I was not a huge Carrie Fisher or Star Wars fan, in fact I only just watched Star Wars for the first time the year Episode VII came out. I didn't evenI was not a huge Carrie Fisher or Star Wars fan, in fact I only just watched Star Wars for the first time the year Episode VII came out. I didn't even know that Debbie Reynolds was her mother until she passed away.
That said, I think Carrie is an excellent memoirist. She is direct and honest and very much herself, and in audio, it's fantastic. Carrie came across her diaries from the early Star Wars days, where she was the "typical" late teens early 20s angsty idealistic woman. She was very honest about her feelings, wrote awful poetry (think Mortified podcast), and all of it is relatable. Her daughter reads the excerpts from her diaries at the time and Carrie reads the rest. I listened to the entire thing in two days, just found all the extra spaces in my day and found reasons to listen.
I received a copy of the audiobook from the publisher through their Volumes app, but I would have spent a credit on it in Audible if I hadn't had this one....more
This is a short audiobook that my husband and I listened to in the course of one morning - it is basically a studio recording of a one-woman show thatThis is a short audiobook that my husband and I listened to in the course of one morning - it is basically a studio recording of a one-woman show that Carrie Fisher did for a while. It is about her life, looking back after electro-shock therapy had discarded some of her memories (terrifying to realize they are still using this treatment!!). She is so funny in how she talks about her father's dalliances and her mother's lifestyle. I do wish the audio engineer had her re-record a few of the parts where she is shouting, but I get it, she has a loud voice. I didn't know all that much about Carrie Fisher but enjoyed this just the same, perhaps more with all the surprises I experienced in not knowing!
(If you have Hoopla, it's available there.)...more
I'm a pretty solid fan of Gilmore Girls, but have previously felt disappointed in realizing that neither Lauren Graham nor Alexis Bledel are the charaI'm a pretty solid fan of Gilmore Girls, but have previously felt disappointed in realizing that neither Lauren Graham nor Alexis Bledel are the characters they play in that show. Not quite as intelligent, and definitely not as well-read. I know, Gilmore Girls is a rapid-talking idealized landscape, but one I think I prefer to escape to without the grounding in reality.
So I was uncertain as to whether I would want to listen to this memoir, but having just watched the four "Year in the Life" episodes of the Gilmore Girls reboot, the time seemed right. And the publisher knows that too. I got a review copy myself, but they released it right after everyone would have been talking about the show and having all sorts of nostalgia and desire for more.
It's just too bad that the book wasn't more interesting. I mean, it was fine, but rarely scratched more than the surface. We get the elevator pitch view of Lauren's upbringing and more commentary on fashion and hair for her television shows than any actual insight into how she thought and felt while they were going on. If you are looking for slightly fluffy renditions of these shows and years, the same kind of information you would get from late night talk shows only longer, and if Gilmore Girls can never be enough and can never do no wrong, this is definitely the audiobook for you. If you're going into it looking for a well-written in-depth memoir, this just isn't that.
And definitely don't read or listen to it until after watching all seven eight seasons of Gilmore Girls, because there will definitely be spoilers.
Thanks to the publisher for letting me listen!...more
This audiobook has been playing in the background of my last few days, from shopping for Thanksgiving to doing puzzles on my iPad. The narrator, MoiraThis audiobook has been playing in the background of my last few days, from shopping for Thanksgiving to doing puzzles on my iPad. The narrator, Moira Quirk, is fantastic, and that is probably the only reason I bothered with this one. I stopped halfway through the Parasol Protectorate series because it started to feel repetitive, and this series was just as repetitive, I just cared more about Sophronia and Soap than the characters in the P-squared. But really, I feel the author could have (and should have) consolidated the story into 2-3 books. It definitely didn't need all of them. And because there are four, there is so little new here, so little to surprise, just different combinations of elements previously introduced. I understand that for people who are super fans, these long series books are how they live longer in the universe. For a lesser fan, someone who just wants to know what happens in the end, it's a bit tedious.
Still, it was an enjoyable listen while assembling the pumpkin tiramisu. I think the universe of this novel would approve.
I read the Steinbeck trifecta in junior high and highschool - The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath. Since that time, graduating 20 yI read the Steinbeck trifecta in junior high and highschool - The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath. Since that time, graduating 20 years ago, I have not read Steinbeck again. I bought this book to read on a train trip I had planned in California, since I knew that Steinbeck's father was a train man and that he grew up in California. Since that trip was cancelled the book has lingered on my shelf at home, long enough for me to forget I had it. So when the audio version of the book came up on a BOGO sale in Audible, narrated by Gary Sinise, I bought it without checking. Ah well, the audio was great. The book will be nice to refer back to. Win/win.
Steinbeck reminds me of Orwell in his non-fiction writing. Talking to individuals and writing about their experiences, focusing on people in rural areas living their everyday lives. He is traveling the country with his dog Charley in 1960, from Maine to Wisconsin to Oregon to California to Texas to the south. The world is getting ready to change and there is this feeling of the "last times" of whatever we can call the years before the president and MLK Jr are assassinated, before the Civil Rights Movement. The chapters in the south are particularly insightful and painful to read.
A few broad comments on travel that I liked:
"I felt at last that my journey had started; I think I hadn't really believed in it before."
"We know so little of our own geography." (Maine)
"It is possible, even probable, to be told a truth about a place, to accept it, to know it, and at the same time, to not know anything about it... Why then was I unprepared for the beauty of this region?" (Wisconsin)
"For all of our enormous geographic range, for all of our sectionalism... we are a nation."
I need to read more Steinbeck. Between his literature classics everyone studies in school and his non-fiction works like this one, he wrote several novels that I have never read. The main one I think of is East of Eden, which I also have bought and left on a shelf. I used to think I disliked him, but what I disliked as a child are traits that make me appreciate him now. His descriptiveness, his straightforward nature, his tone. I was jarred by it at age 12. I didn't realize that was a sign of growth. ...more
Somehow I listened to this entire audiobook in two days. I felt burned by politics and somehow in my head this translated to - more politics! I thoughSomehow I listened to this entire audiobook in two days. I felt burned by politics and somehow in my head this translated to - more politics! I thought reading about assassinations might be... refreshing.
Enter Sarah Vowell with her strange voice, and a host of stories of informational plaques that she visited around the country, and other monuments to assassination attempts. There is a lot on Lincoln, but I still learned some tidbits. Did you know it is likely President Lincoln was laughing when he was shot?
The last chapter had an interesting intersection with other books I've read, such as The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses, because it focused in on Emma Goldman, the delightful anarchist who was greatly feared in her time. Not a president, but definitely political, and assassination attempts going both ways.
This is well researched, she makes obscurity interesting, and it was a nice diversion from the present day.
My only disappointment with the audiobook is that the cover makes it seem like the other voices will have prominent roles, but they are only very occasionally brought in to read a quotation. I would have loved to hear less Vowell and more Conan O'Brien, Stephen King, and Jon Stewart. That said her voice is definitely distinct. ...more
I finished this while driving through dreary fall weather in Massachusetts, so mood achieved!
When I first started listening to Bird Box, I was wary oI finished this while driving through dreary fall weather in Massachusetts, so mood achieved!
When I first started listening to Bird Box, I was wary of the pregnancy storyline. It didn't dominate the storyline but definitely was the driving force for some of the events.
The way the story is told felt disconnected where I think the author felt it was building tension. This technique of alternating between the past and present is okay but in this case, I was missing a major part of the story that I was interested in, and I still don't understand what happened in those four years, not really.
There are a few memorable horrifying scenes in this book, one psychological and one physical, scenes that I would not be able to get through on film (I notoriously never watch scary stuff, I get nightmares.) This is a positive comment about the effectiveness of the text. I just think the author is more successful on particular scenes than in connecting the pieces....more
I think I would recommend first watching this video to get a sense of who the Ngarrindjeri people are. They are the original people living in the regiI think I would recommend first watching this video to get a sense of who the Ngarrindjeri people are. They are the original people living in the region of South Australia, inhabiting the Coorong and surrounding areas, full of salt marshes and water systems. This novel takes place as settlers are moving in, claiming lands and pushing the Ngarrindjeri people farther inland. The Finch family struggles for survival in their isolated setting, with failing livestock and rotting cheese. Not many of the humans make it through either. Mr. Finch is more openminded than many of the other white men in the area, encouraging his children to treat the native population as human and valued by God, but then he is tested in his beliefs.
This is a similar story to Little House or My Antonia that are set in the American midwest, but in a different country. I did not know much about the settling of Australia past the use of it as a prison, so I felt like I learned a lot. And the setting, in South Australia where even now this region is pretty sparsely populated, was definitely an interesting one. There are 40 nations along the waterways of Australia that have had land taken away, and this mismanagement continues to be a political issue in Australia.
This is a solid read, but I would recommend the print over the audio for American readers. While the narrator does not have a noticeable Australian accent (I'd call it "British" but not regional in any way), she pronounces "peninsula" as "pen-IN-chew-la." I understand this to be an Australian pronunciation, which is fine, but since it gets mentioned so often, it got a bit grating (and no other words are noticeably Australian in their use.) And her voicing of the native population is just the wrong nationality. You can hear how the Ngarrindjeri speak English at the video I link above, but the narrator makes them sound Punjabi. ...more
I thought this was a fun read that is a good reflection of why I join groups like the Sword and Laser. I never would have read it otherwise. I found iI thought this was a fun read that is a good reflection of why I join groups like the Sword and Laser. I never would have read it otherwise. I found it to be very readable, and I pictured all the little short stories as game episodes and that made it go very quickly. The monsters from eastern European mythology/folklore made it fun, although most of what I Googled took me to the wiki for The Witcher, so they must be pretty scarce elsewhere in literature.
This was a relatively quick listen. I've grown accustomed to thrillers alternating between what happened "then" and "now," saving the great reveal ofThis was a relatively quick listen. I've grown accustomed to thrillers alternating between what happened "then" and "now," saving the great reveal of the central major event for the ending. This novel does that old trick. But somehow by making the narrator of the past one character and the narrator of present another, I was more in the dark about what the reveal would be. Good choice, I think.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an early copy of the audio....more
A quick listen, what I thought was a romance but kind of morphs into more of a "television for women" kind of story. Which is great if that's what youA quick listen, what I thought was a romance but kind of morphs into more of a "television for women" kind of story. Which is great if that's what you're looking for. I wanted something mindless to have in my ears while I worked on a tedious web project so it worked well for that. The characters at one point eat sugar sandwiches, and that's a pretty good metaphor.
Thanks to the publisher for providing early access to the audio....more
This novel won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction this year (2016,) the only title from the list I hadn't been able to get my hands on (it figures!This novel won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction this year (2016,) the only title from the list I hadn't been able to get my hands on (it figures!) This is the story of a very modern Ireland, with drug dealers and prostitutes. But in the context of post-Catholic, or maybe just over-Catholic Ireland, there is interesting commentary throughout on the effect of grouping some people into a "sinner" group, where they have to give up their children or go to jail or leave their community. And how those kinds of instances can veer someone off of a path and into a life where they are surviving in any way they can. It was gritty but most of the characters seemed pretty nuanced, and memorable. The story jumps around in time a bit, which was a little bit of a struggle to follow in the audio, but it does give them a chance to show where their early decisions put them in the end.
Shelley Atkinson does a good job in the reading, although since half the characters are male, I was left wishing for a bit more depth in their voices. Not really possible with a female reader! The Irish accent was present but not in the way.
So would I have given this the Baileys Women's Prize? I definitely think it belongs in the top three for me, alongside A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Interestingly all three deal with trauma, and two are very heaped in realism. If this is the trend for "women's" fiction, bring it on.
I received an early copy of this from Random House Audio in exchange for an honest review....more
I listened to this in only a few days thanks to a long drive I had to make. But I was disappointed in it in the end. Quantum mechanics is endlessly faI listened to this in only a few days thanks to a long drive I had to make. But I was disappointed in it in the end. Quantum mechanics is endlessly fascinating (also endlessly unfascinating, that's a quantum theory joke for you, har har.) But I did not find anything in this novel that I hadn't heard before. I wonder if this is yet another instance of an author not ever reading science fiction and thinking they are doing something new. If you don't read science fiction and are just looking for a thriller, you might enjoy it more. If you like it, there's a lot more where this comes from. It's only something science fiction writers have been using as a central theme for 70 years+.
And now a few comments on specific events.(view spoiler)[ I definitely saw the major "twists" coming, both that it was a version of himself that kidnapped him (from the moment he knew his password) to the endless versions. I actually thought the ending was weak. I would have made it so a different version of the guy runs off to the multiverse with his wife, and the big reveal could have been that the narrator was faulty all along, either unaware or in denial or a psychopath, because he wasn't the original.... but of course it all depends, is there really an original when we're talking about the superposition? (hide spoiler)]
So that's why I was disappointed, the lack of new ground and the decisions the author made within it.
I received a review copy of the audio from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
This series is just a lot of fun, and even better in audio, performed by Moira Quirk. She handles the silly names and bizarre situations with the formThis series is just a lot of fun, and even better in audio, performed by Moira Quirk. She handles the silly names and bizarre situations with the formality required for any proper lady. I was reminded of this series and the rest of Gail Carriger's series that I've started and not finished when I talked to Rose Davis on the Reading Envy Podcast - she had just listened to the first book of the newest series, Prudence, and when I knew I was going to spend half the day in the car driving to and from a workshop, I downloaded this immediately.
The Finishing School series (where eligible women are learning how to properly finish a person, as in end their life!) takes place almost entirely on a giant school shaped dirigible, and all the chapters are named after tests since Sophronia is going through her first major evaluation. There is a situation bringing the men's mad scientist school into their vicinity, and as you can imagine, fun hijinks ensue.
Because my current bedside read is a book in another Carriger series (Changeless), it was most interesting to realize that there are some characters that crossover, despite the fact that the finishing school books take place 15 years ahead of the Parasol Protectorate....more
I can't believe I read BOTH Sword & Laser picks this month, and this one I listened to. I wish I had read the print, only because the narrator hasI can't believe I read BOTH Sword & Laser picks this month, and this one I listened to. I wish I had read the print, only because the narrator has that particular British storytelling voice that makes me want to nap immediately - a snowy day, roaring fire, cozy blanket voice. I had a hard time focusing on the story itself. This to me is somehow connected to my ideas that I don't particularly care for fantasy, and I think the rating reflects that too - an okay book, just not really my thing. Somewhat interesting premise but obvious that good will prevail, that the two characters once introduced will meet, etc. ...more
As we were heading off on vacation, my husband asked me to "pick" an audiobook to listen to. I decided to find a spy novel since some of the televisioAs we were heading off on vacation, my husband asked me to "pick" an audiobook to listen to. I decided to find a spy novel since some of the television we will both watch has to do with spies. I knew of Olen Steinhauer after my book club read The Cairo Affair, and so I picked the shortest of his novels that hadn't been already turned into a film.
This takes place almost entirely in a restaurant during a conversation two former lovers are having about a 2006 terrorist situation in the Vienna airport, with generous amounts of flashbacks to fill in parts of the story. Some elements kept us guessing while some were given away by the author from the beginning (I would almost say don't read the little prelude as it ruined one of the plot points for us.)
What Steinhauer does so well in all his books is visible here - the major event in the novel isn't real, but many of the other situations mentioned as well as people are real, so it feels like a very realistic storyline.
This was the first time I listened to an audiobook with another person and I was itching to turn it up a bit (in speed) but I survived!...more
Confession #1: I was too embarrassed to post this book cover to Instagram/Twitter as a book I was currently reading. I don't believe in censorship butConfession #1: I was too embarrassed to post this book cover to Instagram/Twitter as a book I was currently reading. I don't believe in censorship but I also wasn't sure I believed in associating this book with my reading. Ha.
The cover is steamy; the book is not so much at first, dithering around the subjects of single parenting, childhood type 1 diabetes, and IKEA, and suddenly the storyline matches the cover. This happened to me as I was walking across campus to my office, earbuds in, feeling slightly puritanical and mortified should anyone know what I was hearing.
So what do we think of audiobook versions of romance novels? Heh. I suppose if you are looking for an immersive experience, this might be what you are looking for.
In this case there are two narrators, some chapters come from the perspective of Nicola (the aforementioned single mother) and others come from the perspective of Bram (the Scottish highlander who happens to live in the United States but hasn't lost a bit of his brogue, I mean, you know, it's a romance novel, what can you do.... he's also the reformed playboy that is surely the man of your dreams, so the main character keeps telling us.) But because of the weird combination between how the book is written and how the audiobook narration goes, with dialogue passages in both perspectives, if you listen you end up with two versions of each character. The male narrator, Antony Ferguson, has a very good Scottish brogue and has Nicola with a slightly Southern twang, but not always. The female narrator, Nicole Poole, has a much better overall narrator voice with a more believable American accent for Nicola but a confusing one for Bram. And the most annoying screeching child voice ever (but you can't blame her; it's written this way.) I think if I were in charge of audiobook production, I would have had the two narrators consistently read the dialogue of their primary characters.
Confession #2: I'm actually descended from the McGregors. Bram, the love interest, is a McGregor and I now know everything (draw out ev-er-y-thing) about him. That is a bit awkward. (But my original thought process was "if it's McGregor it's got to be highland Scottish accent" and I wasn't wrong.)
If you are really into recently immigrated Scottish brothers who are wealthy and well-endowed, there are three books in this romance trilogy. This is actually book 2 but while there are references to the other storylines they seem to be able to be self-contained (rather than building on one another.) I only ended up with this one because Audible was trying to get me to spend my credits and had a bunch of "second books in series" on sale for 2-for-1. I snapped this up and the 2nd Expanse novel by James S.A. Corey. I listened to this one first because I'm supposed to be on this romance reading project and had not done a lot of audiobooks. I think I can now say I have had enough romance audiobooks, probably for life.
My rating of three stars is probably low if you like romance. But for my particular enjoyment, I would say three stars is spot on. This review contains no animated heart gifs, no model headshots that I envision in the main characters, and no exclamation points... I am definitely not the intended audience, although I may never see IKEA the same way again....more
I have been a big fan of Lindy West for a few years now. I use one of her stories from Back Fence PDX when I teach Storytelling, as a jump off point tI have been a big fan of Lindy West for a few years now. I use one of her stories from Back Fence PDX when I teach Storytelling, as a jump off point to encourage students to tell about a time they overcame adversity. When I heard she was coming out with a book, I was excited, and knew I'd want it in audio. This was no mistake! This was the book I needed even though I didn't know I needed it!
Lindy covers fat shaming, feminism, abortion, marriage, and internet trolls - if you know her work at all none of these topics should be a surprise. She continues to fearlessly write for the internet despite horrific trolling experiences, and perhaps, she and I like to think, she has had a hand in changing the culture from being permissive about online harassment. One can only hope.
I think there are two audiences for this book - people who already agree with everything Lindy West writes about, and the people who started to dismiss this review the minute I used the phrase "fat shaming." Lindy delves deep into her own life and shares her experiences, and I hope this can produce empathy in some readers. She is braver than I am.
"I don't want the people who love me to avoid the reality of my body. I don't want them to feel uncomfortable with its size and shape, to tacitly endorse the idea that fat is shameful, to pretend that I'm something that I'm not, in deference to a system that hates me."
"Please don't forget - I am my body. When my body gets smaller, it's still me. When my body gets bigger, it's still me. There's not a thin woman inside me awaiting excavation; I am one piece."
"It's the little things that make you want to kill someone."
I listened to You just a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it (not sure what that says"It's the little things that make you want to kill someone."
I listened to You just a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it (not sure what that says about me considering the content) and jumped on the chance to listen to this copy from Simon & Schuster Audio (thanks!). First of all I have to say that Santino Fontana is a great audiobook narrator, and he is perfect for the character of Joe Goldberg. I hope he does more audiobook projects in the future. (In Audible at least, he looks to be part of several audiobooks with multiple narrators, and I'm tempted to check them out just for him!)
The rest of this review may be considered a spoiler for You, so I will put it behind a click. (view spoiler)[On the heels of four murders and one huge DNA-riddled mistake, Joe is uneasily resettling into his life in New York. He hires a new person in the bookstore, remember the girl who paid with a stolen credit card? They are in LOVE. It is EVERYTHING. Until she screws him over and he ends up following her to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is an insult to the senses for a true New Yorker. Everyone is self-absorbed, but in some ways this makes it easier to get away with being a psycho stalker, so it kind of works out for Joe in the end. Of course he can't get through life without getting his hands dirty, but just like the rest of us, all he really wants is Love. (hide spoiler)]
While not as shocking or new as the first book, because even murder can become mundane, I still thought this was an engaging listen. I may have done a spring cleaning project just to have more time to listen on the weekend.
And hey, while you're here, you might want to check out Episode 054 of the Reading Envy Podcast, where I talk about the first book. ...more
I picked up this audiobook during one of Audible's bogo sales. It is a decent thriller about a bachelor party gone wrong, with some commentary thrownI picked up this audiobook during one of Audible's bogo sales. It is a decent thriller about a bachelor party gone wrong, with some commentary thrown in about sex slaves in America. The two narrators help breathe voice into the two sides of the story, but since half the story is told from the male party host I think I would have hired one male and one female narrator. Three stars because I didn't find it to be very exciting after the initial event and some of the story threads never resolved, making the ending feel abrupt....more
(Any quotations were transcribed by me from the audio so it is possible there are inaccuracies.)
I read this not long after reading Being Mortal: Medic(Any quotations were transcribed by me from the audio so it is possible there are inaccuracies.)
I read this not long after reading Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, and that is the order I would recommend reading the two books. I do think they pair nicely together. Both are written by surgeons! Atul Gawande has had a long career in which he has had to learn about working with patients, and has some informed views on death and dying. Paul Kalanithi was still completing his residency in neurosurgery when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and is able to speak from dual perspectives of surgeon and patient.
I enjoyed reading Kalanithi because he is just so intelligent. He has received degrees in English and biology/medicine, even both at the graduate level, because he was trying to find the best way to explore the idea of what makes us think, how do the mind and brain connect, and what does that mean for our humanity? He is deep and his education has been an intense one. At times it felt a bit name-dropping but I suppose his humanity is also being a surgeon (traditionally a healthy slice of ego there) - I imagine if he had lived to see the finishing of this book and worked with an editor, they may have talked him out of a few mentions of schools or feeling the need to explain something along the line of "nobody else was smart enough to do this but I was." Overall this isn't even a complaint, this is his personality, and it is coupled with a serious desire to understand and contribute.
Here are a few examples that resonated with me: "There is a moment - a cusp - when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment." "After so many years of living with death, I'd come to understand that the easiest death was not necessarily the best.... We decided to have a child. We would carry on living, instead of dying." "I needed words to go forward. And so it was literature that brought me back to life...." "Even if I'm dying, until I actually die, I am still living."
The end includes an epilogue by his wife, and while I can appreciate her desire to restate why he was a significant person, I found it unnecessary. The work, the thinking, stands for itself. And even with a parent with very serious illness (nobody is using the word terminal except sarcoma always is), I found this book uplifting in the sense that there is an understanding about the inevitability of death here. For some reason that is soothing to me....more
I really love Carriger books of any variety in audio, and they are my go-to companions for long drives. This book really carries the story forward - fI really love Carriger books of any variety in audio, and they are my go-to companions for long drives. This book really carries the story forward - for the most part it takes place outside of the "finishing school" and moves the lives of the characters closer to adulthood. Career decisions are made, alliances are defined, and romantic entanglements intensify. Very fun. ...more