August 20, 2014

What I've Been Listening To: Audiobooks and Podcasts

Eleanor started pre-k last week. While I'm excited to have a little more time to get stuff done, and to spend individual time with Juliet, I think I might be most excited about the Scholastic Book Order!

I told Noel that it's a childhood dream come true: getting to order WHATEVER I WANT TO out of the book catalog. Sometimes being the grown-up is awesome.

And another bonus of all the preschool to-ing and fro-ing (and the fact that Juliet can't complain about what I'm listening to): I've gotten a lot of audiobook time in. I finally finished Let's Pretend This Never Happened and I also listened to The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline.

Cryptic Crinoline is book five in a series about Enola Holmes (younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft), and it was really fun. Plus, since it's a YA mystery, it wasn't violent or scary or anything - so you should totally recommend the series to your grandma or niece or someone. Next up in the audiobook rotation: Rainbow Rowell's Landline.

In addition to books, I've gotten through a bunch of podcasts too. I've been loving Freakonomics Radio, The History Chicks, How They Blog, and Spilled Milk.

What have YOU been listening to?

August 18, 2014

Book Review: The Dog Killer of Utica by Frank Lentricchia

This book was odd, but gripping. I'm not quite sure how to explain the way it's written. Stream-of-consciousness? Dubious narrator? Surreal? All of the above? The whole book is told from the point of view of Eliot Conte, and sometimes it's not quite clear what's happening in his head, and what's happening in real life. Have you read The Oxford Murders? Or any Ernesto Mallo books? Strangely enough, for a book set in Utica, it reminded me strongly of several Argentinian mysteries I've read.

As The Dog Killer of Utica opens, Eliot Conte-- son of a Mafia kingmaker, former private investigator, teacher of English literature--is trying to stay sober and finish his Melville dissertation. But then Bobby Rintrona, one of his best friends, is shot and Bobby's dog is killed. Within hours, one of Eliot's students, a Bosnian Muslim man named Mirko Ivanovic, is accused by Homeland Security of associating with a radical imam. The next day, police chief Antonio Robinson's dog is also shot and killed, and Antonio's wife is injured during the attack. Clearly something sinister is afoot in Utica. Eliot will need all his wits to solve the crimes and help Mirko without estranging his own girlfriend, detective Catherine Cruz.

Somewhat past his glory days, Eliot reflects the situation of his New York hometown: Utica's wealthy mobster history and high crime rate play into the story, as Eliot battles the terrible weather and corrupt political and legal forces in his investigation. Profane, intelligent and mentally unstable, Eliot is fascinatingly complicated. His cryptic conversations and muddled thoughts keep the reader guessing as the mystery unfolds in a stream of consciousness.

Lentricchia brings Utica to life on the page, reminiscing about its heyday and showcasing its current economically downtrodden situation. Lentricchia has managed to blend Melville, Verdi, the Mafia, Homeland Security, small-town life and murder into a fast-paced novel that will appeal to both fans of noir and surrealist literature. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Nope. Lots of violence + lots of swearing + I bet it would confuse her. Unless she's into that sort of thing.

Have you ever been to Utica?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness. And it contains some affiliate links, thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm.

August 15, 2014

Bookish Gifts (aka My Friends and Family Know Me Far Too Well)

A couple of months ago my mom bought me Everything I Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book. Coincidentally, I opened the book to the page 'Treat yourself', as I was eating a donut on National Donut Day. Sooo, I obeyed the advice. I mean, obviously, if it comes from a Golden Book it's good advice, right?

Way back at my birthday my friend Meghan gave me a Litographs gift certificate, but I waited to lose some baby weight before ordering this Persuasion shirt. It has the full text of the novel on it, in tiny print!

And I love this library card pouch that my friend Dayna gave me last year. So far I mostly use it when we go on road trips. It's the perfect size to hold all the phone chargers and earbuds, and it's so cute it makes me happy when I see it in my purse. Plus, sometimes Juliet plays with it. Bonus!

Have you gotten any fun bookish gifts lately?