Friday, December 28, 2012

Audiobook Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
By Jonas Jonassen
Narrator Steven Crossley
Unabridged Audiobook=
Length: 12 hours
Release Date: 9/11/12
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd

Publishers Summary:
Allan Karlsson, resident of a nursing home in a small Swedish town, is about to be celebrated at his 100th birthday party with the press, the mayor, and the entire nursing staff and fellow residents in attendance. But Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption), so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his "pee slippers" and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. At the same time we discover Allan's larger-than-life back story: not only has he witnessed, Zelig-like, some of the most important events of the twentieth century but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting as an explosives expert, he finds himself involved in the development of the atomic bomb and in his travels throughout the world, shares meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman, to Mao, Franco, and De Gaulle.

My Thoughts:
The title of this audiobook caught my attention right away and Allan Karlsson’s adventures and past life kept me interested to the very last page.  Allan, a laid back soul who usually accepts his circumstances until he decides to change them, climbs out of the nursing home to escape a situation where he had no control of his life.  For one thing, Director Alice could find his vodka wherever he hid it.  

Allan’s story winds its way through his adventures beginning on his 100th birthday, May 2, 2005 and is intermixed with his past.   After escaping the nursing home, Allan accidently steals a huge suitcase filled with money.  He is chased by thugs who want it back but he shares the loot with friends he makes along the way.  Allan, an optimistic and resourceful soul, makes the best of every situation and quickly sees what must be done.  For instance, he manages to use an elephant for self-defense against a thug with a gun. 

Allan was forced to quit school when he was 10 and go to work in a nitro glycerin factory.  He went on to become an explosives expert.  His knowledge of explosives was valuable to world leaders and led him to help create the atom bomb for the US and inadvertently share the knowledge with Stalin.  Allan ended up in a prison camp in Siberia where he made friends with Herbert Einstein, fictional half-brother of Albert Einstein.  Herbert Einstein was my second favorite character, Allan being my most favorite.  Einstein was so dim witted that even after five years in the prison camp he couldn’t find his way around.  Allan got tired of not being able to get vodka and decided to escape with the help of Einstein.  Their actions set not only the prison camp but the whole surrounding city on fire, but they did get away.  

The cast of quirky characters and implausible events kept me interested to the end but what I liked most was the voice and performance of the narrator, Steven Crossley.  I had never heard him perform before but I was not surprised to find that I was listening to an award winning narrator.  The book was filled with repetitions and indirect speech that, I’m sure, was much better in Crossley’s voice than it would be on the printed page.  I have added him to my list of favorite narrators.

This is Jonas Jonasson’s first book and the most sold novel in Sweden in 2010.  It was translated to English by Rod Bradbury. 

Review copy provided by AudioGo. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

OMG, I'm such an addict

I was up at 2:00 am recently posing my little mp3 players so they could join me on my blog.  Is that sick or what?  I think they look nice, although it was a chore to make them all stay lighted up until I got the pose I wanted.  I had to take about 20 pictures to get one just right.  

Which is my favorite?  Well, maybe it's my iPod (middle).  It holds more books and keeps my place better but jumps to another book or song if I barely bump it and I haven't quite figured out how to add audiobooks from the library.   Maybe it's my Creative Zen Mosaic (right).  I've had it longer than the others and have some audiobooks on it I may never want to delete.  But, it screws up at the very worst possible time and rewinding sometimes crashes it's little system.  Or maybe it's my Philips GoGear (left).  I can add books from the library or Audible and I can delete files from the player without hooking it to my computer but sometimes it's hard to find my place if I want to rewind. But they're all better than listening to books on a cd player like I was doing when I first discovered audiobooks. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Bad Miss Bennett

Audiobook Review:  The Bad Miss Bennett
by Jean Burnett 
Read by Davina Porter
Length: 10 hrs, 1 min
Release Date: 10/19/12
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd 

Publisher's Synopsis:
Lydia was never the most upstanding of the Bennet sisters, but who ever said that moral rectitude was fun? At least she bested her elder sisters and was the first to get married. She never could understand what all the fuss was about after she left Brighton with her gallant. It is a shame, though, that Mr. Wickham turned out to be a disappointing husband in so many aspects, the most notable being his early demise on the battlefields of Waterloo. And so Lydia, still not yet twenty and full of enterprising spirit, is in urgent need of a wealthy replacement. A lesser woman, without Lydia's natural ability to flirt uproariously on the dance floor and cheat seamlessly at the card table, would swoon in the wake of a dashing highwayman, a corrupt banker, and even an amorous Prince Regent. But on the hunt for a marriage that will make her rich, there's nothing that Lydia won't turn her hand to. In the meantime, she has no qualms about imposing on her sister Elizabeth's hospitality at Pemberley. After all, what is the point of having all that fine fortune if not to aid a poor, newly widowed younger sister? While Lydia rattles around the continent from Paris to Venice and to the home of the disgraced Princess of Wales in Italy and back again to Darbyshire, you, dear reader, will be greatly diverted by the new adventures of Jane Austen's consummate and incorrigible anti-heroine, who never ceases to delight.

Review copy provided by AudioGo

My thoughts:
This dear reader was greatly diverted by the bad Miss Bennett's adventures and exploits.  In fact, I found myself laughing out loud at times and letting the housework go while I listened to some parts over again. 

The story begins with Lydia as a young widow, complaining about having to wear black because her husband is dead.  She has come to stay at Pemberly with Elizabeth’s family, much to Mr. Darcy’s dismay.  Lydia has her sights set on living in Paris where she might meet a wealthy replacement for Mr. Wickham.  Lydia knows she is an embarrassment to the family and uses it to persuade Mr. Darcy to set her up with an allowance so she can live abroad.  He finally agrees to the allowance on the condition that she go live with friends in London and so her adventures begin.  She meets a highwayman on her way to London and becomes so enamored with him that she will do anything he asks her to, including a rendezvous with the Prince Regent.  That was one of the funniest scenes in the book.  I had to listen to it three times.   

In my opinion, this book is better as an audiobook and narrator Davina Porter is perfect.  Her voice in the audio sample was part of the reason I chose the book.  She distinguished the characters beautifully, both male and female.  She will be added to my list of favorite narrators.

I had read some negative comments about the book, especially about the character of Lydia. It had been a very long time since I read Pride and Prejudice so I checked out an audio version from the library and listened to it.  I think that Jean Burnett did an absolutely brilliant job of taking up Lydia’s story where Jane Austen left off.  I bet she had as much fun writing it as I had listening to it.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

I heard a book I wish I'd read instead.

Recently I listened to Toni Morrison's Tar Baby.  I don't mean for this to be a formal review, just my observations.  I wish I had read the book as it did not work for me as an audiobook.  Although the narrator, Desiree Coleman, has a lovely, clear voice that was easy to listen to, she didn't really differentiate between the characters and I would get lost, wondering who was talking at the moment.  That would not have been so hard to do with a well placed he said or she said.  The novel seemed to drag until the middle of the story but I think it would not have done so on a written (or Kindle) page.  I couldn't seem to connect with or care about any of the characters and when I finally was sympathetic to one character, I could not feel empathy.  Tar Baby is a thought provoking novel and would be excellent to read for a class or book club.  It just doesn't work for audio.  I actually found myself washing dishes and doing laundry without my mp3 player. But the next audiobook did work!  I ended up with a tidy house that I barely remembered cleaning. 

Sometimes I have odd reasons for choosing what I listen to.  I was happily clicking on links in audiobook blogs and websites when I came across a post by narrator Peter Berkrot.  I didn't remember hearing any of his work so I quickly went to my local library's website and did a search for audiobooks narrated by Berkrot.  I didn't find the one I was looking for but I did find Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury.  Due to Bradbury's recent death, I chose it to listen to.  This is now my favorite work by Bradbury and Berkrot has joined the list of my favorite narrators. 

I have read a few reviews of this book.  Some like it, some say it wasn't Bradbury's best work.  I loved it!  One reviewer called it a "quirky blendings of creepiness and humor, innocence and decadence, nightmare and cartoon." I totally agree and I honestly don't see how Berkrot kept a straight face reading some of those "laugh out loud" lines.  One line that cracked me up, "I won't go shoveling horse flops to find the horse"  (said to the young writer by the local detective, who didn't believe another murder had occurred.)

I know it is an old work, one I seemed to have missed in my science fiction/fantasy phase, but I'm so glad I found it. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ode to the Audiobook

This  Ode to the Audiobook perfectly describes my addiction. I may forget to take my cell phone, I may forget to lock my door, I may even forget to put on real shoes when I go out to do errands, but I never forget my audiobook! Most of the time I get my chores & errands done while I'm in another world.

This past week I was still in the world of Maisie Dobbs.  So far I have heard four books from the series, the first 4 actually.   I heard Messenger of Truth (4th in the series). This book shows how Maisie has grown both professionally and personally.  In the midst of solving two mysteries, Maisie realizes that her independence and her work are more important than personal relationships and she ends her romantic relationship with Andrew Dean.  She always seems to get involved with a mystery other than the one she's paid to solve.  I enjoyed reading Jacqueline Winspear's blog Maisie Dobbs - Inspiration from an Extrardinary Generation.

The last Maisie Dobbs book I heard was the second in the series Birds of a Feather.  This one is set in the spring of 1930.  Maisie has an office and an assistant, Billy Beale.  She has been summoned to find a wealthy heiress who has disappeared.  Three women who were friends of the runaway woman are dead, apparently all killed by the same person who left a white feather at the murder scene.  Maisie solves the crimes and finds the heiress by using her powers of observation and meditation.  I highly recommend the Maisie Dobbs series to anyone who loves a strong female protagonist and a good mystery without blood and violence. 

I have now heard three different narrators and I'm not sure who is my favorite.  I really liked them all but Kim Hicks who narrated Birds of a Feather might be my favorite.

My mp3 player keeps skipping tracks and causing me to utter words I don't say in public.  I can't afford another right now but I've been researching to see what brand I want next.  So far I've only used Creative products and have been happy for the most part but I'd hate to have a temper tantrum and stomp it because it failed me at a crucial moment.   I really wouldn't do that, or would I?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I just finished listening to Dear John.  While I wished it had a happier ending, what could I expect from the title?  It was a bittersweet ending and one I could see coming but enjoyed the story anyway.  Nicholas Sparks really knows how to write a love story.

The title brought back memories.  I could remember the radio hung on the wall when I was a child.  My Daddy loved music and the radio would play into the night while we were falling off to sleep.  Dear John sang by Ferlin Husky and Jean Shepard was one of my favorites. 

The story brought back memories too.  Like Savannah, I survived a time when the man I loved was away in Vietnam and Okinawa.   As I heard John and Savannah's story, feelings came flooding back and I wish so much that I had kept those letters.  I can't remember why I didn't. He didn't keep mine either. 

Now I really want to see the movie.  I am getting so behind on movies I want to see because I heard the book first.  I guess I'll have to sign up for Netflix DVDs so I can catch up.

I enjoyed reading this interview of Nicholas Sparks

I wanted something different for my next listen so I chose the first in the Maisie Dobbs series. The story takes place in London.  I love anything British so I'm looking forward to this one.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm an addict

I love to listen to audio books!  I have always loved good fiction and now I have a way to enjoy a good book while I'm doing other things.  Mowing the lawn is such a pleasure while I'm walking The Green Mile with John Coffy or confronting a fugitive with Stephanie Plum or experiencing The Hunger Games with Katniss Everdeen.

I like to hear the book before I watch the movie so I can compare.  I saw The Green Mile a long time ago and now want to see it again since i recently heard it.  I have not seen One For the Money yet but I'm so looking forward to it.  Recently I heard The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks and I'm looking forward to that movie as well. 

My name is Judy and I'm an audio book addict but I'm not trying to cure my addiction.  I just want to connect with others who share it. 

Right now I'm listening to Dear John by Nicholas Sparks.

So, what are you listening to?