Friday, August 26, 2016

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

LOVE Cormoran Strike and love Galbraith (*cough* JK Rowling)

Second in the Strike series, we get a little more involved in the case rather than getting to know Strike and Robin (the first book sets you up for those). I listened to the audiobook from the library and it was fantastic. The narrator was really top notch.

Mrs. Quine approaches Strike to help find her husband, Owen. He's a novelist who, while tending to run off by himself, has been gone much too long. Strike is fairly famous at this point for solving the Lula Landry case in the previous book so he's doing fairly well with business. Most of it is rich people cheating on each other so, despite Mrs. Quine not looking like she can pay, he takes her case for the interest.

And interesting he got. Owen wrote a novel that skewered every one he knew and lawsuits were piling up before the book could even be published. Seems like a good time for a novelist to disappear.

Strike eventually finds Owen and he's not among the living anymore. The missing person case has turned into a gruesome murder case and there are too many suspects to sort through.

This was a long book (455 pages or 17+ hours of audio) but it was intriguing all the way through. I enjoyed the ending wrap up because Galbraith made sure we had no idea what Strike was thinking or planning when he figured everything out. Excellent hard-boiled mystery!

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks

This one wasn't up my alley. It was a very short book and it has a good premise (What would you say to that bully 20 years later??) but it seemed to fall short.

Caroline is a meek, mouse of a woman who, one day in PTA, suddenly drops the f-bomb to the head of the PTA. I'm guessing this has built up over time because that seemed odd. When Polly, Caroline's daughter, gets in a fight, Caroline pulls her out of school and several states away so Caroline can deliver the "perfect comeback" to HER school bully.

The characters didn't really work well for me. I get why Caroline would want to go back and tell off her bully (who used to be her best friend) but it didn't seem to go where I think it could have went with the idea and characters. There are some fun characters who pop up but they don't really add to the story.

I think this would appeal to folks who like chick-lit, but it really didn't appeal to me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Listening vs. Reading

I tend to listen to audiobooks a lot lately, on my commute, exercising, while knitting, etc. I never thought audiobooks were "cheating" but apparently some people do. Interesting article on why audiobooks are not cheating :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Grunt by Mary Roach

Or Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

I've never met a bad Mary Roach book and this was no exception. War books, war movies, none of those are my "thing" but since this is Roach I figured it would be funny and informative and not so much with the horrors of war....all that was true, until the last chapter.

I listened to this in audiobook format so I can't go back and get chapter titles and this all has to come from memory (I should really write things down when I listen to audiobooks) but essentially Roach delves into the science of soldiers at war. But she takes the approach that others don't normally take such as: Is diarrhea a threat to national security? Turns out, yes. It's a huge problem for soldiers in other countries and it's actually not something I would have even thought about. There are departments dedicated to research of diarrhea just to help keep the soldiers healthy.

Roach researched hearing loss - another big problem with soldiers as well as uniforms and how to protect soldiers from IEDs that explode under vehicles. Again, it turns out that those injuries are unique and that lead to Roach researching penis reconstruction and how surgeons at Walter Reed hospital are doing everything they can to put soldiers back together. An interesting and sad side note, when Roach asked about women and their reproductive organs during IED explosions, it was pointed out that if the damage reached the ovaries, then the soldier was dead.

We delved into flies and research on maggot debridement as well as heat exertion and life on a submarine (think severe sleep deprivation). All of the chapters had Roach's trademark wry humor ("Brian Williams loved caffeinated meat.....or did he?"). The last chapter was somber and serious. Roach went to a morgue where soldiers are taken in order to meet with physicians who are doing their best to understand how the deaths happened and what can be learned to prevent future deaths. Something as simple as a tourniquet not being placed right is a difference between life or death and medics in the field are constantly briefed on what went right and what went wrong. Roach was clearly taken with the images of dead soldiers and, honestly, that chapter was hardest to listen to.

I hate war, I hate the thought that all of this is needed because we have to be at war. I hate what the men and women of the military have to endure to do their job. But I'm very happy they are brave enough to do it and I thank them for that.

Two good interviews with Mary Roach can be found: