Friday, January 31, 2014

Audio Readers - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There are certain audio readers that are really, really outstanding, so not-so-much-so.

Adams, Lee - The Gooney Bird Collection (Lowry)
Ankoh, Adjoa - The White Giraffe (St. John)
Auberjonois, Rene - Two Graves (Preston & Child) read flawlessly, but pretentiously
Bean, Joyce - Once Upon a Day (Tucker) beautifully read
........................The White Mary (Salak)
........................The Art of Mending (Berg)
.........................Shiver (Jackson) some major southern accents goin' on here
.........................Cape Perdido  (Muller) She read two parts and shared the reading with Dick Hill
Berkrot, Peter - The Accident (Barclay) excellent reader
Bramhall, Mark - The Widower's Tale (Glass)
Breck, SusieBloody Mary (Konrath) one of two readers
.........................Whiskey Sour (Konrath) one of two readers-
Bresnahan, Alyssa - The Lace Reader (Barry) great reader
Brick, Scott - The Book of Lies (Meltzer)  Six Years (Coben) don't like the intonations he uses - at all
Burr, Sandra - Sullivan's Law (Rosenberg) did not enjoy this reader (more info in review)
Cabezas, Maria - Maya's Notebook (Allende) loved it - found her voice mesmerizing
........................Half a Chance (Lord) Lovely!
Campbell, Cassandra - The Beach House (Green)
Cariou, Len - Lost Light (Harry Bosch #9) Connelly - very good for this part
.......................The Narrows (Harry Bosch #10)
.......................The Closers (Harry Bosch #11)
Chamberlain, Mike - Spanking Shakespeare (Wizner)
Chandler, DavidBoundary Waters  (Krueger) great reader, wonderful voices and accents
Conger, Eric - Mad River (Sandford) he has definitely become the voice of Virgil Flowers!
....................Rough Country (Sandford)
....................Heat Lightning (Sandford)
....................Bad Blood (Sandford)
....................Dark of the Moon (Sandford)
....................Shock Wave (Sandford)
Corbett, Clare - The Night Ferry (Robotham) enjoyable, lilting British accent
Critt, C. J. - Bean Trees (Kingsolver) okay
Dakin, Kymberly - Wildwater Walking Club (Cook) didn't care for this reader (see review)
Daniels, James The Watchman (Crais) Chasing Darkness (Crais) Thumbs Up! (I like the way he sort of whispers when Joe Pike speaks)
Daniels, Luke - Taken (Crais) Really good reader - but he makes Pike whisper a little too much
Davis, Jonathan - Chasing the Dime (Connelly)
....................The Cutting (Hayman) very decent job
Delaine, Christina - The Night Season (Cain)
....................Kill You Twice (Cain) excellent
....................Let Me Go (Cain) very good
Dillon, Wendy - City of Ember (DuPrau)
Dolan, Amanda Red Queen (Aveyard) splendid!
Early, Kathleen - Criminal (Slaughter) read beautifully
Emond, Linda - Another Thing to Fall (Lippman) excellent reading
..........................Life Sentences (Lippman) excellent reading
Fernandez, Peter J. - City of Bones (Connelly) great reader (musical accompaniment stunk)
Ferrone, Richard - Dead Watch (Sandford) a very good reader, but his voice seemed a little too old and gravelly for this protagonist
Flanagan, Laura - Burned (Hopkins) high marks
Flosnick, Anne - Little Bee (Cleave) incredibly read with three different spot-on accents
.......................The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The (O'Farrell) beautifully read with Scottish/English accent
Ganim, Peter - The Intercept (Wolf)
Ganser, L. J. - Forced Out (Frey)
Gigante, Phil - Deadly Harvest (Graham) didn't like his Mass. accent (too southern) and the way he depicted women's voices.  Nice voice.
Glenister, Robert - The Cuckoo's Calling (Galbraith) British
Goe, Holly B.Girls' Night Out (Flora) nice job
Goethals, AngelaThe Time Between (White) one of three voices
................................Sisterhood Everlasting (Brashares) excellently read
Graham, Dion - The Circle (Eggers)
...........................The Cut (Pelecanos) read really nicely
Graybill, Christopher - The Book of Names (Gregory & Tintori)
Greenberg, Mitchell - Gun Games (Kellerman) - great reader
Guidall, George - Mercedes Coffin (Kellerman) great reader, wonderful job
..............................Burnt House (Kellerman)
..............................Ser(pent Gate (McGarrity)
Gurley, NanTwisted Innocence okay reader, I could swear I've listened to her before....
Heyborne, KirbyGone Girl (Flynn)
Hicks, Denise - The Island (Hildebrand)
Hill, DickSmall Wars (Child)
....................The Killing Floor (Child)
....................Second Son (Child)
................... Never Go Back (Child)
....................61 Hours (Child)
...................The Affair (Child)
...................The Hard Way (Child)
...................Hawkes Harbor (Hinton) great reading - lots more comments on review
...................Bloody Mary (Konrath) one of two readers
...................Chill of Fear (Hooper)
...................Bad Luck and Trouble (Child)
...................Nothing to Lose (Child)
...................Whiskey Sour (Konrath) one of two readers
....................Blood Work (Connelly)
....................Angels Flight (Connelly)
....................Trunk Music (Connelly)
....................Last Coyote (Connelly)
....................Cape Perdido  (Muller)
....................Dead Time (White)
Hirner, Lara - Opposite of Invisible (Gallagher)
Hoffman, Dominic - Home of the Brave (Applegate) wonderfully read
Hoppe, LincolnSay Goodbye (Gardner) one of two voices
Houck, Linde - Carpe Diem (Cornwell) didn't do great with voices
Hoye, Stephen - The Book of Air and Shadows (Gruber)
..........................Crime of Privilege (Walker) He puts so much of his own personality/reading style into it that it's off putting...he does a fine job, but I don't think I like to listen to him....
Ikeda, Jennifer - The Time Between (White) one of three voices
.............................Leap (Zalben) one of two readers
Jackson, Joshilyn - Between, Georgia (Jackson) she wrote this book and she read it PERFECTLY
............................A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty (Jackson) just fabulous - I LOVE her 'voice'
...........................Girl Who Stopped Swimming, The (Jackson) WOW
...........................Shine Shine Shine (Netzer)- This is a book that she did not write, and I loved her reading!
................................Breaking Dawn (Meyer) Two readers
Kaplan, Neil - The Power of Six (Lore) Reads a sold male voice but has a difficult time reading any other sort of voice - made the other characters sound sillly....
Kaye, Judy - U is for Undertow (Grafton)
.......................T  is for Trespass (Grafton)
.......................S is for Silence (Grafton)
Kellgren, Katherine - Austenland (Hale) mediocre
King, Kevin - Saint (Dekker) Hated the book, enjoyed the reader
King, Lorelei - Finger-Lickin' Fifteen (Evanovich)
.......................Fearless Fourteen (Evanovich)
.......................Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich)
.......................Twelve Sharp (Evanovich)
Kingsolver, Barbara - Flight Behavior - read by the author BEAUTIFULLY (love her voice)
Landor, RosalynWeek in Winter, A (Binchy) - lovely Irish accent, changing to others when needed, a great reading which added to the charm of the book
Lane, Christopher - Killer View (Pearson)
Lee, Ann Marie - Say Goodbye (Gardner) one of two voices
Leigh, Madisun - Chains (Anderson)
Leo, Melissa - Dark Tide (Gross)
Lind, Heather - One Kick (Cain) Excellent
Light, Judith Museum of Extraordinary Things, The (Hoffman) one of three voices, definitely a pro
Linari, Nancy - Fragile (Unger)
MacDuffie, Carrington - Buddha in the Attic (Otsuka)
Mantagna, Joe Robert B. Parker's Lullaby (Atkins) (he's become the voice of Spenser/Parker for me)
.............................Bad Business (Parker)
.............................Painted Ladies (Parker)
.............................School Days (Parker)
.............................Rough Weather (Parker)
.............................The Professional (Parker)
Marosz, Jonathan - Drop Shot (Coben) Don't like the way he reads that part of Win
Mazur, Kathe - Last Witness (Hoffman)
McClain, JonathanRunning Blind  (Child) He did a fine job, I'm sure, but it's not the Reacher voice I'm used to (Dick Hill), though given a chance I might enjoy his reading and voice more than Hill's...
McCormick, Carolyn - Evil at Heart (Cain)
....................................Sweetheart (Cain)
....................................Heartsick (Cain)
McDowell, Jane - The Crossing Places (Griffiths) ah, those British pronunciations!  Lovely.
McFadden, Amy - Sanctum (Fine) a really good reader!
McInerney, Kathleen After the Storm  (Castillo)
Merlington, Laural - Unlucky in Law (O'Shaughnessy)
Miles, Robin - The Garden of Burning Sand - great job, nailed a multitude of accents
Miller, Sue - Lake Shore Limited - read by the author
Moore, Natalie - Front and Center (Murdock) (perfect high school girl - love her reading!)
....................Off Season (Murdock) brilliant!
....................Dairy Queen (Murdock) beautifully read
Morris, Cassandra - Eggs (Spinelli) two readers
Morton, Elizabeth - The Testing (Charbonneau) she read the female protagonist nicely, but didn't do as well with the male characters.
Mover, Richard - The Night Stalker (Swain) great job
Musser, Rebecca - The Witness Wore Red (Musser)  read by the author - she has a nice voice but made awkward pauses between words where pauses should not have been
Naughton, James - Stranger in Paradise (Parker)
Nobbs, Keith - The Map Trap  (Clements) excellent!
Osmanski, Joy - The Program (Young) super
Parks, Tom - Anything But Typical (Baskin) beautifully read
Postel, Donna - The Shop (Black) she is a good reader, but she had a weirdish way of saying her s's that sor t of bugged me....
Potter, Kirsten - The Weird Sisters (Brown) great reader, Station Eleven  (Mandel) excellent
Quan, Samantha - Buddha in the Attic (Otsuka)
Paris, Andy Mr. Cooper is Super! (Gutman)  Does a great kid voice as the voice of AJ
Peters, Donada - Sepulchre (Mosse) British accent, French accent so real it's hard to understand the words!
Pittu, David - Maze of Bones; 39 Clues #1 (Riordan) didn't really enjoy this reader
Ramirez, Marisol - The Power of Six (Lore) reads a young teenager's voice perfectly
Raudman, Renee - Sister of Mine (O'Dell)
Reed, Maggi-Meg - Prayers for Sale (Dallas)
Roberts, Tony - Hot Mahogany (Woods) ihh
Rogers, Elizabeth S. - Dark of Day (Parker) beautifully read
Rosenblat, BarbaraJudy Moody, Mood Martian (McDonald)
...............................The Time Between (White) one of three voices
...............................Killer Smile (Scottoline)
Ross, Jonathan Todd Leap (Zalben) one of two readers
Ross, NatalieWhere There's Smoke (Brown) just fine
Rowatt, GrahamBlood Ties (Guild) really nice reading job
Rubinate, Amy - The One (Cass) just fine
Rubenstein, JohnVictims  (Kellerman) excellent, especially with the lead detective/almost-protagonist's voice
...........................Deception (Kellerman) yup, totally enjoy his reading of this
Scott, Campbell - The Abstinence Teacher (Perrotta) terrific
Shockley, Anaka - The Loud Silence of Francine Green (Cushman) wonderful
Siegfried, Mandy - A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life (Reinhardt) she was great
Sklar, Alan - The Sins of the Fathers (Block) really disliked the intonation he put into the way some of the people spoke - added personality traits that didn't work for me.
Snell, Staci - Eleven - (Giff) excellent reading
Soler, Rebecca -   Cress (Meyer)  I am more and more impressed by the inflections and nuances she gives to the voice of each character.  It really adds to their personality. Terrific reading.
............................Cinder (Meyer) good
............................Scarlet (Meyer) great voice to make the protagonist sound young, but does great voices for others as well.  Very nice
Steele, Diana - Wonder (Polacio) she did the speaking for 10-year old Auggie...part of me liked it a lot, but part of me balked at occasional "femalenesss"- but to be fair, she did an amazing job
Stone, Polly - Sarah's Key (deRosnay) beautiful job with the French accents
Stuart, David - Indigo Slam (Crais)
Taber, Catherine - Gods in Alabama (Jackson) the reader's soft, lovely southern accent was perfect for this!
Toren, Suzanne - Eggs (Spinelli) two readers, enjoyable
...........................-Through the Evil Days (Spencer--Fleming) didn't like the way she read the male voices
Travis, Nancy - The Ice Queen (Hoffman) exceptional reader
...........................The Third Angel (Hoffman) magnificent
Walls, Jeannette - The Silver Star read by the author - and I wasn't the greatest fan of her reading
Walters, MattBreaking Dawn (Meyer) Two readers
Weber, Jake - Night Film (Pessl)
Wheaton, WilReady Player One (Cline) super
Whelan, Julia - Gone Girl (Flynn)
Wilbanks, Denise - Where I'd Like to Be (Dowell) great southern accent
Winningham, Mare - Skylight Confessions (Hoffman) beautiful
Wu, Nancy - The Year of the Dog (Lin) nicely done
Ziemba, Karen - Hand of Evil (Jance)
............................Web of Evil (Jance) well read

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MOVIE - August: Osage County

R (2:10)
Wide release 12/25/2013
Viewed 1/28/2014 with Sheila & Connie - El Con
RT Critic: 65   Audience:  72
Cag: 5/ I ended up thinking it was quite an exceptional movie - both story AND acting
Directed by John Wells
The Weinstein Company

Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin, Margo Martindale, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulrooney

My comments:  This is the story of the most dysfunctional of dysfunctional families.  I've decided I have a very (VERY) dark sense of humor, because this is another movie that when I started looking at it for the humor, I loved it.  Yup, it's a pretty dark story.  People dig themselves up out of a crappy childhood or they burrow themselves deeper.  This story contains a little of both.  And it's the kind of story that keeps adding layers after layer of "What the F?"  The lineup of actors was amazing, and the acting itself was, too.  I've got to give it to Meryl Streep - she doesn't care what she looks like or what kind of a woman she portrays, she gives it her all and her all is always unbelievably believable.  So I didn't even walk away from this could-have-been dark story with a cloud of darkness.  I enjoyed it very much, and I'm really glad I went to see it.  I loved it.

Reviews:  AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest (actually, Oklahoma plains, which I don't really consider midwest) house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Letts' play made its Broadway debut in December 2007 after premiering at Chicago's legendary Steppenwolf Theatre earlier that year. It continued with a successful international run

7. Deadly Harvest - Heather Graham

There are supposedly three books, each about a different PI brother....This is Flynn Brothers #2
Audio read by Phil Gigante
9 unabridged discs/ 10:28
2008, Brilliance Audio
385 pgs.
Finished 1/28/2014
Adult Murder Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 3.96 (Whaaaaa?)
My Rating:  1/Didn't like it at all -  actually, it was painful .....
Setting: Contemporary Salem, Massachusetts

My comments:  Yuck.  I always hate writing a negative review, it makes me feel so badly for the author.  But this book really stunk.  Predictable, repetitious, boring dialogue, stereotypical relationships, characters that could be interchangeable, a head-scratching inclusion of the sort-of-supernatural....and a depiction of the city of contemporary Salem, Massachusetts that is completely misleading.  Top that off with an audio reading that gives the characters crazy southern accents and I'm left cringing.  I can't believe I finished it.  Yuck.  Again.  No more Heather Graham for me.  Just not my cuppa tea.

Goodreads:  When a young woman is found dead in a field, dressed up as a scarecrow with a slashed grin and a broken neck, the residents of Salem, Massachusetts, begin to fear that the infamous Harvest Man is more than just a rumor. But out-of-town cop Jeremy Flynn doesn't have time for ghost stories. He's in town on another investigation, looking for a friend's wife, who mysteriously vanished in a cemetery.  
     Complicating his efforts is local occult expert Rowenna Cavanaugh, who launches her own investigation, convinced that a horror from the past has crept into the present and is seducing women to their deaths. Jeremy uses logic and solid police work. Rowenna depends on intuition. But they both have the same goal: to stop the abductions and locate the missing women before Rowenna herself falls prey to the Harvest Man's dark seduction.

R. I. P. Pete Seeger

Troubadour ... Folk Singer ... Peace Activist ... Environmentalist ... and great American.

94 years is a great hunk of a century - and Pete Seeger had such a huge impact on the 20th century.  He had a huge impact on folk music, on the civil rights movement THROUGH his music, indeed, on history. He seemed
to me to be a simple, gentle man...gentle with strong views that he gently imparted through his music.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone ... Turn, Turn, Turn ... We Shall Overcome ...  If I Had a Hammer ...  all his, whether he wrote them, arranged them, or made them part of forever Americana.

My words cannot say enough about the man.  Here's one lead-in to the story of his death:  Pete Seeger, the iconic banjo-strumming folk singer and activist who performed for migrant workers and presidents, died on Monday. He was 94.  That comes from NBC News..

Or this one:  NEW YORK (AP) -- Buoyed by his characteristically soaring spirit, the surging crowd around him and a pair of canes, Pete Seeger walked through the streets of Manhattan leading an Occupy Movement protest in 2011.
Though he would later admit the attention embarrassed him, the moment brought back many feelings and memories as he instructed yet another generation of young people how to effect change through song and determination -- as he had done over the last seven decades as a history-sifting singer and ever-so-gentle rabble-rouser. This comes from MSN Entertainment.

The Washington Post has a well-researched obituary.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MOVIE - The Book Thief

PG-13 (2:05)
Limited Release 11/8/2013
Viewed 1/27/2014 at Crossroads
RT Critic: 50 Audience: 79
Cag:  4.5 Liked it a lot
Directed by Brian Percival
20th Century Fox

Actors:  Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse

Reviews:  Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of an extraordinary, spirited young girl sent to live with a foster family in WWII Germany. Intrigued by the only book she brought with her, she begins collecting books as she finds them. With the help of her new parents and a secret guest under the stairs, she learns to read and creates a magical world that inspires them all.

My comments:  This is one of those movies that makes a lasting impression.  The story, about how Hitler and WWII affected the German population, was incredibly powerful and well-told.  The acting (and the choices of those actors) was exquisite.  I have put off reading this book - mainly because it's so dense - but have heard nothing but good reviews and high praise for it.  The actress who plays Lisl, Sophie Nelisse, is mesmerizing - she is absolutely beautiful, innocent-looking, and an incredible actress (especially for one so young).  Geoffrey Rush is so perfect as "Papa," and their relationship in wonderfully believable.  The character of "Mama" and Emily Watson's performance of it - well - I was incredibly impressed.  Two words.  Stunning.  Sad.

6. The Bookman's Tale - Charlie Lovett

A Novel of Obsession
2013, Viking
354 pgs.
Adult HF and CRF (settings switch back and forth)
Finished 1/27/2014
Goodreads Rating: 3.77
My Rating: 5/ I really, really enjoyed this book - both story and writing
Settings in the book:  mostly Ridgefield, NC and Kingham, (The Cothswolds), England
1st sentence/s:  (Hay-on-Wye, Wales, Wednesday, February 15, 1995) "Wales could be cold in February.  Even without snow or wind the damp winter air permeated Peter''s topcoat and settled in is bones as he stood outside one of the dozens of bookshops that crowded the narrow streets of Hay.  Despite the warm glow in the window that illuminated a tantalizing display of Victorian novels, Peter was in no hurry to open the door.  It had been nine months since he had entered a bookshop; another few minutes wouldn't make a difference.  There had been a time when this was all so familiar, so safe; when stepping into a rare bookshop had been a moment of excitement, meeting a fellow book lover a part of a grand adventure."

My comments:  Yup, I really enjoyed this book.  I love the way it was written - in short chapters during three different time periods.The short chapters helped me totally remember what had been happening previously in each time period.  The story has a little bit of everything - mystery, history, the book world, mental health, forgery, the art world, a love story and a whole lot of really great storytelling. I want more!

Goodreads Review: A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love.
     Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes ofShadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt's Possession.
     Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.
     As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Craft Books, Crafty Books, Books to Inspire and Get the Creative Juices Flowing!

Knitting for Peace (Betty Christiansen)

Mason-Dixon Knitting (Kay Gardiner & Ann Shayne) patterns, short essays, just-plain-cool-stuff

Yarn Bombing (Mandy Moore & Leanne Praine) The Art of Crochet and Knit Grafitti

5. Mason Dixon Knitting - Kay Gardiner & Ann Shayne

The Curious Knitter's Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions Questions, Answers, Jokes and Pictures
(Created for Knitters everywhere who share the give 'em hell spirit of just picking up the needles and making stuff) - Now who can resist THAT?

This is #2 in a series - the second is called Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines
(read on my phone through Kindle) (audio read by…)
2006 Potter Craft (Random House) $22.99
158 pgs.
Written for anyone who has even a little inkling about knitting for wanting to...
Finished for the second time on 1/25/2014 - and scanned frequently
Genre: NonFiction: Knitting/Handwork
Goodreads Rating: 3.97
My Rating: 5/Love this book
Acquired years ago at Tucson Yarn Co.

My comments on Goodreads:  I love this book.  It's the second time I've read it.  It's inspiring, clever, fun and gets my creative juices soaring!  It's time for me to start a log cabin afghan.  Yup, gonna go pick out the yarn and needles right now.....

I've probably made over 100 sets of dish cloths and "scrubbies" over the past year.  Those dish cloths were inspired by my first reading of this book a couple of years ago.  It's got great patterns, true.  But the insight and information (including about knitting for charity) is extremely extra-enjoyable.

Goodreads Review:  Mason-Dixon Knitting authors comfort, inspire, amuse, and brighten the life of the lucky reader who steps into their world. This book features stories, patterns, advice, opinions, questions, answers, jokes, pictures, and more!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MOVIE - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

PG (2:05)
Wide Release 12/25/2013
Viewed Wed. 1/15/2014 at El Con
RT Critic: 48 Audience:  77
Cag: 5 Loved it, loved it, loved it!
Directed by Ben Stiller

Actors:  Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig

My comments:  This was hilarious, fun, and clever.  Ben Stiller was just wonderful (I never realized how blue his eyes are) and Sean Penn was the perfect actor for the part he played.  I laughed loudly and often.  And I love seeing Iceland, where about a quarter of the movie was filmed, and I loved the unlikely friendships that Walter made. I think the movie was beautifully done, and I'm glad that most audiences loved it as much as I did!

Rotten Tomatoes Review:  Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To escape the tedium, Walter inhabits a world of exciting daydreams in which he is the undeniable hero. Walter fancies a fellow employee named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and would love to date her, but he feels unworthy. However, he gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life's new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue.

4. The Witness Wore Red; The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice - Rebecca Musser & M. Bridget Cook

Audio read by the author
12 cds (the last one are some black & white photos)
14 hours.
2013, Hachette Audio
 352 pgs.
Adult Memoir
Finished 1/14/2014
Goodreads Rating: 4.02 (795 ratings)
My Rating: 2.5/The story was fascinating, didn't enjoy the writing or narration
Setting:  Colorado City, Arizona, then Oregon and Idaho

My comments:  Fascinating story, and Becky Musser was really brave to tell it (and to live it!), but I had some problems with the book. I'm not a nonfiction reader AT ALL, and as much as I want to read memoirs and autobiographies, I never like them.  A couple of problems for me. I have a really lousy memory myself, but I can't imagine that the details remembered in this book, without a journal or diary to refer to, could be remembered truly. Also, I realize that Ms. Musser is not a writer, but she did have help ....  I found the writing repetitive, pretty simplistic, and boring.  The author, herself, read the book, which in a way was really good, but after awhile her awkward pauses between words in weird places really bugged me.  I'm too picky, I guess.  My heart aches for her and all the women that are in their situation, and I'm really glad I got to hear her story.  However, I found a Dateline episode about this whole story which I found much more interesting and concise.

Goodreads Review: Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family's polygamous lifestyle from the "dangerous" outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she became the nineteenth wife of her people's prophet: 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs, Warren's father. Finally sickened by the abuse she suffered and saw around her, she pulled off a daring escape and sought to build a new life and family.
     The church, however, had a way of pulling her back in-and by 2007, Rebecca had no choice but to take the witness stand against the new prophet of the FLDS in order to protect her little sisters and other young girls from being forced to marry at shockingly young ages. The following year, Rebecca and the rest of the world watched as a team of Texas Rangers raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a stronghold of the FLDS. Rebecca's subsequent testimony would reveal the horrific secrets taking place behind closed doors of the temple, sending their leaders to prison for years, and Warren Jeffs for life.
     THE WITNESS WORE RED is a gripping account of one woman's struggle to escape the perverse embrace of religious fanaticism and sexual slavery, and a courageous story of hope and transformation.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

3. City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments #2
read on my phone through Kindle
2008, Margaret K. McElderry
453 pages (which includes the beginning of the next book)
Finished Sunday, 1/13/2014 (Have been reading this for awhile)
YA Dystopia/Paranormal
Goodreads Rating:  4.26 (270,000+ ratings!)
My Rating: 3/Liked it
Setting: NYC
1st sentence/s: "The formidable glass-and-steel structure rose from its position on Front Street like a glittering needle threading the sky."

My comments:  Lots of battling, descriptions of demons and bad guys, people not telling each other the whole truth, which puts everyone in precarious positions...and quite a few hints of possibilities to come.  It kept me reading, and will continue to, I imagine, for the rest of the series....

Goodreads Review:  Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
     To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
     In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

PICTURE BOOK - Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine - Allison Wortche

2011, Knopf Books For Young Readers
HC/Paper $Cost
40 pages
Goodreads rating: 4.14
My rating: 4

My comments:  There's Violet in almost every class or group....or family.  The one that has to be the best at everything, even if it's only a tiny bit better.  Sometimes this kid's a bully, oftentimes they're not.  This book takes a good look at that kid ... and at the quiet kid that's just as good and never in the forefront.  This is a great, simple story -  I used it at the start of school.  
DISCUSS:  Setting, theme, protagonist, antagonist, illustrations, What do plants need to grow?
ACTIVITIES:  Decorate pots, grow plants from seeds

Goodreads:  Violet runs the fastest, sings the highest, looks the fanciest, and talks the loudest. Everyone agrees that she's the best.
     Except Rosie. Rosie isn't fast, or loud, or fancy, but she's tired of hearing that Violet is the best. 
     When their class grows pea plants, Rosie's and Violet's are the first to sprout! But Violet's is a little taller. So Rosie pushes some soil over Violet's sprout to slow it down. And for a moment, Rosie's plant is the best—but she feels terrible. And she feels even worse when she learns that Violet has the chicken pox.
     So for the next two weeks, Rosie waters her plant—and Violet's too. She turns them in the sun, and sings them quiet growing songs. And her teacher says that Rosie is the best gardener she's ever had. Definitely the best.
     This empathetic story captures every child's desire to be noticed and praised, and the subtle competitions that go on in a classroom. It's a book to swell every shy child's heart.

Franklin Habit - Knitter, Writer, Humorist

I have now been introduced to a writer, knitter, designer, and humorist that I've, somehow, previously missed. His name is Franklin Habit, and he's a pure delight!  His blog, The Panopticon, is widely read, and he teaches knitting classes all over the country. His blog is a blast to read - and he's interested in "stuff" that I would never have even thought about!  Three cheers!

And how did I discover him?  Reading his article "It's a Purl, It's a Chain, It's..." in the Lion weekly newsletter.  It was a fluke that I even scrolled down that far on the page.  Guess it was meant to be!

It’s A Purl, It’s a Chain, It’s…

January 7th, 2014 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

MOVIE - Nebraska

R (1:50)
Limited release 11-15-2013
Viewed Friday, 1-10-14 at ElCon
RT Critic:  92  Audience: 88
Cag: Hard to say right now, but I think this one will stay with me for a long time.  At first I watched it as a drama and I was just depressed (although marveled at Bruce Dern's acting), but then, about halfway through, I started considering it a comedy (a dramatic one, to be sure) and wished I watched it from the beginning thinking about it as a comedy.  Perhaps it just turned into one along the way?  But then I loved it!  And that's how I'm going to rate it - I loved it! The second half was awesome!
Directed by Alexander Payne
Paramount Pictures
Black & White

Actors:  Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacey Keach

Reviews:  Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) takes the helm for this black and white road trip drama starring Bruce Dern as a tempestuous Montana father who's convinced he's won a million dollar magazine sweepstakes, and Will Forte as the son who grudgingly agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his winnings.

My comments:  I've already mentioned my feelings about this as a drama.  Since I'm dealing with the aging process myself right now, I found Bruce Dern's condition, life, AND surroundings incredibly depressing.  I guess the black and whiteness of the film added to that feeling - which, I imaagine, it was meant to.  I was enthralled by Will Forte's character right from the beginning.  He was mesmerizing to me - I think he is incredibly good looking and I wanted to know more about his life.  One review I read says that his character is estranged from the father...I did not get that at all.  He was certainly empathetic.  And then when the mother, played so incredibly brilliantly by June Squibb arrived in Henderson, I sat back and just started to enjoy the film.  I found myself laughing over and over, more and more.  Those brothers!  Those cousins!  Those residents of Henderson!  Bruce Dern was amazing and almost a little too believable, Will Forte was glorious, but June Squibb was the cherry on top!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

2013, Simon & Schuster
295 pgs.
Adult CRF 
Finished 1/8/2014
GoodreadsRating: 4.09
My Rating: 5 Awesome/a Favorite!
Acquired:  TPPL
Setting: Collegiate Melbourne, Australia and NYC
1st sentence/s:  "I may have found a solution to the Wife Porblem.  As with so many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect.  But had it not been for a series of unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it."

My comments: :This book was absolutely hilarious - I didn't want it to end.  Clever, insightful, and absolutely wonderful.  It was a way-too-fast of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time!

Goodreads Review: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

PICTURE BOOK - Little Red Writing - Joan Holub

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
2013, Chronicle Books
HC $16.99
28 very thick pages
Goodreads rating:  4.09
My rating: 4/Liked it a lot
Endpapers: All the pencils on the way to school - on a white background
Title Page:  Left:  Pencil School News (with credits
     Right:  Title on notebook paper, "Write often and carry a big notebook."
Illustrations:  All the characters are pencils.  Sweet used watercolors, pencil (17 HB pencils, to be exact!) and collage.  They're gorgeous.
1st line/s:  "Once upon a time in Pencil school, a teacher named Ms. 2 told her class, "Today we're going to write a story."

My comments:   Now this is my kind of story!  I'm not sure how much kids will like it, but it sure is a great teacher book.  It's written sort of Ms. Frizzle-y with lots going on...meaning main storyline, thought bubbles, story within story, words sprinkled all over the page to read -- and lots and lots to think about.  It is visually gorgeous, too.

Goodreads:  Acclaimed writer Joan Holub and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet team up in this hilarious and exuberant retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which a brave, little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000)... and saves the day.

1. Sanctum - Sarah Fine

Guards of the Shadowlands #1
audio read by Amy McFadden (she's really good)
listened to on my iPhone while traveling back & forth to Maine, Dec. 2013
purchased from Audible for $1.99 (the audio division of Amazon)
2012, Brilliance Audio
(10 hrs. 41 minutes)
433 pgs.
Written for YA
Finished on flight from PA to Phx 1-4-2013
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.10
My Rating:   2/It was okay (well, sort of....)
Setting: Rhode Island and Hell

My comments:  I am not a young adult - and there's way too much endless, mushy teenage romance for me, and way too much of the heroine -- who's supposedly smart and brave --- stupidly making selfish decisions that hurt everyone she cares about. Why would you not share important information with the one person you really trust?  Why keep so many secrets?  It's the same feeling I have about Twilight's Bella and Edward ... Lela and Malachi are just Bella and Edward in a different situation. Good stuff here, too - I love her take on Hell - this part of the setting is great, and the bad guy characters she's created.  Very clever.  However, (for me) the story's about 200 pages too long.  However, will I read book two?  Yup!

Goodreads:  A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.   
          As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.