Oh, how I hate it when I don't like a book that several of my friends give 5 stars. I just can't continue to listen to this one. I don't care for theOh, how I hate it when I don't like a book that several of my friends give 5 stars. I just can't continue to listen to this one. I don't care for the narrator, but I don't think he is the reason I am not liking the book. I don't like the first and second person POV. I am not engaged in it and have had such a great string of fantastic books that I am frustrated to keep listening to this one.
Life is too short to continue reading/listening a book that does not hold you attention... ...more
4.5 stars? Oh, this one surprised me! Time will tell if I round it up or down, but the Illuminations was surprisingly close to clutchable. Andrew O'Ha4.5 stars? Oh, this one surprised me! Time will tell if I round it up or down, but the Illuminations was surprisingly close to clutchable. Andrew O'Hagan's novel is a heartwarming book that starts out as a sort of mystery. Not a mystery as a genre, but as "who and what is this book about and where is it going?". It is touching and sad and yes, I feel for the characters.
The Illuminations is primarily about Ann, an elderly lady living in a retirement home. She is estranged from her daughter but has a loving relationship with her grandson, Luke. Ann's story is told, or surmised by: her next door neighbor, her daughter and her grandson. It is a sweet and heart breaking all at one time. I love the relationship with the grandson and neighbor and hurt for the daughter. It is a story of lost dreams and misunderstandings as well as a story of discovery and forgiveness. Reflecting on this review makes me want to go back and re-read it to spend more time with the characters.
The main reason I am not giving The Illuminations 5 stars is that part of Luke's story takes place during the war with Afghanistan. I personally don't enjoy reading about any of the wars past WWII - Iran and Afghanistan especially. Although this story line builds Luke's characterization, it was my least favorite part of the book.
The audio narration was very well done as well.
As far as the Booker award goes: I do hope this one makes the short list. As with the other long-listed books I have read, I am afraid that even though I liked this one better than the juggernaut, A Little Life, I don't think The Illuminations will surpass A Little Life in the judges eyes. Both dealt with the discovery of a past life and the coping mechanisms necessary to continue after disappointments and tragedy and the hurt that one leaves in the wake of life's curveball. Yet, I think the Illuminations gets the point across more succinctly and with more hope in the end. ...more
Wow! What a surprise! After not loving any of the 2014 Bookers/National Book Award nominated fiction, I am delighted with the books on the list so farWow! What a surprise! After not loving any of the 2014 Bookers/National Book Award nominated fiction, I am delighted with the books on the list so far. I had read the dark and depressing A Little Life earlier in 2015 and now was completely enamored with The Fishermen.
The Firshermen is a brotherly coming of age story set in Nigeria. It too stands on the side of dark and depressing, but not as much as A Little Life. As you learn from the synopsis, the book is about 4 brothers and their encounter with a madman on the banks of a river near their home. The book is a very compelling read. I found myself drawn to pick up the book every time I had a lull in my daily routine. It compelled me to finally stop watching crap on TV and just enjoy reading again.
Obioma weaves such beautiful language into the story. The nine year old and youngest of the 4 brothers tells the story with insights beyond his years.
I doubt the book will win the Booker as it is up against A Little Life and History of 7 Killings. I do hope it makes it into the short list....more
3 1/2 stars. I listened to the audio production of this book. Laila Lalami's book The Moor's Account is a story about a young man who during a famine3 1/2 stars. I listened to the audio production of this book. Laila Lalami's book The Moor's Account is a story about a young man who during a famine sold himself into slavery so his family could have food, money and hopefully an education. He eventually ends up as a slave to a captain on a Spanish expedition to Florida. This novel is his re-telling of the actual events that were" recorded with embellishments and omissions" by the explorer Cabeza de Vaca.
My first issue with this novel was that Laila Lalami wrote Estabanico as a man from a women's prospective. Basically, it did not surprise me to find out that the book was written by a woman. Lalami portrayed Estabanico as a very humble man, so much so that it was unbelievable. His wife on the other hand was written to be a very strong woman who defied the Indian customs of the times (remember this book took place in the 1500s.) This was somewhat off putting.
My second complaint was that Estabanico was a very educated man before he sold himself into slavery. However his account was flat and undescriptive. He is in the New World and does not detail all that he is seeing. He mentions one or two animals that are not native to Spain/Africa and describes them in enough detail for the reader to figure out what they are. Yet on another occasion, he mentions the Blue Jays flying. Umm, how did he know they were Blue Jays? There are no Blue Jays in Spain/Africa.
The audio narration was very good. There were many characters and Neil Shah did a good job voicing the main characters with different voices. However, this is a travel/exploration novel which does not come with a map. Upon googling the map that would have been printed in the book, I found it crude and useless. From the descriptions in the book, I assumed the expedition made it to west Florida, once I found the map online the expedition would have ended up in Arizona or in Mexico south of Arizona. Okay, so this is probably not a valid complaint as the expedition was to find gold, not to map the area. Read a real history book if I want maps, right!
I will also say that this book has piqued my interest in early North American exploration and I will, one day, attempt to find an interesting history book that will detail this time in American History. I am guessing the Great Classes has an Early American exploration class.
As far as the Bookers go, I don't think this book has a chance up against several of the others on the list. Again, A Little Life tells a remarkable story. Estabanico's story is a good one, but not as compelling or gut wrenching......more
Apparently, Anne Enright has a delightful wit and shares it with each of the characters in the novel The Green Road. Another Booker long-listed novelApparently, Anne Enright has a delightful wit and shares it with each of the characters in the novel The Green Road. Another Booker long-listed novel detailing the life and times of a dysfunctional family, this one is not so dark and depressing. If Enright meant for it to be, she sure made me laugh out loud at each and every one of her characters. The story is told from the POV of each of the matriarch's children as they aged to adulthood, as well as from Rosaleen/Mama/Mummy/Mah, herself. I think anyone who grew up in a family with 3 or more kids will really appreciate the wit and family dynamics portrayed in The Green Road.
The chapter entitled The Hungry Grass is by far the funniest holiday meal testimony I have ever read. Although, I think I could write one from my messed up family holiday dynamics that would put this one to shame.
The ending of this one may be tied up a tad too neatly for my satisfaction. There were also a couple side plot lines/character deveopment issues that did not seem to develop and get their point across as well as the central theme. I think they could have been fleshed out a little more to make them more cohesive to the novel.
I throughly enjoyed this book - but it was not as heartwarming as The Illuminations or as deeply disturbing as A Little Life. Additionally, the characters are not quite as lovable or pitiable as my two leading candidates. I believe this is the Booker's year of the dysfunctional family. At least 6 of the 12 deal with family dynamics. I am surprised that the Booker judges did not cull these against each other a little more. As with all of the long-listed books I have read so far, I hope that this one makes the short list. I don't see it winning but it was enjoyable nevertheless.
This may end up being a 4.5 star book. I listened to the audio performed by Reese Witherspoon and must admit that I believe "they" nailed it when seleThis may end up being a 4.5 star book. I listened to the audio performed by Reese Witherspoon and must admit that I believe "they" nailed it when selecting her to narrate the novel.
First let me say that I do believe that this book was written by Harper Lee. I don't for a minute believe that it is the un-edited first draft of TKAMB. If it is, she would have to be the most brilliant writer in history.
The book did read like a sequel to me. The better part of the novel seemed to pick up some twenty years later. Jean Louise's stories still have the spark of Scout running through them. I laughed out loud more than once. Her social commentary is scathing and unfortunately, still true in many southern cities and towns today.
Don't be swayed by the critics of Go Set a Watchman concerning Atticus. One reviewer I like to follow mentions the fact that many times our views of our parents and elders change as we mature ourselves. We are the ones that are becoming more understanding and less rigid in our social views.
So, back to the "story' that this is an unedited first draft - I simply do not see it. I am not a writer, but if I handed in a manuscript to an editor and they told me to re-write the story of the view of a child, I would have at least re-used some of the stories. On the contrary, Jean Louise refers to the stories of TKAMB in GSAW. She refers to most of the characters in TKAMB and gives us an update as to where they are today. She has changed the outcome of one story from TKAMB in GSAW. She has new characters in GSAW that were not in TKAMB. I firmly believe that this book was written as a sequel and had been edited. It may have been passed upon, but in no way do I believe that it was a first rough draft.
I guess we may never know the truth, and I don't guess it matters. All I do know is that I enjoyed GSAW - not as much as TKAMB, but I enjoyed it and appreciated both the stories from Jean Louise as well as her social commentary. ...more
Eleanor Catton can construct a book like no other author. Her 2013 Man Booker Award Winning The Luminaries was amazing for not only the story and charEleanor Catton can construct a book like no other author. Her 2013 Man Booker Award Winning The Luminaries was amazing for not only the story and characters but because of its construction. The Rehearsal, her debut novel, is also crafted in a very cerebral manner - one that is much more difficult to pick up on but fantastic all the same.
The Rehearsal is told in a non-linear dual narrative. One narrative focuses upon Isolde, the younger sister of Victoria, a "seventh form" (US high school senior/) involved in an affair with a teacher. The other narrative focuses on a young man attending a prestigious acting academy. Eventually the two stories converge - or do they? Were they one story all along?
One thing I was drawn to was the ways Catton used the word "rehearsal" throughout the book. For a single word with a standard meaning, she was able to apply the word in such a way to bring a new light to it.
Another interesting aspect of the book is that several key characters had no names. They were just known by their profession - the Saxophone Teacher, the Head of Acting.
The cover art and synopsis of the book are awful and are not indicative of the main points. I probably would have read the book much sooner had either or both been different. The portion of the narrative dealing with the student/teacher affair was not a blow by blow account of the affair, but how it affected the lives of the younger sister and Victoria's classmates making for a more psychological picture instead of a scandalous telling.
The cover art is very puzzling. The two red shoes have nothing to do with anything about the book.
The Rehearsal is a much shorter book than The Luminaries. I do think that the fact that it was much shorter was a reason I wanted to read it. I just wish it had been a tad bit longer. I am longing now to find out when we might see a third book from Catton. I will be reading it as soon as it comes out. ...more
I listened to this interesting story set in the late 1930s. Not quite as good as the Guernsey Literary and Potato peel society, but still an enjoyableI listened to this interesting story set in the late 1930s. Not quite as good as the Guernsey Literary and Potato peel society, but still an enjoyable book. Like Guernsey, the book is a mix of letters and prose excellently narrated. It will be a good book for a book club to discuss......more