Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"LIVE For Your Listening Pleasure" By David Sedaris

We selected this audiobook because of our success with "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls". 

Summary: It turns out this is not so much an audiobook as it is a 1-disc collection of recordings from live events in which Sedaris reads to an audience. At least two of the stories were published in other works, and I suspect that the others have as well. It's clear this was not published for the purpose of distributing new content to the world. Instead it is a repackaging of old content. There is some novelty in the live audience bit, but I am just as satisfied with the traditional audiobook, especially if it is read by the author.

What I Liked: This is David Sedaris telling stories. They are always engaging and funny.

What I Didn't Like: It was really short and we recognized some of it from "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls"

Rating: Honestly, I recommend you go for one of Sedaris' full books.

Also Read by this Author: Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Reviewed by: Nick

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Storm Front" by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files has been on my to-read list since it was first suggested to me back in 2008.  Actually, I don't know if it was really 2008, but you get my point....it was a long time ago.  I'm not sure why I put off reading a series that was suggested by so many different people.  Maybe in my heart of hearts I thought I could only love one wizard named Harry and that honor was already spoken for.  Anyway, I've noticed that I've been in a reading slump lately (nothing sounds good and the books I start aren't keeping my attention) so I thought I'd finally see what this series was all about.

Summary:  Need a wizard?  Call Harry Dresden - he's in the phone book.  Please no children's parties or love spells.

Based in Chicago, Harry Dresden is a smart-ass wizard PI who barely makes ends meet taking freelance jobs and occasionally consulting with the Chicago PD.  That's why he jumps at the chance to work two jobs at once; one searching for a missing husband who's taken a recent interest in magic and another consulting on a double a murder that looks to have been done by magical means.  But what at first appears to be a routine missing persons case takes a turn for the ugly when Dresden begins to suspect that the two cases may have more in common than he first thought.

What I Liked:  I liked this book.  That's right, I said it!  I liked this book and it actually surprised me.  I came into the story skeptical that it would be interesting or well written, and it was both and more:

  • The Harry Dresden character starts off as rather straight-forward, almost simple, then rapidly evolves into something much more complex as the story unfolds.  While he tries to do the right thing, he's certainly not perfect.  While he can figure out what he needs to do, he's not necessarily an expert.  (This is doubly true when it comes to women.)  I really enjoyed how Harry's character developed throughout the book and how the facets of his personality changed as he encountered new people and situations.
  • The story was fast paced and interesting.  While the entire book covered just a few days, the action was well paced, the plot line interesting and dialog witty.
  • The world building dynamic was creative and fresh.  The author was able to build his story in the modern world with a magical twist, and he did it by showing instead of telling.  It was refreshing to jump into the story and accept that magic was a part of the world without having to spend half of a book with back story.
  • The side characters! I am genuinely interested to read more about them!
What Drove Me Nuts:
  • Oh Dresden.  He is the ultimate nerd hero.  While I find that endearing for obvious reasons, at times his dedication to doing the right thing even if it doesn't really make sense drove me absolutely nuts.  I definitely feel that Dresden is the ideal nerd/gamer archetype, and with that comes an inflated sense of chivalry and a bit of prissiness.
  • I was able to figure out the plot of the book about half way through.  Humblebrag:  this isn't rare for me, but I was hoping for more a of a twist at the end.
Rating:  If you're open to the fantasy genre and are looking for a more adult take on the supernatural, check this book out.  If you are a self-proclaimed nerd, what are you waiting for?

Also Read By This Author:  Nothing yet, but I've already got the second book on reserve at the library.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" by David Sedaris

I selected this audiobook because I am familiar with the author. He has contributed countless times to various public radio shows, and so I've heard him read stories on the radio growing up. This audiobook is read by the author, so the experience is very similar.

Summary: Sedaris has put together another collection of short stories. Each story is a self-contained tale from his life, using real people as the characters. For the most part it is true, with the mis-rememberings and exaggerations of time. He talks about his time in England, France, America and other counties. He talks about travelling for work and leisure. He spends a lot of time reflecting on his father and what it was like growing up with that sort of parent. And it is all presented in Sedaris' calm and relaxing voice. The comedy is dry and all the better for it. He tells you his inner monologue and lets you know you're not the only crazy person in the world.

He also has a special treat at the end of this book where he writes a series of short monologues explicitly for the purpose of providing content for forensics competitions. These essays are not true stories, but funny speeches Sedaris wants high school and college students to recite for audiences. I don't know if any student has used them, but I sure hope they do!

What I Liked: This is a very funny easy-going book. Basically, he is telling you stories. What could be better?

What I Didn't Like: Could have been longer with more stories, I suppose.

Rating: Very funny. Highly recommended, especially the audiobook.

Also Read by this Author:  Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Reviewed by: Nick

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Lost Lake" by Sarah Addison Allen

In the summer I usually look for more lighthearted material to read.  It's summer, it's hot, and I want something I can pick up and put down in between all summer has to offer.  I read a synopsis of this book online and it seemed to fit the bill, so I picked it up at my local library.
Image via goodreads

Summary:  Kate lost her husband in a tragic accident and spent the following year numb with grief.  She stopped living a 'normal' life and even left the day-to-day care of her eccentric daughter Devin to her overbearing and appearance conscious mother-in-law.  The day Kate and her daughter are scheduled to move in with her mother-in-law, Devin finds an old post card for Lost Lake, Georgia in an old family trunk.  That post card inspires Kate to visit a resort from her childhood to look for healing in the place she spent her best last summer.

What I Liked:
  • The book was fast paced and easy to read---perfect for picking up and putting down when I needed a break from working around the house.
  • The cast of characters was interesting and very entertaining.  Bulahdeen and Selma were entertaining and unique while Lissette's story was quite tragic.
  • The setting captivated my imagination.  It was very easy for me to put myself at Lost Lake and imagine what I would do if I was there.
  • Upon further reflection, I'd love to read a book based on Selma's life.
What Drove Me Nuts:
  • The story was a little lighter than I anticipated.  I felt the author could have delved more deeply into the characters.  They were all so interesting that I wish she has spent more time on their back stories and what brought them all to Lost Lake.
  • I didn't care for Kate's love interest.  He had very little personality and I found the basis of their attraction odd.
Rating:  This would be a good book to bring along to the pool or camping.  It's easy to put down and pick back up without skipping a beat.  This is also a book that won't easily offend anyone, so would be a good book to pick up and pass along to Grandma.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Also Read By:  "The Girl Who Chased the Moon"