Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Audiobook Mini-Reviews: My Mother Was Nuts, The Pocket Wife, and The Girl in the Red Coat

My Mother Was Nuts
My Mother Was Nuts is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on The Odd Couple, her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again (the second time to Rob Reiner). We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.
I wasn't alive/aware of pop culture during Marshall's biggest years, but I knew I wanted to read this after seeing the book trailer with Fred Armisen (click here to watch).  I'd seen it on a list of books that read like Bossypants, which was also a good indicator that I'd enjoy it.  It's as delightful and funny as I had hoped - and the bonus was that it inspired me to go back and watch some older movies that I missed out on.  I'm not going to say it's as funny or as entertaining as Bossypants, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it, especially with Marshall narrating.

The Pocket Wife
Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia's death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.

Is murder on her mind—or is it all in her head?
I've had this one on my list since it came out with the "reads like Gone Girl" billing that I always immediately lunge for.  When it showed up on Hoopla at about the same time as my road trip to Pennsylvania, I thought it would be the perfect time to binge it.  I did manage to listen to the whole thing and it did keep me occupied during the drive, but that's about all I can say for it.  I didn't connect with any of the characters, didn't care about the plot twists, and found the ending to just be silly.  There are a lot more choices out there that I think are much more entertaining if you want to read something thrilling and unexpected.

The Girl in the Red Coat
Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing.

And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.

Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …
 I like the kidnapping trope and I enjoyed that this one takes it in a different direction than most books.  It's much more character-driven than plot-driven and focuses largely on Carmel's attempts to retain her sense of self, along with Beth's attempts to figure out who she is without her daughter.  There's an open-ended question of spirituality and whether or not Carmel has the healing gift that her kidnapper believes she possesses.  It's well written but I never really got into it. I didn't like Carmel much and didn't care about her rescue.  I cared a lot more for Beth, but I hated that we didn't really get to see her outcome.  It's received a lot of great reviews, but it was just ok for me.

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