Category Archives: Audio book

The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce

The Music ShopThe Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

  • Source: Library – Overdrive Audiobook
  • Genre: Fiction – Music; Love Stories

Rachel Joyce is one of my favorite authors, but this book hit a flat note with me (har har). It started off really well, with a diverse and eccentric community living on Unity Street. Most of the story takes place in The Music Shop on the street, run by Frank. Set during the late 1980’s, Frank only seels vinyl. Not CDs, only vinyl.  His love for music and its stories are contagious and endearing. He has a knack for selecting the right music for each person’s needs. He’s a bit socially awkward, particularly around one Ilse Brauchmann, a woman who visits his shop and who he falls for, despite his efforts to the contrary. One day, Ilsa faints outside his shop. In all of the hoopla of getting her help, she leaves behind her purse at the shop. From that fateful day, Frank and Ilsa form an interesting relationship, hinting at their adoration for each other, without being able to say the words. Frank is unable to handle the feelings of love that bubble up for him. Ilsa is engaged to another man.

The tug of war of “will they or won’t they” is endless in the novel. Frank is just unable to let love into his world, particularly after the death of Peg, his eccentric mother who planted the seed that grew into his love and knowledge of music history. This book is ultimately an ode to music than a romance or love story. Its quirky, its contemporary, despite being set in the 1980s. The characters are diverse and have their own nuances and eccentricities. Despite all of this, somewhere towards the last third of the story, I started losing interest. Maybe I just picked up this book at the wrong time. The narrator didn’t appeal to me all that much either. He was very gruff, the way I would expect Frank to sound like, but I still didn’t feel a big urge to return to the book after a break.

PS. If you like this book, try: High Fidelity

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

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America: The Audio Book (Jon Stewart & The Daily Show) – Review

America (the audiobook) : [a citizen's guide to democracy inactionAmerica: The Audiobook by Jon Stewart & The Daily Show
Genre: Non-Fiction / American History
Format: Audio CD (3discs – 4hrs)
Publisher: Time Warner Audio, 2004
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One of the first productions from the Daily Show crew from Comedy Central is this account of American political history. In true Daily Show form, Jon Stewart and crew (among the notables: Steven Colbert & Ed Helms) tell the tale of American history with various asides and comical tangents pointing out the ironies, hypocrisies and other elements of our past.

I picked this audiobook up for the long road trip north from San Diego after New Years. My husband and I really loved the other Daily Show audiobook – Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race and we thought this would be just as entertaining.

Sadly, it wasn’t. It wasn’t badly produced. I just found America The Audiobook to be more boring and slower in pace than Earth. For full disclosure: I did fall asleep through the entire second half of disc 1. Stewart is, and always will be, a great narrator. He just has that perfect pitched voice, and his comic timing is fantastic. Since this book/audio was originally released in 2004, a lot of the contemporary political jabs and jests seem out of date, especially with all that’s transpired in the last eight years since it was first published. I think a second edition, along with more side scenes and commentaries from the current Daily Show crew would liven it up a bit.

America: The Audiobook is very factual, and I think would make for a great read-along resource for high school American history classes. Get the facts and the humor all in one go. Granted, the writer’s do take some liberties with historical figures, so I would not suggest referencing or quoting from the book in essays or assignments.

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The Reading Promise (Alice Ozma) – Review

The reading promise : my father and the books we sharedThe Reading Promise: My Dad and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
Age: Adult
Genre: Memoir
Format: Audio-cd
Source: Library
6 discs
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What started as a span of 100 consecutive nights of reading soon became a streak that spanned almost 8 years. In this memoir, Alice Ozma recounts her memories of growing up with her father using their reading streak as a backdrop to the stories.

The title of this book is a LIE. A big fat LIE. I picked up this audio book with the impression that the stories would center around the books they read together. Their thoughts on the books, or how the books had an effect on their lives. Instead, all I got were touching, and nostalgic memories of growing up with a single father who tried his best to raise his highly precocious daughter.

As a father-daughter memoir, this book is top-notch. As a memoir about their reading streak…it strayed from its mark. I was hoping for more chapters like Ch.18, which centered around their reading of Dicey’s Song. Most of the stories centered around Alice’s youth. At times the stories felt very self-indulgent (ie the chapter in which she discusses changing her name from Kristen Alice Ozma Brozina to just Alice Ozma. I skipped the track about halfway through…)

Other times, the stories and the moments Alice and her father shared were touching; the day Alice’s mother moved out of the house, the day her sister went abroad to Germany for a year, the day she got a C in English class, her car accident, the last day of their streak. The reading streak did help the pair broach topics and get through life’s scenarios that would have otherwise been awkward for a single father of a teenage girl. The love and commitment the two put into the streak is admirable.

Ozma read the book, and her reading is really what kept me going. I might have put the book aside otherwise. Alice’s voice is youthful, and she and she paces the reading really well. I think her dad taught her well in that respect.

I think the entire concept of their reading streak is fantastic. As a bibliophile & as a children’s librarian. It’s incredibly important for parents to read with and to their children. It fosters a love of literature, creativity, reading comprehension and analytical thought. I would love to start a tradition like this with my kids. Although I never read with my parents, they did always make a point to take me to the library every week to feed my reading addiction, and they encouraged and supported my love of reading in other ways.

Why We Buy (Paco Underhill) – Review

Why we buy : the science of shoppingWhy We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill
Read by Rick Adamson
Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction / Consumerism
Format: Audio CD
7 discs, 8 hours & 35 minutes
Random House, 2000

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Why We Buy is an in-depth look at consumerism in retail stores in the United States. CEO Paco Underhill takes us through various incidents, and experiences of hundreds of hours of field research in: shopping malls, bookstores, department stores, etc, to answer the simple question of how to make shopping easier for the consumer.

I really felt jipped by this book. Rick Adamson did a wonderful job narrating the book, bringing in a very upbeat and energetic tone of voice. Although it was informative, albeit somewhat outdated, I felt that this book should really have been called “How to Sell.” I didn’t really find out why we buy, just how retailers make it easier for us to buy. In my mind, those are two different concepts.

The book was written in 2000, and it was sort of eerie listening to Underhill prophesize the future of certain industries. He was correct in that self-check machines would soon appear everywhere, but he was wrong about a number of things. Namely how the Internet would play a role in consumerism. I think the entire section on Internet can be skipped. There is a 2008 revised edition of Why We By that focuses on the influence of the Internet, and I think that would be a more appropriate read.

I was also somewhat put-off that the shopper was always a “she” and that “she” would veer towards certain products. Health & fitness, cooking and parenting books are all “female” topics. It felt sexist to me, and that was discouraging as a female listener. I don’t want to be typecast just because I’m female, and its somewhat disturbing that major retailers would view genders in that way.

Perhaps the creepiest element of the book is right in the beginning when Underhill discusses the “trackers” he employees to gauge a shop’s accessibility and levels of accommodation towards its customers. It’s like a stalker 101 guide. The trackers will pick one shopper and follow them around the store, taking careful notes of what they look at, how long they look at an object, if they touch the object, how many times they touch and object, etc.

Despite all the flaws, I still found myself inspecting all the shops I walked into while listening to this book. It does raise awareness that retailers do go out of their way to sell certain goods and that the placement of each and every object in a store is carefully considered. Not much of the information was new or shocking, but I am curious as to what new strategies Underhill has uncovered and written about in the 2008 updated version of Why We Buy.

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Uncommon Criminals (Ally Carter) – Review

Uncommon criminalsUncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Age: YA
Genre: Heist / Fiction
Format: Audio CD
Brilliance Audio, 6 discs (6 hours: 47 minutes)
Hyperion, 2011

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Fifteen year old Katerina Bishop and her crew are back in another high stakes heist adventure in this sequel to Heist Society. This time, its Katerina who has been conned into stealing a precious and rare gem, the reputed cursed Cleopatra emerald. Now, it’s up to Kat and her friends follow the Cleopatra gem around the world, and create a new set of rules in order to get the gem back to its rightful owner.

The sequel to the fantastically amusing Heist Society did not disappoint. This book maintained the same level of witty word-play and globe-trotting luxury, in a world where money is no object and high stake risks are a natural part of life. In this book, we see a lot of character development in Kat. The remaining colorful cast of characters are stationary, static in their same personas as the first novel. Its only in Kat where we really see a change of character. Kat is still clueless about boys, more focused on getting the job done, than about comforting friends and family. She is focused, naive, and highly innovative all at the same time. We see her let down her guard and really start to open up to her family and the idea of having a group of friends that she can trust.

I loved the story progression of this novel more than Heist Society. The twists and turns were equally unexpected, but much more intricate in this book. In this world. Kat and her crew got to invent their own rules, while breaking others, in order to get to the Cleopatra emerald. This book takes place not too long after Heist Society ended, so the characters are still the same ages. This series is fun, and witty. I enjoyed listening to it on audio, all because of Angela Dawe’s fantastic narration. Her accents are flawless, the characters are full of life. It really felt like I was listening to a movie in another room.

Again, I would recommend this for a family road trip, its age appropriate for pretty much all members of the family, although there is more development between the romance of Kat and Hale, but I would still give this book a G-rating.

Book 57 of 2011

READ-A-LIKES

Books like the Heist Society series:

book jacket book jacket book jacket book jacket

  1. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
  2. The White Cat by Holly Black
  3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  4. Black Taxi by James Maloney

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Heist Society (Ally Carter) – Review

Heist societyHeist Society by Ally Carter
Age: Teen
Genre: Fiction, Heist
Format: Audio Book
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2009
5 discs

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Having escaped a life of crime and conning, fifteen year old Katerina Bishop’s final goodbye to the “family business” was to scam her way into one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country. At the school only a short while, Kat learns that leaving her former life is harder than she’d thought, especially when she’s framed for a school prank that has her expelled from the Colgan School. Reunited with her friend and co-conspirator, Hale, Kat learns that her con-man father has fallen into big trouble, accused of stealing a set of portraits only a master thief could pull off. Now Kat has two weeks to retrieve the paintings and save her father, putting together a crew of her own and creating her own little heist society.

First, I want to say that Angela Dawe is an amazing reader for this audio book. Her youthful voice gave life to the characters, and she was able to alter her tone and accent enough to really infuse each character with their own separate personality and voice. Sometimes, all the characters seem to blur together with certain narrators, but Dawe managed to keep them all unique and apart in this Ocean’s Eleven for Teenagers.

I listened to this book on audio, which was a really fun way to get into the story. I think this is an audio book that the whole family can really enjoy during long road-trips. There is a lot of globe-trotting: Paris to London, to Austria to Paris. There is a lot of wealth, and bling and talk of wealth and bling and pretty people to round it out. Despite all the wealth in this book, Kat remained a character that is strong yet vulnerable, insecure, but clever. I found her to be a fantastic lead character, able to put together one of the youngest heist crews to attempt to pull off one of the greatest heist of their generation.

As a teen novel, there is the pre-requisite love triangle, and unrequited love plot-line, as well as the make-up of Kat’s crew. The pretty one (cousin Gabrielle), the dashing billionaire (Hale), the nerdy techie (cousin Simon) the loose cannons (the Bradshaw brothers), and the new addition (Nick).

The story was easy to follow, very quick-paced. The dialogue is sharp, witty, although sometimes the kids sounded much older than their fifteen years. But then again, when you’ve been casing the Louvre at age three, and stealing the crown jewels of Austria at age seven, there isn’t much room to idly chew gum and flip through fashion magazines.

Overall, I found this to be a really enjoyable book, Carter’s writing is witty, youthful and brilliantly composed.

Book 51 of 2011

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Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race (John Stewart) – Review

Earth (the audiobook) : a visitor's guide to the human raceEarth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race by John Stewart & The Daily Show
Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction / Science / Social Science
Format: Audio CD
Hatchette Audio, 2010
3 discs, 3 hours & 38 minutes

On a recent road trip to Southern California, I picked up this audio book hoping for entertainment for the long drive. My husband and I were not disappointed. My husband is a tough one to please with audio books, but we are both big fans of John Stewart and the Daily Show. This audio book is thoroughly informative, entertaining and amusing in a satirical way. John Stewart narrates the majority of the book, which is written as a guide of the human race to a future alien race that finds planets Earth long after the human race has gone completely extinct.

Samantha Bee, Wyatt Cenac, Jason Jones and John Oliver provide wonderful color commentaries by elaborating and interpreting certain points. From disc 1 to disc 3, Stewart and crew discuss the origin of planet Earth, the solar system, the history of culture, of religion, of food, pop culture, the continents, industry, etc. The delivery is dry and satirical. There is a black humor throughout the book as Stewart points out the aspects of life we avoid and aspects of life that we can proud revel in. This book leaves a lot of ideas up for discussion. I like that about this book. Although there are times where the human race is shamed for its actions, I never felt that any one guide was singled out unjustly and I didn’t feel as if Stewart and Co. forced their views onto the listener.

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Book 43 of 2011

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The Borrower (Rebecca Makkai) – Review

The borrower : a novelThe Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Format: Audio CD
Publisher: Highbridge Audio, 2011
10.25 Hours, 8 Discs

Recent college graduate Lucy Halls works as a children’s library for a small town called Hannibal Missouri. Although she dislikes most things about her job, the one element of joy in her life is the spirited ten-year-old borrower, Ian Drake. He is the son of over religious and over-protective parents, and Lucy does her best to funnel books to Ian that his parents would most likely not approve of. One day, when Lucy finds Ian hiding in the library, having run away and spent the night in the building, the two set off on an adventure that takes them through state-lines, past the boundaries of librarian-borrower and changes their lives forever.

I can really only explain my review of this book in bullet points. I did not enjoy this book.

  • Lucy is a children’s librarian. I am a children’s librarian.
  • Lucy believes in the good of books and their abilities to change lives. I believe in books, and have seen them change lives.
  • Lucy is obnoxious, preachy, whiny and self indulgent.
  • Ian is likewise obnoxious, bratty, and very annoying.

That about sums up my feelings for this book. I found it to be much too preachy for my taste. I understand the value of books, but I felt it thumped over my head a million times through Lucy’s self-righteous rants. The only saving grace of this book was the narrator, who added a sympathy to Lucy that would have been lost in print.  

The entire book felt forced. Forced issues of censorship, forced issues of parental failures, forced issues of religious malfeasance. A forced story about a grown woman who can’t put her foot down and take accountability for her actions. It took me over a month to get through the audio book, mostly because I didn’t care to finish it. I didn’t care about the characters, or who Lucy hurt with her selfishness. I would have probably given up on the book. 

I hate to write a negative review like this. I was really excited for this book and the premise. I’m a librarian, this book should have been completely copacetic with me, but it wasn’t. It was too full of issues that should have been toned down.

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Book 40 of 2011
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French Lessons (Ellen Sussman) – Review

French Lessons by Ellen SussmanFrench Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Age: Adult
Genre: Chick-lit
Format: AudioCD – 6 discs Random House Audio, 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 2011

Three French tutors spend a day with their American students, sight-seeing and rediscovering what it means to be in love.

The story is told through the perspective of the three American students, each in France for their own reasons for their despair and frustration with their lives. Josie is the first narrator. She is in France grieving for the loss of her love, the father of one of French class students in the Bay Area. She spends the day with her tutor, Nico, trying to forget the reasons for her sadness. The second narrator, Riley, is a frustrated housewife living in France with her husband and two children. Feeling friendless and alone, Riley is frustrated with all things French, especially her tutor Francois. The third narrator is Jeremy, the husband of a famous American actress filming a movie in Paris. He develops a crush on his tutor, Chantal, and begins to question his love for his wife.

Within each of the three sexually charged narratives, there are questions of happiness, love, romance, home, infidelity, and feelings of belonging. All of these issues are brought up to light through the sexuality and sexual interactions of the characters. All six characters think about sex, love, sex and more sex. Although the stories were well paced, I found Riley’s character to be the most annoying and obnoxious of the set. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but something about this novel felt off.  At times the dialog felt unrealistic, overly floral and descriptive. Kathe Mazur reads the book  and times the French accent sounded more Middle Eastern then French. I think I would have enjoyed the text format of this book over the audio-cd, but there are a number of holds on both formats my library, and the audio-cd had fewer holds.

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Fire in Blood (Irène Némirovsky) – Review

Fire in the bloodFire in Blood by Irène Némirovsky
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Location: France
Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition
ISBN: 978-0739357767
3 CDs
Format: Audio Book

Set in the indiscreet countryside of France, Nemirovsky weaves a tale of infidelity and the bonds of family. The story is narrated by Silvio, an elderly uncle watching the events unfold as tragedy and betrayal engulfs his niece Collette and surrounding neighbors.

The story is very subtle, and parts of it reminded me strongly of Anna Karenina and her dissatisfaction with her life. The story is very slowly paced, so I’m lucky I had the audio book to keep my attention. I don’t think I would have been so lucky or attentive with the print. The characters are very nuanced and Nemirovsky has a great eye for detailing the simple things in life.

The short novel is about a number of things; age v. youth, solitude v. society, passion v. complacency. As the narrator, Silvio is old and jaded. He wasted his youth and now tries to live below the radar of society, minding his own business. His family, is not so lucky. Younger and with more to learn, they experience the pain of love and betrayal in front of Silvio’s eyes. This often lead to many introspective thoughts by Silivio. Those internal monologues I enjoyed the most. I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters other than Silvio. I found then somewhat vapid.

This is my first introduction to Nemirovsky, but will not be the last. Her short life ended tragically in a concentration camp during World World II. As a result, her only other novel Suite Francaise was found in two parts and was carefully pieced together and highly edited. I can only image what great works she would have continued to pen had she lived.

Book 26 of 2011

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