Two Audiobooks: “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr & “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris

Considering that I was wary of audiobooks in the past, it’s a wonder that I listen to them so frequently now. I recently listened to three of them that were exciting and compelling, but I’ll discuss only two in this post because these two share some similarities.

In the past, I would struggle to focus on the story when I listened to audiobooks, so I instead listened only to audiobooks of stories I’d already read. It seems doing so has trained my ear or my brain to get used to this medium because now I focus on the story and remember what I heard, though my memory of the story isn’t as detailed as it is when I read the physical book or the e-book.

It could also be the genre of the stories I read that affected me so positively. By listening to the two in this post, I realized that the best type of audiobooks to listen to are thrillers. Thrillers often draw the reader in quickly and keep her hooked throughout as it twists and turns toward an explosive end. I was so hooked as I listened to these two that I completed both in a day each. I began with The Alienist because I am familiar with the show and wanted something to listen to at work. But I completed it on the same day I downloaded it, a Friday, so I downloaded Red Dragon to listen to on the following Monday. It was done by the Saturday evening.


The Alienist by Caleb Carr, narr. by Edward Herrmann

Genre:

Historical fiction; Mystery

Series:

Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, book 1

Pubbed:

May 1994

Goodreads summary:

New York, 1896: Lower Manhattan’s underworld is ruled by a new generation of cold-blooded criminals…Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt battles widespread corruption within the department’s ranks…and a shockingly brutal murder sets off an investigation that could change crime-fighting forever.

In the middle of a wintry March night, New York Times reporter John Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a brilliant pioneer in the new and much-maligned discipline of psychology, the emerging study of society’s “alienated” mentally ill. There they view the horribly mutilated body of a young boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan’s infamous brothels. Supervised by Commissioner Roosevelt, the newsman and his “alienist” mentor embark on a revolutionary attempt to identify the killer by assembling his psychological profile — a dangerous quest that takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before…and will kill again before the hunt is over. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

So I thought this book was written in the 1890s, but it’s not. It was published in 1994. It is set in the mid-1890s, however, at a time when psychology was just being introduced in police investigation. Well, that’s the impression I got from the story. It was like an episode of Criminal Minds set in the past except the group of investigators were just beginning to apply psychology to a criminal cases. And, like Criminal Minds, the characters try to derive the murderer’s motive and dig into his past to learn how he became who he is.

Told from the perspective of New York Times reporter John Moore, The Alienist is about a criminal investigation led by noted psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a friend of Moore’s, as the pair work with a group of selected individuals who are trying to stop a serial killer whose targets are boy prostitutes. Back when I was convinced this was written in the 1890s, I thought the story was very progressive for its time due to the opinions and sensibilities expressed by some of the characters. But though I later learned that the work is contemporary but just set in the past, it didn’t lessen my appreciation that the story/author tries to avoid promoting hurtful messages through the story.

I thought the story was well done. It was thrilling and compelling and the mystery kept me wondering who the serial killer might be and what motivated him to commit the murders. The narration was okay. The narrator’s voice was almost a monotone, so it didn’t stick out to me and neither added nor detracted from my enjoyment of the story. It allowed the story, the author’s work, to stand out more and, because the story is so gripping, I sped through it to the end because I wanted to know how things would unfold.

Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½

It was a good read. It was entertaining. I haven’t watched the entire TV show, I only saw part of the first episode, but I might take a look at it if I find it on Netflix. Though I enjoyed listening to this book, I doubt I’ll continue with the series, unless of course I’m bored at work again and need something to occupy my mind. Then, I might download the sequel to listen to.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, narr. by Chris Sarandon

Genre:

Thriller

Series:

Hannibal Lecter, book 1

Pubbed:

November 1981

Goodreads summary:

A quiet summer night…a neat suburban house…and another innocent, happy family is shattered — the latest victims of a grisly series of hideous sacrificial killings that no one understands, and no one can stop. Nobody lives to tell of the unimaginable carnage. Only the blood-stained walls bear witness.

All hope rests on Special Agent Will Graham, who must peer inside the killer’s tortured soul to understand his rage, to anticipate and prevent his next vicious crime. Desperate for help, Graham finds himself locked in a deadly alliance with the brilliant Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the infamous mass murderer who Graham put in prison years ago. As the imprisoned Lecter tightens the reins of revenge, Graham’s feverish pursuit of the Red Dragon draws him inside the warped mind of a psychopath, into an unforgettable world of demonic ritual and violence, beyond the limits of human terror. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I’m weird. I was convinced the book that was written in the 1990s was actually published in the 1890s, and when I started reading the book published in the 1980s, I thought it was published in the late 1990s. My reading experience with these two audiobooks has been odd.

I’ve wanted to read Red Dragon for some time now because I wanted to try the Hannibal Lecter books. I remember watching Silence of the Lambs when I was younger, though all I recall about the movie now is Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter standing prim and straight in his cell to welcome Clarice Sterling (Jodie Foster) with a creepy “Hello Clarice,” and being fascinated by the story. Later when I watched Hannibal Rising and then learned of the book Red Dragon, I fused the two in my mind and convinced myself that Red Dragon, since it precedes the book Silence of the Lambs, is about a younger Hannibal Lecter. It’s not. It’s about someone else — some dude obsessed with William Blake’s painting “Red Dragon.”

When this story begins, Hannibal has already been caught and is chilling in prison. The story follows the detective who caught him, Special Agent Will Graham, who decides to help a colleague catch a serial murderer who has committed several grisly murders of entire families. Like The Alienist, Graham and his colleague try to determine what motivates the killer and what might have occurred in the killer’s childhood to propel him toward such a grim, dark path.

Though Red Dragon wasn’t the story of Hannibal’s childhood that I was expecting, it nevertheless kept my interest and I quickly completed it. It was interesting to be provided with several points of view, including Hannibal’s and the serial killer’s, and I like that these perspectives were sometimes unreliable because I didn’t see the twist at the end coming until I got to it. I do like the niggling of doubt and uncertainty inserted when Hannibal told Graham that he’s good at his job because Graham is just like the murderers he tries to catch. For a moment there, I suspected Graham and thought him guilty of getting a journalist killed. (Graham didn’t like the journalist dude and he said and did things in an interview that made the journalist a target for the killer.) But by the end, I doubted that and didn’t know what to think about Graham. I just hope I’ll learn more about him in the other books, if I decide to read them.

The narration isn’t noteworthy. It wouldn’t have stood out to me if the audio quality didn’t sound weird. It was as if there was an echo…or that the narrator did the recording in a hollow-sounding place, like a cave or a bathroom.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

Another thrilling read that kept me hooked throughout. I don’t plan to continue the series, but if I need something to listen to while at work, I’ll probably download the sequel Silence of the Lambs.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass
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Wyrd & Wonder Is Coming | Here’s What I’ll Read

“Last May, an intrepid band of like-minded bloggers and book lovers devoted themselves to all things fantasy. LisaJorie, and I will be heading out in search of dragons, magic and Faerie again this year. Will you join us for Wyrd and Wonder?”

So begins Imyril’s post over on There’s Always Room for One More that introduced me to this year’s Wyrd & Wonder event. I’ve been looking forward to this event since last May because I was unable to participate then. This year, I intend to be part of it in any way I can.

What is Wyrd & Wonder?

It’s a month-long celebration of all things fantasy. Participants can participate in any way they like, just make sure to sign up (there’s no deadline for signing up) and check the Master Schedule to see what others plan to do or to add your posts.

But really, if you are interested in participating in this all-things-fantasy event, make sure to check out these three posts over on Imyril’s blog to get more info about it.

Intro & Sign Up
Banners & Giveaway Announcement
Wyrd & Wonder Challenge


What are my plans?

All my posts in May will be about fantasy.

I haven’t yet worked out the details of this or even what I will post. But everything published on this blog in May will be focused on fantasy … which means I need to get some reviews I’ve been procrastinating on out of the way now. Only reviews of fantasy books will be published in May.

I will only read fantasy books in May.

This won’t be hard. Actually, it will be a treat because fantasy is my favorite genre. I will post my Wyrd & Wonder TBR later in this post. But, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you already know that I might not follow it. For now, let’s pretend that I will actually read all the books I place on it. I just might surprise myself and do so.

I will attempt to publish at least one post everyday (except maybe Sundays).

The Wyrd & Wonder Challenge (linked above) will come in handy for this. It lists prompts for every day in May but leaves the option of how to post them up to the participant. So you can post them as a book tag, an Instagram challenge, or as posts for your blog/booktube channel. I haven’t yet decided how I want to go about it, but I might do a blog/IG combo post.

I will host a giveaway.

Yes, indeed, I will! 😀 I’m becoming more comfortable hosting such things. The giveaway will be fantasy-focused, of course. I haven’t yet worked out all the details, but the prize will be a book(s) of up to $30USD purchased through Book Depository (so it’s an international giveaway). I will post an announcement about it on May 1st. Those participating in Wyrd & Wonder will have an edge (I’ll figure out what I mean by that closer to May 1st).

Hmm… I think that’s it for me for now. I want to enjoy this event, so I’ll only do as much as I can manage. (Unfortunately, this reservation does not extend to the amount of books I’m considering to read for the event.)

Here’s my TBR:

My plan is a bit ambitious considering that my reading time has shortened a bit due to a second job and other things I do, BUT I’d like to complete at least one book per week in May for this event. I’ll also include fantasy books that I started in earlier months but haven’t completed by the beginning of May.

Ideally, I’d like to focus on fantasy books by WOC authors or the YA fantasy books that’ve been on my shelves for years, but it’s highly unlikely that I’ll stick to any constraints I place on myself, so I’ve listed below a variety of books most likely to appeal to me. The only constraint that I will really, really, REALLY try to follow is to ONLY read fantasy books I ALREADY OWN. The exception will be library books I haven’t yet started or am still reading by the beginning of May and audiobooks I borrow to occupy my mind at work (because work is a bore sometimes).

Anyway, here are the books:

I have here a variety of fantasy novels, novellas, comic books, and picture books that range from adults to kids. I’m sure the variety will keep things interesting for me.

I listed The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie and Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend first because I recently borrowed them from the library and it’s highly likely that I’ll still be reading them come May. Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven will be a reread. Ashley over at Falling Down the Book Hole recently posted a wrap up for the series that convinced me to give it a second chance.

Monstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu and Paladin of Souls by Louis McMaster Bujold are sequels I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, and The Devourers by Indra Das is a novel I DNF’d last year. I want to give it another try, but I intend to just pick up where I left off. I plan to read Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf this year and will start on it at the end of May. Most likely I won’t complete it by the end of Wyrd & Wonder.

I’ll probably only read five of these books, but at least I have loads to choose from.

So, are you planning to join the Wyrd & Wonder event? Let me know below. 🙂

Weekend Reads #92: Week 1 — O.W.L. Progress Report

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend. However instead of a topic, I’ll instead share with you my progress on my O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels).

The O.W.L. Magical Readathon is in session. It began on April 1st, but because I’ve been so busy lately, I wasn’t able to start my reading until this week. Since it’s a month-long readathon, I’ve decided to share my progress at the end of each week so you all can see if I past my subjects to become Aurologist — someone who reads and studies auras.

Aurology is an esoteric subject, quite like divination, and so far I’ve done a great job reading books that fit it. By the way, I’ve already deviated from my TBR for this readathon. If you’re familiar with my blog, that’s probably not surprising to you. I hardly ever follow those things although I enjoy creating them.

The first book took me on a wild, stream-of-conciousness ride filled with drugs, random hookups, and many bad decisions. I didn’t like it. It was disconcerting and I couldn’t make sense of anything, though there were brief moments of clarity. It totally fucked with my aura reading, and I’m sure many straight-laced professors would disagree with dabbling in such a book. Although, if one is to be an aurologist, one can’t be too uptight and the book did show a possible, though chemical-inducing, way of transcending reality.

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Book Tags: Daylight Savings | Winter-themed | St. Patrick’s Day

I wanted to do a book tag but I couldn’t decide on one, so here are three. They are themed tags for specific times of the year, all of which I’ve missed. So this post is late since it’s published after the switch to Daylight Savings Time when winter is done and St. Patrick’s Day has passed.

Daylight Savings Book Tag

I have no idea who created this tag, but I found it on the Night Faerie Blog, so shout out to her for posting it!

Fallback: Longest book you like

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Probably A Game of Thrones, which is over 800 pages in the mass market paperback edition. I like this story and enjoy reading it but have been wondering lately if it’s worth continuing with it in book form because I’ll have to keep rereading all the books to keep the story fresh in mind when another installment in the series has been published.

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“To Night Owl from Dogfish” by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer

This was a sweet story and a fun read. I heard of it from Book Riot’s All the Books podcast and decided to try it because Liberty said it’s like The Parent Trap and I loved that movie (both the original with Hayley Mills and the remake with Lindsey Lohan).

Genre:

Middle-grade contemporary

Pubbed:

February 2019

Quick summary:

When Bett Devlin learns that her dad is conspiring with his new boyfriend to send her and his boyfriend’s daughter to summer camp, she reaches out to the boyfriend’s daughter, Avery Bloom, so that they can devise a plan to thwart their fathers’ intention.

The fathers are single gay dads who met at a conference and started to date. They’d like their daughters to get along, so they conspire to send them to the same summer camp; but Bett and Avery have other plans and instead vow NOT to be friends and definitely not let their dads date each other. But nothing goes as planned.

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“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey

Sometime last year, I listened to an episode of Myths & Legends podcast (Ep. 96 – Russian Folklore: Cold as Ice) that discussed folktales about snow children. It got me wondering about Eowyn Ivey’s book The Snow Child. I wondered if Ivey’s novel was similar to the stories I heard on the podcast. I got curious and was tempted to read the novel, which I’d bought in the previous year because bloggers and booktubers were all speaking of it and saying how great the story and the prose are.

But I procrastinated on reading the book and didn’t do so until January this year thinking that winter may be the best time to read it. It was and it was pretty good.

Genre:

Historical fiction
Magical realism

Pubbed:

February 2012

Quick summary:

It’s the 1920s in America — the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties with great outrageous parties filled with pump and style. But we get none of that glitz and glamour of the 1920s in The Snow Child. Instead, the story sits us on a quiet homestead in Alaska where an old couple live.

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