Publisher: Harper Audio

Short & Sweet: Sea of Rust & LIFEL1K3

September 27, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2018, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet: Sea of Rust & LIFEL1K3Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Narrator: Eva Kaminsky
Published by HarperAudio on September 5, 2017
Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Dreams and Shadows, Queen of the Dark Things, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories

four-stars

It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI—One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality—their personality—for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.

One of these resisters is Brittle, a scavenger robot trying to keep her deteriorating mind and body functional in a world that has lost all meaning. Although she does not (cannot) experience emotions like a human, she is haunted by the terrible crimes she perpetrated on humanity. As she roams the Sea of Rust, a large swath of territory that was once the Midwest, Brittle slowly comes to terms with her raw and vivid memories—and her guilt.

“People gave us a purpose. A function. Something to do all day, every day. At the end, I suppose, you spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s harder to get by when getting by is all there is.”

In a time where Earth is a wasteland and humanity has been snuffed out like a fragile flame, its lands are ruled by robots who now, in turn, struggle to survive. After the robots had finally succeeded in ridding the Earth of humans, they turned on one another and OWIs (one-world intelligences) sought out the individual robots that remained so that their sentience could be joined as one. Most of the sentient robots that remain survive as scavengers, seeking out newer parts than their own, finding any way to extend their lifecycles. Brittle is one such scavenger and when her core systems are damaged and the end of her own existence is near, she joins with a group of scavengers. They make promises to her about the stash of parts they have hidden deep within the Sea of Rust and that somewhere out there is the answer to a brighter future for the Earth itself.

Sea of Rust was a fascinatingly complex story that deals with survival, regret, and most importantly, hope. Brittle was not the most likable of characters, however, Cargill methodically builds on her storyline with fragments of the past which helps to better understand her motivations in this post-apocalyptic world. It was compelling to see the evolution of these bots and how closely they began to resemble their human counterparts. With some very inventive world-building and an equally intriguing cast of side characters, Sea of Rust is a brilliant story of robots that will have you dwelling on your own humanity.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet: Sea of Rust & LIFEL1K3Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff
Narrator: Erin Spencer
Series: Lifelike #1
Published by Listening Library on May 29, 2018
Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Illuminae

two-stars

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max

That comparison had me super interested but honestly, I should’ve known better. Romeo and Juliet doesn’t belong in the world of Mad Max, and vice versa, but my interest in the Mad Max aspect overruled the rational side of my brain. Set after the devastating effects of a nuclear war, Eve pilots a robot to battle in the dome against other robots (very much like Real Steel), in an effort to pay for the medicine keeping her grandfather alive. She earns a price on her head after she reveals she has the power to destroy robots with her mind and has to go on the run with her best friend Lemon to stay alive. Amidst their escape, they encounter a lifel1k3, an advanced android, named Ezekiel who vows to protect her.

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The worldbuilding was initially so fun (despite the strange jargon — it was easier to listen to than I guess it would’ve been to read it) and I loved the battling robots in the dome (definitely understood the Mad Max comparisons) but then it all went downhill. And that’s where the Romeo and Juliet comparisons came into play and completely overshadowed the plot. The instalove is essentially avoided by providing the duo with a backstory that is only glimpsed momentarily, but it still wasn’t enough for me to get on board with it. Add to that there were some really cringe-worthy lines:

“You were my everything. You still are. And you always will be.”

“Loving you was the only real difference between me and them.”

“They have only one thing left to take from me. The last and most precious thing. Not my life, no. My love.”

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You can officially count me out for the subsequent installments.

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Audiobook Review – Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

June 2, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Audio on February 10th 2015
Length: 12 hours and 40 minutes
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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three-stars

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

style-3 review

“Many things led to this day, for all of us. A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.”

In Victoria Aveyard’s dystopian fantasy, the world encompasses two different types of people: Silvers and Reds. The Silvers are royalty, the rulers, maintaining their authority with the aid of the supernatural powers they possess. Reds are the working class and are treated poorly by Silvers, possessing no powers of their own to fight back. This split between people has always been this way, until a Red discovers that she possesses the powers of a Silver.

Mare Barrow, age 17 and a Red, knows her freedom is coming to an end soon. At the age of 18, she’ll be conscripted to fight in the war against the Kingdom of Lakeland because she doesn’t possess any useful talents to keep her home. She’s been resigned to her fate, however, when she discovers her best friend Kilorn will be conscripted as well, she becomes determined to find a way for the two of them to escape knowing he wouldn’t survive a war. She plans to use the skills she does possess, thievery, to obtain enough money to buy their freedom but the plan goes awry when she pickpockets, and is caught except miraculously the boy allows her to escape and gets her a job at the palace instead. It’s revealed that she possesses powers that even she wasn’t aware of, and she becomes a powerful pawn between the Silvers and the Scarlet Guard, the leaders of the Red rebellion.

The first half of this book introduces us to the life of a Red, and it’s bleak. The Silvers are painted as brutal tyrants that punish Reds for the smallest of crimes, where food is scarce, and poverty is the norm. The majority have accepted their lot in life, not being able to see any way of overcoming the Silvers. The Scarlet Guard is the heart of the rebellion against the Silvers, and its their help Mare seeks in escaping her and Kilorn’s conscription into war. The world itself isn’t described much outside of Mare’s small village, and while this may be due to the fact that the story was told from her point of view and her view is certainly limited, it would have been nice to be given some semblance of a backstory. All in all, it was still enjoyable and mildly entertaining, at least until the lovey bits were introduced.

Tropes and cliches were fairly common, yet like I previously mentioned it still managed to be an entertaining and far from painful read. Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, there is also a fair amount of insta-love. No, it didn’t make me want to stab myself in the eye so there’s that at least. There’s the requisite special snowflake that becomes a catalyst for change. There’s constant lies and deceit and basically no one can be trusted. There was also a large amount of unlikely scenarios that required a suspension of disbelief. If you’re a fan of fantasy and capable of not taking a story too seriously, this is quite the entertaining read.

I’m always leery these days when books come with all the comparisons, and especially when those comparisons have been attached to an ample amount of books already. X-Men, Game of Thrones, Red Rising, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. And sure, I can see the comparisons, but it never became such an obvious rip-off to completely turn me off from this story. All books are inspired by something, it just depends on the way each author spins it to make it unique and their own. Aveyard may not have completely dazzled me with her debut, however, she aroused my curiosity enough especially with the unexpected ending to continue following this story.

“Rise, red as the dawn.”

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Audiobook Review – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

January 7, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Go Set a Watchman by Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Narrator: Reese Witherspoon
Series: To Kill a Mockingbird
Published by Harper Audio on July 14th 2015
Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: To Kill a Mockingbird

two-stars

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

To Kill a Mockingbird series

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [Review]

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This book will be discussed in detail, so please do not read unless you wanted to be spoiled.

When Go Set a Watchman was announced and released in the summer of 2015, it had its fair share of controversy. It was heavily questioned initially whether Harper Lee had authorized the book’s release, or if she had even written it at all. But then the release came, and the outrage became even more substantial: Atticus Finch is racist. I couldn’t help but feel that the quotations that were shared were being taken out of context, but it was some pretty solid evidence that was hard to refute. Bottom line, my curiosity was great and I had to experience the truth myself.

Readers are mad, and rightly so in my opinion, that Atticus Finch’s character has been dramatically transposed from the interpretation we were given in To Kill A Mockingbird. But that’s just what it was, an interpretation. If you remember, the story was written entirely from the point of view of Scout, who was just six years old and at that young age, it is easy for parental idolatry to occur. Go Set a Watchman takes place years later, where Jean Louise Finch “Scout” is now twenty-six years old and coming home from New York to visit her aging father. She’s confronted with the fact that she’s understood her father to be of one frame of mind about the world, that she has modeled her own mindset after his, and her beliefs are now crumbling when she discovers him in a “citizens’ council” meeting hosting a racist preacher. When she has it out with him later, she finds out that her father is a card-carrying member of the KKK as well. Atticus was that one shining beacon of hope in a sea of racism and to find out he’s no different than the majority of individuals in this era caused a complete loss of innocence. And here we all thought that To Kill A Mockingbird was the coming-of-age tale.

I did a re-read of To Kill A Mockingbird just last year, so it was all still very clear in my mind. This is a direct line from my review which posted last March:

“Atticus Finch, by far my favorite character, is a man that saw everyone as his equal. He believed this wholeheartedly and was willing to put his very livelihood on the line to fight for those rights. He was able to accept the differences in all of us and see the true bottom line: regardless of race, color, gender or any of the multitudes of ways that not only make us who we are but also separates us from the rest, at the end of the day we are all the same; we’re all human beings. This world would be a far better place with a few more Atticus Finch’s in existence.”

Go Set a Watchman has definitely caused me to examine my own mindset, much like Scout. So other than our preconceived notions that Atticus was anything but racist, what do we know about him actually? He’s honest and fair, he’s a great father and a fantastic lawyer. He views his job less as a job but more as a personal pledge to upholding the law, regardless of race. And there’s the rub. Atticus chose to defend Tom Robinson solely because of his personal obligation to upholding justice because he felt that no one would properly defend him like Atticus would.

“I remember that rape case you defended, but I missed the point. You love justice, all right. Abstract justice written down item by item on a brief – nothing to do with that black boy, you just like a neat brief. His cause interfered with your orderly mind, and you had to work order out of disorder. It’s a compulsion with you, and now it’s coming home to you – “

He goes on to explain his membership to the KKK as a way of being aware of who is also a member and who holds those beliefs. Jean Louise’s love interest, Henry, is also a card-carrying member and he explains to her his presence in the citizen’s council meeting be saying it allows him to continue to be of use to the community. That he isn’t necessarily agreeing with their beliefs, but he’s not going against them because calling them out would cast him out and being a part of the norm is safe. In a nutshell. So, conform to the norm and don’t voice your differing opinions because that’s not safe, is the belief. Of course, this is an extremely accurate interpretation of the typical mindset during this period in history and having Atticus come out as having racist beliefs just makes more sense even if I’d prefer to stick with my illustrious views of him, rather than these dispiriting quotes:

“Have you ever considered that you can’t have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one kind of civilization and have a social Arcadia?”

“You realize that our Negro population is backward, don’t you? You will concede that? You realize the full implications of the word ‘backward’, don’t you?”

“You realize that the vast majority of them here in the South are unable to share fully in the responsibilities of citizenship, and why?”

“Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? […] Do you want your children going to school that’s been dragged down to accommodate Negro children?”

“…you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as people.”

Jean Louise is naturally irate at what’s coming out of his mouth, but instead of voicing her dissension, explains her anger to him by asking him why he didn’t just raise her right.

“…I grew up right here in your house, and I never knew what was in your mind. I only heard what you said. You neglected to tell me that we were naturally better than the Negroes, bless their kinky heads, that they were able to go so far but so far only.”

Because if he had raised her to not be “colorblind”, as she says, and to be able to recognize the differences in the races then she wouldn’t be so conflicted because she’d be like-minded with everyone else in the town.

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the hope it presented, but again, it was all being viewed from the point of view of a child so it had that sense of innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird has grown up, Scout has grown up, and that same world is now viewed with a devastating sense of realism that I think is a difficult thing to stomach. I have read many reviews that state even if this tarnishes Atticus for you, it is still a must-read because of how it views the world harshly but honestly. I have to disagree. For me, I think even if we enjoyed Scout’s innocent interpretation of the world, we’re all still fully aware of how the world truly is. We’re all aware of the masks that people can wear and the secrets that they hide from the public and even from those they love. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with continuing to hope that there was at least one good man in the South that was willing to stand up for his beliefs even if they didn’t manage to fit the norm.

‘I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who’s trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy—it’s a matter of balance. I can’t beat him, and I can’t join him–’

Note on the Narration: I listened to Sissy Spacek’s narration of To Kill a Mockingbird and I couldn’t imagine Scout’s story being told any other way. But this book wouldn’t have been anything without the narration of Reese Witherspoon. Her southern accent is perfection and somebody has got to tell her she really must narrate more audiobooks. Listen below for a clip.

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Ominous October – The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

October 30, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2015 0 Comments

Ominous October – The Exorcist by William Peter BlattyThe Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Narrator: Eliana Shaskan, William Peter Blatty
Published by Harper Audio on 1971
Length: 12 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Classics, Demons, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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three-stars

The phenomenal bestseller that inspired the classic motion picture, rereleased in this special 40th Anniversary Edition

Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist was not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels—and terrifying movies—ever created. Based on a documented case of demonic possession, it is the story of Regan, the twelve-year-old daughter of an accomplished actress who has become possessed by an ancient demon, and the Catholic priests—one elderly, the other conflicted—who will risk their faith and their souls to save her.

Four decades after its initial publication, William Peter Blatty's purposefully raw, profane, and utterly gripping novel remains a shocking and eerily believable literary experience. It is a powerful and frightening classic that continues to transfix and inspire fans worldwide.

“You don’t blame us for being here, do you? After all, we have no place to go. No home… Incidentally, what an excellent day for an exorcism…”

When Regan MacNeil, daughter of famous actress Chris MacNeil, becomes strangely ill, coming up with a reasonable explanation proves difficult. Chris’ original belief that this is caused by repressed anger over her divorce with Regan’s father because less likely as time progresses and Regan begins going through increasingly violent episodes and physical transformations as well. When modern medical treatments fail to provide any change in her daughter, Chris seeks out the help of a local priest by the name of Damien Karras. While Karras is also quick to disregard the notion that Regan could be possessed based on a personal crisis of faith, it becomes more and more clear that there’s nothing else it could possibly be. Blatty states that his idea for the novel came after reading an article which claims that a 14-year-old boy was successfully exorcised of the devil.

It might be obvious to say that this novel features heavy religious discussions and of the never-ending battle between good and evil. Even though I expected it, I felt it was done in a very maladroit way. Many horror novels I’ve read, and many of the classics I’ve recently read, tend to focus more on the actual horror. The Exorcist, I felt was attempting to be more literary and highbrow than was necessarily called for as well as overly excessive in terms of time spent instructing the reader in religious knowledge. For me, an air of mystery will cause more fright versus being explained the reasoning behind things in minute detail.

The actual horror of this novel was a lot more subdued than I anticipated. While I knew random bits of pop culture trivia even though I hadn’t seen the movie beforehand, the supposedly horrific aspects of this story were far more gross than scary. Particularly the scene where she vomits green stuff or where she does… bad things with a crucifix. Sure, it’s meant to be horrifying that she’s doing these actions unwillingly, and that it’s terrible it’s happening to a girl so young but it didn’t evoke any terror for me. Still, this was a definite “must-read” on the list of horror classics and I’ve successfully knocked it out. I should probably suck it up and watch the movie now. Knowing that her projectile green vomit was actually Andersen’s pea soup mixed with a little oatmeal will likely ease any potential terror. 🙂

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Classic Curiosity – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

March 14, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Read in 2015 1 Comment

Classic Curiosity – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Narrator: Sissy Spacek
Published by Harper Audio on July 11th, 1960
Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Go Set a Watchman

five-stars

Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the deep south defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.

 ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’

I recall reading this for the first time early on in school, in junior high possibly, and I can definitely say that the powerful message behind the book was completely lost on me at the time. As wonderful and inspirational as it is, it’s also much more complex and layered than my memory served. This is a book that teaches tolerance, morality and ethics, about the senselessness of violence and the differences between right and wrong. Doing what’s right meant something vastly different down South in the 1930s when Mockingbird was set and also in the 1960s when first published, however, even 50+ years later, it’s sad to see that we still deal with these issues to this day even if it may not necessarily be on the same large scale. This story still manages to retain significant meaning and teach us something about humanity regardless of time or place.

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

In addition to the various storylines that serve to teach an important lesson is the full cast of amazing characters that act out these life lessons. Atticus Finch, by far my favorite character, is a man that saw everyone as his equal. He believed this wholeheartedly and was willing to put his very livelihood on the line to fight for those rights. He was able to accept the differences in all of us and see the true bottom line: regardless of race, color, gender or any of the multitudes of ways that not only make us who we are but also separates us from the rest, at the end of the day we are all the same; we’re all human beings. This world would be a far better place with a few more Atticus Finch’s in existence.

As simplistic as this story is delivered, it’s actually deceptively significant. It’s not a preachy how to guide on how to be a decent person but instead it’s the didactic story of one man’s fight for what’s right.

Notes on the narration: Sissy Spacek delivered an amazing narration with her authentic Southern accent that had me listening well past my bedtime. I couldn’t imagine Scout sounding any other way. Listen below for a clip to the audiobook.

classic curiosity

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Audiobook Review – Just Kids by Patti Smith

January 10, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 Comments

Audiobook Review – Just Kids by Patti SmithJust Kids by Patti Smith
Published by Harper Audio on July 26th 2011
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Goodreads

Also by this author: M Train

five-stars

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

“‘Nobody sees us as we do, Patti.’ . . . Whenever he said things like that, for a magical space of time, it was as if we were the only two people in the world.”

​Admittedly, I knew next to nothing about Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe before picking up Just Kids. This didn’t prevent me from becoming immediately enthralled in their tale. Patti Smith lived with her parents and slept on a cot in the laundry room until she boarded a bus to New York City with a measly $32 in her pocket. The friends she had planned to stay with had moved but was more serendipitous than she knew because this is where she would first meet Robert Mapplethorpe. Their bond with each other had almost a preternatural feel and was truly extraordinary.

We were Hansel and Gretel and we ventured out into the black forest of the world.​ ​There were temptations and witches and demons we never dreamed of and there was splendor we only partially imagined. No one could speak for these two young people nor tell with any truth of their days and nights together. Only Robert and I could tell it. Our story, as he called it. And, having gone, he left the task to me to tell it to you.​​

​This is a poetic story about a time that I didn’t personally experience. It’s a time period that would be difficult to fathom yet Patti Smith writes with such crisp clarity that allowed her story to truly come to life. Listening to the audio version of this and hearing Patti Smith personally narrate this was a wonderful way to experience this book. (Listen to a clip here.) Just Kids is a poignant story that showcases the innocence of her life before she became​ ​well​ ​​known by the world. ​It’s a stunning yet haunting dirge to everything that once was and everything that was lost.

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Audiobook Review – The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection

October 19, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2013, Short Stories 5 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Neil Gaiman Audio CollectionThe Neil Gaiman Audio Collection by Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Published by Harper Audio on August 31st 2004
Length: 48 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Kiddie Books
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Four of beloved author Neil Gaiman's delightfully scary, strange, and hilarious children's tales read by the author, now available unabridged. This collection includes: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish: An unforgettable story that will take readers on a journey into the murky mind of a young boy and the perils of striking a bargain. The Wolves in the Walls: Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house -- and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over. Her family doesn't believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out. Cinnamon: This charming fable of an exotic princess who refuses to speak currently exists only on Neil's official website and has never been published in print or any other format. Crazy Hair: Bonnie tries to comb the narrator's crazy hair -- where gorillas leap and tigers stalk -- and is in for a surprise in this delightful rhyming tale.

The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish
*3 stars*

The unnamed narrator, who is only a child, finds himself in a world of trouble when he trades his dad to his friend Nathan for two goldfish. They were marvelous goldfish, and his dad was wasn’t very exciting anyways, but his mother took issue and sent him off to get his dad back. Once he gets to Nathan’s house he finds that Nathan also thought his dad uninteresting and didn’t actually have him anymore because he had been traded to another friend for an electric guitar. The pattern continued.

A very odd story at face-value but is essentially a sententious story of the hazards of trading and I suppose a lesson in ownership. Will children be able to understand this? I suppose it depends on the age but if it was one of my children reading this, my guess would be their brains would quickly begin to concoct ways on how they could trade me for some goldfish.

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The Wolves in the Walls
*3.5 stars*

When Lucy started hearing noises in the walls that hustled and bustled, crinkled and crackled and knew that there were most certainly wolves inside the walls. Her mother tried to silence her fears by telling her it was more than likely just mice because it certainly couldn’t be wolves because once the wolves come out, it’s all over. But Lucy knew it couldn’t possibly be mice.

Once the wolves come out it’s up to Lucy to save her family. ‘The Wolves in the Walls’ is a tale I believe kids would identify with because of the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ nature of it all and the adults dismissal of her beliefs as simply a case of an overactive imagination. Despite the obvious embellishments to enhance the entertainment of the story I found this to be a cute lesson for kids on learning how to trust your instincts and face your fears.

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Cinnamon
*4 stars*

Cinnamon was a princess and was not only blind but did not speak. Her father’s concern increases until he offers many riches to anyone who could get his daughter to finally speak. Many come and many fail but when a man-eating tiger arrives at the palace no one believes he would be of any help to Cinnamon, other than a help to his appetite.

The night the tiger had with Cinnamon was spent telling her of the land outside of the palace and inevitably spurred her interest and curiosity. Rich in symbolism yet simple in scope, Cinnamon is a perfect lesson in seeing past riches, experiencing new things and finding the true value of life itself.

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crazy hair
Crazy Hair
*3 stars*

Bonnie’s encounters a stranger that has hair that is so incredibly crazy that there is a honest-to-goodness jungle inside of it. Bonnie insists that it’s definitely manageable and just needs a good brushing. As she begins to brush, something entirely unexpected occurs.

Neil Gaiman clearly wrote this story about himself. Crazy Hair is a bizarre imagining of what takes place within hair that is crazy and beyond control. The rhyming rhythm puts a smile on your face and would likely be a fantastic read-aloud to any child.

 

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All four of these stories were the whimsical sort of tales full of symbolism and life lessons that I’ve come to expect from Gaiman. I enjoyed Crazy Hair the most because of the wonderful rhyming style but Cinnamon was the best overall for it’s fantastic message. Would love to check all of these out someday to be able to appreciate the artwork of Dave McKean.

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Audiobook Review – Pronto (Raylan Givens #1) by Elmore Leonard

September 6, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – Pronto (Raylan Givens #1) by Elmore LeonardPronto by Elmore Leonard
Narrator: Alexander Adams
Series: Raylan Givens #1
Published by Harper Audio on October 5th 2010 (first published 1993)
Length: 5 hours and 57 minutes
Genres: Detective, Mystery-Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

The feds want Miami bookmaker Harry Arno to squeal on his wiseguy boss. So they're putting word out on the street that Arno's skimming profits from "Jimmy Cap" Capotorto--which he is, but everybody does it. He was planning to retire to Italy someday anyway, so Harry figures now's a good time to get lost. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens knows Harry's tricky--the bookie ditched him once in an airport while in the marshal's custody--but not careful. So Raylan's determined to find the fugitive's Italian hideaway before a cold-blooded Sicilian "Zip" does and whacks Arno for fun. After all, it's a "pride thing..".and it might even put Raylan in good stead with Harry's sexy ex-stripper girlfriend Joyce.

Pronto tells the story of Harry Arno: he’s a Miami bookie, is dating a topless dancer named Joyce and plans to retire to a villa in Italy within the next year. Harry has been skimming profits from his boss Jimmy ‘Cap’ for years but has so far remained undetected until the Feds decide to set him up in order to get to Jimmy thus forcing him to move up his retirement date and has him fleeing town immediately.

I decided to pick Pronto as my first Elmore Leonard novel because of the fact that I love ‘Justified’ so much. While my love of the show centers around the character Raylan Givens (or, if I’m being quite honest, mainly because of Timothy Olyphant) he doesn’t play the leading character as I would have expected. Pronto is a dialogue driven narrative with a large cast of engaging characters that are all given their share of the spotlight in this story. The mob bosses are hysterical and their simple mindedness is portrayed well and with good humor. Raylan Givens is a small-town cowboy that is much smarter than his persona would imply. Harry is a thief who uses and abuses anyone that can be a benefit to him but still manages to still be a character you care about. Pronto is an entertaining blend of western and crime fiction with a subtle dash of humor.

This was enjoyable on audio with narrator Alexander Adams capable of using a multitude of different voices and even managed to make the occasional Italian dialogue sound authentic. Now that I’ve had my first experience reading an Elmore Leonard book I can safely say it won’t be my last.

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Audiobook Review – I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern

July 5, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2012 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – I Suck at Girls by Justin HalpernI Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern
Published by Harper Audio on May 15th 2012
Length: 4 hours and 10 minutes
Genres: Funny-ha-ha, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

"Growing up, every time I saw a men's magazine cover that had a headline about '73 Ways to Please Your Girlfriend', all I could think was 'I'm good with one; just tell me one way to please her. Also, I don't have a girlfriend. Is there an article about that?'"

Soon after Sh*t My Dad Says began to take off, comic writer Justin Halpern decided to propose to his then girlfriend. But before doing so, he asked his dad's advice, which was very, very simple (and surprisingly clean): "Just take a day to think about it." This book is that day. Crossing the warmth of The Wonder Years with the candour and observational humour of David Sedaris, this follow-up to the hottest comedy debut of last year is a hilarious, toe-curlingly true book about life, and love.

After loving the random tweets from Justin Halpern I was ecstatic to read his debut full-length novel. Sh*t My Dad Says was absolutely hilarious and had me laughing profusely. Clearly, I was on board for anything else this man came out with.

Unfortunately it was a pretty huge disappointment as far as what I was anticipating. I Suck at Girls chronicles the authors bad experiences with girls which dates back to his early childhood. Obviously the intention of these stories is humor; however, I ended up feeling sorry for the poor guy more than anything. His first crush gets him in trouble after he spends all night drawing her one seriously disturbing picture, his dream prom ends up being a nightmare, he doesn’t lose his virginity until he’s 20, the first two people he slept with ended up leaving town shortly after… the list goes on. We see a lot less of ‘dad’ in this one and he was definitely the highlight of the story. Considering I can count the number of times I laughed out loud on a single hand (and they were only short chuckles at that) and the fact that the writing itself was less than mediocre and the humor felt forced this one does not receive high marks from me.

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