22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Classics, Fiction, Kira

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, read by Kira, on 01/18/2014

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s seemed to be mostly a character sketch of Holly Golightly (Gloria Vanderbuilt is one of many supposed models for the character).   The narrator and Holly both live in a brownstone Manhattan apartment building.  Holly was a vivacious country girl, who has become a society girl, socializing with wealthy men, who give her expensive gifts and money.  The narrator seems to be a version of Truman Capote, observer and writer.

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02. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira

Ross Poldark : a novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by by Graham, Winston, read by Kira, on 12/27/2013

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I recently watched the dramatization of this Masterpiece series for the 3rd time in my life (once as a youngster forced to view it as my parents watched it, a decade ago on VHS, after I suggested MRRL purchase it, and now checking out the DVD series from DBRL).  The story weaves in economic and class injustices alongside sudsy and dramatic storylines.  What was especially interesting was contrasting the book version with the TV series.  So much more happens in film, than in the book, much more drama.  For example in the film series, the protagonist marries Demelza, only after she is forced to reveal that she is pregnant by him.  And he is still in love with his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth who ended up marrying his cousin Francis (they understood that he had died fighting over in the colonies).  In the book, he gives Elizabeth up right after he sleeps with Demelza – no protracted struggle to do the right thing.  Also, in the book Ross is clearly fascinated with Demelza this creature who has bloomed as she became his housemaid.

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26. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags:

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Kira, on 12/24/2013

Jonathan Stroud has done it again, actually this title is better than the Bartimaeus series (imho).  The Lockwood Investigative Company of ghost investigators burn down a house in the process of eliminating a problem specter haunting a house.  That’s when things get really interesting, when a wealthy CEO hires them to clean out a mansion where other larger & more experienced agencies have failed.  Join Lucy, George, and Anthony as they attempt to stay alive and solve this mystery.

A wonderful read – good plot, and delicious atmosphere, transports you to another London.

 

 

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11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry, read by Kira, on 12/11/2013

Once again I’m impressed with Dave Barry.  He is so funny.  This time he strings together a cohesive narrative with gut-busting sections, and Christmas cheer.  Its a story told about a family who’s dog is dying and how this affects the annual Christmas pageant.shepherd_angel_walter_barry  santa-and-nativity-scene

11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kira, Romance, Science Fiction · Tags:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 12/06/2013

This title unlike the previous 2, is narrated by both Tris and Tobias. I’m Not sure this adds that much (unlike hearing Beans narrative in contrast to Ender’s version of the same story). I’m always suspicious that the author is trying to pad their work to add more pages.  Maybe Roth is pulling a Hobbit Movie extension trick, trying to get as much out of the story as she can.  Overall, I liked this book, no it wasn’t as fast-paced as the other two, but you gained a lot of explanation.  I wonder if Roth knew where the series was headed when she published the first book.

 

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If a song was playing during the opening scenes, it could be the Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again” new boss, same as the old boss…

11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Graveyard Child by M.L.N. Hanover., read by Kira, on 12/01/2013

Jayne Heller finds out a LOT about her past in book 5 of the series.  Like what happened on her 16th birthday, who was her real father, and was Eric a bad guy, or a victim, and where did the very powerful demon that shares her body come from.fallen-angel-black-dark-female-goth-gothic-scene-winged-78921graveyard childDemon_Hunter_  Creative world-building in another fast-paced enjoyable read.  Loved it!

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder, read by Kira, on 12/01/2013

scentmg scntmg A continuation of the title Touch of Power.  Avry believed to be dead by everyone, sneaks into Estrid’s army and trains them in stealth moves.  We also get Kerrick’s point of view (for better or for worse – I often suspect authors of padding their pages when they insert another POV).  It was exciting, though I really wanted to follow only one storyline, and then come back to the other plotline. scentofmagicAnother enjoyable read!

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Humor, Kira, NonFiction

I'll mature when I'm dead : Dave Barry's amazing tales of adulthood by Dave Barry., read by Kira, on 11/28/2013

dave barry    I never knew how funny Dave Barry is!  I will have to look into more of his material.  The two best vignettes were Fangs of Endearment: a Vampire novel which spoofed Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series, and I also really liked Tips for Visiting Miami which incorporates some data on crime in Miami (which I guess is kinda high).  He has some more serious vignettes on health which include urging people to get their routine exams, like oscilloscodavebarrpes.Twilight-Vampire-Joke

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Informational Book, Kira, Memoirs, NonFiction

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee casts off the yarn harlot's guide to the land of knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee , read by Kira, on 11/28/2013

castoff froganatomy-of-a-knitter1  knit steph Stephanie Pearl-McPhee uses the format of a travelogue to humorously describe knitter’s foibles (including the STASH). She also incudes a number of quizzes so you can find out what type of knitter, stasher, etc. you are.  It was quiet funny and I actually learned a few things I hadn’t know (I am Not a tumblr_loylymBblY1qcg6wqo1_500process knitter).

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

Perv: the Sexual Deviant in All of Us . by Jesse Bering, read by Kira, on 11/27/2013

Jesse Bering asks thoughtful questions in this examination of what acts or even thoughts are considered deviant in our culture.  Are you ready to label someone deviant because you’re grossed out by the thought of their behavior, or because you’re concerned about the harm to the individual (or animal)?perv.rscreen-shot-2013-10-16-at-7-59-03-amperv-the-sexual-deviant-in-all-of-us  Nope, its Not 50 Shades of Gray.images  He draws a distinction between pedophilia and hebephilia (attraction to physically mature teenagers).  He asks us to make choices that actually improve children’s lives, and not prioritize moralizing.  Bering uses both logical arguments as well as scientific research.

27. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science · Tags:

Gifts of the Crow: how perception, emotion, & thought allow smart birds to behave like humans by John Marzluff & Tony Angell., read by Kira, on 11/26/2013

giftscrow   corvids5-500x666This book describes the multiple and unexpected intelligences of corvids aka the crow family.

Tony-Angell crowCorvids outscore dogs and equal primates on a number of dimensions, with their tool use, and understanding that other creatures have minds (minds that can be deceived) capabilities.  Also, Corvids engage in play, from repeatedly sliding down snowbanks, to using a piece of bark to surf the air via updrafts.  They recognize individual humans, and have been know to gift humans with small tokens,

Initially, I really wanted a New Caledonian Crow for a pet (they seem to be the brightest of the lot).  However, after reading the sections where the crows mob other individual birds, and mercilessly tease other animals, I changed my mind.  The authors present a very balanced look at corvids, including the limitations of corvids as demonstrated by the research.  Some of the sections on how corvid brains function, shed light on human brains (yes, these avian dinosaurs show convergent evolution with humans).

Very interesting.corvidstackweb

 

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24. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder, read by Kira, on 11/18/2013

Maria Snyder crafts almost perfect fantasy novels featuring strong female protagonists.

Avry of Kazan is one of the last healers alive in the lands, she has been moving from town to town attempting to hide her gift because the healers have been blamed for spreading the devastating plague.  Healers work by absorbing the injuries into their own bodies, but then healing 5 times more quickly.

Marauders and despots have followed in the wake of the devastation.  Prince Ryne appears to be the only king capable of taking on the nefarious evil-doers.  Unfortunately, he has contracted the plague, but is in frozen stasis, in case a healer can be found.  Prince

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Kerrick is searching for a healer to bring Ryne back to life.

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13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Kira

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

goodbyenow4nowProtagonist Sam works for as a programmer for an online dating company.  As he is filling out an online application in the hopes of meeting the right one, he realizes  that none of the questions really tap into really meaningful issues.  Even if meaningful questions were included, most people would lie.  So, proposes that he writes a new software algorithm that taps into people’s financial statements.  The good news is that it works really successfully in matching up couples.  The bad news is that it is too successful and long term monthly signups drop.  He is fired, then the grandmother of his new girlfriend Meredith – the perfect match from his algorith – dies.  Meredith spends HUGE amounts of time moping and mourning her grandmother’s death.  In an effort to return his love Meredith to her usual self, Sam creates another algorithm based on digital conversations between Meredith and her grandmother to recreate a digital version of the grandmother.

The book seems more like a mouthpiece to explore these complicated issues.  Unfortunately, there is a HUGE amount of whining by most of the characters (I’m usually pretty sympathetic, but the characters are so hopeless and pathetic). Might have been better reading the book instead of listening to it.

DOG SENSE dsugroup dogsense John Bradshaw (not to be confused with the guy who wrote about the family), challenges the conventional wisdom that dogs need to be dominated.  He examines the myth that wolves live in a strict hierarchy with submission and dominance displays.

He contends that the wolves that had been studied, were captive wolves confined much closer together than what wolf groups experience in nature – also that the wolves that were studied were American Timber wolves, NOT the European Grey Wolf, the closest Canid ancestor from which ALL domestic dogs have descended (he explores the genetics of domestic dogs, and though it would have been possible to domesticate other canids – jackals, coyotes, dholes, foxes).

He notes that in the wilderness, groups of wolves form around familial bonds, with the supposed alpha pair, being the parents of the others in the group.

Bradshaw then outlines why punishment is ineffective in training animals (including dogs).

 

12. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

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I enjoyed parts of this book immensely – however, the romance aspect of “oh, I couldn’t possibly be honest with him” drove me nuts.  But the action was uptempo like Divergent, and the ending was good.  I was told it was a cliffhanger, but I thought it was a good ending – everybody wound up where they should be, but new things were going to happen next!  Can’t wait to read the next one.

11. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

NPR: Laughter Therapy: a Comedy Collection for the Chronically Serious. by Sagal, Peter, read by Kira, on 11/10/2013

nprThought I’d try some high-brow humor.  It was light fare, nothing gut-splitting like Lewis Black, but lots of chuckles.  Plus there were a number of news stories, that eventually I decided they were fake ones like the Onion, but I wasn’t entirely sure, if they were reporting on stories, “Facts stranger than Fiction” sorta thing.  Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller were the funniest (imho).npr

06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston, read by Kira, on 11/05/2013

lampblackLaura and her husband Dan’s attempts to conceive a child have taken a toll on their marriage.  They move out to the countryside in Wales to remove some stress.  Then Laura start interacting with characters from the past (some are ghosts invisible to others, while some are characters seem to be enacting past lives).

No – this book is Not as good as other Paula Brackston books I’ve read.  It was difficult to identify with the main character Laura, and the parallel story was Not upbeat at all.

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31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira, Literary Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, read by Kira, on 10/30/2013

The-Firebird-CroppedNicola’s Russian grandfather was persecuted for his paranormal abilities, thus she has kept her paranormal talent hidden.  By holding objects she is able to retrieve memories of people who have held the object.  However, she decides to track down the origins of a family heirloom said to have been a gift from the Russian Empress Catherine.  Nicola knows that the family tale is true, but will need to find proof for the object to have any value.  She enlists the help of Rob a man she previously dated, but ran away from when their psychic talents got them noticed.

On the negative side: Rob is way too perfect, always there, super talented.  Even worse though is the love-interest in the parallel tale firbirdof Anna and Edmund.  Anna is repeatedly humiliated by Edmund and finds herself falling for him. Yuck! Gross!  There are 2 surprises towards the ending of blueariPicFirebirdAnna’s tale.  You can see the first one from a mile away.  The other one surprised me.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the coziness of the settings – London, Scottland, Russia…

I also enjoyed the amount of authentic detail worked into the background of the book.  For example, in the book Slains Castle was being renovated into apartments – which when I looked online, is actually the case.  In the book Nicola and Rob visit a Russian chain restaurant named Stolle that serves pies (meat pies I think).  Turns out such a chain actually does exist in Russia.  Just neat!


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28. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, read by Kira, on 10/26/2013

Another wondocean enderful tale by Neil Gaiman.  The 7 year old protagonist has his world turned upside down and inside out, when malignant forces seep/invade his world.  At the end of the Lane is the Hempstock farmhouse live the 3 crones who protect the world and keep problematic forces where they belong.

I foundNEIL GAIMAN.indd it delightful how central books were to the protagonists life, the part about jumping into trees or onto poles, reminded me of myself, I thought jumping into a tree would be quite feasible, though I’d never seen a real person do so.  I wonder at Gaiman’s connection to his parents during Gaiman_McKean_OceansAtTheEnd_1childhood, given that so many of Gaiman’s tales feature disconnected parents.  Especially since the dedication to his new wife Amanda Palmer, something to the effect – so you can understaocean end lanend … hmmm.

At the end of the novel, I had to return to the beginning chapter in an attempt to fill in a couple blanks.  Was it his Father’s funeral?

mbb cover and flap  brontosauronator_LargeWide sauropods-990x576    Paleontologists have done for Dinosaurs as Astronomers have done for the Ex-Planet Pluto.  Pluto is No longer considered a planet, and Brontosaurus is No longer the name of a dinosaur, rather it is the Ex-Name of Apatosaurus.  What happened is that overly enthusiastic paleontologists discovered “new” species or even new genuses when they found slightly different skeletons. Othniel Marsh was quiet prolific in this respect.

Brian Swintek weavpteranodaones the story of his childhood fascination witUCMP_Pteranodon_left pterah dinosaurs into this scientific history of dinosaurs and our knowledge about them.  Like Swintek, I was myself was interested in dinosaurs as a kid, especially pterodactyls.  I was entranced with the mural and skeleton of pteranodons in the New York Natural History Museum.  You turned around a corner and entered a 3-story high exhibition room with a pteranodon skeleton aloft in the air, then as your rounded the corner fully you saw this 3 story mural of pteranodons perched on a cliffside with the beach and ocean behind them.  I visited this museum 3 different times in my life separated by 10 years each time, and I always found myself entranced with this display.

Also, did you know that Dinosaurs still roam the earth? or should I say flit about.  All birds are a subgroup of dinosaurs.

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