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May 2, 2014 / Leslie

Rapid Reviews: My Wish List, Defending Jacob, and A Nice Little Place on the North Side

rapidreviewslogo1April Rapid Reviews

In keeping with 2014 goals I am writing more short, concise, timely reviews with a quick overview and what I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the book. Using a Rapid Review format makes it easier for me to stay caught-up.

This wraps up most of my April reading. I also read Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French and William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher. Those review will be posted in the next week or two.

My Wish List by Grégoire Delacourt

Publisher: Penguin Audio | March 2014My Wish List
Format: Audio Download | 3½ hours | Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate

Jocelyne lives in a small town in France where she runs a fabric shop, has been married to the same man for 21 years, and has raised two children. She is beginning to wonder what happened to all those dreams she had when she was 17. Could her life have been different? Then she wins the lottery – and suddenly finds the world at her fingertips. But she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband – not just yet. Without cashing the check, she begins to make a list of all the things she could do with the money. But does Jocelyne really want her life to change?

I choose this short novel to listen to during the Readathon last weekend thinking it would be an uplifting fantasy. Instead, it was a bit of a downer. Initially Jocelyne dreams about all the nice ways the lottery winnings can change her life, but when her husband discovers the check and realizes she has been keeping this huge secret, things begin to go wrong. While she outwardly believes her marriage is fine, there are many problems beneath the surface.

The ending was unexpected and not necessarily to my liking, but the majority of the novel was an interesting reflection on life, relationships, marriage and asks the question – does having more money and more possessions make life happier, or is there more to the equation?

Audio production:
The book was narrated by Jilly Bond. Nicely paced and easy to listen to with the right amount of emotion and tension in the conflicted Jocelyne’s voice.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Publisher: Blackstone Audio | January 2013
Format: Library Audio CD | 12½ hours | Rating: 4½ starsDefendingJacob
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

This has been on my to-read list for a while so I was pleased when my bookclub chose it as their April read. Once I started this book I couldn’t stop listening – it was fascinating. I enjoy legal thrillers so I knew I would probably like the book, but was totally drawn in with the complexity, conflict and drama.

This was a perfect choice for bookclub discussion. Those with and without children had some different opinions about the parents decisions, especially Andy’s behavior, but almost everyone enjoyed the book. The topic that received the most discussion was the ending. I wasn’t thrilled with it but it was an understandable outcome.

Audio production:
The book was narrated by Grover Gardner, an excellent choice who added just the right nuance to the voices for this emotional thriller. The early part of the story requires a little extra attention to detail but once the characters and plot became clear, it was easy listening.

A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred
by George F. Will

Publisher: Random House Audio | April 2014NorthSide
Format: Audio Download | 5 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

In A Nice Little Place on the North Side, leading columnist George Will returns to baseball with a deeply personal look at his hapless Chicago Cubs and their often beatified home, Wrigley Field, as it turns one hundred years old. Baseball, Will argues, is full of metaphors for life, religion, and happiness, and Wrigley is considered one of its sacred spaces. But what is its true, hyperbole-free history?

Filled with anecdotes and history, this is a fast read and informative look at Wrigley Field, the Cubs and baseball in general. While primarily about the history of the Cubs organization and Wrigley field, it also touches on some of the great players, famous ballparks and historic moments in baseball.

As a lifelong Cub fan, I am well aware of the reasons why the World Series is so elusive. It was no surprise to learn that Cubs attendance is the least affected by winning performance of all teams in baseball. Cub attendance in 2006 was 94% of capacity even though the team finished in last place. Attendance increased or stayed the same even in losing years. There is no incentive for management to improve the team regardless of what they say. And it has been that way for 70 years!

While the book was entertaining and fun to listen to, I remain a grumpy Cub fan.

Audio production:
Narrated By Mark Deakins in a ‘sportscaster-like’ announcer’s voice, it was easy listening. My only gripe was the mispronunciation of several player’s names.

Source: Review copies for My Wish List and A Nice Little Place were provided by the publishers.
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Leave a Comment
  1. WordsAndPeace / May 2 2014 3:31 pm

    ah, never read a contemporary French novel if you look for something uplifting, they are always a bit depressing, though I did enjoy a lot the writing of this one


    • Leslie / May 3 2014 5:12 pm

      The writing was fine. The story got a little sad, though.


  2. diane / May 3 2014 3:59 pm

    Loved the audio version of Defending Jacob — what an awesome ending:)


    • Leslie / May 3 2014 5:10 pm

      Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that!


  3. Suko / May 4 2014 3:17 pm

    Leslie, I enjoyed your short reviews. Of the three, the baseball book appeals most to me.


  4. stacybuckeye / May 9 2014 9:53 pm

    I need to get to Defending Jacob!


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