Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith – Audio Edition

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Alexander McCall Smith, Audio, Book Review | 0 comments

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette LecatPrecious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

Genre: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Series: #17 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 9 hours, 49 minutes
Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Changes are afoot at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, where Mma Makutsi, who has recently been promoted to co-director, has been encouraging Mma Ramotswe to update to more modern office practices. However, an unusual case will require both of them to turn their attention firmly to the past. A young Canadian woman who spent her early childhood in Botswana requests the agency’s help in recovering important pieces of her life there. With only a faded photograph—and, of course, some good old-fashioned detective skills—to guide them, Precious and Grace set out to locate the house that the woman used to live in and the caretaker who looked after her many years ago. But when the journey takes an unexpected turn, they are forced to consider whether some lost things may be better off unfound.

Busy as she is with this challenging investigation, Mma Ramotswe can always be relied on to come to the aid of her friends—who seem to have a special knack for landing in hot water. Mr. Polopetsi, an occasional assistant at the agency, has made an ill-advised business decision that may lead to serious trouble. And next door at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Fanwell, the junior mechanic, has become helplessly attached to a stray dog who proves to be a bigger responsibility than he can handle. With Mma Makutsi by her side, Mma Ramotswe dispenses help and sympathy with the graciousness and warmth for which she is so well known, and everyone is led to surprising insights into the healing power of compassion, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

My Thoughts:
I’m still enjoying this series seventeen books in. I’ve never read the print editions because Lisette Lecat’s narration is a lot of the reason I like this series

These are sometimes classified as mysteries but despite the fact that the main character is a detective the mystery part of the book is rather light. I consider the series light general fiction.

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 the case involves a Canadian woman who lived in Botswana as a girl and would like to find her childhood nanny. As usual the outcome is not as straightforward as originally expected. There is also the stray dog and a business opportunity that could be troublesome.

I just enjoy listening to these books as I’m driving. It’s good entertainment and Lisette Lecat is wonderful. The voices she does for the characters are wonderful and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out how to pronounce some of the names.

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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Chew Vol. 12: Sour Grapes by John Layman

Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, John Layman | 0 comments

Chew Vol. 12: Sour Grapes by John Layman
Chew Vol. 12: Sour Grapes by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory

Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #12 in the Chew series
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 184
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 12 is a compilation of issues 155-60 of the comic series plus a bonus one-shot.
From the back cover:

This the final story arc of Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats. Mysteries are solved, secrets are revealed and lives are lost. Many, many lives. This is the end of the line for the New York Times Best Selling, Harvey and multiple Eisner Award-winner series about cops, crooks, cooks, cannibals, and clairvoyants.

My Thoughts:
This series is weird, disturbing, violent and absolutely hilarious. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about without sounding completely off my rocker. But then again, several characters in this series may be completely off their rockers.

It’s been a weird and wild ride and I was looking forward to seeing how the author would manage to wind this up. Lots of bodies is one answer. Solving some mysteries is another. Leaving a few questions open was somewhat expected. A final page that was fabulous was wonderful.

The artwork by Rob Guillory is colorful and fun and manages to present some pretty bizarre and violent stuff in a way that isn’t completely gross. There is plenty of funny stuff in the background of the main action.

This series is just wacky and weird and slightly gross and funny and twisted and interesting.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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This Time Together by Carol Burnett – Audio Edition

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 0 comments

This Time Together by Carol Burnett narrated by the authorThis Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett narrated by the author

Genre: Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 2010
Length: 5 hours, 40 minutes
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Carol Burnett is one of the most beloved and revered actresses and performers in America. The Carol Burnett Show was seen each week by millions of adoring fans and won twenty-five Emmys in its remarkable eleven-year run. Now, in This Time Together, Carol really lets her hair down and tells one funny or touching or memorable story after another–reading it feels like sitting down with an old friend who has wonderful tales to tell.

In engaging anecdotes, Carol discusses her remarkable friendships with stars such as Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Julie Andrews; the background behind famous scenes, like the moment she swept down the stairs in her curtain-rod dress in the legendary “Went With the Wind” skit; and things that would happen only to Carol–the prank with Julie Andrews that went wrong in front of the First Lady; the famous Tarzan Yell that saved her during a mugging; and the time she faked a wooden leg to get served in a famous ice cream emporium. This poignant look back allows us to cry with the actress during her sorrows, rejoice in her successes, and finally, always, to laugh.

My Thoughts:
This is a short but thoroughly enjoyable audiobook. I requested it the day that a friend of mine recommended it. I’m so glad I did.

I grew up watching the Carol Burnett show and have always enjoyed her work. It was nice to spend some time with her again. There’s no way anyone else could have narrated this.

This is a series of anecdotes from her life. Some are funny, some heartbreakingly sad. They are all enjoyable. If you enjoyed Carol Burnett’s show I encourage you to get your hands on this audiobook,

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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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, Audio, 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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