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Sundays at Tiffany’s

Audiobook Review

Who: James Patterson

Why: After A Thousand Splendid Suns, I wanted something light, and I certainly got that with this book. I’d never read anything by Patterson, but I’d heard good things from sources I respect, so I checked out the audiobook from the library. Actually, I requested it and forgot I’d ordered it until it arrived about three weeks later. Big waiting list for this one.

Thoughts: Patterson’s detective series must be way better, because this was not exactly compelling listening. Perhaps much of the fault lies with the reader. Her voice was downright caustic at times, epecially when she was doing the part of glamorous-but-aloof-mother Vivian. Every character is a stereotype, from the ambitious-but-evil-hunk boyfriend to hunk BFs equally superficial agents. And of course Michael, the imaginary friend, is one-dimensional, since he lives in some other dimension and shit.

Yes, I had problems with character development, or lack thereof, and with unresolved plot issues.

Warning: Spoilers ahead – scroll down to the next section if you plan to read this book:

Jane is sick and surely she’s about to die, but no – it’s her mother who checks out. The reader is left to wonder WTF was wrong with Jane there at the end and how she recovered so suddenly and made it to the hospital – just in time, of course.

And her mother’s deathbed confession of why she withheld her affection all of Jane’s life truly strains credibility. Vivian is never developed at all, yet at the end, we’re supposed to believe that all along, she was a warm, loving mother, capable of expressing (more like gushing) love without reservation?  Not to mention that she’s had a stroke, yet she’s completely coherent and able to articulate these feelings for the first time, only a few hours later?

In one scene, Vivian pops in unexpectedly and gives Jane a cryptic warning that heart disease runs in their family – Vivian’s mother died of heart problems when she was in her late 30s, I think she tells Jane. What was that all about? I suppose it was to fool the reader into believing that Jane has heart problems, since Vivian is about 60 at this point.

Then there’s the imaginary friend, another hunk of course. Readers get their first clue that Michael is transforming into a human when he cuts himself shaving. He has no idea who he is or where he came from, and we never find out, either. He has plenty of other 1-D friends, though, who materialize in the hospital waiting room long enough to meet and approve of Jane, before they disappear again.

puzzled-readerRequest for Patterson fans:

Tell me what I’m missing, please. I read that:

“In 2007, one of every fifteen hardcover novels sold was a James Patterson title– totaling an estimated 16 million books sold last year in North America alone. According to Forbes magazine, Patterson earned $50 million from June 2007 to June 2008, placing him second on the list of best paid authors in the world. In total, Patterson’s books have sold an estimated 150 million copies worldwide. He has won awards including the Edgar, the BCA Mystery Guild’s Thriller of the Year, and the International Thriller of the Year award. James Patterson was called “the man who can’t miss” in Time magazine. He is the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists, and to have two books on NovelTracker’s top-ten list at the same time. He holds the New York Times bestsellers list record with 39 New York Times bestselling titles overall.”

Wow! One of every 15 books? Is this true? Tell me something good about his other books, besides that they make big bucks – which I greatly respect, btw.

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A Thousand Spendid Suns and a First for Me

Audiobook review:

The reader is perfect for this work by the author of The Kite Runner, a book I can’t say that I loved – who could love that dark story? But it was a great read that was tough to put down. Splendid Suns was not as gripping, and the violence became overwhelming at times for this reader, especially listening to it.

So at one point, when I knew something gruesome this way comes, I did something I’ve never done – or even considered. I went online and looked for spoilers. I read about what was going to happen next, skipped a CD, and listened to the concluding discs.

A few days later, I picked up the book in a shop and read a few of the pages that I’d missed. Boy am I glad I didn’t listen to that while driving.

Splendid Suns had its moments, and I realize the violence was necessary to the plot. But as with sex scenes that convey intimacy without including every detail, I would have gotten the idea without the brutal play-by-play. I will, however, credit the author with creating a villain even more despicable than the one in his first work.

I also found some parts as schmaltzy as others were gory:  “She had never loved him as much as she did at that moment.” Puhleeze!

Like The Kite Runner, though, A Thousand Splendid Suns offers an enlightening – and frightening – look at life under the Taliban. But the next book I’ll read on the subject is the nonfictional Three Cups of Tea.

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (audiobook)

Who: Barbara Kingsolver
When
: In winter, so you can begin preparing to eat locally
Why: It’s informative and equally entertaining. This audiobook changed the way I shop and eat. You’ll learn why it’s environmentally important to search for local growers. In retrospect, I wish I’d purchased the book for reference. The meal plans sound yummy!

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