Wordless Wednesday #235

>> Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Audiobook – Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

>> Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Bolinda Publishing
Publication Date: 2006 Audio Edition. Book originally published 1986
Length: 5 hours, 50 minutes
Read by: Stephanie Daniel
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Phryne (Fry-nee) Fisher , bored with late 1920's London Society agrees to go to Melbourne to check in on the daughter of an acquaintance but soon find herself in full on Private Detective mode.

Why I Read It:
When Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves talked about this one I decided that it sounded like a fun audio series.

The Book:
From the Publisher:
The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honorable Phryne Fisher--she of the green-grey eyes, diamant garters and outfits that should not be sprung suddenly on those of nervous dispositions--is rapidly tiring of the tedium of arranging flowers, making polite conversations with retired colonels, and dancing with weak-chinned men. Instead, Phryne decides it might be rather amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective in Melbourne, Australia.

Almost immediately from the time she books into the Windsor Hotel, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, cocaine smuggling rings, corrupt cops and communism--not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse--until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

My Thoughts:
This was a fun first in a series. I liked Phryne from the very beginning. She's a bit of a rebel and very independent and intelligent. Her history is that she was born in Australia and had a fairly poor childhood until she was twelve when "three people between father and the Title died". She and her family moved from Australia to England and lived in luxury.

When Phryne arrives in Melbourne to find out what is really going on with the daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Harper. They fear that their dear Lydia has married a reprobate and that Lydia's recurring illnesses are symptoms of mistreatment.

Before Phryne can even begin to learn what is going on with Lydia she is soon involved in helping track down a brutal abortionist who may be responsible for multiple deaths. Then the Russian dancers talk her into helping them track down the cocaine dealers responsible for their mother's death.

It's a lot to pack into a short book but Phryne is fun and she's clearly gathering a cast of recurring characters that have me looking forward to continuing with the series.

I've never listened to a book narrated by Stephanie Daniel but I enjoyed her work. I never felt like I wanted to shift my audio player into the higher speed to move things along. She's good with the voice characterizations without if sounding forced.

There is an Australian Television series based on these books called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It's available on Netflix and I might check it out once I listen to a few more in the series.

This was a light fun introduction to a series of relatively short audiobooks that are well-narrated. The combination of a fun main character and an interesting setting and time frame means I'll be continuing with the series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


Weekend Update – The “What The Heck Was I Thinking?” Edition

>> Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Update

Who was that crazy person who signed me up for two races in six days???

Oh wait, that was me.

First of all let me state clearly that I AM NOT a runner. For a long time I was strictly a walker and I enjoy walking in races. The Hubster is the runner in the family.

Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Over the past couple of years I've started adding a bit of running into the mix and now I approach races as a mix of running and walking. It’s fun but I doubt I’ll ever be strictly a runner. Anyway I decided several months ago that it was time to give a half-marathon a try. The Hubster and some of his friends were doing the Vernonia Half Marathon which isn't too far from our house and is a course that’s not all hills (a rarity in this area). That was last Sunday. Then the Hop Hop 5k which we did last year in it’s inaugural year ended up being scheduled for yesterday. I had to sign up because it’s just a fun race with a nice course and mimosas afterwards. I figured that the worst case scenario was that I just walk it casually.

I actually ended up doing pretty well (for me) in both races.

Vernonia Lake
Vernonia Lake
My goal for the half marathon was to do a 14 minute pace and finish in 3 hours. I managed to finish in 2:52 thanks to some good early miles because the finish wasn't pretty. The final few miles were a long gradual uphill that just wore me down and then the final quarter mile was a steep downhill switchback that made my calves cramp and I was glad to just make it across the finish line.

But I did it!
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Banks-Vernonia State Trail

The course was beautiful. It was mostly a trail around a lake and then along an old railroad right of way through the woods. The weather was gorgeous.

Then it was time to assess the damage. Beyond the expected post-race soreness I had a giant painful blister on my pinkie toe. The shoes I wore have been tossed never to be worn again. An emergency shoe order was placed so I could get a new pair of the style of shoes I used to wear in time for Saturday’s 5k. Since on Monday I could hardly walk I wasn't even sure if walking the 5k yesterday was going to be an option. But as the week passed the blister healed enough and I gave the new shoes a trial run on Thursday on the treadmill which left me ready to face the 5k yesterday.
Sunrise over Mt. Hood and the Portland Airport
Sunrise over Mt. Hood and the Portland Airport

We had another pretty morning and the wind and rain held off long enough for our race. The half-marathon folks who started later than the 5k folks weren't so lucky. I did much better than I expected. I didn't get a PR but I did finish faster than I did last year. Then there were the mimosas! It’s all about rewards.

Hop Hop 5K Commemorative Glasses
Now I get a break. This two races in 6 days was kind of crazy but I did it. I’m not sure I’ll ever attempt it again. My next race is on July 4th and I’m looking forward to taking a week or so off and letting my legs and feet heal.

Reading this week:
I finished listening to Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. It was fun and I enjoyed both the main character and the 1920’s Australia setting. I started listening to the next (for me) in the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson. The Dark Horse is narrated by George Guidall and I’m liking it a lot so far.

In print I finished The Accident by Chris Pavone. I now have two Pavone books that I’m ready go push The Hubster to read. I enjoyed both The Expats and The Accident and I think he’ll like them too.

I started reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s fascinating so far and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!


Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan

>> Friday, April 18, 2014

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Niko Henrichon

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 136
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A fictionalized account of the true story of lions who escaped the zoo after the 2003 bombing of Baghdad.

Why I Read It:
Recommended highly (and repeatedly) by many of my friends.

The Book:
From the publisher:

In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, Pride of Baghdad raises questions about the true meaning of liberation — can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

My Thoughts:
Told by and from the viewpoint of the animals this is a beautifully told and illustrated story. The four lions who are the main characters all have distinct personalities. When their world they know in the zoo is suddenly changed so drastically the freedom they have wanted is granted. However in a city at war is a dangerous and desperate place for all of the zoo animals.

The artwork in this is simply beautiful despite the wartime setting.

The political allegory is pretty much what I'd expected and I knew what the final outcome would be so that didn't come as a surprise either. The telling of the story through the animals both worked and yet didn't work for me. At some points it felt like bits and pieces of both The Lion King and the Madagascar movies. The anthropormorphizing of the animals at times went a bit too far into humans they represent in the allegory but overall it was still a good book.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5


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