Minneapolis, MN, United States | Member Since 2007
No question, this will be on my "favorite books of the year" list - and very near the top. Tartt examines some very big topics - love, loss, death, life, forgiveness, redemption and addiction - and she does so with a skill that's secondary to none.
The main characters are BIG - in personality, flaws, strengths - and enormously engaging. I adored Theo, Boris and Hobie and have loved having them live at my house while I was listening. There's a sense of loss now that they're gone.
I've read some harsh reviews of the narrator and I don't understand that. I thought he was perfect for this book. It was a fresh take. His interpretation of both Boris and Hobie was delightful. I never would have imagined those voices if I'd read this in print. It was an added dimension that made it all the more enjoyable.
With more than 30 hours of engaging story, this is one of the most credit-worthy books around. Really, what could be better? It's a good long listen that's beautifully read. I wish they were always this good.
Over time I've really come to admire James Lee Burke and his writing style. I love his big, flawed characters and their insights about life. The dialogue is crafty and always spot on. In each of his books, I just settle in for the ride and am completely engrossed in the story. This particular book does all that x10.
He made me care so much about the characters that I'm still thinking about them a day after I finished the book. I can't get started on another because I want to know what's happening with Weldon. I loved the strength and dignity he gave to Rosita and the level of respectfulness with which he told her story. These people came and lived with me while I listened to this book and now I miss them.
I always love the attention to detail Burke gives to place and time. I don't know that I've ever had a better glimpse of post-WWII Texas and the heady, reckless oil boom. And it's not just that you can see all of it. Rather, you can feel all of it - the heat, the excitement, the hope and the despair.
I'm not sure this book would have the same impact without Will Patton's impeccable narration. No one does it better. He deserves all the awards there are to give.
Francine Prose has created the most vibrant picture of Paris before and during WWII. It's so beautifully written that you can smell the cigarette smoke in the Chameleon Club. It's that way throughout. Whether it's clothing, a car, a person or a place - it's all so real. For me, it's the way historical fiction is supposed to be written. As much as I've read and seen about WWII, I've never really had a good glimpse of the social atmosphere surrounding Hitler. It was new.
Using varying points of view can be an interesting way of writing. In the wrong hands, it interrupts the flow of the story and can be quite annoying. In this case, it filled out the story with the alternating POV giving reasons for an action or behavior. This author uses the technique to its advantage.
Now you're wondering why this didn't get 5 stars from me? The whole thing fell down with the narration. It runs the gamut from the fabulous - Edoardo Ballerini, who is perhaps one of the finest narrators around - to something akin to a phony French accent in a high school play. It is SO bad that I began dreading when a few characters would tell their story. I hoped each time it would be the last.
In my opinion, this is a book that would have worked better with one gifted narrator. If Davina Porter can pull off all the zillion characters in a Gabaldon book with grace, then certainly it could have been done with these 6 characters. The author's good work deserved better than it got with this inconsistent narration.
The first few hours with this book took some getting used to. I had become so accustomed to Gordon Griffin's impeccable narration in the first book that the change to Roger May was startling. His narration is very good, but not exceptional. It took me a while to get the hang of it and to appreciate his contribution to the story. By the end, I was comfortable with it - though never awed.
Magson's series is turning out to be terrific with a ton of potential for many books to come. He has a way of holding something back for the future. There's a restrained sense of character introduction. You expect a new character to become a big part of the plot soon like it typically would in a mystery. He's not that obvious. His characters sometimes become part of the book's ensemble cast. You know eventually there will be a story there, but he holds back. Second, while the plot is always compelling, he saves a little back. That understated approach actually makes it more interesting. Third, there's this location appeal. I'm getting such a good feel for rural France in the early 1960s. America almost always dominates any discussion of that era. It's really interesting to get a glimpse of that memorable decade from an entirely different perspective.
This series has it all: great characters, good solid plots, an interesting look back to the past, a wonderful terroir and excellent narration. I hope Magson can write fast.
This first book in the Lucas Rocco series is an absolutely first-rate listen. Here's why:
Narration: Gordon Griffin's narration simply could not be any better. He is perfect for the book and makes listening a real pleasure. This is exactly what an audio book should be.
The story: This book completely held my interest for a couple reasons. Magson has created some very believable characters. They are flawed, certainly, but that makes them even more real. Second, this is actually historical fiction in many regards. Though set back only 50 years, in terms of current murder mysteries, it might as well be 200. Since it's pre CSI and cell phones and DNA, the plot relies entirely on facts in evidence and old fashioned sleuthing. Third, the setting in rural France is different and interesting. I love the glimpse of small town life. Finally, WWII is but a decade or so in the past, and consequently enters into the setting and the lives of the characters. It made me think about the lingering impact of war when it's been fought on home soil.
This might be one of the most perfect summer escape books I've listened to in ages. If you like Louise Penny's Gamache series, this is in the same vein. Excellent.
I made the mistake of thinking this might be like "The Book of Joe" - a Tropper book that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, this particular book is missing the complexity of the characters that made "Joe" such a winner. Tropper's signature sarcasm fills this book, too - but it's not funny.
I'm not sure what appealed to me less: the flat delivery, the mundane dialogue or the tired themes. It felt much too predictable and very pedestrian.
I am a huge fan of this series, so expected to pick up exactly where things left off and immediately live in this created world. It didn't happen that way. I really struggled to get back into the book and the characters for the first few hours. I think it had simply been too long for me to remember details. So, let's begin with a warning: if you're thinking of listening to this book and have not listened to the others, expect to be confused. This really is a series and one book builds for the next.
Once I was back fully into the book, I had the same awe for Diana Gabaldon that I've had with each of her other books. I'm astounded at the breadth of information she brings into these books. In this one I learned more about the Revolutionary War and its impact on people and cities than I'd ever known. It wasn't just a recitation of battles and dates. I learned about how camps were constructed, the followers, the illnesses and more. It's just such a complete look at a historical event but from an entirely new perspective. I'm sure hard-core history buffs would take exception to some of it, but for someone like me with the most rudimentary understanding of that particular war, it was eye-opening. She made it real.
Once again, Gabaldon manages to touch on a huge range of topics with incredible authenticity: personal relationships, gardening, love, herbalism, conflict, loss, revenge, surgery, illnesses, time travel, religion ... and more. The level of research that goes into just the medical aspect of each book is amazing. I always learn something new. Granted, I'll ever need to amputate a leg with the tools at hand, but I now have a good idea how to approach it.
And Davina Porter? I don't think I've ever heard such a perfect match of author and narrator. She does an amazing job with each and every character. (With the chorus of characters, that's no easy feat.) She helps keep things straight and adds color to the dialogue that I would miss if I were reading it in print.
It is no wonder this book took 5 years to write. It's a complex storyline filled to the brim with details. I cannot wait to see where she will take these characters next. I hate to think it will be another 5 years before I find out.
I discovered this series because of another Audible reviewer. (Thanks, Kathi!) It's certainly not a hardcore police procedural. Rather it has the feel of Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series. The characters are quirky. The town is small. While it's not quite on the same level as Penny's Three Pines series, it's very, very good - provided you're not expecting the grit and depth of Jo Nesbø or Adrian McKinty.
Food and wine play a big part in things. For some, it might be a distraction but I actually like hearing about making wine and what's on the menu for the evening. I like the French history that's thrown in and details about life in the countryside. It's all been interesting.
It seems that sometimes the best way to understand how big events impact the world is to get a glimpse of how they impact individual people. That is exactly what happens with this book.
You can read the summary and know the book is set in WWII and two children are involved. I've read plenty about the war, but this book gave me just a little more insight into kids and what they went through at the time. In addition, Marie-Laure's situation is even more unique. I kept thinking throughout the book about people with disabilities and what they do when the world around them goes upside down.
About the narration ... I wasn't impressed at first. As the book went on, I really came to appreciate his style of narration. He doesn't inhabit the characters. He reads the story. In this particular case, it worked for me. I think if he'd used a voice appropriate for a 14-year-old French girl, it would have been very odd. A competent reading is all that was necessary.
Jo Nesbø impresses me to no end. I love the Harry Hole series and didn't know what to expect with this one. I thought without Harry it would be second rate. I was SO wrong.
This is simply an engaging mystery. Yes, again it's dark like his other books. But the characters are so engaging I could over look it. (Yes, they are implausible. That's why it's fiction.)
There are plenty of reviews on this site with more detail about the book. I don't need to rehash it. What I can tell you is this: if you're a fan of authors like Dennis Lehane, Stieg Larsson, and Adrian McKinty then you need to give Nesbø a listen.
When historical fiction is done well, it really transports you to a time in a way that can't be duplicated. I remember reading "The Alienist" for the first time and I could smell the streets of New York in the late 1800s. With many of the rave reviews on this book, I expected the same feel for Paris. It never happened.
The premise of this story is good ... though certainly not original. "Girl with a Pearl Earring" has the same art-comes-to-life basis. While I appreciated a look at the world of ballet in Paris during the time, it wasn't any more revealing than what one would have guessed.
This was a book club selection so I had a chance to hear what others thought about it. My feelings about the book put me in the minority - much like the reviews here and elsewhere. There were many others who thought it was terrific and appreciated the story of the sisters. Clearly we have a different view of historical fiction and how it should be written. This was simply not the book for me nor would I recommend it to others.
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