A very good friend recommended this book to me and even loaned me a copy of it because she thought I would like it. She was right. I liked it so much I used one of my audible credits to purchase it in audio format. I am so glad I did because the books was read by Madeline Albright herself.
This book is basically a history of Czechoslovakia during the periods before, during and after WW2. I found this interesting because the events leading up to both wars and their aftermaths have had a lot of impact on where we find ourselves today. It's my contention that you cannot fully understand what is happening around you today unless you know what happened yesterday. That's just my personal take however and probably an excuse to myself for my fascination with conflict when I consider myself to be a pacifist.
By reading the book herself and thereby describing the events in her own voice she transformed the story from being dry history into her story. Sometimes you could tell by her voice that many of the events she was describing were very painful. I especially enjoyed the parts relating to her childhood during WWII. The one thing that I do not understand is why her parents kept so much of her families personal history from their children. I am sure they had their reasons but still it is hard for me to understand. I am about seven years younger than Madeline Albright but I still have some very vivid memories of those days. But I grew up in the oh so safe American mid-west so if I have memories I can imagine that people who lived through those times must have memories vivid enough to evoke some strong emotions.
Without a doubt this is the very best book Colleen Hoover has written. It's sweet, funny and delightfully unique. The story of Daniel and Six is a bit of a cautionary story but they manage to work through their problems without the excessive angst that sometimes overpowers some of Hoovers other books. It's a short book but a real delight.
My favorite book in this series was the first one, Lick. The second book Play was not quite as good as Lick but still a pretty good read. But this one, Lead was pretty bad.
I thought Jimmy was borderline psychotic and if the heroine Lena had any sense at all she should have left him after the first day. Perhaps he was so damaged from his childhood he couldn't be fixed. Whatever the author had in mind with this character it didn't work for me.
I did enjoy the glimpses of the characters from the previous books in this series and I thought the reader did a very good job.
This book was a re-read for me. I read it several years ago and like most of the rest of the world I loved it. I have been checking from to to time to see if audible had added it to their catalog and finally it showed up.
I purchased it the day it became available and immediately listened to it straight through and it was magic. Sissy Spacek's narration is pure genius. It takes what was already one of the best books I had ever read and manages to add even more dimensions to it. I grew up in small towns in the South and was a little girl very much like Scout. I was transported straight back into my childhood. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of World War One, also known as The Great War. The early 20th century is my favorite period of history and some very notable books have been set in this time period. This book is probably going on my list of best reads in 2014.
Falling Snow is a beautifully written book that focusses on the lives of some very strong women, both in the past and the present. It's also a very poignant book as there was nothing about that war that wasn't sad. But it is also a very uplifting book about accomplishments, love, secrets, sorrows and survival both in the past and the present.
My only quibble with the book is that it switched back and forth between the past and the future. That's always a problem with me but if the book is good enough I don't groan too loud.
This book didn't work nearly as well for me as Winspeare's Masie Dobbs series does. It was OK I guess but sadly I found it very predictable. I would not recommend it unless you knew nothing about that era and wanted the history lesson. As always Winspeare does a great job with the atmosphere of that time but there is really nothing driving this book as far as story. I knew in the first chapter how it was going to end.
What I did enjoy about the book was her portrait of life on a small Kentish farm. I also enjoyed the way Kezia, the wife who ran the farm and kept the home fires burning while her husband went off to war. She painted lovely word pictures in her letters to him of imaginary meals that she was cooking for them as if he was there with her. I thought that was a lovely way to convey a feeling of comfort and a connection to home. That was cleverly done by the author although the recipes did wander out into left field from time to time.
I did not care for the ending. It ended too abruptly. I know that Happy Ever Afters were thin on the ground at the end of WW1 but I'm not a reader who needs stark reality all the time. A little fantasy can be a good thing sometimes.
I am a big fan of travel books and if this were 1995 and if I was planning to travel to Hong Kong I would have found this book invaluable. It's an interesting and well written snap shot of Hong Kong during the 1980's with a brief mentions here and there of what happened in the past as background information for what is happening at the present. All from a British POV. But as reader looking for a comprehensive history of Hong Kong this book falls short.
To be fair my negative opinions are very likely to be the result of my expectations. I recently finished Sarum by Edward Rutherford and have Russka on my TBR pile and I'm probably spoiled by books that practically take one back to the big bang.
What this book does is give to give the reader a sense of what colonial Hong Kong was like for the British which is almost exactly what it was like for the British in India. They created their own self absorbed little bubble and life outside that bubble only existed as it related to them. Interesting but no surprises for the reader there.
Where this book falls sadly short is examine the part the Chinese played. The Chinese made up 96% of the population, but are described repeatedly as a mysterious, superstitious mass. Energetic and hard working but whose motives and culture were unfathomable to the westerner.
When I finished this book I had more questions than I had when I began and I'm off to find a real history of Hong Kong. One that includes the years after 1997 to now.
There are a lot of 5 star reviews for this book both here and on amazon and I agree with almost of them. This book has a very good story line.
Maybe Someday was almost entirelly written in the stream of conscienceless style and I have always found that style very hard going. Added to that is that there is so much angst in this story that I felt like I was running out of breath a couple of times. All that angst kept accumulating in my brain the way mud accumulates on your boots does when you walk across a muddy field after a wet spell.
On the up side I really liked the characters in this story and thought it was beautifully read. Both narraters did a wonderful job of breathing life into them. But I didn't want to spend so much time in Ridge and Sydney's heads. I wanted the story to be more about what they were actually doing and less time about what was going their heads.
I was happy to see this story here in unabridged format but I had to think hard before I bought it. I bought it in spite of it being so poorly done. I am surprised that audible offered it for sale. It certainly doesn't reflect well on them. But I can't complain too much because I bought it with my eyes open.
Earlier this week I purchased "Stella Bain" (audiobook) I started listening to it and then finally gave up on it. I may try again later but I probably won't. For me it fell into the same category as The English Patient. Beautiful writing but absolutely no story.
I can overlook a lot in a good story including bad writing. But I can't overlook no story even if it is good writing. If I'm going to plunk my money down on a book I insist on a story. In Stella Bain I felt that the author was enamored by her own prose and was indulging herself by trying to work her words into some sort of a story in order to show how clever she was. If she gets off on stroking her ego that's her business but it really ticks me off when an author does it on my dime. Anita Shreve has been a hit and miss author for me in the past but I am definitely over her now.
This is one of the two really outstanding non fiction books I read recently. The book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew that won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
But this is a book about more than just a story about overcoming hard times but about what we are made of and what we can accomplish if we really make up our minds to do it. It's a shame that the title True Grit has already been used for a story because it would really fit this book.
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