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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

True Confessions of a Non-Monogamous Reader

28 Feb

I am a non-monogamous reader.

Yes, I have book passions and author crushes, some lasting many years, but I read polygamously on a daily basis.

Of course, I have a book on the go at home. I have giant piles  of TBRs to choose from. The truth is though, that sometimes, while I am reading my chapter book, I will take a break and dip into a picture book. Or poetry.

I also have a book that I read at school while the kids have their silent reading period. This is a different chapter book and usually one that I’d like to put in my classroom library. I will also confess that I sometimes let our silent reading go on a little longer than planned because I want to keep reading.

I always have audiobook in the car. I mostly drive alone so this is an ideal place to enjoy an audiobook. Like singing in the shower, listening to an audiobook benefits from the confined space.

I usually also have an audiobook on the go at home, too. Since my two great passions, knitting and reading, are hard to do at the same time, audiobooks solve the problem.

People who know my predilection often ask me how I keep all the plots straight. I simply reply by asking them how they keep track of all the TV shows they watch. I also explain that I usually try to have very different sorts of books on the go at the same time.

In spite of all that reading, my TBR pile never seems to get any smaller, but I am very OK with that.

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Books to kick off 2017

1 Jan

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I mentioned a while back that I was a Round 2 Audiobook judge for the Cybils awards. Well, round 2 starts today. The finalists have been announced and now I have to start listening to these books. I’ve never judged audiobooks before and we will use different criteria from what I have used before on other panels. The books I will be listening to over the next few weeks are below. You can see the full list of finalists on the Cybils’ Blog.

2016 Finalists: Audiobooks

Out of Abaton, Book 1: The Wooden Boy by John Claude Bemis

Oasis Audio

This surprising and original retelling of Pinocchio takes place in a magical steampunk version of 15th century Italy. The title character is an “automa,” a wooden robot powered by alchemy. He seeks to be reunited with Geppetto & the musical cricket Maestro as they all race to save Prestor John, ruler of the Magical Kingdom of Abaton, from the wicked Doge of Venice. Pinocchio’s discoveries about family, friendship, and free will are deftly woven in with episodes of high adventure. The audiobook is truly a movie for your mind, with a full sound track that includes music and sound effects.

Raymie Nightingale  by Kate DiCamillo                                                                         Listening Library

Raymie Nightingale has one goal, to win the 1975 Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Her father left town with the local dental hygienist and Raymie’s plan is for him to read about her win in the paper and to come home to her. While preparing for the competition, she befriends Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski as they all take baton twirling lessons from Ida Nee, the town expert. The Three Rancheros, as they call themselves, help each other to solve the problems they are facing. While Raymie wants to win back her father, Beverly is determined to sabotage the pageant and Louisiana hopes to get her cat Archie back. These underlying motivations lead to some unlikely and amusing adventures for the quirky friends.

Lamia effectively conveys the emotions and personality of three distinctly different characters; single-minded, yet sensitive Raymie, ethereal and swooning Louisiana, and the tough and ardent Beverly. Lamia’s expert storytelling brings this this poignant tale of love and loss to life.

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The Best Man  by Richard Peck                                                                                                                          Listening Library

A classic Peck tale, this is the story of Archer and his grandfather, uncle, and teacher. Told through his years as a fourth, fifth, and sixth grade student, we see the influence these individuals and others have had on his life during this bildungsroman story. Crouch strikes a balance between Archer aging through the grades, bring a sense of wisdom to the grandfather, and a general relatability to all the characters portrayed. Balancing both humor and touching moments, this audiobook is a fit for families and middle graders alike.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or the Three magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz           Listening Library

On a dark night in 1242, a group of travelers gathers in an inn in France to exchange stories of three remarkable children: Jacob, Jeanne, and William. With flavors of The Canterbury Tales, each tale teller adds a unique slant to the collection, slowly building on each others’ version to build a complete picture. This is a book that’s perfectly done as a full cast production, as each narrator gives a spin to their section that makes the characters come to life. With plenty of topics that middle grade readers will relate to today, this is a historical book with just the right amount of humor and magical realism to give it a wide audience appeal.

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin                                                                                         Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Traditional Chinese tales are interwoven with an adventure story in this book that follows the pattern of Lin’s award-winning books Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky. There are some characters in common with the earlier two books, but readers stepping in for the first time won’t feel out of place. Young Pinmei has grown up with her grandmother, the Storyteller, on a remote mountain. But one year when the winter has gone on far longer than it should, her grandmother is kidnapped by a threatening stranger Pinmei can tell is only disguised as a common soldier. She and Yishan, the boy who lives alone up the mountain, set out to rescue her. Kim Mai Guest’s narration portrays Pinmei’s journey to confidence, as well as the full cast of characters. The audio format highlights the interconnected details and the poetic language in this book that’s destined to be a classic.

Cybils 2016

23 Sep

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A few weeks ago, the message came that applications were open for Cybils judges. I debated. Should I or shouldn’t I?  For the last 2 years, I served as a Round 2 judge for YA non-fiction.Round 1 judges narrow down nominations to 5-9 top titles. Round two judges select the best of the shortlist.

I knew I didn’t have the time to be a Round 1 judge. Book nominations open October 1 and close on the 15th. You’d be amazed how many books get nominated in that short time.  Round 1 readers start reading right away and have to have a shortlist by the end of December. Round 2 judges get started after that. We have to read all the titles on the short list and debate their merits, coming up with a decision that can be announced on February 14th.

Except this year, I won’t be reading; I’ll be listening. A few new categories were added this year. One of them was audiobooks and that is the category to which I applied and was selected to be a Round 2 judge.  I wanted to try something new and I have really upped my audiobook consumption this year. When you apply, you can apply to up to three categories. Regardless of the category, you have to attach a link to a blog post that shows your ability to review that category.

I am excited to be a judge again this year and excited to stretch myself and take on a new challenge.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Book VS Movie

29 Jul

We had to turn in our laptops in June. They will be replaced in late August when we go back. Although I miss having a second computer at home for the summer, I will mostly miss it for the sticker I had on the front, which was given to me by a former colleague.

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I recently finished listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 

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It took a little longer than I’d planned because I was listening in the car and I am not driving as much these days. It was great fun reconnecting with the Hogwarts gang and I noticed more humor in the books than I remembered. I also noticed more omissions in the movie adaptation. As I listened, I could visualize the movie in my head, which is why certain missing bits stood out.

The book opens on Harry’s birthday, while the movie begins with Dobby and  the imminent dinner party with the Masons. When Ron, Fred & George come to get Harry at the Dursleys’ house, the book mentions that Fred & George have to break into the cupboard to get Harry’s trunk, then carry it up the stairs. Not in the movie.

The first really big omission is what Harry sees in and hears in Borgin and Burkes. Rowling was ding some serious foreshadowing in the book, but Harry doesn’t really hear anything in the movie.

The book has several other significant things that the movie does not.

  1. The book’s Deathday Party is completely omitted, necessitating the movie to come up with a different way for Harry to encounter the frozen Mrs. Norris.
  2. Hermione saves Harry from the rogue bludger in the movie, but Fred & George restrain it in the book.
  3. The book is full of foreshadowing of Ginny’s role in the Chamber of Secrets, but none of this appears in the movie.
  4. The Valentine’s dwarves of the book are completely missing from the movie, which I think is a crying shame.

The Harry Potter Wiki has an extensive list of differences at the bottom the Chamber of Secrets page. 

I have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on hold. I am #13 in line on 11 copies. Fortunately, I have a few other audiobooks I can listen to in the meantime.

Summer Driving

24 Jun

I have a summer driving plan and it doesn’t involve a destination. I want to listen to the entire Harry Potter series on audiobooks in  the car. The project will take me longer than the summer, I am sure. But, next year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first book, published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Britain, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone un the US.

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I’m about halfway through this book and I am pleasantly surprised at how faithful the movies were to the original. I had thought that the movie intro, where Dumbledore shows up with what we later find out is a deluminator and McGonagall appears as a cat,  were innovation by the production company. Listening to the book, I know realize that these were, indeed part of the original book that I’d forgotten.

I am at the part where Harry has just played in his first Quidditch match. I can’t help but have the movie version of things paying in my head now, as I listen, and I suspect young people nowadays have probably seen the movies before they read the books. I haven’t read the books since 2007, when The Deathly Hallows came out and I reread the books to refresh my memory. I am surprised at how much I still like this first book.

This afternoon, Lucy and I are taking a little road trip to Woodburn to scout out the new park we will be using for the Oregon Basset Hound Games in a few weeks. Harry, Ron and  Hermione will be traveling with us.

The end of the line

6 Apr

And so, I have come to the end of an era. I just finished listening to the last audiobook in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School  series. Melancholy sigh.

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Yes, the steampunk adventures of Miss Sophronia  Temminnick are over. I will admit that the dramatic finale is most satisfying. All four books were narrated by read by Moira Quirk and her performance was equally as engaging as Katherine Kellgren’s narration of the Jacky Farber series, which I adored. In both cases, I listened to all the books on audiobook because their narration was so spectacular I felt that my silent reading of the books would pale in comparison.

Publisher’s Summary: If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster–in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

Fortunately, Ms Carriger has more books of a similar ilk and I have already placed Soulless

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the first book in the Parasol Protectorate  series on hold. I opted again for the audiobook. Although not narrated by Ms Quick, I have read that the narrator of this series, Emily Grey, is worthy of the task. We shall see.

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