I had read this novel many years ago and loved it. It had been my first Anne Tyler novel. Listening to this now, I was disappointed throughout the first half. The characters were quirky, almost typical Anne Tyler characters, but the freshness of the experience was gone for me. This is the story of Macon, an odd, finicky man dealing with the demise of his marriage after the tragic death of his son. When Macon meets Muriel, an unlikely mate, his life begins to change in big ways. Halfway through the novel, the characters became alive to me, and I loved the second half of the book. It was hard to rate this, as the first half is a basic 3 star novel, but the second half was a 5 star story which kept me glued to my iPod. This does not feel dated, and I recommend it to anyone who likes Anne Tyler or quirky middle-aged romances.
This mystery of a weird rooming house with strange happenings looked like it might be fun at first with a bit of mystery and quirky characters, but those characters never got interesting after the intro, and the plot was very slow moving. I think had I been a 14 year old boy, I might have liked this. The dialog was snappy. After listening to more than half, I found myself thinking more about what I'd listen to next, so I stopped and got a new book.
This is really a one gimmick YA novel. I am a teacher and one of my students said it was her favorite book ever, so I gave it a shot. The gimmick is that a high school girl had committed suicide and left a series of tapes meant to be listened to by the people who caused (in some way) her to take her own life. The novel switches between the girl's tapes and a boy who is listening to them. The boy is not one who treated her poorly, but rather her "almost love." I just never got past the gimmick, and it just sounded to me like someone trying to write a heart-wrenching YA novel. I think a lot of kids, especially girls who like sad romances, will like this. It does touch upon the important issue of teen suicide. As an adult, I was not drawn in, and stopped about an hour from the end.
This mystery-thriller is told as a first person narrative by a woman who was abducted. Each chapter is a one-sided session with a psychiatrist, where Annie, the abductee, does all the talking. The start was compelling, and reminded me of Room (but the start of Room was better). When the story shifted more to the aftermath of Annie's return, the novel reminded me of Prince of Tides, with lots of background on Annie's dysfunctional family (but Prince of Tides was better, with more interesting secondary characters). Unlike Room, which faded in the second half, Still Missing gets better as it shifts to a who-dunnit and post-trauma story. This is not a great novel, but it did manage to keep my interest throughout. A good reader made it easy to listen to, even the parts that were "hard to listen to." Annie calls her abductor "The Freak," and describes many rape scenes in numbing detail, so you should be aware of what you are in for before starting. The protagonist's humanity and strength made it easier to listen to those tough parts.
As a math guy, I was drawn to the novel because it was about a genius girl being taken to a math competition in Scotland. The first two hours did not grab my interest and I was almost ready to stop listening, but then the road trip began, and I was quickly hooked. I really enjoyed the rest of the novel. It's really about a single mother and her two quirky kids trying to scrape by in life. Those characters were great, and the road trip with a virtual stranger was funny and heart-warming, and the rest of the book was great, too. The author found the right balance between interesting and believable (like Anne Tyler usually does), with an energy and sense of humor that made this book a lot of fun.
If you want to learn about what it's like to hike the Appalachian Trail, you might really like this book. If you want to get into the mind of the hiker, read Cheryl Strayed "Wild" instead. David Miller, in AWOL, steered clear of most of his personal thoughts. He played it safe, and I don't really feel I know him after listening to this book. He wrote a diary of his daily experiences and published it as a book. I enjoy the outdoors and enjoyed comparing his hike with my cross country bike tours (you eat better bike touring). I ended out skipping a few parts in the middle because it was too repetitive. At the end, the author says he'd like to do the hike again, but I never gathered that from his daily entries. By the way, AWOL is his trail name. It's not about getting lost. Finally, the wrong narrator read this. His smooth voice never matched the character writing those words.
I'm guessing that women might like this more than men. A middle aged couple connected with a young girl who may be real or may be their snow girl come-to-life.My sister recommended it and I gave it a shot. I was intrigued with a book about the Alaska wilderness in the early 20th century. I was okay with a fairy tale aspect, and this drew me in at times, while at other times I thought it was too much. The characters seemed a little "light" with the men too often portrayed as stereotypically dense compared to women (maybe men are, which is why women would like this more). There were enough parts that worked, though, that I stayed with this until the end. I did not think this was too slow, a common criticism of others. The pacing seemed right for this story. I liked the fine line this walked between fairy tale and true-life. It keeps one guessing.This felt a bit like a Young Adult novel, and a good one at times. Not my favorite but somewhat entertaining.
I loved The Dog Stars. It felt like a fresh take on a post apocalyptic world (a flu variation wiped out most of humanity). This first person narrative focused more on the narrator's state of mind, past and present. This story transplanted me to his world. While there are scenes of action and violence, they are few and far between, with the horror of the world being more psychological. It's a tale of Hig, his beloved dog, his airplane, and his brilliant and angry survivalist partner Bangley. I was fascinated with the relationship between Hig and Bangley. While there were some times when the narration was a little over-the-top wistful, I still loved this book. It has stayed with me in a way that few books do. This lends itself especially well to the audio format. This had a bit of the feel of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, with The Dog Stars being more engaging.
This novel grabbed me from the start. I found myself really caring about the protagonist, who narrated the story. He's a middle-aged guy who made a mistake as a teen which continues to haunt him and his family. I was engaged with his present and past life, and was surprised with how much I loved this story. It was heading towards a 5 star review for me, but the exciting, action-packed climax did disappoint me, feeling like something I have read in so many thrillers. The mystery and characters drew me in, but the end just went for the action. Still, I strongly recommend this 4.5 star novel.
George Colt mixes the story of his life as one of four brothers (coming of age in the 60's and 70's) along with famous and infamous brothers throughout history. The author's own life story is fascinating, and was my favorite part of this book (it was about a third of the book). This would have been a 5 star pure memoir. Stories of different brothers in history are woven throughout the book - some being major chapters and others being shorter references. These include The Booth brothers, the Thoreaus, the Marx Brothers, and the Kelloggs Brothers. Some of the historical pieces are more interesting than others (the Kelloggs chapter was the most interesting). The way the author left and then returned to a set of brothers was a bit disconcerting. I am close in age to the author, and I enjoyed listening to this book and thinking of my own brother and myself, as well as my own three sons. While this could have been better edited, with some slow parts here and there, I still liked much of it, and loved a lot too. It's a book that stays with me more than other books.
This very formulaic mystery is about a retired police detective fighting cancer and getting dragged back into a former case where the murderer seemed to walk free. The main character is likeable and believable, and the narrator is very easy to listen to. This novel was a pleasant, fun way to pass the time. There is mystery, action, and romance. This was good "escape fiction."
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