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review 2019-09-15 04:35
(Audiobook) A Nearly Normal Family
A Nearly Normal Family - M.T. Edvardsson

This is going to be so hard to review without posting spoilers, but I'm going to try.

 

Eighteen year old Stella is accused of murdering a 32 year old man. By all appearances, she's a normal teenager from a normal family. Her father is a pastor, and her mother is a defense attorney.

 

This is psychological thriller is a bit of a slow burn that steadily ratchets up the tension and the suspense until I was sitting with both hands over my mouth on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what the verdict was going to be.

 

The story is played out via flashback and present day happenings via the perspectives of three narrators: Adam, the father (part 1), Stella, the daughter (part 2 & the epilogue), and Ulrika, the mother (part 3). I liked the differing perspectives as it really helped to flesh out each character, and explain why they made some of the choices they did.

 

The three audiobook narrators: Richard Armitage (Adam), Georgia Maguire (Stella), and Emily Watson (Ulrika), all were absolutely outstanding.

 

Oh, and I'd mentioned in a previous update about having an inkling about how things were going to go: I was mostly right, but also wrong about some details.

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review 2019-09-12 00:44
Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens’s London
Murder by the Book - Claire Harman

I picked this up while cruising through my new subscriptions with the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Orange County Library Systems, wallowing in their audiobook choices, and trying to find something to listen to while waiting for Kill The Farm Boy to come my way. 

 

I knew nothing about the book, save what I read in the summary.  In a nutshell, it's something like a forensic examination of the Courvoisier trial in 1840, for the murder of Lord William Russel.  Courvoisier was Russel's valet, and was accused of cutting his Lord's throat while he slept, a crime that was disturbingly close to the one committed in the newest prose sensation tearing through London, William Harrison Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard.  A book the accused cited as a contributing factor when he confessed.

 

First of all, the narrator, Andy Secombe, was excellent; his accent was so very British, and though I have a Yank's tin ear for regional dialects, his variations of the many, many voices quoted in the book, accurate or not, made it easy to follow along and not get too bogged down or confused.  There were a few times I wondered if he was having just a bit of fun with some of the 'characters'; it was subtle and arguable, and it might just be I've watched too many old BBC comedies, but it did not in any way hurt the tone of the narrative.

 

To call the book fascinating would be stretching the point, I think, but it was an interesting read, and a very topical reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Our culture's current debate over 'do violent video games/music lyrics/movies corrupt our youth?' is merely the modern spin of the 1870's version of the same debate: 'do violent, sensationalist crime novels/theatre corrupt society?'  I also couldn't help but think of the parallels between the phenomenon that was Jack Sheppard and the mad rush to get it on stage, and the 50 Shades insanity just a few years back.  Neither book was lauded for its literary merit, merely it's scandalous and shocking content; both translated equally disastrously, though with the same raging popularity, to the stage/screen.

 

The author ends the book by pointing out the myriad of questions surrounding Courvoisier's guilt, in spite of the multitude of official confessions the man made.  Those multiple confessions are part of the reason questions remain - no two confessions tell the same tale - and the forensic information gleaned from the reports and accounts do not fit with any of Courvoisier's versions of the events.  In an age when the UK had public hangings and no appeal process, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say no man would have confessed had he not been guilty; there were easier ways to commit suicide.  Sometimes even shoddy investigations end up finding the culprit.

 

The single disappointment I had with the book also came at the end, when Harman is outlining possible motives; she hints at the possibility of a homosexual relationship between the Lord and his valet.  I found this in and of itself to be sensationalist for a couple of reasons: Harman readily admits that Lord William Russel was by all accounts a happily married man before his wife died and that he continued to remember her fondly; Courvoisier was known in the past to have had one or two female relationships, though he was unattached at the time of the murder; and Courvoisier had only been under Lord William Russel's employ a very short period before the murder - 6 weeks if I'm remembering correctly.  Given the prejudice and the laws of the time, a secret relationship was not impossible, but it was certainly improbable given the known facts.  Maybe the author felt like any objective consideration of the case would be incomplete without raising the possibility, but to me it just came across as hearing hoofbeats and screaming Zebras.

 

To be fair, Harman probably devoted fewer words to the possibility than I just did, or at least not many more, so it's a tiny blip in an otherwise interesting peek into the past.

 

I started reading this before I really knew what squares I had on my card, and I don't have the Truly Terrifying square for which this would be a perfect fit, but I'll use it for my Free Space square.

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review 2019-09-02 20:20
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Postman Always Rings Twice - Stanley Tucci,James M. Cain

Reading this book felt like watching a car crash happen in slow motion. It made me truly feel icky and I really didn´t enjoy reading about these horrible and despicable characters. Thankfully it was a short read and I´m already done with it.

 

Stanley Tuccis narration was excellent, though. He really improved this book by his narration.

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2019-09-02 20:01
(Audiobook) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1 - J.K. Rowling,J.K. Rowling,Jim Dale

This is not so much a review, but more a reminder to myself to indulge in rereads of these audiobooks at least once every couple of years. I love Jim Dale's narration so much. It really enhances these already charming and delightful stories.

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review 2019-08-17 02:11
The Devil Aspect
The Devil Aspect - Julian Rhind-Tutt,Craig Russell

This didn't pull me in right away, but it got better and better as the plot progressed. In fact I felt this to be a solid 4 stars for most of the book, until the climactic chapters, which kicked it up to a full 5.

A couple things I loved were how the patients were used as a vehicle to tell stories within the story, and the incorporation of Slavic mythology was very cool.

I didn't see the twist ending coming at all, and it was such a clever manipulation of narrative! This was a truly wild ride.

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