Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" Audiobook

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
Book first published in 2003
Audiobook: 7 discs
My rating: 5 out of 5
(image source)

I always thought I wouldn't like audiobooks -- much like their cousin e-books they seem to take the soul out of reading -- but Harry Potter and Jim Dale, the magnificent voice artist who reads  Rowling's work -- have changed my mind.

A few years ago I tried listening to an audiobook while working out. I chose a Playaway at random from the library and ended up hating it so much I didn't come close to finishing. I disliked the way the female reader did the men's voices for one thing, and for another I had trouble staying focused.

But several factors pointed me the way of the Harry Potter audiobooks: I have to listen to an audiobook for my Reading Outside of the Box Challenge; I was planning to re-read all the Harry Potter books this year anyway; and a friend at work mentioned many times how much she loved the HP audiobooks.

I now totally see where she was coming from! Jim Dale does a remarkable job with the narration and the characters' voices. Everyone has a different, easily identifiable voice and they're almost all spot-on. The only voice I didn't love was Hermione, who sounds slightly whiny at times -- but that's a minor complaint. Dale has won many awards for his reading of the HP audiobooks, and he actually holds the Guinness world record for most voices recorded in one audibook -- 146 for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Amazing!

Perhaps it's because I've already read the books and seen the movies (many times), but I had no trouble following along or visualizing what was happening. I did have occasional trouble keeping my mind from wandering away if I was just sitting around listening to the audiobook, but it's the perfect accompaniment for knitting. And I feel like I'm accomplishing two things at once!

Even if you think you aren't an audiobook person, I'd recommend trying one of the Harry Potter audiobooks. I've already started "Chamber of Secrets" and I'm planning to listen to "The Prisoner of Azkaban" too. I'll probably read the 10-pound-book-in-your-hands version of "Goblet of Fire," though, since it's my favorite book and I want the whole experience.

*"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is fulfilling the Reading by Ear requirement for the 2014 Reading Outside the Box Challenge.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Top Ten Books I Bought And Have Yet To Read

Every week the ladies at The Broke the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday, a list-making link-up for bibliophiles. This week is Top Ten Tuesday Rewind, wherein bloggers choose any past topic they missed or want to do again. Since I've only been participating for a few months, I had dozens of prompts to pick from from. After much debate, I finally settled on:

The Top Ten Books I Just HAD To Buy...
But Are Still Sitting On My Bookshelf
Story of my life! Once upon a time I worked at a thrift store, and then after that I worked at a library that had a take-one, give-one shelf, and now I work at a library that has a perpetual book sale -- and I have accumulated a ridiculous number of books. Another hazard of working at a library is the constant temptation to check out books, so I seldom read anything I already own. Oh yeah, and there was that Border's going-out-of-business sale...

My main New Year's resolution this year was to read at least one of my own books every month, but so far that has been a total fail. I feel bad for those poor, unloved books that have been patiently waiting to be read -- for over four years in some cases! Maybe compiling this list will get me on the right track.

1. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
I bought this book at the same time I got the first in the series, "Outlander." I absolutely loved "Outlander," but it was so intense and engrossing that I thought I'd take a week or two off before continuing the saga with book 2. A week or two turned into several years!

2. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This was a $1 find. I have another bargain Barbara Kingsolver book too, "The Lacuna," waiting to be read.
3. Wideacre by Philippa Gregory
I discovered Greogry's historical fiction in college when I read "The Other Boleyn Girl." I was working my way through all her earlier work and ordered this book from half.com... only to never, ever, ever pick it up again. This might be the unread book I've been hauling around the longest -- maybe 7 or 8 years!!!
4. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
Similarly, I had read most of Giffin's other books and snagged this one when I found it on clearance at Barnes and Noble.
5. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
A couple years ago I read the Christmas insallment of the series. I hadn't read any of Willig's other novels but was intrigued and grabbed this one on sale at the library. At this very moment we have another book in this series on my library's for-sale shelf and I have to make an effort not to buy it every time I browse the shelf. (Why am I even browsing the shelf!? Bad!)
6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows
I'm 99.9% sure I will enjoy this book. I mean, I like potatoes and I like literature! ;)
7. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
This book involves dogs and was an Oprah's Book Club pick.
8. The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore
I bought "The French Gardener" when Border's was going out of business. The cover was so beautiful I couldn't resist! I'm sure I read the book jacket before I bought it, but now I don't have the foggiest idea what this novel is about. It'll be a surprise!

9. A Painted House by John Grisham
I don't really care for Grisham's legal thrillers but everyone says this book is a total departure from those. One of my co-workers at the library in Hawaii was raving about it, so when I came across it for 50 cents I brought it home with me.

10. Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt
Another Border's going-out-of-business buy with a pretty cover. This book was really popular a couple years ago -- when I bought it -- though I have now forgotten any details of the plot I may have once known.

Bonus: Jodi Picoult x 5!
I read a couple of Picoult's books and then apparently decided I needed to start collecting the sum total of her work! Unfortunately I haven't read a Jodi Picoult book in four years...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: "Go Ask Alice" by Anonymous

"Go Ask Alice" by Anonymous
First published in 1971
214 pages
My rating: 3 out of 5
(image source)

I didn't plan to read "Go Ask Alice," the well-known story of a teenager battling drug addiction in the 1970s, but I checked it in at work the other day and randomly decided to grab it. It's written in diary entries and seemed short and sweet, and though I've sworn off young adult books for now I thought I'd give it a try.

Our diary writer is 15-year-old Alice. She's a nice, somewhat boring girl with a loving family and typical teenager problems like unrequited love. Shortly into the story Alice attends a party where she unknowingly drinks a soda spiked with LSD. The trip she has on the LSD is apparently the greatest experience of her life, and within days she's experimented with a handful of other drugs and can't wait to try more.

Though she's conflicted about the morality of her drugs ("I don't know why I shouldn't use drugs, because they're wild and they're beautiful and they're wonderful, but I know I shouldn't..."), boy does she continue! She gets in with the wrong crowd, her drug use spirals out of control, and eventually she runs away and finds herself living on the street, addicted to heroin and giving blowjobs for drugs. At some point she has a few moments of lucidity and realizes the depths of her destruction and her overwhelming misery, and she calls her parents. Soon she's home and committed to getting clean, but more horrors ensue.

"Go Ask Alice" is supposedly based on the real diary of a teen drug addict. Mmmm, if you say so. I read the book as a work of fiction. At times I had trouble identifying with Alice -- she was just so incredibly naive! And Alice's extremely rapid descent into addiction seemed a bit unrealistic to me -- as did certain plot elements, like Alice peddling LSD to a 9-year-old.

I also took issue with the ending. Alice's diary actually closes on a positive note, but the epilogue tells us in a no-nonsense manner that Alice returned to drugs and died three weeks after her final diary entry. I'd have preferred to leave it as an inspirational story of a teen overcoming addiction, but apparently Anonymous was going more for a don't-even-think-about-trying-drugs-or-you-will-die approach.

While I'm not sure Anonymous's DARE-like scare tactics are the best way to keep kids from using drugs (in part because Alice is so enamored of getting high that it might actually make kids more curious about drugs!), the book might spark conversation between kids and parents, or get young readers to think twice about using the hard stuff.

I had to keep reminding myself that "Go Ask Alice" was written in the early '70s -- when murders, rapes, drugs, profanity and sex of all kinds weren't readily available on every TV channel -- and written for teens yet unexperienced in the ways of the world.

All in all, if "Go Ask Alice" has kept even one kid from drug addiction, Anonymous has done her job.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Furry Saturday

I have a different kind of four-legged furry creature to show off this week. We often spot deer in our backyard, which backs up to a nature preserve, but I've never seen any quite this close to the door during the day. I couldn't resist grabbing the camera and taking a few (err, 20+) pictures.
Even though they're rapidly nibbling away our bushes, I love the deer and I'll never tire of seeing them out back -- or of scowling at Jarrod when he jokes about shooting them!

A Month of Letters + Harry Potter Stamps

I'm a little late to the game, but yesterday I discovered A Month of Letters and I'm so excited to participate! The project, created by author Mary Robinette Kowal, challenges snail-mail fans to send at least one letter each day the post office is open in February, for a total of at least 23 pieces of mail. The LetterMo website also provides an opportunity for new penpals to link up. That's perfect for me, since I've recently been considering the idea of finding a penpal. I love to write letters -- and receiving something personal in the mail just makes my day!

Incidentally, I have just the perfect thing to top off all the letters I'll be sending out this month -- Harry Potter stamps! A couple weeks ago when I was mailing something at the post office I picked up two books of HP stamps. They're in a neat little fold-out booklet and the collection includes pictures of all our favorite characters, from Dumbledore to Dobby. I think I'll probably end up using one and saving the other.

Happy February and happy Month of Letters! I'm off to write my first letter... Accio pen and paper!
P.S. If we don't know each other in real life and you'd like a letter from me, you can leave me your address via Postable. Here's my link: www.postable.com/lindsaysilcox

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: "River Road" by Jayne Ann Krentz

"River Road" by Jayne Ann Krentz
First published in 2014
330 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

"River Road" was a pleasant surprise for me. It was a quick, easy page-turner -- half murder mystery and half slightly steamy romance -- that I didn't want to put down. It was just the kind of refreshment I needed after my long, hard two-week slog through "The House of Hades" by Rick Riordan. (Which, by the way, is a not only a kids' book but part of a series I have loved thus far. I'm still not sure why I struggled so mightily with this installment.)

But back to the topic at hand, I never would have picked "River Road" up on my own. Confession: I always judge a book by its cover. And this cover does not appeal to me in the slightest. It's also been a while since I've read anything in the way of romantic crime thrillers, a la Nora Roberts. But a co-worker at the library cruised through this book in one day and was raving about it, and since I'm trying to be a more open-minded reader this year I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did!

Lucy Sheridan has just returned to the small California wine-country town of Summer River after 13 years away to handle her Aunt Sara's estate following her death in a car accident. Also back in Summer River is no-nonsense, sexy-as-hell ex-cop Mason Fletcher. When Lucy was a teenager spending the summer with her aunt 13 years ago, Mason saved her from what would have been a very unfortunate situation. Back then Mason thought of Lucy as a kid and Lucy saw Mason as an overprotective and unnecessary guardian angel. Now, all grown up, they come together over their suspicions that Aunt Sara's car wreck was no accident and that many of the dark secrets floating around Summer River are all tied back to that crazy summer when Mason rescued Lucy.

"River Road" is definitely not the best book I'll read this year. It was predictable, and Mason was just the kind of unrealistic perfect man you'd expect to find in a romance novel. The writing itself wasn't anything special -- Krentz has a knack for overusing the phrase "it was true that..." and the word "that," both pet peeves of mine. But I gave "River Road" four stars because it was a thoroughly enjoyable, engrossing story. I'll remember Jayne Ann Krentz next time I'm in need of some fast and fun reading. (FYI: Jayne Ann Krentz also writes different genres under the pen names Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Top 10 Books That Will Make You Cry

The topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish is the top books that made you cry. I sort of pride myself on the fact that I'm not a very weepy person and it takes a big emotional punch to cause the dam to break and the tears to flow, but I was able to muster up a few stories that made me run for the tissues.

Books That Made Me Cry:

Tearjerker On My TBR List:
A few years ago when we were living in Hawaii, I went next door to borrow something for some cupcakes I was making and my neighbor answered the door with tears pouring down her face. Why? Because she was reading this Holocaust novel.
Book-Based Movies I've Seen Recently That Brought On The Tears:
"Lone Survivor" is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, but beware: it can be a bit tough to watch, particularly if -- like me -- you have a military spouse or family member who has deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.

I so thought this was going to have a happy ending. Nope. It's horrific.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...