Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sync audio gives away two more audiobooks this week

It's Thursday, so Sync Audio has released another two audiobooks for free. In what is becoming a pattern, I find one of the books intriguing enough to download, while the other holds no interest for me.

I'll start with the less exciting of the two. The Book and The Crown is a fantasy / romance novel set in an alternate history Europe with magic and court intrigue. According the Goodreads reviews, there's lots of love triangles and illicit sex and YA angst. If that's you're thing, have fun, but I'd rather read something else.

The other book being given away, Sea Hearts (also released under the much better title The Brides of Rollrock Island), sounds like a trip. The novella version of the book won the World Fantasy Awards and the author, Margo Lanagan, wrote the excellent and creepy short story "Singing My Sister Down," so I have high expectations.There's not much I can tell about the plot other than that it involves a witch, magic, seal-girls and revenge. It sounds absolutely insane and wonderful.

Yes, I skipped the audiobook review this week. I'll have one up next week.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This week's Sync includes Walter Dean Myers and X: A Novel

Sync is continuing its free audiobook giveaway this week with two more books. One is a book of poetry, Here in Harlem by award winning author Walter Dean Myers. The second book is X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. The X of the title is Malcolm X, an interesting protagonist for a YA book, due to his polarizing rhetoric on race in America. This book is a fictionalized account of Malcolm X's younger days, co-written by his daughter, Shabazz. I haven't read it yet, but it looks to be an intriguing perspective.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Source: Lit2Go (iTunes link)
Length: 14 hours, 23 minutes
Reader: Rick Kistner

The book: In 1864, the Confederate States Navy Huntley became the first submarine to sink a military vessel. Within a few years, most of the major navies of the world, including the French and British Navies, were experimenting with submarines. In this atmosphere of militarization of the ocean's depths, Jules Verne wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a novel about an advanced submarine that had great potential as a weapon, but was mainly used for exploration and science. The ship, and its enigmatic owner Captain Nemo, have become so well known in popular culture that it is worthwhile going back to the source to understand what their creator was trying to convey through their story.

As someone who first encountered the Nautilus through reruns of the 1954 Disney movie and the Disney World ride, I found the whole book to be a bit dry. Yes, there are some exciting parts like the voyage to Atlantis, the encounter with island natives, and the "devilfish" attack, but much of the book reads like a travelogue, with lists of destinations and types of fish seen there. Presumably this was more exciting in Verne's mind, exasperated as he was by politics and failed revolutions. Verne's novel encapsulates the fantasy of being able to escape the surface world and embrace the mysterious life of the ocean.

Rating: 7 / 10

The reader: I've commented many times on Kistner's reading. It's good without being outstanding. He does seem to rush his speech at times, but that is something the ear can adjust to within about 15 minutes. The recording is clear and well-produced. I recommend using the iTunes link for downloading even if you're not using an Apple device.

Buy a paperback copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sync continues with free Terry Pratchett

Audiobook Sync is continuing this week with a novel by the great Sir Terry Pratchett. The free audiobook, Dodger, is not from Pratchett's well-loved Discworld series, but it sounds great anyways. Dodger is set in Victorian London and follows the adventures of a young street urchin. Pratchett always manages to combine great social commentary with hilarious comedy, so I highly recommend this one.

The other audiobook being given away this week is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I already have another audio copy sitting in my virtual to-read pile, so I'm less excited by this, but by all means pick it up if you're interested. As before, you'll need to download the Overdrive software to your computer or audio device and provide an email address to download these books. There are some geographic restrictions that also apply for certain books.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde


Source: LibriVox (Act 1 | 2 | 3)
Length: 2 Hours, 11 min
Readers: multiple

The play: “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” John Worthington, a.k.a. Ernest, has been leading a double life. In London, his friend Algernon knows him as Ernest. In the countryside, his ward Cecily knows him as Jack or John and believes that "Ernest" is Jack's black sheep brother in the city. This being a comedy, the double life comes back to bite John, and everyone tries on new identities for parts of the play, leading to more confusion. It's an old device that recalls Shakespeare's comedies, but Wilde (who knew a thing or two about putting up a false front) twists it beautifully until the false identities become more real than the actual identities. 

The funniness of the piece holds up, even after almost 100 years. Although it is meant to poke fun at British upper-class society, much of the humor is in Wilde's wonderful use of language. One-liners like "To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up," are funny even out of context, but the mounting absurdity of the play's plot make them even better. The great lines are almost too much to keep up with at some points and I found myself relistening just to catch the full wit of the words.

Rating: 9/10

The readers: Librivox does an interesting trick of having the actors record their lines separately, then has an editor paste all the lines together to make a finished recording. It shouldn't work, but somehow in this example, it does. There are places where the sound quality noticeably changes between readers, but  I didn't mind so much. The actors themselves do a remarkably good job, despite the impediment to comedic timing. I'm impressed that they were able to overcome the limitations of this style of compiling a play.

Buy a paperback copy of  The Importance of Being Earnest

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I'm back!

Yeah, I know I haven't published anything in almost 3 years. I had given this blog up, since I had changed jobs, changed my commute, and didn't have as much time for audiobooks or blogging anymore. This summer, I'll have a bit more time, so I'll be posting occasionally.

The first big announcement for the summer is that SYNC audio is back! Sync gives away free audiobooks to everyone, though the program is designed to get young people interested in reading. No credit card is required, just a name, an email and a free download of the Overdrive software for your computer or portable device. They offer 2 different titles each week. This week, they're offering Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Beautiful Creatures by  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Both books have excellent reviews and I've heard great word-of-mouth on both, though I haven't read either. These free books are only available for download until May 12, so go grab them now.

Sync will be back each week though the summer with new titles for download. I'll update as they're released.