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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Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman – Audio Edition

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 2 comments

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: 2012
Length: 11 hours, 14 nminutes
Read by: Cassandra Campbell
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money 10 years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to 15 months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424 – one of the millions of women who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules, where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Orange is the New Black offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison, why it is we lock so many away, and what happens to them when they’re there.

My Thoughts:
I have had this boo in my ebook files since shortly after it was published but for some reason I hadn’t gotten around to reading it. I happened to see something about the audio edition being good and I had an audible credit that needed to be used so onto the iPod it went.

I don’t have any issues with the differences between the book and the TV show because A: I haven’t watched the show yet and B: Duh!

I thought the story was entertaining. Kerman clearly makes her point that maybe prison isn’t the best punishment for non-violent drug offenses but the meat of the story is the people and the things it took to get her through her sentence.

The cast of characters she created based on real people is varied and both heartbreaking and funny. I’m glad I finally got around to this book and now I can watch the show.

This was my first time listening to Cassandra Campbell narrate a book. I was unsure at first and was worried that her slow pace was going to keep me from listening to the book. After a few chapters, however she totally won me over. Her skill and voicing a wide variety of people of varying ages and accents was impressive. I will definitely be looking for other books she has narrated.

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4.5 for the narration

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Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table by Ruth Reichl

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table by Ruth ReichlTender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table by Ruth Reichl

Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback and ebook
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 284
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

At an early age, Ruth Reichl discovered that “food could be a way of making sense of the world. . . . If you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were.” Her deliciously crafted memoir, Tender at the Bone, is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by a passion for food, unforgettable people, and the love of tales well told. Beginning with Reichl’s mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and her tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first soufflé, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s. Spiced with Reichl’s infectious humor and sprinkled with her favorite recipes, Tender at the Bone is a witty and compelling chronicle of a culinary sensualist’s coming-of-age.

My Thoughts:
One of my friends on LibraryThing has a fabulous culinary arts book list that I periodically browse and add books to my own wish list. I have heard good things about Ruth Reichl’s books so I decided to start with her first.

I really only know Ruth Reichl from her occasional guest judge gigs on Top Chef. I knew she had a good sense of humor and is extremely knowledgeable about food and cooking. Other than that I didn’t know much other than she’s been a food critic and an editor of Gourmet magazine.

This book is about her childhood and early career. She had a difficult relationship with her mother but had other relatives and a family housekeeper who helped build her love for food and cooking.

In the author’s note she says ‘storytelling, in my family, was highly prized”. I enjoyed reading her stories from her fascinating and interesting life. Her travels and adventures are kind of amazing. Her trip to North Africa with a college friend would have terrified me.

Interspersed throughout the book are recipes many of which came from friends and acquaintances. I’m not sure I’d try any of them but there is quite a variety.

I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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A Gentleman’s Game by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

A Gentleman's Game by Greg Rucka
A Gentleman’s Game: A Queen & Country Novel by Greg Rucka

Genre: Spy Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 335
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

When an unthinkable act of terror devastates London, nothing will stop Tara Chace from hunting down those responsible. Her job is simple: stop the terrorists before they strike a second time. To succeed, she’ll do anything and everything it takes. She’ll have to kill again.

Only this time the personal stakes will be higher than ever before. For the terrorist counterstrike will require that Tara allow herself to be used as bait by the government she serves. This time she’s turning her very life into a weapon that can be used only once. But as she and her former mentor race toward destiny at a remote terrorist training camp in Saudi Arabia, Tara begins to question just who’s pulling the trigger—and who’s the real enemy. In this new kind of war, betrayal can take any form…including one’s duty to queen and country.

My Thoughts:
I have been thoroughly enjoying Rucka’s comic series Queen & Country. I have often said that fans of Homeland or 24 are predisposed to enjoy the series. For those of you who don’t enjoy comics, Greg Rucka has published three novels featuring the characters from the Queen & Country comics.

From the hall, it looked as nondescript as any other in the building. Inside the outer office, it had desks for not one but three personal assistants. But once one went through and into the inner office, everything changed, as if all pretension to modernity had been rejected in favor of those good old days when spying was deemed a Gentleman’s Game.

This is the first of those novels and it’s pretty good spy fiction. The thing that makes this a little different than the average spy story is that the main character is a woman. She’s a mess. She’s got enough issues to be a full year’s subscription but you still end up rooting for her.

This one is part action adventure and part an exploration of the ugly side of the espionage business. Rucka intersperses the politics behind the missions with the actual action. The story is one that’s still rather contemporary even though the book was written twelve years ago.

This is a book that easily works as a standalone if you aren’t interested in the comic series. I like that Rucka has used both formats in the series and I’m looking forward to continuing the story with the next collected edition of the comics.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Posted by on Oct 4, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 341
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .

My Thoughts:
I am a huge fan of the Star Wars movies. Except for The Phantom Menace. We shall not speak of The Phantom Menace. I actually don’t read that much science fiction. I heard about this book earlier this year and the premise interested me enough to get on the waiting list at the library.

The fact that it focused on Leia was a major reason I wanted to read it. I also liked that it was set in the time period between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

This story takes place about six years before the events of The Force Awakens. Leia is a bit disillusioned about the government of the New Republic and her role in it. Ready for a break she becomes involved in an investigation of some suspicious gangsters. At the same time she’s recruited to run for the new office of First Senator.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was fun to see familiar characters and to get to know some new ones. The story is about the beginning of the troubles in the New Republic and the early beginnings of the First Order which will grow into the enemy in The Force Awakens.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood – Audio Edition

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Kerry Greenwood | 2 comments

The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood narrated by Stephanie Daniel
The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood, Narrated by Stephanie Daniel

Genre: Crime Fiction
Series: #5 in the Phryne Fisher series
Publisher: Bolinda Audio
Publication Date: 1993 for the book, 2010 for this audio edition
Length: 6 hours, 19 minutes
Read by: Stephanie Daniel
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Phryne Fisher is doing one of her favorite things -dancing at the Green Mill (Melbourne’s premier dance hall) to the music of Tintagel Stone’s Jazzmakers, the band who taught St Vitus how to dance. And she’s wearing a sparkling lobelia-coloured georgette dress. Nothing can flap the unflappable Phryne – especially on a dance floor with so many delectable partners. Nothing except death, that is. The dance competition is trailing into its last hours when suddenly, in the middle of “Bye Bye Blackbird” a figure slumps to the ground. No shot was heard. Phryne, conscious of how narrowly the missile missed her own bare shoulder, back, and dress, investigates. This leads her into the dark smoky jazz clubs of Fitzroy, into the arms of eloquent strangers, and finally into the sky, as she follows a complicated family tragedy of the great War and the damaged men who came back from ANZAC cove. Phryne flies her Gypsy Moth Rigel into the Australian Alps, where she meets a hermit with a dog called Lucky and a wombat living under his bunk….and risks her life on the love between brothers.

My Thoughts:
Phryne Fisher is quite unconventional for a private investigator in 1920’s Australia and she’s just a whole lot of fun. She’s wealthy enough to not care what people think of her and to be particular about the cases she takes.

This one was fun. It begins with a dance marathon that ends in a murder. Phryne is soon on a double missing persons case. One of the men was her partner at the dance club and the other is his long missing brother.

I was glad to have Phryne need to do some flying again. Her solo flight to the Australian Alps was a great part of the book. The murder mystery is more of a side story because the majority of the book involves her search for a shell shocked former soldier who does not want to be found.

The books are fairly short and they are fun break between longer or heavier books. Australia in the 1920’s is an interesting time and place.

I really enjoy Stephanie Daniel’s narration. She’s easy to listen to and her voice characterizations are distinct and consistent. She’s even called upon to do some singing in this book.

One of these days I’m going to watch the television series.

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the narration

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