Category Archives: Audio book

June Reading Recap

Well, this month I have definitely not been reading books off my bookshelf. Not many at least. I’ve also started incorporating audiobooks during my long commutes to work. The only downfall of listening to audiobooks in my car is that I tend to sit in my car for an extra 15 minutes after I get home waiting for the disc to come to an end so that I can leave the car. I think the books I read this month have been some of my favorites for the year. June was definitely a fantastic reading month since I managed to double my normal reading load. 9 books this month!! That’s almost 2 a week. Yay me!

Books Reviewed

1. Kabul Beauty School : an American woman goes behind the veil

2. 4:50 from Paddington

3. Falling angels

4. Tassy Morgan's bluff : a novel

5. Gilmore girls and the politics of identity : essays on family and feminism in the television series

6. The book of tomorrow : a novel

  1. Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
  2. 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie
  3. Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier
  4. Tassy Morgan’s Bluff by Jim Stinson
  5. Gilmore Girls and the Politics of Identity edited by Ritch Calvin
  6. The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Books read but not reviewed

1. 13 Rue Thérèse : a novel

2. 

3. Fire in the blood

  1. 13 Rue Therese by Elena Mauli Saphiro
  2. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
  3. Fire in Blood by Irène Némirovsky ; translated by Sandra Smith

My top pick of the month:

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The Book of Tomorrow (by Cecila Ahern) – Review

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecila Ahern
Age:Teen – Adult
Genre: fiction / magical realism
Format: Audio CD – Read by Ali Coffey
Harper Collins, 2011
ISBN 31197103871106
7 discs (8 hr., 25 min.)
 

Tamara Goodwin enjoyed living in the lap of luxury until the abrupt suicide of her father. Having lost her friends, house and all her possessions, Tamara and her mom go to live in the country with her aunt Rosalind and Uncle Arthur. One day, when looking through books in the traveling library, Tamara comes across a locked book with no author and no title. Once she manages to break the lock, she finds that the book is actually a diary, written in her hand for the very next day. Using this book that foretells the future as a guide, Tamara somehow pieces together a story bigger than herself, in an attempt to help snap her mother out of her catatonic state.

The book of tomorrow : a novelCecila Ahern is one of my favorite authors. I loved PS I Love You and No Place Like Here. Her works of magical realism are some of my favorites in the market. This book was no exception. I found myself really enjoying it, and listening to the story unravel. I would listen to the CDs in my car during my commute to and from work. Some nights its was hard to leave my car because I would stay until the disc ended just to hear what happened next.

Tamara’s character was incredibly annoying. rude and selfish at first, seriously, who screams in someone’s ear? Her character did grow on me towards the end. With The Book of Tomorrow, Cecilia Ahern did an amazing job of keeping the reader/listener in suspense as Tamara fumbled her way through the story trying to figure out the following:

  1. what was wrong with her mom
  2. how to cope with the loss of her dad
  3. the loss of her former life
  4. how to grow into a different, nicer person
  5.  and most importantly, to figure out just why Rosalind acted so strange and sketchy around her mother.

I found Rosalind’s character to be really fascinating and complex. Although, a bit of her appeal wore off once I found out her back-story. There were some interesting plot twists that I did not expect and some that I did expect, but still enjoyed nonetheless. There characters were well developed and I loved the country-side setting for the plot. Such a serene backdrop for such a tumultuous and two-faced events.

I think this book is aimed more towards the older teens that for adults. Although there is some foul language and talk of sex, there isn’t anything graphic in the text in that regards. I think older teens will sympathize with Tamara in many ways. For not being understood, for acting out and not knowing why, for wanting attention, for wanting love, for trying to solve a mystery on her own with no one believing her story.  

The narrator: 

Ali Coffey is a wonderful narrator. Her young voice is full of the animation, frustration and insensitivity that one would expect from a 16 year old rich girl. She really brought the character of Tamara to life and I think that gave the character more depth that she would have had in written form.

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Review

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Age: 8+

Edward Tulane is a china rabbit doll loved by a little girl named Abilene. On the journey from France to Abilene’s new home in the United States, Edward disappears from Abilene’s life, falling to the depths of the ocean floor. Edward’s journey leads him to new families, new experiences where he learns the meaning of love and loyalty.

This was one of the sweetest books I’ve come across in a long time. Anyone who adored the Velveteen Rabbit will enjoy this quick read. I loved the development and growth of Edward Tulane, as he changed owners throughout the book. Each little child loved him instantly, even though all three lived in completely different environments and circumstances. Some had thoughtful parents, some had cruel parents. Edward learned to love even if the one you love dies, and he learned to love, even if you will never see your friend again. This book incorporates valuable lessons on friendship, appearances, prejudices and more.

The Judith Ivey had a wonderful and even pace with a soft voice that enhances each character Edward comes across. Through accents, and mannerisms, Judith gently reflects how each child fell in love with Edward and how he eventually learned to love back.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by Kate DiCamillo
Read by Judith Ivey
Random House, 2006
ISBN 0307245950
2 discs, 1 hour 56 minutes

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The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane

Boom! – Review

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Boom! by Mark Haddon

Age: Teen

Paranoid by his older sister’s taunts and teasing, Jim and his best friend Charlie spy on the teacher’s meeting one afternoon to see if they are indeed talking about expelling Jim from school. What they discover is a very huge and dangerous secret about two of their teachers, that soon changes their lives and sends the two friends on an adventure that is well…out of this world.

Boom! is a mix of My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. All in all, I found the book to be rather medicore, especially in comparison to Haddon’s other works; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and A Spot of Bother. I went into this book expecting more. The book started off strong but then dwindled during the last half. The characters weren’t very original; an angsty older sister dating a punk, a lazy younger brother with a troublesome best friend). The dialog is full of quips and nods to contemporary pop culture references. This book is written for a much younger audience than his first two books, and is more accessible and relatable for the preteens and teens, although it is quite British, so some of the terminology might be a comprehension barrier.

It is a rather quick read/listen, with only three discs on audio. The narrator was well paced, comical with a variety of tones for the different characters. I would recommend this book for any reluctant boy readers that just want something funny and out of the ordinary to read.

Boom!
by Mark Haddon
Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt
Random House/Listening Library Audio, 2010
ISBN 0739381377
3 discs (3 hours, 46 minutes)

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Catching Fire – Review

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Age: YA

******SPOILERS*******SPOILERS*******SPOILERS*******

In the stunning sequel to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins picks up exactly where the first book ended. Against all odds, as well as against the Capitol’s wishes, Katniss is the victor of the Hunger Games, along with her fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. Although, she should be feeling relieved at having survived the deadly arena, she will soon return to her family and friends and never have to worry about stepping foot in the arena ever again. That was the idea, until President Snow paid Katniss a visit shortly after her return home. Only then did Katniss realize the full extent of her actions in the arena and the rumble she and Peeta unknowingly started throughout the 12 districts in the Capital. Now its up to Katniss to try to quell the anxieties of the districts by proving her love to Peeta beyond a shadow of a doubt, otherwise the consequences will be terrifying.

I couldn’t wait to jump right into Catching Fire, so I grabbed the audiobook because it was the only format available at my library. I did really enjoy this book. It carried the same quick pace as Hunger Games, the same themes of tyranny, censorship and instinctual human behaviors come into play.

I did have a problem with Katniss though. Throughout most of the book, I found her to be more naive than her character was originally set up to be in the first book. I found her fake love for Peeta to be somewhat alarming at how easily she could slip into the lovey-girlfriend role. Her impulses are emotionally driven, and not very accurate most of the time. She is overly suspicious of everyone around her, quick to cast accusations if anyone says or does something she doesn’t like. She and Peeta form a strong bond with their time in the arena, and then again on tour across the districts as the star-cross lovers, the Victors of the Hunger Games. Another thing that didn’t sit well with me is that Catching Fire seemed repetitive. It was a lot like Hunger Games, pretty much the same book, but with a few minor tweaks and twists at the end.

It did end on a powerful, although expected, cliffhanger. I feel fully vested in this series, even though I had higher hopes for Catching Fire. It does serve its purpose as the middle title in any trilogy. It forms the bridge that carries the story from its troublesome beginning, to the most likely violent and dramatic ending.

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Audiobooks
10 discs, 11 hours and 37 minutes

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Remarkable Creatures – Review

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Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Age: YA/Adult

Remarkable Creatures is a historical fiction piece by Tracy Chevalier, best known for her wildly acclaimed Girl with a Pearl Earring. Remarkable Creatures is the story of two female anthropologists in the early 1800s England. Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot were two of the nation’s most valuable resources and finders of fossil specimens that changed the face of scientific and religious study. Because of their social standing and because they were female, they were hardly given the recognition for their work until after their deaths.

Mary Anning came from a struggling, lower class family in continual debt until she one day finds a “monster” embedded in the cliffs of her hometown. Elizabeth Philpot is a “spinster” living with her two other sisters after her brother’s marriage. Although Elizabeth comes from a family of high social standing, she and Mary Anning form a fast and strong friendship in a beach town of Lyme Regis. Eventually, Elizabeth becomes the voice for Mary Anning in a world of  elite men, who by instinctual default, deny women the right to participate in any scientific study or research. This novel is a story of their friendship.

I listened to this work on audio cd, thus confirming my beliefs that I can only listen to audio books when the narrator has an accent. I really enjoyed Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Remarkable Creatures was just as well written and researched if not better. Chevalier has a wonderful way of bringing her characters to life and proving the reader with a pure sense of the time. I loved the way she described the characters as leading with their hands, or eyes, or chins. These are subtle but telling ways of a characters personality and idiosyncrasies.

I did a fair amount of research on Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, as my interest in the two women was further encouraged by this story of their struggle for just basic recognition for their magnificent finds. Neither woman was allowed to partake in any of the scientific discussion or analysis of their fossil finds. Usually their name wasn’t even associated with the piece on display. The book was comedic, serious, compassionate and had a very smooth flow. I like the alternating chapters between Elizabeth’s and Mary’s stories. I loved that the chapters did not overlap, or tell the same story through two perspectives. Instead, where one ended, the other picked up, continuing the story.

This is a great read for fans of history, inspiring women and remarkable creatures of eras long past.

Remarkable Creatures
by Tracy Chevalier
Read by Charlotte Perry and Susan Lyons
Penguin, 2010
ISBN 9780143145301
8 discs, 10 hours

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The Skinnygirl Rules – Review

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The Skinnygirl Rules for Getting and Staying Naturally Thing by Bethenny Frankel

Age: Adult

Bethenny Frankel is best known for her role as the sassy, sharp-tongued friend on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York. She is also known as a contestant on the Martha Stewart Apprentice, author of Naturally Thin, and as a natural foods chef. All of these qualifications lead to this audio cd.

book jacketVia three quick cds, Bethenny discusses ten rules to help the listener become a naturally thin person. Nearly each of the ten rules was an expansion of “eat in moderation.” At times, her advice felt contradicting and repetitive. I was also annoyed that the only type of tempting foods out there are “decadent” foods. Had this been a book, I would gone through and counted how many times Frankel used this adjective.

With each of the ten rules, she threw in a Naturally Thin Thought (ideas on how a thin person would approach a situation), a Heavy Habit (ideas on how a heavy person would approach a situation) and celebrity facts (comments on how certain celebrities handle their food). These parts were interesting, but there was nothing here that I really didn’t know before.

There were some interesting tidbits and ideas that I do want to try. Like ordering a small appetizer and a series of side dishes next time I go out to eat instead of ordering a main entree. I also liked her recipe suggestions of improving upon a basic meal. The CD compilation does come with the added bonus of a 22 page PDF Recipes for the Skinny Girl. Each recipe is personalized with a little suggestion for modifications based on individual taste. The recipes are broken into 10 topics, a set for each of the ten rules discussed on the cd. Bethenny felt more in her element talking about constructing meals than in how to go about eating less of it. I’m holding on to the hope that she will release a cookbook in the near future rather than more how-to-eat books.

The Skinnygirl  Rules: For Getting and Staying Naturally Thin
By Bethenny Frankel
Simon & Schuster, 2009
ISBN 9781442300507
3 CDs – 3 Hours

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The Wedding Girl – Review

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The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

Age: Adult

When Milly Havel was 18 years old and studying in Oxford, she made a single, impulsive move: marrying a gay man so that he could stay in England. 10 years after that fateful summer, Milly is getting ready to start a new life, with a new man. With less than a week before the wedding, the secret Milly kept for so long will finally reappear in her life.

I’m not the biggest fan of chicklit, nor do I have the patience to get through audiobooks. For reason, I picked up the audiocd version of The Wedding Girl (bonafide chicklit), and somehow, I ended up really enjoying the story and the characters. I think something has to be said for the fact that the only audiobooks I have started and completed are those read with a British accent. Why that is? I have no clue. But if you have an accent and you’re narrating a story, chances are I’ll actually finish the book.

I thought the story was clever, and the characters were very enjoyable. Milly’s mother is what I pictured Mrs. Bennett to be like in preparing the weddings for Elizabeth and Jane. Very fussy, very determined to see her children in successful and wealthy marriages. I didn’t really attach myself to any character in particular and for such a light-hearted novel, the author went into some pretty heavy themes. There were discussions about single parenting, homosexuality and religion, deception, family loyalty, and honest and identity. I thought the ending wrapped up much too neatly, but I honestly wasn’t expecting any other ending.

Madeleine Wickham is best known for her novels as Sophie Kinsella, the Shopaholic series. If you like that series, then you’ll enjoy this book too. If you liked the Shopaholic move, but haven’t read the book, then you’ll probably enjoy this title as well.

The Wedding Girl
by Madeleine Wickham
Read by Katherine Kellgren
Macmillan Audiobook, 2009
ISBN 1427207348
8.5 hours on 7 cds

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Fool – Review

Fool by Christopher Moore

Age: 17 years +

Fans of Shakespeare and fans of dry, vulgar and sarcastic wit will appreciate Christopher Moore’s Fool. King Lear’s beloved and truthful fool, Pocket, is the narrator of this tale.

King Lear:

Shakespeare’s story of King Lear in a nutshell: King has 3 daughters, Goneril, Reagan and Cordeila. He is dividing up his realm, and asks his girls to tell him how much they love and adore him. Reagan and Goneril lie to the moon and back and are given generous amounts of land. Corderila truthfully answers her father, in that she loves him as a father; no more-no less. The famous like “Nothing comes from nothing” is taken from this scene. Because Cordeila refuses to lie and flatter her father, she is disowned and the king divides his land between the two older sisters. Cordeilia goes to France, and King divides his time between the two sisters.

There is another substory of Edmund and Edgar and their battle of their father’s realm. Edmund is a bastard child and not the true heir, so he plots to get rid of his brother and become heir to the land.

*Side Note* King Lear is my favorite Shakespeare play, followed by The Templest.

Fool is my first venture into the very popular world of Christopher Moore. Christopher Moore is able to really break about the story of King Lear and develop the characters more fully.  I’m really at a loss for how to describe this book. I listened to it on audio cd, which I think is the best way to enjoy this story. The narrator, Euan Morton does a fantastic job with all the characters. The pacing is just right, the comedic timing in his voice is perfect. I’m typically not one to laugh out loud when reading, even comedies, but Morton’s high pitched voices for the female characters makes it impossible not to. The only other book that had me laughing hysterically was Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

I really recommend this book. And I am intersted in suggestions for other Christopher Moore books you think I might like. I couldn’t get into Lamb, but I’m interested in going through some of his other books.

Use of HarperCollins’ amazing “Browse Inside” feature to get a glimpse of Fool’s beginning chapters here

Fool
by Christopher Moore
Read by Euan Morton
Harper Collins, 2009
7 Cds

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The Mysterious Benedict Society – Review

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Age Group: 4th-9th grade

Reny, Sticky, Kate and Constance are four highly intelligent children that who have been selected to be a part of the Mysterious Benedict Society after taking a series of cryptic tests. The challenge for the group is to infiltrate  the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, a special school located on an island. Their mental and physical strengths are pushed to the limit as they go deep undercover to uncover a most corrupt plot by the headmaster, Mr. Curtain.

I listened to this book on Audiocd, and it was a lot of fun. The four children are smart, funny and each has their own personality. Reny is the automatic leader, the quick thinker. Sticky memorizes everything he reads in an instant, but is shy and fidgety. Kate is a girl who carries around a bucket of tools and has a keen sense of perception when it comes to judging distances. Constance is incredibly short, stubborn and falls asleep a lot. The four of them work together well as they navigate their way through the LIVE and try to uncover the truth. They survive through the infamous waiting room, discover the whisperer and still have to deal with bullies at their school, all the while transmitting their findings in morse code to their partners on the shore.

This book is filled with puzzles and riddles that would make for a fun read for any child. They can test themselves against the characters. There are important themes of loyalty and friendship. This book makes learning and being smart fun because of all the fun ways the kids can use their intellect.

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart
Read by Del Roy
Little, Brown, 2007
Listening Library Audio-cd
11 discs

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