading a very large intense book, I chose Sanctuary as my “in between” read, thinking it would be easy and light. I was pleasantly surprised to have really enjoyed it. In the beginning I thought it was a little hokey with just too much Jewish background, but I soon came to realize it was all an integral part of the entire plot.
This murder-mystery deals with the diamond industry, and takes the reader from Los Angeles to Israel. When dealing with billions of dollars, there’s bound to be thievery, cheating, murder, suspense, throw in a little middle-east politics and you have a recipe for a great story. I have only read one other Faye Kellerman book which was years ago so I cannot compare, but Sanctuary can stand on it’s own merits. You don’t have to read any of the other Peter Decker/Rina series to enjoy this one. There are enough plot twists to engage any reader.
Having been to Israel and understanding many of the places described in the book was an added bonus. The accurate descriptions of the many different kinds of people from black-hat orthodox, to PLO terrorist, to holocaust survivor, to an L.A. police sergeant – all well done.
There was an extensive overuse of Hebrew and Yiddish words throughout the book, which may be off-putting to someone not familiar with those languages. I also felt there was just too many wasted words about Peter and Rina’s baby Hanna. I assume their side story is the common thread that makes these books a series, but I found it distracting and annoying.
Mitchell Greenberg the narrator was awesome. He pronounced every one of those Hebrew and Yiddish words perfectly, adding authenticity to the story. He changed his accent so many times to suit the characters; everything from Israeli yeshiva boys, to Orthodox old men, to Israeli women and the list goes on. He did a superb job with the inflections of all the characters.
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