I purchased this book to prepare for a vacation in Ireland. Knowing little about Irish history except the relatively recent tragic events in Northern Ireland, I was stunned to read how much the Irish endured mainly at the hands of the English. For centuries, into modern times, the Irish suffered prejudice, religious persecution, exploitation, injustice, poverty, illness, and cruelty as a result of England's superior military strength, unstoppable aggression, and insatiable greed.
Now I can't wait to take my trip and meet my hosts, whom other travelers have described as hospitable, warm, and generous. This is a great tribute to their strength and faith.
The narrator did a wonderful job. He read beautifully. He had an Irish accent (that would seem obvious, but Johnny Depp, with an American accent, read Keith Richards's autobiography--a choice I'll never understand). Although the facts of the country's history are grim, for some reason the book came across as very interesting rather than depressing and painful. The content struck me as thorough and complete.
I highly recommend this book.
Twenty years ago, my niece recommended a small-batch skincare line made in New Mexico. I've been using it ever since. So when she recommended Alexander McCall Smith's books, I could hardly say no. But could she be right again? Would I like this series as much as the moisturizer?
The answer is yes!
This first volume (and I have already finished the second because I now I cannot live without Smith) is so screamingly funny, I texted my niece with the lines that made me laugh, so she would know how much I love this writer. She endured a steady stream of messages from me all day long.
The core of quirky, lovable or "hatable" characters live in a Georgian structure divided into flats. The residents get to know each other, and we get to know them and their friends, child, and dog.
Readers can detect a lot of inside jokes that citizens of Scotland in general and Edinburgh in particular will understand. Surely they will be rolling around in their kilts and howling. Even though I wasn't privy to the jokes' meaning, just recognizing they are there was fun enough for me.
The novel isn't all laughs, of course. Smith shares many profound observations about life, our world, politics, and human behavior.
As for the narrator, he was perfect. He had a very dry delivery, his accents were on target, and he intensified my enjoyment.
And so on to Volume 3.
I read a lot of WWII books, but this one was unusual. Despite the vastness of the project and the expanse of years, Hastings's book is highly personal. We listen to soldiers' and civilians' intensely moving diary entries, letters to loved ones, and eyewitness accounts. No other book has made the depth of suffering so clear and real to me, person by person by person.
And yet the book was not sensationalism. It was scholarly and informative. Hastings is clear in his opinions of the role each nation played in the war. Russia made the biggest contribution and, at great sacrifice, won the war for the Allies. The Brits don't come out looking so good. The US emerged, relatively speaking, unscathed.
I was so impressed with Inferno, I used my next credit for another Hastings book.
The narrator did a wonderful job.
I selected The Pickwick Papers because Simon Prebble was born to narrate audiobooks, and he does not disappoint. He brings every character to life by creating the perfect voice, accent, cadence, and intonation.
The Pickwick Papers is a long book, nearly 31 hours' listening time, and was written for serialization. The story is pure fluff, mildly amusing and mostly pleasant. The book offers several continuing characters and plot threads, and the story floats along a gentle stream. For me, it never generated a high level of interest. Probably the original serialization format had a lot to do with its success. Taken all in one piece as an audiobook, the novel and the characters became tiresome, like sucking on confectioners sugar, and I chose to opt for something else.
At times while listening to this novel, I was astonished to realize that only one individual was reading it. Simon Prebble creates so many distinct voices, one might think several men and women are huddling around the microphone, and they call their ensemble "Simon Prebble." Bravo.
I suppose most people dive into this book already knowing what it's about, so the narrator's talent is especially important. The plot holds few surprises, so it's the performance that delights.
I also guess that most of Audible's subscribers are familiar with Oscar Wilde, his sexual preferences, and where they landed him because of where he lived and when. He was, I think, very courageous for including so many overt references in his book to homosexuality and the tragic end suffered by the men due to shame and the fear of being outed. (Excuse my use of that modern term in reference to this book. It worked better than "exposed.")
A few of the plot developments were easy to guess in advance, but that did not lessen my enjoyment. Sir Henry's worldview is interesting and thought provoking, and he is a solid, consistent character to whom Prebble gives voice.
I have no personal experience with this book's subject matter. I am not an addict, and I don't have any addicts in my family or circle of friends. I chose not to have children. But I found this book so compelling, honest, raw, and magnificently written, I didn't want to stop listening to it.
My sister, who has four children, said to me when one of her daughters was diagnosed with a serious illness, "You cannot know what this is like for me. You're not a parent." Granted. But Sheff's book gave me a much better insight into parenthood than I ever had and ever thought I would have--the intense love and cell-deep connection, the worry and anguish.
The narrator is amazing--one of the best (if not the best) I have heard.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
I read No Easy Day, about the raid on Bin Laden's compound. I'm guessing a lot of people not ordinarily drawn to SEAL missions or military memoirs did. Of course I found that event fascinating, but what drew me to trying another SEAL book was details of their training to become members of this elite group. The training takes up a huge section of the book, which was what I was looking for. So many strong, driven patriots couldn't handle it, and I understand why. The ones who complete the training are just about superhuman.
Then the book goes on to talk about missions, and the heartbreaking account of Operation Redwing had me riveted. So many times the hand of God must have intervened, like placing Marcus's rifle within reach after an explosion blows him across and down a mountainside, like his landing upside-down in a hole after another blast, so the enemies couldn't spot him, and so on.
I found the narrator to be perfect. I totally believed him and his accent and inflection . . . except when he pronounced "either" as "eye-ther" instead of "ee-ther." When you get to know Marcus, a good ol' boy from Texas, you are pretty darned sure he would not say "eye-ther." I'm surprised no one caught that.
That's nit-picking. Sorry. The book is great. Go for it.
Oh, man, what a gorgeous book. And if I could give Will Patton a hundred stars for his performance, I'd do it. Pretend I did. He nailed the personalities with his delivery, and when he spoke for the manic Dean, Patton read at 110 miles per hour with inflection and didn't miss a beat. Brilliant.
The writing is astonishing. Kerouac can create a unique living, breathing character in two sentences.
The only thing I knew about Kerouac is that he "spoke for the Beat Generation." For decades hat description held me back from reading this book. Don't let that happen to you. Jump on it and take a wild ride.
I got through part one, which was pretty good, and then a quarter of part two, when the heroine turned into an idiot, and I couldn't stand it anymore.
The romance genre depends upon tension between the lovers, and much of the strife is based on misunderstandings. I get that. But the heroine's thought processes, perceptions, attitude, and behavior were maddening and in some cases inexcusable. When I couldn't sympathize with her anymore, when I didn't care what happened to her, I knew it was time to exchange this book for another.
Kudos to the narrator. She was fabulous.
Remarkable, really, how our Forefathers, having no template but knowing what they didn't like about how they were being governed, created the foundation of our United States.Their forethought was astonishing. They got just about everything right . . . except abolishing slavery, and of course that is a huge "except." I did not know, however, that the general belief was that slavery would soon come to a natural end because of the influx of so many workers from Europe. The invention of the cotton gin changed all that by making possible the quick processing of a type of cotton that had been unprofitable.
This fascinating book, though, is largely about the ripple effect liberty, democracy, and equality had on people's mindset--how they conceptualized themselves, sprang to newfound opportunities, worshiped, and interacted. It was in many ways with innocent, celebratory wonderment.
This book is part of the Oxford Series of American History, and I will listen to all the volumes, I am sure. I learned so much, and I felt awe and gratitude for what these brilliant minds created.
As for the narrator, Robert Fass did not miss a beat. He read at a good clip but with proper rhythm and inflection. He did a superb job.
Over the years I had heard many people say that Truman did not have to approve dropping the atomic bombs, that the Japanese had already lost their war. I heard people speculate that Truman had given the go-ahead just to show Stalin that the US had the capabilities or that the US had put so much money and effort into the Manhattan Project, the bomb was like a runaway train, and Truman couldn't stop it. McCullough explains that the Japanese mindset was to die rather than surrender, and they would have kept fighting to the last man, woman, and child. In the book, one Japanese woman was given an awl and told to stab an enemy soldier if it came to that. Truman believed that an invasion of Japan would have cost the US a quarter of a million dead and wounded, and he was not going to allow that to happen. I believe that, and, well, now I know.
I found amazing that Truman had succeeded in very little in life and was suddenly thrust into the presidency at one of the most critical points in our history. He met with FDR only three times between his election to the vice presidency and his swearing in as president.
Reading about Stalin's disregard for Eastern European countries' sovereignty also provides a historical basis for Putin's behavior now. It's happened before, it's happening now, and it will probably happen again.
I recommend this book. McCullough and Runger are an unbeatable combination.
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