Thursday, October 22, 2015

Audiobook Mini-Reviews: Forensics, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Tales from the Back Row, and Untwine

From Goodreads:
The dead talk—to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.
 As a crime writer, McDermid has done lots of research on forensic investigation and the changing landscape of technology used in solving crimes.  In this book she covers both the history of forensics as well as modern innovations and changes in the way we use science to determine guilt or innocence. The book is well-researched and McDermid relies heavily on interviews with the leading professionals in the field as well as her own research.  The book's narrator is Scottish (I believe), as is the author, and there were a few moments where I had trouble understanding and had to replay passages to make sure I got what the author was trying to convey.  Otherwise, I have no complaints and enjoyed the read enough that I made sure to order a copy for the library to support my school's Criminal Justice program.

Jen Mann doesn’t have a filter, which sometimes gets her in trouble with her neighbors, her fellow PTA moms, and that one woman who tried to sell her sex toys at a home shopping party. Known for her hilariously acerbic observations on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Mann now brings her sharp wit to bear on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays. From the politics of joining a play group, to the thrill of mothers’ night out at the gun range, to the rewards of your most meaningful relationship (the one you have with your cleaning lady), nothing is sacred or off-limits. 
Jen Mann can, in my opinion, go ahead and join the ranks of all the other funny Jen's out there blogging and authoring books (namely Jen Lancaster and Jenny Lawson).  She's hilarious, her book is hilarious, and even as a non-mom I could find a lot of humor in her tales of motherhood and dealing with suburban life.  I was completely happy with the narration, which was spot on for the tone of the essays.  I've got an ARC of her upcoming holiday book and can't wait to read it.  Expect a review of that one soon.

In Tales from the Back Row, editor Amy Odell takes readers behind the stage of New York's hottest fashion shows to meet the world's most influential models, designers, celebrities, editors, and photographers.

But first, she has to push her way through the crowds outside, where we see the lengths people go to be noticed by the lurking paparazzi, and weave her way through the packed venue, from the very back row to the front. And as Amy climbs the ladder (with tips about how you can, too), she introduces an industry powered by larger-than-life characters.
A high fashion memoir from someone who has a regular person outlook on the world of fashion but an insider's knowledge?  Yes, please!  If you've met me or seen pictures of me, you know fashion is not a personal love of mine as far as my own clothing is concerned.  I'd much rather spend my money on books and art supplies than on upscale clothing, shoes, and purses.  But I'm also still a woman and while I'm not as particular about my personal wardrobe, I do have an interest in fashion as a thing to look at and I'm not averse to reading the occasional fashion blog or looking at pictures of pretty people wearing pretty clothes.  What drew me to this book was that Odell writes from both perspectives.  She loves fashion, she loves clothing, and she's passionate about it - but she also realizes the craze extent it goes to among celebrities and fashion insiders and isn't afraid to laugh at it.  There's loads to love here, from celebrity gossip to blog tales to the less glamorous aspects of the industry.   
Sixteen-year-old Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be. They are each other’s strongest source of support even as their family life seems to be unraveling and their parents are considering divorce. Then the Boyers have a tragic encounter that will shatter everyone’s world forever.

Giselle wakes up in a hospital room, injured and unable to speak or move. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her sister, to her family, to herself. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her—her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle—have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to buoy her and lead her on the path to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a painful spiral of longing and regret?
The only work of fiction in this set of reviews, but it was a doozy.  After reading the plot summary, I had a few doubts about this one - it sounds a lot like another If I Stay.  And while I liked If I Stay, I was so pleased to find Untwine very different.  I've asked friends before what books they would consider to be the YA equivalent of literary fiction, and I'm definitely adding this one to the list.  There were so many elements to love here: a diverse cast of characters, a focus on relationships and character development as opposed to cheap drama, and an intense examination of trauma from a teen perspective.  I'll definitely be reading more by this author. 

 Thanks to both my local public library and to NetGalley for providing me with copies of these titles to review.

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