Saturday, November 17, 2012

Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie

Granted I can't afford the luxury that The House of Chanel sells, but I'm always fascinated by the lives of the glamorous people of the past. Unfortunately, today's "glamorous" people leave much to be desired.
In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.
Coco Chanel

The audiobook was excellent to listen to and went through Chanel's life, from start to finish. Much of what is told is questionable as Coco was never one to tell the exact truth about herself to anyone. Everyone seemed to get a different version. What is known is that she was born into a poor family and her father was not around much at all. Her mother passed away with all the children in the room, which made an impression on Gabrielle (Coco was just a nickname). Her father showed up long enough to take her to a convent orphanage, where she stayed until she was 18.

Her rise to the top as the one and only Chanel is well written, including documenting all of Gabrielle's lovers (most were already married when Chanel got to them). Gabrielle herself never married nor had children and that seemed to bother her greatly at the end.

During the war (2), Chanel was investigated as helping the Germans. She had a "Comeback" couture collection at age 70. The list could really go on about her, and all of these things made her legendary.

The book did spend some time on Jackie Kennedy, simply because she was one of the most fashionable First Ladies and made the Chanel suit an icon. The beautiful pink Chanel suit that ended up covered in JFK's blood in Dallas.

I really did enjoy this book. In the end, Chanel was incredibly talented, iconic, and a grand dame of Parisian fashion. But, she was also a person, one who got lonely and got old.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mad River by John Sandford

This is the 6th in the Virgil Flowers series (with a smattering of Lucas Davenport). I do enjoy Flowers as much as I do Davenport but I'm going to make a bold statement and say -  Davenport isn't adding to the story at all anymore. He needs to go and let Flowers stand on his own. We're 6 books in, Virgil has shown what he's made of and people like it.  Phase out Lucas a bit and let Virgil run!

This book was interesting in that it's a crime spree spurred on by a crime ending in several crimes. All by different people. We start out a with a Bonnie and Clyde (and extra Clyde) group robbing a rich lady's home. Things go badly and one of the daughters is killed.

But did they go badly? Or was that how it was supposed to go?

B&C&eC are on the run and killing people left and right (crime spree spurred on by crime). Flowers is called in to get this under control, because at this point, at least 5 people are dead in a matter of days.

As he digs, Flowers realizes that it's probable that the daughter's estranged husband may be behind her death.

Nothing is concrete except for Bonnie and Clyde and extra Clyde (Becky, Jimmy and Tom) and that ends as well as the real Bonnie and Clyde did. A lot is actually left unresolved and it makes Flowers angry and the reader frustrated. But in real life, things don't neatly tie up and get a case closed stamp.

Good Flowers book, but not the best.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Here We Go Again by Betty White

She seems like a nice ol' lady.

This book is a supershort audiobook (about 3 hours) and is filled with highlights from Betty's television career. I had no idea she mostly got her fame through talk shows and game shows. Rock on, Betty.

Also, Betty is a Trekkie. Again...who knew?

This is such a short, lighthearted book with a little insight into the famous Ms. White.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Albert of Adelaide by Howard L Anderson

Maybe I should just let the Books on the Nightstand podcast tell me what to read from now on. This was another recommendation and this one is fantastic.

The premise is so odd that you feel the need to read it. Albert is a platypus who escapes from the Adelaide zoo in Australia. He's trying to make it Old Australia, the place where life is good and animals aren't locked behind bars. It's a tale animals tell each other in the zoos and sometimes, one gets daring and breaks out.

If you are thinking this is a going to be a funny animal story, think again.

Anderson humanizes the characters so well that when a paw or tail or other animal feature is mentioned, it snaps you back to "Oh right, these are animals". The tale of Albert is told well ( has a great audiobook) and has more than enough shoot 'em up action to keep you worried about everyone's safety. Yes. Animals have guns. Frightening, isn't it?

The part of this story that kept getting to me was the savagery in the animal attacks. Because of the way the animals interact, talk... be human like....I kept forgetting that what they do to each other isn't savagery. It's predator and prey and it's the norm in the animal world.

Albert ends up in the desert, not the place for a water dwelling platypus. He strikes up friendships with Jack the Wombat who is a bit of a pyromaniac and the bandicoots, Roger and Alvin. Please, if you don't know what a bandicoot is, look it up. I had to and it made it that much better listening to the story to picture the crazy bandicoots.

Just when I was thinking animals were better than people, we come across animals that mimic the worst of humankind.

I think this novel lands up there on my favorites. Would it have if the characters had been human? I don't think so.

Try it out with a sample