Reviews: E-books and audiobooks - Kayleen Schaefer, Jennifer Ridha, Oliver Sacks
The quiet angst coursing through this Kindle Single will have readers seeing the book through to the end to find out whether Kayleen Schaefer finds her brother, Jarrett. The siblings are the best of friends into adulthood, but then Jarrett starts shunning his family. The change happens after the release of his movie, Chapter 27, about the three days Mark David Chapman spent in New York before murdering John Lennon. Though the debut film attracts attention at the Sundance Film Festival, it is released in only 10 theatres and never has the reach Jarrett had hoped for as reward for his years of work. He then disappears, which leads Kayleen to try to find out more about him from the film’s lead actor, Jared Leto, and other friends. When they discover he is in Mexico, Kayleen and her mother hire a detective to track him down. Fade Out could have been much longer – we are told little about the relationship between Jarrett and their strict father, a former military officer – but it is still a compelling read, and one that will surely boost viewership of Chapter 27.
Fade Out by Kayleen Schaefer (Amazon Digital Services) e-book
Neither of the main characters in this strange "I Dunnit" is likeable. In fact both appear to need a serious head check, and that includes the author, who seems to have used this book as therapy and perhaps as a lead-in to a new career, now she is no longer practising law. Criminal That I Am tells of her relationship with partner-in-crime Cameron Douglas, son of actor Michael Douglas, which begins when she becomes part of his defence team: in 2009 he was nabbed for heroin possession and dealing in crystal meth. Ridha falls for her client and willingly smuggles anti-anxiety drugs into his correctional centre. She believes the stash is for Douglas' own use, but later discovers he has shared it with other inmates, one of them a government informant. So when she is visited by Department of Justice agents, she panics and fears a media backlash or worse. Excessive "what was I thinking" detail and tangents detract from a simple story of unconsummated love of the star-struck variety. The paparazzi are among the villains in a tale that will leave you sullied and unforgiving.
Criminal That I Am by Jennifer Ridha (Scribner) e-book
In February, Oliver Sacks, 81, informed the world that because of cancer, he had just months to live. Even without that knowledge, you will savour On the Move, in which the neurologist behind Awakenings and other medical bestsellers tells stories about his life, patients, lovers, family and more. British-born Sacks - read by a narrator with an American accent - also recounts his many motorcycle road trips and how in the 1960s he was a "rash drug taker" prepared to try almost anything. An amphetamine-heightened tryst with an artist called Karl is among the affairs he describes with wonder and sadness: the pair fell out of love possibly because the aphrodisiac thrust of the drugs was no longer there to sustain the fever. Sacks explains that his narrative skill came from his mother, a surgeon, and father, a physician, both of whom were natural storytellers. He describes himself as timid, diffident and submissive. What comes through is Sacks' empathy, curiosity and humanity. It's a book you'll want to put on your shelf, beside his other memorable volumes.
On the Move by Oliver Sacks (read by Dan Woren) Random House Audio (audiobook)