Tuesday, May 24, 2011

June is Audiobook Month

So says my Publishers Weekly.

I have mixed feelings about audio books because unless I pay 100% attention, chapters can go by and I realize I've been off in my own head and not in the book.

Bossypants was one of the best I've listened to lately, of course anything read by the author in her own voice, especially from a kickass comic, is bound to be pretty engaging.

Audiobooks have become more frequent in my life, between a local library that offers Overdrive, which now has an updated app that will allow me to search and download audiobooks directly to my iPhone. I also signed up for an Audible.com trial that I never cancelled, because I can probably listen to an audiobook a month. I try to save spending my credits for when I hear something is "not to be missed" in audio form, meaning the audio adds something to the experience. For my upcoming vacation, I've downloaded a few so I can just sit on a beach and lose myself in a book.

A few others I would personally recommend:

My Life
Bill Clinton - My Life
No matter what your politics, hearing his voice narrate his childhood is very moving.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
Phillip Pullman - The Golden Compass
This is done like a radio show, with multiple voices for the characters, and narrated by the author, who has a really great storytelling voice. It far surpasses the experience of reading the print.

What are your favorite audiobooks?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflections on the Nebula Award Winners 2011

The 2011 Nebula Award Winners were posted today. I thought I'd reflect on some of the winners. I am still working through the Hugo nominees, but I think I'll get through more of them by the time they are chosen than I did for the Nebulas!

It is confusing to me, because sometimes people claim that all nominees are the Nebula winners, but this list clearly names one-two winner(s) in each category. Hmmm.

Winner for short story - The Ellison didn't really stick with me, but I liked the Kij Johnson. I was probably most attached to the Vylar Kaftan story, but the Johnson was memorable with the sacrificial ponies. At least it wasn't alien rape this time around.

I unfortunately didn't get through many of the nominees for novella or novelette, but I remember Swirsky from a previous year and her mythological settings.

What I really can weigh in on is the best novel category. I enjoyed the Willis but I know a lot of people hate the inaccuracies. I was rather fond of the Okorafor, and just finished reading the Jemisin with the Sword and Laser book club, so that would have been fun to see win on some levels.

In the young adult category, there were some really strong contenders. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when books that are not first in a series are nominated since that seems par for the (arguably confused) course for the Hugos and Nebulas, but while I enjoyed the Pratchett, I would have gone with the Collins or Bacigalupi. I liked Ship Breaker more than The Windup Girl, which was given incredible acclaim last year. And The Hunger Games was so strong!

Just some late night thoughts. I'm not surprised Inception won but I'm kind of confused as to why there is a Nebula movie award. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Tiffany Aching Books by Terry Pratchett

I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching, #4) (Discworld, #38)I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching, #4) by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tiffany Aching books are a subset of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, something that is still evolving and growing and branches off into many different tangents. I hadn't read any of them, despite the fact that so many of my friends whose reading opinions I value seem to really love them. You see, I equate Terry Pratchett in my mind with Douglas Adams, that somewhat fantastical lightly humorous writer, with the kind of humor where I say to myself, "Oh, clever you," but don't actually laugh. Anyway, Pratchett is quite similar to that, so I wasn't sure I was going to be interested in any of his universes.

I kept hearing about the Tiffany Aching books though, which can be read without necessarily understanding the Discworld universe. They start with The Wee Free Men, where Tiffany first discovers she is a witch and saves her little brother with a frying pan. She just has a knack for it, and is taken under a local witch's wing for mentoring, which really starts in the second book, A Hat Full of Sky. She strikes out for herself, including making a lot of mistakes, in Wintersmith (which is probably my favorite of the four), and we end up with her almost at adulthood by the last one, I Shall Wear Midnight.

What I like about these books:
  • An interesting setting, even within the world of the books. Since Tiffany comes from "the chalk," she breaks a lot of the stereotypes that even the witches have.
  • She has other interests. And she makes damn good cheese.
  • The mundane nature of her work. It isn't all impressive scales and saving people. It is wiping bums and sheltering an abused wife. It reads as very realistic despite the magic. Which is kind of the point.
  • The humor is tolerable. So is the pain. The reader gets access to what Tiffany feels, which she hides pretty successfully from her parents and from the people in the countryside.
  • The wee free men. I have to admit that I was not won over by them until book 4, and they drove me to annoyance quite a bit until then.
I'm not sure even still that I would bother reading the rest of the Discworld books. Someone can tell me a good reason why. :)