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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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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A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny – Audio Edition

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Louise Penny | 6 comments

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny narrated by Robert Bathurst

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #12 in the Armand Gamache (Three Pines) series
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Publication Date: 2016
Length: 13 hours, 32 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.
Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.

Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.

The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.

For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

My Thoughts:
I didn’t enjoy the previous book in the series quite as much as I had enjoyed the others. It was still good but just not quite what I had come to expect from Louise Penny. I am happy to say that with this twelfth book she is back up to the standard of the earlier books.

In fact, I thought this was one of the better books in the series.

There were several mysteries going on. Who killed the professor? Why did Gamache do some of the things he did? What is the story behind the map found in the bistro? And is there a connection between Armand Gamache and Amelia Choquet?

Penny doles out the clues in bits and pieces throughout the book and the final few chapters were quite satisfying.

I was happy to see parts of the story take place in Three Pines so the regular recurring characters were involved.

Robert Bathurst had big shoes to fill when the narrator of the first ten books passed away. This is the second one I’ve listened to him narrate. He does a great job of voice characterizations. I always knew who was speaking before it was mentioned.

These books can work as standalones but you’ll understand the ongoing stories if you start from the beginning with Still Life.

Rating
4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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As You Wish by Cary Elwes – Audio Edition

Posted by on Dec 8, 2016 in 2016, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 2 comments

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden narrated by Cary Elwes and others

Genre: Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 7 hours, 1 minutes
Narrated by: Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Wallace Shawn , Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, and Danny Burnstein
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

My Thoughts:
This one is partially Trish’s fault. She was talking on twitter about how much she was enjoying this audiobook. As a huge fan of the movie The Princess Bride that was just the minor little nudge I needed to purchase this,

I have lost count of how many times I have seen the movie and quotes from it are a routine part of our conversation. Hearing Cary Elwes talk about his experiences during the making of the movie is an absolute delight.

He narrates most of it but there are bits and pieces here and there where his co-stars, Rob Reiner, Bill Goldman and others involved in the movie added their comments to his book. Many of these people narrate their own comments. Danny Burnstein narrates for others.

I was only a few chapters into the book when I insisted that The Hubster listen to this foo. I downloaded it to his phone and he has been enjoying it just as much as I did. I cannot wait for him to finish the book so that we can watch the movie again.

There are lots of wonderful stories about the making of the movie and Elwes tells these stories wonderfully. I’m not going to spill a lot of what he shares but I will say that Andre the Giant was clearly loved by all the cast. Billy Crystal is a nightmare when you must keep from laughing. Robin Wright’s first day on the film involved her dress catching on fire. Elwes and Mandy Patinkin did all the sword fighting themselves and spent months practicing and learning from experts.

If you are a fan of the movie, then you will enjoy this book and I highly recommend the audio edition.
Check out this video on the Simon & Schuster website.

Rating
4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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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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