Fizzy Thoughts

Archive for the ‘audio books’ Category

The End of the Affair

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end of the affair

The End of the Affair
Graham Greene
Narrated by Colin Firth
6 hours and 28 of the longest minutes of my life
first published in 1951

For such a short book (audio, actually), this one was agonizingly long. So long, in fact, that it took me about 5 months to listen to the whole thing.

Major spoilerly bits ahead…

Maurice is a writer. And he embarks on an affair with Sarah. Who is married. And then a bomb drops (literally…it’s WWII and they’re in London) and suddenly Sarah calls it quits. So Maurice mopes and whines and then gets jealous and hires a PI (or whatever) who steals Sarah’s journal and he finds out that she made a deal with God (who she maybe doesn’t even believe in?) that if they survived the bomb she’d be good and end the affair which she did. So then Maurice (which is Morris, not More-eese, like in the song (you know the one? some people call me a space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love?)) hunts Sarah down and tries to convince her to (finally) ditch her hubbie and run off and he has almost maybe succeeded when whammo…she dies. So then he mopes some more and whines some more about love and possession and how he doesn’t feel sorry for her husband because Sarah really loved him (Maurice-Morris him, that is) so nanny nanny boo boo and then they move in together (Maurice and the hubbie who is now a widower…for reals, they really do move in together) and they have philosophical discussions over whether Sarah was a Catholic or not.

I kid you not, this is what the book is about. And it is horribly long and whiney (just like this post!) and depressing as hell and I was ready to shoot Maurice by the end because not even the voice of Colin Firth made him worth the agony of listening to a jealous, possessive, self-absorbed nincompoop bemoan the end of an affair and a woman that wasn’t even likable.

WHY DID I EVER THINK I WANTED TO READ GRAHAM GREENE?!?!? WHYYYYYYYY??????

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Written by softdrink

March 8, 2013 at 6:00 am

How To Be a Woman

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how to be a woman

How To Be a Woman
Caitlin Moran
audio narrated by Caitlin Moran
2011

Picture me standing on a chair yelling “This book is fucking amazing!”

1. The chair standing is Ms. Moran’s fault. She actually wanted me to yell “I am a strident feminist” but since this post is more about her book than my thoughts on feminism (although I would totally yell “I am a strident feminist” if I weren’t too embarrassed to do so in a public setting) I made a word substitution.
2. The cursing is her fault, too. Okay, not really. But if you think I have a potty mouth, boy howdy are you in for a surprise if you read her book.

I wish I had a modicum of Moran’s talent. She is funny as hell (and ruder than all fuck) but good lord can she also make damn good sense. She writes about everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Boobs, pubic hair, shoes, abortion…nothing is taboo in this book. And while the language can be totally in your face, she really does make you go “umm, yeah…that. Totally that.” I’d quote, but I listened to the audio and we all know I have a memory like Swiss cheese. (Which is why I went for the print version of Moranthology...well, and because Audible didn’t have it on audio.)

I know many of you have already read this, but if you haven’t AND you think a lot of what we do as women (Brazilian wax job anyone?) is ridiculous then by golly (thought I’d through in a golly to counteract all of the fucks) this is a book you need to read.

Oh! And I found quotes (thank you GoodReads):

“But, of course, you might be asking yourself, ‘Am I a feminist? I might not be. I don’t know! I still don’t know what it is! I’m too knackered and confused to work it out. That curtain pole really still isn’t up! I don’t have time to work out if I am a women’s libber! There seems to be a lot to it. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?’
I understand.
So here is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”

“When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42 percent of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?”

“But as the years went on, I realised that what I really want to be, all told, is a human. Just a productive, honest, courteously treated human.”

Written by softdrink

January 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

Under the Dome

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Under the Dome
Stephen King
narrated by Raul Esparza
2009
page count? a lot
death count? also a lot

********************

I talked a little bit about this one already (leatherheads!), but I had to come back and ramble on about the characters. Because Under the Dome has my most favorite (to date) Stephen King bad guy:

Big Jim Rennie.

Dude is whacked. Seriously. I’m gonna go out on a limb and state that Rennie is scarier than Pennywise, because people like Rennie actually exist. On the surface he’s an upstanding citizen…town selectman, church-goer, business owner. But underneath? Whoa doggy.

(Side note on the narration of this puppy: Esparza nailed Rennie. He oozed fake sincerity. However, in my opinion, he had serious problems with all of the young women and teenage voices. They all sounded like 4 year-olds. It took me about 1/2 way through the audio to notice it, because most of the early characters are men and older women. Also, the Maine accents were hit and miss. And Rennie sounded like he was from the South. But then every time Rennie made an appearance I promptly forgot my issues, because OMG, that voice…aaaaahhh! Still, I’m not sure that I’d recommend the audio for this one.)

Back to Rennie. The guy is a megalomaniac, and I swear my anxiety spiked every time he made an appearance. He started off just slightly off. Like you knew he was up to no good, but you weren’t sure what that no good was. But then. He just got worse. And worse. And even worser. And just when you thought he couldn’t get any worser…he did! How worse? Let me count the ways (AND DON’T READ THIS IS IF YOU’RE GOING TO READ THE BOOK): First he starts off by manipulating a riot, then he moves on to murder, and then he sets up and arrests our beloved Barbie for the murders, and he manages to hire the town hoodlums to the police force (even though he’s not the police chief) and by the way, have I mentioned the meth lab (?!?) that he’s operating and then conspires to blow up? Oh, and when his kid dies…he’s happy! I told you the guy was whacked.

Luckily, to counteract all this badness, we have Barbie. Barbie (Dale Barbara, so Barbie is a he) is the voice of reason that can’t quite seem to get a break. I loved Barbie. He’s like Stu, only better, ’cause his Frannie is Julia, and Julia actually has a brain! (And that sentence only makes sense if you’ve read both Under the Dome and The Stand.)

While I actually liked the overall story of 11/22/63 better, I think Under the Dome is a fascinating look into what happens when a group of people are cut off from the rest of society (think Lord of the Flies). Everyone’s base nature is revealed…power-hungry people like Big Jim Rennie take advantage of the situation, ignoring the future and seeing only what is in it for them. Others, like Barbie, are forward thinking and work for solutions.

On second thought, maybe I like Under the Dome more.

Written by softdrink

November 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

11/22/63

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11/22/63
Stephen King
narrated by Craig Wasson
2011
849 pages, or 30 hours and 44 minutes in audio form

********************

This is my favorite King novel!

And okay, so I’ve only read three, but this one pretty much blew The Stand and IT out of the water (and I liked those books).

Quick synopsis: High school teacher Jake Epping is sent back to the past through a rabbit hole. His mission, should he choose to accept it? Stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing President Kennedy. The rationale behind this is that if Kennedy had lived, there would be no Vietnam War and the future would be an even better place. The potential of Camelot, and all that shit (not that I’m bashing Camelot, ’cause I so would’ve voted for Kennedy had I been there, I just have issues with the idea of altering the past to get a magically better present).

11/22/63 is basically a time travel novel. But it’s also so much more. It’s a story about the repercussions of messing with the past, and love and friendship and community, and the repercussions of messing with the past (and hey, I’m repeating myself just like King!).

I have to admit, I spent a good portion of the story wondering if there were even going to be repercussions. In typical King fashion, this puppy is long. Jake spends YEARS in the past, waiting for the one big moment that he is there for (because the rabbit hole only takes you back to a certain day in 1958). So there are YEARS to kill. Also, he goes back a few times and relives the first few months. God, that was almost agonizing.

Anyhoosie. It’s not until the very end of the book (again, in typical King fashion) that we see what happens when you play god and mess with the past (both big and small events). While I was a bit surprised as to what actually happened, I was exceptionally pleased (if not a little heart-broken) that Jake came to his senses.

Some random thoughts:

Once again King has pet phrases that he overuses. If I ever hear the phrase “the past is obdurate” again, I might just scream.

As I mentioned in my final IT post, the town of Derry makes an appearance, and it is awesome. This was one of my favorite parts of the book, even if most of the Derry characters were total asshats.

I loved the entire Sadie storyline, and the town of Jodie.

Al. Oh, Al. You are so, so misguided to think that changing the past always works out for the best. Just because someone is in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that her life will automatically be better if you make it so that the life-changing event never happened. I would’ve liked this to have been explored more fully (although yes, I know, the book is already too long). It seemed that after they changed the course of the woman’s life she faded into the woodwork, whereas in the timeline where she is in the wheelchair she lived a very full and successful life.

The yellow/orange/green/black card man was driving me batty. I’m really, really glad that there was finally an explanation!

Raise your hand if you read the book and then had google Marina Oswald to find out what happened to her. (raises hand)

I loved the characters in this book. I happen to think King is genius at characterization, and his genius shines in this one. Yes, there are a lot of people, but unlike IT and The Stand, I wasn’t ready to edit any of them out.

I listened to this, and the audio was fucking brilliant. Seriously. Fucking. Brilliant. King must have awesome karma, because it seems like he gets all the good narrators. I actually wanted to go to the gym, just to get more listening time in. If you’re ever looking for a 30 hour audio book, this is the one.

Other than the horror of changing the past, I wouldn’t classify this as horror. If you’re afraid of reading King because you think he’s scary, start here. Just be warned, this sucker is LONG. Although not as long as The Stand!

Written by softdrink

October 19, 2012 at 6:00 am

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

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How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
Mike Brown
narrated by Ryan Gesell
2010
7 hours 48 minutes (and 288 pages if you’d rather read it)

********************

Publisher’s description:

The solar system most of us grew up with included nine planets, with Mercury closest to the sun and Pluto at the outer edge. Then, in 2005, astronomer Mike Brown made the discovery of a lifetime: a tenth planet, Eris, slightly bigger than Pluto. But instead of adding one more planet to our solar system, Brown’s find ignited a firestorm of controversy that culminated in the demotion of Pluto from real planet to the newly coined category of “dwarf” planet. Suddenly Brown was receiving hate mail from schoolchildren and being bombarded by TV reporters—all because of the discovery he had spent years searching for and a lifetime dreaming about.

A heartfelt and personal journey filled with both humor and drama, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is the book for anyone, young or old, who has ever imagined exploring the universe—and who among us hasn’t?

This was an entertaining book to listen to. And it totally made sense at the time (unlike Einstein, my current sciencey listen). It also made me realize that I’ve forgotten the order of the planets (on the one hand, that’s kind of embarrassing, but on the other hand, I can’t say that I’ve had any reason whatsoever to spout off the order of the planets since high school science class, so maybe it’s good that the brain has freed up space for something else). For awhile there while I was listening I could once again tell you the order. But now? Please. That was 2 weeks ago. You expect me to remember that far back?

This book totally has its geeked out moments, but overall it’s an interesting way to get the full story on why poor Pluto got the planetary boot (which is something I’m still sad about, even after listening to Brown explain why Pluto really doesn’t deserve to hang with the big boys). Brown is surprisingly gentle with his readers, and he explains things so that they totally make sense. He also throws in the story of how he met his wife, got married, and had a daughter…all this was happening at the same time he was discovering planets that aren’t really planets and that led to poor Pluto being assassinated. Okay, fine…I agree that Pluto isn’t really worthy. But sometimes letting go is hard.

One of my favorite moments from the book was when Brown describes asteroids as the minnows of the solar system, and planets as whales. Not only did his explanation make perfect sense, but it provided a great visual, too. I think it also shows the talent that he has for making astronomy accessible to us science dunces.

Written by softdrink

April 16, 2012 at 6:00 am

Unfamiliar Fishes

with 12 comments

I’m sorry, Sarah, but I think our (one sided) love affair is over. While I’ve loved your other books, this one just didn’t work for me. It was, to be blunt, boring. Not boring all the time, but boring enough that I might’ve tuned out a few times while listening to the audio. Admittedly, that’s my fault. You see, I’ve always found missionaries to be both yawn-inducing and aggravating (I’m not really into spreading the word of a guy I don’t believe in). So I really should have known better. I guess I didn’t realize just how much of the missionaries positions (sorry, I couldn’t resist) you talked about. I was expecting more Hawaiian history, and less America takes over Hawaii history. Maybe if I’d listened to this while I was actually in Hawaii?

Anyways. Dude, don’t think this means I won’t read anymore of your books, because I totally will. Read them, that is. Maybe not listen to, though. I think I’ve listened to enough by now. Your distinctive voice is forever imbedded in my brain.

Also, I keep wanting to call your book Unfamiliar Fishies. I’m sorry.

Written by softdrink

March 21, 2012 at 6:00 am

Macbeth: A Novel

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I have a little confession…I have NO (none, zero, zip, nada, zilch) interest in reading Shakespeare anymore.

I have read a few of his plays… back in my high school days. You know, when I had to. There was Romeo and Juliet (forbidden love, death), Julius Caesar (betrayal, death), The Merchant of Venice (“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, blah, blah, blah…”), and All’s Well That Ends Well (par-tay!).

And then there are Macbeth and Othello. Two plays I have never read, have no intention of ever reading, but am still curious about, mostly because it seems like you can’t turn a page without running into a reference from them.

So when I saw the novelization of Macbeth was available at Audible, I was all “Sweet!”

And then I listened to it, and I’m all “Not sweet!” There’s sex! And that makes me sound like a literary prude, which I so am not. While I have absolutely nothing against sex in books, I’d been listening to Macbeth: A Novel and trying to envision it being performed, and well, ummm, yeah. That part really didn’t work for me, especially since it was pretty graphic.

Also, I know it’s a novelization, which means things were changed or embellished, and I’m down with that, too, but since I don’t know much of the original story (there’s a king, and some guys who are not the king, and some prophesying by three witches (aka The Weird Sisters (which totally explains the title of a book I read last year)) and some plotting, and then one of the guys who was not the king is now the king, and then things just go to shit after that) it was hard to know what was true to the play and what wasn’t.

In short, not my best idea. Even though I now get who the Weird Sisters are.

Written by softdrink

March 2, 2012 at 6:00 am