An excellent fairy tale. Fairy tales should first scare you and then resolve happily. This fits that bill. It must be entertaining to both the adult rAn excellent fairy tale. Fairy tales should first scare you and then resolve happily. This fits that bill. It must be entertaining to both the adult reading the tale and the child. I admit it; I was tense, annoyed and worried ....and then happy. If the parent is bored, it is not a good fairy tale. The child will feel your own emotional response.
Hans Christian Andersen knew how to write stories for both adults and kids. I chuckled. I marveled at the author's ability to create an exciting story, ending with a comforting message. A bit simplistic, but that is in the definition of a good fairy tale. The religious message I could have done without.
Audible gave this audiobook to all its members; its 2014 Christmas present. To narrate it they chose Julia Whelan, who won Audible's best narrator prize for the year. I loved the voice she used for the reindeer, but someone could have told her how to correctly pronounce the two Nordic children's names Kai and Gerda. Kai is pronounced" k-eye", not the name of the letter K. Gerda is pronounced gpear-da, not grrrr-da. Kai could have sounded more like a little boy than a little girl. Otherwise the narration was OK. I checked out Katherine Kellgren's reading of the same story and it was a bit better, but heck that was not free! ...more
This and The Polar Express are my two favorite Christmas books. Nothing beats them. Mariana's has a soft spot in my heart. I received it as a child anThis and The Polar Express are my two favorite Christmas books. Nothing beats them. Mariana's has a soft spot in my heart. I received it as a child and read it every year. Then I read it to my kids. Sparse text and beautiful watercolor pictures on every page. I have the original publication of 1949, now all taped up of course. A teeny little book that meant the world to a little girl like me....more
Yes, a gem! Why I found it amazing and thus worth five stars is explained below in the partial review.
I will only add here a bit about the book's settYes, a gem! Why I found it amazing and thus worth five stars is explained below in the partial review.
I will only add here a bit about the book's setting: Georgia, 1944-45. You see the world through the eyes of 12 year old Frankie, or F. Jasmine Addams. SHE, not I, will explain to you why she appropriated this name. Not only do you see the emotional turmoil of a preteen but you also get the racial tensions in the South and the tension created by the War. We know it is 1944 from the simple line that "Patton is driving the Germans out of France". One line and so much is said. No long discourses on history.
Do you remember when you were caught between being a child and an adult and belonging nowhere? Alone....and the world is a scary place.
The narration is fantastic; it is read slowly, with feeling, and it is easy to follow. Wonderful Southern dialect.
After part two of three OR after three fourths of a 6 hour audiobook:
Lend me your ear for a moment please. I consider myself pretty hard to please. For this reason I tend to prefer non-fiction because then I tell myself I will at least learn something if the writing disappoints, if the story fails. But the most stupendous books are those of fiction where the writers create a marvelous gem all from NOTHING. They create a tale from assorted words and how they string them together, their imagination and their ability to capture human emotions that we all share. So when I run into astoundingly beautiful writing, and by that I do not mean "pretty" but rather writing that speaks to us all, that has the ability to to pull us out of our own existence and allows us to share common experiences and emotions, now that is something else. THAT is what Carson McCullers does in this book. Fantastic writing.
Do you remember your preteens, when you didn't feel comfortable in your own skin, when the whole world changed over night and all was frightening? Physical changes and emotional changes that throw you off balance. Do you really remember that period in your life? Here it is again captured in writing.
Don't read this. Listen to it narrated by Susan Sarandon. Stunning performance.
Why write a review if I am such an atypical reader?
I will keep this brief since I feel most readers will not react as I have, but isn’t it important tWhy write a review if I am such an atypical reader?
I will keep this brief since I feel most readers will not react as I have, but isn’t it important that all views are voiced?
All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the story. In this book they do not improve the story. Perhaps jumping from one scene to another can increase suspense, but must one also flip back and forth in time? In addition, more and more books are made for audios, and this is not helpful when you cannot flip back to see where you are. Finally, time switches unnecessarily lengthen the novel.
Secondly, be aware when you choose this book that the book is not only about WW2 but also a diamond that some of the characters, quite a few in fact, believe has magical powers. Those who possess the stone will not die, but people around that person will come to misfortune. This is all stated in one of the very first chapters; it is not a spoiler. This aspect of the book turns the story into a mystery novel. Where is the gem? Who has it? The result is that you have a heavy dose of fantasy woven into a book of historical fiction. I have trouble with both fantasy and mystery novels. Maybe you love them. (I would have preferred that the diamond was woven into the story as one of the objects stolen by the Nazis.)
Let's look at how the book portrays WW2. It is set primarily in Brittany, France, and Germany and a little bit in Russia and Vienna. Its primary focus is about what warfare does to people, not the leaders, but normal people. I liked that you saw into the heads and felt the emotions of both Germans and French. Some of the Germans are evil but you also come to understand how living in those times shaped you. To stand up against the Nazi regime was almost impossible. There are some who try. These events are gripping. You also get the feel of life in Brittany versus Paris. They are not the same. I enjoyed the feel of the air, the wind in my face and the salty tang on my lips in St. Malo. I do wonder to what extent my appreciation of Brittany as a place is more due to my own time there or the author's writing. Am I remembering my own experiences, or am I seeing it from the words of the author? I am unsure about this.
In any case, I was very disturbed by the blend of fantasy with gripping WW2 events.
The events of WW2 are those portrayed in every book. If you have read about WW2 in numerous other books of fiction or non-fiction you will not get much new. Rape by Russians felt like the author had to include this simply so it could be to be togged off his checklist. I do think the book moves the reader on an emotional level. You get terribly angry and shocked, and this is achieved through the author's writing, his excellent prose.
And this is what saves the book – its prose. The descriptions of things and places, the particular grip of a hand, movement of a body and what characters say. Very good writing. Beautiful writing. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you feel that wind on your skin or the touch of a shell against your fingertips or smile at the oh so recognizable words of a child. Children often see far more than adults, but they also talk in a clear, simple manner. What they say is to the point - could that diamond be thrown away? Of course not. As remarked by one of the French children, "Who is going to chuck into the Seine a stone worth several Eiffel Towers?" Even if the gem has dangerous powers!
People love reading about kids and one of them here is blind. Who wouldn't be moved by such!
The narration by Zach Appelman didn't add much, but neither did it terribly detract from the story. I appreciated how he read some lines with a beat, a rhythm which matched the cadence of the author's words. Pauses were well placed. French pronunciation was lacking.
Oh my, once I got going I told you what I felt. I believe this book will be popular, and many will like it, but it was just OK for me. ...more
A gem that glistens. Beautiful. A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend. Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even more importA gem that glistens. Beautiful. A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend. Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even more importantly of the oneness of the past and present, the rational and the irrational, what we understand and don’t understand and of all life on earth. This is young adult literature for adults.
The audiobook narration by Kiwi Jay Laga’aia was well done. There is music throughout the recording, but it is the same snippet repeated over and over again. When will we get audiobooks with varied music and numerous songs? Anybody listening out there?
Harper Collins lets us listen to this book, right now. Each chapter is read by a different narrator. I think, each week another chapter will be read,Harper Collins lets us listen to this book, right now. Each chapter is read by a different narrator. I think, each week another chapter will be read, so start now and don't miss any. The first chapter read by the author himself was 14 minutes long. It is cute, for kids actually!
A present from Jeanette!!!! Thank you. I promise you, this book is so very lovely. Why? Well because the pictures are just perfect and the message impA present from Jeanette!!!! Thank you. I promise you, this book is so very lovely. Why? Well because the pictures are just perfect and the message imparted to children tells them to be brave in a gentle, kind and wonderful way. There is a cardinal family and a sweet man who is sort of shy..... Wait till you see the illustrations. I love picture books.
Buy this book and find some kid to read it to, then you need not feel guilty. Picture books are not just for kids. ...more
I like this book, but it didn't blow me over. There is nothing specific I can complain about.
At the end of the audiobook the author includes an interI like this book, but it didn't blow me over. There is nothing specific I can complain about.
At the end of the audiobook the author includes an interview he had with a very old midwife, as part of his research for the novel. She was in her 80s or 90s. She answers questions such as exactly how she delivered the babies, how many deliveries she had preformed and if any mother had gotten mad at her. Yup, one bit her. This section I adored. What a woman! Midwifery in the South during the 1860s is a central theme, along with of course race. The author also discusses how he wanted the content of his book to be different from To Kill a Mockingbird, and that too was extremely interesting.
But you don't read a book for the author's Afterword, do you?! Yet, for me, understanding what Odell wanted to achieve was important.
Another central theme is freedom. This theme was excellently done. Isn't racial injustice really just plain having or not having freedom. Freedom to say yes or no. Freedom to choose how to live your life. Freedom to make your own mistakes.... This lack of freedom lies at the core of racial inequality and it molded every aspect of the whites' and the blacks' actions and views of each other.
There are beautiful lines of wisdom found in this book.
Much of this book is told from the perspective of two children, one in the 1860s and the other in the 1900s. The reader sees out through the eyes of two children. This was well done, but I personally prefer books told from the adult perspective. While the adult perspective is here too, the emphasis lies on a child's point of view, level of understanding and hopes and wishes. You see the world as they see it. Of course the children interconnect at the end. That is a mystery that is alluded to from the very start of the book and keeps the reader wondering how the two stories connect.
The narration by Adenrele Ojo was well done. Her ability to intone slaves and plantation owners, children and the elderly really wasn't an easy task, and she did this marvelously. You don't feel the story is being told by an outsider, but rather each person is telling their own tale. And I liked that the author narrated the Afterword.
Remember a three star book is one I like and one I can recommend others to read. Still, I cannot get super excited about the book.
What I want to add is that this is the best BBC presentation I have listened to. I maybe should read the real book. I believe if I read the trilogy I would give it 4 stars. The characters were well developed. It was interesting to follow a family as it aged, to watch how the relationships changed, and yet how each character had qualities that remained stable. Lots to think about concerning family relationships. One cannot help but compare their family to one's own. Very interesting. This trilogy would be a wonderful book to talk about among a group of people. ...more
Although classified as historical fiction, this book is about the experiences of the author's mother. It is set during the last months of WW2 in FriesAlthough classified as historical fiction, this book is about the experiences of the author's mother. It is set during the last months of WW2 in Friesland, a northern province of Holland. The Germans were retreating. However the book is primarily a coming of age story. Don't be fooled by the beginning, which is action filled and dramatic. Rather than being a plot driven book, it is focused upon Leen, the central character's development into adulthood. It is about the war's impact on one family. It is about how each family member reacted differently. I will say this, some of the family members were irreparably destroyed. What philosophical/psychological beliefs save us and enable us to surmount past horrors? So the book tries to guide a young reader into making appropriate choices.
I like books that focus upon characterization rather than those that are plot oriented. I did learn about how the war played out in Friesland. This book is not in any way similar to The Diary of a Young Girl. Although Jewish persecution is an element in this story, it is not primary. In my view this is primarily a Bildungsroman. It is a coming of age story. It is a story about becoming independent and making your own choices. It is very much about guilt. Every member of this family feels guilty in one way or another. For me this was just too much. I felt like shaking them and saying - heavens, there is a war going on! Stop blaming yourself for for that which happens. This bothered me to no end! At the same time I know that others may say I am too "logical". People DO feel guilty even when they shouldn't.
I also felt that the presence of untranslated Dutch made portions unclear.
And this book almost reads like an ad promoting cigarettes. Everybody smokes. Boy does smoking wondrously calm you.... That is the message given. I found this just ridiculous. Again, am I too logical and hard-nosed?!
The latter third of the book is gripping, but the finale was such a finger pointer. The lesson given on how to become an adult lacked subtlety. I am going to give it only two stars. If you are looking for a Bildungsroman, you might enjoy it more than I did. Remember I choose to be very restrictive with my stars and only judge a book from my own personal likes and dislikes. ...more