Tag Archive: random house audio


“William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back” 18666146
by Ian Doescher
Read by Ian Doescher, Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Jeff Gurney, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson
Published by Random House Audio
Listening Length: 3 hours and 25 minutes

 
Holy cow, how much nerdy fun can be had by reading Shakespeare? Well thanks to an acting teacher back in college, I can have lots of fun reading Shakespeare. That teacher taught me how to appreciate the quirks written into the characters. So imagine the fun this sci-fi nerd had when I discovered that someone was doing a Shakespeare/Star Wars Mashup. I love sci-fi but I was never a huge Star Wars Fan (I was on the Star Trek side of that fence) but I couldn’t resist this mashup.

There are many aspects of this audiobook to love from the vocal performances to the sound effects, the audio version of this book really brought it to life. Back to that old college acting teacher, he once said that Shakespeare is meant to be performed not merely read, that is proven even more so in this audiobook. While the author captures all aspects of Shakespeares plays in his writing, with iambic pentameter, choruses, asides, soliloquies, and the language of the Bard, once you hear the performance there is no turning back.

I forced my brother, who has got to be the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet, to listen and from the first ten syllables he was hooked and laughing out loud. Knowing the film, The Empire Strikes Back, inside and he knew exactly what line was happening next and, along with me, loving revisiting the story while at the same time feeling smarter for enjoying the rhythm of the speech.

This audiobook perfectly retells the story of the film, but adds in some extras in the mashup that create a story that could have been easily performed on the Old Globe stage. One of the interesting aspects of the writing is the speech of Yoda. In the movies all fans know Yoda has a unique reverse speech pattern. Doescher works with this in giving Yoda a unique style different from any character in the book. At first I was thinking, wait, he’s not speaking the backwards Yoda speak, but it stood out and was different. After looking up more info on the book, I discovered that Yoda was speaking in Haiku. Every time Yoda spoke it was in the form of a Haiku poem.

Another great aspect was that of the voice actors. There are several which makes for unique characterizations for each character in the story. The best part is the voice of Han Solo sounds exactly like that of a young Harrison Ford, which makes the story that much more fun and appealing to all fans.

All in all I highly recommend this audiobook to all nerds everywhere. You will laugh out loud while at the same time learn some techniques of classic literature. I think this book would make for a great teaching device, for example teaching Shakespeare to a group of high school students burnt out on Romeo & Juliet.

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.

“A Christmas Carol”
by Charles Dickens
Read by Jim Dale
Produced by Random House Audio (2003)
Approx 3 hours

Yep, I had to get into the holiday spirit, and with the crass commercialization I was not feeling very Christmas-y.  I was very close to saying, “Bah, Humbug!”  My small hometown put their OVERLY DONE Christmas decorations up the day after Halloween, and all the department stores had begun putting out Christmas items back in September.  “Bah, Humbug!” Indeed.   So what better story to get me back into the Christmas spirit than this Dickens classic.

There are many versions out there to choose from and I’m not sure why I loaded this one onto my iPod, but I did, and no matter what the reason, It turned out a great choice.  First of all the talent of the reader Jim Dale, was enough to get me into the Christmas Spirit.  His vocalized perfectly all the parts, from the charity collectors, to the two talking Spirits of Christmas Past and Present, and Marley’s ghost and of course, Scrooge himself.  Jim Dale’s acting was more than just acting out the voices and characters, he also was able to put just enough change in his vocalization of Scrooge to show the moments he changes and then the contrast between old Scrooge and reformed Scrooge were perfect without losing the character himself.  Glad I discovered this version.

The story itself is a great one that tells that a man can change his destiny, and one man’s life affects many.  Scrooge, the stingy, business only, owner of Scrooge & Marley’s money changing, thinks Christmas is just another day and doesn’t think anyone should raise a fuss.  When approached to make a donation to help the poor, his response of asking, aren’t there prisons? shows what kind of man he is.  He doesn’t even allow family to share in this cheer.  On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by his former partner who died years past, Jacob Marley.  Marley warns Scrooge he could end up like himself with heavy chains to bear, unless he changes his way.  Scrooge only sees this as a nightmare caused by indigestion.  Marley then warns Scrooge about the 3 coming spirits that will show him the true spirit of Christmas.

The first is the Ghost of Christmas Past who reminds Scrooge of how he used to be and how he gave up cheer for business, making his love interest a thing of the past.  Scrooge begins to see what is meant by the Spirit of Christmas.  The second, the Ghost of Christmas Present, is the one that shows how what he does affects those today.  Scrooge begins to see even more when he is shown the home of his employer, Bob Cratchit, and their disabled son, Tiny Tim.  When the spirit uses Scrooge’s own words about the health of Tiny Tim, Scrooge is determined to change.

The real Change comes when Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-come.  This ghost is a haunting spirit that never talks.  Scrooge is shown his dismal future and all at once the man knows what he must do.  Upon waking on Christmas day Scrooge is a changed man and begins a new life by helping his fellow man and spreading Christmas Cheer.

A classic you can’t miss and especially with Jim Dale narrating.

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