Friday, December 13, 2013

The Year of Audiobooks - Part Two

I have been atrocious with reviewing things this year but I thought I would at least mention my audio books for 2013. I posted the first part a couple weeks ago here. These are the others I have listened to this year.
I have to admit that Neil Gaiman and I have a love/hate relationship so I don't get quite as excited about him as others. That being said I really enjoyed The Graveyard Book and had high hopes for this one. And, they were rewarded! I really liked this one, too. The book takes place when a man returns home for a funeral and visits his childhood neighbours. This leads to him reliving the events from 40-years before and takes the rider along for the ride. Gaiman definitely puts an original spin on fantasy. And he narrates his own book which worked really well because it was a more personal experience to hear his story.
Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
I now want to listen to more Neil Gaiman audiobooks. It might give me a new appreciation for an author that so many people love and I try to see the appeal.

I have wanted to read this series for ages and thought what better way than by audio. I have been told this book isn't quite as good as the rest of the series and I figured I would have a better chance of finishing it on audio if that was the case. I actually quite liked it. I wasn't bored. I am not sure if that would have been different if I had tried to read it? I used a credit on book two, but wanted to wait a bit before getting to it so I wouldn't burn out on the series. I liked the interesting approach to music and the various paranormal creatures that Andrews writes about. You would think with how overdone paranormal is getting to be it would be hard to keep being original about it. Plus, Kate is strong and sarcastic. I like that in a female character. And I finally got to see who Curran was. I had heard of him despite never reading this series before.
When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate's guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta's magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate's guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she's way out of her league—but she wouldn't have it any other way…
The book is narrated by Renee Raudman. She did a really good job. I could easily picture her as Kate. I imagine that might be why I liked this book more than I expected to. I am pretty sure she narrates the whole series so I am looking forward to more from both her and Andrews.
Finally! Do you know that I lucked into a whole bunch of this series in hardcovers but decided I didn't want to undertake a huge series at the time and turned them in at the bookstore for credit? I figured I would regret it, but I am always so far behind in series that it seemed like a smart idea at the time. Frankly, the reason I decided to star the series this year is because I heard Elizabeth Peters had passed away and the series should be drawing to a close. It seemed a bit more manageable that way. As I expected I quite enjoyed Amelia Peabody. The story was a bit predictable, but it was still fun. I think I am going to enjoy reading on in this series.
Amelia Peabody, indomitable Victorian, embarks for Egypt armed with confidence, journal, and umbrella. Enroute to Cairo, she rescues dainty Evelyn, abandoned by her lover. They sail up the Nile to the archeological dig of the Emerson brothers - irascible but dashing Radcliffe and amiable Walter. A lively mummy, visitations, accidents, kidnap attempt - evil is afoot.
Some of the audiobooks have two narrators. I went with Barbara Rosenblat because I had heard good things about her. I was not disappointed. I can't wait to work my way through this series next year!
I actually reviewed this one! You can read my review here.

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.
In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries—from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
So, I love Terry Pratchett and then never read him... I am also not very good at following along in his series. I have read all over the place so far. I have wanted to read this one forever and since it had a Christmas connection, I thought I would make it my 'Christmas' read. I could have just read it, but I decided to use an Audible credit on it. I really enjoyed the story. It was fun just like Pratchett always tends to be. I mean, really, Death as the Hogfather? Pratchett really plays with 'conventional' Christmas ideas. Plus, Deaths Grand-daughter, Susan, was a wonderfully written female character.
Susan had never hung up a stocking . She'd never put a tooth under her pillow in the serious expectation that a dentally inclined fairy would turn up. It wasn't that her parents didn't believe in such things. They didn't need to believe in them. They know they existed. They just wished they didn't.
There are those who believe and those who don't. Through the ages, superstition has had its uses. Nowhere more so than in the Discworld where it's helped to maintain the status quo. Anything that undermines superstition has to be viewed with some caution. There may be consequences, particularly on the last night of the year when the time is turning. When those consequences turn out to be the end of the world, you need to be prepared. You might even want more standing between you and oblivion than a mere slip of a girl - even if she has looked Death in the face on numerous occasions...
My only quibble was I am really not sure I liked the narrator, Nigel Planer. He does well overall and is great on male voices, but he cannot do female voices at all. He narrates a vast majority of the series, but there are others interspersed. I am not sure if I want to listen to more of them or just go back to reading them.

And that concludes my audiobooks so far for the year. Considering before this year I never really listened to them before, I am impressed with how many I made my way through. I am hoping 2014 will lead to many great listens and hopefully I can finish 1 or 2 more before the end of the year.

Any recommendations? I always appreciate them!


  1. Ahhh. I thought I was the only one with that l/h relationship with Gaiman. And I'm not even sure about love. Will keep this in mind--maybe audiobooks is the answer!

  2. I might have to give The Hogfather a try. I did not like Ocean on audio. Gaiman's voice felt too "slow". I read the printed version instead and loved it.

  3. I loved "The Ocean at the End of the Lane." I don't really do audio books though, because I get distracted and end up not paying attention. Neil Gaiman grew on me a lot. I started with his short stories, and adored about half of them, and was meh about the rest. The more I've read by him though, the more I've wanted to read. He's addictive.

  4. I just finished up the Gaiman last month and really enjoyed it as well. I bet it would be great on audio. And I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the Andrews - that was one I went into with low expectations, but it's ended up becoming one of my favorite series. I might revisit them on audio - thanks for the review. Nigel Planer isn't my favorite Pratchett narrator - I agree about the women's voices. But the later books are done by Stephen Briggs - he's fantastic! He does the Tiffany Aching books. I can't remember if you've read them.

  5. I'm saving The Ocean at the End of the Lane to read over Christmas. I'm glad to see another positive response to it :)

  6. I've only read one Neil Gaiman book, Coraline, which I loved but really want to read more. I did start an Agatha Christie on audio but have sort of stalled listening to it. I just don't do well with audiobooks.

  7. Yay! I loved Magic Bites and I am so excited to continue on with this series too! And I loved The Crocodile on the Sandbank when I read it a few years back but then I never continued on with the series...I am planning on rereading it at some point soon :)

  8. I don't love Neil Gaiman either, but I have heard good things about The Graveyard Book & The Ocean At the End of the Lane and now you're adding your voice to the chorus! So I might add these back to the list. This has been the year of the audiobook for me, too and I'm excited to talk about it on the blog!

  9. I would love to hear Neil Gaiman narrate one of his own books. I should try to make that happen. I'm sure I'll find something on Audible I must try. :-) I'm a huge fan of Ilona Andrews and need to dive back into the series. That's one of my hopes this next year, to spend some time with "old" favorites.


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