An Irish Country Girl

by Patrick Taylor, Audiobook read by Terry Donnelly, 2010, Midwest Tape, LLC, Holland, OH

This book started out pretty well with an Irish ghost story but the second part, which was consisted of the narrator’s life, was a bit dull.  The audiobook did, however, help pass some time on a long road trip vacation.2 stars

Washington Square

by Henry James, originally published in 1880 as a magazine serial, Audiobook read by Lorna Raver, 2008, Tantor Media, Inc.

This is a novel about a young girl living in New York City about 1830 and her affair with an unworthy suitor.  The novel itself is a bit dull but the reading by Lorna Raver is well done.  Her portrayal of Catherine’s aunt as a nosy busybody is superb!

I was hoping that the novel would give a little bit more insight into New York’s culture and society in those times, but the novel was so focused on Catherine and her relationships with her father, her aunt, and her suitor that it didn’t leave much opportunity to dwell on other aspects of life in New York at those times.

I think the novel would have been a bit dull to read, but I really enjoyed the audiobook.4 stars

The Private Patient

by P.D. James Unabridged CD Audiobook (An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery) Audio CD, 2008, read by Rosalyn Landor

This book is a murder mystery about some murders that take place at an estate that has been converted to a plastic surgery clinic.  It is beautifully written but that might be it’s major flaw.  P.D. James tends to be overly wordy in this novel and, while the prose is very well done and the characters are convincing, the plot is thin and the book suffers as it plods along.  There are absolutely no twists or turns as it goes from beginning to end.  Additionally, the reader has a very nice voice and does the characters well, but her voice is soft and soporific which also takes away from any excitement that a murder mystery should generate.  I have rated it a bit higher than it probably deserves because of James’ good writing, but, for a murder mystery, this is a not very suspenseful. 3 stars

Killing Patton

by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, 2014, Henry Holt & Company, LLC, New York

This book was given to me as a gift at Christmas.  Otherwise, I probably would not have read it.  Once I had it, however, I was looking forward to learning something about Patton as I hadn’t read much about him.  I did see the movie many, many years ago and thought it was done very well.  I recall George C. Scott won the academy award for his portrayal of Patton.

Once I started reading, however, I had a very hard time staying with it.  As with the other book I had read by these guys, Killing Lincoln, the book seems to have been written for sixth-graders.  Many of the footnotes provided basic information that everyone should already know.  This book’s writing was much worse than Killing Lincoln, however, and I just couldn’t read more than a couple of pages at one sitting.

Since I am not that knowledgeable on the subject matter, I can’t make any astute comments on the accuracy of the information, but it seemed to me that the authors were very harsh on their assessment of Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower’s performance in this period, giving all credit and no criticism of Patton’s actions.

In regard to the main theme of the book, only one or two chapters were actually devoted to Patton’s accident and subsequent death.  It appeared that the author’s mentioning of  a few suspicious aspects of Patton’s death would be enough to raise the possibility that Patton was assassinated.  The innuendo that Wild Bill Donovan had something to do with it doesn’t seem to square with what I have read in other books about Donovan.

I think that O’Reilly and Dugard have found a means of generating huge amounts of revenue through some rather shoddy writing and research.  This book is a continuation of that process.2 stars

A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh

by Jeff Shaara, Audiobook, 2012, Narrated by Paul Michael, Random House Audio

We listened to this audiobook on our semi-annual trip from Florida to Rhode Island.  The audiobook was 18 CD’s so it consumed about 2 1/2 days of our three-day trip.  Even though it was long and, at times, seemed even longer than it was, the author made it interesting.  By writing this in novel format he made the individuals seem to come to life.  At the same time, however, the historical contents were well-researched and accurate.  The narration was also very good.

We had no prior knowledge of the battle or the circumstances that brought the two armies together and this was a much more enjoyable means to gain that knowledge compared to a dry, blow-by-blow history of the battle.  I would recommend this book. 4 stars

The Boys in the Boat

by Daniel James Brown, 2013, Viking Penguin Group

This book is meticulously researched, well-written, and the author obviously has a great love for his subject.  It’s about the crew from the University of Washington that won the nine-man rowing Olympic medal in Berlin in 1936.  The story is interlaced with background information on the various members of the crew and, in particular, the life of Joe Ratz prior to his attendance at the University of Washington.  Some of the details are pretty grim, but, nonetheless, they add to the story of how they went about winning the gold medal.

Daniel James Brown also provides an accurate portrayal of what was occurring in Nazi Germany at the time and how Goebbles wanted to show the new Germany to the world through the Olympic events.  Very scary stuff.

This is a really good book, even if the reader doesn’t have a great deal of appreciation for what’s involved in the sport of rowing.  The author even gets caught up in the excitement of a race that took place almost eighty years ago.4 1/2 stars

Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan

by Seymour Morris, Jr., 2014, Harper

This book was somewhat of a disappointment.  I was very interested in how a successful occupation of another company was managed, particularly after the disaster that occurred in Iraq.  The book seemed to start out pretty well as it depicted MacArthur’s arrival in Japan and some of his first acts and policies.  I think the book bogged down when it abandoned a chronological timeline and addressed various occurrences by topic.  This made it somewhat hard to follow.  Also, it appears that the book had been heavily edited and most of the cuts were probably in the last half of the book where topics were treated almost in summary form.  Perhaps the book would have been very tedious without those cuts, but it seemed that a lot of information was left out of the final product.

I suspect that there are much better volumes available regarding this important period following WWII.2 1/2 stars

Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes, 2012, Audiobook narrated by Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, and Owen Lindsey, Penguin Audio

An interesting story about a young lady who doesn’t have much going for her in her life takes on a caregiver job for a paraplegic who is intent on committing suicide.

The characters in this novel are interesting although sometimes a bit stereotyped. The primary character has qualities that far exceed her background and upbringing, allowing her to do amazing things.  Her sister is much more sophisticated and smarter, but she has made bad choices in her life.  The patient’s mother is unemotional in her dealings with others.  The father is a womanizer.

The story is interesting, the writing is good, the reading is excellent.  Altogether, not a bad experience.

3 1/2 stars

Arctic Chill

by Arnaldur Indridason, 2005, Audiobook narrated by George Guidall, 2011, Recorded Books, LLC

This is a run of the mill detective story whose only redeeming value was that it took place in Iceland.  The mood and the background gave me a little insight into the culture and living conditions in Iceland.  It is a typical murder mystery, the only twist being that the murder was of a young immigrant boy.  It does provide a bit of background about how the immigrant population fares vis-a-vis the native Icelandic population and the tugs and pulls of assimilation versus isolation.  The plot itself is pedantic and the characters are a bit hard to distinguish because of the similarity and unfamiliarity of their names (especially in audiobook format).

The reading by George Guidall was very good as usual, but the material was lacking.

I don’t think I will be reading additional volumes in this series.2 stars

There’s Something about St. Tropez

by Elizabeth Adler, Audiobook narrated by Julie Briskman, 2009, BBC Audio

I downloaded this audiobook to my MP3 player so that I could listen to something while I painted a bathroom.  It had some interesting characters but they were pretty much stereotypes.  The plot was predictable and the location of the story didn’t seem to add much to the narrative.  It was a not unpleasant experience to listen to this audiobook, but I would say that it was pretty brainless.2 stars