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Archive for the ‘general fiction’ Category

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger ISBN 978-0156029438 – Read by William Hope (Reader), Laurel Lefkow (Reader)

 

Have you ever listened to a book which was a little confusing in audio but thought that if read from a page would have made much more sense?  I do not know about anyone else but this book fell into that category for me.  I really enjoyed the book and the lovely twists and turns and back and forth; the idea of love that transcends time and place.  Maybe my confusion was something that every reader felt, but I believe that this is one book to be read.

cover art from The Time Traveler's Wife

cover art from The Time Traveler’s Wife

Each chapter opens with a time date and age of Henry and Clare.  The audio book has two readers – one reads Henry perspectives and the other reads Clare’s.  They are excellent readers and my complaint has nothing to do with the readers, but unless you have an eidetic memory, very few people as they are driving down the road can remember “Christmas Eve 1991 (Clare is 20, Henry is 28)”

Henry has a condition.  With no control or planning he will all of a sudden leap from this life into a scene from the past, usually a scene with great emotion.  He has seen the car crash where his mother died on any number of occasions, he goes back to when he meets Clare for the first time.  As he ages, the condition is worsening and he has less and less control.  He has found a doctor who is trying to help and found a friend who concocts drug combinations to try and help him stay in one place; but there comes a point when nothing helps.

Clare is a studio artist and Henry is a librarian in a special collection.  A fitting occupation for one who travels through time.

Henry takes nothing from one time to another and arrives naked. So he has had to adapt — find clothes quickly, be able to pick locks and has a loose moral code to allow himself to survive.  Though I may not agree with theft, I might think otherwise if I continually ended up in a strange place in winter with lots of snow on the ground.

This is first and foremost a love story.  Henry and Clare are truly an amazing couple.  Yet this is also a story of fantasy and the magical “what-if”.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys literature with a hint of romance and fantasy.  It is a very well written work with some great characters.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This highly original first novel won the largest advance San Francisco-based MacAdam/Cage had ever paid, and it was money well spent. Niffenegger has written a soaring love story illuminated by dozens of finely observed details and scenes, and one that skates nimbly around a huge conundrum at the heart of the book: Henry De Tamble, a rather dashing librarian at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, finds himself unavoidably whisked around in time. He disappears from a scene in, say, 1998 to find himself suddenly, usually without his clothes, which mysteriously disappear in transit, at an entirely different place 10 years earlier-or later. During one of these migrations, he drops in on beautiful teenage Clare Abshire, an heiress in a large house on the nearby Michigan peninsula, and a lifelong passion is born. The problem is that while Henry’s age darts back and forth according to his location in time, Clare’s moves forward in the normal manner, so the pair are often out of sync. But such is the author’s tenderness with the characters, and the determinedly ungimmicky way in which she writes of their predicament […] that the book is much more love story than fantasy. It also has a splendidly drawn cast, from Henry’s violinist father […] to Clare’s odd family and a multitude of Chicago bohemian friends. […] It is a fair tribute to her skill and sensibility to say that the book leaves a reader with an impression of life’s riches and strangeness rather than of easy thrills.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich ISBN 978-0345542885

I appreciate Janet Evanovich’s humor and characters, they are fun and a great way to relax when the snow is falling far too much and winter is just surreal.  Is this intellectually stimulating?  No, but it wasn’t intended to be it is meant to be fun and happy and ridiculous at times.

In an interview given at one of the end of the audio books, Janet said that she plots out which characters are going to be the supporting roles in the book.  In “Takedown Twenty” — the supporting roles fall to Ranger and Grandma Mazur, in my opinion a great combination.

Stephanie has a file on “Uncle Sunny” — he is FTA for running someone over … twice.  Uncle Sunny is Morelli’s godfather and protected by the mighty Bella.  It seems that everyone wants to keep quiet about the whereabouts of her FTA.

Ranger is searching for someone who has killed the mother of his client and because of Stephanie’s many connections he calls her to help him track down the killer of old women.

Grandma Mazur turns out to be the key to all the investigations and in her usual quirky sense provides many chuckles.

Overall a pleasant read beside the wood stove on a winter day.

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Rock Bottom by Erin Brockovich with CJ Lyons ISBN 978-1593156251  (read by Coleen Marlo)

Rock Bottom

When this book came out I was intrigued; I wanted to read it for I thought it might be fun but then I was hesitant because was it just one more book written by a celebrity?  

Then at a conference I hear C.J. Lyons speak and I said to myself, this has to get on my to-read list.  As it turns out my “to-listen-to” list moves faster and this quickly got to the top.

I enjoyed this book.

AJ Palladino left town when she was 17 and pregnant.  She never returned and was truly upset when her parents never asked to see her or their grandson.  Ten years later she does return after a horrific incident when she was doing a radio show and she is offered a job with a local lawyer.

She and her special needs son move into the farm workers house on her grandmother’s property.  Only to find it is the day of her employer’s funeral.

This book is full of environmental issues concerning mountain top removal used in the coal industry and the rights and regulations thereof.  Environmentalists who truly care and those who are hired to create a media circus to get the name out.  

“Rock Bottom” has many mysteries and many skeletons in closets.  Sometimes we do not know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy and in some scenarios the same person is both.  This is a book that you will love … but the ending is realistic and not romantic.  There is no happily ever after in this story though, I will be honest, I wanted one.

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Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling  ISBN 978-0316228534

 

cover art from Casual Vacany by J.K. Rowling

cover art from Casual Vacany by J.K. Rowling

Warning — this is not a happy, feel good book.  If you are easily offended by not quite right behavior or foul language this book is not for you.

This is a well written story — many intricate story lines that really move forward well and culminate in a dramatic and depressing ending.  It is not a good story.  If anyone is a little low or feeling depressed … do not read this book, wait until things are looking up.

This book is a bit of introduction to British politics.  A casual vacancy is when there is an empty seat on a council or commission that needs to be filled mid-term due to a death or a person’s moving out of the area.

So we open in the first chapter with a man’s death in a small town.  So first everyone is in shock that the man died and then they are all thinking who can we endorse to fill that position on the board because of some very important issues on the docket at this time.

This book is very involved with social issues and hits upon many of them: drug abuse, drug clinics, the social system, schools, education systems, teen sex, murder, infidelity, libel and computer hacking.

I enjoyed this book that I listened to on audio book; however I would come into work and give updates to my co-workers.  How my goodness this character just did this.  That character just did that.  This is a book that I shared with many people all along the many discs.  It is very well read and performed — but it is not happy and the ending is certainly not uplifting.

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The Moscow Club by Joseph Finder ISBN 978-0670832668

Moscow Club by Joseph Finder

cover art from Moscow Club by Joseph Finder

This was a book that is not my typical choice, I picked this because I will be going to a conference in November where Joseph Finder will be speaking and wanted an example of his work.  “The Moscow Club”at over five hundred pages, is pretty hefty and yet so action packed you don’t really notice it … until you try to pick it up.

Charles Stone works in a branch of national intelligence and is a guru of Soviet Studies; he has high placed mentors throughout the government so that even though his father has been discredited, he still has access to some great job options.  He is temporarily separated from his wife Charlotte who is now a journalist in Moscow.

The book opens with him on the side of a mountain and a helicopter coming from the government to take him back for an emergency briefing.  That briefing seems to open the can of worms that starts  a high speed race across the United States into Europe and ultimately ends in Moscow.  There is evil behind every corner and Charlie makes a desperate attempt to clear his father’s name as well as his own.

Book Description

Publication Date: February 18, 2005
Beyond the headlines of tomorrow…In a Soviet capital brought to its knees by a wave of terrorist bombings and assassinations, a secret group – outraged by the new liberalism – plots a violent overthrow of the government…From the innermost circles of American Intelligence, across the treacherous emigre enclaves of Europe, and into the cloistered halls of the Kremlin, “The Moscow Club” is a devastating fictional account of the hidden power struggles which could change the world order forever…”Well researched and gripping…worthy of Frederick Forsyth at his best.” – “Sunday Express”. “One of the best plotted, best written and most believable novels yet written about political conspiracy.” – Nelson de Mille.

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The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen ISBN 9780345497604

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

cover art from The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

This was an excellent book for I liked Julia Hamill who is recently divorced and trying to pull her life together in current time and while she is digging in her garden trying to use up energy and tire herself out, she comes across a body.  In swoops Dr Maura Isles and a professor of local history who determine that this was not a recent homicide.  So after a brief encounter with her neighbor she gets a mysterious phone call from an 89 year old man in Maine who is a relative of the homes previous owner.

They determined that the body is from the 1830’s and that leads to many weekends of the great paper chase.  Julia goes up to Maine for visits for he is the current owner of all family letters and journals and the body in her garden somehow connects to serial murders by the ‘West End Reaper’.

In this book we learn more about ‘resurrectionists’ than anyone really wants to learn and we see some of the down and dirty of immigrant Boston.  Rose Connolly is attending her sister Aurnia at the hospital for her lying in and when Aurnia dies — she takes custody of her niece.  In the time before infant formula, she needs to find a job so she can hire a wet nurse to care for Meggie while she also tries to determine why she is being hunted.  This is a book full of information regarding early Boston and American medical history.  I thought it was another great Tess Gerritsen novel.

 

From Kirkus reviews …

“An old mystery is crossed with a modern story in the latest from Gerritsen (The Mephisto Club, 2006, etc.).Julia Hamill, newly divorced and still smarting, purchases an old house outside Boston. Determined to dig a garden, she instead finds the bones of a long-dead woman–the apparent victim of murder–which starts her on a journey to ferret out the story behind her death. Julia connects with Henry, a no-nonsense 89-year-old with boxes of documents that once belonged to the now-deceased previous owner of Julia’s home. The two discover a mystery dating back to the 1830s. At the heart of it is a baby named Meggie, born to the beautiful but doomed Irish chambermaid, Aurnia. Married to a man who cares nothing for her, Aurnia lays dying in a maternity ward with her sister, Rose, at her side. Rose, a spirited 17-year-old, takes Meggie to protect her from Aurnia’s husband, but soon finds herself the target of a bizarre manhunt. Someone is after the child–and Rose, as well, because she witnessed a horrifying murder. The body count piles up as Rose struggles to remain free of those who would take Meggie from her. Meanwhile, a young medical student becomes the chief suspect of the West End Reaper killings when he stumbles onto another terrible homicide. Although he fights the prospect, eventually he and Rose join forces to solve the murders and protect the baby at the heart of the mysterious deaths. Readers with delicate stomachs may find Gerritsen’s graphic descriptions of corpse dissection hard to take, but the story, which digs up a dark Boston of times long past, entices readers to keep turning pages long after their bedtimes.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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Vanish by Tess Gerritsen ISBN 978-0345476975

I have fallen in love with Tess Gerritsen’s writing.  This is the fifth in the series and I haven’t been disappointed once and that is saying something.

The book opens in a court room with Jane Rizzoli on the witness stand.  A week past her due date and very uncomfortable (as only a woman past her due date can be … ask me both kids were two weeks late!).  Through the sequence the defendant acts in contempt of court and the bailiff tries to escort him out and during the scuffle Rizzoli successfully detains him and her water breaks.  Rizzoli goes to the hospital and we follow her through the myriad of halls and departments when the sky falls and complications ensue.

A body is found by search and rescue and placed in a body bag and after 8 hours in a cooler Maura, alone because the other Medical Examiner is on vacation and she was woefully behind in autopsies,  finally gets around to noticing that the woman “ain’t dead yet”.

Hostages, sex slaves, and illegal immigrants — this book has it all and yet the development of characters and their friendships is amazing.  As I have said — I eagerly await the time to start the next book because I know it will be worth the time to read it!

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