audibook, book review

Audiobook review: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Veronica Mars

“’I thought you wanted information, Lamb. I thought you wanted to find these girls.’
He looked at the picture again, a conflicted expression flitting across his face. ‘Do you have any proof that this guy had any part in either disappearance?’
‘No, but he was seen with both girls just before they went missing. That’s enough to get him in for questioning.’
‘Is it? Suddenly you’re some kind of legal scholar?’
‘Uh, yeah.’ She smirked. ‘Suddenly I kind of am.’”

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Veronica Mars might have spent the past ten years trying to escape her hometown of Neptune, California, but the irresistible pull of its seedy locals, its salacious scandals, and its deep, dark mysteries has drawn her back in. Veronica Mars began as a short-lived but beloved TV series, where the a plucky teenaged detective helped her single dad in the private eye biz, attempting to solve her best friend’s murder while working through her own deliciously melodramatic problems. Cancelled after three seasons, Veronica found new life as a feature film in 2014, which was funded by eager fans in the most lucrative Kickstarter campaign ever. But if you’re reading this, you probably already know all that.

Picking up shortly after the events of Veronica Mars the movie, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line kicks off a new book series and a new set of mysteries for Veronica to solve. Best of all, the first audiobook is narrated by Veronica herself, actress Kristen Bell. It’s spring break in Neptune, which means booze, bikinis, and 24-hour parties. When the disappearance of college freshman Hayley DeWalt is quickly followed by the disappearance of 16-year-old Aurora Scott, the corrupt and inept Sheriff Dan Lamb dismisses the case as out-of-town party girls who will eventually turn up. The Chamber of Commerce steps in to hire Mars Investigations, and the mystery takes Veronica on a twisty path and a confrontation from her past.

Continue reading “Audiobook review: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham”

book review

All the hovering possibilities: a review of Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Violent political realities in Sierra Leone and their lasting physical and psychological traumas form the backdrop of Michael Wuitchik’s gritty debut My Heart is not My Own. neck.

Frog Music

“By evening, the heat of the day has thickened like a smell. P’tit finally falls into a snuffling doze in her locked arms.
A tap at the door. . . Jenny Bonnet, the pool of purple around her eye faded to greenish yellow, the swelling gone down. It was only two days ago when the thug walloped her chez Durand, Blache calculates. That was in Blanche’s old life, before she brought P’tit home.”

Frog Music, Emma Donoghue

San Francisco, 1876: During an unbearable heat wave and a dangerous outbreak of smallpox, Blanche Beunon bends over to unlace her boots and bullets fly over her head, killing her new friend Jenny Bonnet almost instantly. Blanche is sure her lover and his best friend are behind it, that the bullets were meant for her. Jenny, a prototypical coucher surfer who makes her living catching frogs for restaurants and has done jail time for her habit of wearing men’s clothing, was simply in the wrong place. But can it be more than that? From the notorious House of Mirrors where Blanche dances to Chinatown where she and her lover live, Frog Music draws a picture both bright and bleak of post–Gold Rush San Francsico and brings to life a real unsolved murder.

Continue reading “All the hovering possibilities: a review of Frog Music by Emma Donoghue”

book review, DeeBrief reviews

DeeBrief review: The Accident by Chris Pavone

Set in the publishing world, The Accident goes from the slush pile to a Bourne Identity–style chase through New York. But are the stakes really that high?

The Accident

“‘You think that has something to do with the manuscript?’
‘I do. Isabel does.’
‘What? Why?’
‘Because it can’t be a coincidence that the morning after the girl finishes reading the bombshell, someone shoots her in the head. In her own apartment.’

The Accident, Chris Pavone

What if one of the most powerful men in the world had a secret, scandalous past? And what if that man could be brought down by a single manuscript? Literary agent Isabel Reed and editor Jeff Fielder are about to find out—and they could pay with their lives—in Chris Pavone’s thriller The Accident. Set in the publishing world, The Accident goes from the slush pile to a Bourne Identity–style chase through New York. But are the stakes really that high?

Continue reading “DeeBrief review: The Accident by Chris Pavone”

interview

Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not: An interview with Ian Doescher

 

Ian Doescher

Shakespeare Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Ian Doescher got a crazy idea to combine two well-loved worlds. His odds of navigating the mashup successfully were about the same as navigating an asteroid field, but maybe no one told him the odds. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars® was published in 2013 to acclaim from Star Wars and Shakespeare fans alike, lauded by everyone from high school teachers to Entertainment Weekly. I listed the book as one of my top reads of 2013. Its followup, The Empire Striketh Back, hits bookstores in February 2014.

Ian, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me. I need to start with probably the most asked question: how did this idea, rewriting A New Hope as a Shakespearian play, come about?

In the spring and summer of 2012, three things happened: I watched the Star Wars trilogy with some friends for the first time in several years, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I attended the Oregon Shakespeare festival with my family. I attribute the idea for William Shakespeare’s Star Wars to those three things combining in my subconscious. At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, we saw a funny modern adaptation of Shakespeare called The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, so I was already primed for novel interpretations of Shakespeare.

Continue reading “Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not: An interview with Ian Doescher”

miscellaneous

On the 49th Shelf: Recommending Curiosity: A Love Story by Joan Thomas

 

Curiosity

I recently talked about Curiosity: A Love Story by Joan Thomas for The 49th Shelf. (History! Love! Class struggle! Dinosaurs!) You can read it on this week’s The Recommend, plus book recs from Chatelaine books editor Laurie Grassi, artist Vivek Shraya, author Carrie Snyder, and librarian Heidi Schiller.

book review

The best interests of women: a review of The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and
Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race
Around the WorldFor author and historian Charlotte Gray in The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country, the murder is an access point, a window into Toronto a hundred years ago, and into the changing social fabric of Canada.

The Massey Murder

“Now, within a city and country under stress, Carrie Davies’s actions played into contemporary disquiet about the dissolution of Old World standards of behaviour. Whatever did Carrie Davies think she was doing? Was this the kind of thing that would happen if people didn’t know their place and women were given the vote?

The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country, by Charlotte Gray

Carrie Davies would have been one of the countless unknown servants of wartime Toronto if not for her actions on February 8, 1915. An eighteen-year-old immigrant from a big family in England, she was working to support herself while sending money home. But then she picked up a gun and shot the man she worked for: Charles Albert Massey, of the prominent old Ontario Massey family. For author and historian Charlotte Gray in The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country, the murder is an access point, a window into Toronto a hundred years ago, and into the changing social fabric of Canada.

Toronto is my adopted city, the place I moved to in 2008 to continue schooling, to pursue a career and become an adult. It’s the city I know and love best, having learned its streets, its festivals, its hidden restaurant and pub gems, in a way I never did where I grew up: savouring rather than taking the terrain from granted. I also arrived in time for a crippling garbage strike and a mayoral race that, years later, has left city hall in the grip of personal and possibly criminal scandal. I have a fascination for Toronto’s politics and its history. So The Massey Murder is exactly the book I was looking for. Less a focused true crime account and more an examination of class, gender, and history, Gray has written a compelling narrative of the Toronto that was a century ago.

Continue reading “The best interests of women: a review of The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray”

book review

Romantic improvisation: a review of Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell

Violent political realities in Sierra Leone and their lasting physical and psychological traumas form the backdrop of Michael Wuitchik’s gritty debut My Heart is not My Own. neck.

Vienna Nocturne

“Anna had seen many virtuosi play. Wolfgang Mozart surpassed them all. He exhaled, and so many breathing notes unfurled from his unhesitating hands. He played as she had always wished to sing—how she imagined she might sing if she were not so excitable and striving, but selfless and assured, bound to music alone.

– Vienna Nocturne, Vivien Shotwell

In the late 1700s, a young English soprano sets sail with her overprotective mother to find fame and fortune on the Italian stage. And find them Anna Storace does with the company at La Scala Opera House. In Vienna Nocturne, by opera singer Vivien Shotwell, we follow “L’inglesina” from her carefree heights in Milan to Austria where great suffering, great love, and the incomparable Mozart await her under the watchful reign of Joseph II.

It’s easy to throw on some “soothing” Mozart when we’re reading or studying, or to think of Mozart’s music as old-fashioned. But debut novelist Shotwell allows us to peek behind the curtain of one of the greatest moments in operatic history, giving us a keen reminder of the drama, personalities, and political intrigue at play as this music was being composed. Based on the real life of the celebrated soprano who originated the role of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro in 1786, Vienna Nocturne is about not just the passion in the music, but an illicit love affair between Anna and the married upstart composer Wolfgang Mozart.

Continue reading “Romantic improvisation: a review of Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell”