Posts Categorized: Audiobooks

Classic Curiosity – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

July 5, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Read in 2014 1 Comment

Classic Curiosity – Of Mice and Men by John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Narrator: Gary Sinise
Published by Penguin Audio on 1937
Length: 3 hrs and 11 mins
Genres: Classics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads


four-stars

Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck, one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century, offers a powerful but tragic tale in "Of Mice and Men". 'Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place'. George and his large, simple-minded friend Lennie are drifters, following wherever work leads them. Arriving in California's Salinas Valley, they get work on a ranch. If they can just stay out of trouble, George promises Lennie, then one day they might be able to get some land of their own and settle down some place. But kind-hearted, childlike Lennie is a victim of his own strength. Seen by others as a threat, he finds it impossible to control his emotions. And one day not even George will be able to save him from trouble. "Of Mice and Men" is a tragic and moving story of friendship, loneliness and the dispossessed. "A thriller, a gripping tale that you will not set down until it is finished. Steinbeck has touched the quick". ("New York Times"). Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. His complete works are published by Penguin and include "Cannery Row", "The Pearl", "The Winter of Our Discontent" and "The Grapes of Wrath".

“We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. […] But not us.”
Lennie broke in. “But not us! An’ why? Because… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.”

Of Mice and Men is the prominent classic set during the Great Depression about the friendship between two men, George and Lennie. Lennie has a big heart but doesn’t possess the mind of a mature adult and after an incident in the last town they lived in where he was accused of rape after touching a woman’s dress, the two have to travel to find new work.

George and Lennie share big dreams of one day owning their own land and from the very beginning the reader is painted a despairing picture despite their constant optimism. It’s a simplistic and saddening story of day-to-day survival; of individuals forever hoping to achieve their unattainable dreams. The novel, published in 1937, showcases the mindset and struggles of people during this period in history. It explores in depth yet with few pages how the Great Depression affected society and also the prejudices, sexism and rampant racism. The end of George and Lennie’s story brings a loss of hope, a loss of purpose and an abandoning of dreams that is nothing short of a tragedy.

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Audiobook Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

June 26, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer GrahamThe Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Narrator: Kristen Bell
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Published by Random House Audio on March 25th 2014
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-half-stars

The first book in an original mystery series following popular television sleuth Veronica Mars, all grown up and back in action after the feature film funded by a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign.

Twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars is back in the game after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends-Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas-Veronica is ready to take on Neptune's darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

In The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, (almost) the whole gang is back together again. Veronica has left her high paying job as an attorney in New York City to return to Neptune, CA to help her dad out with his PI business. Mac Mackenzie has left her fancy job as well to assist in the computer aspects of the job but they’re struggling to make ends meet. A huge case finally lands in their laps when the incompetence of the local sheriff department requires the Chamber of Commerce to hire help to find a missing girl that was visiting Neptune on spring break.

Veronica Mars is one of my all-time favorite shows that was canceled much too soon. When it was released that not only would there be a new movie to look forward but a book series as well I had a total fit. It looked something along the lines of this:

No exaggeration. Finding out that Kristen Bell narrates the audio of the first book was even better news. Kristen Bell perfectly narrated each and every character we’ve grown to know and love. The audio is definitely the way to go with this one. The story itself was ALMOST as good as I had hoped it could be. It was a slow build in the mystery bits and Veronica doesn’t even make an immediate appearance but that’s temporary. The mystery is interesting and has a few twists I didn’t see coming but it did still feel like it possessed the typical framework of many already been done before VMars investigations. Regardless, just being back in Neptune was the best thing ever.The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is written in third person POV and for the most part, it worked. Would first-person have worked better? Most likely. But third-person does allow the reader the opportunity of a different perspective on Veronica and the investigation in order to formulate their own thoughts and opinions rather than seeing it solely through her eyes.

One of the things I loved about the show was the skillful combination of the mystery and the romance. This wasn’t the case here though as Logan has a minuscule part in the story, however, I am okay with this as I find myself a bit over Logan. Gasp. I know. I just wanted to something fresh and different for her I think. Here we have Veronica in her late 20s and yet she’s doing the same things she did in high school. She left a well-paying job in New York to go back to Neptune just to go back to the same job that makes it a struggle to pay the bills. While I understand this is an introductory novel back into the life of Veronica, I can only hope that we can expect bigger and better things for her. The ending definitely left open the opportunity for future VMars stories and I for one cannot wait.

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Audiobook Review – Casino Royale (James Bond (Original Series) #1) by Ian Fleming

June 24, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 8 Comments

Audiobook Review – Casino Royale (James Bond (Original Series) #1) by Ian FlemingCasino Royale by Ian Fleming
Narrator: Dan Stevens
Series: James Bond (Original Series) #1
on April 13th 1953
Length: 5 hours and 5 minutes
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

In the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH.

The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.

Casino Royale is the very beginning of the infamous James Bond stories by Ian Fleming. As a member of the secret service, James has been instructed to beat Le Chiffre, a Communist agent, at the baccarat tables in anticipation that the Soviet agency will execute him for misusing funds.

I’ve always loved the James Bond movies and have meant to read the actual book for ages. The movies are chock-full of action scenes so it was quite surprising that the book didn’t quite measure up in that regard. Much of Casino Royale is spent at the baccarat tables, explaining in detail hands dealt and the likelihood of being triumphant. It was interesting but not incredibly entertaining. The sole action scene was a horrible and unforgettable torture scene that made me wish for more action of a less painful sort.

Such as the films, James Bond is quite infatuated with his women. In Casino Royale, the woman is Vesper Lynd, a fellow agent who was sent to assist him in his mission. These books are decades old, Casino Royale being published in 1953, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that the material feels incredibly dated. Most dated is the attitude towards females. While not excusable, unfortunately, the mentality is on par with how things were in that era so in that regard it’s fitting.

“These blithering women who thought they could do a man’s work. Why the hell couldn’t they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men’s work to the men.”

It’s definitely not the easiest of things to overlook and I was cringing often, but surprisingly enough still managed to be of extreme entertainment and will be well-liked by long-time fans of James. The version of Casino Royale I read was the audiobook narrated by Dan Stevens who did a marvelous job.

 

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (George Smiley #3) by John le Carré {Purchase}
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan {PurchaseMy Review}

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Audiobook Review – Deliverance by James Dickey

June 13, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – Deliverance by James DickeyDeliverance by James Dickey
Narrator: Will Patton
Published by Audible on 1970
Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon | Audible
Goodreads


three-stars

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the state's most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

This classic tale is vividly read by movie and TV star and Audie Award-winning narrator Will Patton.

Deliverance
de·liv·er·ance [dih-liv-er-uhns]
noun
: the state of being saved from something dangerous or unpleasant

Deliverance is the deceptively simplistic story of four ordinary men from Atlanta that decide to go on a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness. The river they plan to traverse is destined to disappear soon because of a new dam that will flood the area. Soon into their trip, they encounter two men who live in the nearby mountains and their weekend wilderness adventure quickly morphs into a struggle for their very survival.

‘The river was blank and mindless with beauty. It was the most glorious thing I have ever seen. But it was not seeing, really. For once it was not just seeing. It was beholding. I beheld the river in its icy pit of brightness, in its far-below sound and indifference, in its large coil and tiny points and flashes of the moon, in its long sinuous form, in its uncomprehending consequence.’

Unlike most who have either read this book or experienced the movie, I went into this story completely blind, oblivious of the horrors to come. Being a fan of southern gothic fiction though, it was essential I read the original classic that helped to generate the genre. Published in 1970, Deliverance was Dickey’s first novel and the one he went on to be most known for. In 1965, he won the National Book Award in Poetry and those poetic abilities showed through the darkness of Deliverance. The surprisingly beautiful poetic quality added a much-needed delicacy to this tale so as to make it a much more agreeable read.

“Here we go, out of the sleep of the mild people, into the wild rippling water.”

The river itself, the Cahulawassee River, has much more symbolism than one would initially recognize. The Cahulawassee River is being forced into modern times and will cease to exist in a matter of weeks. These four men are forced into changes as well due to the harsh situations they are involuntary put through. It changes their mindset and state of being and forces them to make choices they never expected to have to make. These changes necessitated the realization that while they felt like ordinary men in comparison to the abominations that they faced, they were more than able to transform similarly all in the name of survival.

Deliverance is a dark and dismal read but is permeated with skillfully beautiful writing that makes it a completely necessary read for any fans of the genre.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock {PurchaseMy Review}
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy {PurchaseMy Review}
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad {Purchase}

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Audiobook Review – Rebel Heart (Dust Lands Trilogy #2) by Moira Young

June 1, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – Rebel Heart (Dust Lands Trilogy #2) by Moira YoungRebel Heart by Moira Young
Narrator: Heather Lind
Series: Dust Lands Trilogy #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 30th 2012
Length: 11 hours, 22 minutes
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Blood Red Road, Raging Star

two-half-stars

Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy, which MTV's Hollywood Crush blog called "better than The Hunger Games."

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba's world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh's freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

Dust Lands Trilogy

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands Trilogy #1) by Moira Young {PurchaseMy Review}

 “What happens to you changes you. Fer good or ill, yer changed ferever. There ain’t no goin back. No matter how many tears you cry.”

A few weeks have passed since Saba rescued Lugh from the Tonton. Jack has split off to go see Molly to tell her himself about Ike’s fate and afterwards plans to meet back up with the group at Big Water. Along the way, Saba’s journey is a constant struggle with the change in Lugh, the absence of Jack and the ghosts that seem to haunt her from her days of cage fighting and known to all as the Angel of Death.

I read Blood Red Road in 2011 and it was one of my favorite books of the year. It was an intense thrill-ride and the world Moira Young created was pleasantly unique. I had been warned about the unfortunate case of Middle-Book-Syndrome that Rebel Heart suffered from (which is why I waited until Raging Star was released before even bothering) yet even with my lowered expectations I was still extremely disappointed with this installment. In Blood Red Road we had Saba and Emmi setting out on their journey to save their brother but there were so many fascinating aspects to the story as a whole that made it memorable. There were some seriously awesome fight scenes, cage fighting, an intense prison break, a battle against hellwurms and the list goes. If those are some of the things you enjoyed about Blood Red Road, unfortunately I think you’ll be disappointed in Rebel Heart as well.

Rebel Heart served as more of a character advancement and while I understand the importance of that, the story definitely suffered from a lack of action. Rebel Heart, as the title indicates, is much more focused on matters of the heart. Or hearts, considering there’s something akin to a love square. It caused the story to become drudging and ponderous, especially when considered to the action-packed pages of Blood Red Road. Saba was introduced as a fierce character, yet in Rebel Heart she suffers from the horrors she faced and is tormented by post-traumatic stress disorder. Something like that could have been built into the story and developed Saba further as a strong character constantly overcoming obstacles but instead her PTSD is miraculously cured by a young shaman. As soon as she becomes ‘cured’ the storyline begins focusing ten-fold on her love life drama. It just felt unnecessarily dramatic and didn’t do this series any justice since the first book never treaded into the ‘romance’ territory. I wish it would have stayed that way. In addition, not only is their drama in her love life, she also has new drama in her relationship with her brother, Lugh. The verbal sparring was constant and Lugh was constantly grating on my nerves with his incessant complaining. Essentially, he replaced Emmi as most annoying character.

The writing style is identical to the first book with the poor spelling, strange dialect and the Cormac McCarthy-like lack of quotation marks. I read Blood Red Road in print but went with the audiobook for Rebel Heart. I must say that even though I enjoyed the storyline less, my reading experience was easier as I wasn’t constantly getting caught up in interpreting the dialect and trying to figure out if someone was talking or thinking. The narrator, Heather Lind, did a fantastic job and I intend on listening to her narrate Raging Star as well.

While Rebel Heart is clearly not my favorite installment of the series, I still remain hopeful that it will have a triumphant finale.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness {Purchase}
The Reapers are the Angels (Reapers #1) by Alden Bell {PurchaseMy Review}
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee {PurchaseMy Review}

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Audiobook Review – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

April 22, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 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.

Audiobook Review – The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 1st 2013
Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

THE ART OF LOVE IS NEVER A SCIENCE

MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who's decided it's time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion's distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

“If you really love someone […] you have to be prepared to accept them as they are. Maybe you hope that one day they get a wake-up call and make the changes for their own reasons.”

Don Tillman is a socially awkward and emotionally challenged individual that decides one day it is well past time he find himself a wife. Approaching this situation (as he does everything in his life) in an organized and scientific based manner, he develops a survey in hopes to weed out the most incompatible. Rosie Jarman is sarcastic and free-spirited and despite the fact that she was deemed incompatible by the survey, the duo form an unlikely relationship when they team up to find Rosie’s biological father.

Heyyyy. Check me and my 2-star rating out. I’m clearly the black sheep of the crowd because everyone seems to adore this book.

I’d like to attribute my lack of love for this book by the circumstances of the moment as I was feeling far too cynical but I’m not sure if that’s completely the case. There’s a soft squishy part of my heart that likes the idea of love conquering all but the rational part always overcomes. Especially with this story. Don doesn’t realize he has Asperger’s syndrome, but everyone else in his life does. He leads an uncompromising life full of schedules and deadlines, despises time wasting situations and has a terrible time handling physical contact of any sort (as if the fact that he’s trying to search out his future wife via a survey didn’t make that abundantly clear).

I am extremely socially inept and should have been able to relate to Dan. I think where they lost me is the author’s attempt to slap an unnecessary designation on his lack of social graces. Is the belief that he would not have been as funny or charming if there wasn’t a scientific justification behind his excessive awkwardness? His lack of social skills could have simply been a quirky part of his nature, but instead the fact that it was given a ‘reason’ it was in turn labeled as a ‘problem’. Yes, maybe I’m reading far too much into this but it just felt off. The ending made it all the more apparent. View Spoiler »

The story traveled a predictable path and lacked any interesting characteristics to set it apart from other contemporary romances, even with the slight unconventional aspect.

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Audiobook Review – Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

April 10, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – Beauty Queens by Libba BrayBeauty Queens by Libba Bray
Narrator: Libba Bray
Published by Scholastic Audio on May 24, 2011
Length: 14 hours, 33 minutes
Genres: Contemporary, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, a desert island classic.

Survival. Of the fittest.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

I’m a huge Libba Bray fan and I remember being so excited to get my hands on this when it first released. Long story short, I don’t think I got past page 10 before I DNF’d. Hearing that the audiobook was way better I figured it deserved another shot. Libba Bray herself narrates this audiobook and manages to do a different voice for each and every one of the characters. The accents were gimmicky and nowhere near authentic but they were incredibly entertaining. The audio is over 14 hours long though and it unfortunately grew a bit tiresome and added to the overall ridiculousness of the whole thing after a while.

The big thing with Beauty Queens are the ‘messages’ which tackle the unrealistic standards that all girls face (not just pageant girls) but it did oftentimes feel overdone and exaggerated. Add to that, the messages were simply too obvious and came off as preachy more than anything. In addition there was the massive amount of satire this book was steeped in. While all together the story was rather admittedly a bit over the top and incredibly goofy at times, it did have some entertaining moments. At least until the boat full of testosterone reality TV show pirates showed up. They upped the level of ridiculous for me and officially lost me. And if I was barely avoiding another DNF before, the introduction of the evil corporation trying to kill the beauty queen contestants would have been the nail in the coffin if I wasn’t already close to being finished. There was a lot of sighing and a lot of eye-rolling. Maybe I just wasn’t in a super funny mood? No clue. I realize that this is meant to be a fun and entertaining book not meant to be taken seriously at all, but it was simply too excessive for my liking.

Beauty Queens is an eclectic combination of one of those cringe-worthy parody movies, a satirical Lord of the Flies and an Austin Powers movie. I agree with the message the book aimed to prove, but I like when messages are a bit more subtle and a little less hammer to the head.

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Audiobook Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

April 4, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Narrator: Kate Rudd
Published by Brilliance Audio on January 10th 2012
Length: 7 hours and 14 minutes
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

‘But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.’

The contemporary genre in general has never been my go-to type to read. Personally I like to sit down with a book and open up onto another world. Not necessarily fantasy but I’ve never cared to read about real-life problems that humans have to deal with on a day to day basis. Depression, death, heartbreak and everything along those lines that manage to make life so dreadfully difficult. For this reason, I always avoided John Green’s novels and this one in particular because, who wants to read about a girl that’s dying of cancer? Apparently, me. This was my first John Green novel, yet I can safely say this will not be my last. And the one thing everyone wants to know: I didn’t cry. Okay, I didn’t BAWL but it did come pretty close and for me that’s pretty miraculous.

‘You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you. All efforts to save me from you will fail.’

Hazel Grace Lancaster is a girl who doesn’t expect to live for very long at all. As she puts it so eloquently, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” She knows she’s going to die, she knows it’s inevitable that she’s going to cause some pain, but she’s doing the best she possibly can to keep people at a distance so as to not cause any unnecessary pain. Then she meets Augustus Waters. These two meet in a cancer support group and they are two peas in a pod getting along so well so quickly and falling for one another equally as quick. While suffering through the harsh realities of life with cancer, these two add a flair of wit and sarcasm that manages to make the bleakest of subjects surprisingly funny. Regardless of the humor these two imbue into the story, those harsh realities make their expected appearance so as to cause heartbreak and great distress forcing us as the reader back into the tragic reality of the lives they’ve been given.

‘You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.’

Hazel and Augustus are the stars of this show but there are several other noteworthy characters as well. Their friend Isaac recently underwent a surgery which made him blind but prior to that he was dealing with the loss of his long-term girlfriend. So after the surgery, Hazel and Augustus take him over to her house so he can egg her car. At one point, Augustus says, “Hazel Grace! Take a picture of this so Isaac can see it when they invent robot eyes.” I rewound that on my audiobook about three times because it was so ridiculous yet so touching how these three bonded together to be there for one another. It made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me sad because of their unfortunate circumstances.

In addition to the strong friendships showcased, there was another surprising addition to this story and that’s a strong parent presence and relationship. It’s often seen in YA fiction the complete lack of parents but not only were Hazel’s parents present, they were a huge and necessary support group for her and it was such a joy to see. It was clear that Hazel’s mother was trying to make her daughter as happy as possible for the short time she had.

“HAZEL! IT’S YOUR THIRTY-THIRD HALF BIRTHDAY!”
“Ohhhhhh,” I said. My mom was really super into celebration maximization. IT’S ARBOR DAY! LET’S HUG TREES AND EAT CAKE! COLUMBUS BROUGHT SMALLPOX TO THE NATIVES; WE SHALL RECALL THE OCCASION WITH A PICNIC!, etc.”

The Fault In Our Stars is a love story but it’s so much more than that. This is a truly heartbreaking and powerful tale. We’re given such a small amount of time to live as it is yet the characters in this story are given even less. Cancer is a thief, a robber, a purloiner of time. Living life to its absolute fullest is the only thing you can do and these characters did just that. I am highly recommending this book even for those of you who were like me and didn’t care to suffer through the heartbreak of watching fictional characters die. Looking past the heartbreak and suffering you’ll see a hopefulness and a zeal for life that is quite contagious. So, give it a shot, okay? Okay.

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Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

March 20, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Claire Danes
Published by Audible on January 1st 1985
Pages: 11 hours
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam

five-stars

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

‘We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.’

After the United States government is overturned, a fundamentalist Christian regime is established that call themselves the Republic of Gilead. All women’s rights are declared invalid: the right to vote, to have a job, to read or make any decisions on their own. With the ongoing war that followed the demolition of the government, infertility has become a massive problem as most women lack the capabilities now. Women are selected to be handmaid’s and their sole purpose is to provide offspring for the elite members of society. The Handmaid’s Tale is a memoir of sorts of one woman that was selected to be a handmaid.

‘I found myself asking why no one did anything to prevent it happening; surely people would protest, people would try to stop them?’

What a shocking, distressing and jaw-dropping read. The vital aspect of a good dystopian read is whether or not the transformed world is believable and realistic because that’s what truly brings it to life. The Handmaid’s Tale was disturbingly realistic simply due to the ease in which everything was transformed. Women got up, took care of their children and went to work like any other in this day and age. Except one morning, they got up and were told they were no longer able to work. They went to the store and were told they were no longer to make purchases of their own. And all this happened overnight. My first response was to consider how unlikely that is, but rights can be given and they can be taken away just as easily, even in the span of a single night. It’s quite the imaginable nightmare.

‘But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.’

The main character, Offred, is a woman clearly lacking in spirit after all the horrors she has suffered. The numbness is a bandaid of sorts to help her continue each day yet her anger and outrage remains clear as well as her perseverance to survive. Her day to day accountings are interspersed with memories of the past, when she had a job, and a husband, and a child of her own. That was the most tragic aspect of this story. It’s not the fact that women were basically walking wombs and their only purpose was to provide children for another but that these women had memories of life before. They knew of how different life can be and they had those memories to haunt them.

The Handmaid’s Tale is an incredibly visceral possibility of a potential future that only shows just how fragile women’s rights can be.

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Audiobook Review – Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

February 14, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – Dark Places by Gillian FlynnDark Places by Gillian Flynn
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins, Rebecca Lowman
on May 05, 2009
Length: 13 hours, 44 minutes
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Gone Girl

four-stars

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

‘The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty – we all have it.’

Libby Day is the sole survivor of “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas” when her mother and two older sisters were murdered with an ax. She was only 7 years old. After accusing her brother Ben of committing the crime he is sent to prison with no real possibility of ever being released. Twenty-four years later Libby finds herself struggling financially after the trust fund to which people donated to help her cause has dwindled down to nothing. ‘The Kill Club’ is a group of individuals obsessed with particular crimes from over the years and there are several enthusiasts who are obsessed with not only the crime but of the innocence of her brother, Ben. Deciding she’ll resort to anything just as long as she gets paid she begins investigating the deaths of her family and realizes that the money isn’t the only incentive; she truly wants to know what happened that night she was left an orphan.

Dark Places was a fantastically written thriller that was thoroughly engrossing. The audiobook has 3 separate narrators and each do a fantastic job of encouraging readers to continue this mesmerizing tale. The story alternates between snippets of Libby’s investigation (told in first person) and the rehashing of past events (told in third person from the POV of Libby’s mother and her brother, Ben) so that we’re slowly able to fit together the jumbled pieces of the puzzle. Did Ben truly commit the crime? Was he associated with the Devil? Was it actually their dead beat father? Or someone completely different? This is an incredibly alluring story that I could not put down. While clues are given and you think you’re starting to formulate, nothing is as it seems. That’s an easy enough statement to make in regards to any mystery thriller story but the answer to this one is truly unpredictable from anything I was expecting.

‘I am, I guess, depressed. I guess I’ve been depressed for about twenty-four years. I can feel a better version of me somewhere in there – hidden behind a liver or attached to a bit of spleen within my stunted, childish body – a Libby that’s telling me to get up, do something, grow up, move on. But the meanness usually wins out.’

Libby is a wonderfully jaded and emotionally hardened character that I couldn’t help but love. She’s perfectly imperfect and her flawed and bitter nature completely drew me to her. She’s earned every right to those emotions though and then some. Dark Places is full of extremely unlikable characters though and a few in particular did things that were completely unfathomable. The issues presented throughout this novel are often hard to stomach and were incredibly gruesome and disturbing. In specific there are Satanic animal sacrifices, excessive teenage drug use and teenage pregnancy and of course the less than pleasant mass murder by ax.

Dark Places is a prime example of simple choices that can have a catastrophic domino effect on anything and everything from that point on. Peeling back the layers of this multifaceted tale of suspense is a total thrill-ride, as long as you can stomach the terror this story is drenched in.

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