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Kristen Tsetsi

New England
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Troubleshooters: The Longest Joke Ever Told audiobook cover art

Capers!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-12-19

Ian Thomas Healy has a special knack for blending story, characters, and action without letting one element overwhelm the others.

In Troubleshooters, Healy introduces us to a rich cast of characters who are engaging as well as a delightful 180 in their interpersonal dynamic to what we typically see in fiction/movies/TV (Healy is probably one of the more consistently equalist writers I've read). Because we know the characters, because they're very real in their quirks and complexities, when the time comes for them to take on a mission, we're interested in how they'll react, how they'll plan, how they'll deal with obstacles, and what every tense moment means to them. I will typically fall asleep during any story (movie or otherwise) when the action gets too heavy, but even though Healy's action snowballs into action on top of action in the latter portion of Troubleshooters, I was rarely not engaged. Not only because of the writing, but because of the

Narration

Nicholas Patrella is fantastic. His accents and voices differentiate one character from the next, the noises he makes for his characters (laughter, sighs, scoffs, or the snarfling gurgle of being choked or stabbed) seem spontaneous and natural and just right for the moment/character, and when the action gets going, when the tension is high, you can hear it in his delivery.

A lively, entertaining, and often funny book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A Ship of Pearl audiobook cover art

So enjoyed it that I'm listening again.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-19

The wonderful thing about hearing a story from a child's perspective is that children have limited awareness of adult troubles. In A Ship of Pearl, Eldie, 12, exists in a time when money is scarce, a house fire has taken his family's home and forced his siblings and parents to board separately with others, and his new living situation means attending a new (and inferior, in Eldie's opinion) school with a new (much less pleasant) teacher. But because Eldie is a child, we as readers escape the pressure felt by adult parents trying to provide for their children under harsh conditions. Instead, we get to follow Eldie, both in the (his) present day and through his rich and vivid memories, from his almost-born days in the womb to his twelfth year.

In that time, we're casually made aware of the family's difficulties (Eldie is told he can take a fresh sandwich from the trash, if he wants it - he's so skinny, after all), but we're also introduced to Eldie's dynamic, sparkling parents, his friends (Ephram is wonderful until he isn't, but he still very much is), and his serious love interest, Cecilia. We're immersed not in constant woe and struggle, but in a place and a past--the scents of the flowers Eldie knows, the behavior of livestock he observes, the two-room house and the one-room schoolhouse, all part of the huge, small world where Eldie lives--, and with the kind of naturally and beautifully placed details that never once pull readers out of the story the way some do with their clunky efforts to explain or show.

The story is immersive not only because of its characters and their braided-together lives, but because Adela Crandell Durkee somehow managed to fully inhabit the mind of a young boy. Eldie's observations are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, other times age-appropriately simple but utterly lovely poetry. (Because I listened to the novel while walking my dog, it wasn't possible to copy my favorite passages. If I had copied them, this review would go on and on with short excerpts that I just loved.)

I hope someday to be able to write like Crandell. In the meantime, I'll be content to continue reading her.

Performance: Bud Corley is the only voice I can imagine speaking for Eldie. There's something about the surface-level sound of his voice, his manner of speaking, that takes us to childhood, but beyond that, it's as if Corley intimately knows the heart and soul of Eldie. Every emotion, from frustration to guilt to confusion to amusement, is convincingly expressed without over-acting or even a hint of obvious effort.

Tools of the Trade audiobook cover art

Whip-smart, funny, and all the best similes

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-15-18

In addition to this being a pure joy to listen to - Philip Persinger writes as if his words are meant to be performed rather than read silently, and Daniel McColly performs brilliantly - Tools of the Trade features characters who do and say atrocious things, but in such a way that their behavior, questionable as it may be, is hard not to love. Every character has a soft spot, a tender moment, and we come across those spots and moments in unexpected ways (usually couched in imaginative phrases and sharp humor). This is a must-hear book by a wildly clever writer.