I have rarely enjoyed a biography as much as I enjoyed this one. Penny Marshall is so accomplished both as an actor and director, but most importantly, she is funny, really, really funny. The story of her life while at times poignant was mostly really funny. She reads the books herself and I highly recommend listening to the audiobook. It really added something to the experience to have her telling the stories to you in her own voice. She’s very straightforward in her accounting. She doesn’t shrink away from her flaws and she doesn’t shrink away from her triumphs. It seems like she knows just about everyone in the entertainment business in both Hollywood and New York and most of them have stayed at her house. The part about lots of people living in her house really resonated with me. It was also really fun to hear her talk about her friendship with Carrie Fisher, whose books and career I also really enjoyed. Not knowing Penny Marshall personally, there is no way to tell the accuracy of her recounting of her life, but it sure was entertaining.
Book 6 of the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow is different from the other books I’ve read in the series. It’s much more political and much less about murder and mayhem, but it’s still good. Although Kate is out of The Park again, at least this time she has Mutt as she attends the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage. She is, of course, only there at the insistence of her formidable grandmother. It’s an opportunity to spend time with Jack and his son Johnny and for the reader to see some of the issues facing Alaska natives. In general, I enjoyed this book a lot and once again, Marguerite Gavin does an excellent job on the performance. I really love listening to her.
I love this series, but unfortunately, I’ve read many of them out of order, so this is going backwards for me and it’s nice to meet characters I’ve only heard about in future stories. My only complaint about this book is that Mutt is not in it, because Kate takes a job aboard a crab boat to help the DA’s office figure out what happened to two crewmen who were lost at sea. With the exception of no Mutt, this book has everything I love about this series: amazing descriptions of Alaska, fully written characters with appealing connections to each other, an interesting plot, and plenty of action. My kind of story. I listened to this on audio and Margueritte Gavin does a wonderful job of voicing Kate. Her performance really brings the book alive.
I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it could be a little dry in sections. For the most part, I agree with the author’s take on what transformed us into what we are and where we are likely headed. The fact is that as a species we’ve developed rapidly and that change is now accelerating even faster because of technology. I think Currier gives a good overview of human development and then raises some interesting questions about our future. I enjoy this kind of broad thinking in a book. If you do too, you should check it out.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of the things I love about Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series is the ambiguity some of the characters occasionally feel about their jobs. In A Deeper Sleep, this ambiguity is on full display and Stabenow is at her best writing about the murder of a known bad guy and how the community as well ask Kate and Trooper Jim Chopin react. This is so well done and Bernadette Dunne reads it so compellingly that I listened to the whole thing in just a couple of days. I had the book on Overdrive on my phone while I ran errands and did chores around the house. Such a good book. If you haven’t ever read this series, I highly recommend you give it a try.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoy reading James Rollins’ Sigma series, so I thought I’d give this a try. It’s tangential to Sigma, but Wayne is an independent contractor rather than a team member. I liked this book for many of the same reasons I like the Sigma series. Rollins likes to tie his books to actual historical places and events and real science and then he spins a fantastic, action-filled yarn around them. He does that here, but since there isn’t a team involved, I found Wayne getting too battered around for just one guy to reasonably deal with, also I really worried about the dog. I know that’s dumb, since the whole point of the series is Wayne and his dog, but still, I worried. Other than those issues, I enjoyed this book. Scott Aiello did a great job with his performance and it was easy to listen to him for long stretches in the car or just walking around the house doing chores. It’s fast-paced, the locales are great, and because I had just read Churchill’s book on his early life, the references to the Boer War were really interesting. Action fans should check it out.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed Drew Karpyshyn’s Mass Effect series of books that tied into the games. This third book in the series wraps things up and leads into Mass Effect 2. This gives readers more information on The Illusive Man and how Cerberus works. It also provides more information on Kahlee Sanders and David Anderson and there is even a brief mention of Shepherd. All good stuff for Mass Effect fans. Now that Andromeda is out, it was kind of nice to listen to some of the old school Mass Effect stuff. I highly recommend both the games and the books. Although the fourth book is not written by Karpyshyn, so I don’t know about that. People don’t seem to like it as much as the three he wrote.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to this entire book on a plane and it made the flight go by quite pleasantly. Rachel Dratch is very funny and this book was enjoyable to listen to with her reading it. I don’t know how much I would have enjoyed reading it to myself, but I had several laugh-out-loud moments, which as you can imagine, was a little awkward on the plane. Definitely worth a listen.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is really a bunch of snippets about interesting little things that possibly had a big impact on history. I’m listening to it, but it would really be better as bathroom reading. The guy reading it sounds like he’s doing a series of 1980s movie trailers, which gets a little tiring after about twenty minutes. It’s not bad for listening in the car for short bursts while running errands, but it’s not something I’d want to listen to on a long car ride.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Michael Gazzaniga is one of leading researchers in cognitive neuroscience and is especially known for his split brain research studying patients who have had their corpus callosum severed leaving the two hemispheres of their brains unable to directly communicate with each other. So that’s really interesting, but it could also be really dry. Luckily, Gazzaniga is an engaging writer in addition to being a notable scientist. In this book he wraps his personal journey around the science in such a way that the book is surprisingly enjoyable. I listened to it on audio and Johnny Heller does an excellent job reading it. Anyone interested in neuroscience or life in the sciences would enjoy this book. I certainly did.