Stamped DNF – The Likeness by Tana French

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in 2.5 stars, 2017, Book Review, DNF, Tana French | 4 comments

Stamped DNF
The Likeness by Tana French
The Likeness by Tana French

Genre: Mystery
Format: Ebook
Series: The Dublin Murder Squad #2
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: DNF at page 216 out of 497
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Six months after a particularly nasty case, Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred out of Dublin’s Murder squad and has no plans to go back. That is, until an urgent telephone call summons her to a grisly crime scene.

It’s only when she sees the body that Cassie understands the hurry. The victim, a young woman, is Cassie’s double and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used on an undercover job. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl but, more importantly, who is this girl? And as reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, Cassie moves dangerously close to losing herself forever.

At what point did I break up with this book?
I put it aside at page 216 out of 497. When I realized it had been a month since I started the book and I was still less than halfway through I knew it was time.

What worked for me?
Despite the unlikely premise of Cassie being able to take the place of her doppelganger I thought it was an interesting way to approach the investigation.

What didn’t work for me?
I’m not sure exactly. I loved Tana French’s first book. I was familiar with her dense writing style and knew it would be slower paced. Unfortunately, it was just too easy for me to put this down and do something else. I wanted to love this book. I wanted to get wrapped up in it and spend hours at a time reading it but it just didn’t draw me in enough for that to happen.

It’s not you, it’s me . . . or maybe it really IS you.
I think it’s probably a little of both. I may pick it up again at some point in the future. I looked at the audiobook but saw that it was 22 hours long. I’m not sure I’m up for that. I did see that the narrator was getting a lot of praise in the reviews so who knows I might go that route someday.

Have you listened to or read this book? What did you think?

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H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, Audio Edition

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 1 comment

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald narrated by the authorH is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald narrated by the author

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 2015
Length: 11 hours, 6 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

When Helen MacDonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral anger mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T. H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her journey into Mabel’s world. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of MacDonald’s humanity.

By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement, a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, and the story of an eccentric falconer and legendary writer. Weaving together obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history, H Is for Hawk is a distinctive, surprising blend of nature writing and memoir from a very gifted writer.

My Thoughts:
This is so not a book that I would be inclined to pick up. A memoir about grief? No thanks I’ll pass. Even though many of my friends loved the book I just wasn’t that interested. Then I started hearing that the audiobook was worth a listen because the author’s narration was so good. There was gushing about her narration. So, I decided to give it a shot.

It’s partly about working through her grief after the sudden death of her father but there’s more. It’s also about an experienced falconer taking on the training of a traditionally hard to train goshawk. It’s also about T. H. White (author of The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone). He wrote a book called The Goshawk about his own less than successful training of a goshawk. Throughout the book his training serves as a counterpoint to MacDonald’s own work with her bird.

Go to Helen MacDonald’s Blog to see a stunning photo of her goshawk.

What I enjoyed most about this book was learning about falconry and MacDonald’s relationship with her goshawk. It was fascinating and fun to learn that her goshawk liked to play.

There were a couple of times when MacDonald talked about her grieving process that absolutely hit home to me. I lost my father when I was in my early twenties and my mother when I was in my mid-thirties.

What happens to the mind after bereavement makes no sense until later.

The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things come to light: not simply memories but sates of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world.

I’m not sure I would have liked this book in print. MacDonald’s narration is fabulous. I wish she would start a second career as a narrator. Authors as narrators can be hit or miss but opting to have MacDonald narrate her own bool was a brilliant choice.

I think that the way I tend to listen to audiobooks had a lot to do with the fact I liked this one. I typically only listen when I’m in the car by myself (commuting and errands). That means I experience audiobooks in small bits and pieces. This book worked well that way.

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

5 stars 5/5 for the narration

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The Fade Out Act One by Ed Brubaker

Posted by on Feb 10, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Ed Brubaker | 4 comments

The Fade Out Act One by Ed Brubaker
The Fade Out, Act One by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: The Fade Out #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 120
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume collects issues 1-4 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

The Fade Out is an epic noir set in the world of noir itself, the backlots and bars of Hollywood at the end of its Golden Era. A movie stuck in endless reshoots, a writer damaged from the war and lost in the bottle, a dead movie star and the lookalike hired to replace her. Nothing is what it seems in the place where only lies are true.

My Thoughts:
I love old detective and mystery movies and this is like read in a noir book about the making of a noir movie so it was a hit for me. It’s set in 1948 Hollywood with WWII in recent memories, McCarthy Communist hunting in full force and the Hollywood studio system in flux after Paramount lost an antitrust suit.

It opens with screenwriter Charlie Parish waking up after a night of wild partying in the bathtub of a house that isn’t his. Then he discovers the lead actress of the movie he’s working on strangled in her living room. He leaves and doesn’t call the police. The plot thickens several times before this volume is over but I can’t say anything more without giving away things but there is an appearance by Clark Gable.

The art is wonderful. Sean Phillips has created an environment that looks just like the old movies and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color work is fabulous. The panels are just as moody and atmospheric as you could want for a story like this but never too monochromatic or hard to figure out what was going on.

This is a three-volume story and I plan on getting the other two very soon.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Paper Girls Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Brian K Vaughan, Comics | 4 comments

Paper Girls Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
Paper Girls Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Cliff Chiang

Genre: Science Fiction, Paranormal
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: Paper Girls #2
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 125
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume collects issues 6-10 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

After surviving the strangest night of their lives in the Cleveland suburb of Stony Stream, intrepid young newspaper deliverers Erin, Mac, and Tiffany find themselves launched from 1988 to a distant and terrifying future… the year 2016. What would you do if you were confronted by your 12-year-old self? 40-year-old newspaper reporter Erin Tieng is about to find out in this action-packed story about identity, mortality, and growing older in the 21st century

My Thoughts:
I started the first volume of this series not really knowing what to expect but positive that almost anything by Brian K. Vaughan would be good. It was a little bit of science fiction, a little bit of paranormal, a little bit of nostalgia for the late 1980’s and just a whole lot of fun. Four paper delivery girls stumbled into the middle of strange events that weren’t totally explained in volume one but it was so good I’ve been waiting for Volume 2.

Apparently so were a lot of other people. I finally got to the top of the hold list at the library. I read this in one sitting and I’m already getting annoyed about having to wait for volume 3. I have a feeling that this a comic series I’ll subscribe to the digital editions of the individual issues.

Three of the original girls land in 2016 right in front of the present day adult version of one of them. It’s time travel with plenty of twists.

There’s a lot of action and adventure but there is also a lot of humor. Landing 3 twelve year old girls from 1988 in 2016 makes for some pretty funny moments.

1988 meets 2016

Click on the image for s larger version

The art is wonderful. It’s colorful and even though some of the creatures are kind of gross it’s not disgusting.

This is a comic series you should be reading either in the collected volumes or the individual issues.

Brian K. Vaughan does it again.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Posted by on Feb 3, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review | 0 comments

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Corman and Shana Knizhnik

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 227
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Nearly a half-century into being a feminist and legal pioneer, something funny happened to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the octogenarian won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg made her name are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute. In a class of its own, and much to Ginsburg’s own amusement, is the Notorious RBG Tumblr, which juxtaposes the diminutive but fierce Jewish grandmother with the 350-pound rapper featuring original artwork submitted from around the world.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers a visually rich, intimate, unprecedented look at the Justice and how she changed the world. From Ginsburg’s refusal to let the slammed doors of sexism stop her to her innovative legal work, from her before-its-time feminist marriage to her perch on the nation’s highest court—with the fierce dissents to match—get to know RBG as never before. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.

My Thoughts:
I have admired Ruth Bader Ginsburg for years. I enjoyed the Notorious RBG Tumblr from its early days. When this book was published I quickly bought a copy. Since then Justice Scalia passed away and the Supreme court became more of a battle between the major two political parties than ever before.

I was needing to read something positive and uplifting. The day after the Womens’ March seemed like the perfect time to pick this one up.

I loved it. I admire RBG even more than I did before. She has a brilliant legal mind and great sense of humor.

The book isn’t a traditional biography. It tells her story through a series of episodes from her life. It ends up being a very entertaining read. She was and is a pioneer in the legal battles for gender equality and civil rights. The accomplished many firsts for women. She also had a long, loving marriage that was truly a partnership.

There are plenty of photos throughout the book as well as some great annotated excerpts from some of her legal work and her Supreme Court opinions and dissents.

I highly recommend this.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Stamped DNF – The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in 2.5 stars, 2017, Book Review, DNF | 0 comments

Stamped DNF

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardover
Series: The Saxon Chronicles #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: DNF at page 228 out of 333
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

This is the exciting—yet little known—story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

At what point did I break up with this book?
I put it aside at page 228 out of 333. I did enjoy the first 150 or so pages but it became easier to put it down and harder to pick it up. When I realized that I had nearly 100 pages to go and I really didn’t care what happened I knew it was time.

What worked for me?
I thought the time frame was interesting. It’s set in the ninth century during the time the Danes were trying to take over the kingdoms that would eventually make up England.

We watched and thoroughly enjoyed the television series The Last Kingdom based on Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles. They combined the first two books into the first season of the show. It’s quite good and I do recommend you watch it.

What didn’t work for me?
I’m not sure exactly. I think it was partly pacing. It seemed to move slower the more I read. The battle scenes were exciting but the story between seemed a bit tedious at times. Maybe it’s because I had already seen the story in a more condensed form that made it seem to slog.

It’s not you, it’s me . . . or maybe it really IS you.
After we watched the television series The Hubster read the first four books. He enjoyed them and plans to continue.

I do know that a second season of the show has finished filming and will eventually be on Netflix. I’ll be watching for it and recommend the first season.

Have you listened to or read this book? What did you think?

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