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4 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 17.09.2018

Immigration, the real story

I do not know, whether this is a great book, but it definitely is an important book. Ngozi Adichie tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, two Nigerian teenagers, a young couple with great dreams and expectations. They want to leave Nigeria, because they don’t see any chance for an adequate career and a decent live, they want to move to the USA. Unfortunately reality catches up with them and their plan turns into an odyssey full of hardship, misery and pain and finally their lives drift apart.

No doubt, Adichie is a skillful narrator. She tells the story with sufficient warmth and passion and the characters are drawn in loving detail and appear to be lifelike individuals. The prose is adequate and fits to the diary like narrative.

I especially liked the voice of Adjoa Andoh. She might not be Nigerian, but she tells the story with a charming accent, which makes the listening pure joy.

The book is full of interesting details and observations. Ifemelu’s blog about white and black America is full of biting wit, but very depressing at the same time. You will learn a lot about immigration issues, trafficking and related crimes. The book also offers a lot of insight into Nigerian politics and everyday life of the prosperous as well as the poor.

The romantic thread did not impress me that much. There were signs of deep love and affection, but also a lot of superficial aspects. Ifemelu does not hesitate at all to break a family apart, just to get her Obinze back.

Some of the book's content rubbed me the wrong way. Corruption, political intrigue and nepotism in Nigeria appear to be widely accepted as part of the culture. Ifemelu, who had a sharp eye for all the sore spots in the US society, appeared to be rather blind after her return to Nigeria.

I still do not know, whether I really liked the book, but it was good that I read it.

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4 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 22.02.2018

The old Jack Reacher is back

With the ‘The Midnight Line' Lee Child brings back the Reacher, we fell in love with. I was ready to give up on him during the last couple of books, which appeared to me flat and construed, but the new book surprised me. It is not just the reappearance of the old Reacher, powerful, stubborn and self-assured, who will set out to put things right against all odds, but also the haunting and evocative storyline resonated strongly with me. It is an emotional story, deeply moving with a strong message. It is a story about forgotten heroes and society’s indifference and neglect.

In a pawnshop in Wisconsin Reacher finds a class ring West Point 2005. The ring is small with the initials engraved on the inside and obviously made for a petite woman. Why would somebody give up a ring like that? Reacher would not be Reacher, if he was not piqued to find out more. He sets out on a quest, which quickly draws him into a quagmire of corruption, organized crime and drug dealers and no wonder, soon enough, he becomes a target himself.

Of course, we all know, how likely it is that one guy beats up a bunch of other guys, not just once, but with a certain regularity. It really is highly unlikely, but we would love it to be true. Jack Reacher is a fairy tale figure for adults and his existence would give us comfort in a world, where fairness and justice are hard to find sometimes.

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2 von 2 Hörern fanden diese Rezension hilfreich

4 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 22.02.2018

Russian teenage physicist saves the world

It is a lovely book and Katie Kennedy managed to charm me in spite of all the misgivings, I had initially. The story cannot be taken too seriously, it is rather harmless and unrealistic and probably targeted at young adults, but is nicely told and Katie Kennedy really knows how to create enchanting and endearing characters. It really is a “feel good” story and that helps to overlook all the clichés presented in the narrative. At times, I was afraid that Yuri, the young Russian and Dovie with her hippy parents would turn into cartoon characters, but somehow the author managed to avoid this trap.

Learning to Swear in America is not a nail biting thriller, even though it is full of action and events. The story is quite funny at times, but most of all I perceived it as a story of coming of age, first love, purpose and meaning of life and maybe even the essence of being human.

Briefly summarized, the plot is as follows. An asteroid threatens to destroy the earth or at least most of California. There are just a couple of days left and all the leading scientists are clueless, how to stop it. Luckily, there is Yuri, a 17 year old Russian physicist, who could help with his ground breaking research on antimatter, but the eggheads at NASA distrust his approach. In the pending doom and the disaster just days away, Yuri meets Dovie and his eyes are opened to a completely different world apart from physics and math. He starts to understand, why it is so important to save the world.

Perhaps the story is a little bit corny, but it is a pleasure to read it.

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5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 31.01.2018

Love and Jealousy in the Jungle of New Guinea

Relax, Euphoria is not a biography of the famous and at times very controversial anthropologist Margaret Mead, even if Nell Stone, the protagonist of the story, has a kindred spirit and might remind you of her. With Euphoria Lily King created a deeply moving and highly intelligent novel about human ambition and greed, love and jealousy, life and death, set in the exotic environment of the interior of New Guinea.

No surprise, Lily King knows how to tell a story. Her prose is full of powerful images and she precisely depicts not just the environment, but mood and emotions as well. She literally takes you to the jungle in New Guinea and you will start to smell the stink of rotting vegetation, foul breath and unwashed bodies. You will feel the oppressive heat and the onslaught of myriads of insects and most important of all, you will sense the lingering doom and impending tragedy.

The book tells the story of 3 young anthropologists, studying the culture and behavior of tribes in New Guinea untouched by civilization, the already modestly famous American Nell Stone, her envious and jealous Australian husband Fen and the British Andrew Bankson. Nell and Fen had to flee from their last project, when an enraged Mumbanyo tribe member throws a dead baby at Nell Stone. She breaks a leg during the flight and she and her husband are dispirited, dirty and sick with fever and downcast by failure. This is how they run into the depressed and lonesome Andrew. Andrew craves for company and easily persuades Nell and Fen to restart their research work with the Kiona tribe on a nearby lake. Very quickly Andrew becomes enthralled with the couple, especially with Nell. The three of them do some of their best work together, but it does not take long and love and jealousy get out of control, the three of them are heading for disaster.

It is a great book, beautifully read and the only complaint I have, it is too short.

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2 von 2 Hörern fanden diese Rezension hilfreich

5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 26.01.2018

Hadrian and Royce on a quest to save a fairy

Michael J. Sullivan did not disappoint me. The Death of Dulgath, the third book of the Riyria chronicles is as entertaining as its predecessors. Of course this is not Pulitzer prize stuff, but it is just fun to hear more from Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn. The witty and snappy banter, their dare devil attitude and the quality of good old fashioned story telling make it hard to put the book down or stop listening.

The story might be a little bit less violent this time, but this did not diminish its quality. Royce is still as vicious as ever and good natured Hadrian might have even gotten a bit more naïve, but both of them throw all their principles over board, when there is an opportunity to help a damsel in distress. Only this time the damsel is the last member of an old noble house and targeted for assassination, but even more disturbing is the dark secret this lady is sharing with Royce.

This is phantasy as good as it gets.

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1 von 1 Hörern fanden diese Rezension hilfreich

4 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 24.01.2018

A Modern Epic, Spanning Decades and Continents

To say the least, Purity is a very ambitious book. Jonathan Franzen takes you on a quest, where he tries to deal with the blessings and woes of information society, the war between sexes, the problems of early adulthood, self-abandonment and even murder. Of course this tour de force is never boring, regardless of its epical length. At times plausibility might be stretched a little bit too far and the story gets a little bit too close to a modern fairy tale, but overall it is a masterpiece of storytelling.

The book tells the story of 23 year old Pip Tyler, an awkward young girl, who does not know her real name, but is stuck with 130.000 $ student debt. Her mother is overly protective and possessive and hides from the world in a small cabin in the woods. After a period of squatting with some drop-outs in Oakland, Pip is lured by a German woman to the jungles in South America, where she meets the mesmerizing Andreas Wolf, a Snowdon-like whistle-blower and former dissident in East-Germany. Torn between hostility and infatuation her stay in Wolf’s camp becomes unbearable and she is sent to Denver to work as an intern for the journalist Tom Aberant. A dark secret binds Wolf and Aberant together and Pip does not know, how to untangle herself.

Especially when describing the life in East-Germany and the fall of the Berlin wall, the narrative is not always accurate, but this might only be noticeable to German listeners. There are also lengthy passages, where you might ask, where this is going, but these are minor flaws. Overall it is an extremely fascinating story with great characters, especially Pip, with all her hostility and bitchiness will get close to your heart.

The one aspect of this audiobook, which became a real nuisance, was the constant mispronunciation to imitate a bad German accent. This was even more aggravating, because German Words and names were mispronounced as well. Otherwise all of the speakers did a good job.

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1 von 1 Hörern fanden diese Rezension hilfreich

3 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 18.12.2017

Love Story in Reverse

Of course I realize that I step on thin ice, when I dare to criticize an acclaimed masterpiece, but regardless of the perfect prose and the skillfully written book, I seriously struggle with the content.

The story is set in London during world war II and quite straight forward. Maurice Bendrix, a young, promising writer, has an adulterous affair with Sarah, the bored wife of Henry Miles, a career civil servant. Initially the affair is simply driven by sexual lust and desire, but as it continues, Bendrix and Sarah become more and more dependent on each other. While Sarah’s main intent is to make Bendrix happy, Bendrix increasingly suffers from insane jealousy. Instead of enjoying the limited time of their encounters, they get dragged into painful arguments and fights.

When a bomb blast nearly kills Bendrix, as he is with Sarah, she breaks off the affair with no apparent explanation. Mad with jealousy, Bendrix hires a private detective to track down the new lover. The detective gets hold of Sarah’s diary and Bendrix makes a painful discovery. Sarah was always faithful to him and she really loved him deeply, but during the bomb explosion she made a promise to God, to end the affair, if Bendrix would survive. Before the lovers can get back together, Sarah dies from pneumonia.

There seems to be a lot of Graham Greene in Bendrix and if so, the young author must have been quite a jerk. While Sarah becomes more and more a saint like creature, Bendrix’s unreasonable jealousy and aggressive hostility turns him into a repulsive and miserable character. In addition to that, his arrogant and derisive behavior towards the genuinely good natured Henry is despicable.

This novel is the last of Greene’s catholic novels and he cannot refrain himself from sprinkling some miraculous, Godly interventions into the events. Somehow this was overdoing it a little bit.

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1 von 1 Hörern fanden diese Rezension hilfreich

5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 18.12.2017

Epic Family Saga in the Jungle of Latin America

It took me nearly 40 years to reread Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude and I am as overwhelmed as I was before by the rich and powerful prose, the epic breadth of the story, the mystical and allegorical touch as well as the mosaic of incredible and unforgettable characters. The book is crammed with so many pictures, events and episodes, it makes your head spin.

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of 7 generations of the Buendia family in the fictitious town of Macondo. José Arcadio Buendía and his wife Úrsula Iguarán leave their native town in Colombo to search for a better life. After wandering for a long time in the jungle, they finally settle together with some friends at a river side and found Macondo. The little settlement is completely isolated from the rest of the world and the only highlight in the peaceful and pastoral life is the annual visit of a group of gypsies, who enchant the population with their acrobatics and magical devices.

The story of Macondo is the story of the Buendía family. During the history of Macondo we learn about the fate of the next 6 generations, with a lot of parallels in Latin American history perhaps. With the death of the last member of the family, Macondo crumbles into dust and is blown away by the wind.

All characters in this novel are unique and beautifully drafted. While the women are often strong and caring or passionate lovers, the men tend to be dreamers or adventurers. Even José Arcadio Buendía, the founder of Macondo falls for the spell of alchemy and loses touch with reality, while Úrsula Iguarán takes care of the family through the next 5 generations. José Arcadio, the first born son, runs away with a gipsy girl and sails the seas for years to return to Macondo, full of tattoos, but without any money. Aureliano Buendí, the second born son, an artist and warrior, becomes a revolutionary leader and after many defeats and failures spends the last years of his life tied to an oak tree in Macondo. Many characters follow in the coming generations, but the main streaks of the Buendias continue to repeat themselves.

Throughout the history of the Buendía family incest is a dominant theme. Úrsula Iguarán and José Arcadio Buendía are cousins, Aureliano José wants to marry his aunt Amaranta, Amaranta Úrsula gets pregnant by her nephew Aureliano and gives birth to baby boy, the last member of the Buendía family.

The story may appear convoluted and bizarre and its meaning or purpose is hard to guess, but there lies some of its magic and beauty perhaps. There is an abundance of selfish stubbornness, unlimited passion, wild lust and deep love to fill more than one book.

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3 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 06.12.2017

Tony Hillerman's Legacy on Shaky Legs

First of all, I want to make it clear that I admire Anne Hillerman's courage to continue her father’s work to bring Navajo folklore, culture and life closer to a wider readership. Anne’s touch is gentle and full of understanding, when she describes the beauty of nature in the reservation and the mystical tribal lore, but she does not hesitate to confront the reader with the harsh and cruel truth of alcoholism, domestic violence and child neglect prevalent in the poverty stricken environment of Navajo-land.

While Anne’s prose is more or less at par with her father’s, she still has to learn, how to draft a plot and create a decent storyline. In this novel the Navajo policewoman Bernadette Manuelito witnesses the explosion of a car bomb in the parking lot at a high-school basketball game. It looks like the intended victim was a tribal mediator, working on a high profile land use project in the Grand Canyon and ecoterrorism or something similar seems to be the likely cause. While the FBI takes over the investigation, Jim Chee is assigned the unattractive job of a bodyguard to the mediator. His wife keeps him company and together they solve the mystery in the end by coincidence.

Of course we are glad to hear from Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn and Bernadette Manuelito again, but it is painful to loyal readers, how these characters are depicted here. Joe Leaphorn just gives a flash appearance at the end of the story and since he is still suffering from his brain injury, he cannot add much of value to the unravelling of the mystery. Jim Chee, one of the protagonists, became a very linear and simple person. There is not much left of the deep thinker and wannabe medicine man in the Navajo policeman. His personality is mostly reduced to become a loving and caring husband. Bernadette Manuelito is the real protagonist of the story and she is portrayed as a tough young woman, torn between her duties as a policewoman and the obligations of Navajo customs and the demands of her family. While this is quite skillfully described, Manuelito is less convincing, when solving crimes or hunting the bad guys, she appears sometimes outright simpleminded or clueless.

It still is an interesting read and the story has some flaws, but loyal readers will forgive them easily.

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3 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 30.11.2017

A New Lisbeth Salander is Emerging

With „The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye” David Lagercrantz gives the story a new direction. This started already with “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”, but it is more distinct now. While Lisbeth Salander was the predominant figure in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy and her bizarre and nevertheless alluring character made us fall in love with her, she moved backstage in Lagercrantz’s new novel and seems to have grown up and behave more reasonably. This is probably the main reason, why some of the magic of the previous novels got lost. While the prose is still at par with Larrson’s writing, the storyline and plot are somewhat unrealistic and appear to be construed. Regardless of that, the topics of the story are valid and contemporary, the problems of fundamentalist Islam and exposure of the financial markets to computer attacks, but perhaps, there is too much of everything in one novel.

Lisbeth Salander tries to get some final answers as far as her childhood is concerned. While she sits in a high security female prison, she asks some old friends for help in her research. Of course she did not expect to set an avalanche of events and disasters into motion. Unknowingly she endangered her life and the life of her best friends by unraveling step by step the misdeeds of a sinister, pseudoscientific group, known as The Registry. As if this would not be enough, helping and protecting a young Bengali woman will lead to a confrontation with a brutal prison gang and violent Islamists.

There is enough action and it is nice to meet old friends again, but this novel does not have the quality of the first three.

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