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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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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H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, Audio Edition

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

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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Chew Volumes 7-11 by John Layman

Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review, John Layman | 0 comments

Chew Volumes 7-11 by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory

Genre: Mystery
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Source: Library

The Books:
From the back covers:

Tony Chu, the cibopathic Federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats is back in action, just in time to face a cult of egg-worshipping terrorists who’ve declared holy war on the chicken-eaters of the world.

Chew Vol 7: Bad Apples by John Layman

Vol 7: Bad Apples 2013 Issues 31-35

Tony Chu, the cibopathic Federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats is back in action, just in time to face a cult of egg-worshipping terrorists who’ve declared holy war on the chicken-eaters of the world.

Chew Vol. 8: Family Recipes by John Layman

Vol 8 Family Recipes
2014 Issues 36-40

Anthony and Antonelle Chu are fraternal twins. Tony and Toni. Each with their own extraordinary, albeit diametrically opposed, ability. Tony is Cibopathic, able to get psychic sensations of the past of anything he bites into or ingests. Toni is Cibovoyant, able to flash onto a vision of the future of any living thing she bit into or ingested. Tony is alive. Toni is dead. Toni has been murdered. Tony has vowed to catch her killer. Toni is going to help.

Chew Vol. 9: Chicken Tenders by John Layman

Vol 9 Chicken Tenders
2015 Issues 41-45

Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats, has been busy — busy settling into married life, and busy investigating one assignment after another that takes him to the most remote corners of the planet. Meanwhile, the people closest to Tony are conspiring to take on the brutal killer who murdered Tony’s twin sister. And this conspiracy includes Tony’s partner, his arch enemy — and his teenage daughter!

Chew Vol. 10: Blood Puddin' by John Layman

Vol 10 Blood Puddin’
2015 Issues 46-50

Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats, is facing his greatest challenge: a showdown with the monster who murdered his sister, who disfigured his colleagues, who now threatens his daughter. And to survive this challenge, Tony is going to need the help of the greatest secret agent who’s ever lived… Poyo. the only problem? Poyo is missing and presumed dead.

Chew Vol. 11: The Last Suppers by John Layman

Vol. 11 The Last Suppers
2016 Issues 51-55

Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats, is close to finding answers about the bird flu that killed millions. The only thing standing in his way is Mason Savoy, fellow cibopath, ex-mentor, and unrepentant murderer.

My Thoughts:
This series is just wacky and weird and slightly gross and funny and twisted and interesting. I did a binge read starting Thanksgiving weekend to get caught up with the series. The final volume is due out in January and I wanted to be ready to read that as soon as my library can get it to me. I’m number one on the hold list.

These volumes include the usual bizarre actions of Tony Chu and his fellow FDA agents. Tony’s family is an absolute hoot. Particularly his sister who doesn’t let being dead get in the way of helping Tony.

The heroes are complicated. The bad guys are just strange and scary. Tony’s partner cracks me up (he’s got a complicated love life).

The artwork by Rob Guillory is colorful and fun and manages to present some bizarre stuff in a way that isn’t completely gross.

This is a tough series to recommend because it’s so weird and a little gross at times but the dark humor suits me and I cannot wait until January when I can find out how this ends.

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

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The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction
Format: Paperback and ebook
Series: #1 in the Hero’s Guide series
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 438
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

My Thoughts:
I’m not even sure where I first heard about this series but the idea of a fractured fairy tale parody featuring the princes from four of the most famous fairy tales sounded fun.

It was definitely fun and I’ll be getting the next book (The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle) from the library soon.

The four princes are rather annoyed that no one knows their names because the bards called all of them Prince Charming in their songs. As they meet up and decide to rescue Cinderella (who needs little or no rescuing) from a witch who is plotting her Supreme Scheme for Infamy.

I enjoyed the princes and their varying degrees of ineptitude.

All the princes had their issues—Frederic was easily intimidated, Liam’s ego could stand to be reined in a bit, and Gustav could use some impulse control—but Duncan was flat-out strange.

This was just a fun adventure and it manages to parody many of the classic fairy tale tropes but in an entertaining and funny way. It’s got plot complications galore and the illustrations by Todd Harris just add to the fun.

It was just the escapist adventure that I needed. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith – Audio Edition

Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Alexander McCall Smith, Audio, Book Review | 0 comments

The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette Lecat
The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith, Narrated by LIsette Lecat

Genre: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Series: #16 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 9 hours, 20 minutes
Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

In this latest installment of the beloved and best-selling series, Mma Ramotswe must contend with her greatest challenge yet – a vacation!
Business is slow at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, so slow in fact that for the first time in her estimable career Precious Ramotswe has reluctantly agreed to take a holiday. The promise of a week of uninterrupted peace is short-lived, however, when she meets a young boy named Samuel, a troublemaker who is himself in some trouble. Once she learns more about Samuel’s sad story, Mma Ramotswe feels compelled to step in and help him find his way out of a bad situation. Despite this unexpected diversion, Mma Ramotswe still finds herself concerned about how the agency is faring in her absence. Her worries grow when she hears that Mma Makutsi is handling a new and rather complicated case.
A well-respected Botswanan politician is up for a major public honor, and his reputation is now being called into question by his rivals. The man’s daughter has contacted the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to investigate these troubling claims, but, as in so many cases, all is not as it seems. In the end, the investigation will affect everyone at the agency and will also serve as a reminder that ordinary human failings should be treated with a large helping of charity and compassion.

My Thoughts:
Clearly since I just listened to the sixteenth book in this series it’s obvious I enjoy it. These characters have become old friends.

While they are sometimes classified as mysteries this series is much more light general fiction than mystery. Yes, they’re detectives but that’s only a small part of these books.

They are about relationships, friendships, and a love story about the country of Botswana. Precious Ramotswe is the kind of woman I’d like to meet for tea and an afternoon of chatting. She loves her husband, she’s fiercely protective of her friends and she’s immensely proud of her home country of Botswana.

This time around Precious is talked into taking a vacation. As vacations go, it’s pretty darn busy. She rescues a mistreated street urchin, she worries about how her business is going without her, she gets pulled back into work when the temporary help at the agency comes to her with concerns about a new case.

As usual, the sources of any conflict between the recurring characters is based on misunderstandings and concern over each other’s’ feelings.

Along the way there are the usual aphorisms and praise for the beauty and character of Botswana. In between there is plenty of humor too.

This continues to be a light and enjoyable series that is perfect for my driving around and commute time listening. Lisette Lecat does a wonderful job with the characters and saves me the trouble of trying to figure out pronunciation of unfamiliar words

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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