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Monthly Archives: May 2013

2013 Armchair Audies – Summary – Multi-Voiced Performance

the audies

Armchair Audies

I’m squeezing in this post under the wire – since the announcement of the winners for the 2013 Audies awards starts at 8pm EST (so in about 30 minutes from now). But considering I didn’t finish the book I was listening to until 2 hours ago, I’m rather impressed 😉

Originally when I signed up to do the Armchair Audies, I participated in the Romance category, but since I finished that one in mid-April, and still had about 6 weeks to go until the announcement of the winners, I decided to dive head-first into another category – Multi-Voiced Performance. Unfortunately, time ran out and I only managed to get 5 of the 6 books nominated in this category listened to (if I hadn’t caved and listed to that non-nominated romance, I would have made it…oh well).

The nominations for this category are:
Dracula by Bram Stoker

My Awesome-Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

Suddenly, a Knock on the Door: Stories by Etgar Keret

That Is All written by John Hodgman (Un-listened)

Thoughts:
I’m very conflicted over which one of these books I think will win. It wasn’t like the romance category where I had a solid favorite. For me, there are three potentials – Dracula, My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan and The Privilege of the Sword. However, of these, My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan is the only one that I actually have a review posted for right now…and I just finished up Privilege today. And since I didn’t complete the category, I can’t say where, That Is All would have fallen in the scheme of things…so there you have it…I have a couple of potentials but no sure winner…

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Armchair Audies

 

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Review – Flirting With Disaster – Ruthie Knox

flirting with disaster
Flirting With Disaster
Author: Ruthie Knox
Series: #3 in the Camelot series

Review Copy Provided by the Author Via Netgalley

Description:
Fresh out of a fiasco of a marriage, Katie Clark has retreated to her hometown to start over. The new Katie is sophisticated, cavalier, and hell-bent on kicking butt at her job in her brother’s security firm. But on her first assignment—digging up the truth about the stalker threatening a world-famous singer-songwriter—Katie must endure the silent treatment from a stern but sexy partner who doesn’t want her help . . . or her company.

Sean Owens knows that if he opens his mouth around Katie, she’ll instantly remember him as the geeky kid who sat behind her in high school. Silence is golden, but he can’t keep quiet forever, not with Katie stampeding through their investigation. It’s time for Sean to step up and take control of the case, and his decade-old crush. If he can break through Katie’s newfound independence, they just might find they make a perfect team—on the road, on the job, and in bed.

Review:
Move over Molly Harper, there is a new author going on my auto-buy list (or rather, Molly and Ruthie can now share shelf space, since its fairly open up there, I have very few auto-buy authors). She just keeps getting better and better – while I enjoyed Along Came Trouble and gave it a solid 3.5 stars, Flirting with Disaster topped it significantly – it was a 4.5 star read for me.

I loved Katie from when she was introduced in How to Misbehave (albeit briefly) and even more so as her character was developed in Along Came Trouble. I just knew that her story when it was released was going to be a firecracker and man, I wasn’t wrong. And then there was Sean – who doesn’t love the geek who overcame adversities to become the guy he is as an adult. And at the same time, I loved how he wasn’t total macho-man, but that he was still a bit unsure of himself (for reasons that I won’t disclose, because it might be considered to be a bit spoilerific).

I can guarantee (or at least I hope so) that there is at least one scene that will cause the windows to steam up and anything cold to melt into puddles 😉 Everyone seriously needs to run, not walk, to Amazon (or your chosen retailer) on June 10th when it is released and buy it – I don’t think you will be disappointed (but if you don’t, its not my fault – and my disclaimer says so… 😉 )

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Classics Review – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

great gatsbyThe Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Narrator: Jake Gyllenhaal
Run Time: 4hr 52 minutes
Produced By: Audible Inc

Description:
The Great Gatsby is a novel by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Written in 1925, it is often referred to as “The Great American Novel,” and as the quintessential work which captures the mood of the “Jazz Age.”

The novel takes place following the First World War. American society enjoyed prosperity during the “roaring” 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol as mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers.

Why I Chose The Great Gatsby:
So this is one of those books that most American students read in high school, but since I went to school overseas, it was never on a required reading list. But when I was putting together my classics list for the challenge, it seemed like a good book to include – I mean, its on reading lists for a reason right? (I’ve yet to actually figure that reason out, even after listening to it). And since there is a movie remake of it that was just released starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire – I figured it was a good time to listen to it. I have to say though that I was decidedly underwhelmed with it.

Review:
This is one of those books that isn’t long – and the audiobook is only like 5 hours long – but those 5 hours seemed to drag. I just never felt like I was connected with the characters; I couldn’t care about them. I get that it was supposed to highlight the decadency of the 1920’s and the Jazz age – all the parties; the soirees; anti-prohibition etc – but it just didn’t work for me. I honestly about cheered when the climax of the book played out because I knew that I was almost done and that the goal of knocking it off my list was behind me. I find it hard to even write a constructive review of the book because I didn’t struggle with it so much. So this is about it…

Even the narration by Jake Gyllenhal – an actor who I enjoy – didn’t improve on the experience. I found his narration to be a bit lacking in places. The first hour or so was very dull and you could tell that there were some issues with him developing the characters voices – but he did soon settle into a good rhythm and the narration improved – but by then, I just didn’t care…
I do have to wonder why this book is still on high school reading lists – because if I was still in high school, I probably would have rebelled against reading this or just skimmed it enough to BS my way through any class discussions/papers on themes…it wouldn’t be of interest to me. I guess that is why I never took any American Literature courses in college…

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Audiobook Review, classics challenge

 

Review – Pulled – Amy Lichtenhan

PulledPulled
Author: Amy Lichtenhan

Review Copy Provided By Author Via Goodreads

Description:
For nine years, they drift through life, unable to forget the one who holds the strings to their hearts. In an attempt to escape the pain of her past, Melanie finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, while Daniel loses himself in a career that means nothing without Melanie by his side. Now, when their lives intersect, neither can deny the connection they felt so long ago. But will the power that drew them together be enough to heal the wounds from their past, and do they have the courage to overcome the insecurities and fears that threaten to keep them apart? Pulled is a story of attraction and separation, of destiny and duty, of a love so strong it refuses to give up even when all others have.

Review:
It always sucks when you pick up a book by an author you enjoyed before, looking for a good read, and then are underwhelmed and unfortunately, that book was Pulled for me. I had previously read Take This Regret and really enjoyed it – it was the perfect length, not too overdone in the angst, and yet, just angsty enough (yes, that is a bit of a contradiction, but hopefully you know what I mean). So I was looking forward to reading Pulled – but by the end of it, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

I think my major issue was that it was in general too long and needed to be edited down a bit. I felt like the story dragged on. It wasn’t the sharp telling that was in her other books. Now, I know that this is her first book, so that could explain it – it is just the development of her writing style over time. I think this one could stand to be re-worked and edited a bit.

My other issue was with the ages of the characters. For me, everything that had happened in the previous ten years for the characters didn’t ring true. Friends of mine always laugh because I get so involved in the book and stuff like this irked me – but to me it comes down to research. Having a friend who just finished her residency after med school, I know a little bit about how the timing works. And I was supposed to be/set aside my knowledge and take it for granted that in 10 years, the (guys name here) had gone to college (3-4 years), finished med school (4 years), completed an internal medicine residency (3 years), as well as an oncology fellowship (3 years) (info about residencies was taken from the Mayo Clinic website) – all of which would be required for him to be licensed as an oncologist as the story called for…or at least, that it what I am assuming, since he was part of his family medical practice in oncology…at a minimum that time line would be 13 years later, not 10…and from the way it was described, he was decently well established (although, come to think of it, he was never mentioned to actually be seeing patients). With brings me to another gripe – if you are going to give characters a career, then at least make it kind of important to the book. What good is it to have a doctor as a character, if you never actually see that side of him…(rant off).

The book also hit a few hot topics for me and I wish that there had been some warning as to content – when it comes to things like domestic violence and cheating, many readers, especially in a romance, want that warning – so that they know what they are getting themselves in for. Although, I think I am in the minority, because for the most part it seems people have given this 4 and 5 stars, but I’m struggling to come up with a reason that I should give it 3, and I’m leaning strongly towards 2. It’s a pity that this just didn’t work for me, because I do think that A.L. has the potential to become a great author – but I definitely, wouldn’t recommend this book as one to start with, if you are going to read her stuff. It will be interesting to me to see how her other book (Collide) stands up when compared to this one and her other one.

I honestly don’t know if I would recommend Pulled to anyone. I gave it 2 stars, mostly because I finished it and there was a HEA at the end, but other than that…

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Suddenly, A Knock On The Door – Etgar Keret

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suddenly a knockSuddenly, A Knock On The Door
Author: Etgar Keret

Narrated by: Ira Glass, Adam Thirlwell, Dave Eggers, Nicole Krauss, George Saunders, Ben Foster,Mathieu Amalric, Aimee Bender, Miranda July, Ben Marcus, Willem Dafoe, Stanley Tucci, John Sayles, Gary Shteyngart, Robert Wisdom, Stella Schnabel, Michael Chabon, Lorin Stein, Rick Moody, Nathan Englander, Scott Shepherd, David Rakoff, Michael Chernus, Shea Wigham, Josh Charles, Michael Buscemi, Neal Stephenson, Mark Duplass, Shalom Auslander, Todd Hasak-Lowy, Josh Radnor, Ira Glass, Jonathan Safran Foer, Etgar Keret
Run Time: 5 hours and 7 minutes
Producer: Macmillan Audio

Description:
A man barges into a writer’s house and, holding a gun to his head, demands that he tell him a story, something to take him away from the real world. A pathological liar discovers one day that all the lies he tells come true. A young woman finds a zip in her boyfriend’s mouth, and when she opens it he unfolds to reveal a completely different man inside.

Suddenly a Knock on the Door is at once Keret’s most mature and most playful work yet, and establishes him as one of the great international writers of our time.

Review:
I have to say upfront that this book really wasn’t my thing – I would compare it to some of the work by David Sedaris – it takes a (IMHO) a different type of individual to like the short stories put forth – the slices of life (for lack of a better word). Added to that, I think that some of the potency of the stories was lost in translation. In fact, it took me probably a good half of the book to realize that the stories were set in Israel – which kind of changed my opinion of the writing – and it was harder for me to find similarities with some of the stories, because I couldn’t draw on similar experiences. They also seemed really short – since I was listening to the audiobook the vast majority of them didn’t exceed more than about 10 minutes of listening – which is somewhere between 5-15 pages (depending on the speed of the narrator).

My other complaint was actually about the narration. Individually, the narrators were all fine, I don’t really have any complaints – although, I will say that the shortness of the stories, didn’t necessarily allow for them to show their wares when it comes to narration skills – but with each story being as short as it was, and then there being a different narrator for each story – my mind had a hard time processing what was going on. The various narrators weren’t actually described anywhere in the production either – maybe that would have helped me come to terms with the different stories – but I don’t know. Overall, this was a disappointing listening experience – maybe the authors work is better being read than listened…or maybe it would be better with a more limited cast of narrators (rather than the 15-20 that I think it had). I don’t know. All I know, is that I gave it 2.5 stars, and can’t say that I will be in too much of a rush to read/listen to any more of the authors stuff – no matter the accolades he has received.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Classics Retold – Emma

classics retold
A few months ago, I was supposed to participate in a month celebrating the re-tellings of various fairy tales with Project Fairy-Tale. Unfortunately, I managed to choose a really hard one and struck out finding books to read, so I had to withdraw. Luckily for me, the organizers of that are back with another challenge – this time, classics re-tellings. Five different bloggers have gotten together to come up with their fabulous plan for the celebration. Each blogger is responsible for a different time period of classics and for me, Charlene from The Bookish Whimsey is organizing my chosen classics time period – 19th century and gothic classics.

When I was scrolling through the various classics I could chose from, I realized my decision was easy – since there was one book on the list, that is also on my 50 classics in 5 years challenge – Emma by Jane Austen. So I signed up for it. The goal is simple – in the lead-up to and during the month of September, the goal is to read the chosen classic, as well as at least 2 adaptations/re-tellings/spin-offs or sequels – and this could include movies (which since I have never seen the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow – I’m set on at least one choice…

When I started looking for other options, I was surprised how many there actually were – I knew that a lot of re-tellings had been done for Pride and Prejudice, but there are also quite a few for Emma. I’m not exactly sure which ones I am going to read yet (so if you have any ideas, comment below). A few that i’m considering:

Mr Knightley’s Diary – Amanda Grange – from her Jane Austen’s Hero’s series
Jane Fairfax – Joan Aiken
A Visit to Highbury – Joan Austen-Leigh – i’m really hoping I can find this, it is cool that it was written by Austen’s great great niece
The Importance of Being Emma (Darcy & Friends) – Juliet Archer – a contemporary re-telling
Perfect Happiness – Rachel Billington – which picks up a year after Emma finishes
The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma’s Match (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries) – Carrie Bebris – this looks to be a mash-up of P&P and Emma with both couples solving mysteries together…

I’m sure that there are many more out there, and I am looking forward to exploring various websites over the next few months and finding a good range of books to read and review.

Is it September yet?

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Reading Events

 

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Audiobook Review – My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan – Seth Rudetsky

the audies

awful awesome popularity planMy Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan
Author: Seth Rudetsky

Narrated by: Seth Rudetsky, Andrea Burns, Paul Castree, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Gad, Ana Gasteyer, Megan Hilty, Marc Kudisch, Will Swenson, James Wesley
Run Time: 5hr and 15 minutes
Produced By: Audible, Inc

Description:
Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the “in” crowd sits.

Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn’t shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he’s not gay; he’s dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.

But Justin is determined.

In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky’s dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky’s dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck’s bound to find Justin irresistible, right? What could go wrong?

Review:
One thing I have loved about listening to books nominated for the Audie Awards is that it made me find authors that I had never before read and narrators I had never before listened to. And in the case of My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan, I got a double dose – with a new author, plus getting to listen to his narration/interpretation of his characters. I got to also listen to the fabulous narration by Megan Hilty (who stars in my favorite, although now cancelled show, SMASH – boo hoo). I think I spent almost the entire time chuckling at Justin’s antics. He was the epitome of the high school geek. I have to wonder how much of the book was based on the author’s experiences. There seemed to be a sense of realism that doesn’t always appear in books (that, or he never truly left his teenage years…).

To say where the plot put forth by Justin was insane, would be an understatement…I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. It was like listening to a comedy of errors as the school-year progressed. Rudetsky managed to pack nearly a full-year of high school trials and tribulations into a relatively short book (I mean, the audiobook was just over 5 hours long). I enjoyed the various narrators who participated in the book. I thought that the director found the right blend of youthful innocence and snarky humor in their voices. I also appreciated the fact that at the beginning of the book, the various narrators were introduced and the characters that they were portraying was mentioned. This really helped me be able to put a voice to a character rather than all of the various narrators blending together. This, to me, is something that I have discovered to be important in multi-narrator books.

I gave My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan a solid 4 stars and I know that I will be seeking out more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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