I adore this author. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be a fan of the travel genre. What I love about his books is he his ability to walk the line between irreverence and respect for other ways of life. He is not afraid to state an opinion or ignore PC decorum but also depicts through his story a greater understanding and depth of the culture in which hes immersed. He has a charming way of describing the awkward and often amusing confusion that happens when unfamiliar cultures meet. He also interweaves history without seeming boring.
So needless to say I could not wait to get my hands on this book, or er my ipod. I have studied China in school for many years and have friends who live there or have lived there.
I was disappointed. Maybe it is because he did not live in this area like in his previous books but the book has little continuity and he fails to grasp so much of Chinese culture. I was also horrified by his depiction of Chinese history. He generalizes such a great deal of the history in a biased and inaccurate manner. Whether it is their ancient history or current times, Troost just did not get the Chinese. I don't think he liked China much at all. There is a falseness about his writing that becomes even more obvious when his journey takes him to Tibet, which he obviously did like and relate to, and his writing all at once seems more easy and honest. He is not blatently hostile. He generally tries to be fair but does not seem to gather the empathy that is evident in his earlier books. This is evident in the title, to him China is another planet and he does say this. I don't feel his heart was in this book.
That being said, it is worth a listen. Just don't take his interpretation of history too literally, especially the ancient. The book is not fluid and does not seem as put together or complete as his previous novels. This writing is more what I'd expect from a professional blog than a book. I hope the next one is better.
The new narrator's extremely girly readings of the characters doesn't help the fact that Maggie is even more impulsive, entitled and prone to temper tantrums in this novel than the previous. If you have trouble suspending disbelief, this novel is not for you either. Maggie and her emotional maturity and stability of a14 year old would never be allowed yo be a spy. The history isn't very accurate or vivid either,. It seems like most of it was gleamed from recent novels and TV. The characters sensibilities and language are very modern.
That said, this is still a fun light novel with some engaging characters. The narrator isn't bad at all, even if she has a tendency to read the female characters as high pitched and bubbly. I could criticize it forever, but that isn't fair. It is an enjoyable novel, with sufficiently complex story and charters. Something you can smile your way through without ever worrying too much. At times that's just what is needed and I enjoyed it.
I blindly bought this book knowing nothing about the author or the character and was delighted with my choice. The narration is excellent and I prefer it to the other narrator of Hallinan's books, though both are good, Berkrot gets the feel of the books just perfect.
The story is fun, face paced and filled with likable, outrageous characters. It is gritty but almost in a fun way like a James Bond film or good comic book. I'd say this is perfect summer or road trip reading. The story keeps you engaged and the plot just complex enough without being difficult to follow when heard aloud. (I often find books I'd otherwise have no difficulty with are harder to follow on a road trip.)
the plot follows two mysteries, the one about the "Little Elvises" and a side plot about a serial killer and a missing daughter of a friend. The "Little Elvises" mystery ends up being a little absurd but the serial killer side plot finishes off the book in an entirely satisfying manner.
So many authors write page turners that torture their main character, dragging you across emotional gravel until you come out bruised and exhausted at the end only to find a character you love has died and the book ends with the hero in limbo until the next absurdly long and tortuous book. I of course read the heck out of these as well but it is immensely satisfying to find a book that is compelling, without being tortuous, fun and that has a satisfying ending.
Just as much fun and just as little depth as a classic Bond film.
Wow! Venice has the most amazing, influential and seedy history, I had no idea. This professor is very good at explaining a fascinating subject. One of my favorites under the Modern Scholar Michael Drout lectures. I wish there was more.
I definitely think this is worth a listen but I did space out from time to time in the narrative. I wish I could have edited parts and used the space to find out more at the end of the book.
I havent read the whole series, nor have I read them in order, but this one definitely kept my attention better than the others I have heard.
Commissario Guido is called to a crime scene where the body of what appears to be a transvestite prostitute. However, something doesn't seem quite right to the Commissario and he refuses to just write the crime off because of the type of victim. Besides, the corpse has a body much like Guido's own and he doubts this is a figure people would pay for.
From the undercover world of the gay and transvestite scene in Venice to the seedy and even more covert world of Italian finance Guido must ferret out the truth while staying alive and thwarting very powerful men.
Honestly, the ways in which the characters have to confront ideas of italian masculinity in this maybe what amused me the most. However, it does have a good amount of action as well.
Dont get me wrong, I could see how this could be a good narrator in other situations but these books take place in italy. This narrator does voices that sound more like Steve Buscemi. I feel like im listening to an american gangster film. He also reads very quickly (like hes rushing to be done not just that he reads fast) and puts no pause between different characters speaking, and it makes them blend together.
I should have listened to the sample more. Its my fault but it really gets irritating. Ill be more careful next time. I recommend the Donna Leon mysteries for someone wanting a listen with a more Italian feel, that narrator isn't perfect (who is) but you can at least get lost in the story and he gives a real warmth to the characters. You get very attached to the characters as he reads them and dont miss a word because he reads clearly.
This Andrea Camilleri series is lovely and I only wish I could stand listening to them.
What a fantastic story! I was sucked in from the first moment and loved following Ludlow's dynamic and likable characters. It is an incredably interesting time in rome's history as the republic breaks down, the nobility struggle with the demands of the poor and the provinces for rights and the growing threat of unified hostile tribes. The characters are on all sides and often their loyalties are divided. The scenes of battle are as compelling as the political plots. I'm not sure why there is the bad review. The narration is wonderful and I looked for other books by Boulton because I liked it so much. However, since taste differs I would urge people to always listen to the sample of an unfamiliar narrator. I thought this was a book that could reach outside the genre to those who may not be fascinated by history or ancient Rome. The author does take time to develope his characters and plot in a thoughtful way but I do not feel this slows the action, or makes the book too cerebral. It is a more intelligent page turner however, and if you are looking for a book as light as a sitcom you may be disappointed. I would highly recommend this book.
Ok these aren't highbrow literature or anything but the story and the history are highly enjoyable. It's a great slice of Rome at the beginning of it's most famous historical events. Great road trip listening and about a pg13 rating (no excessive bad language or graphic rape scenes, etc.). I tend to mention this because after listening to pillars of the earth I learned how much more noticeable this stuff is in audio format (my BF kept walking in at highly graphic points which was highly embarrassing as well) The history in this is much better than many series that take place in ancient rome, without sounding in any way educational. It likely is educational but you dont notice. Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and I think just perfect for this book. I love him as the main character. I'm mostly through the 2nd book now and crave more!
I have absolutely no idea how one reviewer thought this was preachy. I hate preachy and there are some reviews I've been meaning to write complaining about preachy mysteries. The accounts of opium addiction are accurate for the time, feel and perspective of Victorian London. (a favorite time period of mine as so many authors i love wrote then plus the history is fascinating. Not that this stives to historical exactitude but rather a good tale with neat historical tid bits left in) You can't write anything good about opium dens, they were really seedy & depressing. The subject isn't Harped on at all but is important to the plot, though not so much for its use.
Anyway, this book is a fantastic mystery/thriller. I did not find the narrator to use a thick accent but listen to the sample just in case. Really great narrator, he added so much to the feel of the book & characters.
The story is a little dark, so I would not say for all ages. Adults will certainly enjoy this as much as adolescents but might not be the perfect fit for more suggestive children who have nightmares. I have a teenage niece who this would be too dark for. There's a lot of death and some drugs, maybe a little corse language but it's not bad. Honestly, the book is what the best of adolescent or young adult fiction is, able to stand on it's own as simply good fiction.
It really is a audio page turner and filled with great characters so do take a listen. After hearing this I might even retry the golden compas series's even though I hated it When it came out (I was maybe 13?). I'm certainly finishing the series.
I've noticed the series has really become Hester based, and Monk doesnt have as large a role. No problem there. The problem with this book is you figure everything out hours and hours before it ends and just sit through tedium til it finally comes to the conclusion. do yourself a favor and once you've figured it all out fast forward to the last half hour if you bother listening to this one. Oh and the plot is ridiculous for the time period, not that such didnt happen, just that events would have happened differently. However, thats never the problem with these books, though the characters do have a thoroughly modern outlook. FYI you do find out the past lady in Monk's life and what happened with that in this book.
(Oh and mini rant Napoleon wasn't considered short in his age (he was on the tall side of average for a man or solidly average depending on the part of europe the stats are from) and is taller than a great deal of world leaders today. Some measurement conversion problems (french to english) at the time could have lead english people to think him short but no one who saw him (like described in the book) would have thought him a short man.)
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