Monday, July 25, 2016

GUILTY MINDS by Joseph Finder Audio Edition

    If you’ve heard/read any of Joseph Finder’s previous Nick Heller novels you know that Heller is a fellow who can more than handle whatever comes his way.  Well, even the best of us can come up against a rock and a hard place as Heller finds that what he thought would be an easy task explodes into a complicated scheme and murder.

    Heller has been hired to clear the name of Chief Justice Jeremiah Claflin who is soon to be torn apart in the gossip website Slander Sheet.  Seems there is about to be a tell-all saying Claflin was given three nights with a hooker by a casino boss - his way of thanking Claflin for a favorable ruling in a recent case.  Heller has but 48 hours to discredit the story of the woman in question, Kayla Pitts aka Heidi L’Amour.  Seems easy enough - Claflin was having electroshock treatment at the time he was supposedly carrying on with the call girl.

    However, easy becomes very difficult when Pitts is found dead, an apparent suicide, and Heller discovers the secret owner of Slander Sheet which turns the case upside down and leads Heller in a totally different direction.

    Along the way he has the company of the attractive Mandy Seeger, the former top Washington Post reporter who has come to rue the day she began writing for Slander Sheet.  There’s so much more to this tightly plotted tale than just an attempt to discredit a Chief Justice, as we hear in the voice of Holter Graham who is a multiple Audie Award nominee and winner of Best of the Year Awards from AudioFile magazine.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

THE HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT by Catherine Banner Audio Edition

    All manner of praise has been heaped upon Catherine Banner’s adult novel debut following her trilogy of young adult novels.  We read that it is a knockout debut “grounded in both reality and myth, plotted on a grand scale.”  And, “ is a masterful piece of storytelling,” plus “a superbly written drama.”  It is all of that and more as Banner tells a story about four generations of a family set against world events from 1914 - 2009.   

    We are taken to a tiny island off the coast of Sicily, the fictional island of Castellamare.  It is there that Amedeo Esposito moves to become the town physician in the early years of the 20th century.  He marries well - a beautiful, intelligent, school teacher Pina Vella.  Unfortunately for him Amedeo had a wandering eye and loses his position following an affair with the mayor’s wife. 

    In order to earn a living he and Pina reopen the bar in the years empty House at The Edge of Night.  It is there that three generations of Espositos will serve coffee and limoncellos to residents and visitors.  The Espositos work in the shadows of World Wars I and II, the Fascist period, and the financial crisis of 2009.  Banner has enhanced her plot with a bit of the magical sprung from the island’s many legends which have been collected in a red leather book given to Amedeo by his father.
    Actor Edoardo Ballerini delivers a prima narration of this spellbinding story, an enchanting tale peopled with engaging characters and events that bring us to the present day.  Quite simply The House At The Edge Of Night is a remarkable journey - don’t miss it!   

Saturday, July 16, 2016

THE LAST ONE by Alexandra Oliva Audio Edition

     Brilliantly written and imaginatively conceived one can only heap praise on Alexandra Oliva’s first novel.   Compelling, astute, timely The Last One is a stellar entry in the field of apocalyptic tales.

    Zoo as she is called because she works at a wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center wants to have one last adventure before starting a family.  A devotee of TV she decides to become one of twelve contestants on a reality show called In The Dark and set in the wilderness of Pennsylvania.  As explained by the show’s host there is no finish line, the only way out is to quit.  Well, quitting isn’t in Zoo’s vocabulary and before long she’s a standout among the contestants.  Others say she has “moxie.”

    However, before long we see Zoo alone believing she is on a long solo challenge.  She thinks the show has gotten rid of whole towns and scattered make believe corpses about.  Zoo heads east toward her home, determined to be the last one standing and winner of the million dollar prize.  She is unaware that a mysterious pathogen has begun destroying the population as the lines between reality and reality show become blurred.

    As Zoo struggles to stay alive and strong enough to find her way to home and husband we are privy to her thoughts about society and herself.  Listeners will find themselves examining the place of the media in our lives - does it affect our judgment?  Is what we see real or unreal?

    Mike Chamberlain is an actor and voice-over artist who along with Nicol Zanzarella deliver outstanding performances as they bring us this story of a human psyche under enormous stress. 

    The Last One provokes thoughts as few other stories do.

Friday, July 15, 2016


    Don’t know where you could find 47 listening hours of top mysteries by the estimable Sara Paretsky and read by talented Sandra Burr other than in this three volume set.  All of the stories are from the V. I. Warshawski series and each is a stunner.

    First off is Total Recall in which Paretsky brings together several plots to keep you on the edge of your respective seats.  Vic agrees to help Isaiah Sommers, a lathe operator, press his claim for his late uncle’s $10,000 policy with Ajax Insurance.  The first shock is when Vic’s former lover says Ajax paid out the policy ten years ago.  Second surprise is when Alderman Louis Durham publicly derides Vic for siding with Ajax and trying to cheat the Sommers family out of what is rightly due them.

    As if that weren’t trouble enough Holocaust survivor Paul Radbuka has had repressed memories of his dreadful past brough to the fore by a hypnotherapist, and now believes he’s related to Vic’s friend Dr. Lotty Herschel.  To prove this he begins stalking Lotty and her friends in an attempt to force them to recognize him.

    Although seemingly unrelated issues deaths begin to occur behind the two cases, and Radbuka himself is shot.  What could the connection possibly be?

    Next we’re treated to Blacklist in which Vic agrees to help a former client by checking up on an old family mansion.  In doing so she’s surprised by an intruder and gives chase only to topple into a pond.  As she reaches for something to hold onto she grasps a human hand that belongs to the body  of a reporter who was investigating a case some 45 years ago. 

    Then we hear Fire Sale and find Vic’s Old South Chicago neighborhood is catching up with her when she agrees to coach the girl’s basketball team at her former high school.  Sounds like a good idea to help the girls and perhaps some fun and relaxation for her.  Not at all!  She soon finds herself faced with a ragtag group, some fundamentalists and teenage moms.  When she tries to find a couple of missing teenagers and catch a particularly cruel murderer Vic almost loses her own life.  High school wasn’t like this when she was there!


"Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet wanting to go for a swim,
But she wasn't teeny-weeny
Enough for her bikini
So instead she went to the gym." 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

INDIA FANTASTIQUE FASHION by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosia

    Words cannot possibly describe the beauty and craftsmanship to be found in this lush volume showcasing the genius of Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosia.  Their partnership of over a quarter of a century includes designing for India’s leading celebrities, creating costumes for epic films, and dressing such stars as Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.  As has been said “Theirs is a brand synonymous with luxury, artistry and tradition.

    Their work is known throughout the world as one that blends India’s ancient cultural heritage with their unique contemporary design.  It is unlike any other and truly must be seen to appreciate.  The pair first met in 1986 when Jani worked 12 hour shifts in a garage creating Bollywood outfits and Khosla studied art at home with his mother and at school.  It was a serendipitous meeting and the two soon opened a small boutique in Mumbai called Mata Hari which soon became a favorite of those in the film industry.  Later they brought the cream of traditional Indian crafts to high fashion.

    This dazzling volume boasts 422 illustrations which capture the eye and stir imaginations.  The text is by Gayatri Sinha, a respected art critic and curator based in New Delhi.  In demand as a lecturer on Indian art she has spoken throughout the world at such auspicious venues as the Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern, National Museum of India and the Japan Foundation.  One would want to frame the photography by Ram Shergill whose work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler and other celebrated publications.  For this reader his camera caught not only beautiful images but brought my eye to details I might have otherwise overlooked.

    India Fantastique Fashion has been described as a lavish design extravaganza it is that and more.  It was shot in some of our world’s most exotic locations including Death Valley and Las Vegas , London, Bath, Brighton, Jaipur and Morocco.   It is a volume you will return to again and again, each time catching something new as once more you admire the artistry so vividly displayed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ABSALOM'S DAUGHTERS by Suzanne Feldman

    Seldom has a debut so absorbed and touched me.  It is simply magnificent - beautiful, funny, wise and filled with heart.  Suzanne Feldman has given us two sisters in Heron-Neck, Mississippi in the early 1950s - each are poor and both work hard.  Born of the same father Cassie is black and Judith is white.

    Cassie lives and works with her mother and grandmother doing laundry.  Both Cassie and Judith pile their carts with freshly done laundry to tote up the hill to luxe mansions where the white folks live.  We can forget their father as he has been long gone.  Cassie’s grandmother warns her about Judith by saying, “no matter how twice related you are, she’s no kin to you.”  Nonetheless, Cassie is drawn to Judith, becoming almost protective of her.  Feldman’s descriptions of their conversations are telling, they shine with wit and truth.

    When the girls learn that their father has gone to Virginia to claim his inheritance an unforgettable road trip, one like no other begins.  Judith believes she can be a radio star in New York City so she convinces Cassie that they should find their father, prove they are his progeny and claim their share of the money.   They go off in an unbelievably old junked car that belches steam, sleep behind billboards, and try to follow a route on a map so old that the state lines are blurred.  For the reader Feldman has deliciously introduced us to unreality - the sisters come across mules who were once men, find towns that seem to be one place on the map and somewhere else on the road, Cassie even spends some time as a white girl.  They meet kindness and adversity as each searches for her own freedom.       

    Many may be reminded of William Faulkner as they read Absalom’s Daughters yet Feldman’s voice is entirely her own, brilliantly so.  She writes with total authority, entertaining us, engaging us, and at times provoking us.