The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

7047094Looked good so I picked it up.

Stats: Audio book is 17 discs, it doesn’t tell me the hours (a lot). Read by Treat Williams, Anne Heche “and a full cast.” Print book is 565 pages, published in 2010.

Blurb: Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

What I liked: The question behind Robert Oliver’s action in the beginning is well hid, along with the connection of the people around him to this man. The information is doled out slowly. I like how the artwork is an integral part of the story, so much so that I wanted to see it for real. Alas, this is fiction. I imagine some of the artists she mentions in the Washington’s National Gallery are real, so I’ll have to try and find those. The surprise at the end was good. I was expecting something else, of course. The narrators did a fine job.

What I didn’t like: As I mentioned, the information about Robert Oliver is doled out slowly, too slowly at times. And other information is not needed, like stuff about Mary, who is connected to Robert (I won’t say how so as not to give anything away). Kostova tells of Mary’s childhood and life as she grew up, something that really didn’t add anything to the main story, in my opinion. Then there is the question of why doesn’t Robert speak? It’s never really shared and it is the only way the story can be told as it is. And it’s not to realistic to believe his psychiatrist would travel to Jamaica (I think that’s where he went) and France just to find out the mystery, whether it’s for his own curiosity or for his patient, or for both. And low and behold – they find the missing information! Really?! But these things are not enough of a problem to make the story a problem to read.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

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Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge #235 Grass & Dove

Since I’m sharing haikus…

Annette Rochelle Aben

The mourning dove

Perched above the winter grass

Calls to Spring, in song

©2019 Annette Rochelle Aben

https://ronovanwrites.com/2019/01/07/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-235-grassdove/

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61 Hours by Lee Child

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I like Lee Child and the Jack Reacher series so when I saw this audio (#14 in the series) was available online from my library, I checked it “out.”

Stats: Published in 2010, print is 383 pages, the audio was narrated by Dick Hill, who narrators many of the Reacher stories (as far as I can tell). 13′, 13″ for the audio version

Blurb: A tour bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.
Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed–but so is the woman whose life he’ll risk his own to save.
In 61 Hours, Lee Child has written a showdown thriller with an explosive ending that readers will talk about for a long time to come.

What I liked: I liked the writing as usual, and the narration as well. Dick Hill does his usual wonderful job with characters and flow and drama. I actually am not sure how the 61 hours plays into the story other than it’s a count down to an explosive end a writer’s trick to add drama (not sure that exactly worked). I like the setting and the laid back life of the South Dakota town in winter. The setting for the prison was very true to it’s impact on the community. The characters are easily relateable, even the bad guys and Child’s details always make you feel like you are right there. I like what was in the building (though how likely that is is debatable). Child has changed it up a bit, as far as what happens to some of the characters Reacher is supposed to be helping, so that’s a nice twist.

What I didn’t like: It got a little slow after the first prison event (I won’t mention what that was) but it wasn’t enough to want to stop. I’m not sure I like the end. It’s fairly obvious what happened in general, but I would have liked to know specifically what happened to Reacher. Maybe you have to read the next book (#15) to get the answer.

Rating: 4/5

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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I was looking for a new audio book through my online library system and this one was available. I hadn’t seen the movie because I wasn’t sure I wanted to see a POW movie (maybe too intense) but I thought listening to the book might work.

Stats: Published in 2010, print is 473 pages, audio is about 14 hours, read by Edward Herrmann.

Blurb: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

What I liked: Like all good non-fiction, it “read” like a fictional story, which is quite the accomplishment with such a long story. It helps that it’s such an amazing story, it keeps your interest the whole time, if you can stomach some of it, that is. What those men endured on the life raft and in the Japanese prison camps was hard to fathom. It was also very interesting learning what happened to some of the survivors – especially Louis Z. Listening to Edward Herrmann was a pleasure.

What I didn’t like: It was a bit long. Could some of the beginning been cut a bit? Perhaps. Even though the time in the camps was hard to listen to at times, it isn’t anything you can (or should) cut. It was frustrating to hear what happened to some of the guards at the prison, most notably “the bird” – the guard out to get Louis. But it is what it is.

Rating: 4/5