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Family Story with Old Order Mennonite Setting

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-07-13

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If the friend is interested in a family story with a religious background and a more or less predictable ending, yes.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was more of a surprise than expected, though still mostly predictable. However, not unrealistic, considering the setting. Kind of happy with the ending, just a little disappointed but.... for the genre it is fitting.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Cannot tell without spoiling too much, as it is in the second half. In general I liked the way the two sisters developed throughout the booking, despite both recently having become mothers for the first time, they still had a lot of growing up to do. There are some scenes which show this growing up in an admirable and credible way.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, not that spell-binding.

Any additional comments?

An interesting portrayal of the fate of two twin sisters who grew up in and Old Order Mennonite community. Given the religious background, it is an interesting story, sometimes too predictable. For my current taste in the middle part too shallow and I would have liked more information about growing up and living in such a community.

Brilliantly read by Tavia Gilbert, who made the two narrators come to live, both in English and Pennsylvania Dutch.

Not what I expected and really good

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-13

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, well-written debut novel, portraying today's society from the viewpoint of a 31-year-old single woman...

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would have changed the end and made Rachel's behave less embarrassingly in some scenes.

What does Julie Hesmondhalgh bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Her accent really brings Rachel to life and she gives each character an individual voice.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

“Do nothing, and nothing happens. Life is about decisions. You either make them or they're made for you, but you can't avoid them.” (quote from the book itself)

Any additional comments?

"Very very witty and funny. Left me in awe...a total gem." (Marian Keyes)"The funniest, most romantic book I've read since One Day." (Lisa Jewell)...caused me to have fairly wrong expectations. Yes, "You Had Me at Hello" is funny in some parts and also romantic - but to me it is mainly a realistic book, sometimes witty, sometimes tragic and mostly a well-written tale about a 31-year-old woman, trying to find a new way in life, after having lived in a relationship with her fiance Rhys for the last 13 years. One star taken off because Rachel made me cringe in a few scenes when she behaved quite out of character - reminding me of the bad bits in "Bridged Jones". It is more like "One Day" or "You Before Me", both books I treasure because they are not shallow, have laugh-aloud moments and characters that seemed like real people after a few chapters. Just less romance (in my opinion) due to the break-up situation. Read it or listen to it, it is much more than an average summer read - just don't so if you just split up with someone, it might be a bit too painful. I would not be surprised if it turned up on the big screen next year.

3 people found this helpful

Disappointing Listen

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-06-13

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Having read and liked all previous books by Anchee Min, I was looking forward to her latest publication - and deeply disappointed.
Somehow I had expected more "Chinese content", but the book seems to mainly about how extremely hard her life was, the major part is set after her emigration to the US and there she had an extremely difficult life, too.

Of course her life really was very hard, in China and then in the US, too. But after a few chapters her way of dealing with other people and problems got on my nerves. Yes, she had very little money, yes, life and people can be extremely unfair. But she also made some extremely bad choices, often took her bad mood out on others and the way she treated her daughter left me speechless.

What could Anchee Min have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

She could have centred less on her heroic doings and the faults of others, written more about positive things, shown her life and achievements in a less negative light.

What about Angela Lin’s performance did you like?

Everything, she is a wonderful narrator.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Most certainly not, any other book by Anchee Min: yes.

Any additional comments?

On the one hand I can understand the author being bitter about many things in her life. On the other hand I had expected her to be more positive about the achievements she managed. Getting the visa to the US, coping without speaking English, having a wonderful daughter, good friends etc.

Even weeks after having finished the audio book I am still shocked by the negativity of the narration.

1 person found this helpful

The Golem and the Jinni cover art

Fascinating magical tale

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-06-13

What did you like most about The Golem and the Jinni?

„The Golem and the Jinni“ is one of those rare books that completely draws you into its world. In her first published novel Helene Wecker creates a magical setting, beginning at the turn of the century in Poland and then she brings New York and its inhabitants to life. Combined with old Arabian and Jewish folk tales, she had me hooked until the last page was read – at the same time wishing for a magical book that would never end.

Two mystical beings live among humans, trying to survive without being notice, blend in but not lose themselves. Chava (= life) is a golem and was created by rabbi in Poland who liked meddling with the dark arts, is “curious and intelligent”, as her master had requested. Ahmad is a fire jinni who was trapped in an old copper flask, released by chance in New York but is still bound by an old spell.

Both do not really fit into human society and often feel lonely, especially at night when nearly everyone around them is asleep. Surrounding them is a colourful mix of all classes of New York’s society at that time.

Chava was created to serve, to please her master. Unfortunately he already died on the voyage to New York, or maybe fortunately for her? She herself is never certain, because her unusual intelligence and perceptiveness for human needs put her into a permanent vicious circle. There is one episode when she tries to find out what “money” is, as this must be more important to humans than everything else….

And this explains one of the reasons why I was so fascinated with this book. It is a moving tale of two outsiders who can never really fit in. Who look at our human society from a totally different angle. Who must make their way in a world totally foreign to them, even more than to all the other immigrants coming to New York. Both are very different from us humans and in some ways not so very different at all. They could live forever – but they want to do so? Chava yearns for a master, the jinni for freedom. She was made of clay, feels cold to the touch, he was created of fire and has a fierce temper, too.

The other figures show other facets of human life, a kind old rabbi, a vicious magus, a young woman from New York’s high society, a bedouin girl and her father… The tale of each figure is told with utmost sensitivity, letting all of them come to life and stay in my memory for a long time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Some elements reminded me of the books by Deborah Harkness who also expertly lets her magical beings move in our human world, creating characters that seem like real persons after a few chapters.

“The Golem and the Jinni” is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, with magical and oh so human characters, letting me walk the streets of a long vanished New York and wishing them all the happiness in the world. A magical, moving, sometimes humours tale. I hope Helene Wecker will continue writing and look forward to reading her next novel.

Collection of Short Stories Around One Family

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-01-13

I just finished listening to "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis and the book was mostly different from what I had expected.

Expected: A novel that revolves around the family founded by Hattie and her husband.

Got: A collection of loosely connected short stories around the life of Hattie and her children, always showing a short period of time during a period of 60 years.



Maybe I should say first that I hate short stories. So still rating this audio book with four out of five stars comes as a surprise to me, some of the credit is due to Adenrele Ojo, Bahni Turpin and Adam Lazarre-White outstanding performance as readers.



By picking different points of time between the 1920s and 1980s, Ayana Mathis shows some changes in American society, some politcal events and developments, as well as how Hattie's life is going on.



The book starts with Hattie as a teenaged mother, being worried about her sick twin babies who eventually die. Hattie and her husband have many children after the twins but their life and their children's lifes remain bleak, sometimes more sometimes less so. Sometimes caused by external factors, sometimes by the characters themselves.



If Hattie's children had played more of role in all "chapters", instead of only appearing in their dedicated episode, I would have enjoyed the book much more - this is why I am taking off one star.

3 people found this helpful