Audiobooks from Craig, Finder, Goodman, Hawkins, and Sincero | Xpress Reviews

Week ending October 6, 2017

Craig, Christie. Divorced, Desperate, and Delicious. 7 CDs. 8:38 hrs. Dreamscape. Jul. 2017. ISBN 9781520078281. $59.99. 1 MP3-CD. ROMANCE
Lacy Maguire is a photographer, living a deliberately solo life since her ex-husband’s affair a year ago. Chase Kelly is a police detective and a widower who has narrowly escaped death at the hands of his partner and forces Lacy, at gunpoint, to let him hide out in her home while he gathers the evidence to clear his name. Lacy is initially fearful of Chase and his motives but, as she gets to know him, she comes to believe his claims of innocence and helps him to resolve his situation. The attraction between them is strong and the crime element of the story quickly takes a backseat to sex. Lacy, inhabiting a quirky world of talking appliances, singing fish and toilet plungers used as weapons, cat food sandwiches, a mother with boundary issues, and the many, many men who want to sleep with her, seems to be completely lacking in self-awareness. It is all a bit too much, and the need to suspend reality in pursuit of the story can only go so far. Jennifer Woodward gives Lacy a lazy, high-pitched drawl that is so forced as to be comical. The punchlines—and there are a lot—fall flat. Be prepared for some major sighs and an inordinate amount of eye rolls.
Verdict Only for true fans of this type of humor and this author’s writing.—Laura Brosie, Wentzville, MO

Finder, Joseph. The Switch. 8 CDs. 9:55 hrs. Books on Tape. Jun. 2017. ISBN 9781524723651. $40. digital download. F
Two people arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport from a Los Angeles flight have accidentally switched laptops. One is Michael Tanner, who runs a Boston-based coffee distribution company. The other is U.S. Senator Susan Robbins. Experienced readers could almost write the plot from this point onward: the senator’s computer contains highly classified materials and she sets into motion a series of actions that lead to an expected conclusion. Reader Steven Kearney does little to breathe excitement into Finder’s somewhat turgid prose and the only halfway interesting character is a Foghorn Leghorn–esque NSA agent determined to reclaim the laptop with or without Tanner’s (or Robbins’s Senate aide’s) cooperation. The action, such as it is, seems overly complex and if it were not for the reputation of Finder, this would not be a necessary purchase.
Verdict Highly optional. [“The perfect summer read”: LJ 6/1/17 review of the Dutton hc.]—Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

Goodman, Allegra. The Chalk Artist. 9 CDs. 10:28 hrs. Books on Tape. Jun. 2017. ISBN 9780385367745. $50. digital download. F
Collin, the titular “chalk artist,” waits tables since twice dropping out of college. Nina’s a high school English teacher with a degree from Harvard; she’s also the only child of the legendary founder of the phenomenal video game company Arkadia. Opposites attract; romance happens. Thinking she’s being helpful, Nina opens the Arkadia door to a lucrative career for Collin. Back in the classroom, one of Nina’s students, Aidan, is more interested in playing—living, really—Arkadia’s EverWhen than reading Emily Dickinson, writing papers, or just about anything else. His twin, Diana, realizes the dire consequences of his gaming addiction, but she first needs to help herself before she can save her brother. A manipulative programmer, a harried single mother, and a power-hungry uncle are just a few (more) of the additional characters that (over)populate Goodman’s (Family Markowitz) sprawling, not-quite-focused novel. Narrator Orlagh Cassidy tenaciously muddles through, although her energy seems to wane through the tediously drawn-out details of the virtual world.
Verdict Despite the promise of intriguing Big Issues—classic literature vs. video games, state-of-the-art computer graphics vs. temporal chalk art—the unwieldy narrative threads ultimately demand more work than they offer enlightenment or provide lasting enjoyment. [“The multitude of plotlines and characters make it difficult to find the novel’s center”: LJ 5/1/17 review of the Dial hc.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

Hawkins, Paula. Into the Water. 9 CDs. 11:33 hrs. Books on Tape. May 2017. ISBN 9780525496069. $40. digital download. F
The mega-success of The Girl on the Train guaranteed Hawkins’s sophomore title would be an instant best seller. The author provides another head-spinning mystery from which she slyly (mis)leads readers toward startling revelations. Nel Abbot is dead. Weeks earlier, Nel’s daughter Lena’s best friend Katie also died—in the same Drowning Pool. Nel’s long-estranged sister Jules appears to proxy-parent orphaned Lena and attempt to figure out what happened. The characters proliferate, which could be why the producers decided on a five-narrator cast (Laura Aikman, Rachel Bavidge, Sophie Aldred, Daniel Weyman, and Imogen Church). The readers clearly aren’t listening to one another when voicing the same characters: Katie’s mother, Louise, sounds like a middle-aged matron or a hysterical suburbanite; Katie’s little brother Josh flits between expected preteen boy or thug-in-the making; investigator Patrick and his estranged wife Helen sound like they have split personalities.
Verdict Given Hawkins’s phenomenal following, no plot or production missteps will deter her vast audience from demanding access to Water in multiple formats. [“A must-have for fans of twisty thrillers”: LJ 4/15/17 review of the Riverhead hc.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

Sincero, Jen. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Books on Tape. Apr. 2017. ISBN 9781524751722. $40. digital download. ECON
Sincero (You Are a Badass) believes that if one wants to get rich, one must first want to make money. Basing her knowledge upon examples taken from her life, her personal coaching clients’ experiences, and conversations with her own mentor, Sincero employs a combination of pop psychology, open-ended questions (e.g., “What do you really want…?”), and action-oriented lists. Sincero’s clear, distinct speech and calm, quiet narration is pleasant but not particularly riveting as there is little inflection and few intonation changes. The list exercises are not well suited to the audio format, and the lack of thought repetition between discs makes it difficult for the listener returning from a break.
Verdict With a superficial psychology-oriented approach, this motivational book will be popular with Sincero fans and patrons looking for a pop culture–flavored get-rich discourse. Purchase where demand warrants. [“ ‘Badasses’ will be inspired by this feisty, unconventional guide to crafting a prosperous life (and bank account)”: LJ 4/1/17 review of the Viking hc.]—Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX

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