I enjoy all of Alexander McCall Smith's books and decided to try this 'one off' novel. I'm SO glad I did! AMS has the gift of taking his reader wherever he wants them to be: a dusty town in the Botswana dry season, a back garden in an upscale neighborhood of Scotland, and now a country village in 1940's Sussex. I disagree with the review that said the music portions felt "bolted on" - as I believe that in a time of extended crisis the average person will either run around screaming about the sky falling, or will take a good grasp on the things in their lives that they CAN control. It may be music, or the vegetable garden (a necessity for many during those times of rationing), or even helping a disabled farmer continue to contribute to the war effort by caring for his chickens. To see how people are affected by those stressors all you have to do is look at the changed behavior of Americans in the days, weeks and months following 9/11 - and that was just one day of terror, not years of bombs falling out of the sky on a nightly basis.
So, he's done it again - the book is heartwarming and a nearly complete picture is painted of the charming Sussex village and the lonely young woman who finds herself there during a remarkable period of history.
This story, while well thought out, is helped if you have more than a passing knowledge of the original Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass books. I do. In the wake of recent re-tellings of classic children's tales, it had a lot of potential. I didn't love it.
Even though I generally enjoy young-adult tales, the emotional level of the main characters was too childish to represent the high school seniors they were supposed to be, so their issues and attitudes moved them to the interest level of a much younger group of readers - however, the amount of sexuality in the books moves it well beyond that age group - so we're left with a "who was this book written for" problem. The synopsis states that it is for Grade 8 and up, but I wouldn't want my eighth-grader reading about a heroine who allows (and seems to love) boys who try to make every decision for her, going so far as to physically restrain her to overrule her decisions.
Next, it seems the author wanted to get as much of the Carroll material as possible into the book, and unfortunately the story drags. It loses the beauty, sweetness and poetry of the original. I had to force myself to continue listening (I'm stubborn like that) until the last hour of the book, when things began to happen and it became mildly interesting. I think that the entire story could probably have been told in one long, or possible two average books at most - I won't be buying the next installment, so I will never know - but I can live with that.
My Biggest Beef in this version however, was the narrator. The 'w' in the word SWORD is supposed to be silent! I cringed everytime I heard it, and I heard it a lot. Also, I believe one of the characters was supposed to have a suave speaking voice with a Cockney(?) accent, but one or two words of each sentence he spoke had a vaguely Brit ring and the rest . . . well . . . not so much. A little research on what that sounds like should have been a requirement before recording began. It was horrendous.
To sum up, I don't recommend this book to anyone over the age of 15, and only then with parental guidance. There are too many other wonderful choices out there.
I've read Road Rage and 20th Century Ghosts - loved them. I own Heart-Shaped Box and have been trying to get through it for a couple of years with no success. I have heard great things about NOS4A2 and want to read it, but I was able to get a discounted copy of Horns. So I did.
I must admit, the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book was hard work. There were a great many moments of very interesting reading, but they didn't seem to be coming to any kind of reasonable point. I did consider giving up and going on to something I knew I'd enjoy - but I stuck it out. I am glad I did! The myriad of short, clever anecdotes began to weave themselves into a pattern. I not only knew the characters, I knew their motivations and how the events of their lives had shaped them into the adults that were making the big decisions and acting/reacting to the (admittedly) weird *stuff* that was happening around them. For those who get a bit bored, hang in there. For those who think there are (a) too many characters or that (b) the book is too long: (a) they are ALL vital parts of the story and it would be diminished if any of them were edited out, and (b) Get Real! No matter what format you read a book in there are ways of telling its length in advance.
Joe Hill is not his father and anyone looking for SK will be disappointed. Joe Hill is a very good writer in his own right, he is much darker and his characters live extremely complicated lives (if only inside their own heads). I am not giving this book five stars because it is not Great Literature, but I am giving it a solid four stars because it is fresh, interesting and a very good read - giving the reader lots of things to think about once the book has been finished.
The material covered in this book should be made into a required class in every school in the world! It could be called 'Dissonance for Beginners'. So many people who make bad decisions and then stick to them in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary might be able to recognize this trait in themselves if they were aware that it is, and always has been, a common human reaction. The book itself is highly readable and contains a good number of practical examples of dissonance and the results thereof. Recommended - for everyone.
Yep, it starts out a bit slow, but then it picks up . . . then it's like riding a rollercoaster through the end of not only this book but also the two that follow. The Pine Deep Trilogy is truly a remarkable story, in that it deals with the paranormal, but in precisely the manner that the paranormal would be dealt with if it happened in the life of any normal real-life person. There is no blanket assumption that everyone will just take you at your word when you say you've seen a (whatever) and there are the resulting 'inconveniences' when you find that you must go on to solve a huge problem with only a small core of believers.
The book is as well written as you would expect from a man who teaches writing, and I was constantly impressed by the power of description that Jonathan Maberry brings to bear in even the simplest situations, a mere three or four words that complete the scene and leave you in no doubt as to the emotions, etc. of the characters involved: a gesture, a sigh, something that the average writer would not even think of adding - makes all the difference!
Read this book - then read the other two in the trilogy. It is time well spent!
Yes, it's a murder mystery, but as with all of the previous Chief Inspector Gamache novels, there is a certain peace that you feel while reading this book. It takes place in an isolated monastery that is accessible only by boat or float plane among a group of monks who have taken a vow of silence - except for their Gregorian-style chants. The pacing is perfect and as the investigation takes place, both the Chief Inspector and Jean-Guy Beauvoir are still dealing with the not only the machinations of the Surete but also the physical and emotional aftermath of a previous raid in which they were both injured.
This book is a lovely 'read' - the narration is perfect - a very good mystery (it took me right until the end to even get a clue!), and a wonderful way to spend some leisure time. I DID miss Three Pines and the people there, but I am hopeful that we will get to "see" them all again soon.
I must admit that I had a bit of trouble with the narrator's delivery, and when I was about 40 minutes into the book I found that I was getting used to him, so I went back to the beginning and started over, enjoying every minute from that point on.
Ms. Christie led a very interesting life, subject to the joys, heartaches and disappointments that are a part of any full life. The writer has done a remarkable job of research and compilation and you leave this book with a whole new appreciation for the great volume of consistently excellent work produced by Ms. Christie in her lifetime.
If I have made this sound dry, it is not! I chose this book in one or another of Audible's sales and it sat in my library for over a year before I listened to it - but I am SO glad I did! Recommended highly.
An excellent story, or pair of stories, but totally bogged down by the insertion of the same old tired seduction scenes - how do lips "intertwine" anyway? I was able to fast-forward through a great deal of that, but was disappointed to find that one must purchase the subsequent books in order to know what happens in the present-day story, and (one assumes) further installments of the historical portion of the tale. I won't be buying them, and will just have to guess at - or make up - the ending. Shouldn't be too difficult.
This book was recommended as Book 1 of a series, I didn't know there had been a previous series books (written as Amanda Quick?) and I doubt if I would have liked those any better. It's a very simple paranormal romance novel - emphasis on romance novel - the plot is thin, dialogue poor and the narration leaves a lot to be desired. I found myself fast-forwarding through large chunks of the sex scenes (if you've read one, you've read 'em all). If you have already read the Arcane books and liked them, read this. If not, don't bother.
This book is well written, well narrated and just very, very interesting. I've read other books on this general topic and some may be more specific in detail, pack more of an anti-nuke sermon, or describe a greater spectrum of the challenges to be faced in an event such as this, but this book was very satisfying and just a darned good read. I believe it's important to keep in mind the fact that the year is 1959 when judging the actions/reactions of the characters, and think the author did a great job with creating the feel of the times. I wish it had been longer, but a sequel would most likely be anticlimactic, and the ending leaves the reader with enough material to spend some idle hours imagining where the folks of this little Florida town will take their lives from here on. Highly recommended.
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