Minneapolis, MN, United States | Member Since 2010
Like a lot of others, I had to read this book for a class years ago. Now, I listened to it because I wanted to. I had missed so much before. What a beautifully crafted story. AND to make it even better, the narration is perfect. A+
First the gorgeous: There are some phrases and sentences in this book that are so impeccably written that I had to stop and listen to them again. Marra's writing skills are absolutely first rate. The complexity of the relationships and the way he foreshadows events is artfully done. It's brilliant, really. There's nothing about this that feels like a first book. It's really beautifully crafted.
The heartbreaking: It's impossible to put a child in the midst of a brutal war and have anything but heartbreak. But it goes beyond that. There just isn't a part of this story that doesn't have an element of profound loss. I didn't find any of it uplifting as others have mentioned in reviews.
And now about the confusing part: I had a terrible time keeping up with the changes in time. The complexity of the relationships is difficult to track in and of itself. I listened twice simply because I missed too much the first time. I am a hardcore book listener and rarely do I think a book would be better in print - but this is that rare exception. I needed to be able to flip between pages sometimes and I couldn't.
Now the narration ... I won't call it awful, but it is so uninspired. This book deserved something better than that. It's competent, but adds nothing to the experience and may even make it more difficult to track.
I really looked forward to this book by Ishiguro. Though I really can't expect anything to come up to the level of "The Remains of the Day," I really expected it to come close. For me, it wasn't even in the same league. But looking at all the raves, I am definitely in the minority.
It's not that I didn't love it - I didn't even like it. I thought it was boring. I'm not crazy about fantasy as a genre, but gave it a shot because it was Ishiguro. It didn't work work for me. Nothing about it that made me eager to pick up the iPod and listen at every chance. I didn't care about any of it. I thought it was dull.
I still like Ishiguro. A lot, actually. I just didn't like this book or anything about it. My best suggestion is to really read the summary by the publisher and understand what you're getting into. If the fantasy - allegory - myth book is your thing, you may just love this one.
Not sure why or where it's headed, but clearly "The Troubles Trilogy" has grown. I guess you could call it a quadrilogy now - though the one word I'd use to describe it is "excellent."
Adrian McKinty has a bit of a formula - but that's not really a bad thing. I don't know how much you could write about "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland without getting a bit repetitive. What saves it from boredom is that his writing is always clever and the characters just keep getting better. Sean Duffy is terribly flawed and very likeable. When I thought the series was over, I was disappointed and knew I'd miss him. I'm glad he's back.
McKinty has a way of immersing his books in the culture of the time - partially through political references, but more so through music. It's really a terrific addition and adds even more personality to Duffy's character.
I can't do a review on this without commenting on Gerard Doyle. He is the voice of Sean Duffy. He makes this series work for me. I love listening to him.
I'm a Department Q fan - the series of more well-known books by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I was curious about how he would approach this one - a standalone - with its completely new cast of characters. I wondered if he could pull it off with the same level of mastery.
Short answer: yes, most definitely. In my opinion, he's one of the most skillful contemporary fiction writers around. Here he shows he can also write historical fiction with a deft hand. He just has it. He has a natural way of character interaction that rings true. This book held my interest from beginning to end. I thought about it when I wasn't listening.
And Graeme Malcom? What can I say. He has become one of my very favorite narrators. I never tire of listening to him. He's perfectly suited to this book just as he is to the Department Q series. It makes me think he could read anything and I'd listen to it - right there with Edoardo Ballerini and George Guidall.
There you have a perfect combo: Malcom's narration and Adler-Olsen's writing. For me this particular book was a great, credit-worthy selection ... exactly what you hope every book will be.
Every now and again you hit a book that's so addictive you just can't stop listening. This was exactly that for me.
I knew nothing about this voyage. I'd never heard of George DeLong or the USS Jeannette. I expected a good historical account - something I'd listen to a few hours at a time. Instead I found myself buried in the story, the characters, the land, and their entire experience.
Hampton Sides does a great job of bringing together a ton of detail into a coherent storyline. Some reviews are a little hard on that aspect, but I thought it added to the whole experience. These were very competent people. The level of preparation was stunning. That they left behind such a complete record of the voyage is a testament to how seriously they took this endeavor. All the detail made it more real for me.
As to the narration ... I thought it was adequate. Morey doesn't get it the way, but he doesn't add anything either.
Word of warning: while I was listening, I was so taken with the book that I started looking up maps and other details about that area of the arctic. Until that time, I really didn't know how this was going to end. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had stayed off the Google machine until I was done. It was impossible to avoid details and it spoiled the suspense.
The greatness of this audio book is not in the writing or narration. Both are adequate but not noteworthy. The real beauty lies in the subject(s) - the elephants. In a way, this ends up being a love story to them.
Though I've always wanted to know an elephant personally, I likely never will. This gave me a glimpse of what that might be like. I was impressed, once again, by their intelligence, uniqueness, and bravery. Again, as with many other books, it filled in a piece of WWII history that was new to me.
It's interesting to see where events have taken people in life - especially during the first half of the 20th century. I don't think anyone could have predicted how Billy Williams' decision to become a teak man in Burma would actually turn out or what a difference he might make. By virtue of place, the book shines some light on British colonialism - and it's not pretty.
This is a lovely look at what happens when people have a passion and heart. And though that's interesting, for me the unforgettable stars of this book are really the elephants themselves. Here's to you, Bandoola.
But this book doesn't come close to his others. First, it's WAY too long. The plot drags. Usually his books are longish, but they need the time for a plot that keeps turning and twisting. Second, it's just too graphic. I'm okay with details, but this one went too far for me. Third, it was just too predictable.
If this is your first Greg Iles book, I hope you don't judge him but it. There are plenty of others that are absolutely terrific. This one is mediocre by comparison.
This is a dark book - the final in an inky black trilogy. And it is fabulous.
Adrian McKinty has a talent for bringing characters to life with the written word. Then Gerard Doyle picks it up and does the best Michael Forsythe I could possibly imagine. There isn't a better fit between book and narrator.
This is murder and mayhem. It's not gentle. The dialogue is rough and so are the scenes. Expect that. You can also expect a tightly written mystery that keeps you listening.
I think it would be disappointing to start with this book rather than the first one in the trilogy. Listen to all three in order and you'll be rewarded with some superb character development. McKinty is at the top of his game.
This is a tough book to review. It would be easy to include a spoiler and that's not fair to other readers. So, I'll stay clear of that and do the best I can.
This is the first Kristin Hannah book for me and I didn't really know what to expect. With all the advance press, I was hoping for something equal to, say, "The Goldfinch" for this year's list of greats. Yes, it's good - but it's not going to make that list for me.
Though there's never a shortage of WWII books in fiction, there have never been enough books about the huge contribution women made to the war. I'm always pleased when one comes along that I think will capture new readers. I don't think this book comes close to "Code Name Verity" in quality, but there's no question it will generate great word-of-mouth and be a book club favorite.
As to the book itself, I wish I could rate it in two halves. The first half for me was ho-hum. Let's be generous and call it good. It took me a very long time to get into it. The narrator didn't help much. She's adequate, but really doesn't enhance the experience in any way. For quite a while I wondered if I could endure but pushed on anyway. I'm glad I did. Things changed.
About at half time, the storyline thickened and it became a compelling listen. All the set up on the characters paid off. Closer to the end when the author brings the whole thing around, she really ties it up beautifully. I'd even call it great.
Is it "Winds of War" caliber? Nope. But that book will never get a new flock of readers and social media buzz where this one just might. If it helps a new generation know what women did during the war, it will have done its job.
I'm really in awe of this author. Her ability to craft a compelling story against the backdrop of war - even this particular war - is really impressive. More than that, she helped me understand the historical context while delivering a story. That's an achievement.
Like many others who were around during the 60s, my knowledge of Biafra is limited to photos of starving children and pleas for help. I knew nothing about what caused the humanitarian catastrophe - only that it existed. The images are seared in my mind. If someone had handed me an historical tome on this particular civil war, I doubt I ever would have read it. That's where Adichie delivers some magic. Her book brought that whole time to life for me and delivered an ugly history in a way I could understand.
There are times in the book where I was confused as to the sequence of events. The jumping back and forth wasn't always clear. There are also times that the actual writing is a B+ instead of an A. None of that mattered to me. I was completely taken by the whole experience -- diving into Nigerian history, reading about Biafra, examining my own assumptions, and thinking about how vulnerable people can be when superpowers don't do the right thing.
Robin Miles adds a dimension to this book I never would have experienced if I'd read it in print. Her reading is beautiful - artful, nuanced, and completely one with the characters.
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