The reader for the audiobook did a great job with this story. I really enjoyed listening to him and having the music played at the end of the book wasThe reader for the audiobook did a great job with this story. I really enjoyed listening to him and having the music played at the end of the book was also a nice addition after hearing about the particular piano piece throughout the novel.
This Murakami is much more like Norwegian Wood than like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Tsukuru doesn't have a well to climb down into or a portal into an alternate world. But he does have a process of realizing that a small life is still a life worth living. As he traces a story from his past, he learns to shift perspective on his own self-perception in a subtle but important way.
I love Murakami's writing and have enjoyed all of his books. But the style doesn't appeal to everyone. If you like Norwegian Wood, definitely read this. Or, better yet, listen to the audio. If you haven't read Norwegian Wood, maybe start with that one instead for a better taste of what Murakami can do with a simple story....more
The narrator for the audiobook is fantastic. I'll definitely be listening to other books in this series.
In some ways, this series reminds me quite a bThe narrator for the audiobook is fantastic. I'll definitely be listening to other books in this series.
In some ways, this series reminds me quite a bit of Harry Dresden -- this is to London what Harry is to Chicago. Except that instead of a sarcastic middle aged white guy, Peter Grant here is a mixed race, actual police officer young Londoner.
The book introduces a fun cast of river gods, ghosts, and magic to put it solidly in the urban fantasy realm, but it shows some appropriate surprise by the characters when these things turn up.
Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy....more
I downloaded this from Librivox to listen to as I was getting ready to travel to Ireland. I didn't get to it until after my return, but I still enjoyeI downloaded this from Librivox to listen to as I was getting ready to travel to Ireland. I didn't get to it until after my return, but I still enjoyed hearing this selection. This is very different from Yeats' other work. John Sherman is a tale of a sort of hapless fellow who mostly values laziness and looks for ways to maintain an idle existence.
The real standout was Dhoya, a short story about a mythic creature and a mortal who seeks and loves him. I enjoyed this more than John Sherman and would recommend listening to just this one if you want just a touch of Yeats' brand of fairy magic.
The reader for these on Librivox was adequate. His voice was clear and the audio quality was good. While he's not an expert reader, I found him pleasant to listen to and the story was conveyed well enough for me to follow it....more
An enjoyable conclusion to the trilogy. I missed Raisa from this book as she was one of my favorite characters in the first two books. It was good toAn enjoyable conclusion to the trilogy. I missed Raisa from this book as she was one of my favorite characters in the first two books. It was good to get more back story on their marriage and first meeting, but she wasn't present in most of the book. Still, seeing Leo out of Russia and traveling to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States was a welcome change from the bleak Soviet setting of the previous two books. Overall, the book was more sad that I had hoped for characters that I'd really come to like over the past two books. Reading all of these books within a few months kept all of the stories fresh in my mind and made the trilogy feel like a coherent work rather than separate parts.
I don't recommend this as a standalone book. Read Child 44. If you like it, continue the trilogy. If not, don't read this one....more
In preparation for an upcoming trip to Ireland, I'm reading some Yeats. I listened to the Librivox recording of this book, read by a bunch of differenIn preparation for an upcoming trip to Ireland, I'm reading some Yeats. I listened to the Librivox recording of this book, read by a bunch of different readers. It was an interesting experience to hear these pieces read in many different accents and with different levels of drama. As for the actual writing, these short poems and stories were a fun way to revisit Yeats and to think about the Irish countryside and Irish folklore. Faeries and Siddhe abound here, as do ghosts and spirits. An enjoyable way to experience these poems. ...more
I don't think this would be as good as a standalone novel if you haven't read the first book in the trilogy, so I'd recommend starting with The Three-I don't think this would be as good as a standalone novel if you haven't read the first book in the trilogy, so I'd recommend starting with The Three-Body Problem if you haven't read that yet.
This book has a different translator and a different narrator from the first book. It's always hard to know how much a different translator affects the book, but I think maybe Ken Liu would have encouraged better naming for the central project in this book. The narrators for both audiobooks were good, so the change in narrator wasn't a problem.
Briefly, this book picks up where the previous book left off -- Earth is faced with a 400 year period before an alien fleet will show up to destroy the world. For reasons complicated and spoilery to explain, the government decides to appoint some master strategists to try to figure out a plan to respond to this situation. These are called "Wall-Facers." I know this name derives from something about certain types of meditation, but the name just sounds ridiculously silly in English and it made me chuckle a bit every time it was used. Then, the counter attack group are known as the "Wall Breakers." Really? Wall Facers and Wall Breakers?
Still, silly names aside, the concepts here are interesting. What would society do with this long-term, but very real crisis? Is there a way to reason about alien civilizations and appropriate interactions with those civilizations? What's really salient in human civilization? At what point does our ethical system break down? What's the role of family?
This author is excellent at examining these concepts both in the conversations his characters have with one another and the situations they create. Unfortunately, he's not that great at creating characters that are individually interesting or that anyone wants to root for. I don't know if this is a cultural issue -- maybe there are personality and cultural cues that a Chinese readership picks up that are lost on this clueless American reader. Much of the internal thoughts of the main character are left unspoken -- leaving the reader to figure it out (or not) from his actions.
I'm eager to read the third book in the series....more
Librivox can be hit or miss, but this version (read by Nick Bulka) is excellent. Mr. Bulka did a truly professional quality job with the book, completLibrivox can be hit or miss, but this version (read by Nick Bulka) is excellent. Mr. Bulka did a truly professional quality job with the book, complete with certain singing passages and characterizations for the different voices. Overall, the book is a wonderful period piece that feels fresh even 135 years later. Very enjoyable British humor and humor of the A Confederacy of Dunces anti-hero sort. The book traces a boat trip of the three men -- Jerome, George, and Harris, along with the dog Montmorency. I'm glad to now know the reference for To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Very enjoyable read. I'm glad that this book was recommended by Reading with Style....more
The narrator for the audiobook was good. Not special, but carried the novel well. Some of the dialogue seemed a bit stilted, but I think that's the faThe narrator for the audiobook was good. Not special, but carried the novel well. Some of the dialogue seemed a bit stilted, but I think that's the fault of the author rather than the reading by the narrator.
This is the book club pick for April for my neighborhood book club. I am looking forward to hearing what other people thought about this one. On the one hand, I enjoyed it and was interested in the characters. On the other hand, I found them, while flawed and human, also sort of unidirectional. Each character had a single overarching desire or drive that was the momentum for everything and controlled practically all the interactions in the book.
The book has heart, though. There's some optimism here and some nuance as well. I'd love to know whether the author believes the experience of a blended American-born Chinese and white family today is different from that of the characters in this book -- set in the 1970s....more
I enjoyed listening to this 45+ hour monstrosity of a novel. John Lee does a fine job keeping the large cast of characters straight and is pleasing toI enjoyed listening to this 45+ hour monstrosity of a novel. John Lee does a fine job keeping the large cast of characters straight and is pleasing to listen to throughout. On the one hand, I found the whole thing entertaining. On the other hand, I've got lots of complaints. The characters here are not fully fleshed out fallible human beings -- they're more like caricatures of good and evil. The villains are wholly evil and generally don't learn from the past; the heroes are not only always public-spirited but also outright geniuses. My biggest complaint was Clan of the Cave Bear syndrome. Like Ayla in that series, the heroes here invent practically everything -- germ theory, paper, chalkboards, fabric dyes, fancy looms, architectural marvels, lift and pulley systems, etc. Caris defies all expectations for a woman of her time -- she challenges religion, resists marrying, doesn't want children, runs a business and a hospital, etc. Others have described her as a time traveler -- she's transplanted from modern times back to the medieval setting. While it isn't quite as bad as that, the suspension of disbelief required to follow her as a character is often too much.
Overall, enjoyable. I'd read or listen to another Follett book at some point....more
This was a fun read. I found Flavia both creepy and compelling in approximately equal parts. A know-it-all eleven year old who puts poison ivy in herThis was a fun read. I found Flavia both creepy and compelling in approximately equal parts. A know-it-all eleven year old who puts poison ivy in her sister's lipstick? But a courageous and somewhat charming detective. I was glad that I was listening to this as an audiobook because it allowed me to listen gloss over some of the long chemistry descriptions that were of little interest and to really hear the book in Flavia's voice. The narrator did an excellent job capturing the voice. I couldn't help comparing Flavia to the girl in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, maybe with a bit more Anne of Green Gables mixed in. I'll definitely listen to the next book in the series....more
Another enjoyable book that's a light mystery with an environmentalism flair aimed at kids. My six year old loves these books -- we read Flush, Hoot,Another enjoyable book that's a light mystery with an environmentalism flair aimed at kids. My six year old loves these books -- we read Flush, Hoot, and Chomp, so were excited to have another of these. The characters are always zany but the books are fun and we enjoy listening to them during long car rides. Of these YA books, I think our favorite has been Flush, so I'd recommend reading that one first to get a feel for these stories....more
Wil Wheaton is an excellent narrator. I liked him when he read Lock In and I liked him here. This book was fun for what it is. Unfortunately, it's ineWil Wheaton is an excellent narrator. I liked him when he read Lock In and I liked him here. This book was fun for what it is. Unfortunately, it's inevitably compared to Ready Player One, which is all around a much better book. I'd recommend RPO to almost anyone, even folks who don't think they'll like the book.
This book is more specialized. Folks who aren't interested in first contact alien stories and/or alien fighting video games won't enjoy this story. The book is plot-driven, to the exclusion of full character development or relationships between characters. The humor here is in the slight twisting of these tropes and sly references to video games and alien stories.
Entertaining, but only recommended for regular sci-fi readers....more
Thankfully, this is a short book, so it didn't have long enough to become truly irksome. The book might be a useful book to recommend to children of aThankfully, this is a short book, so it didn't have long enough to become truly irksome. The book might be a useful book to recommend to children of a certain age trying to figure out how to respond to peer pressure, bullying, religious intolerance, and other middle school/high school woes. But overall, I found the book a bit preachy about Buddhism/nonviolence and the characters rather boring and somewhat unbelievable. Maybe I'm just jaded by having read too many stories of this type, but I don't think this is a standout. The audio production was good; I can see why this won an Audie Award, but there are so many better ways to spend three hours that I don't really recommend this one unless you are listening to it with an appropriately aged child (maybe a precocious 9-10 year old on up to about age 14 or 15)....more
This is one of the bookclub books that I actually wanted to read before it was selected. I'd never heard of the Grimke sisters before, so was pleasedThis is one of the bookclub books that I actually wanted to read before it was selected. I'd never heard of the Grimke sisters before, so was pleased to learn about their stories. The bookclub discussion of this book was excellent; it's a great choice for that setting. The narrators for the audiobook did a superb job and made the book substantially more enjoyable than it would have been to read it in print. Highly recommended because it's based on a true story. As a novel, I'd have quibbles with the plot choices, but as strongly grounded historical fiction, it works well. There's always some tension when a white author chooses to write a made-up slave character to better tell the story of the white hero, but it was handled with reasonable grace here. ...more
I loved this quiet book. The narrator did an excellent job telling this story of two older people meeting and sharing their reflections on their livesI loved this quiet book. The narrator did an excellent job telling this story of two older people meeting and sharing their reflections on their lives. I was reminded of the romance my grandfather had in his later years. After his wife of 36 years died, he had another relationship with a woman whose husband had also died. Like the characters in this story, the two of them had known each other from living in a small town, but became companions during her last years, until the woman also died. As happened in the story here, the woman's children were suspicious of the relationship. So much about this book rang true and it gave me a wonderful chance to reflect on the remarkable life of my grandfather as well as the lives of the characters so fully realized here. Lovely book and highly recommended....more
I read and enjoyed The Windup Girl, so was excited to see that this book was just published. I liked this one even more than the other. The Water KnifI read and enjoyed The Windup Girl, so was excited to see that this book was just published. I liked this one even more than the other. The Water Knife is a dystopia that's pretty believable as it relies on minor climate change to cause major drought in the American southwest. Texas and New Mexico are full of refugees, Phoenix is dying, and other states are vying for control of the Colorado River and other water supplies. Bacigalupi manages to include characters from different backgrounds and different parts of his society and make them all mesh into his world.
The audiobook is well done and keeps the pacing strong. I enjoyed this and will definitely read other work by this author....more