Santa Rosa, CA, United States | Member Since 2015
When I listened to the preview of this book, I worried that I would not enjoy the strong Chinese dialect of the reader as she portrays dialect of a Chinese American young woman but, as I listenened, I grew to love the sound and thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese dialect along with the interesting interpretations of American slang and Chinese slang. This was an inspiring story of the love between a mother and her daughter and the courage of these two Chinese immigrants to succeed. Through the experience of the young girl, Kim, the reader learns of the poverty and the hardships that face these immigrants. It was a fantastic story of courage, love, dedication, and the difficult challenges that face young women.
I loved "The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" which is the prequel to this novel. Where I found Harold's adventures to be quirky, quaint and profound; I found Queenie's struggles to be almost equally tedious and full of restraint. This novel slowly (and I do mean slowly) tells the story of Queenie's love for Harold as well as the story of the secret that she has lived with since meeting Harold. Queenie is living in a hospice and, therefore, the reader also meets the other patients at the hospice and the caregivers who encourage and care for Queenie. It gently explores the experiences of patients facing end-of-life needs for closure and for companionship. It expresses the beauty and the kindness of the nuns and the other caregivers at the hospice. I enjoyed learning about Queenie's love and admired her restraint while loving Harold in quiet and simple ways. My complaints about this book are that it often felt tedious and maddeningly slow as it moved towards Queenie expressing her secret. In addition, some of the voices of particular patiients were loud and had a painful and sharp tone to them which detracted from the otherwise quiet and slow-moving novel. Perhaps some readers would find this slow movement beautiful, but I found myself feeling mired in the sadness and monotony of waiting. It's a toss-up for me whether I would recommend this book. If you need to know about why Harold is making his pilgrimage, well, then go ahead and read this. It just may make you cry.
I finally listened to "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog...". I suppose I am not your average reviewer since I have worked with traumatized children for many years but I thought perhaps I would get some new insights or learn some new techniques. If the reader does not understand how trauma affects children's behaviors, this is an important book teaching the reader using case studies of Dr. Perry's experience as a psychiatrist. Because I have seen much of the same types of problems with children and how trauma affects their development in a myriad of ways, this book brought up some frustration for me. In my experience, it is a rare psychiatrist who has the resources to travel and work with children using a team of highly trained professionals who seem to have limitless resources. More often, children are treated in clinics where the treating psychiatrist does not have the time to work with the treatment team and where resources are sparse. I felt that Dr. Perry exaggerated his successes and failed to let the reader know that often it takes more years than the family or the clinician has available to help a traumatized child and, sometimes, the child cannot work on the trauma until he/she is an adult and has the strength and desire to make changes and work through trauma. In conclusion, this book does teach about trauma and affect as well as treatment but it also does not present the very real possibility that some children do not recover no matter how hard the professionals and the family try.
"Brain Rules for Baby" was a delightful surprise. This author teaches the reader about brain development in the womb and throughout the first five years of life. He is able to relay this information simply, concisely and with well documented research. He also teaches about how brain development is affected by parenting styles and presents simple rules to help parents understand what their babies need in order to develop optimally; both happily and healthily. Dr. Medina documents his research sources throughout this well-developed thorough study while he also manages to present his suggestions with humility and personality. I highly recommend this book for parents-to-be, current parents of little children, as well as to teachers, social workers and therapists. It is beautifully accessible and simply written. My only caution is that the first chapter focuses on brain development in the womb which I did find a bit tedious. I ended up skipping over parts of the first chapter and was so glad that I stayed with it because I learned so much. In fact, I ended up buying the kindle version also so that I can refer to the rules and reasons for his suggestions.
This novel was my first experience reading author, Jandy Nelson. My warning to other listeners is that, at least for me, the first chapter of the book, was difficult to get through. The sound of the young protagonist's voice was difficult to adjust to and the storyline was slow getting going. Eventually, though, the novel begins to unfold with each chapter moving from twin brother narrating his point of view alternating with chapters where the twin sister narrates her point of view. The narrators actually do a wonderful job expressing the voices and emotions of these siblings. This is a family story and a "coming of age" story of two bright and artistic teens growing up in the United States, middle America, in contemporary times. The author creates these twin characters with endearing, fun personalities. Each of the twins utilize language which is fun, creative, and surprisingly entertaining. The twins' lives intertwine as they develop both together and apart through their teen years especially through their emerging sexual development and while in separate pursuits towards artistic fulfillment. In the end, I would recommend this book especially to young adults, teens and parents of teens. The story is written with creative and, often, shockingly surprising prose that verges upon the poetic. These are two very talented twins!
This novel is a sequel to "Finding Nouf". It is a mystery novel set in contemporary Saudi utilizing a female forensic scientist and a male detective. What I enjoyed about this novel was learning more about the characters whom I had become attached to in Book 1. I had become involved with the protaginists' lives to the extent that I wanted more and got it. I appreciated the development of the male protagonist's attitudes about love, relationship and religion. I enjoyed learning more about Saudi culture while gaining another veiled glimpse into the many different ways that Muslims live and adapt to their interpretations of the Koran in modern society. The male protagonist struggles with many questions in his quest to remain true to his religion while feeling the pull of relationship towards an independent non-traditional woman. The mystery portion of the book kept my interest most of the way through the book. The down side of this novel was the disappointing conclusion to the mystery. It was a slow, downward spiral leading to a less than satisfying conclusion. This novel dragged a little in the second half but particularly in the last one-fourth. Overall, the book provided additional education about Saudi/Muslim culture while providing interesting plot lines and characters. The narration was well-suited to the characters. Zoe's writing style is easy to understand and follow allowing it to be potentially enjoyed and experienced by any age group from teens through adulthood. For the cultural experience and the story, I recommend this book.
I recommend this murder mystery. The setting is contemporary Saudi, Arabia which is a unique backdrop for a mystery. The story provides an interesting glimpse into Saudi culture including male/female roles within the Muslim faith. One of the main characters is a woman who is a forensic scientist and through her character as well as through the male protagonist, the reader is allowed to explore a bit of the inner conflict which arises out of the Muslim beliefs of both the young men and young women. Both main characters are thoughtful, intelligent adults who face several ethical dilemmas throughout the novel. The murder mystery was intriguing and kept me guessing until close to the end of the book. In addition, the reader had a steady and pleasing voice. Overall, between the murder mystery, the culture and the psychological/religious considerations, the book is well done. It's not an edge-of-the seat mystery, but more a steadily paced, light-weight, murder mystery with some interesting twists. Thumbs up.
I enjoyed this book, both for the literary quality and the reading. While listening, I was frequently lost in my visions of Burma; traversing the mountainsides with Tin Win. This love story enters into the realm of "too good to be true" but in an endearing and thought-provoking manner. The story teaches about the power of love and dedication. This is not a story about gorgeous people living perfect lives. No, this book is more a study of love existing admidst hardship, about friendship, and about how we humans change over time often being required to make difficult choices that change the course of our lives. The story line does stretch the imagination but it works. It's beautiful and inspirational. I do recommend this book.
David Nicholls novel, "Us", was an inside look at a marriage written from the male perspective. Douglas, the husband and protagonist, is a man working hard to save his long-term marriage. The author was able to bring me so close to the husband that I longed to talk with him and tell him to stop trying so hard and stop letting Connie make all the decisions. I felt sad for him as he tried too hard to please his beloved wife and sad for the wife that she could not see her husband for the gem that he was. This was a book of angst and frustration; often moving too slowly for my taste. My favorite part of the book was watching Douglas work towards rekindling his relationship with his son and watching him make some hard-won changes in himself towards the end of the novel. As a marital portrayal, the novel is a fairly accurate picture of what could and/or does go on in some marriages. The listening experience was improved through the clarity of voice provided by David Haig. This novel would be an interesting read for a book group that was ready to discuss male/female roles in marriage; other than that, I am not sure I would recommend this due to the long and tedious story line. The listening experience was improved through the clarity of voice provided by David Haig.
I have enjoyed many of Ann Tyler's novels and thoroughly enjoyed this one. This was not a funny and lyrical story like "Acciddental Tourist" but more of an in depth study of a family over several generations. As ever, though, Ms. Tyler's characters are lively and quirky. Family relationships are explored with humour, integrity and light. The reader experiences the complexities of sibling relationships, the bond created by marital ups and downs, the parental struggles while raising children, and the difficulties involved in having that one child who is "different", whose life never follows an understandable path and who is perplexing at all times and turns. I especially enjoyed the clever way which Ms. Tyler was able to bring the reader into first the parents experiences and then into the experiences of the siblings and how the siblings loved and accepted each other despite their many frustrations and differences. I do recommend this book for the reader who enjoys reading about families' quirks and loyalties and about the nuances of love over a lifetime. What I enjoy about this novel is how it normalizes family experiences, brings the reader behind closed doors, and affords the reader (the listener in this instance) the shared humanity of family; all this done with an air of lightness and pleasure. If you are looking for a great storyline, this is not your book; otherwise, I recommend this novel! The narrator is perfect at bringing all the characters to life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I got lost in the story and found A.J. (the bookstore owner) to have clever, biting observations about life. I enjoyed experiencing A.J.'s changes over a decade of his lifetime. I was afraid that the book would be too trite and cliche'd but the story was engaging and the characters so lively that I never experienced a less than delightful moment of listening. Because A.J. owns a bookstore and his life is about books, there are many references comparing life experiences to various authors and book titles. He reminds the readers about finding companionship in a good book, about traveling to other times and places in a good book, and about the importance of asking a new friend, "what is your favorite book?" I had moments where I just broke out laughing while listening. I know some reviewers have remarked that this book should be regarded as "chick lit" (since A.J.'s relationship development does traverse the novel) but I see this novel also in the category of "literary fiction". The language is precise, the prose is well developed, and the story is different; refreshing. The narrator brings to life the personalities of all the characters and speaks clearly and consistently throughout. I highly recommend this novel.
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