I read this book a year ago, and I have thought a lot about it since then. There is a lot of fact and detail, and what emerges is a highly readable history.
This popped up in the Recommended For You section, and I thought I would try it. This was a charming book, with characters that came alive fairly easily for me, considering how distant Laos is, and how little I really know about it. It seems that people are the same everywhere. I was never really sure how tightly the author was basing the book on real people and real situations (supernatural aside), but I'd love to know. As far as the supernatural elements go, it wasn't overly done, and it melded surprising well with the storyline. The main character, the coroner Dr. Siri, is a genuine wit, and there is a steady stream of dry humor, helped along considerably by the droll voice of the narrator, Clive Chafer. It was a very good pairing of actor and book. The mystery story itself was OK; it wrapped up in a bit of a jumble at the end. But no matter. I'll probably read the next one in the series sometime.
This book is what history is to me. When I pick up a biography/history book, I like it to be like this one: heavy on the characters, but also a scholarly look at the issues of the day. I appreciate how Doris Kearns Goodwin can sift through all the material, and bring it together in one giant, forceful story.The friendship that dissolved between Roosevelt and Taft is fascinating, and is at the center of the book.I could listen to stories about those two all day. There is also a lot about McClure's magazine and the new journalism, and the pivotal battles with Rockefeller and the Trusts. Through it all, there are friendships, alliances, and falling outs.
The book is long, but in this case, it's a plus. Edward Herrmann is a good choice for narrator - he has the gravitas, and the kind of voice that you can listen to for a very long time. I thought I knew something of this part of history, but there was a lot I didn't know, or hadn't seen presented in quite this way. Really enjoyable, and definitely worth my time.
This was an interesting enough story told by an author who knows how to spin a yarn. It concerns a modern day antique book dealer and ivory-tower type pursuits, which might appeal to some listeners and leave others less intrigued. It was mildly creepy, and maybe could have used a little more angst. But, it wasn't overly long, and I was always curious about what was behind the Small Hand.
I liked the free listen, Click Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman, so I thought I would try one of his books. American Gods is entertaining, with all the trouble-making gods running amuck and being petulant. They could be a little one-dimensional like that, and it made them tiresome at times.
Overall, American Gods was somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me, with due appreciation for how the threads of the story were intertwined, and for bringing to life the gods and plunking them down in culture-shock America. A salute to Neil Gaiman for bringing in the House on the Rock in Wisconsin,and capturing the strange vibe of this tourist trap. He did a credible job of the region, in general.
The narration was fine, although Guidall sounded a little old for Shadow, the main character. He did a masterly job, though, with the many other characters. Guidall has a naturally craggy voice, but he somehow managed to make Laura sound feminine and compelling, and the other female voices weren't bad, either.
This book was a revelation to me. I knew some of her songs, but I had no idea about all the things going on with her. In the first hour of listening, I heard hints that this might be a bit of a self-serving tale told from a predictable perspective, but after listening more (and I couldn't put it down), I changed my mind about that. Her voice (written and spoken) comes across as honest and nothing-to-hide, and all of her experiences alone make this worth a listen. She has scaled the heights, and been laid low. Sometimes, though, I wondered how her friends or acquaintances might have weighed in on the situation of the moment - I fear that sometimes she may have been the last to know.
Even if you didn't know her music, you still might find this book interesting. Besides a biography-worthy life, there is also music history in it, and as a nice bonus, she sings some of her songs.
Olga is in her nineties, and has the body and athletic abilities of someone much younger. With hundreds of medals in her closet, no one is disputing that she is a super athlete - the only question is, why? Olga wants to know, too, and she and the author set about to find the answers, looking at everything from muscle fibers to diet to psychology. The importance of exercise comes up again and again,and this book is the very embodiment of the carrot-instead-of-a-stick approach to get us all moving. Like Born to Run and the ultra marathoners, Olga made me realize humans do not necessarily have the physical limitations we may think we do. The book has a lot to say about how to get a better quality of life, too. Olga is an inspiring person, and this is an inspiring, helpful book.
This was blistering. It's a parody of a news magazine and the personalities involved, and Michael Hastings was, in real life, employed at just such a place. Maybe that was why his characters all popped off the page (or off my iPod), fully drawn. There is a kind of humor or wry observation that reminded me of A Confederacy of Dunces. Knowing that the author died before he had finished this book, I went into it expecting an uneven finish. But for me, the end was a perfect landing.
The narrator is one of those gifted individuals who can make all the characters distinct and memorable through subtle means.
This book takes place in the tropics. Conrad is a wonderful writer, and he sailed the tropical seas in real life. Heart of Darkness is one of my favorite books.
So, I wish I liked this one more. It seemed like Conrad kept trying to beat home his points about his characters and about good vs. evil. Sometimes he would go on and on about something, and even though I thought I knew what he was trying to get at when he started, by the time he was done I'd be only confused. He kept bringing up what it means to be a gentleman, but I honestly am not sure what he was trying to say on that particular subject. But, it was still a good story, and it was uncanny how it kept pulling me back in. Also, I was glad I'd been alerted to the fact that the narrator point of view shifts through the story.
This is a modern day terrorist suspense story, and was more like 3.5 stars.I don't read a lot of spy novels, but other people seemed to like this one, so I thought I would give it a try. I was glad I did. The plot itself is gripping, and is the real draw here. It seemed plausible, and as a side note, all the references to NSA were interesting. The book seemed to lag at the parts about the love story, and at some of the parts about the character's interior lives. Most characters came off as a little cardboard. But still, the author tried to make them at least somewhat human, and he avoided outright caricatures. The narration was fine, but it's hard for macho-sounding guys to have to suddenly do female voices.
This book was always going off on a macabre tangent. The tangents - the allegories - are meant to help tell the story, but it got tiresome after a while. This is a book I wanted to like. It brought in a different culture, and had elements of a gothic suspense tale. And, I sensed the sincerity of the author's efforts to make sense of a war torn land (and perhaps his frustration with it?). But as far as a straight-up story goes, it wasn't that suspenseful or engaging.
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