Book review: Remnants



(Brandon Fisher FBI Series #6)

Book Title: REMNANTS

Author: Carolyn Arnold

Series: Brandon Fisher FBI series, Book 6

Publication Date: 4/11/2017
by: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.

ISBN (e-book): 978-1-988353-49-4

ISBN (paperback): 978-1-988353-50-0

ISBN (hardcover): 978-1-988353-51-7


260 pages


As many book bloggers, I receive a lot of offers of books every week. The synopsis of Remnants sounded very promising, so I succumbed and said yes. It was actually quite well done and I’m glad to talk about it today.
NB for authors and publishers: work hard on your synopsis!
I noticed that Carolyne Arnold’s Marketing & Sales Director, her own husband, provides even three different size synopses to the reviewers. Well done!

Click to continue reading

6 titles for our June 2013 Book Club

Recap of our Block Book Club June 2013 meeting


Recap of the titles we shared [synopsis from].

1) Hour Game (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell #2)

by David Baldacci (2005) [presented by J]

He’s copying famous serial killers.
And the HOUR GAME has just begun…

A woman is found murdered in the woods. It seems like a simple case but it soon escalates into a terrible nightmare. Someone is replicating the killing styles of the most infamous murderers of all time. No one knows this criminal’s motives…or who will die next.
Two ex-Secret Service agents, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, have been hired to defend a man’s innocence in a burglary involving an aristocratic family. Then a series of secrets leads the partners right into the frantic hunt that is confounding even the FBI. Now King and Maxwell are playing the Hour Game, uncovering one horrifying revelation after another and putting their lives in danger. For the closer they get to the truth, the closer they get to the most shocking surprise of all.

 2) Imaginary Magnitude

by Stanisław Lem (1973 – published in English in 1985) [presented by P]

These wickedly authentic introductions to twenty-first-century books preface tomes on teaching English to bacteria, using animated X-rays to create “pornograms,” and analyzing computer-generated literature through the science of “bitistics.” “Lem, a science fiction Bach, plays in this book a googleplex of variations on his basic themes” (New York Times Book Review). Translated by Marc E. Heine. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

3) Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

by Blaine Harden (2012) [presented by A]

A New York Times bestseller, the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.
North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.
In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin’s life unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden’s harrowing narrative of Shin’s life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.

 4) Travelers’ Tales Italy: True Stories of Life on the Road

by Anne Calcagno (1998) [presented by R]

These tales take the reader far beyond a packaged tour of Italy to encounter the land of magical extremes. Meet sculptors, olive harvesters, art historians, cooks, and grandparents, whose tales soar with opera and simmer with bribes. Funny, heart-wrenching, and smart herein ancient Italy is revealed as always new, while contemporary Italy speaks the old verities of the heart.


Midnight in the Garden of Good And Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt (1999) [presented by J]

You probably saw the movie. We did, right after listening to the book. We thought the movie was actually rather bad, and a very poor rendition of the book. We highly recommend you to read the book.

 Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981.  Was it murder or self-defense?  For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.  John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction.  Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the “soul of pampered self-absorption”; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight.  These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience.  Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic

 Here is a mini-review of the audiobook, and a quotation:


Chronicle of the Mount Builde

Chronicle of the Mound Builders

by Elle Marie (Goodreads Author) (2012) [presented by me]

Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site in the St. Louis area. Knowing the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is determined to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved codex.

In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his 12-year-old son. They travel from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River to settle in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds, Illinois.

Angela recognizes the symbols as Aztec pictograms and begins to translate the story. However, other forces also want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she learn the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?

This book was so good, we stopped to visit the place it features, the Cahokia Mounds near St Louis, on our way to a farther destination.

A fascinating place with a great museum.

Here is my full review:



3 mini audiobook reviews

Running against time, so here are 3 mini audiobook reviews, without the regular review format I usually adopt:

Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin: An American Life,
by Walter ISAACSON
narrated by Nelson RUNGER
published by Recorded Books
in 2004.
24:45 hours

I have been fascinated by the character, mind, and achievements of Benjamin Franklin for a while. As I needed to read something for the state of Pennsylvania for my US challenge, that was perfect. I heard a lot of good things of Steve Jobs’s biographer, then another reason, and I heard good reviews of the audiobook version, so 3 good reasons for an excellent book!
That was a very long audiobook, but I was never bored: the writing is informative and whimsy as the character, I actually laughed aloud a lot at Franklin’s tricks and stories. Walter Isaacson is definitely a biographer I would go back to.
What a mind Franklin had!!
I enjoyed especially all the chapters about his time in France.

As for the narrator, he was very good at conveying Franklin’s humor; I liked the way he changed his voice when he quoted Franklin directly.


I found this funny quotation by Franklin’s on his struggle with the French language:
“Fort sixty years now, masculine and feminine thing – and I am not talking about modes and tenses – have been giving me a lot of trouble… It will make me all the happier to go to paradise where, they say, all such distinctions will be abolished.”
page 371 in the print version

Midnight in the Garden of Good And EvilMidnight In The Garden of Good And Evil,
narrated by Jeff WOODMAN
published by Recorded Books
in 1996.
15:03 hours

We needed an audiobook for a long car ride, and I needed something for the state of Georgia, so I chose this audiobook on Savannah, a city we enjoyed visiting.
I originally thought this was a novel!
Then I was a bit confused by the synopsis in which a murder story is highlighted. Well, the murder story does not come until almost half of the book. Retrospectively though, that was really well done, as we are presented a whole cast of very colorful and fascinating characters living in Savannah. And then we see how they react with the murder.
I really enjoyed the selection of people appearing in this book, from an antique dealer to Chablis, a drag queen, or a voodoo priestess, and everything in between.
Besides, I learned a lot about Savannah’s history, evolution, and things on the side, such as voodoo practices, drag queens, and art collectors!

I am so happy I decided to listen to this book: the narrator was superb in his change of voices and tones, rendering some characters even more hilarious. I LOVED how he featured the drag queen’s voice for instance so so good!

If you love the South and studies of characters, you really need to listen to this book. Someone told me the movie is much less good than the book. What do you think?


“For me, Savannah’s resistance to change was its saving grace. The city looked inward, sealed off from the noises and distractions of the world at large. It grew inward, too, and in such a way that its people flourished like hothouse plants tended by an indulgent gardener. The ordinary became extraordinary. Eccentrics thrived. Every nuance and quirk of personality achieved greater brilliance in that lush enclosure than would have been possible anywhere else in the world.”

I like the last lines, pp.385-386, I think they give a good idea of the flavor of the whole book.


These 2 books count for the following Reading Challenges:

     New Authors 2013 2013 Audio Book Challenge

where are you reading


Ready Player OneReady Player One,
by Ernest Cline
narrated by Wil WHEATON
published by Random House Audio
in 2011.
15:46 hours


And now the best of these 3, and possibly the best audiobook I have ever listened to. After everyone went gaga on this audiobook these last 2 years, it was high time to listen to it:

Here is the synopsis:
“It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?” [Goodreads]

I believe this is the novel everyone should read almost as a reference book about our current pop and digital culture/civilization. Where did the author found all this genius creativity to come up with all that, and put it all together in such a smart, suspenseful story that you can’t drop a minute?
I do not know well the pop culture and missed tons of references am sure, but it was clear enough what he was referring to.

A fascinating presentation of our world to be – yes I can easily see this happening.
The book is also a tremendously smart analysis of how as individuals we could operate in that world, at the level of relationships, with ourselves, with neighbors, friends and enemies, and with larger entities.

I saw the end coming, but still I liked how it made the whole issue open up on a rather positive note.

Now the narrator is crazy awesome, so engaging in his tone of voice, his crescendos, excitement and fear in parallel with the story. I was totally hooked from beginning to end. My only trouble, just like every superb novel, is that I was torn between the desire to know what was going to happen, and the regret that the book was soon going to be over. Seriously, I don’t think I had to that extent experienced such a strength of character presentation through a narrator’s voice.

If you have never listened to an audiobook, that’s definitely where you should begin.

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     New Authors 2013 2013 Audio Book Challenge