Blog Posts by jdunc

Posted by jdunc on 03/28/14
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Listening to Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding is like a visit from a completely irrational, but insanely hilarious old friend. In some ways, Bridget is the same Bridge we met almost 20 years ago------ drinking too many units of wine and clueless about the dating world, but with the added stresses of understanding Twitter, adjusting to being a single mum to two young kids, and dealing with the death of her husband, the much loved Mark Darcy.

The audio is read by Samantha Bond, perhaps better known as Rosamund Painswick of Downton Abbey. As I listened, I could picture Bridget obsessively checking for new “twitterati” and the complete chaos of her home. She has much needed support from her  friends, Tom, Jude, Talitha, and Daniel Cleaver. Bond does wonderful voices of all the characters, especially 6-year-old Mabel (lisp included) and 30-year-old boy toy, Roxster.  Bond's ability to capture Bridget’s hurt and loneliness at losing her husband made me tear up, but in true Bridget style I was laughing again by the next diary entry. As a Bridget Jones fan I really enjoyed this book and revisiting her life 20 years later. It was comforting to see Bridget is the same neurotic, obsessive, lovable woman we met so long ago. The audio was so much fun to listen to and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Posted by jdunc on 02/24/14
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I was looking for a book to snap me out of this never ending winter and an escape to the Wild West seemed like just the fix. The Outcasts is a true, old fashioned western complete with Texas marshals, horse thieves, outlaws, buried treasures, and brothels. From the first chapter I was hooked into the lives of young Nate Cannon, Dr. Tom, and Captain Deerling, lawmen on the hunt for a notorious outlaw. At the center of the story is Lucinda, a young woman who escaped from a brothel and entwined herself with the ruthless outlaw McGill. As the lawmen chase Lucinda and McGill across the bayou, the tale unwinds in dramatic fashion, ending with an epic battle in New Orleans. The gritty novel was an engaging read that sweeps you into a different time.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, Kahtleen Kent has written a two other novels. She is a wonderful storyteller and weaves historical events into the fictional characters’ lives. I will definitely check out her other titles!
Posted by jdunc on 01/30/14
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If you are intrigued by the Amanda Knox trial and ongoing saga like I am, then Cartwheel is the book for you. The novel, written by Jennifer DuBois, is a fictional account loosely based on the Amanda Knox story. In Cartwheel, Lily is studying abroad in Argentina when she discovers her roommate has been murdered and Lily becomes the prime suspect. What unravels is a compelling story and deep character descriptions told from several points, including Lily’s divorced parents, her wealthy recluse boyfriend, and the prosecutor in the case.
 
Like the Amanda Knox story, you never quite know if Lily is truly innocent. Her bizarre behavior in the aftermath of the murder, including doing a cartwheel after her interrogation, leads you to question her innocence. Is she guilty of murder or is she just a naive young woman who doesn’t understand the consequences of her actions? As her sister Anna says, she has always been “weird”. As the story unfolds you become entranced with the characters’ lives and relive the events leading up to the murder. It is an intriguing look at how interpretations of actions and behaviors can make someone look guilty of murder.
 
In case you are interested, here is the link to the most recent twist in the Amanda Knox trial.
Posted by jdunc on 12/30/13
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I spent a lot of time in the car in 2013 and am always on the look out for great audiobooks to hold my attention. Since I tend to get bored easily, I look for audiobooks that are shorter in length. All of these made my commute fly by!
 
I first read this book in 2011 when it was originally released. The audiobook seems to have made a resurgence this year with Mindy Kaling’s growing popularity. I decided to revisit the book in audio form and I was not disappointed. Read by Mindy Kaling with her unmistakable voice and humor. Mindy discusses always being chubby, growing up an awkward child, dating, and Hollywood. If you are a fan of The Mindy Project, definitely check out this audiobook.
 
#4. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
The best way to describe this compilation of short stories is gritty. The stories range from funny, to disturbing, and to heartbreaking. Read by the critically acclaimed author, you will feel like you are a part of Yunior’s life in New Jersey as a young immigrant and as he grows into adulthood. At the heart of every story is love and all of its messiness.
 
Who can resist a good laugh? A portion of the book is Billy Crystal cracking jokes about getting older. However, some of the some of the more interesting stories look back at his childhood, career and love for his family. I really enjoyed the personal stories about Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. Read by Billy Crystal, some chapters are performed in front of an audience, which makes you feel like you are at a stand up show.
 
#2 Astray by Emma Donoghue (Read by Khristine Hvam, James Langton, Robert Petkoff, Dion Graham, and Suzanne Toren)
This audiobook was released late in 2012 and was one of the first I listened to this year. It is a compilation of short stories, interwoven with historical events. The stories are heart wrenching and memorable. Spanning Victorian England to the Civil War, Donoghue uses fictionalized accounts of real life events to bring history to life. Following each story, Donoghue explains the inspiration for the story (a letter, diary, newspaper article).
 
#1 The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver (Read by Rebecca Lowman and Amanda Carlin)
This is the last audiobook that I listened to this year and was one of the best. The debut novel by Elizabeth Silver keeps you guessing until the end. Noa P. Singleton is on death row, after being convicted of killing her father’s pregnant girlfriend. The story unravels as Rebecca Lowman narrates as Noa P. Singleton in a cool and arrogant tone. You learn about Noa's life and the events leading up the the murder, but it is not clear until the final pages the true events of that day.
 
 
Posted by jdunc on 11/26/13
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What would you do if your loved one, long gone from your life, suddenly returned from the dead? The Returned is the debut novel by Jason Mott that explores the emotional reaction as the dead suddenly return to the living. Set in the small town of Arcadia, North Carolina, The Returned focuses on a family who lost their eight-year-old son in a tragic accident 50 years ago. Suddenly, Jacob shows up on their doorstep, just as “the returned” start reappearing all over the world looking to reunite with family. The book explores how seeing long lost loved ones stirs up forgotten feelings fear, loss, and regret. 

As the number of the returned increases, the government and military attempt to control the situation. Intertwined in the human emotions are questions of politics and religion.  The chilling story grabbed my attention from the first chapter and I kept reading to find out what will happen to the returned. The book provokes questions about death, grief, and acceptance. The Returned has been optioned for a TV show on ABC, titled Resurrection set to air in March 2014. The Sundance Channel is currently airing a French drama set around a similar topic, also titled The Returned. I’ll be tuning in to see how this haunting book plays out on the small screen.

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