Tag Archive: audiobook review


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“Peter Pan”
by J. M. Barrie
read by Christopher Cazenove
Published by Blackstone Audio
Approx. 5 hours

It’s time once again to visit a classic, this time a children’s classic, “Peter Pan.” I had thought I had read “Peter Pan” before, but I must have been wrong, or maybe read a cleaned up/Disneyfied version. I know the Disney film version was definitely made more fun for the kids and all the versions on television were fun (remember Sandy Duncan as Peter?). Don’t get me wrong, the original is the way to go and the story really should be read by all, but maybe wait until the teen years before reading this dark story about a boy that never grows up.

The gist of the story seems to always be there in the retelling of the story. Peter Pan sneaks into the Darling family home and in his hasty retreat leaves his shadow behind. Returning to retrieve the shadow he finds the shadow to not want to remain attached to Peter. Wailing in sorrow, Peter wakes Wendy, the oldest of the Darling children. Wendy proceeds to help Peter by sewing on his shadow. Peter is smitten by Wendy and tells her of Neverland where children never have to grow up. He brings Wendy back with him, despite some stern protestations from Tinker Bell, a fairy who seems to be in love with Peter. Tinker Bell becomes insanely jealous and proceeds to make Wendy’s life difficult. Wendy’s arrival at Neverland brings her to her new role in life, that as a mother the Peter’s “Lost Boys.” She makes the boys more responsible and soon falls into the role of mother and as time goes by she and her brothers begin to forget about their home.

Peter wants them to forget so they may stay forever with him. But soon Wendy breaks out of her stupor and begins to remember her life before and tries to return home, but is captured by Captain Hook, the pirate leader who is always out to kill Peter.

The darkness in the story dwells within the characters of Peter, Tinker Bell and Captain Hook. Peter is a knowing kidnapper of Wendy and the boys and will not let them escape. Tinker Bell is insanely jealous and nips at Wendy every chance she gets. Finally there’s Captain Hook, who lost his hand to a crocodile. Hook doesn’t merely want to capture the Lost Boys, he wants to kill them, and he wants to keep the young Wendy as his bride. Very dark and mature story matter here that makes revisiting the classic worthwhile.

In this audiobook version published by Blackstone Audio, the reader, Christopher Cazenove, does a smash up job creating voices for all the wily characters in the story while reading with just enough vigor to never allow the listener to get bored.

Grab this classic and be prepared to remember the fun while being surprised at some of the darker sides of the story you may have missed.

One-More-Thing-B.J.-Novak-e1392823050260“One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories”
By B.J. Novak
Read by: by B. J. Novak, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Jason Schwartzman, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling
Published by Random House Audio
6 hours and 48 minutes

Being a fan of the TV series, “The Office,” I was prepared for the quirky writing by B.J. Novak. What I wasn’t prepared for was the laugh-out-loud moments and the surreal storytelling that makes up this audiobook. 64 stories make up the book that will at least have you giggling from beginning. Not all the stories will be a hit for everyone but with that many to read/hear many will strike a chord. Personally I laughed out loud for many of the stories and probably made a spectacle of myself while listening to the book on my iPod.

Novak’s talent on writing is only enhanced by the cast of characters doing the reading. Hearing the voices of his “Office” alumni was not so surprising. What was surprising was hearing Katy Perry, yes the singer, take part in this collection. Each of the voices were perfect for each story they read and added a little bit of oomph to the presentation. Each voice had the perfect mix of great comedic timing and tone and when needed the “straight man” in the comedy bit. This great combination of actors and writing made this audiobook too much fun.

The subjects of the different stories vary from story to story and no theme is repeated throughout the book. I want to summarize every story for this review, but I would not be doing you a favor. Each story has its own little surprise in not only the subject but in delivery, depth and some even supply a surprise ending. You owe it to yourself to pick up this book and read or listen for yourself.

In order to get you a little more interested I will describe (minimally) some of my favorite stories from this collection.

Opening the book is the story of what happened to the hare after the fabled tortoise and hare race. The hare decides there should be a rematch, but this time he trains and decides to take the race seriously.

A little boy, who is forbidden to eat sugary cereals, sneaks a box home only to find he’s won the million dollar sweepstakes, but his parents forbid him to claim the prize. When he sneaks off to the cereal’s business offices what he discovers is that he is ineligible to win and what he learns further could tear his family apart.

This book contains lots of references to pop-culture but the best is the story of “Wikipedia Brown and the case of the Missing Bicycle.” This time around the genius of the story, Wikipedia Brown, is not as much help as you’d think.

The final story I should mention is a futuristic sci-fi story where sex-robots can be ordered through the mail. But what happens if the female sex robot actually falls in love?

You owe it to yourself to get this book and enjoy the wit and whimsy of B.J. Novak. The humor ranges from just pure fun to some really smart humor that will leave you feeling like you just got a degree from an Ivy League school.

Best-Horror-of-the-Year

Audiobook review “The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 4”

Edited by Ellen Datlow

Read by Various Readers

Published by Blackstone Audio

Approx. 17 hours

Always the fan of horror and always the fan of short stories this book was a must read for me. When I saw the title, “The Best Horror of the Year…” my first question was what year? Seeing that the hardcover version was published in 2012, I looked further and discovered this was the best of 2011. Being a bit cynical I thought, we’ll have to see about that.

Well, the cynicism went away right at the first story. Each story in this collection represented a different point in the horror genre of fiction from mysterious faith-healers to monsters that live underground and sense vibrations of their prey to two spies trying to capture a Lovecraftian villain and more. This collection will introduce you to some new horror story telling and allow you to revisit some of your favorite storytellers.

Each story was read by a different narrator creating the fun from each of their own vocal talents. The editors matched perfectly each story to a different voice, not only allowing the difference from a male or female point of view, but also the tone of the stories match the vocal tones of the readers. The narrators includes Lindy Nettleton, Charles Carroll, Shaun Grindell, Angela Brazil, and Fred Sullivan

I will briefly describe a few of my favorite stories from this collection, in no particular order.

“The Little Green God of Agony,” by Stephen King opens the book with a story of a rich man seeking to live forever, pain-free without the grueling physical rehab. Hearing of a faith healer that has a history of positive results the man uses his influences to bring in the faith-healer, not all of the man’s staff hold the same faith. He summons the Rev. Rideout to his bedside. Rideout is no mere faith healer. He doesn’t heal, “I expel.” He casts out the demon god that feeds on hurt.

“Blackwood’s Baby,” takes place in rural Washington state, This story tracks a 1930s expedition of diverse hunters seeking a beast of legend more dangerous than any of them anticipate.

In John Langan’s “In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos,” two government agents try to prove themselves when they’re hired to grab a “Mr. White,” who may not be a human. Mixing spy thriller with a touch of Lovecraft this story has a great creepiness factor.

“The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub is a bit of a surreal journey down a river on a luxury yacht where Ballard and Sandrine could live comfortably as long as they don’t ask questions. But as is human nature the couple investigate their surroundings if only to find where their food comes from. Everytime they gain new information it seems to be lost, forgotten or clouded by the next interlude.

“The Moraine” has a feuding couple lost on a mountain in a whiteout fog with a monster. The monster in this story mixes the monsters from “Tremors,” “The Ruins” and “The Mist.” This is a good old-fashioned monster story that could have been a drive-in movie theater hit if made into a movie.

In my favorite story out of the group, A.C. Wise’s “Final Girl Theory,” “‘Kaleidoscope’ isn’t a movie, it’s an infection, whispered from mouth to mouth in the dark.” A cult movie is the basis for an underground following that leads one fan to seek out the leading lady in the film.

A great collection of different horror stories with a great collection of narrators makes this audiobook one to grab.

 

Audiobook Review: “Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft”lovecraftterror
by H. P. Lovecraft
Read by Robertson Dean, Simon Vance, Sean Runnette, Elijah Alexander, Stefan Rudnicki, Bronson Pinchot, Simon Prebble, Tom Weiner, Malcolm Hillgartner, Patrick Cullen
Published by Blackstone Audio
Approx. 20 hours

I probably have to turn in my horror fiction fan card on this next statement, but, I’m on the fence when it comes to H.P. Lovecraft. While I do love the visual images created by his writings, there is one feature I just absolutely abhor. First though, I have to say the rhythm, choice of words and dark settings of his stories are enough to suck any horror fan into his nightmares. My problem is that most items of horror are usually described as either “indescribable” or “more than the human mind can describe.” I have always felt that any good writer can describe anything, so why does Lovecraft come up short of words on the darkest parts of the horrors in his stories? Is it because he knows the mind is capable of filling in the blanks? When I read these see these moments in a Lovecraft story, I groan because I wish he could have put more detail in that picture. But, then again, his is one of the writers that forged horror-fiction so all can be forgiven.

This volume collects, for the first time, the entire Dream Cycle created by H. P. Lovecraft. These stories. In many of these tales, Lovecraft leads the reader to believe that dreams are where truth actually lies as opposed to reality where it is often thought to be. He believes dreams are things “whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier.” And most of the characters herein try to tear down that barrier.

The use of different readers for each story in this audiobook collection keeps the book interesting and keeps the listener paying attention. Not any single reader is misplaced and all are able to keep the true feeling of Lovecraft in the darkest parts of the stories. Stefan Rudnicki is the one that stands out the most for me, his smooth deep voice just captivates and never lets go even long after the story is done.

This collection covers the Dream Cycle and is a bunch of short stories, unfinished stories, correspondence between Lovecraft and others and some general ideas jotted down for future use. I will try to summarize briefly all of the tales within, but your best bet is to listen to this great audio collection, especially if you are a Lovecraft fan already.

Azathoth” – The modern world has been stripped of imagination and belief in magic. The protagonist is an unnamed man who lives in a dull and ugly city. Every night for many years the man gazes from his window upon the stars, until he comes over time to observe secret vistas unsuspected by normal humanity. One night the gulf between his world and the stars is bridged, and his mind ascends from his body out unto the boundless cosmos.

The Descendant” – This story is a fragment that seems to really go nowhere but it it great to hear the story read aloud.

The Thing in the Moonlight” – Based on a letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Donald Wandrei, dated November 24, 1927. this story describes a dream that Lovecraft had.

Polaris” – The narrator becomes convinced that this life is not real but a dream from which he cannot awaken.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep” – An inventor has created an electronic telepathic device in which he uses to go into the mind of a dying man. This one intrigued me most because the band “Black Sabbath” wrote a song based on this story.

The Doom That Came to Sarnath” – Hate, genocide, and a deadly curse consume the land of Mnar.

The Statement of Randolph Carter” – Carter attempts to describe the disappearance of his partner, Warren, into a crypt.

The Cats of Ulthar” – In Ulthar, no man may kill a cat . . . and woe unto any who tries.

Celephais” – Celephaïs was created in a dream by Kuranes as a child of the English landed gentry. As a man he dreams it again and then, seeking it, slowly slips away to the dream-world.

From Beyond” – A scientist named Crawford Tillinghast. Tillinghast creates an electronic device that emits a resonance wave, which stimulates an affected person’s pineal gland, thereby allowing them to perceive planes of existence outside the scope of accepted reality.

Nyarlathotep” – A strange and inexplicable sense of foreboding experienced by humanity in general, in anticipation of a great unknown evil.

The Nameless City” – Death lies beneath the shifting sands, in a story linking the Dream Cycle with the legendary Cthulhu Mythos.

The Other Gods” – A high priest and prophet greatly learned in the lore of the “gods of earth”, or Great Ones, attempts to scale the mountain of Hatheg-Kla in order to look upon their faces, accompanied by his young disciple Atal. Upon reaching the peak, Barzai at first seems overjoyed until he finds that the “gods of the earth” are not there alone.

Ex Oblivione” – The dreams of a presumably dying man. In his dreams, the man is walking through a valley and encounters a vine-covered wall with a locked bronze gate therein. He longs to know what lies beyond the gate.

The Quest of Iranon” – a golden-haired youth who wanders into the city of Teloth, telling tales of the great city of Aira, where he was prince. While Iranon enjoys singing and telling his tales of wonder, few appreciate it.

The Hound” – The narrator and his friend St. John, who have a deranged interest in robbing graves. They constantly defile crypts and often keep souvenirs of their nocturnal expeditions. Since they reside in the same house, they have the opportunity to set up a sort of morbid museum in their basement. Using the objects they collect from the various graves they have robbed, they organize the private exhibition. The collection consists of headstones, preserved bodies, skulls and several heads in different phases of decomposition. It also included statues, frightful paintings and a locked portfolio, bound in tanned human skin (the Necronomicon).

Hypnos” – The narrator, a sculptor, recounts meeting a mysterious man in a railway station. The moment the man opened his “immense, sunken and widely luminous eyes”, the narrator knew that the stranger would become his friend-–”the only friend of one who had never possessed a friend before”. In the eyes of the stranger he saw the knowledge of the mysteries he always sought to learn.

What the Moon Brings” – The narrator wanders through his garden one night and in the moonlight sees strange and bizarre things.

Pickman’s Model” – A Bostonian painter named Richard Upton Pickman who creates horrifying images. His works are brilliantly executed, but so graphic that they result in his membership in the Boston Art Club being revoked and himself shunned by his fellow artists.

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath” – The epic nightmare adventure with tendrils stretching throughout the entire Dream Cycle.

The Silver Key” – Randolph Carter discovers, at the age of 30, that he has gradually “lost the key to the gate of dreams.” Randolph once believed life is made up of nothing but pictures in memory, whether they be from real life or dreams, and he highly prefers his romantic nightly dreams of fantastic places and beings, as an antidote for the “prosiness of life.”

The Strange High House in the Mist” – Thomas Olney, a “philosopher” visiting the town of Kingsport, Massachusetts with his family, is intrigued by a strange house on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is unaccountably high and old and the locals have a generations-long dread of the place which no one is known to have visited

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” – Charles Dexter Ward, who in 1918 becomes embroiled in the past, due to his fascination with the history of his wizard ancestor, Joseph Curwen (who had left Salem for Providence in 1692, and acquired notoriety for his haunting of graveyards, his apparent lack of aging, and his chemical experiments). Ward physically resembles Curwen, and attempts to duplicate his ancestor’s Qabalistic and alchemical feats, eventually locating Curwen’s remains and by means of his “essential Saltes”, resurrecting him.

The Dreams in the Witch-House” – Walter Gilman, a student of mathematics and folklore at Miskatonic University, takes a room in the Witch House, a house in Arkham thought to be accursed.

Through the Gates of the Silver Key” – At a gathering to decide the fate of Randolph Carter’s estate which has been held in trust since his disappearance the mysterious Swami Chandraputra, who wears curious mittens and enveloping robes, tells Carter’s acquaintances of his ultimate fate.

While some are only partial stories, they all come together to further the dark and foreboding universe that houses Randolph Carter, Miskatonic University, the Necronomicon and Cthulu.

 

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Audiobook Review: “MARVEL: The Ultimates: Tomorrow Men”
by Michael Jan Friedman
Multi-cast performance
Published by GraphicAudio
Approximate Running Time: 5 Hours

Once again the folks responsible for “A Movie in Your Mind,” GraphicAudio bring their audio production and vocal acting excellence to another Marvel Comics adventure. This time it is in the form of the Ultimates. For those not sure who the Ultimates are, let me clarify; back in 2002 Marvel comics did a little tweaking and re-imagining of the Marvel heroes in the form of the Ultimate Marvel universe. In this re-imagining the Avengers are re-titled as the Ultimates. The title ran through a couple of runs and this book is written to take place between volumes one and two.

First of all I have to get out of the way my glowing review of GraphicAudio’s extraordinary audio production. Their slogan is “A Movie in Your Mind,” and they deliver exactly that. With only their over-the-top super-realistic sound effects and original music, the products put out by Graphic Audio would be superb. However, they don’t stop there. GraphicAudio employs some of the most talented voice actors in the business. The actors’ abilities to capture the complete characters they are portraying in all of GraphicAudio’s books are uncanny. Those actors shine even more so in the superhero genre, bringing the characters to full three-dimensional life. Combining all three of these factors (music, SFX and vocal talent) GraphicAudio brings to life the comic book / superhero world.

Now let’s talk about the author, Michael Jan Friedman. Most of Friedman’s books are stories from the “Star Trek” universe. This book proves he is able to write some good superhero action. Much like the “Star Trek” based stories, there is a lot of build-up before the real action happens. Normally I would not think this works in the comic book realm of stories, but Friedman makes it work thus giving the reader/listener an intelligent comic book that has many threads running through it. All of these threads are loosely woven together but come to a common point to bring the story to an exciting end.

So what is this exciting end? Nope, I won’t tell you, no spoilers here but here’s what builds up to the intriguing ending; “Tomorrow Men” is the story of a group of men from the future coming back to the time of the Ultimates to help stop a terrorist group, Tiber, from taking hold of the world and ruining the planet. They are able to prove their claim of being from the future by revealing knowledge that only they could know, such as the device in Steve Rogers’ (Captain America) brain that was planted in case the super soldier serum drove him insane. They also seem to know the location of some of Tiber’s secret bases. Tiber has just come on to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s radar as a terrorist group making the “Tomorrow Men” more believable.

The “Tomorrow Men” help the Ultimates battle some of Tiber’s agents, but during the aftermath of the battle, Iron Man is accidentally sent to the future to find the truth about the “Tomorrow Men” and the truth about Earth’s future.

 

 

morrissey

Audiobook Review: “Autobiography”
by Morrissey
read by David Morrissey
published by Penguin Audio
12 hrs and 44 mins

I can’t exactly say why I picked up this audiobook, but in the end, I’m glad I did. I would never consider myself with a Morrissey fan or even a Smiths fan, only by the reason that I was never really exposed to Morrissey. The weird thing is that I work in radio, but never have been exposed to his music. After listening to this audiobook, actually right about the middle of the book when I found out who some of his musical influences were some of my favorites, such as the New York Dolls and David Bowie, I dug out some of his music and gave him a listen. After hours of watching YouTube videos and listening to various sources of Morrissey’s work with the Smiths and his solo work, I became a fan.

Before actually listening to this audiobook I had only heard of Morrissey as the subject of humor, even once in a skit in the cult television show, “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.” I had always heard he was a mopey, depression inducing singer/songwriter. I have since learned my lesson and with my new found appreciation of his life I can see how his songwriting would lean toward a mopey, depression inducing realm of music, but most of what I heard was just plain good music.

In fact not knowing the artist, I even made my own joke (half-hearted) when I saw that David Morrissey had been cast as The Governor in the television series “The Walking Dead.” Using the the idea that they shared the last name I had posted via social media that The Walking Dead was going to get a mopey Governor who will depress everyone with his singing. (I didn’t say it was a good joke.) Then I saw on the list of upcoming books from Penguin I saw that David Morrissey was going to be reading the Morrissey autobiography, in my mind I saw it as synchronicity so I just had to give this book a listen. David Morrissey delivers this audiobook as if it were a performance, not just any performance, but he delivers it as though it is not a mere audiobook, but a classical play. Listening to this performance the listener can hear that Morrissey has a way with words that turns even the prose describing his life becomes musical. David Morrissey’s excellent vocal performance blended in with Morrissey’s words creates one of the most artistic pieces of non-fiction ever written. If this audiobook isn’t up for every award available it will be a pure shame.

So what is the listener in store for? To start out not a lot of happiness, but when the happy times arrive even Morrissey can find a way to make them melancholy. Morrissey suffered the same school system as, if not worse than, that depicted in the movie and album “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. From the sound of the description of the teachers, these guys should never have been allowed to be in charge of shaping and molding children’s minds and futures. I’m guessing that Great Britain didn’t have much of a screening process in the way of hiring teachers between WWII and through the 70s.

Speaking of the 70s, that’s when this audiobook gets to be fun, so get past Morrissey’s early school days and be prepared to have a fun romp through 70s music. It all starts with Morrissey discovering the pre-punk days of music with the New York Dolls and David Bowie. This is the decade that seems to have best musically shaped Morrissey and led to the creation of The Smiths.

This then leads to all sorts of legal problems between the band members and the record labels that begins to shape Morrissey’s solo career. Finally getting the recognition he deserves Morrissey is still constantly haunted by his former bandmates and the relationships between them and record labels not adequately promoting his music, but he carries on and his attitude is clear throughout the book. Even his hatred for Margaret Thatcher is fully represented, as well as his animal activism. The man knows what he stands for and is not afraid to express it. This book could very well be included on any Smiths or Morrissey fans audio shelf right next to their Morrissey music collection.

 

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Audiobook Review: “Doomed”
by Chuck Palahniuk
Read By Tai Sammons
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
9 hours and 35 minutes

If you didn’t get enough of the snarky Madison Spencer from Chuck Palahniuk’s book “Damned,” then sit back and let the life/afterlife or death/after-death of Madison Spencer roll on. Be warned, however, where “Damned” was a disgusting, gross out fest of a romp through hell, “Doomed” is just as gross but this time Maddie gets to roam Purgatory (or as we call it, Earth) as a ghost and explore all that has happened since she died.

The narrator, Tai Sammons, does an excellent job portraying the snarky, apathetic teen. Throughout the book the, Sammons captures the true spirit (pardon the pun) of Maddie Spencer so much that it seems as though you are listening to her tell her story. The voice acting was perfect throughout the audiobook and may be the redeeming factor in this not needed sequel (more on that later).

In the book “Damned,” Palahniuk introduce his readers to Maddie in a tale that could haunt us all in that knowing everything we do will land us in hell. Maddie is not happy with that idea and wants to escape hell, even though she holds a great job as a telemarketer in the pits. In “Doomed” Palahniuk guides the reader/listener on an adventure through the modern world as seen through the eyes of the plucky, pubescent progeny of celebrity parents, Madison Spencer.

As a trick on her parents Madison, while serving as a telemarketer in hell told her parents to do all the things that could land them in hell. She does this under the guise that doing these things will land them in Heaven. So from that point forward her parents creatively curse, act rude towards each other and fart as a method of tribute. The problem is these are what gets a person sent to Palahniuk’s hell. The problem in Maddie telling her parents to do these things, is that her parents are the type of celebutantes that take things to the extreme. So as a tribute to their long lost daughter, they form a church based on these principals and the world soon becomes a cursing, rude, farting mess.

In a botched ritual by Maddie’s peers, Maddie is brought back to Earth as a ghost. She now wanders the world freely and soon learns the madness that her parents have created. But first, Maddie finds the ghost of her deceased grandmother and a flashback ensues which tells the tale of how Maddie Spencer started on the path that doomed her to eternal damnation. It all starts with her causing the death and castration of her grandfather and from there the family is never the same. Maddie’s life has been guided by forces from hell long before she was born and in what becomes a battle between Satan and the forces of good Maddie travels the world with a drugged out ghost hunter to try and convince her parents to change their ways and renounce Satan.

In what I have recently discovered to be the second of a trilogy of books, “Doomed” lacks the fun and uniqueness of the first book. At times I really got tired of the book and nearly quit it. Being a Chuck Palahniuk fan I had to continue, if only to say I finished the book. Maybe the third in the series will tie it all up in a neat package. This book does have its moments, but there are long sections where nothing really happens. Give it a chance only after reading “Damned.” Just like most other books by Palahniuk, it does turn a mirror to society to show the truth behind the madness of pop-culture, but not so much in your face reality as with his other books.

all u zombies

Audiobook review “All You Zombies—” Five Classic Stories
By Robert A. Heinlein
Read by Spider Robinson
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
3.2hours

Every so often I pick up a book by an author, and am forced to ask myself, “Why haven’t I read his stuff before now?” This has been the case for Robert A. Heinlein. I’ve always considered myself a Science-Fiction fan ever since I could consider myself a fan of anything. But for some reason I find myself as an adult just now discovering Heinlein, only within the last five years or so reading the stories from this classic sci-fi author. Better late than never.

Most of what I’ve read by Heinlein have been short stories that were aimed at the young adult reader. I have yet to tackle his major works such as; “Starship Troopers,” or “Stranger in a Strange Land,” but they are on my list. This collection of short stories looked to be very entertaining and when I saw they were read by another science-fiction author, Spider Robinson, I was intrigued. I thought it would be very interesting to hear how one sci-fi author interprets another’s work. Robinson not only did a great job bringing these stories to life through his narration, but he was also able to do some vocal acting bringing some of the characters to life. His voice was very pleasant to hear and kept me listening throughout the collection.

The five stories in this collection are:

The title story, “All You Zombies – “ tells of a time traveling bartender who creates one of the biggest time paradoxes ever conceived. The synopsis of this story weaves in and out and around itself so much that there is not one single section that doesn’t give away the surprise ending. It all starts with a bartender and a patron trying to outdo each other with the most unusual origin story, but they seem to be telling the same story. Recently a movie has been released titled, “Predestination,” which is supposed to be based on this story. I’m not sure how this could be portrayed in a movie, but just to see the story unfold on the big screen has me curious enough to go see this oddity.

The next story in the collection is “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants.” The title was out their for me that I kept seeing that scene from “Ace Ventura; Pet Detective,” where Jim Carrey emerges from inside a fake rhinoceros. But alas, that was not the case. Basically this title is from the vernacular of the time where traveling salesmen were identified by what they were selling, for example; if a salesman was selling Fuller brushes he would be known to be traveling in Fuller brushes. So, the man in this story is a traveling salesman selling elephants. That still is an odd thing to do. His wife and he were a couple who traveled in elephants before she died and he continued the business after she died. One day the man is traveling to the next city to sell elephants to a circus but after a bus accident finds himself along with the other passengers on a beautiful side venture that leads to one of the most happy endings I’ve seen, read or heard since the movie, “What Dreams May Come.”

Story number three is, “They.” The story is told from the point of view of a patient in a mental institution who seems to suffer from the solipsism, but not quite, he doesn’t think he’s the ONLY being in existence but one of the few who are real and that the other real entities have created the rest of the universe in a conspiracy to deceive him. With the perfect Heinlein twist, this story may have the reader/listener questioning reality.

Story number four is a humorous story about a parking attendant named “Pappy” who has a pet sentient whirlwind named Kitten. With the help of Pete, a reporter, all three team up to try and take down the corrupt city government.

Finally, to round out this collection is “ – And He Built a Crooked House.” This story is a nice short adventure through the fourth dimension which starts with a genius architect who, while studying a tesseract, an type of cubic prism, decides he could build a house with the same parameters that would have more room on the inside than appears on the outside. The problem is that the house cannot exist as such in a three dimensional world, so he has to unfold it to build it into a three dimensional world. His unfolded tesseract home is finished and on the day he goes to show the home to his friend an earthquake occurs throwing sections of the home into another dimension. The architect, the friend and the friends wife then go on an adventure trying to find all the rooms of the house and when another earthquake occurs they find themselves on an alien landscape. How will they ever make it back to Earth?

Some great sci-fi stories from a sci-fi master. I can’t wait to read or hear more.

 

 

fickry

Audiobook Review: “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry”
by Gabrielle Zevin
Read by Scott Brick
Published by Highbridge Audio
approx 7 hours

I have always loved books. I used to look forward to the “Weekly Reader” news back in grade school so I could beg my mom to order more books. I would constantly scout yard sales in search of a book that would strike my fancy. For the most part my tastes ran in the Sci-fi and Horror genres. I hated the books that I was made to read (at least until I was older and could actually appreciate them). I once attended a high school in Oregon that each semester the student chose the classes and one semester there was a reading class. This class was unique in that it wasn’t assigned reading, but rather books the students chose. We’d spend that hour of the day reading, we kept track of the daily pages read to show progress, and as we finished each book we would discuss with the teacher on a one-on-one basis the book and what our next book choice would be. I loved those discussions, the teacher seemed to have read almost everything and each session the teacher would always steer me toward another book in that area, but I would still choose my own. During that semester I read, “Night of the Living Dead” (I was testing the limits with this), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “On the Road,” “Flowers for Algernon” and a couple of Stephen King novels.

This freedom allowed me to branch out from my horror and sci-fi novels and find other fun books. The problem was I was only at that school for one semester and soon moved on to being assigned, “Moby Dick,” “Catcher in the Rye” and the rest that everyone “must” read. While in the Navy I was constantly reading every chance I could, which there were many chances when out to sea. What this all boils down to is that reading is a major part of my life and has become even more so in my later adult years, now I can again read whatever I want, and with the addition of audiobooks into my selections, I absorb books at an even higher pace. This book by Gabrielle Zevin is written just for me. Okay, maybe not specifically for me but people like me. In “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” Zevin has shown how books are not only a major part of peoples lives but how each person’s life is like a collection of books and makes it fun to connect people with books. Even better is that this book not only shows why we read but why people come and go in our lives and why we love them and love in general. The book is full of literary references that are just as fun to discover as the listening to the audiobook itself.

I chose the audiobook version of this book for several reasons, but the main reason was that it was read by Scott Brick. Scott Brick is one of my favorite audiobook narrators. I’ve always enjoyed his readings because he is able to capture all the emotions and characters of every book he reads. This book, however, had even more of a pull, in that the press release had a quote from Brick stating that this book is one that made him cry. Knowing that Scott Brick has read thousands of books for the audiobook market, one would think he would be immune to those sad moments while reading. Without giving any spoilers, I would say that I could hear the moment that hit him hardest. Brick was perfect in the reading of this book and along with him, I found myself tearing up through out.

A.J. Fickry is a grumpy old bookstore owner. He has recently lost his wife to an auto accident, which he blames himself for. Her loss has made A.J. even grumpier. A.J. has a rare copy of “Tamerlane” by Edgar Allen Poe, and plans on selling that at auction and moving off of Alice Island. One morning after waking up hungover, A.J. discovers the book missing. After months of investigation the book is never recovered and A.J. must continue running the bookstore.

What happens next turns A.J.’s life around and he discovers the answers to several of life’s mysterys. A young woman leaves her baby in the children’s books section of the bookstore and tells A.J. through a note attached that she wants her daughter to grow up well read. The woman’s body later washes up onshore leaving more of a mystery. At first A.J. is confused and annoyed, after all what is he going to do with a baby? A.J. soon grows fond of the two year-old with a surprising vocabulary, and works to get her adopted.

The rest of the book is about learning about life and love through A.J. and his living through his daughter, Mia Tamerlane Fickry. The many lessons learned involve the differences of race and how people perceive that, how love comes to you when you least expect it, and the meaning of life. If you are ready for a book that runs the entire emotional gamut that is life. At the end of the book you can’t help but feel satisfied with just having read / listened to a great story and peek into someone’s life. All told through the shared experiences of books, book discussions, book clubs and A.J. Fickry pick out the books for his shelf.

If you have ever made friends with a book this one will easily become your new best friend.

 

 

Mad-River-Virgil-Flowers-John-Sandford

Audiobook Review: “ Mad River” Book 6 in the Virgil Flowers series
by John Sandford
Read by Eric Conger
Published by Penguin Audio
Approx. 10 hours.

John Sandford (a.k.a. John Camp) has made a name for himself in the crime series featuring Lucas Davenport of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Since 2007 he has spun off a series featuring Virgil Flowers, who made his appearance an a few of the “…Prey” series of crime novels. This is the sixth book of the Virgil Flowers series and proves once again that Sandford can keep the audience captivated when it comes to hunting down violent criminals.

The reader, Eric Conger, delivers this dark crime story in a way that not only captures each and every character in the book but also in a way that sucks you into this disturbing joy-ride of murder and mayhem. His voice work for Virgil Flowers, the main character, is spot on and gives the listener the feel that Virgil is telling you this story himself.

Yes, this is a very dark and disturbing crime novel in which three teenagers who are going nowhere decide to turn that around and go on a murderous crime spree. Their first murder is what at first, appears to be a botched burglary, but the twist in this story turns that around to bring this investigation to a complete circle.

Virgil Flowers is called in on this murder as a representative of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension once the teens really start moving on. The kids kill to get money, kill to get a car and kill a police officer in botched bank robbery. The methods of killing seem to get darker and more vicious as the teens think they are getting away with it. One of the trio wants out and makes contact with Flowers through his number posted on the news cast. Flowers soon learns that everything in this case is definitely not black and white and that the criminals are not all they seem. Explored in this story are also some truths about the justice system.

Teamed up with a local sheriff, Sheriff Duke, who once put together a concentration camp for juvenile offenders and was ridiculed because of his extreme tactics, Flowers finds himself in a race to bring these kids to justice before the sheriff can exact his own brand of justice.

Many of the surprising twists and turns in the plot and story will keep you enthralled until the very end and even then there are some unanswered questions which Sandford has written that can easily be understood as questions that just will never have answers.

This book does not fall into a mystery category by any means and deals primarily with police procedures, but Sandford does keep you guessing.

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