Monday, October 19, 2020

SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY (2016)

 

SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY by Anna Kendrick
Narrated by: Anna Kendrick
My Rating: 3 out of 5
 
If you love Anna Kendrick after seeing her in Pitch Perfect, Twilight, Into the Woods, and Up in the Air, you will have a wonderful time listening to her humorous self-deprecating stories of growing up insecure in show business.

Nobody else could narrate these stories the way Anna does. As a matter of fact, since this is not great literature, it might not be nearly as much fun to read.
 
Discussing moments of her life up to the present, Anna shares things about herself you probably don't know.  Some of them will have you laughing out loud.

Very much like listening to your best friend's secrets and advice, the language can be a little raw for some listeners. Anna talks openly about her sex life; but then it's a private conversation, just between  the two of you.
 
If you need an escape from the problems of the world, this might be just the ticket. RECOMMENDED.

Published: November 15, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Unabridged Audiobook: 6 hrs.
Author: Anna Kendrick
ASIN: B01ETUKWOU
 
 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

GIRLS OF BRACKENHILL (2020)

 
Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
 
FIRST LINE: "I didn't mean to kill the girl."
 
THE STORY: Hannah's seemingly perfect life with Huck begins to fall apart with a phone call telling her there's been a deadly accident at Brackenhill. During the six hour drive from Virginia to her Aunt and Uncle's home, a mountaintop castle in the Catskills, Hannah remembers the wonderful summers she spent there until the last one when her older sister disappeared without a trace. Should she share her past secrets with Huck?
 
 
WHAT I THOUGHT: Brackenhill itself is a character. It has locked rooms, eerie sounds, banging doors, a scary room-rearranging basement, strange deaths, and ghosts. The castle seems to induce unusual moods and visions. Hannah has survived by hiding secrets and refusing to face the past.At Brackenhill she fixates on trying to find her sister who's been missing for 17 years.
 
Author Kate Moretti sets up a fascinating puzzle for the reader to solve. When I finished the book, I couldn't sleep trying to put all the pieces together. I was glad to be reading on my Kindle so I could search for terms in the book to check for clues I might have missed and they were all there. Perhaps I would have read more carefully if I had approached it that way.
 
BOTTOM LINE: A grown up ghost story for Halloween and beyond. RECOMMENDED.
 
DISCLAIMER: A copy of The Girls of Brackenhill was provided to me by Thomas & Mercer /Net Galley for an honest review.
 
Paperback: 331 pages
Publisher:
Thomas & Mercer (November 1, 2020) 
ISBN-10: 1542000084
ISBN-13: 978-1542000086
 
THE AUTHOR:  Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of six novels and a novella. Her first novel Thought I Knew You, was a New York Times bestseller. The Vanishing Year was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller category for 2016 and was called "chillingly satisfying." (Publisher's Weekly) with "superb" closing twists (New York Times Book Review). Her books have been translated in over ten different languages and has been optioned for television.

​Kate has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty years as a scientist and enjoys traveling and cooking. She lives in Pennsylvania in an old farmhouse with her husband, two children and no known ghosts. Her lifelong dream is to find a secret passageway.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

COMPLICATIONS (2003)

Subtitled: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 

Complications was re-recorded in 2020 in abridged and unabridged format with two different narrators. Audible lets you listen to a bit of each version before deciding which reader you prefer. Both seemed acceptable but I decided on Robert Petkoff before realizing he reads the unabridged book which was what I wanted anyway. It was a good choice.
 
The book is amazing. After being on dialysis, having a kidney transplant, and a few minor surgeries in the last few years, I appreciated the explanations of things I had experienced but not understood.
 
In three sections named Fallibility, Mystery, and Uncertainty, Gawande describes the education of surgeons, advancements in medicine, difficult diagnoses, and some fascinating (and disturbing) cases.

We always hear the joke that doctors are 'only practicing' when things go wrong. Actually Gawande explains that perfection takes practice and the "constant relearning of new techniques and technologies" and the result is that residents get practice and doctors get information but no practice.
 
A topic I found interesting was Morbidity and Mortality (M&M), regularly scheduled meetings where doctors take personal responsibility by discussing what they could or should have done differently. All surgeons make mistakes. Maybe you don't want to know that.
 
A smooth reading of a well written insider's view of today's medicine. Highly recommended.
 
Published: July 21st 2020 by Macmillan Audio
Unabridged Audiobook: Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
Author:Atul Gawande
ASIN: B089YWG316

Complications was a 2002 National Book Award finalist for nonfiction. You can read more about Atul Gawande at his website.

 

Friday, October 2, 2020

TOKYO UENO STATION (2020)

Tokyo Ueno Stationby Yu Miri
My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
 
After death, Kazu, a homeless man finds his spirit lingers in Ueno Park, one of Tokyo's busiest stations. Speaking directly to us, he considers his life, his surroundings, and how he ended up 'sleeping rough'.

A little knowledge of Japan will enhance the experience of "Tokyo Ueno Station" although the conditions of homelessness exist all over the world. It's surprising how much seems familiar.
 
FIRST SENTENCE: ‘’I used to think life was like a book: you turn the first page, and there’s the next, and as you go on turning page after page eventually you reach the last one."

Yu Miri, a Korean-Japanese author, has written a post-tsunami work in this relatively short novel, her most recent to be published in English. Her stream-of consciousness writing is gorgeous and haunting and sad. Morgan Giles' translation does not distract in any way.

Narrator Johnny Heller has a slightly raspy edge to his voice which allows the listener to immediately relate to his portrayal and be drawn into the story. His pronunciation of Japanese words and names seems impeccable.

Length: 3 hrs and 58 mins
Release date: 06-23-20
Penguin Audio
Unabridged
Narrated by Johnny Heller
Translated by Morgan Giles 

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

NORTHERN LIGHT (2020)


Northern Light by Deb Davies
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars 

I always enjoy discovering a new mystery writer and when the books turns out to be the debut of a friend, it is a real pleasure! Hopefully the subtitle "A Coast-To-Coast Michigan Mystery" suggests this will be the beginning of more adventures.

THE STORY: Claire, with her best friend Laurel in tow, has retreated to the summer cabin in Michigan to recover from the death of her husband. When friends and family begin arriving, the house fills up. The first sign of trouble occurs when a raven, somehow trapped in the house, trashes it.
 
While the friends go on with their lives enjoying Northern Michigan, unpleasant events happen and escalate putting everyone in harms way. Will they figure out the mystery before it is too late?

FIRST LINE:
"Claire and Laurel were sitting at a heart pine table, letting the day fade."
 
WHAT I THOUGHT:
What seemingly starts as a cozy mystery turns out not to be for the faint of heart. The curious events that happen in the first half bloom into pure evil in the second.
 
The story reads like a literate mystery combined with a violent thriller. The author has created a very specific world. For example, she is "passionate about rescued animals and nature", so those topics find their way into the story. Michiganders will recognize places, products, and traditions the author weaves throughout the book.
 
The characters, of which there are many, are living in our pre-Covid 19 world and dealing with all the challenging modern day issues. The dialogue and banter seems natural as does the friendship between Claire and Laurel. 
 
Her charming, quirky characters make it difficult to believe that any of them could be guilty of so much wanton destruction and death.

BOTTOM LINE: RECOMMENDED. With her love song to Northern Michigan disguised as a mystery, Deb Davies is an author to watch.

Disclaimer: A copy of Northern Light was provided to me by BHC /Net Galley for an honest review. Deb Davies has been a friend for many years.

Hardcover:  248 pages
Publisher: BHC Press (August 20, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1643971204
ISBN-13: 978-1643971209

THE AUTHOR: "Deb Davies enjoys writing mysteries about her favorite place: Michigan. She is passionate about rescued animals and nature, and also enjoys classical music. She resides with her husband, Rick, in an old farmhouse on a trout stream near Luzerne, Michigan. Northern Light is her debut novel in her Coast-to-Coast Michigan Mystery series." (from Amazon)

 

DON'T LOOK FOR ME (2002)


Don't Look for MeDon't Look for Me by Wendy Walker
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars 

I almost put this book down before I got through the first chapter. Having read that the story concerned a woman who may have walked away from her life, I started getting uncomfortable knowing what was probably coming. So many books offer increasing violence to create excitement. Wendy Walker instead builds a slowly growing dread from not knowing who to trust or who is telling the truth. There is a need to keep reading in the hope that what happens next will begin to unravel the falsehoods.

THE STORY: When Molly Clarke disappears, her family has reason to believe she has walked away from her life. A family tragedy has torn the family apart. The oldest daughter, Nicole, guilty about the last angry words to her mother, starts on a quest to find her. What will she discover and will it be soon enough? 
 
FIRST LINE: "The sky grows dark as I drive."
 
WHAT I THOUGHT: Uncomfortable and disturbing in the beginning, the reader can't help but go along hoping for the best outcome for the people you come to care about.

The book is told in two voices, mother and daughter, weaving through alternating chapters. Molly talks to the reader in first person while Nicole's sections are in third person. The plotting is twisty, disconcerting, and much more intricate than expected. It's scary how plausible the story is.
 
BOTTOM LINEHIGHLY RECOMMENDED I devoured Don't Look for Me and found the story unexpected in many ways. Plan to stay up late. It's a hard book to put down.

Disclaimer: A copy of Don't Look for Me was provided to me by St. Martin's Press/Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 15, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1250198704
ISBN-13:
978-1250198709
 
THE AUTHOR: "WENDY WALKER is the author of the psychological suspense novels All is Not Forgotten, Emma In The Night,The Night Before, and Don't Look For Me. Her novels have been translated into 23 foreign languages and have topped bestseller lists both nationally and abroad. They have been featured on The Today Show, The Reese Witherspoon Book Club, and The Book of the Month Club and have been optioned for television and film. Prior to her writing career, Wendy practiced both corporate and family law, having earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. Wendy also worked as a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Wendy is currently finishing her next thriller and managing a busy household in Connecticut." (from Amazon)


Friday, August 28, 2020

THE CUTTING PLACE (2020)


The Cutting Place (Maeve Kerrigan #9)

The Cutting Place (Maeve Kerrigan #9)
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I discovered Jane Casey in 2014 when I read The Burning, the first in the Maeve Kerrigan series. If you're a fan of UK-based mysteries and thrillers (think Tana French), you have nine new books featuring Detective Constable now Detective Sergeant Maeve Kerrigan to look forward to.
An interesting story line, well-drawn characters, and good writing draws the reader in for the ride in this intense police procedural/psychological thriller. The Cutting Place goes on sale on September 3, 2020.
 

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THE STORY: Pieces of a body are found along the Thames. The London police go to work attempting to determine the identity using DNA. The body is that of a journalist who appears to have been working on a piece about criminal activities at a elite Men's Club that could explode in the media. DS Kerrigan vows to follow up on the young woman's investigation. Unfortunately all this leads to more tension with her partner, DI Josh Derwent when his son becomes a suspect.

Told in the first person by DS Maeve Kerrigan, the story is interspersed with vaguely remembered events concerning an unnamed person beginning two years earlier.

Things get more uncomfortable as the story progresses and a parallel element involving Maeve and her boyfriend is disturbing.

FIRST LINE: "For a few moments, it was the quietest place in London."

WHAT I THOUGHT: Maeve is a smart woman but she shares the problems all women encounter in the world. It makes her really relatable as well as vulnerable.  And even though violence happens, the reader can feel safe in this author's hands.
 
Although there are lots of British terms that may not be unfamiliar, most are explained or can be googled. Actually that's part of the fun!

Finally there's something that ends every chapter that forces the reader to turn the page and stay up beyond bedtime.
 
BOTTOM LINE: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED but you really should start at the beginning!

Disclaimer: A copy of The Cutting Place was provided to me by HarperCollins/Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (September 3, 2020)
ISBN-10: 0008149089
ISBN-13:
978-0008149086

THE AUTHOR: Jane Casey is an Irish-born author of crime novels. She was born in Dublin in 1977 and grew up in Castleknock, 8 km (5 mi) west of the center of Dublin. She studied English at Jesus College, Oxford