Sunday, May 18, 2008

Audiobook loot / reviews

0805 audio book loot
Originally uploaded by rooruu

This lot arrived recently, and having finished (and thoroughly enjoyed) Skulduggery Pleasant in audiobook form (take a bow, Rupert Degas, your voice is a wonder and a delight, I was laughing like a drain!), I am now starting on these on my daily commute.

All but Outlander were among the bargain audio books at Barnes and Noble, so there's a goodly amount of bang (or voice) for your buck here (and that's even with postage costs: audiobooks here are usually pretty expensive. Outlander alone would have cost more, if I'd bought it here, than all seven in the photo. Thanks be there aren't audiobook regions such as you find with DVD regions).

Apart from Outlander (by Diana Gabaldon, published in Oz & the UK as Cross Stitch), the rest are not books I've read before. Some are abridged, some unabridged: for a fiction book in particular, that I had read in print, an abridged audiobook could feel a bit filleted, and I think I'd find myself waiting for a particular bit and being disappointed if it wasn't included. Maybe I'll disprove this theory somewhere down the line, but for now, if I know and love a book (eg The Time Traveler's Wife), it's unabridged only for me. Conversely, if I listen to one of the above and love it to bits, I may hunt out the novel. The ones above include three nonfiction, four fiction.

My audio book listening tally so far is:

The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
unabridged: read by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow

Rating: utterly brilliant. I loved the novel anyway, but their voices have made me love it even more. It's 16 CDs, and I've listened to it all through, um three times? And lent it to friends. Keeper. This is the audiobook that was so good, it got me into audiobooks. And if you work through that thought, Audrey Niffenegger's book was so good, on the page, that I ventured into its unabridged audiobook. Thank you, Audrey.

The Last of the Mohicans
by James Fenimore Cooper
abridged, thanks be: read by William Hope

I blogged about this. I wasn't polite. William was the best thing about it, and he was wading neck-high in sludge-like prose, poor man, doing his best (and a bunch of accents). Realised that my version of this book (and my only version, you can fergeddaboudit regarding any actual printed text) is the Michael Mann/Daniel Day Lewis film. Aaaaah.
Rating: not remaining in my collection. Probably given away anonymously, so as not to embarrass myself by association.

Skulduggery Pleasant
by Derek Landy
unabridged: read by Rupert Degas

The book's hilarious, and the audio book's hilarious too - and with an audible Irish accent, instead of you remembering to put it in yourself. Rupert's characterisations are excellent - you never mistake Stephanie for Skulduggery - and it's all just heaps of fun, with a wonderful Irish sense of humour.
Rating: must lend this one to kids. And adults. Would be great on a car journey. Keeper.

From the group in the photo:

Middletown, America: one town's passage from trauma to hope
by Gail Sheehy
abridged: read by Gail Sheehy

Abridged here was good - I'm not saying that as a slam, but this was a book I hadn't read, and I think I've gained what I wish from the 6 hour narration. Sheehy's book is based on hundreds of interviews she undertook with people from Middletown, New Jersey, which lost proportionately more people in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre than almost anywhere else. The book is a lens to consider this event, refracted through the lives of a varying group of people. Some, angry in their grief, focus in on the why, and their energy drove an unwilling government towards accountability. For others, it was the loss of a father who'd never know the daughter his wife was carrying on 9/11, or the family who lost a firefighting son/brother, or the men who worked at Ground Zero. All sorts of stories showing how this one day reached into so many lives in so many ways, and how people responded (well and not so well, she doesn't sugarcoat). Sometimes, Gail Sheehy's voice has an odd halting quality, hitching or halting where you would have expected smoothness: but what she can bring, which no narrator in this case could, is her memory of just how the people she interviewed said what they said, tone, inflection, volume. Anger, despair, hope, grief, the gamut.
Rating: good. A keeper, but I won't be listening to it again for a while. Not only do I have loots (sic) more to listen to, it's a story to let sift and settle.

The car's CD stacker has been completely overtaken by whichever is the current audiobook - I listen in the car rather than at home - and every journey now, commute or whatever, is companioned by these stories. It's been one of the good things I've learned/discovered this year.

Which one's next? Either Outlander or The Art of Mending (which I accidentally bought as audiocassettes rather than CDs, but since the car's old enough to have a cassette player too, this isn't a problem - and it was a bargain priced audiobook).

I haven't yet investigated and suchlike sources of audio downloads - the car doesn't have an mp3 socket, and I'm not sure how these would work with my internet connection in terms of time/bandwidth and associated costs. One step at a time.

Oh, and for several good reasons I listen to the radio rather than audiobooks when I'm quilting or sewing, although I know that's audiobook time for others.

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