Posts Tagged ‘Audible.com’

A few reviews

Ok, so my very favourite thing to do lately is to plug in my earphones, set an audio book going and walk up to the park. I’ve been tearing through them at a surprising rate recently so I thought I’d let you know what’s worked for me and what hasn’t.

I had a lucky first experience of Audible.com when I downloaded my first book, The Snow Child. It was read well, the story was brilliant and I was totally hooked.

The next book I listened to was called The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. It was a lot longer than The Snow Child so took me a while to listen to. You basically follow the protagonist’s entire life story, from New York to Japan and back. Without realising that you’re wrapped up in the story, you hold your breath when it seems she will be discovered and you recoil, waiting to hear what will happen when she makes a cultural faux pas. At the time, it feels quite slow moving and I’m still not definitely sure why it is called The Teahouse Fire as plenty of other, more significant things happen to her. But upon finishing it, I suddenly thought that I would like to listen to it again as I think it would gain a lot on a second listening.

Then I listened to A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami, which was obviously a bit mental. I’ll always have a soft spot for Murakami’s writing as it makes me think of long days spent in a little guest house on Bohol island in the Philippines, reading Kafka on the Shore. He deals in the type of surrealist writing that is kind of like the literary version of a Picasso painting. A bit out there, you’re not sure what direction it will take next, nothing seems to make sense. It takes on an odd fixation, this book, a particular sheep with a star on it’s back. The story is creative and engaging. I didn’t love the way it was read, to be honest. But overall, it was a typical Murakami and I enjoyed it.

Next I listened to Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. I don’t need to tell you all the story of this as anyone who is anyone knows about it or has read it. I’ve carried a copy round with me for years and never read it so Audible.com seemed like the best way to finally read it. It offers an eerily possible world-scenario that I don’t feel it either advocated nor denigrated. Initially I rebelled from the idea of not having familial links, of being free and forward with sexual attitudes, of growing babies and engineering them through phrases repeated to them in their sleep. But them we had a glimpse of how someone from this futuristic world might view us as we are now. And it was equally repulsive. I came away feeling neither neither relieved nor horrified that our world is the one looked upon unfavourably by the beings of the future. It simply made me think about how we are and how we operate as a society. For that, I recommend it to everyone. It’s brilliance lies in its springboard effect, it is there to promote further thought.

Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me is a work of comical genius. Now I’m not a big Miranda follower (being only 5″4) and haven’t caught that many of the programmes. I’ve seen her present a few quiz shows and thought she was quite funny. But I wasn’t necessarily on the Miranda band wagon (the Miranda-wagon, as she might call it). I downloaded this book just because it was on the best sellers list. And boy, am I glad I did! This is not a book to be listened to outside whilst walking down a busy high street, as I quickly learned after laughing out loud when she used the word ‘flabiola’ to describe herself. She also often needs you to say ‘yes!’ loudly at certain points so, to save drawing attention to yourself, make sure you are at home or in an empty park. I honestly couldn’t get enough of Miranda. After turning her off to make dinner or go to work, I kept thinking about how I wanted to turn her on again. She became like a life guru to me for a week. I have no doubt I’ll listen to her again when I’ve finished any other books waiting to be listened to. Give it the first chapter to get into the swing of things, to get onto the same page. And then, you’re away. This is a must-listen.

A book review or two

In my quest to Finish All The Books I’m In The Middle Of Reading, I have found a few gems that I thought I’d tell you about.

First up is Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie by Andrew Sykes. This is the story of a man who, after resolving to spend his summer doing next to nothing, gets a little bored and dreams of adventure. He decides to travel from his home in Reading to the southern tip of Italy, following a route known as the Via Francigena. He covers France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy.

For five weeks, he heads determinedly toward southern Italy and the book details the hours spend on the bike each day and the distance covered. Once you have seen a few of these, you start to understand the massive task that he is carrying out. His writing is extremely readable. I’d often intend to read a few pages while on the bus or before work and find myself transported to a campsite where Andrew and Reggie searched for somewhere away from the noisy midnight fishers or party people. Suddenly I was late for work or had almost missed my stop.

Andrew makes sure we are privy to everything his trip threw at him. Rarely are we left with a quick summing up of an entire day in a few sentences. I really love the diary style of this book. It puts you right there in the scene with him and Reggie and connects you to his journey in a way that, upon finishing it with him, you experience a sense of achievement.

Various things stick out in my memory on finishing the book. The scene where Andrew and Reggie cross the lake near Buochs in Switzerland and we are given a detailed explanation of how one “lashes” a bike to boat had me laughing out loud. When Andrew stops for lunch near the end of his journey, in Valrano Scala, and finds something called a “chip pizza” I was utterly mystified. The entire Italy section was very exciting reading for me anyway, given that I have had a preoccupation with Italian cuisine for quite some time and I am also going to Rome in a few weeks. So I read with anticipation and soaked up every bit of it. Then the scene with the chip pizza occurred. And it made me doubt everything. It make me doubt my trip, the Italians, and the future of food in general. What was this madness?! I have since been assured that chip pizzas are very tasty…. I remain sceptical.

Another thing which struck me about this trip is people’s willingness to offer a helping hand. Andrew finds a welcoming face every so often on his trip and these people always show such kindness, it makes you feel good about people in general (the chip pizza inventor excepted).

It is a lovely lovely book. A little while ago I read a book about a man who cycles to India, called You’ve Gone To Far This Time, Sir and love love loved it. Therefore, when I saw this book, about another cycling journey, I came to it with high expectations, having had such a great read last time. I was thankfully not disappointed. It is well written and fascinating. In light of epic journeys being taken, I have start making more solid plans for a walking adventure. Given that I can be quite lazy though, I think Andrew and Reggie will put me to shame as I’ll probably just walk to the shops for some chocolate and back….

(I read this book on the Kindle app on my phone.)

I thought I’d do another quick book review as I recently finished listening to The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy on Audible.com and it was very good. It was read beautifully, the story was beautiful and it’s one of those books I keep telling people to listen to if I hear they have the Audible.com app.

An older couple decide to move to Alaska and buy some farming land, against the advice of their families. They are childless and it has always been an unspoken heartache between them. Their first few months are hard but one day, with wild abandon, they play outside in the snow and build a snowman. Well, more precisely a snow-girl. They put a scarf on it and carve a face. When they wake up, the scarf is gone and for a long time afterwards, they catch glimpses of a little girl running in the woods outside their home.

The development of this story is handled with such skill that your thoughts on first hearing about the ‘girl’ they see are a world away from your thoughts when the story concludes. It’s a story that creeps up on you. First you’re just listening every so often, thinking that the book is quite good. Then suddenly, you can’t wait to take your break at work, in order to listen to a few more minutes of it.

Finishing this book was something that took a few days of recovery. My initial thoughts about the final scene changed over time and I still feel uncertain about exactly what happened.

It is a book of uncertainties and therein lies the beauty of it. It is intriguing and enticing. It draws you in steadily until every twist and turn occupies your thoughts long after you have stopped listening/reading.

It is also read very well. When I downloaded and listened to a few other books, I realised how lucky I had been with the reader of The Snow Child. If you are already with Audible.com, listen to this book.