Friday, February 19, 2010

Used Audio Books Review

Back in November, I went to a used book sale here in Greenville and scored five audio books for cheap. Since I went on the second day of the book sale, things have been picked through already and there was honestly not a whole lot of choice... I was just hoping, that I got myself some good stuff. Now, a couple of months later, I am through all of these books and can share my opinion for what it's worth.

Bushworld by Maureen Dowd :
This was the first book that I listened to and I actually already wrote a short review here. The only thing that I will add to that, that I started to read the author's column in the New York Times and can only recommend it. Also, I gave the audio book to a co-worker and he liked it too, but also shared my opinion that this book is a little bit of a tough subject for entertainment on your commute, because you can't zone out or you'll not get it anymore.

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand :
This was the second book out of the bunch that I listened too and as the title already suggests, it's a much lighter read. I didn't like it. Firstly, I didn't like the story (I won't bore you with the details) and I found most of the characters pretty annoying, especially the main character "Claire". I was thinking about giving up on this book more than once and I even switched back to radio several times, because I couldn't take the storyline and the drama anymore. Secondly, this book would have been better off to be worked into a radio play, because the writing is very based on dialogues. After endless chapters going like this: "blah blah blah" Claire said. "boo boo boo" Lock said. "shimmy shimmy shimmy" said Claire.... I was ready to smack my CD player! The ultimate sign that this book isn't worth my time is when I can't think of one single person that I want to lend it to.

The Burma Road by Donovan Webster :
Here is a brief story description.
I like learning something when I read or listen to a book and in this respect this book is great. I finally have an idea about what the Burma Road is. As mentioned in the description above, there are tons of information in, but what definitely stuck in my brain most are the quotes out of Vinegar Joe's diary and in general the personal stories that are intertwined with the Burma Road. The audio book is read by the author himself and this was a little bit of a downside for me, since I had a hard time understanding him a lot of the time. Other than that: Thumbs up!

The Hornet's Nest by Jimmy Carter:
Another historic novel, this time it is about the American Revolutionary War. Once again, I felt that I really was able to learn something while listening to this book, especially since the American Revolutionary War is not a topic covered in German history classes. By putting it in a format of a novel, following loosely a handful of characters through the story, it made the historic facts of the story more accessible than just looking at a time table. The described characters also shed a light on the living conditions, traditions, religion and general cultural background they had during that time.

Executive Power by Vince Flynn:
This is another easy read and actually a book out of the "Mitch Rapp" series. If you want to learn more about the plot, here is a summary. Yes, the topic in itself might not be easy, but I would compare it maybe to the Alex Cross series from James Patterson. It's good entertainment, has a good story and it makes you believe in the "Good always wins over the Evil (eventually)" again. Now that I know, that this is part of a series, I might even hunt down the other books. But just listening to this one and it's the 5th book out of a series, you won't think you missed anything by not knowing the processors! There are some references to the history of the character, but it all got explained in the book.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This was the last book out of the bunch that I listened to and I have to say, that I saved the best for last. The plot follows the lives of two Afghan women between the 1960s until 2003. Here is the complete plot (spoiler alert, don't read the wikipedia article if you want to read the book) and I will just additionally mention what impressed me most with this book. Once again it's a book with which you learn a lot about the history of Afghanistan, but not out of the eyes of the people that made history and politics, but through the eyes of two women who had to live with the circumstances that they got presented with due to the men that made history and politics. It also shows a story of two strong women that lived relatively free one time and then got imprisoned in burkas due to political and religious shifts in their environment. It was an excellent read and I can only recommend it. The first novel of this author was "The Kite Runner" and I am definitely interested in reading/ listening to that book as well.


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