Monday, June 26, 2017

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken (author, narrator)

Hachette Audio, May 2017

Al Franken grew up a Jewish kid in suburban Minnesota, went to Harvard, and became a comedian. That's vastly oversimplified, and he tells the story much more entertainingly as well as much more completely.

His career as a comedian, though, including being one of the original writers, and eventually a performer, on Saturday Night Live. It was never a timid show, though they also tried to avoid leaning too much to either side politically. They were entertainers, not political pundits.

Franken, though, had very definite political views, and this book is, mainly, about how he moved from comedy to politics, became a Senator, and what he's done since.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Words on the Move:Why English Won't--and Can't--Sit Still (Like, Literally), by John McWhorter (author, narrator)

Audible Studios, September 2016

English is a wonderfully weird and strange language, having gotten that way from a a wholesale theft of vocabulary from other languages, and wearing down the parts of speech due to the mingling of populations that included speakers of the North Germanic language called English, Norse, Celtic tongues, and French.

This book isn't about our weirdly varied vocabulary and wholesale theft of words, though. It's about the changes in words, their shapes, sounds, and meanings. It's about why the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively," along with apparently useless interjections like "like" sprinkled through our sentences are in fact completely normal, appropriate changes in the language.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Presidents Club:Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity, by Nancy Gibbs (author), Michael Duffy (author), Bob Walter (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442350311, April 2012

The Presidents Club is real. It had an official founding (after Eisenhower's inauguration, when Truman and Hoover agreed on it), and over the years has acquired a newsletter, a clubhouse, and a variety of perks as well as the responsibility of being there when the sitting President needs them. Only other people who've held the office truly understand its pressures and demands; in that sense they are sometimes the only source of truly informed advice.

And sometimes, a former President is the best or the only appropriate emissary for a trip the President can't make himself.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Door into Ocean (Elysium Cycle), by Joan Slonczewski

Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781433253171, January 2012 (original publication February 1986)

This is a book that, in my opinion, does not show its age. It could have been published last week,

Two inhabited moons with very different cultures are part of a larger galactic empire, and increasing contact with the empire is causing its own strains. The more industrialized, military-inclined culture of Valendon wants to exploit the resources of Shora, a world virtually without land.

The Shorans have different ideas.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pop Gun War Volume II:Chain Letter, by Farel Dalrymple

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534301924, June 2017

Emily is a young girl living in a small town, and currently her family's van is broken, so she's kind of trapped.

Her brother has wings, and can fly. If there is a backstory that explains this, it's in the previous volume.

Emily, in search of distraction, follows some shady characters into a series of tunnels, and comes upon three video monitors. The monitors show the past, the present, and a surreal future.

I'm sorry to say the story didn't do much, or really, anything for me. I like the art, in a laid-back sort of way. It's pleasant and interesting. If the characters have any clear motivations for anything they do, other than Emily's search for distraction, it's not apparent to me.

I'm sorry I can't say anything more positive about it.

Not recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Loose Ends (Loose Ends #1-4), by Jason Latour (writer), Chris Brunner (illustrator), Rico Renzi (illustrator)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781534302150, July 2017

Sonny Gibson already has a tough past when he turns up at his old favorite honky-tonk, "The Hideaway." He spent time in Iraq during the war, and he's had some shady connections both over there and since he's been back.

But he's been out of sight for a while.

Now he's turned up again, and some old connections have some old business they want to discuss. A gunfight and a death start a crime spree that runs from the Carolinas down to Florida.

The art is good. I believe in these people physically, how they look and how they move. I also believe in them as people; there are certainly people like them, making up a good part of the crime-committing population. They're violent, impulsive, not overly smart, not much inclined to think things through even after the fact.

Some of them are veterans, too. The military doesn't make everyone stronger and more disciplined; some people are wrecked by it, and not just physically.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Evangeline (A Joseon Fairy Tale), by Erica Laurie

Createspace, ISBN 9781543286953, May 2017

Evangeline Lane is grieving, confused, and alone.

Her mother has died of cancer, and her father has become distant and apparently completely wrapped up in his work--for which he travels frequently. She loves the Korean dramas of her mother's heritage, and was previously an excellent student in high school, but she finds it increasingly hard to focus. Her grades are slipping.

She feels that her father doesn't love her, and fears that perhaps he never loved her mother, either.

Then one day, in a bookstore, she finds a marvelous book. The bookseller says that it's a book that finds its reader, something which makes no sense to her. But he lets her borrow it, and she is soon wrapped up in the book.

And then she is inside the story.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde (author), Steven Crossley (narrator)

Recorded Books, 1997 (original publication June 1890)

Dorian Gray is a young man with everything--looks, wealth, charm, position in Victorian society. He charms the artist Basil Hallward, who paints his portrait and accidentally introduce him to another friend, Lord Henry Wotten.

Hallward is a very good artist.

Wotton is a very bad influence.

Basil recognizes that Lord Henry says shocking, outrageous things, but doesn't take them seriously and assumes Lord Henry can't possibly believe them himself. But Dorian Gray is barely twenty, He's quite easily led to the point of saying he would give his soul if the portrait instead of him could bear the signs of his sins and his aging, and he remain eternally youthful.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren #8), by Lisa Gardner (author), Kirsten Potter (narrator)

Audible Audio, February 2016

This is the eighth of the D.D. Warren mysteries, and it's a good one.

Flora Dane was kidnapped and held for over a year before she was rescued and her kidnapper killed. She's a survivor--but she's never really moved past it. Things happened during that year that she's never told anyone, and as a result she has a mission she's never shared with anyonxe, either. And one night in Boston, she goes out to a bar, and winds up killing the hunky bartender who tried to kidnap her.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

And Still I Rise:A Selection of Poems Read by the Author, by Maya Angelou (author, narrator)

Random House Audio, ISBN 9780375419492, August 2001 (original publication 1978)

Maya Angelou is one of America's great poets, and this is one of her most treasured collections. These poems are about the very personal, about being black in America, and about being a woman. The individual poems are mostly short, but taken together they build up a layered and complex whole. Angelou express the strength and the struggles of the working poor,of women, of black Americans, and the intersection of those three identities.

And in this audio edition we hear her words in her own voice, strong, a little rough, and rich with feeling and expression.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.