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Happy Holidays - See you in January

>> Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays to you.

Happy Vacation to me.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

I'm going to take this holiday vacation seriously this year and take a break from the blog until after New Year.

Have a wonderful holiday season and best wishes to all of you for a fabulous 2012.


Audiobook – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

>> Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Sound Room Publishers
Publication Date: Originally 1843 (this edition 2002)
Read by: Ralph Cosham
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A well done audio version of a classic read by one of my favorite audiobook narrators.

Why I Read It:
I started hearing about a variety of audio versions of this book that people I know were listening to so I browsed my library website to see what they had. As soon as I saw one read by Ralph Cosham, it was an easy choice for me.

The Book:
Most people know this story. Most people have seen a variety of adaptations of it either on TV or in movies. The story isn’t new. Even the original Dickens version isn’t new to me. I’ve read it before a few years ago. This is the first time however, that I’ve listened to this as an audiobook.

Scrooge, Marley, the Cratchit family the spirits of Christmas past, present and yet to come are all well known. The moral for both individuals and society is about as subtle as a thwack on the head with a two by four but it’s not meant to be subtle.

The story is divided into five staves as in musical staff notations that relate to the title carol. In Stave One the background is set. Scrooge is a miserly grump. Class distinctions are clear. The poor are miserable with no way out and workhouses are a reality of the time. Marley’s ghost visits Scrooge. The next three staves are the visits of the spirits and the final one is Christmas Day and afterwards showing Scrooge’s changed perspective and attitude with hope that others will find the same consideration for the less fortunate that he does.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read this before so it’s not my first exposure to the story as written by Dickens. It’s not a new story but if you haven’t read the original, I recommend it. It’s dark and quite depressing in many places. Dickens portrayals of the different spirits and Marley’s ghost are vivid, interesting and varied.

The familiar characters were not anything surprising as originally written, but I will admit to kind of wanting to smack Tiny Tim a couple of times for his exaggerated goodness and positive outlook.

I loved hearing Ralph Cosham read this. He’s got a great voice that has a way of making the story feel like I was sitting in a room with a warm fire listening to a fatherly voice read the story. It’s just the right kind of narrator for this one in my opinion.

I listened to the first part of this while driving around town with The Hubster. I enjoyed hearing him laugh hear and there and the humorous moments in that first part. I like that a story this old can still have the funny moments be funny. It’s a nice balance to the darker portions.
If you decide to give the audio of this one a try, I definitely recommend hunting up this version read by Ralph Cosham.

Rating 4/5

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


Poachers by Tom Franklin

>> Thursday, December 22, 2011

Poachers by Tom Franklin
Poachers by Tom Franklin

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 192
Source: Gift from a friend

The Short Version:
Nine short stories and a novella length tale that are as beautiful as they are brutal thanks to the amazing way Tom Franklin has of telling a story.

Why I Read It:
After I read and loved Franklin’s first novel Hell at the Breech, my bookseller friend from Alabama told me I had to read this collection of stories. She even sent me a copy but it took me several years to finally get around to reading it. I should not have waited so long.

The Book:
The book contains an introduction by Franklin that tells of his own history in the setting of these stories.

My south – the one I haven’t been able to get out of my blood or my imagination, the south where these stories take place – is lower Alabama, lush and green and full of death, the wooded counties between the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers.

These stories are also lush and full of death. I’ve been posting about the short stories for the past few weeks on my Short Story Monday posts.
Shubuta and Triathlon
Blue Horses and The Ballad of Duane Juarez
A Tiny History and Dinosaurs
Instinct and Alaska

All of these stories are gritty and hard and at times difficult to read but the language and imagery is so beautifully presented and the untold is brilliantly left to you to complete as you read them.

Poachers is the last story and it is more of a novella length tale. It’s the story of the Gates brothers and a legendary Game Warden. The clash between the near feral brothers and the law is harsh. The brothers survive by poaching and the world they inhabit is only remotely connected to society. They have a couple of people who look out for them. Kirxy is an aged storekeeper whose only patrons these days are the Gates brothers. Esther is all alone after two husbands and six children. She lives and drinks alone but has she and the brothers have a way of needing each other. Both Kirxy and Esther themselves live on the edge of society and both have their reasons for keeping an eye out for the Gates brothers.

When things turn bad, it gets real bad in a hurry. A legendary Game Warden is back and after the brothers. The strike of a match can strike fear in the heart.

My Thoughts:
I love Tom Franklin’s writing. It’s moody and dark but at the same time lyrical and beautiful. The images, smells and feelings become real. In this collection of stories he has perfected the art of only telling just enough. There are pieces that he leaves for you to finish in your head as you read and he excels at this.

Don’t pick this up expecting light and happy feeling stories. These are often brutal and disturbing. Poaching is the theme and a part of every story. There are some characters that appear in multiple stories and their stories more complex. Other stories stand on their own completely.

All of the stories have a deep sense of place. You will inhabit that lush green land of death that Franklin talks about in the introduction. It is inhabited by lost and at times desperate people who will haunt you long after you finish reading.

4 Rating 4.5/5


Wordless Wednesday #116

>> Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Icy Spiderweb Remnants

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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Ones I’m Targeting for 2012

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Confessions of a Serial Reader

I picked a few of my current series and put them on my priority list for 2011. This was an effective strategy for me. I managed to catch up with the current release in several of my ongoing series.

Now it’s time to pick the ones I’m going to target for catching up in 2012.

I need to be strategic about this and pick not only series I truly want to catch up with but also some where that involves a reasonable number of unread books. I mean, I enjoy J.D Robb’s Eve Dallas series and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Moreland Dynasty series but when the number of unreads are numbers like 17 and 33 respectively it’s just not going to happen.

So, I’ve picked these series to put on my priority list to try to catch up to the current release by the end of 2012.
Note: Images and links are to the first book in and not my next read in each of these series.

Mark Billingham's Inspector Tom Thorne series
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
This is one I just started in 2011, have thoroughly enjoyed. I read six of them since last November. I've only got three to read to catch up with what I can currently get my hands on.

Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
I've only read the first one of these but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I want to balance out the mystery mix in 2012 with a few more cozies and catching up with the 3 currently unread and the new one coming next month will be a fun way to do that.

Michael Koryta's Lincoln Perry Series
Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta
I've read 3 of the 4 but got distracted by his standalone thrillers. I want to get back to this series and read that last one.

Chelsea Cain's Archie and Gretchen series
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
I've let one of my favorite local author's down this year. I have her most recent entry in this series on my shelf but as yet unread. I must remedy this before the next book comes out.

David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
This is another series that has an alarmingly high unread count. I love this series. I love Andy, I love the humor, I love the supporting characters. Most of all I love Tara the best dog EVER! I have 3 to read to catch up with this series.

What about you? Do you have any particular series that are high on your priority list or reading planning for next year?


Short Story Monday – Time for some Wodehouse

>> Monday, December 19, 2011

I got into a conversation this week on Twitter in which someone mentioned P.G. Wodehouse and I commented that it has been far too long since I’ve read any of his work. I’ve read mostly his Jeeves and Wooster stories so I decided to read one from another collection for this week’s Short Story Monday.

Meet Mr. Mulliner by P.G. Wodehouse
The Truth About George by P.G. Wodehouse
Part of the Collection Meet Mr. Mulliner
Published: 1927

I’ve had this collection for a while but hadn’t started it yet. I’ve read and enjoyed two of the Jeeves and Wooster books but decided it’s time to branch out into some of Wodehouse’s other characters.

Mr. Mulliner is someone that everyone who stops in at The Angler’s Rest pub gets to know. He manages to find a way to share his stories about his family to both friends and strangers.

The first of his stories is The Truth About George. When a nameless patron stops in at The Angler’s Rest he soon finds Mr. Mulliner at his table speaking as if they’re old friends. Mr. Mulliner is described as "a short, stout, comfortable man of middle age, and the thing that struck me first about him was the extraordinarily childlike candour of his eyes. They were large and round and honest. I would have bought oil stock from him without a tremor. "

When another patron enters the pub and starts to say something but gives up due to a severe stammer and leaves this gets Mr. Mulliner started on his tale. He proceeds to tell the story of his nephew George and the circumstances that led to George being cured forever of his own debilitating stammer.

George’s motivation was that he’d fallen hopelessly in love with the vicar’s daughter and wanted to court her but he was determined to get rid of his stammer. His trip to London to seek help from a specialist and his subsequent attempts to put the recommended therapy in action make up the rest of this story. Things don’t go quite as well as they should and it’s somewhat a comedy of errors. The end result, however is that George gets rid of his stammer and gets the girl.

The thing I enjoy about the humor is Wodehouse’s writing is that it’s not laugh out loud funny. It’s always more of a story that will make me smile and smirk a bit and be simply enjoyable. This collection is probably not as sharp witted as the Jeeves and Wooster books but the fun is still there and I think Mr. Mulliner is going to be a storyteller that I’ll enjoy.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update December 18, 2011

>> Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

I’m still a bit overwhelmed with holiday and work busy. I feel like I’m hardly reading anything, but I’m managing to squeeze in a bit here and there. Right now I’m counting down the days to vacation and hope to do some major reading during the week I have off between Christmas and New Years.

I have not finished a darn thing this week. I’m still reading Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap. It’s the second in a good series and I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

I’m listening to A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny. It’s read by Ralph Cosham who could read the phone book to me and I’d be perfectly content. I’ve put that one on pause as of Friday though.

I have a version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol read by Ralph Cosham so I’m setting aside A Trick of the Light for a few days in order to listen to A Christmas Carol this week. It’s a wonderful version. I was a little concerned about moving to a different audiobook in the middle of another when they’re both read by the same person but it’s not a problem. I thought it might seem a bit like Chief Inspector Gamache reading me a holiday story but the books are different enough and Cosham is good enough that it hasn’t been a problem for me. On the other hand, Chief Inspector Gamache taking a break from his investigation to read me a story is not a bad thing so the occasional momentary flashes of that just make me smile.

I need to decide what short story I’m going to read for tomorrow’s Short Story Monday. I think I might need a bit of a P.G. Wodehouse fix. His name came up in a conversation on Twitter this week and it’s been far too long since I read any of his stories. I’ve got the Meet Mr. Mulliner collection here so maybe I’ll read one of those this afternoon.

Other than books and reading:

One of the reasons I’ve been short on reading time is that I’ve got knitting and crocheting projects in the works for Christmas. I had hoped to have the slipper socks I’m making for my Sister-in-law done by today but I discovered a mistake on Friday. I had to tear out about half the foot to fix where I’d made a pattern mistake. At least the mistake was after the heel so it wasn’t too bad. I’m almost back to where I was before I had to tear it out.

I took a class this week to learn how to make little Christmas stockings. These are so darn cute I couldn’t resist. They’d be great ornaments, gift tag holders, or just decorations. I have no idea if I’ll ever make another one, but the class was fun and the stocking I made just makes me smile because it’s cute.

New on my shelves and lists:

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Good Graces by Lesley Kagen

One of the usual suspects, Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts mentioned this author this week on Twitter. Before I knew it I’d added both of these to my list. Jen has that effect on me.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


What’s In a Name? 4 Challenge Completed

>> Friday, December 16, 2011

The What’s in a Name? Challenge has been my favorite reading challenge for the past several years. I love that Beth Fish Reads is keeping this challenge alive. It was the one and only challenge I joined this year.

It’s fun and she manages to come up with new categories every year that provide a nice mix of easy, fun and challenging. I’m always surprised at which one ends up being harder than I expect to complete.

For this year’s challenge readers were once again required to read 6 books. The books had to be chosen based on words their titles matching up with the six categories. I managed to find books to fit most of the categories from within books I already had on my TBR list. Some of the categories were harder than others but they were all fun to pick which book to use.

Here are the books I read for each category (links are to my reviews):

A book with a "number" in the title: The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the second Sherlock Holmes book and since I’d recently read the first it worked out well that this one fit the category.

A book with "jewelry or a gem" in the title: Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell. I’d had this book for over a year and was glad to have incentive to finally put it at the top of the to be read list.

A book with a "size" in the title: The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith. This was my only audiobook entry for this year’s challenge. I’ve always enjoyed the audio version of this series.

A book with a travel or movement" in the title: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at my TBR list and my library wish list trying to find a book that fit this category. Finally one day the light bulb went on. “Turn” . . . duh!

A book with "evil" in the title: Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil by Nancy Atherton. I appreciate the flexibility that is built into the challenge and that stretching a bit to find a title to fit is not discouraged.

A book with a "life stage" in the title: The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham. I had several possible books for this category and this is just the first one that fit that I happened to read.

I’ve already signed up for the 2012 version of this challenge and I’m having a great time browsing my TBR list for books that will fit the new categories. If you want to find out more about the 2012 challenge and join up head over to Beth Fish Reads and sign up.

If you’re thinking about joining here are the categories for 2012:
  • A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: Black Hills, Purgatory Ridge, Emily of Deep Valley
  • A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title: Moon Called, Seeing Stars, Cloud Atlas
  • A book with a creepy crawly in the title: Little Bee, Spider Bones, The Witches of Worm
  • A book with a type of house in the title: The Glass Castle, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Ape House
  • A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sarah's Key, The Scarlet Letter, Devlin Diary
  • A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title: Day of the Jackal, Elegy for April, Freaky Friday, Year of Magical Thinking

Admit it . . . you’re already thinking of books you have that will fit, aren't you?


Wordless Wednesday #115

>> Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frosty Morning
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Short Story Monday – “Instinct” and “Alaska” by Tom Franklin

>> Monday, December 12, 2011

This week I read the last of what I consider true short stories in Tom Franklin’s collection entitled Poachers. The final story in the book is more of a novella so I’m going to post about that on it’s own and not on a Short Story Monday post.

Instinct and Alaska by Tom Franklin
Part of the Collection Poachers
Published: 1999

Instinct is probably the most directly dark and evil stories I’ve read from Tom Franklin. Told in short flashbacks beginning five years in the past and moving forward to the present it spirals into an ending that is a surprise, yet totally expected.

Alaska once again features the narrator of Triathlon and A Tiny History with his best friend Bruce. The two are still in search of their dreams of travel and adventure. In a series of imagined vignettes the narrator plans their journey toward the goal of Alaska. The lure of possibilities keeps the dream alive.

Both of these are very short but richly told stories. As is typical of Franklin, much is told in the spaces between paragraphs. I love the way he lets me fill in the story myself between the parts he tells.

This collection has its share of dark and in the case of Instinct rather disturbing stories but the way they are told is so full of atmosphere, emotion and imagery that they’re still completely satisfying and in many cases simply stunning.

As I said the final story in this collection is more of a novella length (60 pages) so I’ll be posting about that in a regular blog post and on the lookout for something different for next week’s Short Story Monday.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update December 11, 2011

>> Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

It’s definitely December and the busy is in full swing. My To Do lists both at work and at home are nearly out of control. I’m savoring the far too few moments I have to just sit and immerse myself in a book these days. The good thing about audiobooks is that they go with me when I’m on my next trek to take care of eighty gazillion errands.

I finished reading Turn of Mind by Alice La Plante. I was fascinated with her choice to tell the story from the viewpoint of a character with dementia. It made for a slightly choppy yet ultimately very satisfying way to tell the story as all the pieces fell together in decidedly non-linear way. I started Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap. This is the second book in his Jonathan Grave series and I’m enjoying it a lot. I forgot how much I like these characters.

I’m enjoying listening to A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny. This is such a great series and it seems to continue to get better with each book.

I should finish up the short stories in Poachers by Tom Franklin today. The last one in the story is a little long to be considered a ‘short story’ so I might post about that one but not on a Short Story Monday.

Other than books and reading:

I’ve mostly just been trying to keep up with all the to dos that go along with the holiday season. I’m still working on multiple knitting projects but haven’t reached the finished point on any of them. I need to focus on the second slipper sock since it’s a Christmas gift.

It got cold this week and I took advantage of the fact I was working from home to go out and get a few photos in our heavily frosty back yard. One of those was this week’s Wordless Wednesday photo. You’ll be seeing more of these in upcoming weeks.

I shared this over on the Posterous blog but I’m going to repost it here because I think it’s pretty cool. View it full screen if you can.

New on my shelves and lists:

I don’t think I added any books this week but with the long list I added last week, that’s probably a good thing.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

>> Friday, December 9, 2011

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 307
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A fascinating story told from the perspective of a woman with dementia who may or may not have killed her best friend.

Why I Read It:
As soon as I read the description of this book I was interested. After reading a few early reviews I got on the library waiting list.

The Book:
Dr. Jennifer White used to be a talented orthopedic surgeon. When the symptoms of her Alzheimer’s became troublesome she retired early. She now lives at home with a caregiver. Her daughter Fiona is in charge of her financial affairs. Her son Mark is not exactly happy with this arrangement but given his own history it was a wise move.

As the story opens it is soon clear that Dr. White’s longtime friend Amanda has been murdered and had her fingers surgically amputated. The police suspect Dr. White of the crime but her dementia has progressed to the point where she doesn’t remember anything reliably. She doesn’t know who that blond woman in her house is even though Magdalena has been her in home caregiver for eight months.

Told entirely from Dr. White’s perspective this story comes together in pieces both in the present and in the flashbacks to the past that her deteriorating mind slips to more and more. Weaving back and forth between the moments when she is fully present and those in which she’s slipped into disorientation the puzzle pieces gradually come together in surprising ways.

My Thoughts:
This book fascinated me. When I first read about it I thought it might be a good mystery, but after reading a couple of reviews I learned that it wasn’t a straightforward crime fiction book. It only took a couple of pages of reading for me to decide that this was one of the more unique books I’ve read in a long time. I wasn’t sure whether the device of telling the story through a deteriorating mind would hold up but I have to hand it to the author. I found myself totally wrapped up in this book eagerly waiting for just another moment of lucidity from Dr. Jennifer White to let me glimpse another bit of what really happened.

The sometimes rambling and wandering threads of Dr. White’s story gave me a glimpse into the world as seen by someone with progressive dementia. At times she was on top of things, and at other times she didn’t know who the people in her house were.

It was at times touching, sometimes amusing, often sad, and as the pieces began to accumulate and fall into place for the reader as they became more an more jumbled to Dr. White an ultimately satisfying and fascinating book.

Don’t open this book expecting a typical crime fiction story. Do open it expecting to gain some empathy for family and friends dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Yes there’s still a mystery and crime fiction element to the story but there is also a touching and tragic story of relationships between friends and family and how they can be both the best thing for all involved and the worst possible mix of personalities, dependencies and dynamics.

4.5 Rating 4.5/5


Wordless Wednesday #114

>> Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Frosty Fence

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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Union Square Press
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 234
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
An interesting and at times exciting true story of a daring crime and the investigation that has still not answered all the questions.

Why I Read It:
In 2003 a group of Italian thieves pulled off a multimillion dollar theft from a secure vault in a secure building in the heavily patrolled and secure diamond district of Antwerp, Belgium.

This book begins with the early stages of the planning for the caper. The patience and planning of the thieves is amazing. The holes in the security systems are in hindsight unbelievable. The amount of jewels, cash and other valuables stolen is hard to imagine.

Through a lucky break the investigators quickly identified a few of the thieves. Their own confidence in their abilities led them to be caught.

The story follows the planning and execution of the crime and then the investigation and prosecution of some of the criminals. Nevertheless there are still many unanswered questions. Among them is the location of the stolen gems and property.

My Thoughts:
This was a story straight out of an Ocean’s Eleven (and so on) movie only it’s true. In fact, the authors included several quotes from the “Ocean’s” movies that easily correlated to the actual events.

I was as fascinated with the story of the crime and it’s planning and execution as I was with learning about the Antwerp Diamond District and the business of diamonds. The fact that even many years later some of the details of how the thieves managed to pull off this crime are still unknown is amazing.

This read at times more like fiction than non-fiction. At one point The Hubster asked me a question and I said “I can’t stop reading right now – they’re in the vault.” I was so wrapped up in the tension I couldn’t interrupt it. The story of the planning, execution and investigation of this crime is highly readable and fascinating for so many reasons.

I enjoyed the background information on the diamond industry and it’s history as much as the story of the men that pulled off this crime that has never been fully solved. If not for some lucky breaks and major clues found by a man who hated to see trash dumped in the forest near his home, the thieves might have never been caught at all.

This is a highly entertaining as well as informative look at a crime that has been solved yet remains unsolved.

4 Rating 4/5


Short Story Monday – “A Tiny History” and “Dinosaurs” by Tom Franklin

>> Monday, December 5, 2011

I read two more stories from Poachers this week.

A Tiny History and Dinosaurs by Tom Franklin
Part of the Collection Poachers
Published: 1999

A Tiny History revisits characters from an earlier story in the collection. The troubled marriage of the narrator of “Triathlon” is again the focus. Over an evening of cards two men compare their marriages and share more than they probably should. When the conversation reveals this to their wives, it gets even more complicated.

Dinosaurs features a man whose job is to detect soil contamination from underground tanks. His latest job finds him at a nearly unused gas station that has a stuffed rhinoceros out in the yard as an attraction. His interaction with the gas station owner is interspersed with conversations with his father. He can’t change either situation but he finds a way that gives him the opportunity to give in to one kind of destruction while trying to dull the effects of another kind.

As with many of the stories by Franklin they are much more about setting the scene and atmosphere than they are about telling the entire story. Franklin has a way of leaving just the right parts unsaid which allows you to complete the story on your own within the scene he has so cleverly and thoroughly set in your mind.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update December 4, 2011

>> Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

The busy season is definitely here. I’m just not getting as much reading time as I would like but it’s all good. I finished Flawless: Inside the Largest diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell. It was a great story of a real crime and the investigation that has still not answered all the questions.

I started reading Turn of Mind by Alice La Plante. I’m fascinated by her choice to tell the story from the perspective of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. The mystery in the story is secondary to the story of the main character and her struggles with her disease.

I finished listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (read by Wil Wheaton) and highly recommend it. My new audiobook is A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny. I love this series and I’m very glad to be listening to Ralph Cosham reading to me again.

I’m continuing to read the short stories in Poachers by Tom Franklin. His writing is so atmospheric and beautiful that I enjoy even the dark stuff because of the way he writes.

Yesterday was Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. Since we don’t have kids and don’t have any conveniently borrowable kids in our lives we did something a little different. I wanted to commemorate the day so we went to Powells and bought some children’s books that we’ll be donating to a holiday gift drive.
Bookstore Books

Where and When did I read in November

Scar Tissue: Seven Stories of Love and Wounds – Present day Chicago

The Tigress of Forli – 1463 - 1526 Italy

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil – Present day near the border of England and Scotland

Flawless: Inside the Largest diamond Heist in History – 2000-2009 Antwerp, Belgium and Turin, Italy

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Present Day California

Ready Player One – 2044 United States

Other than books and reading:

I’ve been busy with life in general but I’ve enjoyed the knitting classes I’ve been taking quite a bit. I finished my first sock and have started the mate. These will be slipper socks when I’m done. I’m ridiculously proud of these for my first venture into sock making. I’ll definitely be making more.

New on my shelves and lists:

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
 The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
BethFishReads posted a review of the sequel to this one and she convinced me that I need to give this author a try.

Missing Persons by Clare O'Donohue
A mention of an upcoming second book in this series caught my interest so I requested this from the library.

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
I read one other book by her and found it interesting. The description of this one definitely has me curious.

Start Shooting by Charlie Newton
When Jen at Jen's Book Thoughts tweets "'s good!" I don't bother asking further questions. I just add it to my TBR list.

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
This is an author I follow on Twitter and I'm looking forward to reading her book when it comes out in January.

A Simple Act of Violence by R.J. Ellroy
Between the comments from Jen and the fact that it's ready by Kevin Kenerly I really couldn't pass up getting this audio from the library.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Audiobook – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

>> Friday, December 2, 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction ??
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 2011
Read by: Wil Wheaton
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A thoroughly enjoyable venture into a virtual reality world that anyone who lived through the 1980’s will enjoy listening to.

Why I Read It:
This is another one that I might not have read or listened to at all but for the encouragement from the bookish folks I chat with on Twitter. I had far too many people whose reading tastes I trust recommend this and overwhelmingly recommend the audio version to pass it up.

The Book:
I don’t think I can give any kind of coherent description of the story without rambling and making it sound way more confusing than it is so I’m using the publisher’s summary.
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

My Thoughts:
I was in college and just getting myself settled as a working adult in the 1980’s so I didn’t get too involved in playing a lot of the video games of the era. That part of the pop-culture references in this book was not as familiar to me as other parts. That did not keep me from enjoying the heck out of this book in the least. All the movie and TV references brought a smile to my face and made me want to re-watch a few movies I hadn’t seen in a long time. I definitely need to see War Games soon (and possibly Heathers).

The worlds Cline created in this book are inventive and wonderfully rendered. This is true for both the real world in which Wade lives as well as the virtual world inside the OASIS. Yes the characters were virtual reality avatars for much of the book but there were real world characters behind them that were sometimes much like their avatar counterparts and sometimes very different.

At times the story became so involved and complex within the OASIS that the return to the real world of the characters seemed almost less real. Cline does a wonderful job of moving back and forth between the two without losing the thread of the story at all though.

I became wrapped up the main characters and their quest to find Halliday’s Easter Egg and win the prize. As the story went on however, the real quest of keeping the evil corporation headed by a man named Sorrento from gaining control of the OASIS became the reason for wanting them to succeed.

The tension gradually built and the fun and funny references to so many wonderful pop-culture memories from the 80’s balanced that out. The danger both within and outside the OASIS kept me involved. I found myself taking the long way or adding extra errands to my daily drives so I could listen to more of the story.

Wil Wheaton does an excellent job of reading this. He’s telling the story as Wade so it’s natural for him to not characterize the other characters with their own voices. It’s told by Wade and Will Wheaton is a perfect Wade. He’s got just the right tone as Wade and I loved when he had to read his own name as one of the elected overseers of the Oasis.

I highly recommend the audio version of this one. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much if I had read it. I’m putting this in The Hubster’s audiobook queue because even though it’s something that’s very different from our normal reading fare, I think he’ll like it a lot.

Rating 4.5/5

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


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