In 1925, Percy Fawcett, a seasoned Amazonian explorer, his son and son's friend set out to find a fabulous city in the Amazon that Fawcett calls only...moreIn 1925, Percy Fawcett, a seasoned Amazonian explorer, his son and son's friend set out to find a fabulous city in the Amazon that Fawcett calls only "Z." The world had become fascinated with the expedition. Fawcett sent back a few reports, but then none of the men were ever heard from again.
Over the years, many other explorers have set out to solve the mystery of the Fawcett party. All were unsuccessful. Many died. Many theories about what had happened to the men were put forward. All were eventually disproved. David Grann stumbles onto the mystery and starts researching Fawcett and the city of Z.
I listened to this book and it just never grabbed me. I enjoy listening to Mark Deakins, so it wasn't his fault. It was just hard for me to keep up with everyone in the audio format. I couldn't keep up with who was in the Amazon looking for whom, which natives were good or bad, and whether I was in the past with Fawcett or in the present with Grann. I have a sneaking suspicion that my iPod skipped over a few sections but I didn't really notice because all the expeditions just blended into one big one for me.
I did like the end. There was some resolution to the "lost city" part of the story, and it was surprising.
I really don't have anything to add. I have a feeling that I would have liked this much more if I had actually read it. If you're interested, be sure to pick up a print copy.(less)
Dempsey Killebrew is having a very bad day. She and her handsome boss, Alex, are all over the evening news, smack in the center of a political scandal...moreDempsey Killebrew is having a very bad day. She and her handsome boss, Alex, are all over the evening news, smack in the center of a political scandal. They're lobbyists accused of buying a Congressman's votes with a vacation to the Bahamas and, um, hookers. Not the situation that a rising young lawyer wants to find herself in.
Injury is added to insult when Alex fires her. With no other options, Dempsey reluctantly accepts the deal her father offers--she can fix up the family mansion back in the tiny town of Guthrie, Georgia, and he'll give her part of the proceeds from the sale. Life in a small town is more interesting than Dempsey expects, especially when she realizes that the "mansion" is a dump, a belligerent old lady has decided the house is hers, FBI agents are sniffing around, and there are some very eligible men in town.
I had a ball listening to this! I'll admit that this isn't really any new ground for Mary Kay Andrews, but she does this so well that I just don't care. Old houses/antiques, spunky heroines, and handsome men are a winning combination in her hands.
Dempsey herself is a little whiney at first, but if I'm being honest, I would whine much more if I found myself in a similar situation. And then to go running home to Daddy! I just wanted to tell the girl to grow up. But when she gets to the house and she has to start dealing with contractors and Ella Kate, the mean old lady, and the FBI, she has to learn to stand on her own feet. And she handles it beautifully. I'm pretty sure I was cheering by the end.
Speaking of Ella Kate, she is mean as a rattlesnake. I wanted to reach through my car stereo and smack her around. I am not lying. The things she says and does! At least she was good for a laugh after the initial frustration wore off. She's got her own story too.
And those Berryhill men--I'll take either one, father or son. Carter has all the genuine charm of the Old South and Tee is an enlightened representative of the New. They both know how to treat a woman. And Tee is hot. Not in a let's-get-naked kind of way, although there is a touch of that, but in a let's-have-a-real-relationship kind of way. He's a guy that you want to be around for the long haul, and you know that he's got commitment on his mind too.
The narrator, Isabel Keating, did an amazing job. She resisted the urge to go with a syrupy Southern accent. That's not to say that old Carter doesn't drawl his vowels out, but she kept it to a minimum. Her character voices were great. She covered everything from 4-year-old boys to an ancient old lady and she pulled it off. I was startled the first few times I heard the boys or Ella Kate speak. I would have sworn that someone else was doing their voices. It was almost eerie.
For a fun, romantic read that will keep you smiling (except for when you want to hit someone who is just asking for it), I highly recommend this one.(less)
Two young men, children of parents that the Communist government in China deems enemies of the state, are basically exiled to a remote mountain for "r...moreTwo young men, children of parents that the Communist government in China deems enemies of the state, are basically exiled to a remote mountain for "re-education." Their parents' "crimes" don't even warrant the word; they're basically just too educated for the government's comfort. The teens find a harsh life waiting for them on the mountain. They must plow fields and dig in mines and haul human waste around. If the local party leader is upset with them, he makes their lives even more miserable.
They eventually meet a local tailor's daughter. The little seamstress, as she's known, is the most beautiful girl on the mountain. One of the teens of course tries to win her heart. He takes a novel approach and starts telling her stories out of Western literature, in an effort to make her better company for himself. And so time passes as the boys wait to see if their period of "re-education" will ever end.
This is so hard for me to review! I had some issues with the boys throughout. Luo, the one who tries to win the girl, is basically a nice guy but--c'mon. He's trying to "improve" the little seamstress? So she'll be a better girlfriend? Who does he think he is? I was listening to this so maybe I misunderstood something, but I really don't think so. But then--I got to the ending. And I loved it. And that's all I can say.
I also loved B. D. Wong's narration. He has a nice voice and a nice delivery. If my library has any more audio books that he's narrated, I'll gladly give them a try.
I enjoyed the imagery in the book as well. It was very short, maybe 4 hours, and enough happened to keep my attention, but at the same time I feel like I can clearly picture this misty Chinese mountain and these harsh rural villages. As someone who likes to use way too many words when writing, I'm impressed when an author can pull this off. And especially considering that the book is a translation. Ina Rilke did a fabulous job with that.
I don't think I've ever heard of Chinese re-education, but what a horrible, effective practice. Take the kids who are going to have the best opportunities at education, and embracing new ideas, and y'know, revolutionary ideas, isolate them and send them out to the wilds to suffer under the hands of uneducated peasants, and you've kind of shut down any immediate governmental threats. Sure, you're probably setting up big trouble for the future, but you've bought yourself time to plan for that. Sheesh. Whose mind comes up with this kind of bs? Can you imagine?
At this length, I would recommend anyone give this book a try. I was surprised and very pleased at the end and I think most readers will be too.(less)
Truly Plaice has been larger than life since her conception. The town men wagered on how big she would be when she was born. They all guessed too low....moreTruly Plaice has been larger than life since her conception. The town men wagered on how big she would be when she was born. They all guessed too low. In contrast to her petite, doll-like older sister, Truly looks even bigger. Needless to say, the small town is not kind to Truly as she grows up. The other children are merciless and even adults want her safely out of the way. When she and Serena Jane are orphaned, Truly is shipped off to a farm on the outskirts of town while her sister lives in town with the vicar's wife. Truly does eventually make a few friends, children who are just as much outcasts as she is. She has their support as they grow older and the lives of the golden children of the town slowly fall apart.
This really didn't do anything for me and I feel like it should have. I listened to it, so maybe my attention span just wasn't up to par. But I really didn't care what happened to anybody, even Truly.
At first, I did love the way that Truly has made her birth and early years a personal mythology. The story is in a sort of omniscient first person. Truly shares her mother's dying thoughts and things she couldn't possibly know. I liked it.
But as Truly grew, I cared less and less.
The town is full of horrible people. The only ones who are kind to Truly are the ones who don't fit in for various reasons. She does find a place with them, but she's never fully content with it. She adores her sister and always wants to find a way to spend more time with her. That's admirable, but Serena Jane has no interest in Truly. None. She's a self-absorbed little ice princess. She doesn't care about anyone other than herself. Truly never seems to fully appreciate the friendship and love she does have but constantly worries about the lack of a relationship with Serena Jane.
She eventually finds herself back in town and nothing is any better. If anything, her situation is infinitely worse in most ways. And Truly just accepts it as her lot in life. She seems happy to be miserable.
Toward the end, she suffers a huge personal loss, but it doesn't seem to affect her at all. It was almost like, "Oh well. Lesson learned. Moving on." At least she learned from it, but there needed to be more of an expression of mourning. I was upset with her for appearing to be so uncaring.
Narrator Carrington MacDuffie did a pretty good job, but that's really all I have to say about her performance.
I think I'm in the minority with my opinion, but to me this was just a gray book that I listened to in a gray spring and I will probably forget about it pretty quickly. (less)