Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas – Audiobook Review

Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas, narrated by Bernadette Sullivan
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Crown Books, both imprints of Random House

If you’re participating in Audiobook Week don’t forget to link up your reviews to the review linky.

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Confessions of a Sociopath takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes the tick and what that means for the rest of humanity.   Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, it unveils these men and women who are “hiding in plain sight” for the very first time.

Confessions of a Sociopath is part confessional memoir, part primer for the wary. Drawn from Thomas’ own experiences; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and current and historical scientific literature, it reveals just how different – and yet often very similar – sociopaths are from the rest of the world. The book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy and is both the memoir of a high-functioning, law-abiding (well, mostly) sociopath and a roadmap – right from the source – for dealing with the sociopath in your life, be it a boss, sibling, parent, spouse, child, neighbor, colleague or friend.

Thoughts on the story:

At times M.E.’s story seems to contradict itself and I would be reminded that the narrator of this book self-identifies as a sociopath and wonder just how much I could trust her. Looking back now, I am not certain whether M.E. is a consciously unreliable narrator or if her lack of trust-worthiness has more to do with with a certain amount of self-delusion that is connected with her condition.

I found the first third of Confessions of a Sociopath to be the most interesting part, particularly the discussion of the lack of recognition of risk and all of the rotten food M.E. has eaten because the threat of food poisoning is not a deterrent. I was also interested in M.E.’s childhood and fairly incredulous when she describes it as not having been so bad, when it pretty clearly sounds terrible to me.

There is a point towards the end where the narrative begins to drag, particularly as M.E. begins to talk about all of her romantic conquests; that section goes on much longer than I was able to maintain interest. Of course, by that time I was pretty well invested in the book, so it wasn’t too big of a problem.

audiobookweekbutton zpsdb6e126c picture Thoughts on the audio production:

Bernadette Sullivan’s narration in Confessions of a Sociopath is not a delivery that would work in most audiobooks, but her dispassionate (although not without vocal interest) patter accentuates Thomas’s own style of writing and makes you truly believe you are listening to a sociopath tell you her story.

Overall:

Confessions of a Sociopath is a highly engaging – if at times very disturbing – audiobook. Recommended

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

 

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The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne – Book Review

The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Published by Gotham, an imprint of Penguin

Raise your hand if your favorite librarian is a weigh-lifting Mormon with Tourette Syndrome.

Nobody?

Then clearly you have not yet read Josh Hanagarne’s memoir, The World’s Strongest Librarian.

Josh Hanagarne is the 6’7″ librarian working for the Salt Lake City Library. Between his height, his Tourette’s, and the fact he is a weight-lifter, he isn’t exactly inconspicuous. The World’s Strongest Librarian is a bit of a catch-all memoir, encompassing everything from Hanagarne’s family, to his faith, to his attempts to overcome his Tourette’s.

Hanagarne has a fascinating story and he tells it with a fresh and extremely engaging voice as his love for books intertwines with his attempts to literally (and I swear I’m using this word the correct way here) be stronger than his disease. Readers won’t be able to help but to become involved in Hanagarne’s story, told as it is with wit and wisdom. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Jungleland by Christopher S. Stewart – Audiobook Review

Jungleland by Christopher S. Stewart, narrated by Jef Brick
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Harper Books, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

On April 6, 1940, explorer and future World War II spy Theodore Morde (who would one day attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler), anxious about the perilous journey that lay ahead of him, struggled to fall asleep at the Paris Hotel in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Nearly seventy years later, in the same hotel, acclaimed journalist Christopher S. Stewart wonders what he’s gotten himself into. Stewart and Morde seek the same answer on their quests: the solution to the riddle of the whereabouts of Ciudad Blanca, buried somewhere deep in the rain forest on the Mosquito Coast. Imagining an immense and immaculate El Dorado–like city made entirely of gold, explorers as far back as the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés have tried to find the fabled White City. Others have gone looking for tall white cliffs and gigantic stone temples—no one found a trace.

Legends, like the jungle, are dense and captivating. Many have sought their fortune or fame down the Río Patuca—from Christopher Columbus to present-day college professors—and many have died or disappeared. What begins as a passing interest slowly turns into an obsession as Stewart pieces together the whirlwind life and mysterious death of Morde, a man who had sailed around the world five times before he was thirty and claimed to have discovered what he called the Lost City of the Monkey God.

Armed with Morde’s personal notebooks and the enigmatic coordinates etched on his well-worn walking stick, Stewart sets out to test the jungle himself—and to test himself in the jungle. As we follow the parallel journeys of Morde and Stewart, the ultimate destination morphs with their every twist and turn. Are they walking in circles? Or are they running from their own shadows? Jungleland is part detective story, part classic tale of man versus wild in the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Lost in Shangri-La. A story of young fatherhood as well as the timeless call of adventure, this is an epic search for answers in a place where nothing is guaranteed, least of all survival.

Thoughts on the story:

I’m not always keen on authors inserting themselves into stories, but Stewart’s combination memoir/history is extremely effective. I’m not sure that either his own story or Morde’s would have been enough to fully interest me, but combined they definitely kept me listening. Morde’s story provides the background, as well as some interesting spy games – including a plot to assassinate Hitler. Stewart’s story provides the heart, the human interest. I mean, this guy misses his daughter’s fourth birthday to gallivant around the jungle! It is his drive and his need to find the lost city that keeps the reader going, and then Morde’s story that provides the color and interest enough to break things up.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Jef Brick does a really great job, I generally had no problem discerning whether we were listening to Stewart’s story or Morde’s. There was one odd moment where I wondered whether I had been confused and there had really been two narrators the whole time because he sounded so different for one of Morde’s sections, but that seems to have been an odd bit of stray editing, or a different recording venue, or perhaps a trick of my ears and not an issue with Brick’s narration.

Overall:

I found Jungleland to be a nice change of pace and an enjoyable audiobook. I think I would have liked the print, but am fairly certain that I enjoyed it more in audio than I would have in print. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

 

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Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky – Book Review

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

There is LOTS you can do with a degree in Philosophy, guys! You can be a valet for a nice hotel in New Orleans, or…

Okay, well, there are probably lots of other options, but that’s where Jacob Tomsky landed, parking cars. From there, he began to move up in the hotel, hitting the front desk and even working as a manager in the housekeeping department. The longer he worked in hospitality, though, the less suited he became for jobs elsewhere. In fact, the longer he worked reception at a single hotel, the less able he became to even move to another hotel because of the way that pay and preferred shifts work in the industry. So it turned out that Jacob just had to stay. Stay, and begin to grow slightly bitter.

As a result of Tomsky’s ultimate frustration with the hospitality industry, we have Heads in Beds. Tomsky chronicles much of his own personal work in hotels, hitting some of the highest-interest, most drama-filled interactions. This isn’t just someone’s catalog of complaints, though. Tomsky uses many of the incidents he recounts to give tips to the traveler in order to ensure the best possible hotel stay: how to get the best rooms, how to never pay for minibar items, and even how to get those movies removed from your bill. Also, after reading Heads in Beds, you will always, always, always tip the bellman.

Tomksy is an engaging writer, and the way he alternates between the inward look of his personal story and the outward look of his tips for travelers works very well together. There is enough balance that whichever aspect of the memoir you are reading for, I think you will be happy with it. Heads in Beds is a must for travelers who want to know what is really going on behind the scenes in the hotels where they stay. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via NetGalley.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin – Audiobook Review

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, narrated by Kathe Mazur
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Crown, an imprint of Random House

Synopsis:

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin discovered the ways to make herself happy. In Happier at Home, she reprises her attempts to make herself more happy, this time focusing on that center of a happy life, her home.

Thoughts on the story:

I’m starting to get a bit overwhelmed by Rubin’s attempts at happiness. Not the projects she undertakes, but her lists. She has personal commandments, splendid truths, and rules of adulthood. These were, by and large, laid out in her first book, The Happiness Project, and simply referenced (and added to) in Happier at Home. This was, frankly, sort of confusing. Perhaps in the printed version these are listed in an appendix, but for the audio I would have liked to have them all listed out at the beginning. It has been two years and probably 400 books since I read The Happiness Project, so I really didn’t remember what all of Rubin’s splendid truths are, which had a tendency to make them seem a bit out of left field when she mentioned one.

Something about Happier at Home seemed much more personal than The Happiness Project. In The Happiness Project I more got the idea that we were looking at broad ideas and then how Rubin fit them with her commandment to “be Gretchen.” Happier at Home seemed to be closer to “here are things  that will make me happy.” That is all well and good and does make for interesting reading, but there seems to be less that is directly applicable.

Thoughts on the audio production:

The structure of Happier at Home is not the easiest to discern in audio. There are subsections within each chapter, but it took me a few chapters to figure out that at the beginning of each chapter Mazur was reading a list of the subsections before she delved into the first topic. There isn’t much that Mazur could have changed about this, as a narrator, and I’m not entirely sure what I would have liked the director or producer to do, but this confusion definitely hampered my listening experience. Other than that, the audio is a good way to experience Happier at Home if you are not looking to take notes on what Rubin did to try for yourself. In this way I think Happier at Home is a better listen than The Happiness Project would be because of its seemingly more personal nature.

Overall:

Despite Kathe Mazur’s good narration, I think the organization of Happier at Home would make print a better choice here. You also may only want to pick this up if you are reasonably familiar with The Happiness Project.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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