Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher – Audio Edition

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 0 comments

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher narrated by the authorWishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher narrated by the author

Genre: Autobiography, Humor
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 2009
Length: 3 hours, 6 minutes
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Finally, after four hit novels, Carrie Fisher comes clean (well, sort of) with the crazy truth that is her life in her first-ever memoir. In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of “Hollywood in-breeding,” come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen.

Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It’s an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty — Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher — homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandized on everything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

My Thoughts:
This is a short quick audiobook. I requested it shortly after Carrie Fisher died along with eleventy seven other people. I was glad to finally listen to it. It’s good to hear her voice again.

She wrote the book as a way of sharing the stories she told in her stage show in another format. I’ve never seen the show but my library has a DVD that I might get at some point.

Fisher is up front about her struggles with bipolar disorder, drug abuse and relationship troubles. It’s hard to imagine a book about these subjects being funny but it is. It’s not all laugh out loud though because she’s talking about difficult things.

It was a shame she died at a relatively young age. This book was a nice way to spend some time with her and feel like I was sitting down with her listening to her stories of her life.

There was no way anyone but Carrie Fisher could have narrated this. Her humor and self-deprecation come through clearly. She gets a little loud occasionally but I think that’s holdovers from telling these stories in front of a live audience.

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 4 comments

Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire
Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire with art by Dustin Nguyen

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Descender #2
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 120
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 2 is a compilation of issues 7-11 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Written by award-winning creator, Jeff Lemire, Descender is a rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey. Lemire pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic.

My Thoughts:
Lemire has a way of telling a story through the innocent eyes and trusting nature of a child. In this case the ‘child’ is a childlike android who was designed to help people as a companion robot. He has “proprietary empathy settings” that adapt and make him seem like a member of the family both to his human companions and Tim-21 himself.

Not surprisingly since it’s also from Image Comics, the imaginative story reminds me of Saga with the combination of robots, human and human like characters as well as some distinctly non-human creatures.

The artwork by Dustin Nguyen is wonderful. It’s done in watercolors but it’s vivid and varied in the different settings.The lettering in this series by Steve Wands is notable for its variations that clearly designate different types of speech (human, machine,creature) as well as volume.

I have purposely not said anything about the plot because pretty much anything I say would be a spoiler. It’s a bit of a thriller with some wonderful moments of humor.

I highly recommend this series.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – Audio Edition

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 0 comments

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan BradleyThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley narrated by Jayne Entwistle

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: Flavia de Luce #1
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 2009
Length: 9 hours, 53 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

My Thoughts:
I hesitated reading this when it first came out. I don’t tend to do well with overly precocious children in books. There are exceptions however so when I heard from several friends that the audio edition was good I decided it was a good use for an Audible credit that I needed to use.

Flavia is definitely precocious but darn, she’s funny. She has a chemistry lab where she toys with poisons and occasionally tests them on her sisters.

Life is rather dull at Buckshaw but the morning Flavia finds a dying man in the cucumber patch changed things quite a bit. Flavia immediately begins her own investigation into the identity of the man and how he died. When the police arrest her father it only adds some urgency to the investigation she’s already started.

Flavia has a great attitude about life and I enjoyed many of her comments and observations.

Wrapped up in the music, I threw myself into an overstuffed chair and let my legs dangle over the arm, the position in which Nature intended music to be listened to, and for the first time in days I felt the muscles in my neck relaxing.

Whenever I’m out-of-doors and find myself wanting to have a first-rate think, I fling myself down on my back, throw my arms and legs out so that I look like an asterisk, and gaze at the sky.

Jayne Entwistle does a great job of voicing Flavia. The story is told from her point of view so an author who sounded too old would not have worked at all.

I enjoyed this but I’m not sure I’ll continue with the series.

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell – Audio Edition

Posted by on Mar 16, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Sarah Vowell | 4 comments

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah VowellLafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell narrated by the author

Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 2015
Length: 8 hours, 7 minutes
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette—the one Frenchman we could all agree on—and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

My Thoughts:
The Hubster and I took a road trip last weekend so that meant I needed to pick an audiobook that was 9 hours at the longest. I checked my playlist and realized I had this book but we hadn’t listened to it yet. The Hubster was pleased because we’ve listened to other books by Sarah Vowell and he likes them just as much as I do.

This is a bit of history, a bit of humor, a bit of travel journal, and great touches of sarcasm. I learned a lot while listening to this book. I didn’t remember much of my history of the American Revolution and what I did remember skipped over a lot of what happened during the war.

There were a couple of lines that cracked us both up. It was in the section where she was talking about Henry Knox and his mission to get the weapons and Fort Ticonderoga and bring them back to the siege of Boston. Knox had abandoned his bookshop when he and his wife left Boston and he joined the militia.

Enter Henry Knox. The twenty-five-year-old bookworm approached Washington and volunteered to go to Fort Ticonderoga to fetch the equipment. Washington approved the cockamamie mission. And so, that November Knox and his brother set off for New York. Who knew they would return in January with forty-three cannons, fourteen mortars, and two howitzers dragged across frozen rivers and over the snowy Berkshire Mountains on custom sleds. The is the derivation of that old Yankee proverb that if you can sell a book, you can move sixty tons of weaponry three hundred miles in winter.

So the moral of that story, other than never underestimate an independent bookseller, was that the Continental Army and its commander in chief had a soft spot for Chief Artillery Officer Henry Knox.

Sarah Vowell has a very distinctive voice and speaking style. She’s not for everyone so if you haven’t heard her you should listen to a sample of her narration first. I personally enjoy listening to her narrate her own books. I can’t imagine any other narrator would be able to strike just the right tone of snark at the right places.

It’s fun history and great for road trips.

Rating
4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer

Posted by on Mar 10, 2017 in 2017, 4 stars, Book Review, Jeffrey Archer | 2 comments

The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer
The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook and Hardcover
Series: The Clifton Chronicles #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 339
Source: Purchased (ebook) and Library (hardcover)

The Book:
From the publisher:

It is only days before Britain declares war on Germany. Harry Clifton, hoping to escape the consequences of a family scandal, and realizing he can never marry Emma Barrington, has joined the Merchant Navy. When a German U-boat sinks his ship, Harry and a handful of sailors are rescued by the SS Kansas Star, among them an American named Tom Bradshaw. That night, when Bradshaw dies, Harry seizes a chance to bury his past—by assuming the man’s identity.

My Thoughts:
I love big family sagas. This one is 7 books covering nearly a century. The Hubster has finished the whole series but I’m taking my time with them. I don’t like to binge series like he does. I need variety in my reading menu. When I want something relatively light, entertaining and fairly quick to read Jeffrey Archers books work well.

They aren’t great literature and there’s not a lot of character development but they’re fun.

This volume of the series covers the period of World War II. Chapters alternate between the primary characters and the time frames of the sections tend to overlap so sometimes the rest of the story is a couple of chapters later.

I’m glad I’m reading this after the final book in the series was published (in November). The Hubster warned me that every book ends with a cliffhanger. While I may wait a bit to read the next in the series I don’t have to wait a year for the next one to be released.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit and look forward to continuing with the series.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in 2.5 stars, 2017, Bill Willingham, Book Review | 2 comments

Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham
Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham with art by Craig Hamilton and Jim Fern

Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Series: Original Graphic Novel related to the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 212
Pages: 179
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Bigby Wolf takes center stage in what might be the most action-packed FABLES story to date. Bigby embarks on a quest through the American Heartland to find a new location for Fabletown. In his wanderings, Bigby stumbles across a small town named Story City, that, amazingly enough, seems to be populated by werewolves. Who are they and where did they come from? They aren’t Fables, but they sure aren’t normal mundys. They seem to already know and revere Bigby, but at the same time they’ve captured and caged him – but why? Unravelling the many mysteries of Story City may cost Bigby more than his life.

My Thoughts:
I expected to love this. Bigby Wolf is one of my favorite characters in the Fables world and a graphic novel featuring him should have been right up my alley. Unfortunately, it missed a bit.

It’s an original graphic novel that was published after Volume 17 Inherit the Wind. It’s not strictly after that book and it’s not crucial to the overall Fables story. It’s a side trip (literally) featuring Bigby. He ends up in a town founded by someone Bigby met when they worked together during World War II. The town is populated by werewolves so it’s not a hard leap of logic that Bigby’s old friend is a werewolf too.

The story just never fully grabbed me. I enjoyed the flashback to Bigby’s time in World War II the most. The present-day story was just not the usual Fables fare for me. Bigby as a wolf works. Bigby’s blood spawning a race of werewolves (who all look like Bigby’s old friend and his former Nazi scientist wife) didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

The artwork was also a disappointment. It was mostly pale colors and pastels. It just didn’t fully work to draw me in to the story. I’m used to bold and vivid colors in the Fables books and their spinoffs.

It’s a spinoff. It’s not crucial to the ongoing Fables story. There were parts I liked but there were enough parts I didn’t like to make this just average.

Rating 2.5/5

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