Review: Not my Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming: Not my Father’s Son; Harper Audio; 6:28, $17.95

Summary (taken from book cover): 

Dark, painful memories can be like a cage. Or, in the case of Alan Cumming, they can be packed away in a box, stuck in the attic to be forgotten. Until one day the box explodes and all the memories flood back in horrible detail. Alan Cumming grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan’s father.

When television producers approached Alan to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, he enthusiastically agreed. He hoped to solve a mystery that had long cast a shadow over his family. His maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, had disappeared into the Far East after WWII. Alan’s mother knew very little about him – he had been a courier, carrying information between battalions on his motorbike. The last time she saw her father, Alan’s mother was eight years old. When she was 13, the family was informed that he had died by his own hand, an accidental shooting.

But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan’s feet. His father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade, reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan’s life forever.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father’s Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

My thoughts:

This was quite shocking. I thought I had grown up with a violent father, who beat us with a carpet beater as punishment for small ‚wrongdoings‘, who threatened to give us in an institution for difficult children if we disobeyed, and who told us we weren’t worth anything. Well, compared to what the author went through, my father was harmless.
Yet, my siblings and I were all damaged, my sister probably hit it worst. I used to have nightmares about my father chasing me to beat me, I had an eating disorder for decades, and yet, after having listened to Mr Cumming’s biography, I know I got away lightly.
After all, my father just didn’t know any better, having grown up under worse conditions (back then even the teachers beat the crap put of children), and despite all this, I know my father loved us and didn’t mean evil, and he actually cared for us.
My relation to my father was a love-hate one, and somehow, I feel that it was similar for the author for a long time, or else he wouldn’t have fretted so much about gaining his father’s approval.

As you can see, I could totally relate to Mr. Cumming’s angst and emotions, and I really and truly hope that he has put it all behind him for good.
There’s no family secret to be uncovered in my family as far as I know. The one revealed in the book was fascinating. Although there was a sad tale in it, too, it was yet uplifting, and I rejoiced with the author that he ‚got to know‘ his maternal grandfather, and that he was at peace with himself in the end.

The narration was absolutely perfect, I totally loved the accent, and the way Alan Cumming narrated his story. I’ll certainly check out other books by him.

Review: White is the Coldest Colour (audio book) by John Nicholl

White Is the Coldest Colour Audiobook
John Nicholl: White is the Coldest Colour, narrated by Jack Urry, John Nicholl (p), 9:19h, $21.36

 

Overview (book blurb)

The Mailer family are oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP following the breakdown of his parents‘ marriage. Fifty-eight year old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic predatory paedophile employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters. Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession, and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality. The novel is entirely fictional, but draws on my experiences as a police officer, child protection social worker, manager and trainer. During my career I was faced with case after case that left me incredulous as to the harm sexual predators chose to inflict on their victims. The book reflects that reality. The story is set in 1992, a more naive time when many found it extremely difficult to believe that a significant number of adults posed a serious risk to children. The book contains content that some readers may find disturbing from the start. It is dedicated to survivors everywhere.

Review:

 

This book is a harrowing tale of organized child abuse. The author set the story in the beginning 1990s, but except for the fact that parents are better informed nowadays, and have all the information they need at their fingertips (so they could have checked out how psychiatric sessions should be held, for instance), I’m afraid not a lot has changed.
Just look at how the Catholic church and some sects hush up child abuse in their ranks, or look up Marc Detroux, who sexually abused and killed several children in Belgium in the 1980s and ~90s. It’s a scandal never to be forgotten. Read the report and watch the video of a surviving victim of a pedophile ring.
I live in Germany, and child abuse, raping of women, and domestic violence are crimes that are still being punished lightly, if at all, and the clear signal to the perpetrators is, that they get away with it. And that seems to be a global attitude.
I read only today that a British judge ruled that a cricketer who had admittedly beaten his wife with a cricket bat and made her drink bleach does not need to go to prison.

So, nearly 30 years on, and nothing has changed. In light of all these true cases, John Nicholl’s fictional story really hits home. The trouble is, that it is absolutely believable.
It drew me in right from the start, and I couldn’t put it down, so I spent a sleepless night, rooting for Anthony,while being really afraid for him at the same time. This story is a nail-biter, and I’m very glad that I’m not in the habit of actually biting my nails, or none would be left.

Narration:

Narrator Jake Urry was a perfect fit for the story. His gritty voice when speaking the character of Dr Galbraith made me shiver, and he managed perfectly, to make it clear, what was spoken, and which were the (unuttered) thoughts.

All the characters and accents were well done.

If you are of a sensitive nature, you might reconsider before buying this (audio) book, because somewhere in the world something similar to the goings-ons in the story is taking place at this exact moment, and honestly, it doesn’t bear thinking of — then again, it is crucial to raise awareness.

I got a free copy of this audio book via the audio bookworm.

The Audiobookworm

Book Review: Xenogeneic -First Contact by Lance Erlick

Lance Erlick: Xenogeneic – First Contact, Finlee Augare Books, ebook, 300 pages, $3.21

 

Book Details:

Book Title: Xenogeneic: First Contact by Lance Erlick
Category: Adult Fiction, 300 pages
Genre: Sci-fi Thriller
Publisher: Finlee Augare Books
Release date: March 2017
Tour dates: March 13 to April 7, 2017
Content Rating: PG + M (This book is rated PG+M because of mature subject. No explicit sex.)

Book Description:

Xenogeneic is a science fiction thriller about first contact with an alien race that lost their civil war and wants to take over Earth.

Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.

The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth’s neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home—Earth. Unable to live in Earth’s toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.

Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.

While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ View on Goodreads

 Review:

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of the book as a participant of  iRead Book Tours.

This is the first time I take part in an iRead Book Tour, and it is my first book by Lance Erlick. The book description sounded intriguing, especially if, like me, you love a good science fiction story.
The first third of the book was fine, but then it started to fall flat.
The whole book is written in a style that might work as a movie script, but to me, all the short sentences and rapid changes of scenes made the story feel disjointed. It was like watching a movie, with lots of flickering scenes, changing rapidly all over the place, but this didn’t work for me in book form.
After about 50%, I started to get bored, the book couldn’t really keep my interest any more and I might have given up if it hadn’t been for the book tour.
Sure, I wanted to find out what exactly was going on, but all the in-fighting among the humans just dragged on and on. Nothing much happened for the next 30% of the book, then it slowly got interesting again. And then it all happened at once.

I’m sorry to say that the ending didn’t manage to convince me. It all went so fast, with no rhyme or reason, and nobody is who they appear to be, and the explanations appear flimsy and not well thought out.

However, this is just my personal view. The idea is good, the questions the story raises are very valid ones (which unfortunately I cannot go into without putting spoilers). I’m convinced that, if compressed, and with a clear story line,  this could be so much better.

About the Author:

Lance ErlickLance Erlick writes science fiction thrillers for young adult and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of Annabelle Scott following her conscience. He authored the Regina Shen series–Resilience, Vigilance, Defiance, and Endurance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. His latest novel is Xenogeneic: First Contact about encounters with an alien race aiming to take over Earth.

Follow the author… Website, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Review: David A. Wells – Sovereign Stone (Sovereign of the Seven Isles #2)

 

David A. Wells: Sovereign Stone (Sovereign of the Seven Isles #2); Narrator: Derek Perkins, Podium Publishing, audible, 16:20h, 26,21€

This is a great sequel to Thinblade. I very much enjoyed the world, and I’d love to spend time to explore Blackstone Keep, which sounds like a fascinating place. I hope we’ll get to know a bit more about it in the sequels.

We have new dangers and adventures here, and we find out a bit about the Reishi Gates.

Isabel and Abigail are left in quite the predicament, and the book ends fairly abruptly, so make sure you have the sequel at the ready. I subtracted one star because of it, because I really loathe open endings and cliffhangers, and here’s a pretty mean one.
Luckily, that series is completely published, so I don’t need to wait for publication.

Again, Derek Perkins narrates this wonderfully and brings the story and the characters to life.

Newsletter Buchtipp

Michael Kardos: Bevor du mich findest

Aus meinem neuesten Newsletter:

Ein exclusiver Thriller von Michael Kardos:

Bevor du mich findest

Melanie lebt seit ihrem 4. Lebensjahr von der Außenwelt isoliert im Zeugenschutzprogramm. Damals hat ihr Vater ihre Mutter ermordet und konnte seitdem nicht gefasst werden.

Damit sie endlich leben kann, dreht Melanie jetzt den Spieß um: Wenn ihr Vater sie nicht findet, dann muss sie ihn eben finden, um frei zu sein – ein gefährliches Unterfangen …

Wir wissen ja alle, dass die Klappentexte nicht unbedingt viel mit dem Inhalt eines Buches zu tun haben, aber eigentlich sollen sie doch neugierig machen. Im oben zitierten Fall hat das bei mir eher den gegenteiligen Effekt: Wieso muss eine vierjährige von der Außenwelt isoliert im Zeugenschutzprogramm leben? Man hätte sie doch einfach mit neuem Namen in eine Familie geben können. Klein, wie sie damals war, hätte sie die Ereignisse sicher nach kurzer Zeit vergessen und wäre auch unauffindbar gewesen (es sei denn, ihr Vater ist ein CIA Mann oder sowas). Und warum sollte der Vater es auf die Tochter abgesehen haben? Das ergibt für mich überhaupt keinen Sinn.

Vielleicht sollte ich das Buch tatsächlich lesen, in der Hoffnung, überzeugende Antworten auf diese Fragen zu bekommen, aber irgendwie bin ich zu skeptisch, um die Zeit und das Geld zu investieren.

Wie seht ihr das?

Review: David A. Wells – Thinblade (Sovereign of the Seven Isles #1)

 

Thinblade (Sovereign of the Seven Isles Book 1) by [Wells, David A.]

This had been on my tbl list for more than six months now. I finally started listening to it, and I’m glad I did. I’m a fantasy buff, and it never ceases to amaze me, that with each fantasy book I read or listen to, there are always new ideas.
Well, OK, so the subject is nothing new: bad versus evil, but then you can’t reinvent the wheel.

The world building is nice, though, and the magic and how it is used is yet different from all I’ve read before.
Then there are the characters. A handful of people who set out to save their world.

I love Lucky the most, the alchemist mage, with his joyful nature, his amazing skills, his appreciation of good meals, and his never ending optimism.

The enemy, Phane, is driven, and I wonder whether he’ll be saved, or just defeated.
I have six more books to find out.

The narrator, Derek Perkins, is doing a great job,and it is a joy to listen.

Review: Whitney Barbetti – Ten Below Zero

 

This was a book club choice, and although I shelved it under ‚Romance‘, I’m not quite sure this is the accurate genre. Then again, I have no idea what genre it fits.

It is the story of Everett and Parker: he, a dying man, she, a shell-shocked woman (though not from war).

They get to know each other by mere chance, and each seems to find something in the other they need.

While I listened, I wondered just why the hell I had agreed to listen to yet another story with a dying protagonist (I never finished the last one). This book and audio being on Kindle unlimited helped me with my decision, because at least I wouldn’t feel that I wasted money in case I disliked the book, or was so upset that I never finished it.
However, I actually liked the unfurling story, I even liked the protagonists, although I have to say I’m glad I don’t have to deal with them in real life.
Both are scarred (physically and mentally), and their behaviour is accordingly.

It’s impossible to say more without giving away the plot, but I have to say that I did not regret listening to this story. Natasha Soudek does a good job at narrating the story, unobtrusive, so you can lose yourself in the story.
It’s not a sweet romance in any way, but it certainly is touching.