Audio Books
The Nix
A Novel
By Nathan Hill
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Feb 14th 2017.
The Nix by Nathan HillNathan Hill's sprawling novel The Nix (the unabridged audiobook is 22 hours long) is a satire of modern times but goes back to the 1960s too. The central characters are Samuel Andresen-Anderson and his mother. Samuel is a bored professor of literature at a small suburban university outside of Chicago. He once wrote a novel but his second novel is stalled. He spends most of his spare time playing a massive multiplayer online role-playing game featuring many elves in his university office because the connection is faster than the one at home. Teaching students who don't want to learn has worn hi
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Rebuttal
By Jyotsna Hariharan
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 24th 2017.
Jyotsna Hariharan's Reubuttal is an audio drama performed by 5 actors, Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Nina Mehta, Peter Ganim, and Dan Bittner, with sound effects to make it more realistic. It's about two teens in their senior year who are fighting their parents' expectations of them.  Alex Dassan is a young Indian woman whose parents expect her to go into marine biology, but who wants to be a writer. Jeremy Beekman's parents expect him to go into medicine, but he wants to be an artist. They meet in a debate team, where they practice argumentative skills, and this gives them som
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Rebuttal by Jyotsna Hariharan

High Heat
By Richard Castle
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 17th 2017.
High Heat by Richard CastleHigh Heat is the eighth novel in the Nikki Heat series. It features the NYC detective and her journalist husband Jameson Rook. It starts out with a murder by people declaring themselves to be Muslim terrorists associated with ISIS. The victim is a woman. The murderers send in a video of the murder, and threaten that Jameson Rook will be their next target. There has been a Nikki Heat novel every year since 2009, and this one is especially topical, featuring a maverick businessman presidential candidate who wins public attention and approval by his disregard of normal politics. Rook is thrilled
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The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
A Novel
By Joanna Cannon
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 10th 2017.
I remember when I was a teenager, one of my school teachers said that a class exercise would help separate the sheep from the goats. I assumed then that it was better to be one of the goats – independent and active rather than passive and waiting to be told what the right answer was. Joanna Cannon's novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep raises the issue for me of what my teacher meant, because the parable of Jesus is clear that the sheep-like followers will go to heaven while the stubborn goats will go to hell. Cannon's novel is all about the conformity of a small community and their in
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The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

How to Set a Fire and Why
A Novel
By Jesse Ball
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 3rd 2017.
How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse BallHow to Set a Fire and Why is a short novel with a teenage protagonist. It feels like a "young adult" title except that it is darker than most such teen literature. It's a story about grief and recovery, although it isn't particularly optimistic. Narrator Lucia is in high school and lives with her aunt because her father recently died and her mother is in some kind of mental asylum.  Then we find out that even her aunt is in bad health and Lucia can't be sure what her future holds. She has acerbic wit and she struggles with coping. She is intrigued with arson and is very tempted to burn th
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Hot Milk
By Deborah Levy
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Jan 3rd 2017.
Sophia travels to Spain with her mother Rose to visit a specialist doctor at "The Gomez Clinic" who can treat her mother's systematic and chronic maladies that disable her but come and go. Both mother and daughter live in England, but are ethnically Greek. The daughter had been studying for a PhD in anthropology, but she gave it up to spend her time looking after her mother. The doctor takes a skeptical attitude towards Rose's problems since they don't make sense and seem to serve her desire to have her daughter cater to all her needs. He also pushes the daughter to break free from her servitu
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Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

The Boat Rocker
By Ha Jin
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Dec 27th 2016.
The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin  A Chinese man Feng Danlin has moved to New York and makes a living by writing news and editorial articles for an independent Chinese language website. He rails against Chinese corruption and the actions of the Chinese governmet. He is outraged when his ex-wife issues a press release saying she has a book contract for millions of dollars, with a movie contract already in the offing, and an endorsement by President George Bush. The work is an autobiographical novel which promises to glorify herself and shame him. He gets into an online battle with his ex-wife about the fabrication of det
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The Unseen World
By Liz Moore
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Dec 27th 2016.
Liz Moore's sprawling novel The Unseen World covers several large themes: the politics of the 1950s, hidden identities, artificial intelligence, Alzheimer's disease, and the relationships between parents and children. The book starts in the 1980s, and spends time both in the past and the future. It's ambitious and occasionally tries the reader's patience.  The ideas overshadow the characters. But the plot moves along swiftly, and there are enough mysteries to uncover to keep the momentum going all the way through. The central character is Ada, who is 12 when we first meet her. She lives
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The Unseen World by Liz Moore

 
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