Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan – Audiobook Review

Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan, narrated by Erik Davies
Published in audio by Penguin Audio, published in print by Amy Einhorn Books, both imprints of Penguin

This is the second book in the David Loogan series. I previously reviewed the first book, Bad Things Happen.

Synopsis:

Things have mostly settled down for David Loogan; Grey Streets is chugging along fairly well, and his relationship with Elizabeth Waishkey is quite good, with David all but living with Elizabeth and her daughter. Until one day David finds a manuscript outside his door detailing the murder of multiple individuals who have recently died and the threat of another man who is next. All of the victims have one thing in common, they were the perpetrators of the Great Lakes Bank Robbery years earlier. Now Loogan must discover who is killing them, and why.

Thoughts on the story:

I just love Harry Dolan’s David Loogan series – even if I do have a tendency to mix up the author and character name for some bizarre reason. These mysteries are super smart with a literary bent to both the writing and the plot. Loogan’s job as the editor of a small literary magazine devoted to mysteries is a fantastic hook that Dolan, who is an editor himself, plays perfectly. Very Bad Men succeeds because it manages to provide both a feeling of continuity with Bad Things Happen and a plot that is fresh and not merely a rehashing of the first book.

The plot of Very Bad Men kept me guessing to figure out what exactly was going on and who was behind it, while at the same time coming together in a very plausible way.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Erik Davies is so exactly David Loogan that it is almost eerie. He doesn’t excel at narrating women, though, and they took a more prominent role in Very Bad Men than they did in Bad Things Happen, so that detracted a bit from the audio experience. For a more details on the audio, please see my review in Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

Another smart, engaging thriller from Harry Dolan, complemented by more great narration from Erik Davies. Recommended.

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

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review 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: .
* 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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I is an Other by James Geary – Book Review

I is an Other by James Geary
Published by Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins

Generally I prefer to write my own synopses of the books I review here. I think that reading a different description than the one found on an online bookseller’s site, or on the jacket flap provides my readers with an additional window into the book, and I think the way someone summarizes a book can tell you a lot about said book. Some books, however, are somewhat beyond my powers of synopsis. That being the case, I will have to share with you part of the publisher’s description of I is an Other.

From President Obama’s political rhetoric to the housing bubble burst. James Geary proves in this fascinating and entertaining book that every aspect of our experience is molded by metaphor.

When they say that every aspect of our experience is molded by metaphor they aren’t kidding. Geary covers everything from politics, to brain function and autism spectrum disorder, to the power of metaphor on our psyche. In the best of all worlds, I is an Other would be treated to an extensive scholarly discussion and review. There is a lot of meat there. I am a person who does not tend to take notes or mark passages when I read, but I marked passages in I is an Other like a crazy person. Unfortunately, I am still trying to wrap my head around the entirety of the information presented.

The scope of I is an Other is astounding, but Geary is somehow able to bring it together cohesively in slightly over 200 pages. Each chapter is predominantly self-contained on the chosen subject, although they are best written in sequence, as some prior knowledge is built upon from chapter to chapter. In addition to making a huge topic approachable, Geary also does an admirable job of making his content understandable. He goes into a degree of depth not only about metaphor, but about his different subjects as well, and the same person who is interested in metaphor may not be someone who would knowingly pick up a book on the market crash, or on brain science.

Still, Geary manages to put everything in comprehensible packages – primarily through metaphor, thereby proving the basic premise of the book in the first place. A degree of well-rounded intelligence and breadth of knowledge is assumed, however, as is a willingness to put on your thinking cap because, while Geary wants to make his subject readable, he is not particularly interested in dumbing it down. It isn’t required that you know what an active metaphor is, but you must at least think about it or look it up.

The idea that metaphor is so much more than language was positively revelatory for me, and I think this is a book that could fascinate many who are willing to put in the effort and not be intimidated by the initially cryptic title and cover. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound | Amazon*

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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Feed by Mira Grant – Audiobook Review

Feed by Mira Grant, narrated by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein

Synopsis:

Please don’t stop reading this review when I tell you there are zombies.

Georgia and Shaun Mason live in the same world we do, just about 30 years in the future. Twenty-five years after science goes amuck, curing the common cold, but inadvertantly infecting every human being on the planet with a virus that turns them into zombies when they die. At least nobody gets colds anymore. Brother and sister, Georgia and Shaun are licensed bloggers, looking to jump to their own site. Georgia is a newsie, and Shaun is an irwin – the term for the highly adventerous who like to poke zombies with sticks (I can only assume it is a reference to the late Steve Irwin). When Georgia and Shaun learn that they have landed the gig of official bloggers for the presidential campaign of Senator Ryman – a smart, affable man – they figure they have arrived, everything seems to be going right by any standards. Until everything on the campaign starts going wrong, starting with a zombie attack on the Senator’s compound that can only be sabatogue.

Thoughts on the story:

I know, the whole cure colds and create zombies thing sounds a little bizarre when I type it here, but Grant made it seem ever-so-reasonable. Really, A+ for world building. In a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel (I think this definitely leans more towards post-apocalyptic), I have this intense need to understand how exactly the world got the way it has become, I think it has to do with having been a history major. Grant totally came through for me on that. Georgia imparted to me everything I needed or wanted to know about the zombie-filled United States of 30 years from now, but it was done in a way that avoided simply being an information dump. Everything told was relevant to something happening in the story, or would have legitimately been written on her blog.

I completely loved Georgia. She was a really strong female protagonist who managed to seemlessly meld a no-nonsense business attitude with a deep love for her brother and friends and a deep passion for the truth. She also kept the story interesting with her dry humor and her quick (but not too quick) ability to work out what was going on.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Paula Christensen was the perfect choice to narrate Georgia, she absolutely became the character for me. “Feed” was well-suited for audio to begin with, since the entire story is told in first person, but Christensen totally nailed it. I did initially think it odd to have Jesse Bernstein around for what seemed like only narrating his blog posts at the beginning of chapters, but I understand now why that was done and am okay with it, even if it was slightly disconcerting while I was listening.

Overall:

Honestly, “Feed” was everything I had hoped that “The Passage” would be but it wasn’t.

I seriously loved both this story and the audio production. There was just so much energy to it, and the story was so interesting. The zombies were really more of a device to fuel the story about politics and new v. old media and, perhaps partially because I’m already very interested in those things, it totally worked for me. Loved it, can’t wait fo the second book in the trilogy, recommend it highly.

Buy this book from:
Audible: Audio download
Powells: Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Amazon: Print*

This review was done with a audio download sent to me for review.
* 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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The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner – Book Review

The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner

Catherine de Medici’s early life was rocky. She was orphaned mere weeks after her birth, then at 8 was forcibly placed in a hostile convent when Medici power was overthrown in Florence. Finally, at 11, she was able to go live with her uncle, Pope Clement VII. Rome having recently been sacked by the troops of King Charles of Spain, Clement saw Catherine as an opportunity to cement an alliance with France by wedding her to Henry, second son of King Francois.

Unfortunately, Catherine and Henry didn’t exactly have a fairy tale marriage, since he was far more interested in his nursemaid-turned-mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Catherine’s early denigration at Henry’s neglectful hands require her to become politically savvy and crafty, a trait that will serve her well when she has to advise her son the King – or will it.

I’ve loved C.W. Gortner’s writing since his debut novel, “The Last Queen.” One of my favorite things about him is that he does not simply write the same story that is already dominating the shelves, but chooses amazingly strong and misunderstood women in history, women whose stories are still fresh to the reader. Catherine de Medici is no exception. A patron of Nostradamus, Catherine’s mythology includes a woman who practices dark magic and planned the massacre of France’s Huguenots in the St. Bartolomew’s Day Massacre.

Gortner’s Catherine knows what it is to be persecuted for who you are from the days when the Medicis were overthrown in Florence, and accordingly she actually has a good deal of sympathy for the plight of the Huguenots and advocates a measure of religious tolerance. When conflict between the Catholics and Protestants begins to threaten her familys reign, however, she is forced to take action.

A good half of “Confessions of Catherine de Medici” focused on the conflict between the Catholics and Huguenots, leading up to and following the St. Bartolomew’s Day Massacre. This could have perhaps been overkill, but Gortner made it work very well. I never felt that I’d been reading the same thing over and over, but he kept the story moving forward, even though it was progressing through one main source of conflict.

I highly recommend “The Confessions of Catherine de Medici,” and I can only hope that Gortner is hard at work on another book!

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a book received from the 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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