Old Tune Tuesday – by Train

Okay, this is not that old (unless you think 2012 is old), but I like it (great song, great lyrics, funny video…) so I’m sharing it this on a very gloomy day in Wisconsin. I needed a pick me up – how about you?!

 

Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 11:26pm01  Comments (2)  
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Free Speech Tested by Simon and Schuster

Drew Angerer/Getty Images from npr website

Did anyone hear this piece on NPR recently about a book by social media provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos?:               https://www.npr.org/player/embed/509497010/509542890

It’s an interesting topic of conversation, in particular for all writers and readers out there. Does anyone have the right to promote hate speech? Is it right for Simon and Schuster to promote it by publishing this book (and profit from it)?

Ah…the democratic process in motion.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 11:26pm01  Comments (7)  
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The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

This was a new audio book at my local library so I picked it up. It was marked  as YA.The Gallery

Stats: Published in June of this year. 321 print pages, 7 hours of audio. Narrated y Jorjeana Marie

Blurb: It’s 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell . . . ?

Inspired by true events described in the author’s fascinating note, The Gallery is a 1920s caper told with humor and spunk that readers will love.

What I liked: I really liked the idea of Rose, the woman who was closeted away from everyone, communicating via her paintings. How she would know anyone would get what she was trying to say through those paintings is another matter, but the idea is really unique and allows Marx Fitzgerald to educate the youth this book is written for without being too obvious. I have no complaints about Jorjeana Marie’s narration of the story. I cover is a little busy, but I like it.

What I didn’t like: The main thing is the author never really gives me a reason to care about Martha or Rose much. I care a bit more for Rose because she is obviously (spoiler alert!) not wanting to be where she is. I kept listening because the book wasn’t too long, and I was listening vs reading it. I can listen a lot longer to something that doesn’t particularly interest me than I can read the print version. The fact that Rose complains about her food being salty – things like tea that shouldn’t be salty – and the young maid, Martha, is the only one who checks how Rose’s food actually tastes is a bit unbelievable to me. Also at the end, everyone is so easily on Rose’s side when they have not been in all the years leading up to the big reveal. You could perhaps believe Martha’s mother, who takes care of Rose and believes Rose’s husband can do no wrong, but not all the other people in the house. And for Rose to do what she did with the paintings in the end also seems odd. I won’t give that away, but any lover of art, and art that ends up being part of why she is saved, wouldn’t do what she did, in my opinion. Overall the plot is a bit slow for the young audience it is written for (and for me!).

Rating: 2.5/5

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 11:26pm12  Leave a Comment  
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Old Tune Tuesday – Christmas Version

It’s just a couple weeks until the big day for all you kiddies out there, so I thought I’d go a bit festive. Yes, Annie Lennox is not that old, not to me anyway, but I like her version of this song.

 

Published in: on December 13, 2016 at 11:26pm12  Comments (2)  
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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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