Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book binge minus the blog binge - Monthly Update June 2010

June flew by and I did a bit of reading but haven't gotten my act together to post as of late - exhausted from audiobook week! How do daily posters do it?!

In the queue for posting are...
On Folly Beach by Karen White
Memory of Water by Karen White
I'd Rather We Got Casinos by Larry Wilmore
The American by Andrew Britton
The End of Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

The state of the challenges...
A-Z Reading Challenge 2010 - I'm halfway through and we're halfway through the year. Yeah me!
Audiobook Challenge 2010 - More than halfway done - not sweating this one!
Spring Reading Thing 2010 - I had twelve books on my list and I read a dismal 4, only 25%...FAIL! I still need to write my wrap-up post for this one.
Women Unbound - I've read four of the five books and it doesn't end until November - I'm confident this one will get done. Do need to update my challenge post though....
The Chronicles of Narnia Challenge - This one is coming around again - I need to write my start up post (that link is last year's wrap up). The Magician's Nephew is on Youngest's summer reading list for school so I will definitely be reading that one again! Haven't decided what else I want to do.
What's In A Name 3 Reading Challenge - My "to-do" list includes signing up for this one. I missed it last year and know that I want to play this year.
Colorful Reading Challenge 2010 - This is another one I want to join but am running a little late! 9 books with color names in the titles - I've got green, red, and black already!

What's on tap for July?
Family vacation - 26 of the Round File extended brood will gather at Folly Beach for some sun and surf and probably, with all those people, some squabbling! Then it's Cub Scout Camp - for the very last time. This is Youngest's last year as a Cub Scout, next year he moves up to Boy Scouts and guess who doesn't move up with him? His mama. Hooray! So it will be quiet around here for just a little bit while I am on vacation - using that term loosely!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Audiobook Week: My favorite audiobooks

Jen of Devourer of Books asks, "What are some of your favorite audiobooks?" I skipped around on my blog, enjoyed looking at the old titles and remembering, and then I picked these three. There were more than three that I liked a lot and could have included but I don't want your hands to get tired from all the clicking! See, not lazy, considerate. Two of these three are included in my giveaway, here.

Paint it Black by Janet Fitch

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

A Fine Dark Line by Joe Lansdale

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Audiobook Week: Audiobook Meme

Jen of Devourer of Books posted this Audiobook Week meme and I am playing along. There is still a smidgen of time left today if you would like to play too and then you can be entered to win a prize!

Audiobook are you currently reading/you read most recently: I have The American in my work car and Larry Wilmore's I'd Rather We Got Casinos in my personal car. Impressions?: Neither of these books is knocking me over.

How long you’ve been listening to audiobooks: It's been about eighteen months that I have been addicted.

First audiobook you ever listened to: Not sure about the first one I ever listened to, but the first one I blogged about was David Sedaris When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

Favorite audiobook title: Hmmm... I think that is Friday's post topic so here's the spoiler - Paint It Black by Janet Fitch was one of my favorites and it's also one I am giving away.

Favorite narrator: The one that comes to mind is Ron McLarty who read at least one, maybe more, of the David Baldacci books I have listened to.

How do you choose what to listen to versus read?:I listen to whatever I can get my hands on and pick my reading pretty much the same way! Can we say - indiscriminate?

If you like audiobooks, I am giving away some that I liked, here.

At Risk By Patricia Cornwell

From the author's website: A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk-its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she's found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder-in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right?

Her investigator is not so sure-not sure about anything to do with this woman, really-but before he can open his mouth, a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up not only both their lives but the lives of everyone around them. It's not a random event. Is it personal? Is it professional? Whatever it is, the implications are very, very bad indeed . . . and they're about to get much worse.

This was my first experience with Patricia Cornwell, a prolific and popular mystery writer. I liked the main character, Win Garano, the Massachusetts investigator. There was an interesting bit of the supernatural with Win's grandmother who seemed to have some psychic gifts. The story was short as the audiobook was only 4 CD's long. The plot was easy to follow; I was able to figure things out as it went along. I kept anticipating a few plot twists but they never occurred so my "waiting for the other shoe to drop" feeling was never sated.

I wasn't impressed enough with Patricia Cornwell that I was planning to run out and buy more. But I didn't actively dislike her either. Ambivalent. Then I clicked over to Amazon to get the product description and I saw that even her most ardent fans were underwhelmed with this one. So I will give this author a second chance if I come across one of her other books.

If you like audiobooks, I am giving away some that I liked, here.

I'm linking this up for Audiobook Week hosted by Jen of Devourer of Books for a chance to win a prize!

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Audiobook Week: How to write an audiobook review

Jen of Devourer of Books asks, "What do you include? How do you rate an audio if the narrator is good but the story isn’t (or the other way around). Do you let people know the book was an audio off the bat, or do you surprise them with it at the end, ‘trick’ them into reading the review?"

My posts about books are all pretty much the same (yawn!), a picture of the cover, the blurb from the dust jacket or back cover, and then a little bit of rambling from me about what I thought. With an audiobook I do usually say something about the narrator - some are so good, and some are sooo bad! I put my information about it being an audiobook at the end where I put all my "connecting" information about challenges and such. I never thought of it as tricking anyone before. Are there readers out there prejudiced against audiobooks? I didn't know! I'll consider myself tricked on that one.

If you like audiobooks, I am giving away some that I liked, here.

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

From the Amazon product description: After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell's Angel? And how must she comfort the naive and disillusioned Chanu? As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos.

This was a delightful book. Nazneen is such a likable young wife and it is fascinating to see the world through her eyes. She is accepting of so many injustices as "Fate", simply her lot in life because she is a woman, a wife, an immigrant, and a mother. Just like in real life, when I see an Indian friend seem to sell herself short and put herself last, I felt a little frustration with Nazneen's inertia. But that is who she is and she gently makes important changes for her family. Although the bulk of the novel is set in a housing project outside of London, we see glimpses of life in India through her correspondence with her sister. That was one thing that made enjoying this as an audiobook somewhat tricky, when the viewpoint would change from one sister to another, it often took me a minute to figure that out and resettle back into the story. The narrator had a lovely, placid voice and her soothing tone was just right for Nazneen who seemed to desire going through life without creating a ripple.

If you like audiobooks, I am giving away some that I liked, here.

Nazneen is the perfect character for the Women Unbound challenge. I practically cheered when she had an affair simply because she was doing something for herself rather than for others!And although her political activism was somewhat short-lived, it was a start.

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Audiobook Week: Giveaway!

In honor of Audiobook Week hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books, I am giving away three audiobooks this year that I listened to and enjoyed. These audiobooks were sleathily removed from the stash I have waiting for our church bazaar because they are just a bit too much for the little old ladies. They have sex and profanity and twisted relationships - all things I really enjoy in a book!

You can see from the picture the giveaway includes used copies of…Paint It Black by Janet Fitch, Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg, and A Fine Dark Line by Joe Lansdale. I posted about each of these as I listened to them so if you want a little more information about what they are about, click away and you can check them out.

If you are in the continental US and would like a chance to win, just leave a comment! Be sure there is way to contact you, such as a link to your blog or e-mail address.

Audiobook Week: Why audiobooks?

Jen of Devourer of Books asks, "Why audiobooks? Why do you like them, why did you first try them, why have you NOT tried them, etc."

This is a pretty easy question for me. I like audiobooks because I live in my car and they help to pass the time. I don't really live in my car but it sure feels like it! My job involves making home visits to families of children who have special needs. The neighborhood I mainly serve is about thirty minutes from my office so there's an hour a day in the car right there! I have three kids, they all play sports and there's a lot of driving around involved because of where we live. We live on the coast of South Carolina so our town is actually a series of islands. Our house is on one island, the soccer field is off the island - in town. The baseball field is on another island but in a different direction. You get the picture - it's a lot of driving! So audiobooks make my time in the car go faster.

I have a "work car" and a "home car" so rather than try to carry discs back and forth, I usually just have two books going at a time. I blogged about it once, here.

If you like audiobooks, I am giving away some that I liked, here.

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Oh my, my last Mailbox Monday post was in February! It has been a long, long time. This is an audiobook specific post. I have had a small stack of audiobooks show up since February and because it is Audiobook Week (hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books) I wanted to showcase the audiobooks that have come and landed in my TBL pile....To Be Listened!

On the bottom is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. This falls in the "classic I never read" category so while I am not overly excited about it, I am hoping it will be good once I get into it.

Next is The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris this was a win from Nely at All About N. I am excited about reading this one but still have Mitch Albom's newest ahead of it in the line-up. But, after that one, it's next!

Above that is Ken Follett's World Without End. His newer book, Pillars of the Earth has been in my TBR pile FOREVER, and I guess I am somewhat intimidated by it's size and by how much my friend loved it. (The same friend who loved Gilead that I thought was slow, slow, slow!) So I saw World Without End on the sale table and thought maybe listening to this one might jump start my reading the other one.

Next is You've Been Warned by James Patterson. Love his books on audio as evidenced here and here and here!

On top is I'd Rather We Got Casinos and Other Blcak Thoughts by Larry Wilmore. This one just sounded funny. I may be building up my expectations too high but I'm hoping Larry Wilmore is the black version of David Sedaris. I can hope!

Confession - not all came in the mail but I wanted to put them all together so I am brazenly flouting the rules. Please forgive me.

If you like audiobooks, I am giving away some that I liked, here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Audiobook Week June 21-25

Hooray! There is another way to celebrate my love for audiobooks. I have been a faithful participant in the Audiobook Challenge, although I will admit to not returning to the challenge page recently to post reviews...but I am listening! And I can share my love of listening this week. Jen at Devourer of Books is hosting Audiobook Week as part of a bigger event June being Audiobook Month - who knew?! Certainly not me.

So I plan to post the stack of audiobooks that are waiting for me on Mailbox Monday! Then I'll review the two audiobooks I most recently finished and haven't gotten around to posting about. And, finally, all week long I'll run a giveaway of my used audiobooks. Here's how that will come together....
I save all my used audiobooks throughout the year. Then, at our church bazaar in October, I make a big basket of them to get raffled off. Well, the problem is that my taste in books does not always align with the taste of the church ladies bidding on baskets at the bazaar. So my giveaway will include the books that I think are just a little too racy for the church ladies, in other words, all the really good ones! Here it is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So Happy Together By Maryann McFadden

From the author's website: Secrets and dreams…Everyone in the Noble family has them. Not that they’re telling each other. But when they’re lured to Cape Cod by the fabled light, three generations of Noble women find that sometimes it’s the dreams that hold us back, and the realities that set us free.

This book started out a little slow for me but became increasingly more interesting until at the end, I couldn't put it down. At the beginning the characters seemed stock, as if she just pulled them off the shelf - wayward daughter, crotchety old man, slimy salesman - and the big plot twist was absolutely predictable. But then the novel takes a turn, and the author starts to reveal more layers to the characters and they become interesting. I liked the main character, Claire, from the get go. Even when I was not yet hooked at the start, I still cared about her and would have kept reading just to find out how her story played out (not just because I felt compelled to finish the ARC for review!). I like relationship books and this book was foremost about the relationships within this family. But it also had some information woven in about the geography and history of the area and the conflict within the community between commercial fisherman and ecologists. That was mimicked in Claire's possible relationships as one beau was a developer and one was a preservationist. Very black hat, white hat. There was enough of that factual/informational part of the story to make me feel like I learned something but not so much that it felt preachy or heavy-handed. Overall, a great read once it gets going! I gave it four stars on Library Thing.

I read this book for the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cancer update #4

My dad had a follow-up scan and MRI recently as he finished what was to be his last chemo treatment. Both tests were very uplifting. There is no evidence of cancer in the brain - the surgery removed what was there and nothing has come back. The tumors that were outside of the lungs have virtually disappeared and the large tumor in the lung has been reduced by 75%! He has had 7 chemo treatments each three weeks apart so it has been a long time to go without really knowing if it was working. Now we know, it's working! So he has one more chemo scheduled in a few weeks but that seems to be just a holding pattern move while the doctors debate what to do next. The radiation guy thinks they should do radiation, the chemo guy thinks they should do oral chemo...(insert a witty comment here about another guy who could be at the table advocating for something truly horrendous - I can't come up with it on my own!) So, things look good, tempered at all times by the doctors constantly reiterating that this is not a cure. But my dad looks good, he has some hair (not much to start with so it's not that different!) and he still has a little belly pudge. He's tired, very, very tired but he's here and we're all so very happy and grateful.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Three Cups of Tea By Greg Mortensen

From the Three Cups of Tea website: In 1993 Mortenson was descending from his failed attempt to reach the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water, or shelter he stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health.

While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school. From that rash, heartfelt promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time.

What an inspiring story of the difference in the world a single person can accomplish! If you take the deeds that Greg Mortensen did, that alone is an amazing story. If then you add in the danger of mountain climbing and of being an American who is working and negotiating in Islamic countries before and after the events of 9-11, that makes it all the more exciting. So this is a good story. The telling of the story in this book, however, didn't knock me over. I listened to this on audio and it took FOREVER! I had to renew it at the library for four extra weeks to make it through. And, "make it through" is kind of how it felt after awhile. I started out really enjoying the story, Mortensen is a living hero, but then it just seemed to go on and on. The people and the villages started blurring into an indiscriminate Middle Eastern mash and I had a hard time maintaining an active interest. If I had a better grasp of geography, that might have helped. If I could have seen some of the vocabulary in print, like the names, that may have helped. Even though it was too long for me, I enjoyed it and I am glad I listened to it.

This book shows the powerful force that women's education can have on society. And, it highlights that the freedoms I take for granted here in the States are not available to women everywhere.

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

From the Amazon product description: The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger.

Oh my this one has been sitting in draft status for over a month. Let's see if I can remember what I thought! Part of me thought, "This is pretty cool!". Part of me thought, "What's the big deal?". The story reminded me quite a bit of My Father's Dragon except that with the Dragon story, I was mesmerized. I loved it and became enraptured of the fantasy world. I was less enthused about Life of Pi but still very interested. Maybe the first time you read a book in a certain style, it spoils you for all the other first times? I had a friend say that making it through the book was worth it for the last few pages. Now that I have done it, I'd have to agree. I enjoyed the story but then the ending that made you go, "hmmmmm", made it even better for me!

This is one of the books on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2010 hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. Click on the logo if you'd like to see the rest of my list.