The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
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I saw this won the Pulitzer, so I downloaded it without looking at the reviews. I wish I had. Hopefully this will save someone else from making the same mistake (and 40 hours of their life).
The characters felt like mostly cardboard cutouts, recycled from other books. The narration is first person and rather pedestrian. This isn't fine fiction, it's a story, that and nothing more.
The saving grace was the reader, who was excellent. Despite his efforts, I'd like the 40 hours I wasted on this back....
Just in time for the Chairman's centennial, the endlessly absorbing sequel to James Kaplan's best-selling Frank: The Voice - finally the definitive biography that Frank Sinatra, justly termed "The Entertainer of the Century", deserves and requires. Like Peter Guralnick on Elvis, Kaplan goes behind the legend to give us the man in full, in his many guises and aspects: peerless singer, (sometimes) powerful actor, business mogul, tireless lover, and associate of the powerful and infamous.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
It drags, right from the start. I would have preferred a chronological biography of Sinatra's life. 41 hours examining every nuance and detail of the middle part of his career (maybe the book gets to the end of his career, I didn't finish it) was just far too much for me. Fascinating guy, but covered in far too much detail for me here.
How could the performance have been better?
The jumps in recording from one session to another and/or the subsequent edits aren't very smooth, they're actually quite jarring, with changes in tone and/or volume.
Was Sinatra worth the listening time?
Not for me, no.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
What did Charles Darwin, middling schoolboy and underachieving second son, do to become one of the earliest and greatest naturalists the world has known? What were the similar choices made by Mozart and by Caesar Rodriguez, the U.S. Air Force's last ace fighter pilot? In Mastery, Robert Greene's fifth book, he mines the biographies of great historical figures for clues about gaining control over our own lives and destinies. Picking up where The 48 Laws of Power left off, Greene culls years of research and original interviews to blend historical anecdote and psychological insight, distilling the universal ingredients of the world's masters.
I really tried to get through this. I got almost 50% of the way there and just gave up. I think this got in my queue because someone (or possibly Audible) suggested it since I loved Malcolm Gladwell. While there are parallels, Gladwell's writing is far more compelling and he doesn't spend much of the book preaching in quasi self-help mode, alternated with anecdotes about famous "masters".
I also found it to be built on a logical fallacy - that you can only be happy/achieve mastery/follow your bliss if you move to your destined path, the one that is a fit for you. This is ridiculous. If I had accepted my abilities and shortcomings as they were, I never would have pursued my career; I had to become somebody slightly different than I was (or than I saw myself) in order to make this work. Greene implies that I'm in the wrong career path.
Admittedly, the biographical portions were interesting, but once he started to repeat them, it made the content seem all the more stretched and threadbare.
This thought-provoking journal of a man's quest for truth - and for himself - has touched and changed an entire generation, and is ready to reach out to a new one. At its heart, the story is all too simple: a man and his son take a motorcycle trip across America. But this is not a simple trip at all, for around every corner, their pilgrimage leads them to new vistas of self-discovery and renewal.
I tried, I really tried to like this book, but I couldn't. I found the philosophy to be too obscure and the author never got hold of my with the fictionalized narrative (maybe he should have had John Galt ride cross-country? ;). I know people who really liked this book, but I just fought it the whole way.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos know American Sign Language. Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets—especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans...until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going on inside.
I agree with many of the other low reviews, this book doesn't hold a candle to "Water for Elephants", almost seems like it was from another author. The characters cut from cardboard, the narrative predictable and trite - I could listen with "one ear" and still follow it because I knew where we were going. Gruen relies heavily on characters cut from cloth that's familiar to the reader and props them up with insipid dialogue. The story is interesting in a Michael Crichton-esque way, but doesn't even have his writing ability behind it (and that's saying something).
The fictionalized account of Louisiana's colorful and notorious governor, Huey Pierce Long, All the King's Men follows the startling rise and fall of Willie Stark, a country lawyer in the Deep South of the 1930s. Beset by political enemies, Stark seeks aid from his right-hand man Jack Burden, who will bear witness to the cataclysmic unfolding of this very American tragedy.
I love Warren's writing and his beautiful turn of phrase, but dammit, this book needed a more judicious editing. If you can stand long passages that are incredibly well-written, but ultimately do little to move the story, then this might be for you. I found myself, for the first time, longing for an abridged version (and I've made it through some very tedious audiobooks). The two-hour sequence describing Jack's unconsummated love with Ann did me in. Just too much.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s a story that most people know, told here in an unforgettable way – an audio masterpiece that rivals the best thrillers, thanks to Capote genre-defining words and Brick’s subtle but powerful characterizations. On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
I was expecting a great deal more from this book. Frankly, I found it to be a self-indulgent trip through the actual accounts of this horrible murder that developed little tension (because you know whodunnit) and, for me, little interest. The descriptions are sparse, the writing almost news-like and the changes in narration seemed to be the only use of any writing technique whatsoever. The lengthy descriptions of psychiatric disorders and irrelevant histories of other death-row inmates further distract from whatever Capote intended to convey or describe. Can't recommend this unless you are a big fan of true crime writing.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful
Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.
I love this reading of A Prayer for Owen Meany. The narration is excellent and it brings the book to life again for me. I struggle a little bit with Owen's voice, but then I suppose that any voice would seem insufficient given expectations. This is Irving at his best.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The outcast youth Ishmael, succumbing to wanderlust during a dreary New England autumn, signs up for passage aboard a whaling ship. The Pequod sails under the command of the one-legged Captain Ahab, who has set himself on a monomaniacal quest to capture the cunning white whale that robbed him of his leg: Moby-Dick. Capturing life on the sea with robust realism, Melville details the adventures of the colorful crew aboard the ship as Ahab pursues his crusade of revenge, heedless of all cost.
The narration is excellent, but there's little he can do with the material. Hour after hour on minutae of whale biology and other filler material that detracts from the narrative. I hate to say this, but I would actually suggest people download the abridged versions. 3 hours vs. 24 and you really would get all the relevant content. A shame really, but I feel like I want 21 hours of my life back....
1 of 5 people found this review helpful
The Learn in Your Car language series is the first system ever designed to teach a language in your car...or anywhere...without a textbook. And now with Learn in Your Car, you can turn your PC, your Rio, or any mobile device into your own personal language tutor. Browse more Learn in Your Car.
I agree with the other reviewers, the Spanish speaker speaks too quickly. I speak poor "tourist" Spanish and had two years in school, but he lets his syllables run together (as in common with native/fluent speakers) such that I couldn't pick up one word from the next. Too hard to follow.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful