Until listening to the wonderful 11-22-63, I had always steered clear of Stephen King because his early novels seemed too scary. Thinner is psychologically disturbing, but one of those stories that stays with you long past the end of the audible narration. It was especially strong because of the amazing narration by Joe Mantegna. Most of the characters were morally ambiguous, and even now, I am not sure if there was a true protagonist in the story. I doubt that this is one of King's best stories (it was originally published under a pseudonym) but the characters are all interesting, the plot takes many twists and turns, the setting is easily imagined, and the mob boss stands out as one of the most likable characters I have met in any book in a very long time. I am not sure if it would have been as enjoyable in print, but the narration sets this book apart. And if you think you want to wish a few pounds. . .? Well, just be careful what you wish for.
This is the third and final book of Doig's Montana Trilogy. His first, Dancing at the Rascal Fair, easily earned a five star rating. His second, English Creek, was not quite as strong, but was still very interesting. My father was not only born in Montana, but had a career in forestry as a smokejumper so I enjoyed much of the story as we are introduced to Jick McCaskill and his struggles as he comes with age. There are several scenes which are laugh out loud funny--particularly during haying. In both books, the characters were interesting. Doig is a master of setting, and it is easy to visualize the Two Medicine Country. This final book, however, feels forced--as if Doig was simply trying to fulfill a publisher's commitment to complete a trilogy.
Probably the most disappointing part of the book to me were the character changes in this much older Jick McCaskill. Doig portrays him as an irascible senior who constantly uses the phrase "God Damn" as an adjective. It quickly became tiresome. Jick could easily have been a person who has aged more gracefully, softened by years of hard work and family love. Instead, he seems to perpetually have a burr under his saddle. As the narrator of the story, his voice is unceasingly complaining. In addition, the entire situation of his daughter and her ex-husband traveling with him as the chauffeur through out Montana in a "bago" seemed more contrived than believable.
I was glad that the same narrator was used in both English Creek and Ride With Me, as it provided a nice continuity with Jick.
If you are interested in learning about Montana, you may still be interested in this book. Although the situations seemed contrived, Doig is still a master writer when it comes to describing this state. He has the ability to paint with his words and the scenery becomes almost tangible as it is described.
This is my second audio book by Louise Penny. Because the setting is in Quebec, the audio edition saved me from mangling the many French pronunciations.
The best thing about this story is definitely the characters. I also enjoyed the history of Gregorian chants. The setting was unusual but the host of characters was especially interesting in their flawed humanity. The story took so many twists and turns that it was difficult to set aside.
Ralph Cosham is able to read French. His warmth or coldness (depending upon the character) and his varied voices provide a depth that would be difficult to attain in the print version.
The relationships of Inspector Gamache to his wife, his daughter, and his subordinate were beautifully described. The ending of the book was particularly moving--I definitely did not want it to end.
As a high school teacher for more than 20 years, I loved the fact that the author was able to capture so clearly the voices of adolescents--their wit, senses of humor, abilities to empathize. I also loved the individual main characters in this story--all young people suffering from various types of cancer--going to "group" meetings to please their parents, yet finding friendship, love, hope and support in a very difficult setting.
I liked the realism of dealing with a cancer in a hopeful, if heartbreaking, manner. The author was not afraid to give specific details--death is not glossed over. Particularly poignant was when Hazel Grace read social media regarding the death of someone she knew, and her thoughts about the remarks that might be left on her own page. Also touching was the relationship of parents and children who were affected by terminal illness. Yet, though the situation was dreadful, the book itself offers more humor and strength than sadness.
Kate Rudd perfectly captures the voice of Hazel Grace. You could almost hear her "rolling her eyes" in some of the situations.
This is definitely a book I wanted to listen to all in one sitting. I usually work on projects while I listen, and I found myself working longer and longer so that I would not have to leave the story. One cannot help but care about the characters, and the story took some unexpected turns.
I was particularly impressed at the end of the book when the author is questioned. He recommends "The Empress of Maladies" which is one of my top audio selections. His ability to blend fiction with nonfiction makes this a particularly strong read.
I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who has been touched by the Iraq war--especially those left behind on the home front. I believe that Matterhorn was the definitive novel of Viet Nam, and Yellow Birds may be the same for Iraq. Kevin Powers writes beautifully--the language alone is worth the price of the book.The story is both difficult and powerful. It was challenging to try to guess the final outcome as the plot was so well executed. It was easy to visualize the main characters, who were strongly written. The settings were also very easy to visualize because of Powers' gift with descriptive words and phrases.
Two books that compare to The Yellow Birds are The Red Badge of Courage for the American Civil War and Matterhorn for the Viet Nam conflict. All three books are written from the perspective of young, inexperienced soldiers and all three contain great poignancy as the main characters struggle to make sense of their experiences.
This is the first time I have purchased a book read by Holter Graham. While listening, I thought that perhaps it was being read by the author because the delivery was so personal. He was able to capture accents beautifully, as well as convey both drudgery and despair. His military voices and the voices of interpreters were especially powerful. It was easy to forget about the reader, as the story was so well delivered.
I don't often find a book that deserves five stars in all categories, but it was easy to give this audible's highest rating. Although not an easy read, it is a story that will remain with the listener. Well defined characters, setting and plot make this a great choice for the discerning listener.
I plan to recommend this book to my bookgroup. In this day and age, nearly all of us have been impacted in some way by cancer--either personally or with friends and family. Author Mukherjee is an oncologist who traces breast cancer from an Egyptian mummy to present day cancers of all types in this informative biography of a dreaded disease. Not only is he able to trace the long progression of this disease, but he is able to intertwine anecdotal stories of his patients with the long of history of cellular research and the change in focus from cure to prevention. If you have read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you are already familiar with some of the early research and "cures." One of the most distressing parts of the book was the discovery of nicotine's links to lung cancer, and the clever methods of the tobacco industry in attempt to stymie legislation to prevent smoking. The author sees cancer as a puzzle. He is careful to denote that it is not a single disease, but a variety--all of which require different treatments--and not all are curable. His discourse on the change from radical masectomies to lumpectomies was especially interesting. His coverage of the evolution of chemotherapy was also very informative. Stephen Hoyle did his best to give life to what might be considered a somewhat dry topic, but it is difficult to give a great performance with such difficult subject matter--which is why he only got 4 stars. If you are interested in learning about a disease that affects so many, you cannot go wrong by using your credit for this very informative, unforgettable biography.
Stephen King proves again that he is a master storyteller. I was in middle school in a small town when JFK was assassinated, and King does an amazing job of recapturing the era. The moral quandaries are beautifully detailed and it is nearly impossible to imagine the ending--even though we all know that Oswalt did go through with the assassination. Highly recommended.
What happens to a Mexican village when all of the men have moved to the United States to find work? In this case, drug lords have moved in. Influenced by watching the "Magnificent Seven" at the local cinema, young people from the village decide to go on a mission and bring seven young men back to their home country to rid the village of these bandits. Unfortunately, it is difficult to care about the one-dimensional stereotypical main characters. Although the concept was interesting, the lack of character development made this a disappointing read.
All of us in some way benefit from medical research, but few of us take the time to understand it. This remarkable book set out to discover the woman behind the "HeLa" cells that are used throughout the world. However, it encompasses far more than the story of Henrietta Lacks. It also gives a very clear and thorough explanation of medical research in the 1950's as well giving the reader insight into the impact that the use of these cells had on both Henrietta and her family. Reading this book will provide a great deal of "food for thought" regarding moral and ethical decisions with regard to the research that is so beneficial to so many.
Imagine tasting food and having the flavor overwhelmed by the emotions of the preparer. This is the story of a young girl who has this gift (or curse) and the effect it has on her live. It begins when her depressed mother wants her to taste a lemon cake, and each bite is unbearably sad. It is also the more involved tale of a dysfunctional but oddly gifted family. The premise is interesting, but even as fiction becomes very difficult to understand the brother's difficulties. In addition, a reader other than the author may have been able to bring the characters to life, making them more compelling.
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