by James Mann, 2010, Penguin Books
This book was very disappointing, primarily because it was so repetitious. There were over sixty pages devoted to objections by various individuals to Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech. Many of the objections were repeated numerous times in the book. Our book club selected the book for the month of May, but many participants said they didn’t bother to finish the book.
I was further disappointed when I read the acknowledgements at the end of the book. The author interviewed numerous individuals who were involved in the events depicted in the book. He also spent a number of months in Berlin studying. The disappointment is that he brought so little from those interviews and studies to the book.
Did I say that there was a lot of repetition? In case you missed that part, I have to mention that the author repeated a lot of information, much of it over and over and over again.
by Wally Lamb, 2009, performed by the author, HarperAudio
This is a refreshing Christmas story about a ten-year-old kid in a parochial school in 1964. The author does a great job in reading, particularly the accent of the Russian girl and her parents. There are some hilarious moments as they perform the Christmas program and the rest of the book is fairly humorous. All the characters were good and the story was enjoyable to listen to.
by Vince Flynn, 2007, Simon & Shuster Audio, Read by George Guidall
This one is quite a bit better than Honor Bound from 2009, which was pretty boring. This one has a pretty interesting plot and one that is fairly plausible. I still get a bit tired of Mitch Rapp and his heroics, however.
by Gillian Flynn, Crown Publishing, 2012
I had a little trouble getting my arms around this book. The book is very readable and I think the methodology the author employed, which consisted of alternating entries by the husband and then the wife in this unusual marriage, was extremely effective. These texts enabled me to understand the depth of the disconnect between the two individuals.
I can also relate to the effects of each spouse having such different backgrounds, he from a family of modest means from a small town in the Midwest, while she was from a fairly affluent family, growing up in a world of privilege in the East. The differences become really apparent when they move back to his hometown.
There are also some twists and turns in the plot that made it enjoyable to read..
What didn’t I like about the book? The ending, or lack of one. After spending a considerable amount of time reading through the book, I naturally got hooked on where it was headed and where it would end up. I was, to put it mildly, disappointed. I won’t go into the details here, but if you read the book yourself, be prepared for what isn’t coming.
Shakespeare seems to have perfected the concept of ”denouement” which is defined as:
- the final resolution of the intricacies of a plot, as of a drama or novel.
- the place in the plot at which this occurs.
- the outcome or resolution of a doubtful series of occurrences
In addition to the actual definition, an author usually builds excitement and holds interest by building up to the denouement. My issue with this book is that it is absolutely missing anything close to a denouement. I would suggest that Ms. Flynn delve into some of Shakespeare’s plays to see if she could possibly apply this concept to her next book. It would have really helped in the case of Gone Girl.
by R. A. Scotti, Back Bay Books, 2004
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I was expecting another fairly dry (no pun intended) description of the devastation wrought by this super storm. Instead, I got a collection of well-written vignettes of what happened to certain individuals during the storm, along with some pretty well-researched description of the impact of the hurricane on a macro level.
The author, R. A. Scotti, is apparently also a mystery/suspense writer. She utilizes these skills well in her telling of the stories in this book. I am reminded of how well Ken Follett applies the skills he utilized in writing adventure stories to his more recent work (he managed to keep his readers’ interest while telling a story about building a cathedral, which should be a bit like reading about grass growing). I think that many of the authors today who write popular fiction tend to be stuck in their groove and aren’t able to do anything different (e.g., James Patterson, et. al.). I guess one reason is that once they start raking in the money doing what they are doing, there is little incentive to try anything new.
Anyway, I have digressed a bit. As I have stated, I think that this book is extremely readable and interesting and my only criticism is that she may have devoted a bit too much discussion as to what happened to the school bus passengers on Jamestown Island. Possibly, too much information here. Other than that, I recommend this book, especially to anyone who has lived or spent any amount of time in the areas affected (which is just about all of the Northeast U.S.)
by Chris Cleave, 2012, Simon & Shuster Audio, Read by Emilia Fox
This is the story of two female velodrome Olympic cyclists and their relationships. The story is somewhat interesting in that it portrays the stresses inherent in the lives of Olympic athletes. The novel, unfortunately, is only somewhat interesting and not really interesting. It just somehow doesn’t seem to rise to the next level of excitement. It’s not a bad story, however.
Persuasion, by Jane Austen, originally published posthumously in 1818, audiobook, 2001, read by Flo Gibson, Recorded Books, LLC, Prince Frederick, MD
I guess I just didn’t get this book. To me it was a redefinition of the word, “dithering.” The heroine, Ann Elliott, is in love with a naval officer, Captain Wentworth, and wants to marry him. Unfortunately, a family friend intervenes and puts the kibosh on the marriage. She encounters Captain Wentworth seven years later and, after many chapters of not much happening, he expresses his love of her again. They become happily engaged. End of story.
This book doesn’t seem to create the same level of tension between two would-be lovers that Pride and Prejudice does. I suspect that Jane Austen was failing in her later years to come up with something fresh and original. I don’t feel that she accomplished that in this, her last, novel.
by Vince Flynn, 2009, Simon & Shuster Audio, Read by George Guidall
I would like to be able to say that I liked this book, but when two days went by after I finished listening to it, I couldn’t remember a single thing about it except for one especially weak chapter. In this particular chapter, the hero of the book, Mitch Rapp, is testifying in a hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the effectiveness of torture. The chairman of the committee is portrayed as a real dolt and when she challenges Rapp on his views regarding torture, he counters by charging that she is hypocritical because she supports abortion. Come on, Vince Flynn! Is this the best that Rapp can come up with? This was an incredibly weak performance on the part of our so-called hero.
Other than that one passage, the whole book is one big mystery to me as to what it was about. Given that it created such a lasting impression for me, I guess I can’t say too much positive about it.
by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, 2011, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, New York
This is an attempt to make history exciting as it gets the reader inside of the heads of the individuals involved. It succeeds as entertainment but doesn’t add much to a story that’s already been told many times before. If you like light reading and don’t know much about history, this is a great book for you. Personally, as I put down the book, I felt disappointed that it didn’t provide something more.
Honor Bound, Terror on the F Train, by Steven R. Roberts, 2012, Rouge River Press, Dearborn, MI
This book is a story about a terrorist plot to blow up subway trains and a black Vietnam veteran, retired from the CIA, who is asked to go on a mission to thwart the plot. The fact that he has terminal cancer plays into his decision to accept this, his final mission.
The book has its good moments. The possibility of terror attacks on our subway system is realistic and the book has an unusual plot twist.
I also feel that the book has some weak points. I found that the physical action described in the passages toward the end of the book was a bit of a stretch for me and I thought that all the dialogue between the hero and villain was somewhat overdone. It reminded me a lot of the dialogue that Dan Brown inserts into some of the action scenes in his novels. This technique apparently is intended to make the reader believe just how evil the villain is, but, for me, it just bogs down the action. (An exception to this situation is the Hannibal Lecter movies where his dialogue really does send chills down my spine.)
The book is fairly well-written but there are some editing errors that occasionally detract from the work. Overall, the book is a pretty good read and is entertaining.