Friday, May 20, 2011

Flashback Friday: BEA

Crunch time! I'm in the midst of wrapping up last minute work details (how can they possibly live without me!), running errands (buying shoes) and packing for the week-long orgy of publishers, librarians, bloggers, books, audiobooks, breakfasts, lunches, teas, cocktails and dinners in NYC known as, concurrently, APAC (Audiobook Publishers Association Conference culminating in the Audies, the audiobook industry's version of the Oscars,) BEA (Book Expo America) and BBC (Book Bloggers Convention.) My schedule looks pretty jammed packed, even though I'm deliberately keeping Thursday and Friday nights open for on-the-fly possibilities :-)

As I'm running around the office this morning, making sure I can leave with a clear conscience, my eye fell upon my BEA badge from four years ago. Four years ago! And only one day! And the last, lamest day! I was in NYC primarily for the Audies and Blackstone graciously granted me a pass for the final day of the expo. I've been dying to go back for the full event and this year is it, sorta. Even though I have a full pass for BEA because I'm on a panel for BBC, I will be working in the Blackstone booth, so I won't be able to circulate and take advantage of all the events I would like. But the tradeoff is that, for working the Blackstone booth, I get to go to the Audies! So it's all good :-)

This next week, will be interesting as I try to update my twitter followers et al with status tweets in an area notorious for bad cell and WiFi reception; but I'll do my best! Tomorrow, it begins with #undercoverspy, when I tweet what I see people reading in the airport... Anticipated hash tags for next week:

#undercoverspy (books I see people reading while I'm traveling)
#APAC2011 (mixer, plus actual conference)
#AUDIES2011 (live tweets of the winners)
#BEA2011 (from the booth and what happens when I manage to sneak away)
#iheartadriana (MC-host of the Audies, plus lunch on Thursday!)
#ShakenNotStirred (A James Bond thing involving, martinis, Casino Royale, Simon Vance and lithousewife)
#BBC2011 (book bloggers convention)

So, if you're not already, follow me on twitter! Better yet, come visit and gossip with me at booth #4281 at BEA!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle
by Washington Irving
narrated by Christian Rummel
.65 hours

"Rip Van Winkle" is an iconic piece of American literature, ingrained in our cultural memory so deeply that it has become a part of American folklore. Surprisingly, "Rip Van Winkle" is not a novel, not even a novella, but rather a short story that has achieved this iconic status. The basic premise of the story is that Rip Van Winkle, a kind but indifferent farmer and husband, heads to the hills one afternoon to hunt. While traipsing through the Hudson River Valley, he comes across the mid-eighteenth century version of a kegger and indulges in some particularly potent brew. Afterward, he settles down into a postprandial nap and, when he awakes, he discovers that he has been asleep for quite a bit longer than he had expected :-/ Despite it's short length, "Rip Van Winkle" manages to convey time, place and character with incredible acuity, making even the implausible appear like realistic fiction.

Christian Rummel delivers Washington Irving's words at a fast pace, just shy of being hurried and, with a nod of inflection here and there. The narration ignores the tenor of some key scenes, draining the story of tension. is marketing this short story as children's fare, which could have informed the narrator's choices; but it is unfortunate that those choices condescend to children rather than expose them to a great story's timbre and texture.

Other Stuff: "Rip Van Winkle" is a free dnload for members at

This book qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. "Rip Van Winkle" is set in the Hudson River Valley in New York.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Quiet Belief in Angels

A Quiet Belief in Angels
by R.J. Ellory
narrated by Mark Bramhall
15.30 hours
Blackstone Audio, Inc.

A Quiet Belief in Angels starts in the late 1930's in a small town in Georgia. Little girls are disappearing and their raped, mutilated and murdered bodies reappear, evoking profound angst in the mind of the book's protagonist, a young boy named Joseph Vaughn. Through successful decades, the murders haunt, obsess and firmly take root in Joseph's psyche, informing his world view and his writing. As Joseph tries to escape his past in the literary Bohemia of Brooklyn, it becomes all the more evident that the past will destroy him unless he confronts it and understands it.

The writing in this novel is rich with metaphor. Long discursive passages captivate the listener, evoking strong imagery of places, of people, moods, even dreams. Sentences wander back and forth between the real and the imagined, the present and the past, creating a hypnotic rhythm that ensnares the listener in a story that is equally enthralling and disturbing, beautiful and horrifying. It's unrelenting brutality finally starts to break a little more than halfway through the book, giving cause for accusations that the writer is pulling punches; but A Quiet Belief in Angels is such a taut psychological thriller that the relief is needed in order to continue. That said, the final passages are anti-climatic in that it doesn't feel like the true ending; but rather one that finally lets the reader off the hook.

Mark Bramhall delivers the text in a slow, entrancing Southern cadence that make the material easier going down; though his voice too is unable to sustain the tension and the affection throughout the entirety of the novel. Somewhere between the ninth and tenth finished hour, we lose the character and hear more of Mark Bramhall. If the narrator had been able to sustain his character throughout or backed off from the character early on, the change wouldn't have been as noticeable. The first nine/ten hours though? Mark Bramhall is on par with Will Patton. Yeah, that good.

By virtue of selecting a fictional story to listen to, we are asking the author to deceive us, to take us out of ourselves and see the world from a different perspective and, to do so in artful and impactful ways. We are asking to be manipulated and, authors comply, often evoking certain tropes that they know will effect the reader in a certain way. Some authors use dogs to make you cry and some others, use child killers to incense you. Ellory has chosen the latter, providing the reader with an antagonist that cannot be understood or championed under any circumstance than sheer madness. And, both Ellory and Bramhall have delivered the villain in hard-hitting, purpling punches. It hurts, and a little piece of you dies every day you listen; because try as you might, no understanding actually arrives. Was I literarily pwned? I don't know, but if I was, it was done well and thoroughly.


Other Stuff: I borrowed a library CD edition of this audiobook from Blackstone Audio.

This book qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. A Quiet Belief in Angels is set in Augusta Falls, Georgia.
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Flashback Friday: The Shoes

There are days, days when modern technology defeats me, my husband buys an ugly green couch behind my back, other parents seem to think their kids are some sort of entry in a life contest, the book I'm reading is quickly heading for the DNF pile... or, for the purposes of this story, you get stood up on a virtual movie date. Last October, there was supposed to be a live tweet-up of The Amityville Horror (directed by Stuart Rosenberg; starring Josh Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger.) For whatever reason it didn't happen. So, left to my own devices, iPhone and third party twitter app in hand, I went out to dinner with my husband to an Italian restaurant. To be honest, the restaurant wasn't that good; but the bar served mongo drinks, drinks with presence. I actually don't remember the particulars of the drink I tried, except that I'm pretty sure it involved vodka, pomegranate juice and some other high sugar-content mixers that would ensure maximum alcohol saturation. I think I had two of these cocktails (I wasn't driving - because my husband was with me and for some reason he always drives - like somehow my mundane ability to parallel park is thwarted in the face of his Kryptonite-mad driving skillz... but I digress.) Anyway, like I said, I wasn't driving and I was drinking and I wasn't watching a really bad horror flick from thirty years ago and even though I had had a couple of most excellent cocktails, I was still feeling vaguely dissatisfied. My husband and I went home and it was still early enough that we weren't going to bed; but late enough we weren't going start a movie. So that left me with the internet. And I went shoe shopping. And this is what I got:

Ralph Lauren, Fareeda, Black, Oiled Suede

And this is what they cost: $150.00. Now I realize in this day and age $150 is not a lot to pay for a pair of shoes; but all things are relative. But this is the thing, they were advertised as having four-inch heels, which is pretty daring for me since I haven't worn anything but flats since 9/11. When the shoes arrived, I actually took a tape measure to these boots and they actually add close to six inches to my height. Why is all this important? Because baby, these shoes have changed my life! Now when Other People seem to lock in on my office and startle me with their absurdities, when my sexy iPhone turns into a sexy iBrick, when my daughter somehow manages to lose another sweatshirt, whatever... I put on the shoes. I can take charge, I tower over Other People and my problems and, vanquish them all. I become empowered. I kick ass. I take names. I become a Woman of Presence. Oh yeah, and baby? I'm driving.


Adriana Trigliani is hosting a Special Contest for Lunch and a Walking Tour of Greenwich Village with Adriana Trigliani. Click on the link for full details.

BTW, Adriana, if we end up having lunch together, I am definitely wearing the shoes; BUT I am also taking a pair of sneakers with me for the walking part. Just saying... :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where Are You Reading? Challenge: April Update

Where are You Reading? Challenge
Hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey

FL: Nature Girl (by Carl Hiassen; narrated by Lee Adams)
This title had been in my TBL-Q (To Be Listened to Queue) for a few years and I was eager to have an excuse to move it to the top of the list, listen to it and, clear it from the decks! I've listened to a couple of other titles written by Carl Hiaasen - Hoot (narrated by Chad Lowe) and Flush (narrated by Michael Welch) - which were both Young Adult titles of mediocre caliber. I thought Hiaasen's adult fare would be better; but apparently, I have a knack for picking Carl's less-than-best efforts :-/

GA: A Quiet Belief in Angels (by R.J. Ellory; narrated by Mark Bramhall)
I haven't written the review for this one yet. I'm still mentally processing it. I loved it. I hated it. I'm just not sure what it is I want to say about it; but I will definitely have something up by the end of the week and, I'll include it in next month's wrap-up.

It looks like I'm a bit behind on this challenge. I have several books lined up this month, even knowing that there's no physically possible way I'm going to be able to tackle all of them... but I do have a round trip cross country flight and train trip at the end of the month, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up a little bit:

ID: All Over Creation (by Ruth Ozeki; narrated by Anna Fields)
IN: Raintree County (by Ross Lockridge; narrated by Lloyd James) (tentative)
IA: Shoeless Joe (by W.P. Kinsella; narrated by Grover Gardner)
KS: The Scent of Rain and Lightning (by NancyPickard; narrated by Tavia Gilbert) (tentative)
KY: Coal Miner's Daughter (by Loretta Lynn and Goege Vecsay; narrated by Sissy Spacek)
LA: Black Cherry Blues (by James Lee Burke; narrated by Mark Hammer)
ME: IT (by Stephen King; narrated by Steven Weber)
MD: Patient Zero (by Jonathan Maberry; narrated by Ray Porter)

Plus, I need to get a start on a Minnesota State Audiobook listening challenge - four mystery/thriller titles by the end of June. I have the titles lined up for this one as well:

Immoral (by Brian Freeman; narrated by Joe Barrett)
Stripped (by Brian Freeman; narrated by Joe Barrett)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (by Joanne Fluke; narrated by Suzanne Toren)
Strawberry Shortcake Murder (by Joanne Fluke; narrated by Suzanne Toren)

I'm currently listening to The Last Striptease (by Michael Wiley; narrated by Johnny Heller) which is set in Chicago, IL.

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