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Hitrecord on TV! Season One by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Source: Dey Street Books
Video, 8 episodes
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HitRecord on TV Season One by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a collaborative effort like the books, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 1, 2, and 3, but these collaborations come to life on stage and in video.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the host of the show, but really he’s his own variety show in that he can act, dance, do tricks, play several instruments, sing, and coordinate all of these projects with hundreds of collaborators.  While this box set includes full-color, stylized booklets for each episode, its the downloaded episodes that will have people riveted.  This show is addictive.  It is not American Idol or The Voice, or any other competitive show about who is the best.  This is a creative engine that is generating a life of its own beyond the screen and the books to create its own artistic community of collaborators and re-mixers.  It is addictive to watch, and I’ve had the song, Freakin’ On My Front Lawn stuck in my head for days!

Each episode is chock full of facts, stories, and fun, JGL takes his role as collaborator and host seriously and he’s all about honest production and fun.  There is audience interaction at the live reveals and each piece begins with the germ of an idea.  Rather than focus on our actual trash production, the episode on trash spoke with John Waters to talk about what it means to make or be trash.  These interviews with the famous and famous in their own industry add even more flavor to the show.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt clearly loves these projects from beginning to end, and audiences will be infected with this sense of joy and inspiration from the moment they begin watching.

With only eight downloadable episodes, the season seems too short, but there are additional downloads from 17 songs/soundtracks to bonus content.  Do not forget about the books!  These slim volumes include so much in such a small space that they are little powerhouses unto themselves.  HitRecord on TV Season One by Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make the perfect gift for the artists in the family, but also for those looking for a fresh show the likes of Ed Sullivan.  The only drawback is these are downloads and not DVDs, and for some of us not quite versed in streaming from computers to televisions, etc., it makes it a little harder.  But it is well worth the effort.

About the Artist:

HitRECord founder and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s acting career has managed to garner a massive popular appeal while maintaining a widely respected artistic integrity. He recently starred in Christopher Nolan’s Academy Award-nominated Inception and received Golden Globe, Independent Spirit and People’s Choice award nominations for his performance in (500) Days of Summer. Currently earning rave reviews for his performance in 50/50, also starring Seth Rogen, his upcoming films include David Koepp actioner Premium Rush and Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller Looper, with Bruce Willis. He is currently in production on The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and will next begin work opposite Daniel Day Lewis in Steven Spielberg’s Abraham Lincoln biopic, Lincoln.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 11+ hours
On Amazon and on Kobo

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy, chronicles the disjointed life of a woman who has lost her memory in an accident.  Each night, while she is sleeping, she loses all her memories of her present and past.  She remembers her life up until about her 20s, but only the journal she keeps helps her remain grounded in the life and the husband she no longer recognizes.  This is a fast-paced debut novel that examines the role that memory plays in how we identify ourselves and our own happiness.  Christine Lucas is a writer who is struggling each day to remember her life before an accident wiped out her memories, an accident she doesn’t even remember.  As she begins keeping a secret journal and meeting with Dr. Nash to try some treatments to regain her memory, dark secrets about her life, her past, and her current situation bubble to the surface.

Watson has carefully crafted a character adrift in her own life, and while some of the details are needlessly repeated as she wakes from sleep each morning and struggles to remember her life, readers are swept up in this mystery.  As the book is told from Christine’s point of view, the reader has only her knowledge to draw conclusions from, and this can be frustrating.  While the cues are there to unravel the mystery beforehand, readers will likely enjoy this crazy journey as well as become frustrated with the main character’s stupid decisions from time to time.  There are times when reading the journal should have taken much more time than it seems to, which would have left her little time to do much else in a day, especially for someone who wakes up with a blank slate every morning.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, which was out October book club selection, was an interesting debut, and it did mirror the feel of the movie Memento, but the ending was disappointing and some parts in the middle dragged a bit.  While this is fast-paced toward the end when everything starts to fall in place, there could have been further editing in the middle that would have tightened this up more and made it even more thrilling.

A note about the narrator, her voice really grated on my for some reason and she seemed to lose the tone when speaking as a male character, slipping back into Christine’s voice, which made it hard for me to follow along at certain points.

About the Author:

S J Watson was born in the UK, lives in London and worked in the NHS for a number of years.  In 2011 Watson’s debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, was released to critical acclaim. It has now been published in over 40 languages, and has become an international bestseller, winning numerous awards.   The movie of Before I Go To Sleep, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, is due for worldwide release in Autumn 2014. Watson’s second book is out in Spring 2015.

What Book Club Thought (Beware of spoilers):

Most of the book club felt that this was a quick and entertaining read, even though many of us didn’t think the mystery was much of one.  The writing was well done for the most part, and with it being made into a movie a few people expressed interest in seeing it, either on video or on Netflix, etc. I personally thought a better twist would have been to have Dr. Nash be her son. While one person couldn’t even get into the book at all.  There was quite a bit of repetition, which may have grated on people early on, but when a main character has no ability to make new memories, they tend to repeat things.

73rd book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

Feed by Mira Grant

Source: Book Expo America
Audiobook, 15+
On Amazon and on Kobo

Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant (a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire), read by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein, is a post-apocalyptic world in which the traditional news is no longer trusted and zombies have taken over the world, just after humanity created a cure for cancer and the common cold in 2014.  Bloggers Georgia Mason, Shaun Mason, Georgette “Buffy” Meissonier, and Richard Cousins run a semi-popular blog that reports the news about zombies and politics, with Georgia considered a newsy, Shaun an Irwin or zombie poker, and Georgette handling the fictional stories/poems and tech behind the blog, After the End Times.  When they are selected to follow the campaign of Republican senator Peter Ryman, who is running for the presidential nomination in 2040, the blog skyrockets to the top of the feed as the campaign trail is wrought with danger from zombie herds and more.  Once Ryman gains the nomination and selects Texas Gov. Tate as a running mate to balance the ticket, Richard Cousins joins the team as another newsy.

I never asked to be a hero. No one ever gave me the option to say I didn’t want to, that I was sorry, but that they had the wrong girl.

Grant’s zombie book is horrifying, but funny, as Shaun and Georgia banter back and forth as only siblings can.  Virology and the source of the virus that causes the zombies is well explained, as is how it is transmitted, but at no point is any of this information presented in a dry or uninteresting way.  The addition of blog posts from the bloggers is a nice touch as well.  However, there were points while listening that some information about the transmission of the virus is repeated throughout the book and probably could have been cut out, particularly the bit about mammals under 40 pounds not turning into zombies like animals of larger sizes.  The audio is well done, and the characters are easily discerned from one another.  The narrators did a great job making the emotions of the characters tangible.

Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant, read by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein is a journey into a world dominated by corrupt government, news, and zombies.  This is a tension-filled, thrilling novel that presents a believable world in which zombies exist and are mostly contained.  The political machinations mirror those of today’s society, as is the government protocols that constrain movement of humans through infected areas.  Grant meshes the horror of zombie apocalypses, blogging, news, and politics very well, and there are nods to previous zombie fiction and movies, which are viewed as helpful to the society’s reaction to the infection.  Blood, death, and tragedy are expected, but the ending could surprise some readers, though as it is a trilogy, it should be anticipated.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Northern California, Mira Grant has made a lifelong study of horror movies, horrible viruses, and the inevitable threat of the living dead. In college, she was voted Most Likely to Summon Something Horrible in the Cornfield, and was a founding member of the Horror Movie Sleep-Away Survival Camp, where her record for time survived in the Swamp Cannibals scenario remains unchallenged.

Mira lives in a crumbling farmhouse with an assortment of cats, horror movies, comics, and books about horrible diseases. When not writing, she splits her time between travel, auditing college virology courses, and watching more horror movies than is strictly good for you. Favorite vacation spots include Seattle, London, and a large haunted corn maze just outside of Huntsville, Alabama.

Mira sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests that you do the same.

60th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

 

This is my 2nd book for:

Peril the Second:

Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P. categories:

  • Mystery.
  • Suspense.
  • Thriller.
  • Dark Fantasy.
  • Gothic.
  • Horror.
  • Supernatural.

Lust by Diana Raab, Read by Kate Udall

tlc tour host

Source: TLC Book Tours and Diana Raab
Audio, 1hr+;
Paperback, 104 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Lust by Diana Raab, read by Kate Udall, is uninhibited, sensuous, and consumed with physical and emotional pleasure.  The poems, as read by Udall, are impassioned and shocking at times, as Udall breathes life into each stanza and word, painting a titillating scene with each image and story.  The poems explore not only the primal lust of the physical body, but the desire we have to feel and be loved, even as we age.  There is an intimacy that the narrator hopes will open readers up to share their own most secretive selves and desires with their own partners.  There are selves inside that we rarely show to the world, and in the lovemaking that we have with our partners, we can abandon the outer shells to regain a connection with our true selves and that of our partners.

Imagine all of the nerve endings and hair follicles coming alive, that is what this collection is — electrified narrative poems.  Udall’s voice is hypnotic, drawing listeners into the stories and letters Raab crafts with seductive language and imagery.  There are marriages kept alive with passion, there are adulterous affairs that are “burps” disrupting the fake smiles on our faces, and there are one-night encounters.

And even in these passionate moments, there is the acknowledgement that these encounters are temporary and fleeting, even among lovers joined in marriage and commitment.  But there is more than just passion here, there is sorrow, regret, confusion, addiction, fantasy, and love.  Raab’s poems are passionate and temporal, but striving to transcend reality and reach an out of body experience where appearances do not matter.

Lust by Diana Raab, read by Kate Udall, is stunning and memorable on more than one level.  Lovers and married couples should consider reading these poems to one another, so that perhaps they can deepen their own desires for one another, their own passions, and reach a new kind of ecstasy.  Lie upon the bed and take turns reading these verses and passions are likely to flare.

***Handle with care, as the language here is very sexual in nature.***

About the Poet:

Diana Raab is an award-winning poet, memoirist, and believer in the healing power of the written word. She began crafting poems at the age of ten when her mother gave her her first Khalil Gibran journal to help her cope with her grandmother and caretaker’s suicide. A few years later she discovered the journals of diarist Anaïs Nin and learned that, like Raab, Nin began journaling as a result of loss (the loss of her father). Much of Raab’s poetry has been inspired by Anaïs Nin’s life and works.

She is the author of four poetry collections, My Muse Undresses Me (2007); Dear Ans: My Life in Poems for You (2008); The Guilt Gene (2009); and Listening to Africa (2011).

Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Rattle, Boiler Room Journal, Rosebud, Litchfield Review, Tonopah Review, South Florida Arts Journal, Prairie Wolf Press, The Citron Review, Writers’ Journal, Common Ground Review, A Café in Space, The Toronto Quarterly, Snail Mail Review, New Mirage Journal, and Jet Fuel Review.

She is editor of two anthologies, Writers and Their Notebooks (2010) and Writers on the Edge (2012), co-edited with James Brown. Both these collections have submissions from poets and prose writers.

Diana has two memoirs, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal (winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction and the National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir), and Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey (winner of the 2011 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction).

She is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post and writes a monthly column for the Santa Barbara Sentinel, “The Mindful Word.” She lives in Southern California with her husband, and has three grown children. She is currently working on her doctorate in psychology and is researching the healing power of writing and creativity.

Other Books Reviewed:

Book 23 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta, Narrated by Robert Petkoff

Source: Complimentary BEA download
Audio, nearly 14 hours
On Amazon and on Kobo

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta, narrated by Robert Petkoff, is mysterious and dark, but at times, it is humorous.  Eric Shaw has lost his movie making career as a photographer/videographer in Los Angeles, forcing him to breathe life into those that have been lost or into inanimate objects for funerals, along with videos of weddings and more.  After crafting a video for a funeral or a woman with a secret that only one other person knows, Eric is sent on a job that makes him question reality.

Alyssa Bradford hires Eric to make a video of her father-in-law’s life, sending him to a once thriving vacation city that has only begun to rebound after the Great Depression when her father-in-law left to make his fortune elsewhere.  West Baden, Ind., is in the middle of nowhere, but it is the home of Pluto water, which was considered a miracle water from a mineral springCampbell Bradford, a 95 year-old billionaire, is a complete mystery … a mystery that Shaw is sent to unravel, but what he finds is not only a town being reborn but also a cast of townsfolk who are wound up tight or too relaxed.  Koryta’s dialogue could use a bit of sprucing up, as some of it is very repetitive with the use of “hell” and the like, but the descriptions of the characters, their interactions, and the mysterious experiences Shaw has are engaging.  The novel takes a great many twists and turns, but there are times when the changes are predictable.  

Robert Petkoff is a fantastic narrator, making sure that the voices and characters are easily discerned and the dialogue easy to follow.  His inflections are Midwestern, and he effectively effuses the emotions of these characters.  So Cold the River by Michael Koryta strikes a balance between suspense/thriller and the paranormal, as Eric Shaw finds himself pulled into the mysteries of Pluto water and a town that fell into financial ruin after the Great Depression.  It’s a satisfying novel to spend the summer with, full of adventure and intrigue.

About the Author:

Michael Koryta is an American author of contemporary crime and supernatural fiction. His novels have appeared on the The New York Times Best Seller list.  Visit his Website.

 

 

46th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, narrated by Simon Vance

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 9 CDs
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Our August book club selection, His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire book 1) by Naomi Novik, narrated by Simon Vance, meshes the Napoleonic wars with dragons.  The novel opens with the capture of a French frigate run by a crew unwilling to give up its prize, a near hatching dragon egg, to the British HMS Reliant and Capt. Will Laurence.  While the prize is a great find, the hatchling will be very dangerous should it emerge while they are at sea where there are no mates, trainers, or food available. The situation forces the captain to have the men without families draw straws to determine who would become responsible for the dragon and its egg while aboard.

Handlers of dragons are considered second-class citizens, causing severe disappointment among families and generating a great separateness between handlers and their families.  Generally, children as young as seven are taken away from home for training.  While the young John Carver, who is afraid of heights, is selected to be the dragon’s handler, the dragon has other ideas.  When the dragon speaks, the men are astonished as they expected there to be a trick to getting them to speak.  Once named, Temeraire becomes the focus of the Reliant and its crew, and its relationship to Laurence takes an unexpected turn.

Vance’s voices are easily discernible as different characters and he excels at expressing the character’s fears and awe as he speaks their dialogue, but Novik tends to rely a great deal on adverbs to demonstrate fear or anxiousness and in some cases at the beginning the narration seems to contradict itself — either the dragon egg is an unusual find or a well-known item captured in the surgeon’s books about different dragons or there is a three hour trip to London from Madeira or a three hour trip from London to Scotland, but it is unlikely that both would take that long by transport or dragon.  There is a great deal of explanation through the characters about what they know and don’t know about the dragons, which can get tiresome as the descriptions become longer than necessary.

However, the growing relationship between Temeraire and Laurence is endearing.  And the conflicts between handlers about the care for the dragons and Laurence’s expectations about the training build up the tension as Napoleon continues to mount his forces.  While the first half of the book seems to be setting up the world for the dragons and can drag on a bit, the second half picks up speed with the battles and fighting.  The audio, as narrated by Vance, enables readers to become more closely engaged in the relationship between Temeraire and his handler, as they learn how to fly formations in training for battle and as they get to know one another.  There are a number of endearing scenes in which the handler and the dragon curl up together, with the handler reading to the dragon about mathematics, naval history, and more.

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire book 1) by Naomi Novik satisfactorily meshes history with dragons, but the strength of the novel is in the relationships built between the dragons and their handlers.  These relationships are caring and strengthen with the passage of time, so much so that handlers often plan their futures around them.

 

This is my 53rd book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

 

About the Author:

An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, when she first made her way through The Lord of the Rings, Naomi Novik is also a history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen. She studied English literature at Brown University, and did graduate work in computer science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadow of Undrentide. Over the course of a brief winter sojourn spent working on the game in Edmonton, Canada (accompanied by a truly alarming coat that now lives brooding in the depths of her closet), she realized she preferred writing to programming, and on returning to New York, decided to try her hand at novels.  Naomi lives in New York City with her husband and six computers.

What the book club thought:

It seemed as though most of the members enjoyed the book, and one member said that the historical facts about the Napoleonic wars were accurate for the most part.  Some expressed an inability or slight difficulty in determining the size of the dragons or transports used to move the dragons.  One member, who led the group, pointed out that the illustrator in the back of the book got some of the details wrong in the section that explains the differences between the dragons and their features.  One member said that she was not really excited to read the book because she doesn’t usually read fantasy books, but the author made it seem plausible that dragons would fit into our world.  She also indicated that she wanted one of her own dragons to curl up with and read to, and she would like to read the other eight books in the series.  Another member said that if Napoleon really did have dragons the world might have been more in trouble than it was at the time.  One male member had not finished the book, but said that he would continue reading.  Overall, is seems like the club enjoyed this foray into fantasy novels.

Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’: The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes by Lisa Loeb and Ryan O’Rourke

Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’: The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes by Lisa Loeb and Ryan O’Rourke comes out this month and is billed as a book and CD of songs to get kids off the couch and moving and grooving.  The book is for ages 4-7 and is an illustrated 24 pages long.

From the publisher:

This spectacularly fun songbook will get kids off the sofa—guaranteed! Singer Lisa Loeb will have kids movin’ and groovin’ with her sparkling second collection of songs and activities—plus a CD with five all-time children’s favorites and another five original tunes. It’s sure to stir up some fun, as budding musicians discover the joys of playing in an air band (“Turn it Down”); see how to face down scary creatures (“Monster Stomp”); and practice relaxing yoga poses (“Hello, Today”). Ryan O’Rourke’s whimsical illustrations light up Lisa’s lyrics—and will delight young readers, movers, and shakers.
Songs include: Turn it Down (The Air Band Song)* • Father Abraham • Miss Mary Mack • Monster Stomp* • Going Away* • Do Your Ears Hang Low? • Everybody Wake Up* • Hello, Today* • Peanut Butter and Jelly • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. (*original song)

You might remember Lisa Loeb from her famous songStay:

The CD-single of “Monster Stomp” was a toe-tapping delight for both my young daughter and us as we road in the car to and from the store, and it includes kids that join in and roar for the monster calls. My daughter had fun roaring right along with the song, while my husband and I were making stomping noises and, in my case, waving my hands in the air as part of the monster dance. As we’ve only heard the one song, I really can’t say what the book is like or the other songs, but if this single is any indication of how fun and interactive they are, I think this would be a sure winner for this age group.

Monster Stomp2

Click on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour Button to see today’s post:

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, Read by Samuel L. Jackson

Adam Mansbach’s Go the F**k to Sleep, illustrated by Ricardo Cortes and read by Samuel L. Jackson, is a “children’s book for adults” that will have most parents nodding, “YES!”  As a new parent, this book made me agree wholeheartedly with its sentiments about how hard it is to get kids to go to sleep.

They are often too wired to sleep or simply too worried that they will miss something important by going to bed.

THIS IS NOT a book for children; it is for adults and would be considered humor.  This is not a review of the book’s illustrations because I listened to this book via audio from Audible.

Samuel L. Jackson is a natural narrator for this book because of his brash attitude in his movies and the reputation he’s garnered as a result.  His narration gains momentum as he continues reading through the rhymed story, and the frustration escalates.  It is this movement and cadence that will amuse readers as they shudder with understanding — kids that need a drink or want one more story read to them before sleeping.

“The wind whispers soft through the grass, hon.  The field mice, they make not a peep.  It’s been 38 minutes already.  Jesus Christ, what the f**k! Go to sleep!”

One drawback is that the word “f**k” is used from the very first lines throughout the book, but it may have been more effective to save its use for later on as the frustration gains ground.  One of the best moments of the book is when the narrator realizes that his child will not be sleeping and has given up saying, “No,” and simply acquiesces to whatever the latest request is.  What makes the narration even more poignant is the light, lullaby music in the background.

Go the F**k to Sleep is a hilarious look at parenthood, and the introduction by Jackson about his own struggles with getting his daughter to sleep further drives home the point that we are not alone.

About the Author:

Adam Mansbach is an American author and professor of fiction[1] at Rutgers University[2] who wrote the “children’s book for adults” Go the Fuck to Sleep.[3] Other books Mansbach has written include Angry Black White Boy and The End of the Jews[4] (for which he won the California Book Award for fiction in 2008)

 

This is my 36th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

 

 

This is my 1st book for the 2011 Audio Book Challenge and the 1st I listened to on my Kindle.

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (audio)

Aron Ralston, if you are not yet familiar wit his amazing recovery from being trapped in a Utah canyon, reads this abridged edition of his memoir, 127 Hours:  Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  In only five discs, listeners will get lessons in climbing equipment and the actual stamina and skill involved in hiking treacherous terrain out west.  Ralston is a man who often likes to hike and climb alone to commune with nature, but also to be with himself in a way that allows him to just be and assess his own life.

Listeners are walking beside Ralston as he tells his tale, climbing steep canyons with him, and feeling the agony and pain of dehydration, starvation, and major blood loss.  His enthusiasm for the outdoors and climbing are infectious.

127 Hours is a gripping real life tale of a human struggle alone in the wilderness and the enduring nature of hope and humanity.  Ralston’s struggle is immediate and harrowing.  The audio, especially narrated by the actual subject of the tragic event, is mesmerizing and even disturbing in its detail.  Overall, this is one of the best audio books of the year.  It is more than just a story about a man’s struggle and courage, but about what he does following tragedy to change his life and appreciate the friends and family he has.

My husband and I listened to this audio on the commute to and from work.  My husband says the best part of the book is how the narrator describes the process through which he amputates his arm to miss his major veins and nerves until the harder parts are severed, etc.  There is a true sense of how the human spirit seeks ways to keep the body going, and how the body keeps going regardless of moments of weakness in human will.  Ralston explains his plight really well.  Very profound and memorable.

***Thanks to Eco-Libris and the Green Books Campaign for sending us this wonderful prize.***

This is my 61st book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.

9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (audio)

9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, and read on audio by Carolyn McCormick, begins with the murders of a mother and her young infant.  It’s clear that Lindsay and the other members of the Women’s Murder Club are in for a rough ride this time around.  McCormick does an excellent job providing different personalities and voices for each character, though at some points in the audio her interpretation of coroner Claire Washburn’s voice is a bit too deep and masculine.

Lindsay is not only tasked with finding the lipstick killer who kills women and children firms, but she also must take on a high profile case involving a movie star, Marcus Dowling, whose wife was murdered following a robbery.  Is the husband acting or is he devastated by the death of his wife, and was the robbery committed by the famed Hello Kitty cat burglar coincidental?

9th Judgment delves into how being a solider in war can twist your psyche, and how when these men return from combat, things are just not the same for them or their families.  Additionally, this novel connects characters in ways that are unusual and surprising, deals with physical abuse, and more.  In terms of depth, this novel has more of it than some of the others given that the motivations behind the criminals are examined.

Patterson and Paetro make a good team in the Women’s Murder Club series, although readers may find that some of the story lines are not as well crafted as some others.  However, in 9th Judgment, readers will find that even though they are introduced to the criminals in the first few chapters, how their capture unravels is titillating and edgy. Overall, this installment in the Women’s Murder Club series is a great addition and will have readers looking forward to the next one.

My husband and I listened to this one on our commute northward for Thanksgiving and finished it up on the way back.  He enjoyed the chase scenes for their vivid description and the comedic elements as Lindsay plays go-between for the FBI and the lipstick killer.  There were fewer instances of sound effects in this one, with just a few gunshots in the beginning, which was fine with us.  We’ve grown attached to these characters, even the latest member of the club, Yuki Castellano.  At one point near the end, my husband and I almost thought we’d have to write Patterson a scathing letter, but alas we just had to listen onward to learn that our fears were misplaced.

This is my 15th book for the 2010 Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.

8th Confession by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (audio)

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro’s 8th Confession is read by Carolyn McCormick, and does a fine job differentiating between the characters.  In this book, Lindsay Boxer is confronted with a personal, life-changing decision and is bogged down in several high-profile cases.  Rich men and women are being murdered in their homes, but there is no cause of death — at least any that Claire can find during autopsy or through toxicology tests.

“Claire waved a computer printout, said, ‘Toxicology was negative.  No poison, no opiates, no narcotics, no nothing.  Cause of death? No idea.  Manner of death? No idea.  Something stinks, and I don’t know what,’ she told us, ‘but the likelihood of these two individuals, with completely negative autopsies and completely negative toxicologies, expiring at the same time is statistically astronomical.'” (Page 111)

Meanwhile, Cindy Thomas uncovers the murder of Bagman Jesus, a local homeless man, who she believes is revered by his community.  Investigating the murder becomes her obsession, but she also finds herself tied up in another passion — Richie Conklin, Lindsay’s partner and secret desire.

Readers will see the sparks fly between these friends and between the sheets in this thriller.  Unfortunately, there seems to be too much of a focus on the bedroom, and very little focus on the investigation — whether Lindsay is mulling over her feelings for Rich or her love for Joe, her live-in boyfriend.  Once the focus is back on the killer, readers will be sucked into trying to uncover for themselves how the murders are being committed.

The audio, just like the book, is fast-paced.  However, 8th Confession is not as strong as some of the other books in this series.

This is my 12th book for the 2010 Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.

Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (audio)

Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge is the third book in the Michael Bennett detective series.  Readers will not have to read the other two books in the series to follow along as this New York Detective takes on a child kidnapper with a social agenda.  Bennett is a single father with 10 children — not all of them biological — whose holy grandfather Seamus and nanny Mary Catherine make his life a little less hectic and in some cases even more so.

Bennett must not only balance his fatherly duties with detective work, but also must learn to separate the cases he works on as part of major crimes.  New York is an excellent location for this detective, with its high crime boroughs and its high class residents.  Worst Case is narrated superbly by three narrators, Bobby Cannavale, Orlagh Cassidy, and John Glover as each voice takes on either Bennett, FBI child kidnapping expert Emily Parker, or the serial murderer.

“Without pausing, he veered to my left, bounded up onto the low iron railing, and dove without a sound off the bridge.

I think my heart actually stopped.  I ran to my left and looked down.  The guy was plummeting toward the water when there was a strange bloom of color that at first I thought was an explosion.  I though he’d blown himself up, but then I saw the orange canopy of a parachute.”  (page 187)

Readers will enjoy the fast paced, short chapters with their clipped sentences as tension builds and Bennett runs in circles around the city at the behest of the killer.  The narrators of the audio pulled off the New York and Virginia accents as they read through the book, although the sound effects of gun shots and other items were a bit disturbing, especially when driving late a night on dark highways.

Worst Case is another sign that this series about Michael Bennett is just heating up.  Another suspenseful winner.

This is my 11th book for the 2010 Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.