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  • gilwilson 8:48 PM on June 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anna fields, , , , , beauty, , book, , , , fashion, non-linear story, , ,   

    “Invisible Monsters (Remix)” by Chuck Palahniuk 

    “Invisible Monsters (Remix)”
    by Chuck Palahniuk
    Read by Chuck Palahniuk, Anna Fields and Paul Michael Garcia
    Published by Blackstone Audio
    Approx 7 hours.

    Not only does Chuck Palahniuk deliver with yet another twisted tale, but this time around the story gets told HIS way. I first became a fan of Palahniuk, as did many others, when the movie “Fight Club” was released and with the non-linear story in that movie that I had loved before, I knew I had to investigate this author. Looking for the time to read every book I want to read turns out to be a bit tougher than I want. I have been wanting to read every single Chuck Palahnuik book and I’ve put a pretty good dent into his works. This book “Invisible Monsters” has been on my list for a while but I just never got around to it. Finally I got the opportunity to review this book when Blackstone Audio released the Remix and sent me a copy. I was anxious to get on with this book and even more so when I found out that this version is basically a “director’s cut” of the original novel. This “remix” contains new material and even adds a bit of extra adventure in reading that Chuck originally wanted in the novel.

    One thing to keep in mind is that Chuck Palahniuk is the master of non-linear storytelling. If you are not familiar with this type of story, whether you are reading or listening, It seems to jump around from the past to now in the storyline and by the time you get to the end you get this big “Ah-Ha!” moment where it all makes sense. (Also you get those moments throughout the story.) I’m a fan of this type of story telling, because usually the story is not predictable.

    In the introduction to this story, Palahniuk, discusses how he originally wanted to release the novel where it was nearly a never-ending story with the chance to either continue reading to the next chapter or to jump ahead or back to a chapter creating a different story with the same ending. That’s what the “Remix” is all about. Jumping to the various chapters in the book. In this new version, in hardcover form, Chuck mixes up the order of the original text and intersperses it with a series of reminiscences, commentaries and mental challenges to the reader. Some chapters are printed in reverse, so that the reader must hold them up to a mirror in order to read them. Each chapter ends with an instruction to “jump” to a new chapter. These “jump to chapter” instructions create four internal loops within the book:

    Loop 1 is the original text. By following the “jump to” instructions, the reader can track the story as originally published.
    Loop 2 consists of three chapters of reminiscences describing the process that led to the writing of the book.
    Loop 3 consists of three chapters of commentary directed to the reader.
    Loop 4 consists of four chapters providing further insights into the mind of the main character, Daisy St. Patience.

    The audio version is presented in the same order as the print version. Listeners can experience the book as printed and discover new material and insights as they go, or they can follow the “jump to” instructions by creating their own “playlists.” Here is where I have my complaint. I received the audio CD version and when jumping around I would have to change the CD, for example the instructions would tell the listener to jump to disc 6 track twelve after listening to the first chapter on disc one. This would work nice If I had had the digital audio version and could make a playlist on my iPod, but driving and changing discs mad for, at times, a very frustrating process. This idea works great for the hardcover and digital audio (it comes with a pdf file giving the track number order for the various loops) but for the CD version it makes listening difficult. In fact, if the story weren’t so fascinating and original I might have stopped listening.

    Other than the CD shuffle frustration, the audiobook is superb. Anna Fields does the reading of the main story loop, and her ability do the vocal gymnastics to perform each character is perfect. Without giving away some spoilers, I will say that when you find out more about each character the listener will realize that Anna offers up some hints in her vocal work that give you some more “Ah-Ha” moments. She is simply awesome in the delivery of this book.

    Okay, so how do you sum up a book that starts at the end and ends in the middle without giving away spoilers? I may accidentally give some spoilers so if you don’t want to read them, I suggest you just take my word for it and pick up this super-fun transgendered road-trip novel and have fun.

    That being said, I think I can sum up the gist of the story by saying the story is about a model that has lost her face and decides to take a road trip with two companions as one tries to find her sister and one is in love with another and all are damaged goods. Shannon is the model but when she runs into Brandy Alexander, her life becomes a mystery and at the same time unravels the mysteries of the three companions on their road-trip through parts of Canada and Northwest U.S.

    Palahniuk mixes family pressures, homophobes, transgender persons, models and undercover cops into a satire of the beauty and fashion on a mystery road trip that will surprise you with every chapter.

     
  • gilwilson 10:50 PM on June 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , book, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    “Green Lantern: Sleepers – book 1” by Christopher J. Priest & Mike Baron 

    “Green Lantern: Sleepers – book 1”
    by Christopher J. Priest & Mike Baron
    Full Cast Production
    Produced by GraphicAudio
    Approx 6 hours

    Yes I love my comic books, and yes I love my audiobooks, so when I get the chance to merge the two I jump on it. You are probably thinking, “But isn’t the fun in comics the artwork? How do you see the artwork in an audiobook?” I used to think that until I got my hands on my first GraphicAudio production. The slogan for GraphicAudio is “A Movie in Your Mind” and boy do they ever deliver. GraphicAudio uses superb voice actors mixed in with original music and mind-blowing sound effects that take the full artwork experience of a comic book and bring it to life in their great audiobook productions. While this book was written as a novel and didn’t have the artwork of a comic book, GraphicAudio is able to bring this book to life in their full production, “Movie in Your Mind.”

    This book is actually part of a trilogy in which each book focuses on a different Green Lantern. If you are not a regular reader of the Green Lantern Comics, let me explain a bit on that. Throughout the continuity of DC comics there have been several different versions of the Green Lantern, beginning with Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, the thing to note is that he got his power from a lantern created from a meteor. The Green Lanterns got their powers from rings created by the Guardians on the planet Oa. Alan Scott is also the father of Jade who is now dating Kyle Raynor, the current incarnation of Green Lantern. Raynor is the focus of this story, but more on that later. Since I’ve already mentioned Raynor, I’ll now mention the third Green Lantern you need to know about for this book and trilogy, Hal Jordan.

    Hal Jordan was a founding member of the Justice League, and the first Green Lantern to get powers from the Guardians. During the DC comics history Jordan became a bad guy, known as Parallax and attempted to commit cosmic genocide. It was because of this that the Guardians made Kyle Raynor the new Green Lantern. To make things short Hal has now become the Spectre. The Spectre historically has been judge, jury and executioner for people, countries and planets and usually in a very harsh manner. Hal, because of his time as Parallax, chooses to be a more peaceful Spectre and takes more of a pacifist’s view of helping out other heroes.

    Okay with all that back history let’s talk about this first book in the “Sleepers” trilogy. The book begins with a battle in World War II in which the soldiers are fighting on the ground and the superheroes battling in the air. When a medic finds a soldier dying on the field, the dying soldier insists the medic, Eddie Rochefort (Roach to his friends), take his ring. The medic takes the ring after the man takes his last breath and passes on. Jump now a couple of decades and Hal Jordan as Green Lantern teams up with Black Canary, Ganthet and Green Arrow to defeat Sinestro in the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. They send his remains back to his anti-matter universe and that is the end of Sinestro. Now jump to “today” and Kyle Raynor as Green Lantern has just proposed to his girlfriend, Jade, and she has turned him down. While looking for a shirt in his closet he finds a pregnancy test in her closet and he freaks out and takes a trip to Saturn.

    While around Saturn, Kyle finds remains of a ship that look as though it was destroyed millions of years ago and may have come from the anti-matter universe. After gathering some samples and sending back to Justice League headquarters for analysis, Kyle returns home to find Jade getting friendly with the exterminator, Eddie Rochefort II (Roach to his friends).

    Years ago Eddie the second was digging in his grandfather’s attic to find a ring that was similar to a Green Lantern Ring, but when he discovered the ring his Grandfather is burned alive by an alien monster. Eddie is then visited by an alien craft years later and soon becomes the next Sinestro. With his fixation on Jade, he kidnaps her and takes her to the anti-matter universe where an invasion is being planned.

    It is now up to Kyle Raynor, Green Lantern, to save Jade, destroy this second Sinestro and save the universe. Seeking help from Hal Jordan doesn’t seem possible since he’s off on his hippie Spectre kick, and the Justice League all seem to be out of reach. Can the Green Lantern stop Sinestro and the invasion in time? In a full-scale audio explosion from GraphicAudio you will have fun all the way to the exciting end.

     
  • gilwilson 7:52 PM on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , book, , , , , , , , , ,   

    “Hell’s Legionnaire” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “Hell’s Legionnaire”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio (2012)
    Approx. 2 hours

    Another month flies by and it’s time for another release of a story from the golden age from Galaxy Audio/Galaxy Press. In April (2012) they will be releasing the L. Ron Hubbard far-flung adventure “Hell’s Legionnaire,” featuring three stories from the days of pulp fiction magazines. The three stories in this new release were all released in 1935 and each one tells a tale from the adventures of the French Foreign Legion.

    I remember when I was a kid and seeing on television some kid threatened to run away and join the foreign legion. I became intrigued and looked up the info at the time and realized that while I liked the kepi (the cap worn by the Legion) and the exploding fleur-de-lis symbol, I was not about to follow the kid on television and become an elite fighting force which allowed all nationalities a chance to fight for France. However, Hubbard has written several stories involving the Legion I can live out these adventures, even if only in my imagination.

    Once again Galaxy Audio has produced an audiobook that not only brings to life these classic tales from the master story-teller, L. Ron Hubbard, but also recreates the whole pulp-fiction experience into an audio format. They achieve this by creating a performance of the book that is very reminiscent of old-time radio shows from around the same time of the original printings of these stories. The voices, from the separate actors for each character all the way to the classic old timey feel of the narration keep the story realistic and yet over the top with each performance. The sound effects place the listener right in the middle of the shootouts between the Legion and the Berbers. The music between chapters and stories is superb and with the bugle calls of the Legionnaires as the building point for the original music, the listener can charge along and fight the Berbers or seek out the gold.

    The three stories in this collection are:

    “Hell’s Legionnaire” originally published in the July, 1935 issue of “Mystery Adventures” tells the tale of an american who is sentenced to a penal colony for killing an officer, even though it was self-defense, as he runs from the Legion but only to find he’s run straight into a Berber camp, the enemy. In this camp he discovers a beautiful American woman who is just about to be tortured by the Berbers. He can’t just leave her behind so using his cunning and skills learned in the Legion he fights to find away for them both to leave the country, while trying to not only escape the Berbers but the French Foreign Legion, as well.

    “The Barbarians” originally published in the December, 1935 issue of “Dime Adventure Magazine” tells of Captain Jack Harvey, an American in service of the Legion who is sent to avenge the death of a comrade. He flies behind enemy lines to confront the Berber tribal chief and after talking with the chief sees the war in an entirely new philosophical view.

    “The Squad That Never Came Back” originally published in the May, 1935 issue of “Thrilling Adventures” tells of a corporal in the Legion who, threatened with death, leads a group of fellow legionnaires to a lost treasure in the Moroccan desert.

    Each story is a great escapism story that will give you the chance for some great adventure while staying within your own comfort zone.

     
  • gilwilson 9:51 PM on February 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , book, , , , , , ,   

    “Death Waits at Sundown” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “Death Waits at Sundown”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    approx. 2 hours

    Holy cow, another month has gone by and it’s time for the next release of Stories from the Golden Age. Galaxy Press and Galaxy Audio have been republishing the pulp-fiction works of L. Ron Hubbard into two awesome formats. In the paperback releases you get that old timey pulp fiction magazine feel with the awesome graphics on the cover and pics on the inside. In the Audiobook format they stick with that old timey feel in that the stories are fully produced with a full cast of actors, sound effects, and music that fits every story. This time around they have taken back to the days where the trails were dusty and the cattle were rustled. Which reminds me of a joke…but I’ll wait until the end of the review to tell you.

    Every time I listen to one of these books I’m always amazed at the supreme voice talent and production that goes into each of the stories. You gotta realize that back in the day when writing for the pulps L. Ron Hubbard created over the top characters and to get readers that was a must. In these audio productions this over the top aspect of the characters is carried through with the excellent voice work. Each character in the story has a significant part to play and the voice actors all portray every aspect of the character through their excellent acting. The voices are superb.

    I have mentioned him in the past, but I want to talk more about Jim Meskimen. He has performed and directed in many of the stories in these audiobooks and even narrated and a few. Jim Meskimen is a talent that is out of this world, maybe even not of this Earth. He is well known for his impersonations that are nothing shy of astounding (check out his viral youtube video http://youtu.be/j8PGBnNmPgk ). This time around the cast not only includes Jim but also Tamra and Taylor Meskimen. I’m pretty sure I’m right in saying that Tamra is his wife and Taylor is the result of these two outstanding talents passing their extremely talented genes to their offspring. So with this cast, which also includes Fred Tatasciore, R.F. Daley, Shannon Evans, Taron Lexton, Phil Proctor and Michael Yurchak, you are getting some excellent vocal talent that can create a full theatre of the mind experience that these classic stories deserve.

    This audiobook consists of the following three stories:

    “Death Waits at Sundown” originally printed in the October, 1938 issue of “Western Story” magazine tells of Lynn Taylor, a hard-riding, two-fisted Texan who plans depriving the town of Pioneer of its necktie party because just wants to substitute another victim, the real criminal. Taylor’s kid brother, Lee, gets framed for stage robbery, cattle rustling (that joke is coming) and murder, the boy swears his innocence and instead accuses McCloud, head of the vigilante committee responsible for removing the town’s former sheriff. with the help of the former sheriff, Lynn sets up a trap for McCloud.

    “Ride ’Em, Cowboy!” originally published in the July, 1938 issue of “Western Story” magazine is a great cowboy competition story between a Cowboy and a Cowgirl. When a champion bronco-buster and the girl he wants to marry, but constantly quarrels with, compete for the same prize at a rodeo, the results are unexpectedly romantic, but still with some good ol’ cowboy action involved.

    “Boss of the Lazy B,” originally published in the September, 1938 issue of “Western Story” magazine shows that there’s only one kind of justice for a kidnapper and a thief and the boss of the Lazy B dispenses it with authority. I gotta say that the voice of the Boss is the coolest in this collection, you’ll see when you listen.

    So, do yourself a favor and punch some dogies or just get this super awesome audiobook.

    Okay now for that joke:

    An Arizona cowpoke rides into a small Texas town and notices a gallows being set up in the middle of town. When he walks into the town saloon he says to the bar-keep, “Looks like you folks is gettin’ set for a hangin’.” The bar-keep says, “yep, they’s ahangin’ Brown Paper Pete.” “Brown Paper Pete?” asks the cowpoke, “Why do they call him that?” “Well,” explains the bar-keep, ” He wears brown paper chaps, a brown paper vest, and wears a brown paper 10 gallon hat.” The cowpoke asks, “What are they hangin’ him for?” The bar-keep answers, “Rustlin’.”

     
  • gilwilson 12:38 PM on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , book, , , , island, , michael boatman, , the cay, theodore taylor, ,   

    “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor 

    “The Cay”
    by Theodore Taylor
    Read by Michael Boatman
    Published by Listening Library (2006)
    2 hours and 58 minutes

    How many of you out there have read a Young Adult book?  Hopefully many, but for those of you who haven’t, I hope I can get you started in a new direction.  Young Adult literature are books that are aimed at the ages of 12-18.   These books run the gamut of genres and can be some very interesting reading.  Sure they are written for “the kids” but we adults can thoroughly enjoy them as well.  Take for example the “Eragon” series or the Harry Potter series, many adults found hours of enjoyment in those books, and there are lots more where those came from.

    A couple of summers ago I was introduced via an online community the group Audiobook Sync.  Each summer they have pair up  YA (Young Adult) audiobooks with a similar theme, so each week in the summer kids & adults can download 2 audiobooks for free.  Last summer I downloaded every week’s pairing and even though it has taken me until now to get to some, I love these books.  This book, “The Cay” was teamed up with “Storm Runners.” I haven’t listened to “Storm Runners,” yet but if this book is any sign, it should be fun.

    “The Cay” takes place during World War II but is not a war story, rather this is one of survival and friendship.  When WWII breaks out Phillip Enright and his family are living on the island of Curacao.  Phillip’s father was brought in from the states to help build oil refineries for the Island.  The Germans send submarines to the island to prevent the refining process so the non-axis countries cannot have the fuel.  When the island becomes unsafe Phillip and his mother board a boat, the S.S. Hato, to Virginia.  The ship is torpedoed and Philip is separated from his mother.  He finds himself on a raft with an old West Indian man, Timothy, from the boat and a cat named Stew. Phillip has been warned by his mother about black people, “They are different, and they live differently,” and is wary of Timothy.  Timothy rescues Phillip but during the boat attack Phillip was hit in the head and after a couple of days becomes blind.

    Phillip becomes extra dependent on Timothy because of the blindness.  Soon the odd trio arrive at a cay, a small island with no fresh water, and begin setting up camp for survival.  The two characters learn to overcome their disdain for one another, and develop strong bonds of friendship by the end of the novel. The two characters learn to overcome their disdain for one another, and develop strong bonds of friendship. Timothy teaches Phillip how to do many survival skills, such as weaving sleeping mats, building ways to catch fresh water and ways to fish, all while overcoming Phillip’s blindness.  The trio overcomes many obstacles until a hurricane blows in and they must rush to tie everything down, including themselves.  During the storm they lose their shelter, also sometime during the storm Timothy, who is somewhere near 80 years old, dies, leaving Phillip to fend for himself,  Phillip soon learns why Timothy did the things he did, he was preparing Phillip to survive alone.

    This story was one of those filled with every emotion from anger, anxiety to love and friendship and will keep you listening until the very end.  Michael Boatman does a superb job of voicing this book, and captures the accents and emotions of both of the characters perfectly.

     
    • Bookish Hobbit 7:14 PM on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I remember when we read this book in school. The teacher had passed out copies for all of us to read along as she had the audio book playing on the cassette player. I actually was thinking about this book a month or two ago.

      Like

    • katkasia 4:33 PM on January 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve had this book since primary school (and I’m talking the 80’s here), although I’ve never heard the audio version. It’s a terrific read!

      Like

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