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Learning on the Go

23 Oct

Driving home last week, a few days after my one-on-one lesson on all the features of my new car, I found myself stuck in traffic. This was no bother, I always have an audiobook on the go and I lost myself in the steampunk world of my book, Arabella, the Traitor of Mars by David D. Levine, while I crawled along the Sunset Highway. And then I got distracted.

What would happen if I adjusted my headrest, I wondered as Arabella and Captain Singh led Martians and colonists to independence. I pulled up on the headrest, a device not designed for short drivers like me. Suddenly, the back of my head could fit in the space between the bottom of the headrest and the top of the seatback.

Not ideal, but not as big a problem as Arabella and the Captain were facing. I reached up to push the head rest down, Instead of pushing the headrest back to its original position, my action caused it to tip forward. Now, I was sitting with the headrest perched on top of my head, and, try as I might, I couldn’t get anything to budge.

The traffic crawled along and I knew Arabella wouldn’t be daunted by as small a problem as this. When traffic stopped for a moment, I reached over and grabbed the owner’s manual from the glove compartment. I waited for the next lull to find the right page.

Tilt the head restraint once as far forward as it can go. The head restraint will automatically return to the fully upright position.

I did and it did. Success!

The next part was trickier.

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As I stopped and started through traffic, I tried to find the little button the manual assured me was there. Poke and prod as I might, I couldn’t find that darned button. I continued the drive home with my head nestled in the space between the seat and the headrest.

Once home, I jumped out of the car and could see the button immediately. One push and Presto! the headrest was back to normal and I was happy. I had to wait a few more days to finish the audiobook, in which Arabella returned Mars to a new normal – independence from the British Empire. Arabella and I were both satisfied with that happy ending.

 

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Audiobook Tuesdays

22 May

Books get published on Tuesdays. By that I mean that new books come out on Tuesdays. Don’t ask me why the publishers do this. They just do.

Because publishers publish on Tuesdays, I know that, when I get up Tuesday morning, I will have a message from my local library. You see, I am not an audiophile, I am an audiobookphile. I always have the maximum number of audiobooks on hold – sometimes I even exceed the maximum because I recommend books for purchase. When you recommend a book for purchase, you are automatically placed on its hold list, even if your holds are already maxed!!! Biblioheaven

This morning, when I got up, there were two new, just released audiobooks waiting for me. They are downloading to my iPad as I write. And I already added two books from my wishlist to my holds list, so my holds are maxed again and all is right with the world.

My next recommended book comes out in two weeks.

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In the meantime, I have 19 other holds to think about and several borrowed books to get through. The last month of driving to and from work will be just delightful!

 

Farewell, Kate!

29 Jan

I was a bit under the weather this weekend and I have been madly rereading and fact-checking my Sibert nominees, so I’ve not read a lot that I can post about.  I did learn that one of my favorite audiobook narrators, Katherine Kellgren, passed away earlier this month. She is the sort of narrator that brings a book to life. If she reads it, I would check it out. I would even search the libraries audiobooks using her name as my search term!

Her are some of my favorites, narrated by Katherine.

First, she narrated all twelve books in the Bloody Jack series, by L. A. Meyer.

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She narrated two very funny books  My Lady Jane, for teens, and Ms. Rapscott’s Girls for elementary-aged readers.

She also read a number of picture books and adult fiction, from adventure and mystery to romance.

The next time you are looking for a great audiobook, see what you can find that is read by Katherine Kellgren.

 

A fictional place I’d love to go

11 Sep

Yesterday afternoon, I received this message from my sister:

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We had a brief conversation about how much we both loved it. I read the print book and she listened to the audiobook and I think I might give it a listen because I love the book and because of the Australian accents and excellent narration.

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Author’s Summary: Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries

This is a love story.

It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets, to words.

It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.

Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal. She’s looking for the future in the books people love, and the words that they leave behind.

We read this for my book club and we all loved the book…and the book shop. I’d love to go there.

Whether you read the print version or listen to the audiobook, you will love Words in Deep Blue.

Not everyone’s cup of tea

23 Aug

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You are either going to love or hate The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I loved it.

When I first started listening to the audiobook, I did not really like Monty in the first chapter. He seemed an arrogant and entitled dissolute young man. But there is a reason the title has vice before virtue. As the story unfolds, we see Monty’s transformation as he learns to look beyond himself and see the needs and experiences of others. And I grew to love him. I also loved the humor. The summary below uses the word “romp” and that is the perfect word for the grand tour and Monty, Percy, and Felicity reel from place to place and misadventure to misadventure.

Although she was a secondary character, I loved Felicity. She is getting her own book next year. According to Goodreads, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is “narrated by Felicity and featuring travel, pirates, and a science girl gang”.

Christian Coulson’s narration is fabulous. The novel is written in the first person and Coulson captures Percy’s arrogance perfectly in addition to his confusion and transformation.

There is sexual activity and language, so this is a book for mature readers.

Publisher’s Summary:  A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Dancing Around Yggdrasil

24 Apr

In case you don’t know, Yggdrasil is the ash tree that lies at the center of the Norse conception of the cosmos. It is also a pattern for a blanket  I’d like to knit some day.

It would be the perfect blanket to snuggle under while you immersed yourself in Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology.

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Publisher’s Summary: Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

I listened to the  audiobook, narrated by the author. I love that fact that Neil Gaiman is the best reader of his own books and deigns to read them for us.

Before I began, I wondered how much  license Gaiman would take with the traditional tales, but I need not have worried. He retells the tales the way a long ago skald might have done it. He tells the tale in his own style, but sticks very close to his source material.

If you know any kids reading Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, this would be an excellent source to understand all the deities, creatures and characters Magnus encounters in his adventures.

Until we meet again

20 Apr

My great Harry Potter reread (via audiobooks) is over.

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I listened to all seven books in the car, mostly during my commute to school. Here are the stats:

  • 69 discs
  • 119 hours
  • approximately 828 miles

As I live in the US, all the discs were narrated by Jim Dale, who I think does a magnificent job.

Although I have reached the end of the series, I am sure this is not goodbye, just until we meet again. I will watch the movies again, and I will remark on the many bits that have been left out or streamlined for the sake of the movie’s length. I am certain I will read the series again, either in print or as audiobooks. I must admit, though I am curious to hear the Stephen Fry audiobooks that are available in the UK.

You can compare the two voices here.

My new audiobook mission is to revisit some classic science fiction during my commute: Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, and other authors of that ilk to see which ones I can add to my classroom library. I’ll keep you posted

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