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Press Play: Audible Weekly (11/11- 17/11/2013)

Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe

From Audible:
London, 1958: unassuming civil servant Thomas Foley is plucked from his desk at the Central Office of Information and sent on a six-month trip to Brussels. His task: to keep an eye on The Brittania, a brand new pub which will form the heart of the British presence at Expo 58 – the biggest World’s Fair of the century, and the first to be held since the Second World War.

As soon as he arrives at the site, Thomas feels that he has escaped a repressed, backward-looking country and fallen headlong into an era of modernity and optimism. He is equally bewitched by the surreal, gigantic Atomium, which stands at the heart of this brave new world, and by Anneke, the lovely Flemish hostess who meets him off his plane. But Thomas’s new-found sense of freedom comes at a price: the Cold War is at its height, the mischievous Belgians have placed the American and Soviet pavilions right next to each other – and why is he being followed everywhere by two mysterious emissaries of the British Secret Service?

Having lived in Belgium for 7 years I felt it would be great fun to read a book set entirely there. The fact that the book happens to be a comic novel just added to the allure of the title. I have never picked up anything by Jonathan Coe before, so I can’t be sure of his writing style or whether I will enjoy this (and to what extent) but the Audible summary does sound fun and with an average customer rating of 4 out of 5 stars (and an amazing 4.5/5 for performance) I don’t think there’s great probability of going wrong here…

The Shameful Diary of Maggie Lane by Suzi Case

From Audible:
Maggie Lane is a dreamer, a thinker, a writer and a lover. Well, a want to be lover. She goes from crush to crush, never finding her Mr. Right. And then that all changes when she meets a guy at the gym. Only she misunderstands who he is and all sorts of drama ensues.

Maggie has 3 goals: to fall in love, lose weight and to write a book. And she is determined to do all 3, even if she has to lie, or spend all her money. Follow Maggie Lane on her journey through life. You will laugh at her sense of humor and fall in love with her spunk.

Every now and then I find myself in need of a little “chick-lit” reprieve. Considering the fact that the last book I read was “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House” (review coming soon), the one I’m currently reading is “Heart- Shaped Box” and the one queued for after that is “NOS4A2” I think that by the end of the year it will definitely be that time again… Enter Maggie Lane and her shameful diary. There are currently no ratings for this on Audible, but what the heck? Chick-lit is no rocket science, so how bad can this be – right?

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

From Audible:
Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life. He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won’t endear him to the local bullies. He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen – he’s got the scars to prove it. What he doesn’t know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he’ll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices.

So when, aged 17, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing….

This sounds quirky and amazing. Plus, it kind of reminded me a bit of “Up”, the 2009 Pixar animated movie – which I absolutely loved. I do enjoy a good “underdog” book and coupled by the promise of a road trip (complete with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes and an entire nation in uproar…) well, I just don’t think I’ll be able to resist 😉

The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd

From Audible:
Years after her young husband’s death, Celia Cassill has moved from one Brooklyn neighborhood to another, but she has not moved on. The owner of a small apartment building, she has chosen her tenants for their ability to respect one another’s privacy. Celia believes in boundaries, solitude, that she has a right to her ghosts. She is determined to live a life at a remove from the chaos and competition of modern life. Everything changes with the arrival of a new tenant, Hope, a dazzling woman of a certain age on the run from her husband’s recent betrayal.

When Hope begins a torrid and noisy affair, and another tenant mysteriously disappears, the carefully constructed walls of Celia’s world are tested and the sanctity of her building is shattered – through violence and sex, in turns tender and dark. Ultimately, Celia and her tenants are forced to abandon their separate spaces for a far more intimate one, leading to a surprising conclusion and the promise of genuine joy.

While reading the book’s summary on Audible, I was kind of reminded of “Columbus Circle”, a movie I recently watched (& which, hopefully unlike this book, I would not recommend). This sounds claustrophobic & suspenseful enough to be right up my alley though, so I am definitely giving it a chance…

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

From Audible:
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver….

…On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side.

Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man…

Quite a novel idea for a book (even though there have been countless ones involving cats and/ or dogs, in the last few years). I was intrigued by Enzo the philosopher (and opposable thumbs obsessed!!) and quite excited to read this one until my dog died, early last Sunday morning. I’m now not so sure, but I believe the humor in this might help make me feel a bit better (in a bittersweet kinda way).  So I’m sticking to my guns (and hoping that by the time I get around to it some more time will have gone by, making it easier to).

So, I guess that’s it for “Press Play” this week. As always, this post will be updated with links to reviews, whenever any of the above mentioned books are completed.

{all images © Copyright 1997 – 2013 Audible, Ltd.}

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