Welcome to another edition of minis! Though I need to increase my reading/listening speed if I want to do one of these posts a month. This almost catches me up with my backlog of books to chat about.
Curious about the shorter version of this post? In the Woods is perfect for your fall reading list, Tibetan Peach Pie is more delightful if you’ve already read Tom Robbins’ fiction, Armada was a huge let-down, and A Gift Upon the Shore pleasantly surprised me. While I listened to all four of these books (the narration for each was great), they would be just as good on paper.
In Short: Detective Rob Ryan of the Dublin Murder Squad finds his current gruesome murder case intersecting with a missing child incident he was involved in as a young boy. Ryan works together with his partner Cassie to help solve the murder of a young girl and also dig into the cold case of his own friends’ disappearances twenty years prior. Could the two cases be connected?
Bottom Line and Recommendation: Perfect for anyone who loves a dark crime mystery, characters who may or may not be who they seem to be, or a character study with substantial plot and rich language (the bookish trifecta!). Even though I sometimes felt that In the Woods was a bit on the long side (really, when are we going to get to the point!), I do believe some of this might have been exacerbated on audio. I did love Crossley’s narration of this gritty tale and would recommend a listen of In the Woods. I can’t wait to listen to the next in the Dublin Murder Squad series!
Title: Tibetan Peach Pie | Author: Tom Robbins
Audio Narrator: Keith Szarabajka | Audio Duration: 12 hr, 27 min
Published: 2014 | Pages: 384 | Genre: Memoir
Rating: Offbeat and Entertaining…to Robbins fans
In Short: The life and times of Tom Robbins. Really–from childhood to adulthood he covers all of the zaniness of his life. And boy is it zany!
Bottom Line and Recommendation: When I was in college I had a big love affair with Tom Robbins. It’s been years since I’ve read one of his books, but listening to Tibetan Peach Pie reminded me of why I love his books so much–Robbins is the king of metaphor and while he can sometimes drone on and on, more times than not his word play made me smile. Since Robbins has been around the block longer than most currently publishing authors, he provided an interesting glimpse into publishing throughout the 60s and 70s. I would not recommend this as a starting place for Robbins, though–only tackle this after you have a few of his fiction titles under your belt (I like Still Life with Woodpecker and Jitterbug Perfume but haven’t read a Robbins I didn’t enjoy).
In Short: Zack Lightman is one of the world’s best players of the video game Armada–a game that turns out to be a training program for fighting alien invasion. His skills come in handy when he is recruited to fight the real life battle against alien invaders.
Bottom Line and Recommendation: Scott and I listened to Armada on a roadtrip this summer and while he enjoyed the book, it did nothing for me. I loved Wil Wheaton’s narration of Ready Player One and it’s one of my most recommended audiobooks, but the narration and tone was too similar in Armada. Consequently Armada felt too much of the same as Ready Player One–heavy 80s trivia, video game simulation, flat supporting characters. Much of the book felt like a geek’s dissertation on the intersection of 80s trivia and gaming theory, but by the end I couldn’t pretend to care what happened. Oh wow that sounds bad. But! I still heartily recommend Ready Player One for good rollicking fun. I’m hoping Ernie Cline will come up with something a bit more creative for book number three.
In Short: After an apocalyptic nuclear war, Mary and Rachel fear themselves the only survivors of a devastating nuclear winter. They create a home for themselves and begin cultivating a library of books to protect the world’s knowledge and literature. Luke, a traveler from a religious colony stumbles upon the women as he searches for other survivors and encourages them to come be apart of The Ark, but it is made clear that Mary and Rachel’s progressive views on religion and learning are not compatible with the other survivors’.
Bottom Line and Recommendation: Post-apocalyptic fiction isn’t always a sub-genre that I gravitate toward but I was steered toward this audiobook by an avid listener and really enjoyed the listening experience. Religion plays a major theme in the book and while some have called this book anti-religious, I found the message to be centered and grounded amidst the extreme beliefs of the characters. Chapters alternate between two different time periods which kept the reading compelling and I often looked for excuses to listen. I recommend A Gift Upon the Shore but the religious overtones might be too strong for some?
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Agree with me/Disagree?