Elegy for Eddie [Audiobook Review]

TitleElegy for Eddie
Author: Jaqueline Winspear
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Audio: 10.2 hours
Year: 2012
Publisher: HarperAudio
Source: Library
Book Rating: 4/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

When Eddie, a simple man with a special ability to work with horses from Maisie’s childhood is killed in a factory accident, Maisie is solicited by some Lambeth childhood acquaintances to investigate. Soon after, it appears that someone more powerful than she is interested in keeping her from the truth. Meanwhile, Maisie is becoming less and less comfortable in her new position of wealth and in her relationship with James. Maisie must do some soul-searching along with solving the mystery of Eddie’s death.

My Thoughts:

Just as I was starting to tire of Maisie Dobbs, the character, someone calls her out on the exact thing that annoys me. Which made this one a little more interesting. Maisie grows as a person in each book, but in a few of them, there is a bigger leap forward. This is one of those books. And the mystery, which at first doesn’t seem to great, turns into something much larger. I ended up liking Elegy for Eddie and I am excited to be almost caught up to real time Maisie Dobbs publishing.

Audiobook Thoughts:

Orlagh continues to be the perfect Maisie.

Cress [Audiobook Review]

Spoiler Free, I promise.

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Pages: 560 pages
Audio: 15.6 hours
Year: 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

I’m going to skip this in order to avoid spoilers. You can read the publisher’s description here.

My Thoughts:

You all know I loved Cinder and Scarlet, right? Well, this third installment in The Lunar Chronicles did not disappoint me either. Once again, I am going to try to push a series that has lunar people and cyborgs on you. Deal with it.

I don’t want to say too much, since this is the third book in a series and I could get spoilery pretty fast here. There is a lot going on this one. We add another “main” character to the mix which means we have to balance even more storylines. Like the title characters before her, Cress is (very) loosely based on a fairytale: Rapunzel.  We’ve actually met Cress before but she takes a lead role here.

One thing I didn’t like – and here I go being vague again – is that one main character was MIA for most of the book. It left me feeling a little unbalanced.

But, overall, this book is fast-paced and action-packed, twisting and turning until it’s suddenly over and we’re left wanting more. If you haven’t taken my advice to try this series yet, you’re really missing out.

Audiobook Thoughts:

Rebecca Soler is downright amazing in this series. I wouldn’t dream of reading it in print.

Salt, Sugar, Fat [Audiobook Review]

Title: Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Author: Michael Moss
Narrator: Scott Brick
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Pages: 480
Audio: 14.6 hours
Year: 2013
Publisher: Random House Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 4/5

Summary (from publisher):

Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese and seventy pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we ended up here. Featuring examples from Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Capri Sun, and many more, Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research. He takes us into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

My Thoughts:

The food industry infuriates me. The foods that are unhealthy are cheapest and taste the best (at least until you get used to real food again). It’s easy to know that foods high in salt, sugar, or fat are bad to for you, but it’s almost impossible to stay away from them. Moss shows us the science behind our addiction and how the processed food industry has taken advantage of it, to our disadvantage.

This book only increased my disdain for the food industry, but I think it is important for us to understand why we are addicted to these unhealthy “foods.” I would definitely recommend this one if you want to know what you’re really eating and why.

Also, don’t buy your kid lunchables. Just don’t.

Audiobook Thoughts:

I’m not even going to pretend to remember what the audio production was like at this point. But it must not have been awful.

The Circle [Audiobook Review]

Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Narrator: Dion Graham
Genre: Fiction; Dystopian
Pages: 504
Audio: 13.6 hours
Year: 2013
Publisher: Random House Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 1/5
Audio Rating: 2/5

Summary:

When Mae gets a job at The Circle (think Google on an even bigger scale) she thinks her dreams have come true. But she soon finds that meeting The Circle’s expectations are harder than she anticipated. Constant internet contact, hyper-socialization, and an inability to escape any of it leave Mae at a crossroads. Will she accept the new age and help “close The Circle” or will she fight back?

My Thoughts:

Unless Dave Eggers is your hero, you can skip this book. It’s about ten times longer than it needs to me. It barely has a plot. It makes it’s point and then makes it again and again and again and again. I wish I’d put it down when I was two hours in like I almost did.

I thought this would be the book for me – a somewhat-dystopian book about social media – but it clearly wasn’t. This was my first Dave Eggers book and I certainly haven’t been convinced that I should go back and read any of his others. I think I’ll stick with McSweeny’s.

Audiobook Thoughts:

I thought it was an odd choice to have a male narrator for this one. The main character is female. The book is in third person but it is told from her perspective only.

The Dangerous Animals Club [Audiobook Review]

Title: The Dangerous Animals Club
Author: Stephen Tobolowsky
Narrator: Stephen Tobolowsky
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 352
Audio: 11.6 hours
Year: 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 4/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

Actor Stephen Tobolowsky shares stories from his childhood, his marriage, and his career.

My Thoughts:

We started listening to this one on a family road trip. Whenever E was asleep, Ben and I would put it on. E didn’t actually sleep as much as I expected him to, so we each had to finish it on our own. But we were both enjoying it so much that there was doubt that we would.

Stephen Tobolowsky, as he explains it, is that guy you recognize but you’re from where (the store down the street? the laundromat?). You recognize him from television and films. But he’s a solid character actor – not one to stand out or be memorable. But he is in practically everything, from Groundhog Day to Glee. And he has amassed some wonderful stories which he tells masterfully.

The book started with stories from his childhood and those mostly featuring animals (the title story is about a tarantula- and scorpion-catching club he was in as a boy in Texas). The stories then move on to his schooling, his relationships, and his career. He has had an interesting life so far and his tales are well-crafted. If you just want to listen to some good storytelling, this one is for you.

Audiobook Thoughts:

Tobolowsky reads this one himself, as he should. You’ll recognize his voice, even if you don’t recognize his name. He’s a born storyteller.

Grave Mercy [Audiobook Review]

Note: Until I get caught up, Thursdays will be reviews of books I read some time last year and never reviewed. They will be closer to mini-reviews than regular reviews. 

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LeFevers
Narrator: Erin Moon
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 560
Audio: 14.2 hours
Year: 2912
Publisher: Recorded Books
Source: Library (I think…)
Book Rating: 3/5

Summary:

I read this awhile ago, so I was going to use the publisher’s summary and then I remembered that I didn’t like the publisher’s summary because it sort of gave away a plot twist WAY down the line, so here is my attempt, many months later, at telling you what this book is about.

In 15th Century Brittany, Ismae is meant to marry a brute of a man when she is saved and delivered to the convent of St. Mortain. She chooses to stay at the convent and serve St. Mortain, the god of death as one of his assassins. She is given an assignment in the high court of Brittany, during time of great political turmoil, where she finds treason, lies, and, potentially, love.

My Thoughts:

Once I understood that Brittany is not Britain and that, at the time this book is set, it was a region trying to maintain its independence from France, things made a lot more sense (I will not tell you just HOW far into the book I was before having this realization). I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia page on Brittany before starting this one if you are not a history buff.

The setting is, obviously, new to me and it is full of plenty of things to keep this book interesting. Politics, alliances, treason, family, love – it certainly didn’t lull. At the same time, the book didn’t grab me for some reason I am not able to explain.

Audiobook Thoughts:

I am not even going to pretend I remember what the audio production was like. But I would remember if it’d been awful.

Parasite [Audiobook Review]

Title: Parasite
Author: Mira Grant
Narrator: Christine Lakin
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 482 pages
Audio: 16.2 hours
Year: 2013
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Source: Review copy from publisher
Book Rating: 4/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

No one expected Sal Mitchell to survive the car crash. Yet moments before her family was to pull the plug, she wakes up.

Six years later, she still has no memory of anything that happened before she woke up, but she’s managed to piece together a life, albeit under the close watch of both her parents and SymboGen, the biotech company that saved the world by having it ingest tapeworms. Practically every person on Earth has ingested a parasite that protects its host from everything from allergies to cancer.

But these tapeworms may not have been the cure-all the world hoped for. And Sal finds herself in the middle of a battle over what to do with it.

My Thoughts:

As you may recall, I adored Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy. So my expectations were pretty high for this one. And they were mostly met. Grant created another unique world that kept me engaged the entire novel.

The big revelation at the end wasn’t a revelation to me and I can’t imagine it is for any reader. Perhaps that was intended but it did make the end a bit anticlimactic. Regardless, I am very much looking forward to the second installment of the Parasitology trilogy.

Audiobook Thoughts:

I first encountered Christine Lakin a few months ago in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She once again wowed me. Go with the audio on this one.

Enthusiasm [Audiobook Review]

So here is what I am going to do. Despite the fact that I barely read these days, I am crazy behind on writing reviews. So I am going to do some mini-reviews. I’ll be using publisher’s summaries instead of writing my own and probably keeping my thoughts to a few sentences. But at least I’ll be catching up and you’ll finally get some long overdue reviews.

Title: Enthusiasm
Author: Polly Shulman
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, YA
Pages: 212
Audio: 6.5 hours
Year: 2006
Publisher: Recorded Books
Source: Audible
Book Rating: 3.5/5
Audio Rating: 4/5

Publisher’s Summary:

Best friends Julia and Ashleigh are looking for some romance, but Ashleigh’s ways make Julia a little uncomfortable. While crashing a fall dance, they are befriended by two boys, one of whom being the mysterious male that Julia had seen at the mall. Unfortunately, Ashleigh has laid claim to her mysterious boy first. Julia is totally confused about high school love.

My Thoughts:

This book was a fun read for any Jane Austen fans out there. It’s light and funny and is really a very sweet story of friendship. It’s not going to change your world. It’s not going to make you think. But it will entertain you. It was just what I needed after a long, less-entertaining audiobook.

Audiobook Thoughts:

When I first started listening, I thought there were some weird pauses but they either went away or I got used to them. Ikeda did a good job capturing the feel of this book.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown [Audiobook Review]

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Narrator: Christine Lakin
Genre: Paranormal YA
Pages: 432
Audio: 12.1 hours
Year: 2013
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Source: Review copy from publisher
Book Rating: 3/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

When Tana was a child, the world faced an epidemic of vampirism, which spreads like a disease. Several years later, Tana wakes up after a party and  discovers everyone else is dead except her ex-boyfriend (who is now infected) and a captive vampire. So they head to the nearest Coldtown – a quarantine for vampires, infected humans, and humans looking to turn, where Tana is in for a bit more adventure than she plans for.

My Thoughts:

So I think I can officially declare that I am over vampires. This was supposed to be the book that even those of us burnt out on vampires would love, which is why I picked it up after initially passing it over. And I get why – it was a good book. It was dark and gritty – none of that sparkly vampires at your high school stuff. People die, people turn into vampires, people betray each other, yet Tana hangs on to her humanity (and her bravery) through it all. Tana is a strong teenager forced into extraordinary circumstances and she never loses her cool. I should have loved this book. But my feelings toward vampires (sometimes “meh,” sometimes full on aversion*) unfortunately took away from my enjoyment.

So, bottom line: I think you will like this one if you (a) still like vampires or (b) don’t have strong feelings either way about vampires. As for me, I am going to move on to something else. Zombies? Angels? Unicorns?

Audiobook Thoughts:

I don’t have to qualify anything here. Christine Lakin did an excellent job. She was a perfect voice for Tana yet handled all of the other characters with ease. If you plan on reading this one, definitely check out the audio version.

_____
*So I read The Radleys when I was in the puking-every-day stage of pregnancy (two years ago!) and I think it’s stayed with me. References to drinking blood now give me nausea. Isn’t that weird?

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock [Audiobook Review]

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Narrator: Noah Galvin
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 288 pages
Audio: 6.3 hours
Year: 2013
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Book Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Rating: 5/5

Summary:

Leonard Peacock is going to kill himself today. It’s his 18th birthday, but no one has remembered. His mom is hours away in New York City, leaving him to fend for himself. His best friend is his geriatric neighbor who watches Bogie films all day. So he’s just going to end it all now, after he passes out some parting gifts. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock novel details this last day.

My Thoughts:

I’d heard a lot of positive reviews of this book, but I didn’t actually know much about it when I started reading it. And I got to the first Letter from the Future and thought I had somehow gotten myself into another paranormal/dystopian/YA novel. But I can assure you that Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is worth reading and very unique.

Leonard is a little whiny and self-involved. But he’s a teenager with a pretty crappy life, so that’s expected. He’s also very observant and very smart. He knows high school isn’t the be all end all but he’s still stuck there.

You’d think a whole novel focused on one day might grow tedious, but I was always engaged as a reader and always anxiously awaiting Leonard’s next move.

One thing that I personally loved about this story was the portrayal of just how influential a good teacher can be. Teachers aren’t valued in our society the way they should be (I know, I see the paycheck my husband brings home every week compared with the tremendous amount of time he works) and it is nice to see a teacher like Herr Silverman. I suspect Matthew Quick had one of those teachers in his past.

I highly recommend this (and I think fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower will especially love it).

Audiobook Thoughts:

Galvin was excellent. He has a strong voice, but still sounded age appropriate and captured the sarcastic, angry, and scared voice of Leonard Peacock.