11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Helen, History, NonFiction

The Devil in the white City by Erik Larson, read by Helen, on 03/30/2012

Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that ‘The Devil in the White City’ is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham’s challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Redemption by Frederick Turner, read by Helen, on 03/30/2012

Francis Muldoon is a special policeman in the notorious Storyville District of New Orleans in 1913. His job is to see that the District’s volatile mixture of sex, alcohol, and gambling doesn’t boil over but instead rolls along at a continuous simmer. Once a member of the city’s regular police force, he now works for the District’s vice lord, Tom Anderson, patrolling his patron’s honky-tonks and saloons and whorehouses—both the high-priced bordellos and the coffinlike cribs where the girls work with only a cot and a washbasin.  When Adele, a beautiful singer at the Tuxedo dance hall, draws Francis into a contentious rivalry for her affection, a fatal shootout is the inevitable conclusion, sending the District into a scalding eruption and revealing the central characters for what they are.

Filled with the rich atmosphere of America’s most colorful city,Redemption is the powerfully told tale of a man’s efforts to restore the integrity of his soul.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

A Death in Little Dixie by Lisa Turner, read by Helen, on 02/28/2012

The Blues were born out of need, anger and pride. Murder comes from those same dark places. Memphis has both. One of Memphis’ most seductive and notorious socialites has vanished. Either she’s off on another drunken escapade or the disappearance is something much more frightening. What begins as an ordinary day’s work for Detective Billy Able quickly grows into a complex spider’s web of tragedy, mystery, suspicion, and sordid secrets including a few of Billy’s own. With the help of Mercy Snow, the estranged sister of the missing socialite, Billy follows a twisted trail of human frailty and corruption to disturbing truths that undermine everything he thought he knew about himself and the people he loves. “Memphis, the Mississippi River, and the underbelly of human nature they’re all exposed in the dark brew of this fast-paced Southern Gothic suspense. Page-turning and atmospheric, this tightly-plotted novel turns the screws and sends readers racing to its surprise conclusion.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Business, Helen, NonFiction

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst by Robert I. Sutton, read by Helen, on 02/28/2012

Now with a new chapter that focuses on what great bosses really do. Dr. Sutton reveals new insights that he’s learned since the writing of Good Boss, Bad Boss. Sutton adds revelatory thoughts about such legendary bosses as Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, A.G. Lafley, and many more, and how you can implement their techniques.
If you are a boss who wants to do great work, what can you do about it?Good Boss, Bad Boss is devoted to answering that question. Stanford Professor Robert Sutton weaves together the best psychological and management research with compelling stories and cases to reveal the mindset and moves of the best (and worst) bosses. This book was inspired by the deluge of emails, research, phone calls, and conversations that Dr. Sutton experienced after publishing his blockbuster bestseller The No Asshole Rule. He realized that most of these stories and studies swirled around a central figure in every workplace: THE BOSS. These heart-breaking, inspiring, and sometimes funny stories taught Sutton that most bosses – and their followers – wanted a lot more than just a jerk-free workplace. They aspired to become (or work for) an all-around great boss, somebody with the skill and grit to inspire superior work, commitment, and dignity among their charges.
As Dr. Sutton digs into the nitty-gritty of what the best (and worst) bosses do, a theme runs throughout Good Boss, Bad Boss – which brings together the diverse lessons and is a hallmark of great bosses: They work doggedly to “stay in tune” with how their followers (and superiors, peers, and customers too) react to what they say and do. The best bosses are acutely aware that their success depends on having the self-awareness to control their moods and moves, to accurately interpret their impact on others, and to make adjustments on the fly that continuously spark effort, dignity, and pride among their people.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Helen, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Botox Diaries by Lynn Schnurnberger, Janice Kaplan, read by Helen, on 02/28/2012

In a world where plastic surgery is as popular as a pair of sexy Manolo Blahniks, suburban single mom Jessica Taylor is trying to make it past forty with nothing more than moisturizer and a swipe of mascara. Her glamorous best friend, TV producer Lucy Baldor, has a different idea of aging gracefully. “My body is a temple,” Lucy explains. “I just don’t want it to crumble like St. John the Divine.”
Jess and Lucy’s friendship has weathered the trials of marriage, the births of children, and the transition from itty-bitty bikinis to “Kindest Cut” one-piece suits. Now the women are discovering that midlife crises aren’t just for men—they’re equal-opportunity dilemmas.
To Jess’s dismay, Lucy announces that she’s taken a lover. A very famous lover. Her husband, Dan, is bound to find out (especially after a picture of the amorous duo appears on Page Six of the New York Post), but Lucy’s too wrapped up in the joys of expensive lingerie and romantic retreats to care. Jess finds herself in the midst of her own romantic predicament when, after ten years of silence, her sexy French ex-husband, Jacques, ends up back in her life—and in her bed.

Whether navigating bake sales, bicoastal affairs, or bagels-and-Botox parties, these wise and witty women know that their friendship will remain the one true thing they can count on. Well, that and a good push-up bra, of course. And their bond withstands everything—from an orgy in Willie Nelson’s trailer to a reality TV-show bachelor named Boulder.
Funny, brazen, and often poignant, this irresistible novel offers an unexpected and entertaining look at two women’s midlife adventures. From Thai massage to tantric sex, who would have thought forty could be so much fun?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Getting off : a novel of sex and violence by Lawrence Block, Jill Emerson, read by Helen, on 02/28/2012

SO THIS GIRL WALKS INTO A BAR…

…and when she walks out there’s a man with her. She goes to bed with him, and she likes that part. Then she kills him, and she likes that even better. On her way out, she cleans out his wallet. She keeps moving, and has a new name for each change of address. She’s been doing this for a while, and she’s good at it.

And then a chance remark gets her thinking of the men who got away, the lucky ones who survived a night with her. She starts writing down names. And now she’s a girl with a mission. Picking up their trails. Hunting them down. Crossing them off her list…

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Helen, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Mine are Spectacular! by Janice Kaplan, read by Helen, on 02/28/2012

In the wealthy New York suburb of Hadley Farms, divorced mom Sara Turner is juggling a new fiancé, a new TV career, and a Newcomer’s Club that throws sex-toy parties. Her oldest friend, Kate Steele, is Manhattan’s “Derm Darling”–a successful Park Avenue skin doctor whose office is always packed with the city’s crème de la thin . . . and whose bedroom is frequented by a real estate mogul who has his own plane–and his own very big problem. Meanwhile, Sara’s new neighbor, Berni Davis, has just quit her career as a wildly successful Hollywood talent agent: pregnant with twins, she’s leaving behind her A-list parties and high-profile pals, trading in the fast track for the cul-de-sac. Will heating formula be as thrilling as creating the formula for the next box-office blockbuster?

At an age when women expect to find doors closing, forty-one-year-old Sara and her friends are all on the brink of new beginnings. For these three savvy and spirited friends, facing new options at midlife brings unexpected twists–a baby shower starring a male stripper, the latest Brazilian anticellulite treatment, and a day at a doggie spa that features lipo. Complications arise when a long-gone husband returns from Patagonia, a seductive ex-wife fights to win back Sara’s fiancé, and a hunky soap star stands waiting in the wings. But in a world where women spend their forties trying to look thirty, and girls as young as four use alpha-hydroxy to keep their skin baby smooth, these best friends help one another keep their priorities straight. Most of the time.

A fresh, funny novel about starting over, Mine Are Spectacular! will delight readers with the exploits of these irresistibly witty women. By turns touching and laugh-aloud funny, this is a must read for every woman who knows you’re always the right age for new adventures.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Thriller/Suspense

Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, read by Helen, on 02/28/2012

‘As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me …’ Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Thriller/Suspense

A Simple Plan by Scott B. Smith, read by Helen, on 01/30/2012

Two brothers and their friend stumble upon the wreckage of a plane, the pilot is dead and his duffle bag contains four million dollars in cash. In order to hide, keep, and share the fortune, these ordinary men all agree to a simple plan.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Horror

The Ruins by Scott B. Smith, read by Helen, on 01/30/2012

Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Helen, Science Fiction

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, read by Helen, on 01/31/2012

I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet LetterWhen She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, read by Helen, on 01/30/2012

In Jordan’s prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, “Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.”

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction, Horror

11/22/63 by Stephen King, read by Helen, on 01/30/2012

If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be what you hoped?

Jake Epping, 35, teaches high-school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and cries reading the brain-damaged janitor’s story of childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father. On his deathbed, pal Al divulges a secret portal to 1958 in his diner back pantry, and enlists Jake to prevent the 11/22/1963 Dallas assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Under the alias George Amberson, our hero joins the cigarette-hazed full-flavored world of Elvis rock’n’roll, Negro discrimination, and freeway gas-guzzlers without seat belts. Will Jake lurk in impoverished immigrant slums beside troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald, or share small-town friendliness with beautiful high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, the love of his life?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Horror

The Terror by Dan Simmons, read by Helen, on 02/28/2013

  The bestselling author of Ilium and Olympos transforms the true story of a legendary Arctic expedition into a thriller worthy of Stephen King or Patrick O’Brian. Their captain’s insane vision of a Northwest Passage has kept the crewmen of The Terror trapped in Arctic ice for two years without a thaw. But the real threat to their survival isn’t the ever-shifting landscape of white,the provisions that have turned to poison before they open them, or the ship slowly buckling in the grip of the frozen ocean. The real threat is whatever is out in the frigid darkness, stalking their ship, snatching one seaman at a time or whole crews, leaving bodies mangled horribly or missing forever. Captain Crozier takes over the expedition after the creature kills its original leader, Sir John Franklin. Drawing equally on his own strengths as a seaman and the mystical beliefs of the Eskimo woman he’s rescued, Crozier sets a course on foot out of the Arctic and away from the insatiable beast.But every day the dwindling crew becomes more deranged and mutinous, until Crozier begins to fear there is no escape from an ever-more-inconceivable nightmare.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen

The Dinner by Herman Koch, read by Helen, on 02/28/2013

  It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction

Face the winter naked by Bonnie Turner, read by Helen, on 02/28/2013

  Daniel Tomelin, a shell-shocked veteran haunted by the carnage of the First World War, abandons his family in the Great Depression and goes on the road in search of relief from his nightmares. The life of a freight-hopping, banjo-strumming hobo appeals to him more than he wants to admit. But he insists he’s not a bum – he’s a family man looking for work; a down-and-out victim of the Depression, whose war flashbacks and guilt for leaving his family accompany him through the hills of Missouri.

Compassionate, humorous, and warm, despite the economic hardships of the era, Face the Winter Naked will appeal to readers who enjoy tales of survival in the Great Depression. Stories of desperate men who couldn’t handle the realities of war or financial ruin. Men who dearly loved their families but hadn’t the courage to stay and accept responsibility. The story pulls the reader back to a tragic period in history, where people either learned to cope with poverty – or perished.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Hard Twisted by C. Joseph Greaves, read by Helen, on 01/30/2013

In May 1934, outside of Hugo, Oklahoma, a homeless man and his thirteen-year-old daughter are befriended by a charismatic drifter, newly released from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The drifter, Clint Palmer, lures father and daughter to Texas, where the father, Dillard Garrett, mysteriously disappears, and where his daughter, Lucile, begins a one-year ordeal as Palmer’s captive on a crime spree–culminating in the notorious Greenville, Texas, “skeleton murder” trial of 1935.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach, read by Helen, on 01/30/2013

At seventeen, David “Lizard” Hochmeyer is nearly seven feet tall, a star quarterback, and Princeton-bound. His future seems all but assured until his parents are mysteriously murdered, leaving Lizard and his older sister, Kate, adrift and alone. Sylphide, the world’s greatest ballerina, lives across the pond from their Connecticut home, in a mansion the size of a museum, and it turns out that her rock star husband’s own disasters have intersected with Lizard’s—and Kate’s—in the most intimate and surprising ways.

Over the decades that follow, Lizard and Kate are obsessed with uncovering the motives behind the deaths, returning time and again to their father’s missing briefcase, his shady business dealings and shaky finances, and to Sylphide, who has threaded her way into Lizard’s and Kate’s lives much more deeply than either had ever realized. From the football fields of Princeton to a stint with the NFL, from elaborate dances at the mansion to the seductions lying in wait for Lizard, and ultimately to the upscale restaurant he opens in his hometown, it only takes Lizard a lifetime to piece it all together.

A wildly entertaining novel of murder, seduction, and revenge—rich in incident, in expansiveness of character, and in lavishness of setting—it’s a Gatsby-esque adventure, a larger-than-life quest for answers that reveals how sometimes the greatest mystery lies in knowing one’s own heart.

09. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Horror

Funland by Richard Laymon, read by Helen, on 08/29/2013

The Funland Amusement Park provides more fear than fun these days. A vicious pack known as the Trolls are preying on anyone foolish enough to be alone at night. Folks in the area blame them for the recent mysterious disappearances, and a gang of local teenagers has decided to fight back. But nothing is ever what it seems in an amusement park. Behind the garish paint and bright lights waits a horror far worse than anything found in the freak show. Step right up. The terror is about to begin!

09. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Horror

The stand by Stephen King, read by Helen, on 08/25/2013

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides–or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail–and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.