Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen: Audiobook Review

 Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
Release Date: April 11, 2019 by Audible Studios
8 Hours, 19 min & Narrated by Billy Jensen with foreword by Karen Kilgariff
Buy on Audible  

Short Blurb: Journalist Billy Jensen spent 15 years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common – it didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.
Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true crime narrative unlike any you’ve listened to before.

My Thoughts: If you like true crime, especially in the form of investigative journalism, this audiobook is for you! I was initially drawn to this story because of Billy’s association with Michelle McNamarra in the amazing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark book from 2018. Billy worked closely with Michelle on her Golden State Killer case and after her death he was instrumental in helping to finish and get her book published.

In his new audiobook, Billy tells of how he developed a love of true crime and justice from an early age. he describes some pretty crazy bedtime stories of crimes and criminals that his dad used to share with him. Rather than scaring him, Billy pinpoints those early stories as instilling a fascination and hunger within himself to explore crime and those who commit it

Believe me when I say this is one of the most engaging, insightful audiobooks I’ve ever listened to! Billy goes in depth in how he uses crowdsourcing…think Facebook and Twitter…to catch criminals and it’s absolutely fascinating. The murder of Marcus Gaines that Billy worked on was not only sad and frustrating to hear but incredible in terms of how it turned out. This crowdsourcing feels to me very timely and tremendously important in terms of the possibilites it offers for solving more murders and finding more missing people. In fact, Billy’s discussion of the“digital posse” seemed so accurate for the future of crime and criminal justice.

Told with empathy, compassion and energy, Billy’s dedication and passion for truth and justice came through loud and clear. I highly recommend this audiobook!

Thanks to Allison Weber and Audible for my copy

Advertisements

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

25330545

Published Oct 2015 by Atria 

From America’s favorite football player turned morning talk show host—a man who makes just about everything look easy—a mélange of stories and motivational advice to inspire the reader to turn up the heat and go from good to great in pursuit of their personal ambitions.

Michael Strahan spent his childhood on a military base in Europe, where community meant everything, and life, though idyllic, was different. For one, when people referenced football they meant soccer. So when Michael’s father suggested he work toward a college scholarship by playing football in Texas, where tens of thousands of people show up for a weekend game, the odds were long. Yet he did, indeed, land a scholarship and from there a draft into the NFL where he scaled the league’s heights, broke records, and helped his team win the Super Bowl as a result of which he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. How? Inspiring and chock full of advice that will help the reader make significant strides toward pursuing his or her dream, Wake Up Happy is a book no one, young or old, male or female will want to miss.

******

I felt like this was the perfect book to highlight this week because who doesn’t need a little happy in their life? I for one have had quite a bit going on lately so I thought why not profile one of my favorite non-fiction pick me up books. This book was surprisingly good and I say that because I initially hesitated as I really don’t have much interest in football but I really do think there’s something about Michael Strahan that makes me feel good whether I’m watching him on Good Morning America (and previously Kelly & Michael) or on the red carpet. I wondered if he’s truly as positive as he comes across. Turns out, he is. I listened to this on Audible and he narrates this book which was perfect as I felt like he was was having a conversation with me. I found myself walking extra when I listened because I was truly interested in hearing about his life. He had an interesting childhood growing up on a military base and his journey to being a top level athlete was not all that easy. I especially enjoyed hearing about his life in Europe and college in the US. Strahan had a fairly easy to follow plan for ways to wake up happy and while there wasn’t any new earth shattering ideas in it, I found myself agreeing with his principles and applying some to my own life. If you’d enjoy a little pick me up, especially if you have access to this on audio, I think you should give this try!

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Annie at The Misstery

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

1823676

Published Aug 2005 by William Morrow 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Annabelle is tired of being the lone failure in a family of overachievers. She’s endured dead-end jobs and a broken engagement. Even her hair’s a mess! But that’s going to change now that she’s taken over her late grandmother’s matchmaking business. All Annabelle has to do is land the Windy City’s hottest bachelor as her client, and she’ll be the most sought-after matchmaker in town. Nothing is going to stand in her way — not the drunk lying comatose under her car, not her family’s disapproval, and certainly not the lingering effects of a broken heart.

With his money green eyes and calculated charm, Heath Champion is the best sports agent in the country. He’s wealthy, driven, and gorgeous, so why does he need a matchmaker, especially a red-haired screw-up like Annabelle Granger? True, she’s entertaining, and she does have a certain quirky appeal. But Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of his success — the perfect wife. And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right?

******

Every few months I need to change things up in terms of my dark reads and this weekend I was on the search for a fun, light ,yet well written chick-lit/romantic comedy   and my good friend Google came up with this book. I was specifically searching for books similar to Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie which I read last year and absolutely loved…so much so that it made my Top Reads of 2016! I seriously love Google because this was exactly what I needed and ticked all the boxes I was looking for. You’ve got Annabelle, a wannabe matchmaker who’s fun, witty and spunky but also…and this is a must for me in my chick-lit….LIKEABLE! I immediately connected with her humor and imperfectness and just plain liked her. When she meets dark and dreamy Heath, I was all smiles because I really liked him and better yet, I could PICTURE him😍. Chalk that up to the snappy, realistic writing of the author.

I honestly would’ve been happy with just their storyline but the author adds to that with Portia, Annabelle’s type A matchmaker competition, Bodie, Heath’s “supposed” bodyguard and really good friend as well as Annabelle’s overbearing family and her book club. There’s characters aplenty and every one is well-developed! Another factor that I look for in outstanding romantic comedies is excellent dialogue that flows and is realistic and this book had it in spades. Needless to say, I enjoyed this so much I stayed up super late to finish it. Add this to your TBR if you’re looking for an entertaining, feel good read for summer…now I need to head over to Goodreads and check out Susan Elizabeth Phillips other books.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Cathy at Between the Lines Book Blog

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Nicki at The Secret Library

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Caryl at Mrs. Bloggs Books

Ann Marie at Lit Wit Wine Dine

 

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: HIDDEN BODIES By Carolyn Kepnes & Narrated By Santino Fontana

23492288

From Goodreads

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice.

******

Hidden Bodies picks up right where You left off. Joe has a new relationship (i.e. obsession) with Amy Adam and guess what…he’s in love. And this time it’s different as Amy reciprocates his love and things are wonderful…until they’re not. I won’t give anything away but what happens leads Joe to LA, land of sunshine, healthy foods, and shiny happy  people. Once settled with a job and an apartment, Joe’s revenge plan is in high gear and he’s out for blood!

The whole storyline started off so strong for me. Joe was his funny, witty, crazy, yet happy self. About a third of the way into the story, however, when Joe is settled in LA and the newness is wearing off, things seemed to take a turn in terms of plot and tone. Joe became mostly angry, pessimistic, complaining…non-stop angry complaints and whining. This wasn’t the Joe that I knew and loved from You (perspective…I know what he is but I still loved him:). In terms of the pace of the plot, it slowed down…way down. Although Kepnes’s  writing was still top notch, the plot became bogged down in what I felt was so many irrelevant details and long drawn out whiny rants from Joe. I may have also struggled with the change in Joe because I was listening to it and although Santino Fontana was again fantastic as Joe, it was A LOT of angry, drawn out, excessive us of language ranting which resulted in me deciding halfway through the book to (gasp) stop listening. It really seemed that nothing was happening and Joe had changed for the worse.

After almost a two week break I decided to start back up because bottom line… I love this series, I know I’ll pick up the third book, so I had to know if the old Joe came back in this one.  Continuing on, Joe gets himself in more hot water while the loose threads of his past are slowly catching up with him. Then, at about 3/4 of the way through there was a twist and then a twist of that twist and YES…finally I’m excited! And the old Joe is returning and things are looking up. The ending was unexpected and I thought a perfect way to leave this story because I for one will be impatiently waiting on Kepnes’s next book to see how this all plays out.

**The audio narration was again outstanding! Santino Fontana IS Joe Goldberg in these books. I don’t think anyone else could possibly bring Joe to life like he has. I could listen to his voice all day long and I don’t care what he’s reading. Although I didn’t care for Joe through most of this book, I appreciate that Santino embodied all of Joe’s angry, bitter rants perfectly**

For the first time, I feel the need to break up my rating…

3/5 Stars for the book (the last 1/4 of the book brought my rating up from 2.5)

5/5 Stars for the audio narration

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: YOU By Caroline Kepnes. Narrated By Santino Fontana

23492630

FROM GOODREADS

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

******

To just read the above blurb you might think this is your typical crazy guy stalks girl novel and you might decide to pass it by, saying to yourself ‘I don’t really want to read an entire book about a stalker.’  I know this because it’s what I did when this novel was first released and I’m completely kicking myself for the fact that I could’ve been reading this 2 years ago!! It was the through the power of social media ( I sound like Joe:) that made me decide to listen to this last week when my friend Sam of Cluesandreviews.com  told me to get off the fence about this book and read it! And off the fence I jumped.  As I was in need of an audiobook for my drives, dog walking, etc I downloaded YOU and I can’t possibly express how outstanding the writing and narration of this book is…you just HAVE to read and/or listen for yourself.

As the story begins, we are introduced to Joe Goldberg, bookseller extraordinaire.  Joe manages a bookstore in New York City and one day meets the lovely Guinevere Beck, “Beck” to her friends, and he’s immediately smitten with her. So instead of asking her to have coffee or something remotely normal like that, he gets her name off her credit card and sets about to googling her and just like that, he’s privy to her address, phone number, Twitter and Instagram which of course gives him a wealth of info about her habits and whereabouts. First of all, I’m now going to think twice every time I use my credit card! Second, Caroline Kepnes has hit on the very terrifying consequences of putting all your “stuff” on social media. Now, I know I just said terrifying and it is, but on the other side of this crazy coin we have Joe.  Believe me when I say I’ve NEVER encountered a fictional character quite like Joe before. His continuous  monologue to Beck, who’s the YOU of this story,  shifts between being funny, witty, and charming one moment to intense, crude and oftentimes downright scary the next. Through Joe, Caroline Kepnes brilliantly skewers social media…the good, bad and ugly of a  hashtag here I am way of life.

Let me just sum up my top reasons for loving this story and audiobook:

Characterization – as I said Joe will get inside your head while he slowly and unknowingly (to her) infiltrates Beck’s life and you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough or in my case, remove my headphones for hours at a time

Pacing – The story starts with an immediacy of action between the characters and doesn’t let up until the dysfunctional ties of Joe and Beck have either been firmly established or spectacularly broken.

The Writing – Caroline Kepnes has wrote a book that left me speechless at times. Her writing flows in a way I don’t often come across. And her creative ability to write a character like Joe, who, let’s face it is a sociopath like none other, but one who I LIKED and thought was spot on in some of his ways of thinking and observations….what that says about me I’m still trying to figure out:)

The Narration – I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I have never heard a narrator capture the intensity, nuances, and downright scariness of a character like Santino Fontana does as Joe. Everything about his narration was perfect and let me tell you…for better or worse, he brings Joe ALIVE!  **One note to let readers and/or listeners know,  Joe often expresses himself using some very harsh and explicit language**

This book is the first in the series and, in my opinion, you absolutely MUST read this before Hidden Bodies.      

5/5 Stars

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: STILL ALICE By Lisa Genova

2153405

From Goodreads

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Judith Guest’s Ordinary People.

*******

As you can see, I’ve decided to change my theme for the blog. I wasn’t happy with the design and layout of the previous one so I decided to make the change sooner rather than later:) That being said, I’m working on trying to organize things the way I want on this one so you may notice changes here or there as I experiment with different layouts and pictures. On to the review…..

I’m super late to this great book I know! I mean it was a bestseller and then a movie and it still managed to elude me on my TBR list. I’m so glad I remedied that with the audiobook as opposed to reading it. Let me first say, as you can probably tell by the fact that I have reviewed several already, I love audiobooks! For a book obsessed person like me, audiobooks mean I can stay immersed in a story while I’m driving, doing house projects, walking the dog etc. AND they help me make a dent in my ridiculous TBR pile because I always listen to a different book than the one I’m reading. For me, the key to sticking with and enjoying an audiobook is the narrator.

I was pleasantly surprised that Lisa Genova narrates this audiobook as authors don’t often narrate their own books…at least the fiction ones I’ve listened to. She tells the story in a straightforward manner, letting the characters speak without altering their voices in the annoying way that some narrators do which promptly causes me to turn off that audiobook and choose a different one.

The story is told from Alice’s perspective which is the perfect way to tell it. We meet Alice as she is busy managing her life as a psychology professor at Harvard,  wife to John and mother to grown children Lydia, Anna and Tom. She travels around the world lecturing about Linguistics, she teaches and mentors her students, she runs…her life is full and active. Until…little by little she notices she’s a little less organized, a little more forgetful. Then one day she becomes lost on the very familiar streets surrounding Harvard. Alice doesn’t waste time making excuses for herself, she understands on a deep level that something is wrong. This leads her to seek an answer and her diagnosis leads to life altering changes for her and her entire family. You will be left wondering what will happen to Alice and her family, each being affected in different ways by her devastating diagnosis.

Throughout this audiobook, I felt like I was getting a firsthand account of the story from Alice herself because of the way Lisa Genova narrated the story. At times, this made for a very emotional walk at the park because this was a sad story. But that’s not all it was so I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to read or listen to this book. It’s one of the most thought-provoking reads I’ve come across in years. Highly recommended!

4.5/5 STARS

 

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO

29405093

FROM GOODREADS 

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

****

I decided I really liked Amy Schumer when she made a guest appearance on an episode of The Bachelorette two summers ago. Turns out she’s a HUGE bachelor fan! So Amy Schumer and I have the same guilty TV pleasure…who knew! And while I don’t watch Inside Amy Schumer, I loved her movie Trainwreck. So the release of her new book was on my radar and I’ve waited since JULY to get it as an audiobook! And I have to say, if you’re at all interested in this book, get the audiobook. Amy narrates her book and it’s like hanging out with her for 6 hours. It’s funny, entertaining, interesting and enlightening. But yes, there’s language and at times she can be VERY crude so I can see that could be an issue for some people.

I really didn’t have any idea what this book was going to be about so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Amy Schumer covers a wide range of topics, some really funny, some self-depracating, and some very serious. Some of my favorite chapters were: “I am an introvert,” “Things That Make Me Really Furious,” “On Being New Money,” and the “Excerpts From My Journal” where she reads from her journals starting at age 12 to mid-20’s and then adds “footnotes from 2016.” Too funny. There were also serious chapters involving her dad and mom as well as gun violence which I found enlightening.

So for the past few days, whether out walking my dog, running errands, making dinner etc I’ve had headphones glued to my ears listening to this audiobook and on several occasions laughing out loud. I’ve gotten strange looks from my family as well as other drivers but that’s ok because I really enjoyed listening to this book. And I appreciate the fact that she shared some really personal stuff with us. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t fast forward through some kind of boring sections (there were a couple)  but for the most part I would recommend this and say if you don’t mind some bad/crude language and the occasional graphic description of some of her “mess-ups” then you might enjoy The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

4/5 Stars

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:GETTING LIFE:AN INNOCENT MAN’S 25-YEAR JOURNEY FROM PRISON TO PEACE by Michael Morton. Narrated by Roger Wayne

19302626

GOODREADS BLURB

He spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He lost his wife, his son, and his freedom. This is the story of how Michael Morton finally got justice—and a second chance at life.

On August 13, 1986, just one day after his thirty-second birthday, Michael Morton went to work at his usual time. By the end of the day, his wife Christine had been savagely bludgeoned to death in the couple’s bed—and the Williamson County Sherriff’s office in Texas wasted no time in pinning her murder on Michael, despite an absolute lack of physical evidence. Michael was swiftly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he had not committed.

My Review

This story is haunting to say the least. Michael Morton went to work one morning and by the afternoon his life, as he knew it, was over. When and how he finds out that his wife Chris has been murdered in their bed, with their three year old son home , is heartbreaking. It’s hard to attribute positive words like fascinating and page turning to such a tragic story but that’s how I would describe the complete railroading and injustice that took place when the local sheriff’s department immediately zeroed in on Michael as the killer. How he was treated, questioned, and then arrested was mind boggling and I listened in a state of bewilderment.

I know I’m being somewhat vague but I don’t want to give away important plot details about the case because there’s so much that happens over the 25 years it took Michael Morton to get justice that you really need to listen, or read, for yourself. This being a memoir we get in depth, first hand accounts from Michael about what happened the day his wife was murdered,  how he felt, and what he was thinking and feeling. We also get his first hand account of life in prison for 25 years and his pursuit of and determination to get to the truth of who really murdered his wife Chris.

While this is a memoir, it’s also a real life mystery because there are questions about the case that the sheriff’s office completely ignored such as: what did Michael’s son who was 3 at the time, and home with his mom, actually see and hear? What about other physical evidence that was found on the property? Will these unanswered questions lead to the real killer? You’ll have to listen or read to find out!

This story caused me to feel so many things while listening…anger, sadness, confusion…it’s all there.  Sometimes, even if the story sounds interesting ,  I’ve found it hard to listen to a book because the narrator’s voice just didn’t work for me. That wasn’t the case with this audiobook, however, because the narrator, Roger Wayne, was fantastic. I recommended this book to my book club and they all read the print version and also loved it,  so either way you “get” this incredible true crime story you won’t be disappointed.

5/5 Stars