Monday, July 29, 2013

Fool's Game

Fool's Game by Heather Huffman

I purchased the ebook from Barnes & Noble.

My review:

Cat is a Jason-Bourne type assassin-- with multiple identities and literally killer spy skills, she was an early recruit into a top-secret organization that the government has decided to exterminate. Unlike Bourne, she doesn't work alone and she knows exactly who she is and who she was, including some painful experiences that she'd almost rather forget.

Though her most recent publication, Fool's Game was actually the first book written by Heather Huffman, and it shows. Scene-setting and character introductions are never Huffman's strongest suit, but this book clunks along for the first few chapters. The action scenes, on the other hand, are perhaps even better than they have been in her previous books, though they do stretch the reader's credulity in a few points.

I wanted to love this book, but there was too much going on and too many characters who were too weakly developed. It was a nice enough read and doesn't demand too much attention, so this would be the perfect book for when you're sick on the couch and just want some comfort and distraction.

Stars: 2.5

For more information about why I am a devoted Heather Huffman reader, check out my comments on my review of Roses in Ecuador. If you are thinking about picking up one of her books, I think Throwaway is by far her best to date. Ring of Fire and Suddenly a Spy are also fun reads.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

I purchased the audiobook on CD from Better World Books.

My review:

This third installment of the Fever series is a change from Darkfever and Bloodfever. There are more headgames and less action. Mac spends a lot of time trying to sort out loyalties, discern others' motivations, and figure out her next moves. Her "association" with Barrons is shifting discernibly, as well.

After the petunia-kicking of the first two books, Faefever is a slight letdown but is still well-worth the read or listen. Readers who have been with Mac this long will enjoy puzzling out the players on the game board alongside her.

Joyce Bean again does a lovely job with the reading.

Stars: 4

Runability: 5

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Animal Farm

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I downloaded the audiobook from the public library's OverDrive service.

My review:

Animal Farm is short, pointed, and definitely a product of its time. An allegory of a dystopian communist society, it illustrates the tactics used by dictators and repressive regimes to oppress, deceive, and exploit the civilians.

There is no subtlety in Animal Farm. There is not much optimism, either. Things go from bad to worse and the animals who garner the most sympathy and admiration suffer the most cruelly. But the book makes an important statement about the dangers of giving too much power and too little oversight to governing bodies claiming to serve.

Stars: 4

I listened to this book in one day-- granted, one day in which I spent several hours in the car. I am glad that I have "read" it. The agrarian setting makes it somehow a little less bleak than I found Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. It also makes the same points more succinctly and memorably.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

I borrowed the audiobook on CD from my local public library.

My review:

Bloodfever is the second in the Fever series; my review of the first book can be found here. As Bloodfever is a continuation of the same story, the review and critique of it is much the same. Mac digs deeper for secrets and encounters more "players on the board."

In Bloodfever Mac has learned enough to start being more proactive, but her voice stays the same and her character's development is gradual and constant; as she becomes less "glam-girl Mac" and more "savage Mac," the transition is smooth and does not jar or go in fits and bursts. Fans of the first book will be excited to dive into the more robust action in the second.

Stars: 5

Runability: 5

Again, this was a re-listen for me. I'm enjoying the books every bit as much the second time around.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I downloaded the ebook from the public library's OverDrive service.

My review:

It's an alternate edition of 1985, when the Crimean War still drags on and Special Operations forces try to maintain some semblance of order to the dimensions (the Chrono Guard stays busy keeping time in line) and various other aspects of the world.

Fforde's universe is reminiscent of something created by Douglas Adams or Neil Gaiman, though not to the same level of humorous absurdity. The heroine, Thursday Next, finds her surroundings more or less predictable. While this world may not make much sense to the reader, it does to the people inhabiting it. This is an important differentiation between The Eyre Affair and books like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which the protagonist is at least as baffled as the reader.

Recommended for readers who have a love for classic British literature and history as well as the works of Adams, Gaiman, and Pratchett.

Stars: 3

Objective stars: 4

I had a difficult time getting into this book. Life has sent us some exceptional challenges lately and I am finding myself drawn toward easy, contemporary books with neat, happy endings. This is a book that I would have adored in high school and college, and I think that I may return to the series later and give it another shot. For right now, my brain just didn't want to puzzle out the intricacies of Thursday's 1985.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Savannah Blues

Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

I borrowed the audiobook on CD from my local public library since Brilliance Audio titles are no longer available for download through the OverDrive service.

My review:

"Landing a catch like Talmadge Evans III got Eloise "Weezie" Foley a jewel of a town house in Savannah's historic district. Divorcing Tal got her exiled to the backyard carriage house, where she has launched a spite-fest with Tal's new fiancée, the elegant Caroline DeSantos." --Product description from LibraryThing

Weezie is trying to get her antiques business up and running and to hold her head high and her ground firm. That's no easy feat and she needs every bit of her brains and her sense of humor. Her narration is full of dry wit, pithy observations, and tell-it-like-it-is honesty... at least in her own head, in conversations with her best friend Bebe, and for the reader's benefit.

Passages that follow her priest-turned-lawyer Uncle James aren't as sassy but do suit his character well, and they add depth to the portrayal of the upper-middle-class Savannah social set. James becomes almost as fun to follow as Weezie is, herself.

Stars: 5

Runability: 5

I can't even begin to capture this book in a review. It's just wonderful. Susan Ericksen is quickly becoming one of my favorite audiobook readers and she hits this one out of the park. I laughed, and I gasped, and I couldn't figure out whodunnit (I never can). It's sexy and funny and sigh-worthy and I just wanted to crawl into this book and live there. A new favorite, for sure!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Once Upon a Prince

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

I received a review copy from the publisher (Zondervan) via NetGalley.

My review:

I like the library description I found on LibraryThing: "When a jilted girlfriend meets a reluctant crown prince, they discover the power of God's love to heal hearts and change a nation."

The basic storyline has already been explored in works like A Royal Pain and the movie The Prince and Me, but Hauck breathes fresh life into the familiar plot. She manages to do so while conveying a strong Christian message without being heavy-handed or unrealistic.

Susanna's situation is one that is familiar to most young women, and readers will relate to her and understand her problems and fears. While Nate's external circumstances are less typical, his internal struggles keep him from being a stiff "Prince Charming" stock character. Little sister Avery is particularly charming as supporting cast, and the Georgia coast setting is a homey and romantic backdrop for the blossoming of a friendship into more.

The first few pages of prose were a little heavy, but Hauck hit her stride quickly and treats us to an enchanting little fantasy with more than a toehold in the real world. Highly recommended for readers of contemporary Christian romance who got up early to watch the Will & Kate wedding.

Stars: 5

This is the first book by Rachel Hauck that I've actually read, but I have a few of her other works on my to-read list and now I'm excited to get to them. This little novel was a delightful summer treat.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson

I downloaded the audiobook from the public library's OverDrive service (Publisher: Books on Tape).

My review:

Bill Bryson is back with his unique perspective on American life. This book, as indicated by the title, is a memoir of his growing-up years in Des Moines in the 1950s. It is more of a memoir of "childhood" or "kid world" than a strict autobiographical account, and Bryson brings his dry, affectionate, understated wit to bear on to one of the most cherished periods of American history.

This hilarious tour of "kid world" will resonate with anyone who was ever a child, whether or not they experienced that particular phase of life during the 1950s.

Stars: 5

Runability: 1

I tried running to this one, I really did, but I just can't run and laugh out loud at the same time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Actors turning to audiobook narration

A librarian news blog I follow linked to this article in the NYT today. Up-and-coming (and established) actors are jumping into the expanding opportunities of audiobook narration.

Actors Today Don't Just Read for the Part. Reading IS the Part

While I still can't quite forgive Audible/Amazon, I am glad that so many people are able to find steady work that uses and honors their skills. And, of course, as a reader/listener, I'm delighted that we benefit by having access to such high-quality audio productions that combine the best of acting and reading.