The Beautiful Mystery – by Louise Penny

The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #8)I read my first Louise Penny novel – the first one she wrote (Still Life) – thanks to an old college friend of mine. She is a big fan so she sent me a book. I did enjoy it, so when I saw this audio book in the library, I grabbed it up.

Stats: Published in 2012, print is 400 pages, audio is 11 discs (it didn’t give me the number of hours), narrator is Ralph Cosham

Blurb:
No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

What I liked: I love the setting and the idea of the setting, though a bit unrealistic perhaps, it can be overlooked for the sake of the story mostly. Gamache is a wonderful character, as is his side-kick, Jean-Guy. But the real stellar character in this story is the nasty, nasty head of the Surete du Quebec, Francoeur – though it’s really never clear why he’s there because the man doesn’t seem to know how to do anything but lie. This fact might be revealed in the next book, because things were left unresolved related to appearance. I thought Mr. Cosham did a fine job with the narration and the accents. Very enjoyable to listen to. I also love that the monks make chocolate covered blueberries!

What I didn’t like: Since I’ve only read one of Penny’s novels, I don’t know her writing style real well and I think this book is her 13th, but in this novel Penny repeated the story facts a bit too much for my liking. I get that the story was set in a place where time slowed and small things meant more than in the “normal” world – part of the appeal of where this story takes place. But I didn’t need to hear the same facts perhaps said by different people at different times. It slowed an already naturally slow story down too much. And to have the mystery resolved in part because the “inquisition” in the form of a Dominican Monk just happens to find the abby at this very time (even though the reason he has found it is because of a recording that seems to have been out a little while – time enough to hop on a plane). Again, for the sake of the story line, it can be overlooked, but it just seems a bit contrived.

Rating: 4/5 (despite the flaws)

Old Tune Tuesday – Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall

I know, this isn’t that old, but this came up for me on Pandora and I thought you might like to tap your toes today🙂

Published in: on November 29, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Leave a Comment  
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A Good Concept, But– : S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

This is so cool and innovative! Reminds me of an idea I have about “extras” for my Agnes books. (I’ll share that when I have it all figured out😉
I’ve got to see if my library can order this for me.
I am thoroughly intrigued!

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

I’ve pretty much given up reviewing books here, preferring to do that on Goodreads. But this book is such a special case, I thought I would dump out my thoughts about it here.

This is what it looks like.

S., or Ship of Theseus

First of all, in the ubiquitous 5-star rating system, I would give this book three stars. Maybe 3.5 — mostly for a clever and intriguing package. It really does celebrate (and, some would say, desecrate) the book as physical object. The book, entitled Ship of Theseus, supposedly published in 1949, really does look like an old library book, complete with return dates stamped inside the back cover. (The latest date is from 2000, which suggests that good old Pollard State U is really behind the times, because rubber date stamps disappeared from college libraries long before the end of the last century. But never mind that). The grey buckram binding…

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Published in: on November 29, 2016 at 11:26am11  Comments (2)  

The World Is Still A Pretty Awesome Place Photos…

Did I share this already? Might have and you may have seen many of these, but they are worth seeing again on this Thanksgiving Eve.
Thank some nice person you know!
Thanks Christopher!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Don’t Let The Evening News Get You Down,

The World Is Still A Pretty Awesome Place

image

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Published in: on November 23, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Leave a Comment  

Exposure by Helen Dunmore and The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl

Exposure was new at our library so I thought I’d give it a try. The author is a “Sunday Times” best seller. The Poe Shadow was a blind library pick because I needed an audio book to listen to and I like trying authors I’ve never heard of.

Stats: Exposure: Published in  2016, print book is  400, audio book is 10′, 22″ (8 discs). Narrated by Emma Fenney,
The Poe Shadow: Published in 2006, print is 367 pages,  audio 14 discs. Narrated by Erick Singer

Blurbs: (Goodreads)
ExposureEXPOSURE: London, November, 1960: the Cold War is at its height. Spy fever fills the newspapers, and the political establishment knows how and where to bury its secrets.
When a highly sensitive file goes missing, Simon Callington is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested.
His wife, Lily, suspects that his imprisonment is part of a cover-up, and that more powerful men than Simon will do anything to prevent their own downfall.
She knows that she too is in danger, and must fight to protect her children. But what she does not realise is that Simon has hidden vital truths about his past, and may be found guilty of another crime that carries with it an even greater penalty.

The Poe ShadowTHE POE SHADOW:Baltimore, 1849. The body of Edgar Allan Poe has been buried in an unmarked grave. The public, the press, and even Poe’s own family and friends accept the conclusion that Poe was a second-rate writer who met a disgraceful end as a drunkard. Everyone, in fact, seems to believe this except a young Baltimore lawyer named Quentin Clark, an ardent admirer who puts his own career and reputation at risk in a passionate crusade to salvage Poe’s.
As Quentin explores the puzzling circumstances of Poe’s demise, he discovers that the writer’s last days are riddled with unanswered questions the police are possibly willfully ignoring. Just when Poe’s death seems destined to remain a mystery, and forever sealing his ignominy, inspiration strikes Quentin–in the form of Poe’s own stories. The young attorney realizes that he must find the one person who can solve the strange case of Poe’s death: the real-life model for Poe’s brilliant fictional detective character, C. Auguste Dupin, the hero of ingenious tales of crime and detection.

 

What do these two books have in common and why have I put them together?
I couldn’t get past the first two discs for either book. I tried. I don’t believe all books have to capture my attention in the first few pages. I’ll even give the writer a whole chapter or even two if the up front material is inviting enough. For these two books I listened into the second disc, even though there was nothing in the first one to make me want to “read” on. But when part way through the second disc, I still was wondering why I was listening, I just gave up. I know there are so many good books out there, so I honestly don’t want to waste my time listening to something that doesn’t interest me.

I had no issues with the narrators of these tales. They seemed to be doing a fine job.

Ratings: 2/5

 

Worth Dying For – Lee Child

Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher, #15)Since I had enjoyed (mostly) the last Lee Child book I had listened to, when I saw another one at my library, I picked it up. It was orignially for my husband, who was taking a long trip out west. But he didn’t end up listening to it, so when he got home, I did.

Stats: Published in 2010, 400 print pages, 11 CDs and 14 hours for audio, narrated by Dick Hill

Blurb: There’s deadly trouble in the corn county of Nebraska . . . and Jack Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it’s the unsolved, decades-old case of a missing child that Reacher can’t let go.

The Duncans want Reacher gone—and it’s not just past secrets they’re trying to hide. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they’re just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world. For Reacher, it would have made much more sense to put some distance between himself and the hard-core trouble that’s bearing down on him. For Reacher, that was also impossible.

What I liked: Childs is a wonderful writing. I say thing because as I listened to the story, I didn’t think about the writing of the story (much)- the mechanics of the story, I was just pulled into the story itself. To me that illustrates good writing. He is also very good at stringing the reader along. There are a few things the reader wants to find out and doesn’t really until the end, so as many reviews note – it is a page turner. Dick Hill must be the regular reader for the Reacher novels since this was the second audio Childs audio book I’ve listened to that has him. I’m not surprised because he does a superb job with this one. The voices are so right on and so distinct with each character, they seem very real.

What I didn’t like: Childs has a habit (and I’m sure it’s no purpose) of drawing out things that are happening in a particular scene, especially if it is a suspenseful scene – someone  is getting beat up or about the get beat up or about to get caught… This is a good writer’s trick, but sometimes he over does it. The one time I remember getting pulled out of the story was when Child was doing this trick. But the problem was, it wasn’t a suspenseful enough scene. He was describing a character almost closing the trunk of a car – a trunk that had his budding dead inside of it. The reader already knew who was inside and what shape the person was in, so there really was no suspense about this but Childs dragged the action of almost closing the trunk out way too long. This is a minor criticism, really and easily overlooked by all the other wonderful things about the book. The only other thing I didn’t like was the violence – there is a lot of it in this book. I’m sure that’s why some people enjoy these stories – the gratuitous violence. All the bad guys get what coming to them (and these bad guys are very bad!) – something that doesn’t always happen in real life. But it was a bit much for me. It will be while before I pick up another of Child’s books, as good as his writing is.

Rating: 4+/5

Published in: on November 20, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Leave a Comment  
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Photo Phriday

My friend Betty Davidson took this in her native Minnesota. I think it’s lovely.

Check out the deer’s whiskers!

Published in: on November 11, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Comments (4)  
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Photo Phriday – Night Shift.

I usually don’t go for doctored photos but I have a thing for bridges and I love the color on this one. Nice job, Josephine!

lemanshots - Fine Pictures and Digital Art

lemanshots_city

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Published in: on November 4, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Comments (2)  

Paula Hawkins – The Girl on The Train

The Girl on the TrainI like this post because it points out a couple things: 1 – Not all best sellers are good books. 2 – I’m not the only one who’s critical of bestselling books!
Thanks Bookowly!

bookowly

Paula Hawkins is a former journalist who was reporting on business. She turned to writing in 2009, when she wrote a bit of romantic comedy fiction under the pen name Amy Silver. 

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Published in: on November 3, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Leave a Comment  

This Body of Death by Elizabeth George

This wThis Body of Death (Inspector Lynley, #16)as another blind library pick.

Stats: Published in 2010, print book is 692 pages, audio book is 21 discs/24 hours. Narrator: John Lee.

Blurb: (Goodreads) On compassionate leave after the murder of his wife, Thomas Lynley is called back to Scotland Yard when the body of a woman is found stabbed and abandoned in an isolated London cemetery. His former team doesn’t trust the leadership of their new department chief, Isabelle Ardery, whose management style seems to rub everyone the wrong way. In fact, Lynley may be the sole person who can see beneath his superior officer’s hard-as-nails exterior to a hidden–and possibly attractive–vulnerability.

While Lynley works in London, his former colleagues Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata follow the murder trail south to the New Forest. There they discover a beautiful and strange place where animals roam free, the long-lost art of thatching is very much alive, and outsiders are not entirely welcome. What they don’t know is that more than one dark secret lurks among the trees, and that their investigation will lead them to an outcome that is both tragic and shocking.

A multilayered jigsaw puzzle of a story skillfully structured to keep readers guessing until the very end, This Body of Death is a magnificent achievement from a writer at the peak of her powers.

What I liked: The writing was very good so it was easy to get into the story. The odd thing was that even though the story is set and uses UK English slang, George is an American writer – born in Ohio. I have never lived or even traveled to England but I felt like I was there. She is also very good at making characters and the story around them creepy, especially the backstory of three young delinquents that killed a little boy. All of her characters were all very real. This came out even more through John Lee’s wonderful portrayal and voice work. His accent helped put you in England as well.

What I didn’t like: That creepy backstory was a bit long. I’m not sure why she gave it so much text since the book is very long as is. This backstory plays a role in the main story, but I don’t think it needed as much copy as she gave it. George also over does some details – e.g., the landlady going on about recycling – that I’m guessing was to flush out her personality, but since she plays a minor role, it really could have been relegated to one sentence or two.

Rating: 4/5  It’s worth your time, if you have time, because it’s a long one. I’d recommend listening to it.

Published in: on November 2, 2016 at 11:26pm11  Leave a Comment  
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