Stephen King’s latest novel has been receiving some major accolades. The New York Times named it one of the top ten books of 2011, making it one of th...moreStephen King’s latest novel has been receiving some major accolades. The New York Times named it one of the top ten books of 2011, making it one of their top five fiction books. That kind of surprised me until I listened to the book. It really is that good.
Now, I’m not a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve only read about half a dozen books out of the gazillion that he’s written. I found the longer works that I’ve read to be kind of convoluted and in need of serious editing. I must admit that this one doesn’t seem to suffer from the confusing ramblings of “The Stand” or “Under the Dome”. I think the biggest reason the story holds together than those other giant novels is that King uses a first person perspective that keeps him from going off on tangents. Also, because most of the story takes place from 1958 through 1963, the pop culture references are historic rather than easily dated. Despite it’s length, it kept me engaged and I couldn’t stop listening.
The audio book narration is excellent. It’s not over-dramatized, yet it’s also not horrendously dry. The narrator individualizes each character without making them cartoonish. I highly recommend the audio version, especially since it doesn’t involve holding a five-pound hardback. (less)
Two credits. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of The Children of the Sky and totally planned on getting the audiobook because the ebook was t...moreTwo credits. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of The Children of the Sky and totally planned on getting the audiobook because the ebook was too expensive. Then, it turned out that the audiobook was two credits on Audible. I hesitated for about one day. Then, I saw that it was narrated by my favorite narrator, Oliver Wyman and I caved. Wyman is absolutely wonderful and giving each character a unique voice and I have yet to hear a male narrator who does a better job at voicing women and children. He was the perfect narrator for this book.
Okay, Vinge's story was really good too. It's a sequel to a book I read several years ago, but it was completely unnecessary to re-read the first book. He did a great job of jogging my memory of events in the previous book without relying on heavy exposition. The story's pacing was excellent. It was a long book, but it never dragged.
Definitely worth two credits, if you're on the Platinum plan.(less)
I was intrigued from the minute I read the synopsis for The Night Strangers before it was even released, so I downloaded it from Audible as soon as it...moreI was intrigued from the minute I read the synopsis for The Night Strangers before it was even released, so I downloaded it from Audible as soon as it was available. I am happy to say that it exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be a basic haunted house story about a troubled family, but it turned out to be more like The Stepford Wives. Bethel, New Hampshire is not the kind of town I'd want to move to--ever. Bohjalian's prose is absolutely wonderful. I loved how he switched from 2nd person to 3rd person narrative depending on person whose perspective was being described. The 2nd person POV was especially powerful because it drove home Chip's growing insanity/haunting.
The narration was perfect. Using two narrators really emphasized the style in which the book was written. Alison Fraser was exceptional. Her parts included two little girls, their mother, and many middle-aged and old women. Each character sounded authentic and unique.
I was a little worried when I got this that I might not be able to follow it because I hadn't read World Made by Hand....moreI won this through First Reads.
I was a little worried when I got this that I might not be able to follow it because I hadn't read World Made by Hand. Fortunately, this is one of those sequels that completely stands alone. It's a cozy post-apocalyptic story in which a boy runs away, gets tied up with a crazy bandit named Billy Bones, several people meet a mysterious woman, and a band of Jesus freaks really are freaks. It had a very old-fashioned feel to it, kind of like Alas, Babylon or Earth Abides. However, it also was clearly a book for our time. The apocalypse was a slow one. It's the kind that seems to be trending right now. The world goes backwards as the oil supply gets cut off, electricity is no longer being generated, and disease has taken a chunk of the population. However, the fall of American civilization is just something that's happened and people go on as best they can. Just as in any period in history, there are some real creeps out there, but most of the people are good. I really enjoyed this book and have downloaded the audiobook of World Made by Hand because I want more.(less)
It’s really hard to review a book that turned out not to be the book you thought you were reading. I knew that this novel was about Ko Phi Phi, an isl...moreIt’s really hard to review a book that turned out not to be the book you thought you were reading. I knew that this novel was about Ko Phi Phi, an island that was decimated in the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. It’s part of the blurb and part of the author’s introduction. So, I kept waiting for that darned wave. Unlike the characters, I knew it was coming. About halfway through, I looked up the date that the tsunami occurred so I would know how close it was. I grew quite impatient for the devastation. I finished reading it as I was getting my hair colored and my stylist asked me about it. I described it and showed her the page where the tsunami actual occurred. She exclaimed that it was just like the movie “Titanic”. She said her husband spent the whole movie wondering when the ship was going to sink. I have to say that she is absolutely correct in the comparison. Like “Titanic”, this book is about creating characters that really grab you and make you care. It sets a stage that makes you feel like you’re there and that you don’t want to see destroyed. You know there’s going to be a tsunami. You know that people will die. The question becomes who and how. It also has romance like “Titanic” did.
“Cross Currents” is a beautifully written novel. It wasn’t the novel I expected, but it was still evocative and satisfying.
I recently listened to I'd Know You Anywhere and really liked Lippman's style. I was thrilled to have won this through FirstReads. I just finished rea...moreI recently listened to I'd Know You Anywhere and really liked Lippman's style. I was thrilled to have won this through FirstReads. I just finished reading it and realized that it's not even due to be released for another four days.
I tend to take a book with me to work to read at lunchtime. This is one that I had to leave at home because I knew that I wouldn't get any work done if I took it with me. The past and present story lines mesh together so well and nothing is as it seems.
I really like some of Lippman's narrative choices here. For some of the past scenes, she used the first person plural viewpoint. It's an interesting choice because the "we" is five kids, but you never know which one is narrating. It's as if they are narrating together as a third party. I don't even think I can explain it right, but it really works. I like how she tells the story from a variety of angles: the children as children, the children as adults, the parents when the children are young, and the parents when the children are middle-aged. It shows how every viewpoint is partly right and partly wrong.
I couldn't put this book down and I'm really looking forward to reading more of Lippman's work.(less)
I really love the Kitty Norville series. Kitty is a terrific character and she gets into some interesting situations. So, when I saw that this book wa...moreI really love the Kitty Norville series. Kitty is a terrific character and she gets into some interesting situations. So, when I saw that this book was coming out, I had to have a copy. I was pretty disappointed. First, being more expensive than the typical Kitty Norville novel, I expected it to be bigger. Well, it is trade paperback, so it is bigger, but only in physical size, not in content. I read it in three days using only break time and my 1/2 hour lunch. Second, it didn't really have much to do with Kitty's world. The few stories she appears in, she's usually a secondary character and doesn't seem at all like she does in the novels. Third, there just weren't that many stories and most of the ones that were there weren't that good.
The saving grace of Kitty's Greatest Hits is the novella at the end, "Long Time Waiting". It is a terrific story that shows what was going on with Cormac in prison, how he connected with Amelia, and really adds dimension to his character. That one story made the book worth reading.(less)
I give this 3.4 stars. I kept hearing the Billy Joel song, "We Didn't Start the Fire" playing in my mental background as I listened to it. It was like...moreI give this 3.4 stars. I kept hearing the Billy Joel song, "We Didn't Start the Fire" playing in my mental background as I listened to it. It was like watching "I love the Eighties" on MTV. I felt really bad for both Wade and Halliday for being stuck in the Eighties. Yes, that was a great decade, but you really need to live in present day. The book was entertaining, but not particularly memorable. The plot was very, very predictable. I knew where it was going long before it got there.
Wil Wheaton's narration was very good, but I couldn't help giggling at every Star Trek reference. (view spoiler)[I also laughed out loud when Wade voted for the old geezers Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton in the Oasis elections. (hide spoiler)]
UPDATE 10/16/11: I got a print copy in the mail on Wednesday. Seems that I won it through Read it Forward and didn't know or remember it when I downloaded the audiobook. I handed the book to my 16 year-old reluctant reader and he finished it by Saturday night. Therefore, I am upgrading my rating by one star. Any book that will engage my son deserves an extra star.(less)
The Leftovers takes the concept of the Rapture and says, “What if millions of people instantaneously disappeared at once?” The twist is that the peopl...moreThe Leftovers takes the concept of the Rapture and says, “What if millions of people instantaneously disappeared at once?” The twist is that the people who disappeared come from many different backgrounds. An atheist, Jew, Buddhist, or criminal was as likely to have disappeared as a Christian. Many, many devout Christians who completely expected to be taken up in the Rapture get left behind. Perrotta uses this as the jumping off point for exploring the emotional and spiritual fallout of the event in one small town.
Now, if this had been a science fiction novel, the much of the story would have focused on people come up with a rational explanation for what happened. In fantasy, there would have been some sort of magical reason for the disappearances. I doubt this scenario would have occurred in this manner in Christian fiction at all. However, this is literary fiction. Perrotta never tries to explain the reasons behind the event, nor do his characters wonder how or why so many people disappeared. Instead, he tells of people’s inner turmoil and how they learn to cope with their losses, or how they don’t cope as the case may be.
The real strength of this novel is its characters. Each one is a fully realized individual. Even when they get involved in whacky cults or develop strange habits, you identify with them and understand why they act the way the do.
Dennis Boutsikaris does a very good job of narration on this audiobook. He doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to sound feminine when reading the female POV sections. As a result, the female characters come across as human first, female second. I liked that. (less)
Life isn’t easy when you’re the last werewolf and 210 years old. First, there’s the loneliness. It’s really bad, especially since you’re libido is in...moreLife isn’t easy when you’re the last werewolf and 210 years old. First, there’s the loneliness. It’s really bad, especially since you’re libido is in overdrive due to your curse. Then, there is the ennui that comes from having seen everything and done everything during the course of two centuries. Finally, you are constantly trying to hide from hunters and vampires—from those who want to kill you and those who want to save you. Duncan’s portrayal of Jake Marlow, the last werewolf, isn’t pretty. However it may be the most “realistic” werewolf portrayal out there. Werewolves in Jake’s world aren’t people who turn fully into wolves. They become something much more dangerous. Unlike many modern werewolves, they can’t be satisfied hunting deer or other game. Only human flesh can sate their hunger.
One of the best things about this book is the language. Duncan’s werewolf tells his story with an astounding mastery of vocabulary. He uses words that you rarely see or hear used anymore and it seems completely natural. It never sounds like Duncan sat writing with the thesaurus by his side. However, when he talks about sex and genitalia, he uses the crudest four-letter words in a way that seems just as natural. The character’s world-weariness takes all the shock value out of these vulgarities.
Robin Sachs is the perfect voice for Jake Marlow. You get that Jake is tired of life and ready to call it quits. You get that he’s bored. You get that he hates what he does when the moon is full. The performance is spot-on. (less)
There seem to be quite a few books about Count Dracula lately. Maybe the popularity of vampires is making people re-visit the original popular vampire...moreThere seem to be quite a few books about Count Dracula lately. Maybe the popularity of vampires is making people re-visit the original popular vampire. Dracula in Love is far, far better than Dracula the Un-Dead and less boring than The Historian. It's got plenty of mildly graphic sex and sexual fantasy for those who like that kind of thing, but isn't so over the top that it's gulp-inducing for those who don't. My biggest complaint is the way it twists Bram Stoker's story and puts a completely ridiculous interpretation on Dracula's origins and why he's obsessed with Mina. It starts out pretty good, but really stretched my suspension of disbelief towards the end.
Fortunately, I won this book through FirstReads because it really would have been only worth the price of a mass-market paperback.(less)
Any book that has me reading when I really shouldn't be reading deserves five stars. I had a hard time getting anything done for two days because I ke...moreAny book that has me reading when I really shouldn't be reading deserves five stars. I had a hard time getting anything done for two days because I kept wanting to get back to this book. I really felt connected to Christine and was totally shocked by the ending. It was creepy on so many levels. I can't say much more without spoilers, so I'm just going to recommend that everyone read it.(less)
I was thrilled to find a copy of Embassytown at the library a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I only made it through about 40 pages before I had to retu...moreI was thrilled to find a copy of Embassytown at the library a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I only made it through about 40 pages before I had to return it. Those were a tough 40 pages that really hurt my brain. At some point, I realized that my problem was less about the book than about the fact that I just couldn't hear it right in my head. Avice, the first-person narrator, tells the story in a slang that kept making me stumble. She doesn't define anything in her world because she assumes that the person listening to her knows what she means. It's written with a British accent. I'm convinced it's a book that's meant to be heard, not read. So, I downloaded the audiobook and I'm so glad I changed formats.
This book is truly amazing in audio. The narrator makes the story so immediate, like you're really listening to Avice tell it to you. The way the production handles the Hosts' language really adds to the experience. I really don't know how many stars I'd give to the book in print, but the audio is worth every one of those five stars.(less)