Thursday, December 27, 2012

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee, narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl  by Stephanie McAfee, narrated by, Cassandra Campbell
I don't usually put synopsis on here but wanted to show that the synopsis made this sound like a laugh out loud book:
Synopsis:Graciela "Ace" Jones is mad-mad at her best friend Lilly who cancels their annual trip to Panama City for mysterious reasons; at her boss Catherine for "riding her ass like a fat lady on a Rascal scooter;" at her friend Chloe's abusive husband; and especially at Mason McKenzie, the love of her life, who has shown up with a marriage proposal three years too late. Ace is never mad, though, at her near-constant companion, an adorable chiweenie dog named Buster Loo. Ace's anger begins to dissipate as she takes matters into her own hands to take down Chloe's philandering husband-and to get to the bottom of a multitude of other scandals plaguing Bugtussle, Mississippi. Then, she starts to realize that maybe Mason deserves a second chance after all. With a sharp and distinctive voice, Stephanie McAfee delivers a hilarious and fast-paced tale about Ace Jones and her two best friends-thick as thieves and tough as nails-navigating Southern small-town politics and prejudices, finding love, and standing up for each other all the way
My review:
I didn't listen to this for any literary reason from the title I thought it would fun or at least funny, it was in ways but it wasn't laugh out loud funny, there were funny moments. I liked Ace at first until she totally turned into the jealous insecure woman I hate, these kinds of women drive me insane and Ace was everything I can’t stand about them, i.e. Another woman looked at you, talked to you, whatever to you so you must be cheating on me because I am “fat” ugly” “an idiot” and get out because I know what you are doing and now I am going to go have sex with someone else but you have no right to have an opinion on that! This made me almost shut this book off with less than 2 hours to go, but I thought ok let’s see if she redeems herself. And then of course she leads on the guy she sleeps with and you end up with a bit of a triangle of her own making that of course doesn’t go well at all.

Also Mad is an understatement this woman is just angry at the world and I’m really not sure why I guess I was hoping the title meant Mad in a crazy fun way not the angriest person to walk to earth. She’s pretty lucky she has any friends at all. There are parts of this book I liked but then Ace is just not likable and doesn’t seem to grow at all throughout the book. Even the ending I guess I don’t see why this guy would be so gungho to want her back just don’t get it.

Cassandra Campbell is as always a great narrator even though this set in the south Cassandra decided not to give anyone a southern accent which I think was a good choice because this is set in Bugtussle it could have easily turned into a cartoony Beverly Hillbillies accent and I think that would have made this book unbearable.

2 ½ (barely)Star book
4 Star narration

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion narrated by, Kevin Kenerly

Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion narrated by, Kevin Kenerly

This book was recommended by many friends and also the movie trailer peaked my curiosity, however this book did not blow me away as I expected, it’s a good , different story but I felt it bogged down a bit in the middle.

I am a big fan of the TV show Walking Dead it is pretty much the only zombie show I’ve liked and I haven’t read any other zombie books, so this was new territory for me. I did like the story as told by R as his brain (or soul) starts to come back to life it’s not an easy road but when the same thing starts to happen to other zombies, I as a reader was left wondering how? Do the zombies have a hive mind and because R starts coming back to life the others do? Is it Julie; is she some magical force that somehow re-ignites life? This was one of the main things that puzzled me, I guess I could kind of see R’s feelings for Julie making him start to heal but it confused me why the others started at the same time or did it have nothing to do with either of them and the “plague” had just run its course. Maybe I looked at this novel too cut and dry and that may have taken away from some of my enjoyment? Also the parts with Perry were a little confusing too did it last this long with all the people they ate or was he hanging on longer because of Julie?

Maybe I’m just odd that these are the questions I had and didn’t really think anything about how gross the relationship between a human and a zombie is? Maybe after all the vampire and werewolf/shifter books I’ve read I’ve grown wearisome of the whole human and “name your other species” love stories. I’m not sure.

I also am not sure if Kevin Kenerly the narrator had anything to do with this, his voice was very monotone and I think he was trying to get across the zombie thought and speech pattern but even when he was speaking as others it was a little one dimensional. Kevin was a new to me narrator and I see he narrates a book on my wishlist so I will give him another try on a non-zombie book.

I know a lot of people really loved this book, I only liked it as it was an interesting story but I felt like it fell apart a little about halfway through also I guess from the movie trailer I was expecting a little more humor (I know don’t judge a book by its movie) but maybe my expectations were too high and that also contributed to me not loving it. I did like it though so that is why it is a 3 Star book for me.

3 stars

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas with Tucker by, Greg Kincaid narrated by, Mark Bramhall

Christmas with Tucker by, Greg Kincaid narrated by, Mark Bramhall

In Christmas with Tucker we go back to George McCray’s childhood it’s the year George’s father dies and his mother couldn’t bear to stay in Kansas so she moves to Minnesota but George stays on the farm with his grandparents when the biggest storms in history hits their small town, this is a true coming of age book as George helps out his grandfather and the whole town.

After reading Greg Kincaid’s other books to see George as a young boy was nice, George had a tough time of it after his father dies and when an old friend of his father’s ends up in jail George takes in his dog Tucker the two bond like crazy and the last thing George wants to do is give Tucker back.

This one is about so much more than Tucker though; it is about community, grief, healing and hard work. You see flashes of the man that George becomes, as George grows throughout the book into a man who needs to help out even if other people think he is too young but when conditions go from bad to worse George really steps up and I think this was the beginning of him being a pillar in the community since we know he grew up and inherited the farm from his grandparents.

The storm was almost a character in the book and it made me think of the blizzard of ’66 (I personally don’t remember this storm) but if you bring it up during coffee hour at any café in ND you will hear story after story about it, also being from ND I was able to truly envision the obstacles a road maintainer and farmer goes through when this kind of a storm hits.

Again we have Mark Bramhall narrating and as with the other books I can’t image anyone else being as perfect a narrator for these as he is!

Greg Kincaid just writes the truth I have enjoyed these down to earth true to life books and I look forward to more books from this author.

4 Stars

PS How can you resist the covers of all of Kincaid's books??

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, narrated by, David Tennant

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, narrated by, David Tennant

Oh goodness this is a great book but have some tissues ready! 10 year old Jamie doesn’t really understand why his sister Rose is still on the mantelpiece she died 5 years ago and to be honest he doesn’t really remember her at all, just that her dying in a terrorist attack changed the face of his family in more ways than just Rose being gone. Jamie’s mum left them, his dad drinks all the time, his sister Jas (Rose’s twin) is a teenager and tries to do what she can for Jamie. Things at school aren’t that great he is being bullied and is falling for a Muslim girl who he thinks is beautiful and funny and wonderful but how will his dad react, because according to Jamie’s dad it was all Muslims that killed his sister. These are just some of the trials and tribulations Jamie goes through in this wonderful coming of age book.

I really liked how this book was written we really get inside Jamie’s head and his thought process and the fighting between what his dad believes and what Jamie feels especially towards Sunya. Is Jamie naïve yes of course, he is 10 years old, is it wonderful to see that he doesn’t feel the same antagonism towards Muslims that his dad does yes it is, but the battle to try and understand everyone is really at the heart of this book. To understand why his Mum left, why his dad can’t let Rose go, and why it isn’t ok to like Sunya.

There are parts of this book that will  pull at your heart string especially in the end, sometimes the answers you seek are not the ones you really want and when Jamie’s eyes are opened about his parents it isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. I think this is an important book about race relations, grief and family and that just because your parents feel one way doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way!  This book really touched my heart by the end it was a little slow beginning but once you start to see who Jamie is and what he goes through you will be hooked just as I was.

Now the audio production this is narrated by, David Tennant Yes that David Tennant and even with his thick Scottish brogue I had a hard time whenever he said Rose (my fellow Whovians will understand this) but once I got over it and just concentrated on him being Jamie I was good to go. But I do wonder if this book affected me more because it was David’s voice? No, I think I still would have had the emotional connection to Jamie even though in my head he looked like a young David!

I think this is a book for advanced middle grade readers, because it deals with death, an alcoholic parent divorce, terrorism, race relations , religious differences, bullying wow now that I look at that list this book covers a lot of ground and that’s what makes it a must read.

4 Stars

Monday, December 10, 2012

Great Classic Holiday Stories by Various Authors and Various Narrators

Great Classic Holiday Stories by Various Authors and Various Narrators
From Audiogo
I think this would be a great audiobook for a family road trip on the way to grandma’s house for Christmas! My favorite was The Tailor of Gloucester by, Beatrix Potter narrated by, Jane Carr fun story and great narration.

A Christmas Carol by, Charles Dickens narrated by, John Mawson
I have to admit to listening to A Christmas Carol narrated by, Tim Curry last year and I absolutely loved it so was hard to compare this narration with the wonderful Curry. Still a good adaptation.

Christmas at Red Butte by, Lucy Maud Montgomery narrated by, Dana Green
This was a touching story reminiscent of the Gift of the Magi, good narration.

Yes Virginia There is a Santa Claus by, Francis Marcelis Church narrated by, Paul Boehmer
The adorable letter we all know and love plus Paul Boehmer win, win!

The Tailor of Gloucester by, Beatrix Potter narrated by, Jane Carr
This was a really fun story and great narration, this would be a good one for kids they will enjoy the story and the narration, the narrator did a lot of fun voices of the mice and the cats. Fun Stuff!

Twas the Night before Christmas by, Clement Clark Moore Narrated by, Gregory Itzen
This all too familiar story was made better by the little biography about the author as a prelude to the story.

The Gift of the Magi by, O Henry narrated by, Paul Boehmer
This has always been one of my all time favorite stories made even better by the wonderful Paul Boehmer’s narration!

Peace on Earth Goodwill to Dogs by, Eleanor Halliwell Abbott narrated by, Dana Green
Cute little story that did get a little long but still cute. The narrator sounds like Beth Broderick who played Aunt Zelda on Sabrina the Teenage Witch not a bad thing but could have sworn that is who the narrator was.

The Christmas Surprise at Enderly Road by, Lucy Maud Montgomery narrated by, Paul Boehmer
This one didn’t grab me at all.

Old Christmas by, Washington Irving Narrated by, Gregory Itzen
Enjoyed the narration of this one his voice is similar to Len Cariou a little gravely which I always enjoy I like a voice with personality and Gregory has that. This story did drag on a bit but was good.
Overall 3 ½ stars

Full disclosure I received this audiobook from the Audiobookjukebox and the publisher for a fair and honest review.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by, Lyndsay Faye Narrated by, Simon Vance

I swear that Lyndsay Faye has channeled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this book felt so much like an original Holmes story that if I hadn’t known who the author was I would have just assumed it was a Doyle story. This book can stand up alongside the Holmes canon with no fear of recriminations this is the best non-Doyle Holmes story I have ever read!

Who better to finally solve the Ripper case than Sherlock Holmes? However before he can solve the case he is accused of being the Ripper himself! This story had some great twists and turns and just the right amount of actual Ripper facts to make this a very believable story combining these two iconic characters seamlessly. Yes, I know Jack the Ripper was real and Sherlock is not but this book was so well written that real and fiction blurred into one fantastic story, and I think Sherlock got it right, his explanation of who the Ripper was seemed to fit better with the evidence than a lot of other hypothesis I’ve read or heard.

There is a great “feel” of Whitechapel the author transports you into these dark alleys with their smells and people, the atmosphere was great you could almost hear the clopping of horses hoofs and see the mist and fog. She also brings everyone from the original Holmes including Mrs. Hudson, Inspector Lestrade, and Mycroft and brings a new character Miss Monk who is a woman of some ill repute but just the kind of woman who could help Holmes snare The Ripper, I enjoyed her she was a fun character.

As always Simon Vance’s narration is spot on,  the differing voices of Watson & Holmes were great it had the feel of the old Basil Rathbone movies(which are my favorites) with Watson’s voice a bit more gravely than Holmes and Holmes’ smooth I’m better than you cadence of speech. I can’t think of anyone who could have done this book more justice than Simon Vance.

I highly recommend this book especially on audio! If you are a Holmes fan this is a must read!

5 Stars

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Christmas Home by, Greg Kincaid narrated by, Mark Bramhall

A Christmas Home by, Greg Kincaid narrated by, Mark Bramhall

In the follow up to A Dog Named Christmas we are back with the McCray family as budget cuts have hit their town and the shelter funding has been cut off , the shelter is forced to close leaving not only the animals out in the cold but Todd out of a job. This book again hit me in the heart (see my personal aside at the end of this review) I felt so bad for Todd, but certain things in his life seem to be getting better he is living on his own now and is becoming closer to Laura another volunteer, but with the closing of the shelter that has meant so much to Todd he is having a hard time understanding why other people don’t care about the dogs as much as he does.

Greg Kincaid knows how to write a touching story without getting too sappy and the way he writes about the challenges Todd’s parents go through is so right on, I also liked the story between Laura & Todd and how just because of his condition doesn’t mean he is not a man and that she never treated him as anything but an equal and how the whole town rallied around Todd & the shelter was inspiring.

As with the last book Mark Bramhall’s narration is again storytelling at its best I have gone through and added many books to my wishlist just because he narrates them, he has become a favorite and I look forward to listening many more from him.

4 Stars

A personal aside: As I said in my review of A Dog Named Christmas I am the proud stepmother of a 30 year mentally disabled man and as the story was progressing about the shelter being closed I couldn’t help but personalize it. My son has been helping with the high school football team for 15 years it is his number one job, career choice and passion and I couldn’t help comparing the two situations with what if he ever lost that job with the football team and how crushed he would be, so there were a couple times I was close to tears just thinking about the hurt he would go through, it made this book very emotionally charged for me personally. Here is my son cheering on his football team who did in fact win the State football championships this year talk about a proud moment for him! Just writing this makes me very proud he is the star in our family if someone in our small town doesn’t know us, we say we are Nate’s parents and they know us right away because he is a rock star!
Photo credit to Eric Gjovic