Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Year of Audiobooks - Part One

My reading year may have been slow this year, but I did finally do something I have been trying to do for ages - listen to audiobooks. At the beginning of the year I decided I all ready had a treadmill, so why not take some of the money I was not paying to go to the gym and get an Audible membership. It was something to listen to while on the treadmill and gave me a chance to read books that I may not have got around to otherwise. Since blogging is another casualty of my strange year, I thought I would talk about the audiobooks I listened to this year.
I started my exploration of audiobooks in March. The very first credit I had was used for Redshirts by John Scalzi. I had read Old Man's War by John Scalzi a few years ago, but then I sort of stalled. This seemed like a good chance to get back to him. I love Star Trek and thought this would be a fun. The narrator is Wil Wheaton. I had started listening to him narrate Ready Player One by Ernest Cline last year and was enjoying his narration. I decided to start with something I had a good chance of enjoying.
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
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It turned out I was quite right that I would enjoy this audiobook. It was funny, John Scalzi wrote well, and Wil Wheaton is a fun narrator to listen to. This would lead to me eventually getting all the Scalzi books narrated by Wil Wheaton, actually. And best of all I kept listening to audiobooks after finishing it.
One of the things that I really enjoy about my audiobook journey is getting to know BethFishReads a bit better. She listens to a lot of audiobooks and has become my audiobook mentor by giving me suggestions and alternative sites to visit. This lead to a mini shopping spree on Tantor and me listening to The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni. I didn't remember really hearing about the book before, but it did sound different. And it was fun. The audiobook is narrated by Lloyd James. It's a bit of a coming-of-age novel, which I don't normally like, but it was original enough that it didn't bother me too much. The novel centres around Sebastian who has been raised by is grandmother and been kept a bit isolated from the rest of the world. When his grandmother unexpectedly becomes ill this opens up many new experiences for the character. It includes some other 'misfit' children and music. Plus there are some futuristic explorations as the main character lives in a geodesic dome with a grandmother has some advanced ideas about the world.
Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who homeschooled him in the teachings of futurist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when his grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and make his own way in town.

Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart-transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing, including grape soda, girls, and Sid Vicious. They form a punk band called The Rash, and it's clear that the upcoming Methodist Church talent show has never seen the likes of them. Wholly original, The House of Tomorrow is the story of a young man's self-discovery, a dying woman's last wish, and a band of misfits trying desperately to be heard.
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Unfortunately, this is the only book I listened to from my Tantor shopping spree. I really must get back to the others! 
My next read was a book off my wish list: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I thought because of when the book was set and how stories at that time would have been oral on a regular basis, this was a perfect book to read by audio. And, I was right. I enjoy books set in the Ancient World, have always been a bit fascinated with Troy, and always appreciate a story done well. Miller takes a well-known story and makes it her own. Is it factual? Who really knows, but you do not question once if it could be a lie. This audio book is narrated by Frazer Douglas and is primarily about Patroclus, Achilles unexpected best friend. He sees the world in such a manner that it brings freshness to an age-old story. 
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.
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After visiting Ancient Greece, I decided to find something short to listen to. This lead me to Legion by Brandon Sanderson. I have loved Brandon Sanderson in the past and had never really heard of this particular book by him. It is essentially a very creative spin on the idea of multiple personalities. This was a quick look at Stephen Leeds, aka The Legion, and his world. I hope that Sanderson plans to return to the idea in the future! The novel is narrated by Oliver Wyman.
Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his 'aspects' are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

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One thing I am really bad at is rereading... And keeping up with series... Enter audiobooks. I loved The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss when I read it ages ago. I decided it was about time I get to book two in the series. Only I couldn't really remember book 1. I am new to this audiobook thing... Could I stay interested in something so long? I can! Because, well, it is Patrick Rothfuss and the book rocks. Now, I still haven't read book 2, but at least book 1 is fresh in my mind. Seriously, The Name of the Wind is one of my favourite fantasy novels ever and I really need to move on to book 2...  For the narration you get to enjoy Nick Podehl and he returns for book 2. 

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
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Huge undertaking out of the way, I decided it was time for more John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton. This time I went with Fuzzy Nation. I had this on my TBR pile for a while, but I was enjoying the audiobook thing and decided that was the way to go. I loved this book. I am so happy I finally got around to it! I enjoy animals in novels and couldn't resist these cute ones. The book is very relevant for today even if it is presented in a science-fiction package. It raises some issues worth thinking about no matter what decade it is presented in. I can't wait to read more Scalzi. I have another one narrated by Wheaton, I think, and then I really must get back to his series.

Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.
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Then, I discovered Whispersync provided by Amazon. This essentially means you can switch back and forth between audiobooks and e-books. This means that I own audiobooks and e-copies of Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey. And, actually, print copies as well... I have been sort of waiting for book 3 to come out on audio, should check on that after I finish this post, but I have the print copy on my shelves and book 4 pre-ordered for next year. I love this series! Horror, science-fiction, intrigue, deception, the list goes on and on with awesomeness. And it is presented so well! (And the audio IS out for book 3!!!)

Description for Leviathan Wakes:
Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, "The Scopuli," they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to "The Scopuli" and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

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And then the description for book 2, Caliban's War:

We are not alone.
The alien protomolecule is clear evidence of an intelligence beyond human reckoning. No one knows what exactly is being built on Venus, but whatever it is, it is vast, powerful, and terrifying.
When a creature of unknown origin and seemingly impossible physiology attacks soldiers on Ganymede, the fragile balance of power in the Solar System shatters. Now, the race is on to discover if the protomolecule has escaped Venus, or if someone is building an army of super-soldiers.
Jim Holden is the center of it all. In spite of everything, he’s still the best man for the job to find out what happened on Ganymede. Either way, the protomolecule is loose and Holden must find a way to stop it before war engulfs the entire system.
CALIBAN’S WAR is an action-packed space adventure following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.

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Oh, Jeffrey Mays narrates. I forgot to mention that above! And, since this is getting really long, I will be back with the second half in a separate post.


  1. Wow, that is a lot of good audio books. I really enjoy Wheaton's narration.

    I was thinking a lot about Fuzzy Nation while reading Falling Free the other day as they both have that idea of fighting for the rights of creatures not deemed worthy of having rights.

    I'd like to snag an audio for Abaddon's Gate as I might actually get to it sometime soon that way.

  2. Ooh, what's Tantor? I'll have to look into it.

    I remember people were obsessed with The House of the Tomorrow coming out, so I am glad you read it! I'll have to look into some of these others, too. We can be audiobook buddies :-)


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