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review 2017-12-17 06:24
The Black Count
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo - Tom Reiss

So the cover picture is quite dashing and despite the fact that I listened to it in audiobook format, Scribd displayed the picture quite prominently on my screen... which resulted in an amusing moment where another person caught a glimpse of it before I could hide the window and I am sure they thought I was reading some trashy romance because their face scrunched up and they started laughing. Whoops! (^_^)

 

In reality, this is about the father of French author Alexandre Dumas, père (AKA that guy that wrote all those books they make movies based on). It encompassed his entire life from his childhood in the Caribbean to his death in semi-exile in France. The family's ancestry is discussed along with the complex sociocultural issues of the time in relation to attitudes about slavery, the effect of the American Revolution, the Napoleonic wars... Honestly, it is so fact-heavy that it was mind-boggling at times as my personal knowledge of history had to be rearranged in my head to make new connections with somewhat obscure topics like the French founding of Egyptology or Parisian theatre traditions in former French colony islands, etc.

 

As for the audiobook: male narrator, neutral tone with just enough inflection on the ironic points but not particular stand-out in any other way.

 

(I listened to this months ago and wrote up this review in June and it's been languishing in my drafts till now, but I stand by the 4.5 star rating.)

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text 2017-12-14 12:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Audiobooks of 2017!
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey
The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
Between Two Fires - Christopher Buehlman
The Memory of Running - Recorded Books LLC,Ron McLarty,Ron McLarty
Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown
You Will Know Me: A Novel - Megan Abbott,Lauren Fortgang
Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough
The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel - Matthew Quick,Inc. Blackstone Audio, Inc.,Darwin Porter
Empire Falls - Richard Russo

 

This has been the year of the audiobook for me. I believe I've listened to more of them this year than ever before. And boy, this year brought two of my favorite authors to life through the power of voice. Let's get on with it, shall we? (Oh, and click the cover to see my original review!)

 

 Blackwater by Michael McDowell, narrated by Matt Godfrey

1. My number one audio of the year, (and indeed, of ALL time) is Blackwater. Written by the fabulous Michael McDowell and performed by Matt Godfrey, this epic tale spans generations of the Caskey family and their matriarch, who may or may not be altogether human. The star of this show is McDowell's writing-he brings his sharp wit and his knowledge of family dynamics to the table and then Matt Godfrey brings it all home. Blackwater clocks out at just over 30 hours of listening, and I was never, ever bored. 

 

Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey 

 

 The Lesser Dead written and performed by Christopher Buehlman

2. Christopher Buehlman was unknown to me at the beginning of 2017. Now, in December, I count him among my favorite authors. I've read or listened to ALL of his novels since April, starting with Those Across the River and ending with The Lesser Dead. Mr. Buehlman narrates The Lesser Dead himself and in most cases, I don't think that's wise. In this case, he knocked it out of the park. I later learned that he performs at Renaissance Fairs, sometimes as a storyteller and sometimes as a professional insultor. Perhaps his experiences with performing has honed his voicing skills because this book was KILLER. After I finished listening, I "rewound" it, so to speak, and listened to the last chapter again. Oh my goodness, oh so killer!

 

The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman 

 

Born to Run written and narrated by The Boss

3. I'm not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, but I'm a bigger fan since I listened to his memoir. I have always been a fan of his songwriting abilities and it seems that that skill transferred well to writing this book. I'm sure a true Springsteen fan would get even more out of this book than I did, but I sure did love listening to that husky voice relate how he got started, learned to dance, (to pick up women), and how he struggled to get and keep a band, not to mention a marriage, together.

 

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen 

 

Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, narrated by Steve West

4. Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, narrated by Steve West was totally and completely INSANE! Some truly scary scenes were depicted in this story and thanks to the vivid writing and expressive voicing, I can still picture them clearly in my head. 

 

Between Two Fires - Christopher Buehlman

 

 The Memory of Running, written and performed by Ron McClarty

5. The Memory of Running, written and narrated by Ron McClarty. I got turned on to Ron McClarty because he narrated Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Then, when I looked for additional performances by him I discovered The Memory of Running. From what I gather, it was originally available only as an audio book which Stephen King highly recommended. Eventually it became available in paper form as well. Anyway, Mr. McClarty used to play a recurring judge on Law & Order, but writing and narrating is most definitely his forte. I loved this weird tale of memories, acceptance and bicycling across the United States.

 

 The Memory of Running - Recorded Books LLC,Ron McLarty,Ron McLarty

 

 Nightmares and Geezenstacks by Fredric Brown, narrated by Matt Godfrey

6. A thoroughly entertaining collection of short stories, some of them super short, but all of them a lot of fun. For the most part, I prefer reading short stories rather than listening to them, but Matt Godfrey's talent made me change my mind about that. 

 

Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown

 

 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, narrated by Lauren Fortgang

7. Competitive teenage girls are just about the scariest monsters out there, and I know scary!

 

You Will Know Me: A Novel - Megan Abbott,Lauren Fortgang

 

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, narrated by cast

8. The book everyone was talking about at the beginning of the year! Usually, I avoid those like the plague. However, the audio was available at the library, so I decided to give it a go. I vividly remember listening to this while I was cleaning and then, for the last half hour or so, I just sat on the sofa, stunned. 

 

Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough

 

 

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, narrated by Ray Porter

9. Audible was giving this one away for free, so what did I have to lose? I loved the movie, but as usual, the book was a little different. That said, I loved the book too! 

 

The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel - Matthew Quick,Inc. Blackstone Audio, Inc.,Darwin Porter

 

 

Empire Falls by Richard Russo, performed by Ron McClarty

10. This book came to me highly recommended by a fellow reader. Even though a book about small town life with no evil children or haunted houses is really not my thing, Empire Falls MADE IT my thing. I've since listened to two more audiobooks of Richard Russo's work, (Everybody's Fool and Nobody's Fool), and I tracked down McClarty's Memory of Running, (see above.) Now, I just need to track down the HBO series of this FANTASTIC novel. 

 

Empire Falls - Richard Russo 

 

This year I've learned the following:

 

Ron McClarty and Matt Godfrey can both narrate the hell out of any story, and I will happily listen to them perform their grocery lists.

Authors sometimes CAN perform their own stories and do it better than anyone else.

 

I've finally accepted that audiobooks are an acceptable form of reading and I look forward to finding new narrators and discovering new worlds to listen to in 2018.

 

Thanks for reading if you've stayed this far! I hope you'll join me in enjoying audiobooks in 2018! 

 

 

 

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text 2017-12-07 17:25
Reading progress update: I've listened 427 out of 1244 minutes.
Hyperion - Dan Simmons,Allyson Johnson,Marc Vietor,Kevin Pariseau

On my first read I liked Fedmahn Kassad´s story the least and this hasn´t changed. But only now on my reread / relisten I realise that his story is military torture porn insterspersed by passages where he is "making love" to a total stranger.

 

Rolling Eyes - Lucille, Arrested Development

[Source]

 

I really dislike this disgusting storyline and I´m glad when I´m done with it.

 

 

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text 2017-12-01 16:31
Reading progress update: I've read 13 out of 445 pages.
Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett
Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20 - Random House Audiobooks,Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer

"And there's the sign, Ridcully," said the Dean. "you have read it, I assume.  You know?  The sign which says 'Do not, under any circumstances, open this door'?"

"Of course I've read it," said Ridcully. "Why d'yer think I want it opened?"

"Er ... why?" said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.

"To see why they wanted it shut, of course."*

 

*This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization.  At least, those bits of it that are not under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.

 

[...]

 

"I'm in charge here and I want a bathroom of my own," said Ridcully firmly. "And that's all there is to it, all right?  I want a bathroom in time for Hogswatchnight, understand?"

And that's a problem with beginnings, of course.  Sometimes, when you're dealing with occult realms that have quite a different attitude to time, you get the effect a little way before the cause.

Oh, it's good to be back with Sir Terry at the height of his powers -- I feel like sharing every other page.  And of course Ridcully would have done better curbing his curiosity about that door ...

 

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review 2017-11-29 06:54
The Moonstone
The Moonstone - Ronald Pickup,Sean Barrett,David Timson,Wilkie Collins,Dale Brown,Jonathan Oliver,John Foley,Fenella Woolgar,Joe Marsh,Jamie Parker

What can I say other than the book is worth the hype?  

 

I wasn't sure at the start; I listened to the audiobook version - which was excellently done - and Gabriel Betteredge's opening narrative is... trying.  I loved his character the best and the narrator who played his part played it to the hilt, which meant it felt like there was an amiable, loveable, old man telling me a story by taking the longest possible route.  I was charmed, while at the same time wanting to prod him along, and honestly, if I had to hear much more about Robinson Crusoe I might have started pulling out my own hair.

 

Once we get past Betteredge's ramblings (which take up the first 40% of the book), the story moves along much quicker and the story becomes far more interesting, as the twist at the midway point was riveting.  I only ever listen to audio while I'm in the car, because I'm so easily distracted, but I found myself carrying my phone and portable speaker out to the garden to listen to The Moonstone while I weeded, and found 3.5 hours disappeared in a blink.  I got so close to the end today by the time I got home, I came straight in and grabbed my print edition so I could finish it. 

 

I guessed who the villain was at the start, but then the twist came in and I had NO idea where he was going with the mystery; subtle misdirections were everywhere in the narratives and so, while I never really gave up my notions of who was guilty, I was entirely ready to believe I had the wrong end of the stick until the end. 

 

The Moonstone is excellent and I highly recommend it; it's not a light, breezy read to be done in one or two settings, but it does reward the reader's commitment at the end.  

 

Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day: Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

 

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