Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Audiobook Review: Breathless by Dean Koontz




Title:  Breathless

Author:  Dean Koontz

Narrator:  Jeffrey Cummings

Unabridged Length:  8 hrs, 12 mn.






Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
In the stillness of a golden September afternoon, deep in the wilderness of the Rockies, a solitary craftsman, Grady Adams, and his magnificent Irish wolfhound Merlin step from shadow into light…and into an encounter with enchantment. That night, through the trees, under the moon, a pair of singular animals will watch Grady's isolated home, waiting to make their approach.

A few miles away, Camillia Rivers, a local veterinarian, begins to unravel the threads of a puzzle that will bring all the forces of a government in peril to her door.

At a nearby farm, long-estranged identical twins come together to begin a descent into darkness…In Las Vegas, a specialist in chaos theory probes the boundaries of the unknowable…On a Seattle golf course, two men make matter-of-fact arrangements for murder…Along a highway by the sea, a vagrant scarred by the past begins a trek toward his destiny…

In a novel that is at once wholly of our time and timeless, fearless and funny, Dean Koontz takes readers into the moment between one turn of the world and the next, across the border between knowing and mystery. It is a journey that will leave all who take it Breathless


My Review:
Back in my mid-twenties I devoured Koontz novels like they were going out of style.  I do still enjoy them once and awhile, but I found more enjoyment lately from the audio versions.  Although this novel had a creepy murderer, as most of his books do, it did not seem to reach the level of intensity I expect from Koontz.  Usually this intensity stems from the actions of a psychopath, so this novel offered a more relaxed tone.

The book follows the narratives of several different characters.  The various characters come from different parts of the country and various walks of life.  Grady could not have imagined that his stumbling upon two magnificent creatures frolicking on his land would bring them all together.  The appearance of the creatures creates a sea of change, but unfortunately, not everyone involved has good intentions.

When Grady discovers the creatures he contacts his friend Camilla, who is also a veterinarian, to see if she knows anything about them.  She is amazed by Grady's discovery, and after referring to a colleague, the government swoops in, trying to take control of the situation.  Grady and Camilla fine themselves doing whatever is necessary to protect these two magnificent creatures.

Cummings did a good job narrating, considering there were many characters he needed to bring to life for us.  My biggest complaint with this novel was that there were too many characters to learn as new ones were even introduced within the last couple of discs.  With themes of unexplained beings, conspiracy, and evil, you may enjoy this book as much or even more than I did.  I recommend this book for personal leisure or for book clubs that enjoy reading books with an extra-terrestrial content.

My Rating: 3/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from the local library for my own entertainment.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Title:  The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Author:  Alice Hoffman

Narrators:  Judith Light, Grace Gummer

Unabridged Length:  12 hrs, 20 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Museum-of-Extraordinary-Things/Alice-Hoffman/9781451693560#sthash.0q9nkrox.dpuf
Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's "museum" alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor's apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding.


My Review:
Let me start by saying that Hoffman has seemed to be hit or miss for me.  Here on Earth was the first book I read by Hoffman and I absolutely loved it.  Her books I have read since then, not so much.  This audiobook kept me engaged, without including any mystical elements contained in some of her past books, allowing me to enjoy the story at hand.

Coralie is a young girl who possesses some odd, physical differences from the general population.  She longs to be a normal young girl, but can only seem to attain that feeling when she dons her white gloves before heading to the city.  While Coralie strives for normalcy, her father embraces her differences, using her appearance to create a new curiosity in his museum.  This sets Coralie on a new path, questioning her existence.

I think my favorite part of the book was the description and investigation of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  When a piece of history that is new to me is included in a novel, I am not only finding personal enjoyment, but increasing my knowledge of historical events.  The fire was a horrendous event in our country's history and the events behind it incredibly corrupt.  As horrid as the fire was, this was the reason for Eddie and Coralie's meeting.

After meeting Eddie, Coralie finally believes she can lead a normal life.  The odds are not in their favor, especially when Coralie's father realizes Eddie's intentions.  This romance could cause him to lose one of his best performers from the museum so he does all he can to keep them apart.  In Coralie's fight to have a relationship with Eddie, secrets about Coralie's life are uncovered setting her on a new path once again.

Judith Light and Grace Gummer both did a wonderful job of narrating this fascinating novel.  I started listening with pretty low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by the storyline.  With themes of secrets, love, corruption, and history, you may enjoy this novel as much as I did.  I highly recommend this novel for personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.




Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Museum-of-Extraordinary-Things/Alice-Hoffman/9781451693560#sthash.0q9nkrox.dpuf

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-Sept. 16

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

This week my teaser is from The Bully of Order by Brian Hart:
He knew that what makes a boy lonesome makes a boy mean.  Hide what you can and destroy what you can't hide.

pg. 71
***Please note that this is from an Advanced Reading Copy so the final printing may change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Audiobook Review: Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa




Title:  Kicking the Sky

Author:  Anthony De Sa

Narrator:  Tomas Marsh

Unabridged Length:  Approx. 9.75 hrs






Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
In 1977 a shoeshine boy, Emanuel Jacques, is brutally raped and murdered in Toronto. In the aftermath of the crime, twelve-year-old Antonio Rebelo and his rapscallion friends explore their Portuguese neighborhood’s dark garages and labyrinthine back alleys. The boys develop a curious relationship with a charismatic, modern-day Fagin who is master over an amoral world of hustlers, thieves, and drug dealers.

As the media unravels the truth behind the shoeshine-boy murder, Antonio starts to see his family—and his neighborhood—as never before. He becomes aware of the dashed hopes of immigrants, of the influence of faith and the role of church, and of the frightening reality that no one is really taking care of him. So intent are his parents and his neighbors on keeping the old traditions alive that they act as if they still live in a small Portuguese village, not in a big city that puts their kids in the kind of danger they would not dare imagine.

Antonio learns about bravery and cowardice, life and death, and the heart’s capacity for both love and unrelenting hatred in this stunning coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of a true crime that shook the city.


My Review:
Listening to this audiobook brought me back to a time when the world is just being revealed to this young person.  I was close to Antonio's age in 1977 and I can recall the feelings of protection from my parents, but yet wanting to venture on my own as new things are experienced.  Listening to this novel brought many memories back for me.

Antonio is our twelve-year-old main character who lives with his parents in a predominantly Portuguese neighborhood in Canada.  Life seems pretty normal for Antonio and his friends, but things take a drastic turn as events unfold throughout the novel.  Antonio certainly didn't expect to become a religious icon just from eating a meal at the dinner table.  This seemed to be more of a burden than a blessing to Antonio, and luckily the faith the neighbors placed in him stopped abruptly.

When James moves into a garage in Antonio's neighborhood, all the young boys become intrigued by him.  He is an older boy, living on his own, who can do basically anything he wants and also has dirty pictures hanging on the garage walls.  The boys are drawn to James because he enjoys spending time with Antonio and his friends, and doesn't treat them like children.  James has a dark side that he tries to keep hidden from Antonio, but unfortunately some of Antonio's friends become corrupted by James charms.

A murder takes place in the beginning of the novel, setting the tone for discord and danger.  Marsh did a great job of narrating this book, bringing to life Antonio's character while allowing me to recall precious memories from my own childhood.  With themes of murder, faith, and friendship, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  Even though this is considered a Young Adult novel I don't hesitate in recommending this book to anyone for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher through the Audiobook Jukebox program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

Here is what I finished:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith was my book club's summer selection so I finished reading this one just before we met to discuss it last Wednesday.  What a marvelous book this was!  Stay tuned for my review.

What I'm listening to now:
I have been listening to Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King and boy has it been an intense ride!

What's next:
Our next book club selection is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, so I plan to start this one soon.

So what have you been reading lately?


 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Carol Burnett

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

You are about to meet an extraordinary young woman, Carrie Hamilton. The daughter of one of television’s most recognizable and beloved stars, Carol Burnett, Carrie won the hearts of everyone she met with her kindness, quirky sense of humor, and wonderfully unconventional approach to life. Living in the spotlight of celebrity, but in an era when personal troubles were kept private, Carrie and Carol made a brave display of honesty and love by going public with teenager Carrie’s drug addiction and recovery. Carrie lived her adult life of sobriety to the fullest, enjoying happy and determined independence and achieving a successful artistic career as an actress, writer, musician, and director. Carrie’s passion for life and her humorist’s view of the world never wavered as she aggressively battled cancer. Carrie died at the age of 38.

Carrie and Me is Carol Burnett’s poignant tribute to her late daughter and a funny and moving memoir about mothering an extraordinary young woman through the struggles and triumphs of her life. Sharing her personal diary entries, photographs, and correspondence, Carol traces the journey she and Carrie took through some of life’s toughest challenges and sweetest miracles. Authentic, intimate, and full of love, Carrie and Me is a story of hope and joy that only a mother could write.


My Review: 
My book club usually reads one non-fiction/memoir every year, and this last year Carrie and Me was the second memoir we read.  Memoirs are either hit or miss for me and this one was a sure fire miss.  The gal in my group that picked this one had just finished reading This Time Together by Burnett, and after loving that one, thought this would be a good pick for our group.

Had Burnett actually shared more about her relationship with Carrie, I think I would have appreciated this book more.  It seemed to me, the majority of the book contained personal e-mails between the mother-daughter team, and I just found that annoying.  I found myself thinking, "Who can't print a bunch of e-mails and arrange them into a book?"  

Burnett obviously was trying to relay to the public what a wonderful heart her daughter had.  She definitely accomplished that through this book.  She may have used the mode of e-mails because writing from her heart may have been too painful.  The photographs that she chose to share with us were incredibly fun though.

The mother-daughter team worked on several projects together and the last section of this book was a story that Carrie was working on herself.  It was unfinished and she asked her mother to complete the project for her.  Burnett was understandably at a loss as to how to complete the project, so she put it at the end of this book as a stand-alone section.  Most of my book group did not like this part of the book, but I read it as if reading a script of some kind and did find some enjoyment from it.  

Although this wasn't one of my favorites, Burnett's love for her daughter definitely shone through the pages.  With themes of parenthood, illness, and addiction, you may enjoy this book more than I did.  I recommend this book for those that are fans of Carol Burnett.

My Rating:  2/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the local library to read for my own entertainment and as a book club discussion.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mailbox Monday-Aug. 25th

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Here is what I found in my mailbox:
We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas(audiobook)

I am excited to listen to this epic novel of Irish immigrants chasing the American dream.