Category Archives: 2013 Book List

“Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson – narrated by Dion Graham

After I post this I will officially be caught up with book posts! I’m vowing not to get behind again. Next month is NaBloPoMo so I’ll be posting daily then so at least I’m guaranteed to stay caught up on book posts through the month of November haha! Ok, on to the review.

This book is a collection of Tyson’s essays from Natural History Magazine. Audible offered it as a daily deal and I snatched it up with enthusiasm. I’ve followed Neil Tyson on Twitter for awhile after reading a tweet of his. I can’t remember what it was but I’m sure it was something either scientific and interesting or scientific and sarcastic or both. He was also in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. I remember being overly excited when I heard his name on the show. Hey! I follow him!

“Death By Black Hole” was very interesting. I like reading nonfiction every so often to keep my brain sharp. I get a kick out of how tired I get when I listen to a book like this. This book definitely gave me brain cramps several times haha! I’ve always been a visual learner, still am even though my eyes no longer work. So I didn’t have a problem with the parts of the book I could put mental images to like planets and asteroids and the color spectrum and stars and such. During parts of the book that discussed planetary physics however, my mind wandered until things got back to what I could imagine. My mind never wandered far though because Tyson made jokes throughout the book that would grab my attention.

Near the end of the book I was pleasantly surprised to hear the name of an observatory I am very familiar with since it’s only about fifty miles from where I grew up. Tyson talks about the Kitt Peak National Observatory and how it managed to get the city of Tucson Arizona to pass a city light ordinance. I did not know about this! Actually the more I think about this, a milky memory is forming somewhere in the back of my mind. Maybe I do remember…I blame whatever illness I had as a kid that kept me from going on the Kitt Peak field trip. I never did make it there before my eyes quit working. How unfair.

This link explains the light ordinance and why we need to preserve our dark skies here. The more I read about this the more the memory is sharpening. I do remember that I knew about this back in the day. It was really cool to have it discussed in the book I was reading, a book written by a scientist I greatly admire. I wonder if the pathway lights at his building no longer point up. tisk tisk Mr. Tyson! I bet they’re fixed. This book was published in 2007. Back to the lights in Tucson, I remember driving near the University of Arizona campus at night and seeing the odd colored street lights. There is a planetarium on the campus so the street lights are this eery yellowy orange light. I’m guessing the spectrum of that color doesn’t travel well into the sky, helping to preserve the dark skies and allowing excellent views at the planetarium.

I really enjoyed and laughed out loud during a segment where Tyson describes all the mistakes made in movies, like the starry sky Rose stares into as she floats on the board at the end of Titanic having the wrong stars. Right at the end of the book, tyson discusses God and science. That chapter was really good.

I’m so happy Audible made this a daily deal! I was glad to start a fiction book again last night, but a nice science book is always a welcome break after I read several heavy or scary books. The narrator was very easy to listen to. Almost soothing, smooth. I liked it.

Rating: Entertaining

“Death by Black Hole” at Audible ~ “Death by Black Hole” at Amazon

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“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King – narrated by Will Patton

I read “The Shining” in preparation for “Doctor Sleep”, making sure to listen to a book in between since the narrators were different. I wanted to get the ‘Shining’ voice out of my head. Make sure you do the same and read “The Shining” first because Stephen King says in the afterword that “Doctor Sleep” is a sequel to the book, not the movie.

What an excellent book “Doctor Sleep” is! I don’t think I have ever literally applauded when an audio book was done. I certainly did with this one. It was after King’s afterword and the way he ended it, in his own voice, made me squeal with delight, clap my hands and bounce on the couch. So so so so good!

In this book, Danny Torrance is all grown up with an alcohol problem of his own. There is a scene in the beginning of the book that was so well written I was laying in bed feeling hungover as though it was me waking up in bed with a stranger after a drunken night. I could literally taste the day old alcohol taste in my mouth, feel the sour alcohol belly, feel the room beginning to spin. That was not a pleasant feeling.

As Danny moves about in life and ends up settling in a small New England town, he finds himself receiving communication from a little girl somewhere nearby. Is this the shining? His talent has weakened over the years but it’s still present.

Unbeknownst to Danny, there is a group of, what do you call them, people I guess, who travel about in RVs and prey on the “steam” released from people, mainly children, with the shine.

Know any RV people? I know of one, Joe Maddon, manager for my Tampa Bay Rays. He’s riding around in an RV in the off season. I got chilled when I finished this book and then read about Maddon in his RV…

That’s all I want to say about this book other than holy wow was it excellent! For me it was especially awesome because it was full of AA, and good AA, AA written the way only a member of the program could write it. It was like listening to a mystery with an AA meeting mixed in. I loved it! Stephen King, you rock! As usual the character development was wonderful. I loved the girl, Abra. Oh and what about Rose the Hat? King is such a master at writing evil characters. I’m going to read this book again, that’s for sure. I’m not doing the book justice at all with this review. Sometimes for me, books are just too good to try and review, does that make sense? I devoured this book in three days. I just couldn’t put it down!

Oh, Will Patton, excellent job with the narrating. There was a lot of psychic communication that was probably pretty clear visually, so for the audio book, they had to make that come across and Patton along with effects, did a great job with that.

Rating: So good!

“Doctor Sleep” at Audible ~ “Doctor Sleep” at Amazon

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“Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway” by Sara Gran – narrated by Carol Monda

I am going to be very critical of this book for several reasons, first of which being because I loved the first Claire Dewitt book so much. We meet Claire for the first time in that book and I fell in love with her. Perhaps I should have known that her flaws would become more apparent the more I got to know her, as flaws do with anyone you get to know well. But man did her flaws take a huge leap in this book. And dangit I care about Claire.

In ‘Bohemian Highway’ Claire investigates the death of a local musician. He’s not just a local musician however, he’s her ex-lover. This brings up tons of old feelings Claire is not equipped to deal with so she turns to cocaine. In the first book, Claire smokes a lot of pot and partakes in some strange drug laced cigarettes the kids she’s with smoke, but she didn’t do these things to hide from the pain like she does in this book. She did them because she uses her visions to aid her in her investigations. Or is that just a lie she tells herself? Hmmm. The addict can justify like no other.

Ok, as I’m writing this, I’m not quite as disgusted. I’ve thought a lot about Claire and the bottom she hits in this book but I was looking at it rather selfishly, wanting the Claire back that I was comfortable with, not this coke head one. Looking at it as a recovering alcoholic though, I’m starting to understand exactly why she had to fall so far.

The main issue I have is, the only way Claire has to go is up, right? Or maybe not. Is Sara Gran leaning towards the direction of recovery for Claire? If so, will her character be as intriguing? It’s like in the TV show House when they tried to sober Dr. House up. It just didn’t work. Part of his character is the addict part and part of Claire Dewitt’s character and even her own crime solving techniques involve drug use. So where will it go?

It’s just so maddening! Claire is such the picture of an addict! Oh no one loves me, I shouldn’t exist, no one cares, blah blah blah when the exact opposite is true! She has good people who care about her but she can’t see it. She’s still so stuck in the past. There are plenty of flashbacks type chapters that explain a bit more about her upbringing, underage drinking, drug use,self harm, sex drugs and rock and roll in the eighties. Claire is definitely shaping into the perfect addict.

My problem is I can only see addiction from a recovery standpoint, so I just really wonder where this is going and I really wonder if Sara Gran has experience with addiction and recovery. She must in some facet because this is just too accurate.

I think I’m being critical because I’m angry. I’m angry at Gran for making Claire suffer so much in this book. Wow, so I guess the book did what it’s supposed to eh? Every writer strives for an emotional reaction from their reader.

Ok on a lighter note, I jotted down a quote that totally cracked me up:

I was watching Iggy Pop videos on youtube and trying to research miniature horse suicides.

Oh, and the word of the day for this book is “vintage”. Vintage this and vintage that. I could literally smell the incense burning in the thrift stores I shopped in as a teen haha! I’d love to word cloud this book and see how often something is vintage.

Rating: Entertaining*

*I don’t want to go lower than entertaining but I can’t say I was entertained. I was more disturbed. But I think that was Gran’s intention.

“Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway” at Audible ~ “Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway” at Amazon

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“The Shining” by Stephen King – narrated by Campbell Scott

I’m rather surprised that I never read “The Shining” back in the day. I haven’t read every single one of Stephen King’s novels but I thought I’d read at least the super relevant ones haha. Of course I saw the movie forever ago but really most of what I remembered about it was Danny on the tricycle encountering the ghost twins, Jack breaking down the door against the background of a tornado in the movie Twister and Danny’s imaginary friend Tony talking in a spooky voice from Danny’s finger and saying, “red rum”.

The book is really quite different from the movie, at least what I remembered of the movie. This book is not a page turner. There’s only so much action and mystery you can write into three people alone at a snowed in resort,but the spook factor was out of this world. I found my heart pounding loudly often during this book and let me tell you, I did not want to go into the damned bathroom. That is not a fun feeling when you’re blind haha!

I chose to read this book since the long awaited sequel is out and I didn’t want to rely solely on my memory of the movie, which was a good choice. The narrator made this book even creepier than it would have been to read the print, in my opinion. His yelling when Jack got angry, holy crap. And his near whispers at times were skin crawlingly awesome.

Oh, I guess I shouldn’t assume that everyone knows what this book is about. Jack is hired to be the caretaker of a luxury hotel on top of a mountain in Colorado during the winter when the hotel closes. He brings his wife and five year-old son with him despite misgivings from his boss. Turns out in the past, a caretaker who brought his family ended up going crazy and murdering his wife and children and then killed himself. As you read the book and find out about the hotel, you start to understand why. Spook fest!

Rating: Entertaining

“The Shining” at Audible ~ “The Shining” at Amazon

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“The Fault in our Stars” by John Green – narrated by Kate Rudd

If I knew every single way to say I love this book, I would write them all here. I suppose I could go Google translate all the different ways to say it but that would take a lot of time and let’s face it, we all know those translators are less than accurate.

So how can I tell you how much I love this book? I have been historically bad at grasping words when I feel incredibly grateful or have strong feelings for something.

I really need to thank Audible for this book. This book is the perfect example of how Audible hopes the daily deal will allow people to take a chance on a book they normally wouldn’t have at full price or for a credit. I’m not sure I would have gotten TFIOS if it hadn’t been a daily deal. I abbreviated the title because John Green himself does too. How do I know this? At the end of the book, there was an interview with John Green and he mentioned Twitter so as I lay in bed, tears drying on my cheeks, I looked him up on my phone. I had no idea he does videos for Mental Floss, a website I love holy crap! And in one of the videos I played, where he demonstrates thirty life hacks to see if they work, he sounds like Augustus Waters! Wait, what? Oh right, I haven’t even written about the book. see? This is what happens. I loved this book so much!

This book centers around teenagers so I suppose it could be classified as a young adult novel but that certainly doesn’t mean adults won’t enjoy it, I mean I am an adult. Sorta. I try and stay young emotionally. Not young emotionally, you know what I mean. anyway, Hazel Grace oh wait she only likes when Augustus uses her middle name, Hazel is a sixteen year old girl who has ben fighting terminal cancer. The book is written from her point of view and I love it right from the get go because she talks about how her story isn’t going to focus on the typical cancer kid book stuff.

Hazel’s mom wants her to get out more so she practically forces her to go to cancer support group one evening and there, Hazel meets Augustus Waters, friend of Hazel’s friend Isaac. I won’t go into any of Isaac’s story but I will say I related to him A TON.

Augustus is immediately taken with Hazel and they decide to go watch a movie at his house after support group. We meet Augustus’ parents and find out a little more about his own cancer journey. He’s been in remission but cancer took his leg. The two become friends and swap each other’s favorite books to read. His is some military ops book or something like that, and hers well, hers isn’t. Long story short, well, no. That’s all I’m going to tell you.

I knew I’d end up bawling at the end of this book and I was not wrong. I loved loved loved this book! Right now it’s definitely getting the top spot on this year’s top ten list. It’s rare that a book touches deep emotions and this one surely did. From the awfulness of cancer which I’ve experienced, not in myself *knock on wood* but with my mom and B’s mom, to the having major limitations when you’re young and all you want to do is live, to the love of books and boys and music and America’s Next Top Model…

Ok wow I managed to actually write some stuff about this book! I’m all glowing inside remembering it and how it made me feel and how the characters knew exactly what it’s like to be me. John Green, thank you! Audible, thank you! Oh and the movie just wrapped filming. John Green was at the filming so I know this because of his tweets. I want to say I won’t watch the movie since the voices will be all wrong and I’m not sure I want to feel the flood of emotion again but I know I’ll watch it. Oh, I miss you Hazel! I miss you Augustus! You’ll be back in the movie! Yay!

Oh! Wait! Kate Rudd, bravo! Wonderful job narrating this book! Hazel’s friend with the slightly European accent? Haha! Great job! Ok why am I writing that as if I’m writing it to Kate? This book, it just makes me gush!

Rating: Marriage Material

“The Fault in Our Stars” at Audible ~ “The Fault in Our Stars” at Amazon

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“Ceremony in Death” (In Death Book 5) by J. D. Robb – narrated by Susan Ericksen

I can safely say that so far this has been my least favorite In Death book. Eve Dallas is asked to look deeper into the death of a fellow cop and she must do it on the down low, shutting out her good friend and mentor in the process.

Her investigation takes her into the heart of New York’s Wicca and dark magic scenes. I was happy with how Robb separated the two and made sure the reader knows that Wicca does not practice dark magic.

Back in my late teens and early twenties, I studied Wicca on my path to finding something spiritual to believe in. I loved the rituals and traditions of Wicca but it was too structured for me. My studies left me with a deep respect for the religion so I was happy with the way it was portrayed in this book.

The dark magic worship though, just made the book unenjoyable for me. I also didn’t like what was happening to Eve’s character and her treatment of an obviously innocent suspect. Was it all the weird worship and magic she was looking into that tried to bring to the surface a dark side of Eve that we get glimpses of from time to time?

As always, Delia Peabody was a delight in this book. I think when I decide to read an In Death book, it’s to hang out with Peabody haha! I just adore her! Haha her Halloween costume! Haha!

Rating: Meh

“Ceremony in Death” at Audible ~ “Ceremony in Death” at Amazon

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“Killing Floor” (Jack Reacher Book 1) by Lee Child – narrated by Dick Hill

I met Jack Reacher in the ninth installment of his series so it was nice to start at the beginning.

It would be kinda neat to go about life like a leaf blowing on the wind (I’m totally picturing Nell), moving from town to town by bus, meeting interesting people along the way, seeing the country, being free. Jack Reacher has decided to have the kind of free life he never had before, not because he’s a criminal, but because he was raised in a military family, constantly moving at the whim of the United States government. It was the only life he knew so he too went into the military. Upon his (escape) discharge, he embraced the life of a nomad.

Too bad for Jack then, that he happens to decide to get off the bus and hike along a road to a little town where a musician is said to have died. Maybe he’ll look into the story of the musician. Unfortunately, he stumbles right into one of the first murders the town has seen in years and he is the prime suspect. No ID, no address, no job, a man just passing through wearing a long dark coat. Reacher has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. One thing he does know is that female cop over there is rather gorgeous…

Ok and why on earth is every single building, street and even tree absolutely perfect? Stepford Wives anyone?

I’m hooked on this series. The character of Jack Reacher is a smart alec sarcastic jerk who knows how to fight. Every woman’s dream, right? Oh, he’s got a tender side, don’t worry.

Rating: So good!

“Killing Floor” at Audible ~ “Killing Floor” at Amazon

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“Solaris: The Definitive Edition” by Stanislaw Lem, Bill Johnston (Translator) – narrated by Alessandro Juliani

“Solaris” was one of Audible’s daily deals and the publisher’s summary totally grabbed me. A science fiction novel published in 1961? Ok! I’ve since found out that it was the basis for at least one movie but I haven’t looked into that. When I started the book I immediately thought of the movie Event Horizon. Have you seen that? That movie scared me out of my mind when I was nineteen or so. I did a Google search and found one blog post comparing “Solaris” to Event Horizon, so I’m not the only one.

Solaris is the name of another planet that takes over a year to reach, if I’m remembering the book well enough. See this is why I need to not get behind on reviews. This planet is creepy as hell. It has a living ocean and I don’t mean an ocean like ours with living things in it, I mean the ocean itself lives. Water creature in the movie The Abyss anyone?

Kris Kelvin, a researcher from Earth arrives at the planet to find one of his fellow scientists on the station in a room acting incredibly paranoid, not trusting Kelvin is who he is at first. The other scientist has locked himself in his quarters on some other floor. That’s it. There’s no one else. Alive that is.

The book was incredibly creepy at first but that didn’t last long. There were several times the book would go into deep science and my mind would wander. I was incredibly impressed though with the foresight Lem had into the future, especially since this book was written before computers were even mainstream.

This edition was a direct Polish to English translation. I think that is partly what intrigued me about this book since my paternal lineage is Polish. “Solaris” was entertaining for sure and I’m glad to have read a science fiction classic.

Juliani’s narration was fabulous but I kept imagining a character from “Under the Dome” (the book, not that horrible TV show) because a character from “Solaris” sounded just like one from ‘Dome’ even though they are read by two different narrators.

Rating: Entertaining

I cannot find the Bill Johnston translation in a paperback. Apparently the other translation was written in the seventies and translated to French and then English and Lem himself said it wasn’t a good translation.

“Solaris” at Audible ~ “Solaris” in the Amazon Kindle Store

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“Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead” by Sara Gran – narrated by Carol Monda

This is another book I got based on this review from Audio Book Heaven. I am so glad I did!

Claire Dewitt is a private investigator unlike any PI I’ve ever read about. She’s not your typical beautiful badass with a tortured past. Claire is a tough speaking pot smoking tattooed woman from Brooklyn who has a past but we’re not sure exactly what. She ends up in the bay area of California but a case brings her to New Orleans two years after “the storm”. We begin to learn about Clair along her journey to a place she’s been before. She is not well liked it seems. Old acquaintances never seem happy to see her. I loved her from the start!

I don’t even know how to begin to describe this book. It just plain sucked me in from the beginning. Claire is so incredibly flawed it makes her completely relatable and she’s so sarcastic she had me laughing out loud several times throughout this book. Written in the first person and narrated by the gravelly deep voice of Carol Monda, Claire just sounds like a real woman. It’s as if she’s there with you, telling you the story of how she investigated the death of this guy in New Orleans. Her tools of deduction, the way she investigates, lifting fingerprints, scrutinizing a birdcage on the balcony of the dead man’s apartment, throwing spiritual dice, consulting the book of a dead French detective, listening to her dreams and trusting the messages they bring, it’s all too intriguing. What happened to this man? Was he murdered, or did he just use the storm as a way to disappear?

You feel like you’re walking through the streets with her and seeing the damage from the storm two years later. I couldn’t help but remember the videos I watched from an online friend, videos of inside her home, everything destroyed.

Claire ends up mixing with some rough gang type street urchins but while they might be gun toting odd drug cigarette thing smokers, you like them. I just really enjoyed this book! Happy was I to discover a second book in the series, yay!

Can Claire Dewitt be my friend?

Rating: So good!

“Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead” at Audible ~ “Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead” at Amazon

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“Eye of the Needle” by Ken Follett – narrated by Eric Lincoln

This was a daily deal book. I hope Audible never ever stops the daily deal haha! This was by far, the strangest audio book production I’ve ever heard, and I’ve listened to books with gunshot sound effects and voice distortions and and who knows what else. The narrator started off speaking super fast, which I liked at first because it seemed to fit the time frame of the story which was back in the time of Hitler. I don’t like typing that name.

Anyway, as with any good spy novel, we’ve got the German spy in enemy territory and he discovers a secret that could swing the outcome of the war in Germany’s favor. Question is, how will he get the proof back to his country? He’s ruthless in his pursuits and appears to have no weaknesses.

It was a really good story. The production of the book however, was just way way way overdone. It only lists one male narrator but there’s a female too and I swear other males. At times he sounds like he’s recording in a bathroom. It’s just bad. Luckily the other daily deal books I’ve listened to have not had poor productions. Oh man, you should hear the narration of Hitler. Hahaha!

Rating: Entertaining

This book would have gotten a higher rating if not for the production. I definitely want to read more Follett.

I should have left this book for tomorrow haha! I’m sleepy and had the hardest time spelling the word pursuits. I hate getting so behind on book posts. Mad at myself.

“Eye of the Needle” at Audible ~ “Eye of the Needle” at Amazon

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