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: 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: 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

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Road Virus Heads North — Stephen King

So what do I have for you today from my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

roadvirus.jpgThe story concerns horror author Richard Kinnell, who stops at a yardsale on the way home from a writers conference and buys a disturbing painting titled the Road Virus Heads North. As he heads north himself, he discovers that the painting itself is changing, and something else is headed north in his wake.

This story was fairly freaky… There are times when I notice what I believe are subtle changes in artwork and other things around me. Listening to The Road Virus Heads North made me start to think that maybe the world is not as it seems. Definitely worth the listen.

Rating: 5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Everything’s Eventual — Stephen King

So what do I have for you today from my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

everything19-year-old high-school dropout Dinky Earnshaw explains that he’s got a good job now. He used to be a clerk at the Supr Savr, where he worked with morons and was relentlessly bullied by an aggressive dimwit named Skipper. But now Skipper’s dead and Dinky’s got a new job, where the main perks are that he gets his own house and his own car and virtually anything he asks for, including CDs that have not been released yet. He also gets a small wad of cash each week, provided he doesn’t look for the people who drop it through his mail slot, and that he remembers to destroy or throw away any money left over at the end of the week. He gets rid of his excess change by dropping it down the gutter by his house, and he puts his bills in the garbage disposal, each week.

As it turns out, Dinky has a certain gift. He has the ability to mentally influence people by drawing complicated designs or pictures, in a way that he does not completely understand. This is illustrated when he recalls that, as a child, he (semi-unknowingly) used this ability to drive to suicide a dog that tormented him on his way home from school. After Skipper humiliated him every day for years, Dinky makes the decision to use this power to kill Skipper, or more accurately to make Skipper kill himself.

Dinky is discovered by a man named Mr. Sharpton, who claims to work for Trans Corporation, an organization that searches across the world for people with such talents. Dinky is recruited to kill very specific targets by e-mailing them these designs that he creates on an Apple computer. He is, in return, given a life that seems ideal, complete with a house and other benefits. Mr. Sharpton tells Dinky that the people he is ordered to kill are wicked, horrible criminals that the world is better off without.

For a time, Dinky is happy with his new position, living life in a semi-mindless bliss; however, when Dinky finds an article in the newspaper about one of the individuals whom he has killed (a seemingly innocent old newspaper columnist) he begins to feel guilty for what he has done. After researching more into his other victims, Dinky realizes that the Trans Corporation has been using him to assassinate political dissidents and alternative thinkers. As the story ends, he is planning his escape from the Trans Corporation, but not before sending one final email to Mr. Sharpton, his recruiter.

While listening to this story, I was captivated. In part, it could have been the story itself but it also may have been due to the fact it was read by Justin Long. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something with a little supernatural element.

Rating: 5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Lucky Quarter — Stephen King

So what have I been listening to on my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

luckyquarterDarlene Pullen, who is a struggling single mother with two children (a rebellious teenage daughter and a sickly young son) and a lousy job as a maid, is left a tip of a single quarter with a note saying that it is a “lucky quarter”. She takes a quick gamble on it and finds that it brings her some small luck. Moving on to a real casino, she keeps trying her luck, and soon she’s winning thousands of dollars. All seems to be going exceedingly well until she suddenly reappears back in the hotel room, left with nothing but her lucky quarter. All of her success was a fantasy. As her two children come to visit her at work, she lets her son have the quarter, and as he uses it in a gamble, it starts to pay off just as it did when Darlene was fantasizing.

I did like this story but it wasn’t the favourite of mine in the collection. Still worth the listen!

Rating: 3.5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Autopsy Room Four — Stephen King

So what do I have for you today from my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

Autopsyroom4.jpgHoward Cottrell awakes from some form of unconsciousness to find himself laid out in an autopsy room. As the doctors prepare to begin, Howard struggles to come to grips with what is happening.

After realizing that he is not dead, he deduces that he is in a paralysed state, and struggles to somehow inform the doctors of this fact before they cut into him.

While prepping Cottrell’s body, the doctor in charge, Katie Arlen, finds shrapnel wounds around his nether regions. While she is absent-mindedly examining these, another doctor rushes into the room to inform them that Howard is still alive. Katie looks down – to find herself holding Howard’s erect penis.

In a humorous afternote, Howard explains that he was possibly bitten by a very rare snake, causing the deathlike paralysis. Another one of the doctors discovered that same snake in his golf bag and was promptly bitten. It is presumed that he will recover. Howard adds that he and Katie dated for a while, but parted due to an embarrassing issue in the boudoir: he was impotent unless she was wearing rubber gloves.

I really enjoyed this short tale. I think my enjoyment stems from my own fear of waking up paralyzed on an autopsy table and they say that pleasure and fear can run parallel through your body. It was well told and the visuals I got while listening were enough to make me shiver. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5 stars