A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Memory Collector — Meg Gardiner |#CrimeFiction

I feel like I’m falling behind in my listening since this is the last book on my list of completed audiobooks to review. That said, I may take a bit of a hiatus over the holidays to build that list up again for 2017.

So what have I just finished listening to? Meg Gardiner’s The Memory Collector — the second book in the Jo Beckett series!

2421292.jpgForensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett’s specialty is the psychological autopsy―an investigation into a person’s life to determine whether a death was natural, accidental, suicide, or homicide. She calls herself a deadshrinker instead of a headshrinker: The silence of her “patients” is a key part of the job’s attraction. When Jo is asked to do a psychological autopsy on a living person―one with a suspect memory who can’t be trusted to participate in his own medical care―she knows all her skills will be put to the test.

Jo is called to the scene of an aircraft inbound from London to help deal with a passenger who is behaving erratically. She figures out that he’s got anteretrograde amnesia, and can’t form new memories. As his thoughts drift away like tendrils of smoke, Jo finds herself racing to save a patient who can walk and talk yet can’t help her figure out just what happened to him. For every cryptic clue he is able to drag up from his memory, Jo has to sift through a dozen nonsensical statements. Suddenly a string of clues arises―something to do with a superdeadly biological agent code-named “Slick,” missing people, and a secret partnership gone horribly wrong. Jo realizes her patient’s addled mind may hold the key to preventing something terrible from happening in her beloved San Francisco. In order to prevent it, she will have to get deeper into the life of a patient than she ever has before, hoping the truth emerges from the fog of his mind in time to save her city―and herself.

What didn’t I like about this book?? Nothing—I loved it all! The story is fast paced and the characters are well drawn and likeable—at least the ones you are supposed to like! Centred around a misbehaving nano experiment, the scenarios this book explores has real-world implicaitons. Fantastic read!

Rating: 5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Dirty Secrets Club — Meg Gardiner | #CrimeFiction

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a crime fiction kick as of late and I’ve discovered a new favourite author in Meg Gardiner. My first audiobook with her was The Dirty Secrets Club and it’s not going to be my last!

imagesAn ongoing string of high-profile and very public murder-suicides has San Francisco even more rattled than a string of recent earthquakes: A flamboyant fashion designer burns to death, clutching the body of his murdered lover. A superstar 49er jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge. And most shocking of all, a U.S. attorney launches her BMW off a highway overpass, killing herself and three others.

Enter forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, hired by the SFPD to cut open not the victim’s body, but the victim’s life. Jo’s job is to complete the psychological autopsy, shedding light on the circumstances of any equivocal death. Soon she makes a shocking discovery: All the suicides belonged to something called the Dirty Secrets Club, a group of A-listers with nothing but money and plenty to hide. As the deaths continue, Jo delves into the disturbing motives behind this shadowy group―until she receives a letter that contains a dark secret Jo thought she’d left deep in her past, a secret that ends with the most chilling words of all: “Welcome to the Dirty Secrets Club.”

This is the first of a series where you’ll meet Jo Beckett, a forensic psychiatrist who conducts psychological autopsies to find out why a person died — Suicide? Murder? Accident? 

The Dirty Secrets Club was a fantastic book. The characters were believable, clever, and completely flawed in their own ways and the plot was orchestrated in such a way to keep you guessing until the last moment. Highly enjoyable listen!

Rating: 5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Riding the Bullet — Stephen King | #Ghosts #UrbanLegends

Every once in a while I like to take a step back from books that come on 10 discs and involve 11 to 13 hours of listening and pick up something that’s a little shorter. Riding the Bullet by Stephen King is one of those listens.

515z098fqel-_sx372_bo1204203200_A Stephen King ghost story in the grand tradition, Riding the Bullet is the ultimate warning about the dangers of hitchhiking.

A college student’s mother is dying in a Maine hospital. When he hitches a ride to see her, the driver is not who he appears to be. Soon the journey veers off into a dark landscape that could only be drawn by Stephen King.

Sometimes when you listen to something, it hits you. You get a small shiver that runs up your spine as the story unfolds and you find yourself really enjoying it. Riding the Bullet was one of those stories for me.

I enjoyed the easy plot and the throwback to many an urban legend within it. Definitely an enjoyable read.

Rating: 4 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Woods – Harlan Coben | #Mystery #Horror

This is the first book I’ve read by Harlan Coben but after finishing The Woods, it won’t be my last.

51ulwevyyHL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgTwenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again.

For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six-year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened.

Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.

I enjoyed the twisting mystery of The Woods immensely. While I wouldn’t classify it as a ‘cozy’ mystery, it certainly had the same appeal. The mystery itself was well drawn and kept me guessing up until a certain point—making me change my mind every few chapters until I finally settled on the killer.

If you’re a fan of mysteries with a little bit of horror thrown in for good measure, give The Woods a chance.

Rating: 4.5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: ZOO 2 — James Patterson and Max DiLallo | #BookShots #ManIsTheMostDangerousAnimal

After checking out ZOO by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge and enjoying it immensely, I wanted to be sure to check out the follow-up ZOO 2 by Patterson and Max DiLallo. But before we get to my thoughts, let’s learn a little more about it…

zoo2James Patterson’s ZOO was just the beginning. The planet is still under violent siege by ferocious animals. Humans are their desperate prey. Except some humans are evolving, mutating into a savage species that could save civilization—or end it.

The story itself really made me think of the possibilities—could the overstimulation of our brains from radio signals and the like really awake something more primitive in our DNA? I would hate to think it’s possible, but until it happens, you never know what’s possible.

In theory, the story was terrifying which made for a delightfully frightful listen. I found myself getting pulled along with the characters and that’s not always an easy thing to do. It was a very enjoyable follow-up to the first book. I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 4.5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Colorado Kid — Stephen King | #Mystery #Horror

As a fan of the TV show Haven, I wanted to be sure I read The Colorado Kid by Stephen King which the show is said to be based upon. But before we get to that, let’s take a moment to learn a little more about the story…

coloradokid.jpgStephanie McCann is a journalism student at University of Ohio. Her summer internship brings her to Moose-Lookit Island, ME where she tags along after Vince Teague and David Bowie–two salty newsmen who’ve been running The Weekly Islander together for forty years.

Over those decades, the old guys have seen it all. With Stephanie’s help, they review a cold case involving “The Colorado Kid”—an anonymous tourist visiting the island who turned up dead in the Spring of 1980.

The Colorado Kid is classic King. He deftly weaves a charming and funny New England yarn featuring good old fashioned Island storytelling.

When I first started listening, I wasn’t sure how the book would connect to the show. While it wasn’t important for my enjoyment, the curious part of my mind was always listening to the connection. I will say the connection is loose at best, but The Colorado Kid was a great example of the way King crafts a twisted tale around a mystery.

The entire story revolves around the retelling of a mysterious appearance (and yes I mean appearance) and the subsequent investigation undertaken to discover the identity and circumstances surrounding that appearance. It’s a bit of a creepy tale that circles back upon itself in an interesting way. If you’re not a fan of the television series Haven, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up—it’s well worth the read.

Rating: 4 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: ZOO — James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge | #WhenAnimalsAttack

I’ve found lately that I’m getting through audiobooks faster, though my rides to work haven’t been getting longer — it’s an odd phenomena but one I can’t say I’m disliking. One of the recent books I finished was ZOO by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.

All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the violence to come becomes terrifyingly clear.

With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it’s too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide. With wildly inventive imagination and white-knuckle suspense that rivals Stephen King at his very best, James Patterson’s ZOO is an epic, non-stop thrill-ride from “One of the best of the best.” (TIME)

Okay, I will admit that I tried to watch the show based on this book on CBS when it debuted but just couldn’t get into it. After listening to the audiobook, I’m going to go back and give it another shot. The book was utterly thrilling and I enjoyed each terrifying moment of it. While I’m not someone prone to looking at any situation as the potential for utter catastrophe, the events in ZOO read like they could be possible. That’s scary. Really and truly scary. I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 4.5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Diary — Chuck Palahniuk

So what have I been listening to lately? I’ve been on a bit of a weird fiction kick and Diary by Chuck Palahniuk certainly did not disappoint…

diaryMisty Wilmot has had it. Once a promising young artist, she’s now stuck on an island ruined by tourism, drinking too much and working as a waitress in a hotel. Her husband, a contractor, is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but that doesn’t stop his clients from threatening Misty with lawsuits over a series of vile messages they’ve found on the walls of houses he remodeled.

Suddenly, though, Misty finds her artistic talent returning as she begins a period of compulsive painting. Inspired but confused by this burst of creativity, she soon finds herself a pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives. What unfolds is a dark, hilarious story from America’s most inventive nihilist, and Palahniuk’s most impressive work to date.

I really enjoyed this tale from Palahniuk—it was so utterly bizarre but made perfect sense. It was horrorific in a humourously physchological way and I loved each moment of it. Told in diary format, it felt a little odd since it wasn’t completely told from the first person perspective as one might expect but for some reason, against the backdrop of the interconnected story lines, it works. Definitely worth the read if you enjoy a little strange with your horror fiction!

Rating: 4.5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Fangland by John Marks | #Vampires #TelevisionJournalism

It was the cover that drew me into this audiobook at first. That and the title. Fangland

Fangland.jpgAn acclaimed novelist and former 60 Minutes producer grandly reinvents the Dracula epic in the halls of a certain television newsmagazine In the annals of business trips gone horribly wrong, Evangeline Harker’s journey to Romania on behalf of her employer, the popular television newsmagazine The Hour, deserves pride of place. Sent to Transylvania to scout out a possible story on a notorious Eastern European crime boss named Ion Torgu, she has found the true nature of Torgu’s activities to be far more monstrous than anything her young journalist’s mind could have imagined. The fact that her employer clearly won’t get the segment it was hoping for is soon the very least of her concerns. Back in New York, Evangeline’s disappearance causes an uproar at the office and a wave of guilt and recrimination. Then suddenly, several months later, she’s heard from: miraculously, she’s convalescing in a Transylvania monastery, her memory seemingly scrubbed. But then who was sending e-mails through her account to The Hour employees? And what are those great coffin-like boxes of objects delivered to the office in her name from the Old Country? And why does the show’s sound system appear to be infected with some strange virus, an aural bug that coats all recordings in a faint background hiss that sounds like the chanting of…place-names? And what about the rumors that a correspondent has scored an interview with Torgu, here in New York, after all? As a very dark Old World atmosphere deepens in the halls of one of America’s most trusted television programs, its employees are forced to confront a threat beyond their wildest imaginings, a threat that makes gossip about an impending corporate shakeup seem very quaint indeed. Written in the form of diary entries, e-mails, therapy journals, and other artifacts of early-twenty-first-century American professional-class life, compiled as an informal inquest by a very interested party, Fangland manages both to be a genuinely-in fact triumphantly-frightening vampire novel in the grand tradition and a, yes, biting commentary on the way we live and work now.

The story itself was riveting and I found myself not wanting to stop driving. That’s one of the problems with audiobooks, you get so enthralled with what you’re listening to that one more chapter ends up as one more spin around the block.

While it’s heralded as a re-imagining of Stoker’s Dracula set in present day times against the backdrop of post 9/11 New York, it’s truly something standalone and complete. If you like Vampires or are looking for a different read that will entertain you, I totally recommend picking this one up.

Rating: 5 Stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Switching Time: A Doctor’s Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities — Richard Baer | #NonFiction

One of my latest listens on my commute was Switching Time: A Doctor’s Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities by Richard Baer…

switchingtimeSwitching Time is the first story centering on multiple personality disorder to be told by the treating physician. It is the incredible saga of a young woman stranded in unimaginable darkness who, in order to survive, created seventeen different versions of herself. In 1989, Karen Overhill walked into the office of psychiatrist Richard Baer complaining of depression. She poured out a litany of complaints, but in the disengaged way of someone who has experienced a terrible trauma. Slowly, Baer began to peel back the layers, eventually learning that Karen had been the victim of childhood sexual abuse. As time passed, though, his patient worsened and began to talk continually of suicide. Details of her abuse accumulated until he saw, via hypnosis, the true dimension of what Karen had suffered. Baer was at a loss to explain Karen’s sanity, precarious though it was, until he received a letter from a little girl, Claire. One by one, Karen’s “alters” began showing themselves-men, women, young boys, a toddler, black, white, vicious, nurturing, prim, licentious. And their “stepping out” confronted Baer with the challenge of a lifetime. Somehow, to save Karen, he would have to gain the trust of her alters in order to destroy them.

I’m going to start off by admitting that when I picked this book up, I didn’t realize it was non fiction. I was drawn in by the synopsis and the cover, and I missed the whole title the first time around – Switching Time: A Doctor’s Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities. In the end, it was both a riveting story to follow and a hard one to listen to. If you’re interested in this type of non-fiction, I would recommend it.

Rating: 4 stars