Tag Archives: audiobooks

World Read Aloud Day 2012

7th March 2012

I am so excited for today’s post and have been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks because today is World Read Aloud Day: Change the World, Story by Story.

LitWorld has this to say about WRAD:

Worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate.

Imagine a world where everyone can read…

World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.

By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

Thankfully, I grew up in a household where books were always important. My mom and dad both love to read, and not only did my mom read and do great narration when she read to us, but in the summertime, we also chose a family book and read from it each night. These are such special memories for me. So, in honor of World Read Aloud Day, I asked my aunt if she would let me share my cousin’s newfound love of books in a video. My mom read her The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and illustrator Michael Smollin a few weeks ago, and she’s officially in love. Ella even got her own copy for her birthday and didn’t really want to open her other presents. She walks around saying, “Oh, I am so embarrassed” – her favorite line from the book. So here we are, Ella and her Gigi, reading The Monster at the End of the Book. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you take a chance to check out LitWorld and its message and consider making a donation.

I know. Cuteness overload. 🙂 So what’s your favorite book to read aloud or be read aloud?

P.S. I love listening to books, and Audible is a convenient, relatively inexpensive way to do that. Right now they are having a special where you can join for $7.50 for the first three months. You get one credit for an ebook each month. If you’ve ever priced audiobooks, you know that’s a deal. Plus, right now they’re running a $4.95 sale for members only. It would be a great time to join up!
[The Picky Girl makes a small percentage if you click on the affiliate link, fyi.]

Audiobook Review: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

27th February 2012

*I bought this book from Audible.

Sex, violence, and new, brilliant heights of using the “f” word, Beat the Reaper is the avant-garde dark and darker comedy thriller (is that such a thing?) about Pietra Brnwa/Dr. Peter Brown/Bearclaw, a doctor who, as a member of the Witness Protection Program, has a past, a past he tells about between popping pills, checking on patients, and trying to figure out the guy with stomach cancer who has just blown his cover. As a teen, Brnwa’s grandparents are brutally murdered, and he figures out they were a hit for new mafia members being “made.” He trains in martial arts, befriends the son of a well-known mafia member, and ingratiates himself to the family. And by family, yes, I mean the family. Brnwa is selective, though, only taking hits he feels are justified: no women, no children, and he kills only after verifying the guy is scum. But the mob has ways of turning the tables and when Pietra wants out, the mob isn’t ready to let go. When they try to catch up to him, Brnwa realizes he isn’t ready to sacrifice his current life to run from the problems he created.

Bazell’s novel is alternately shocking, gag-inducing, hilarious, and intensely suspenseful. Brnwa narrates his story, talking directly to the reader, like he’s chatting in a bar. No holds barred. You can’t help but like him even though he is everything you should hate: a drugged-out, sexist, violent, killer asshole. But he’s funny…in a sick and twisted sort of way:

The fifth or sixth room I enter is that of Duke Mosby, easily the patient I currently hate least. He’s a ninety-year-old black male in for diabetes complications that now include gangrene of both feet. He was one of ten black Americans who served in Special Forces in World War II, and in 1944 he escaped from Colditz. Two weeks ago he escaped from this very room at Manhattan Catholic Hospital. In his underpants. In January. Hence the gangrene.

Plus, he’s so damn truthful. I’d be tempted to say he’s an unreliable narrator because he swallows so many drugs during his shift I lost count, but there are also these moments where he’s so lucid and spot on, like when he compares humans to animals:

It’s a weird curse, when you think about it. We’re built for thought, and civilization, more than any other creature we’ve found. And all we really want to be is killers.

Brnwa isn’t what you expect him to be. At all. Neither is this book, and I swear to you, I’m not joking when I say it’s one of the most graphic, most obscene (in language) books I’ve read, but I absolutely loved it. Robert Petkoff narrates, and between the writing and his voice, I thought it was one of the more perfect audiobooks I’ve bought. Petkoff matches Brnwa’s sardonic cynicism perfectly, and I couldn’t ask for a better audio experience.

Has anyone other than Elyse of Pop Culture Nerd read this? If so, what did you think? Have you ever read a book that is totally out of your comfort zone but that you loved?

Reading the old year out…

31st December 2011

And I must say, I’m not at all sad to see the back end of 2011. It was a very tumultuous year, and I am very happy to be ringing in a new year this evening with a mini-readathon cooked up by two other bloggers (Becky and Tasha) and myself. There will be champagne, so in the infinite wisdom and singing voice of Bing Crosby, let’s start the new year right.

But. Before we get to that, I wanted to do a year end post. As of midnight on December 30, I have read 121 books. Of these, 46 were written by men and 75 written by women (wow!); 109 fiction and 12 nonfiction. This year I read 9 audiobooks, and considering I read none last year, that’s quite a jump. Also, just so you can see my habits, 42 of these books came from the publisher/author/publicist, but I bought 52 and checked out 26 from the library, a pretty decent statistic. Now down to brass tacks….

Least favorite books of the year: Let’s just get this one out of the way. I only really disliked two books this year, and if you’ve been around for a bit, you can probably guess the first one: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The other I just finished this morning: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron. I’ll put up a review next week with details. Suffice it to say, memoirs are tricky.

Best New-to-Me Series: Well, obviously I love the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver books, but seeing as they were written in the last century, I won’t call them new. If you’re looking for a vintage mystery, give these a go. Also consider joining me for Miss Silver Saturdays through 2012.

Best New Series: I just finished Discovery of Witches and am pretty much in love with it. I can’t wait for the next one. Many compare it to Twilight, but for me, it was much more reminiscent of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I loved it!

Funniest Book: Hands down, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. In fact, this is a book that I plan to re-read soon, I liked it that much. Definitely keep an eye out for debut author Matt Norman.

Best Dark Comedy: Funny Man by John Warner. I’m really surprised this book hasn’t gotten more attention, as I think it’s pretty genius in a lot of ways. I’m really eager to see what else Warner writes.

Book that Made Me Think Rainbow Rowell stole my life and wrote about it: Attachments. Runner up for funniest book of the year, it was just so perfectly me. Sadly, many other bloggers have said the same thing, so obviously I ain’t anything special. Distinctive? Pshaw.

Book That Seriously Creeped Me Out and Blew My Mind: The Magus by John Fowles. Review next week, and boy howdy, what a book. Thanks so much to Sean at Read Heavily for the gift.

Best Middle Grade Book: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. Absolute fun and super smart. Reminds me of books written when I was young.

Book that Made Me Cry: Thankfully there were only two of these this year (one sparked this post about crying in reading). The other is A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead. This is nonfiction and about the women of the French Resistance. It’s incredibly moving to see just how much the human spirit can endure.

Most Beautiful Book: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock. This is physically just a beautiful, beautiful specimen of a book. The cover art, the inside art, the paper. It’s technically the biography of a woman artist, but it’s so much more than that.

Biggest Surprise: Ian Fleming’s Bond series. Yes, he can be a misogynistic, slightly-racist ass, but damn, these books are good. If you think you know Bond from the films, think again and join Lit Housewife’s Shaken Not Stirred challenge. You won’t be disappointed.

~and last but not least~

Best Book of 2011: Galore by Michael Crummey. I read this book in April, but it will not leave me. The story is timeless, the writing superb. If you haven’t read it, make sure you add it to your list for the new year. I compare it to East of Eden by Steinbeck and House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. One of my favorite passages from the book is below:

~Watching Judah emerge from the whale’s guts, King-me felt the widow was birthing everything he despised in the country, laying it out before him like a taunt. Irish nor English, Jerseyman nor bushborn nor savage, not Roman or Episcopalian or apostate, Judah was the wilderness on two legs, mute and unknowable, a blankness that could drown a man.

So that’s my list. I wish you all the best in 2012 and hope to see you back here. Thank you all for reading, commenting, emailing, etc. I so enjoy your company.

And on that note, what was your favorite book this year?