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Mary

Madeira Park, BC, Canada
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Mercy Among the Children audiobook cover art

Another Fine Outing by Richards

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-22-16

I'm a great fan of DA Richards and wish Audible would publish more of his novels. This one won the Giller, Canada's most glamorous fiction prize and I can't argue. Richards writes out of small-town New Brunswick with a workingclass slant and this book is about a kid growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a town dominated by a small-time industrialist who owns everything including the general store. The town is unrelievedly bleak and mean and thugs persecute the hero's family relentlessly. The father is wimpishly nonviolent and forgiving, turning the son into an ineffective, troubled avenger. As in other Richards fiction you feel he is tilting the scales against his characters in an almost Hardy-ish way, but he also has a Hardy-esque vividness and grounding in the physical world.

Jasper Jones audiobook cover art

Great Aussie Romp

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-22-16

This is one of the best modern Australian novels according to several lists. The main characters are highschool age and it probably should be classified as a young adult read but its vivid action kept this elder absorbed to the last line. It's a contemporary murder mystery with a Huck Finn character at centre and plenty of trendy social problems such as sexual abuse of children and philandering parents. The hero's mother is one of the most refreshingly nasty female characters I've encountered in a good while. It's read with appropriate nasal twanging and the odd roo thumping around but apart from that could have taken place in any North American small town--except for the many long unintelligible accounts of cricket games. I would happily read another book by Mr. Silvey.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

All the Light We Cannot See audiobook cover art

What's All the Fuss?

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-22-16

Here's a bug in this program--I accidentally posted my review of this book under a similar title--How the Light Gets In, but there is no apparent way to correct this. My contrarian view of this monster bestseller is repeated below but I did read How the Light Gets In by Louise Penney too and found it a nifty mystery with a fresh setting--a small town in rural Quebec where they still carry on all sorts of quaint folk practices and everybody conveniently speaks English. I will read more of Ms. Penney.

Here is what I wanted say about All the Light We Cannot See: This one didn't really work for me. It was a slog to get to the end. I never would have finished a print version. That's what's good about a tape, it keeps turning the pages whether you feel like it or not. This is a novel about WWII by someone who wasn't there and indulges in a lot of fantasizing about precocious freakish children who experience one damn thing after another that in the end adds up to nothing you can put your finger on. All mood and imagining about a subject that for me demands more serious treatment

A Brief History of Seven Killings audiobook cover art

A Slog

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-16-16

This a tough read. There should be a warning on it: for students of Modern Jamaica only. There are so many characters with so many povs exploring so many facets of the Manly-Seaga-CIA political struggle of the 1970s the average reader almost needs a flow chart to follow the story. I'm sure Jamaica-philes must love it but anyone else will have hard time finishing.

Oscar and Lucinda audiobook cover art

Good Yarn

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-28-15

I am a pretty serious Peter Carey fan so I was eager to see what many critics think his best book would be like. I loved the True History of the Kelley Gang, was disappointed and confused by Parrot and Olivier in America and enchanted by My Life as A Fake. I'm sorry I was led to believe Oscar and Lucinda would somehow rise above these because then I could have appreciated it for what it is, which is pretty good. It is another historical yarn--not a romance even though it has a love story at its centre--built around two flawed, unlikeable characters--one a stiff-necked puritan man and the other a wilful, independent woman--who combine to create a scandalous, eccentric legend in colonial Australia. It was fine, but it went on too long about Oscar's ridiculous trials of conscience, Lucinda's unlikely feminism and meanwhile abandoned its one amusing character, the scoundrely Fish. Still, a good thumping read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

How the Light Gets In audiobook cover art

A Lot About a Little

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-19-15

This one didn't really work for me. It was a slog to get to the end. I never would have finished a print version. That's what's good about a tape, it keeps turning the pages whether you feel like it or not. This is a novel about WWII by someone who wasn't there and indulges in a lot of fantasizing about precocious freakish children who experience one damn thing after another that in the end adds up to nothing you can put your finger on. All mood and imagining about a subject that for me demands more serious treatment.

My Life as a Fake audiobook cover art

Another Great Tale from Carey

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-19-15

After Parrot and Olivier in America I was ready to give up on Carey but My Life As a Fake restored my faith. This guy is above all a great storyteller and a great dream weaver. Each novel creates world that is at once strange yet convincing. And different from one book to the next.

American Nations audiobook cover art
  • American Nations
  • A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
  • By: Colin Woodard
  • Narrated by: Walter Dixon

A grain of truth stretched to absurdity

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-15

This is a fun but very silly book. The author divides North America into "nations" based on the cultural values of their original settlers and proceeds to explain everything that has happened up to present-day paralysis in Washington on the basis of citizens' continuing enslavement to the values of their ancestors. Further he warns that continuing divisions between these decadent cultures could lead to the breakup of the USA, Mexico and Canada. The only culture that is on the upswing, according to Woodard, is one comprising the Canadian and Greenland natives of the far north, whom he idealizes beyond any semblance to reality. His analysis of the predictability of political positions taken different parts of the US is interesting and generally persuasive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Edge of Eternity audiobook cover art

Another Great Read--Educational, Too

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-19-15

I've read both Follett's historical series starting with Pillars of Earth and I thought Edge of Eternity was up to his standard and a worthy climax to a great saga. I was once again amazed by his ability to digest historical fact and rearrange it in the form of entertaining fiction filled with believable characters you are eager to get back to and hear more about. I have read quite a few histories of the late twentieth century and I must say Follett puts the picture together more vividly and understandably than most. I can't believe some people found it had too much sex--where have they been hiding? They must be the same people who complain about political bias--Follett is a mild British liberal who is much harder on communists than capitalists, but I guess the political climate in today's US is skewed so far to the right anything near the centre is viewed as extremist. Even so, nobody should avoid this fine, informative tale because of politics. It is finally a great sweeping chronicle that provides the reader with thrilling eyewitness experiences of all the watershed moments that shaped the modern world and leaves one impatient for more history to happen so Follett can write more books like this.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Lost for Words audiobook cover art

A Fine Romp

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-23-14

Sharp, funny and short. A very scathing take-down of the London literary scene focusing on a Booker-like literary award.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful