Tag: audio


Science Friday: Seveneves

Posted 5 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Science Friday: SevenevesSeveneves by Neal Stephenson
Published by Harper Collins on May 19th 2015
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Fiction, General, Genetic Engineering, Science Fiction
Pages: 880
Goodreads
five-stars

What would happen if the world were ending? A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remains . . .  Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

First, let’s get the title pronunciation for Seveneves out of the way, it’s Seven Eves. Yeah, if I hadn’t ‘read’ the audiobook I never would have gotten that. Prior to starting it, I keep reading it as ‘Sevenses’ (Like multiple sevens…). I know Book Worm Problems.

Anyway, despite the rather awkward title, Seveneves is a phenomenal masterwork of hard science fiction. It reminded me of The Martian because it takes highly technical science details and makes them exciting. It brings science closer to the reader, which is especially astounding when that reader is me, a liberal arts focused attorney. I like science, but in my every day life I don’t science (or math, for that matter). So when a book can bring astronomy, engineering, biology, etc and help me to understand them better in some way – without the dryness of a textbook – well, I’m thrilled. It’s unlike The Martian in that there are many more characters and much more going on.

The story itself is excellent as well, it starts with the moon being broken into seven pieces by some unknown ‘agent’… then a popular scientist, reminiscent of Neil deGrasse Tyson,  realizes that all hell is about to break loose on Earth in about two years – at which point the world gets to planning. It’s full of action, suspense, and spacewalking with added bonuses of politics and sociology to boot.

I thought this was a fantastic read. It’s a chunkster for sure, but I think every page is worth it.

As to the audio, it was well done and not distracting from the story – which is exactly what I look for in my audiobooks. I’m not sure the switch between a female and male narrator for part two of the book was necessary, but in the end it worked.

What about you, Reader? Have any real science people taken a gander at Seveneves? How does it sound?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Woeful Wednesday: The Son

Posted 19 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Woeful Wednesday: The SonThe Son by Jo Nesbo
Published by Random House Incorporated on 2014
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Hard-Boiled, International Mystery & Crime, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers
Pages: 401
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny's been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don't know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit--or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he's serving time for other peoples' crimes.

Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest--all of them focused on keeping him high and in jail. And all of them under the thumb of the Twin, Oslo's crime overlord. As long as Sonny gets his dope, he's happy to play the criminal and the prison's in-house savior. But when he learns a stunning, long-hidden secret concerning his father, he makes a brilliantly executed escape from prison--and from the person he'd let himself become--and begins hunting down those responsible for the crimes against him . . . The darkly looming question is: Who will get to him first--the criminals or the cops?

So this book had the Scandinavian type presence that you feel in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Lots of violence, mysterious and deeply flawed main character, a hardboiled cop with serious secrets, etc. etc. It seems like Scandinavian crime drama is becoming a genre unto itself.

Part of my problem with this book definitely can be traced back to the narration. At first I thought that since I was listening to The Son using CDs instead of Audible, which I speed up to at least 1.25x normal speed, that maybe I just wasn’t used to how slowly normal narrators read. But since I’ve finished The Son, I’ve started listening to I Am Pilgrim, also an audio CD – and the narration speed is just fine. I rambled through all that to say that the narrator was reading waaaaayyyy too slowly. Since I listened to this in heavy traffic I found it frustrating.

But even discounting the irritating slowness of the narration, The Son had some additional problems for me as far as storyline went. Some of the so-called twists were visible from a mile away in dense fog. I mean cut me a break Nesbø, if you want to write a thriller – write a thriller.

The other issue with this book that the application of Sonny Lofthus as the Messiah is applied in the most heavy handed manner. I love symbolism and religious undertones, but Nesbø’s attempt to use Christ-like imagery and allegory was way too obvious to be of any interest.

I’m fascinated with Scandinavia and Oslo in particular, but The Son was a failure to launch for me. To be fair, I didn’t particularly care for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, so I’d probably recommend this book to fans of that series.

The old question, Reader, can the performance of an audio book affect your views on the novel and story as a whole? Anyone out there who adores Nesbø or The Son?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Where She’s an Exhausted Reader

Posted 12 July, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

sundaysalon-200-pixshark

Time // 8:27 AM EDT

This Week // Started my new job. I think it’s going to be a great fit, outside of the commute. I love prosecuting – largely because it doesn’t require me to bill hours or bring in new clients. Oh, and the whole justice for all thing being in my hands is fulfilling as well.  Yesterday Mr. SFR and I went to look at houses closer to the job site, but since he works in the opposite direction the whole thing is going to be tricky. Especially with Atlanta traffic.

Office

My big girl, fancy pants office that I’m quite pleased with.

Now // I brought some case files home that I need to work on a bit to get ahead for next week. I don’t anticipate every weekend being this way, but since I inherited a ton of files – well, it’s catchup time.

Needing // Time and inclination to write and schedule a ton of reviews in advance! My poor comrades at The Socratic Salon are always waiting on my to make my menial contributions to our discussions. Obviously the blog is in the pits as well.

Reading // Okay… well listening… I’ve been making some serious headway into Vanity Fair during my commute and while that time period is definitely far from my favorite — I’m kind of loving it. It’s smart, sassy, and I don’t care what people say about Becky Sharpe, she’s one smart cookie. Amelia makes me want to barf. Before I go to sleep at night I’m listening to Wizard and Glass still. I get home and I’m just so tired that audio is really working well for me all the way around.

Though, I have read the first fifty pages of the new Matthew Quick novel, Love May Fail, and it’s pretty arresting too. Hopefully it won’t take me a decade to finish it.

Good week here, Reader! How was yours? 

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Feminist Friday: Yes Please

Posted 27 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Feminist Friday: Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Limited on October 1st 2014
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In a perfect world... We'd get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we'd all be friends with Amy -- someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn't ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she's not available for movie night. Luckily, we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy's hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haiku from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy's thoughts on everything from her "too safe" childhood outside of Boston to her early days in new York City, her ideas about Hollywood and "the biz," the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a "face for wigs." Yes Please is a chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.

This was going to be one of three mini-reviews, until I wrote a whole lot on it.

I loved this book to pieces, guys. Everything from the writing itself, to the narration, to the message that the book was seeking to get out there appealed to me. Poehler’s narration is delightful and I love that she brings in guest stars to do bits and pieces for her.

The title itself is a call to positivity. “YES PLEASE!” more positivity in my life. “YES PLEASE!” more positivity in the book blogging community “YES PLEASE!” more positivity among and between women, lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. The part of the book that really impacted me the most was the discussion that Poehler had on child-rearing and really all decision making among womenfolk. The general sentiment is that we should strive towards the attitude “That’s great for her, but not for me.” Whether a woman chooses to breastfeed, bottle feed, stay at home, go back to work – whatever it is – if it’s not for you great! But recognize that it could be what’s best for other people. She really just verbalized the way we could make the mommy wars stop – if everyone would just read this book.

Other than that, Poehler is warm and funny, while still being vulgar and surprisingly revealing some of her bad girl history. It’s a great great listen. Even if celebrity memoirs aren’t your thing, I highly recommend the audio.

So Reader, what do you think? ARE celebrity memoirs your thing? Have you read this? Tell me your thoughts and dreams.

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Fan Fiction Friday: Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles

Posted 26 September, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in


Banned books week is coming to a close, so I thought I talk about Harry Potter. Hahaha, sillies, not THE Harry Potter by the masterful, wonderful, fabulous J.K. Rowling.

No. I want to talk about Harry Potter as it is being “rewritten” by a charming woman. Now, there’s a lot of fan fiction out there and I haven’t read any in years (probably about fifteen years…) but when this absolute gem was brought to my attention I had to read it. I just… had to.

Now, “Grace Ann” has a mission from The Lord to rewrite J.K. Rowling’s masterpieces because… wait for it…  

“My little ones have been asking to read the Harry Potter books; and of course I’m happy for them to be reading; but I don’t want them turning into witches!

A valid fear, I must say. 

This fan fiction, which is now sitting at seven chapters resembles the originals so little that it’s just crazy-pants. I really don’t give a shit about canon, or the fact that she changes Harry’s eye color from green to blue, etc. What’s troubling about this version is the blatant sexism, the demonization of everyone who doesn’t share a super fundamentalist Christian view (my bets are on Jehovah’s Witnesses), and quite frankly, Grace Ann’s belief that evolution is a religion. 

The whole thing is crazy-pants actually. I was going to do a whole review of it, but it’s been done already, (and quite frankly I’m not sure I could do it without breaking every single one of my negative review guidelines) so what I’ve spent the past three days on is making ironic narration with snarky slides to go with it. I have three chapters posted, I’ve done the audio for the fourth but I think that putting it to slides will have to wait until Monday. If you want to read the entirety of the fan fiction yourself, you can find it here.

So what I present to you are my ironic narrations of “Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles”. I hope you enjoy. Leave a comment, let me know. Also, there’s conversation on whether or not this could be masterfully executed satire, what do you think, Reader? Do I have a future in voice acting? 




April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday in the Forest: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Posted 25 July, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
by: Verna Aardema | pictures by: Leo and Diane Dillon
So this is my attempt at something different. I loved this book growing up. I think that the illustrations are brilliant. I’m sure that you have your preconceived notion of my voice – so brace yourself because you’re probably going to be weirded out. I am by no means a professional narrator, nor am I particularly fabulous at reading aloud. C’est la vie. Enjoy! 
Credits: A West African Tale – retold by Verna Aardema
pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon
Text and pictures copyright 1975
Awards: 1976 Caldecott Medal Award Winner
Reading Rainbow’s 101 Best Children’s Books (1976)
Narrated: Me! 
Source: Purchased
As a technical aside, I do not recommend WeVideo. There are no exports or downloads without a fee – but I was over invested in this project time-wise to redo it somewhere else. (I didn’t pay, this is just embedded.) 
 
Whatcha think, Readers? #WeNeedDiverseReads? I’m a little weird about the passing of the blame down the animal chain – but seriously, who likes mosquitoes? Also, maybe the moral is that if you tell lies baby owls will die.

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Surprising Sunday: Tess of d’Urbervilles

Posted 22 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Surprising Sunday: Tess of d’UrbervillesTess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Published by Harper & Brothers Publishers on 1920
Pages: 508
four-half-stars

Tess Durbeyfield, a peasant girl and cast-off descendant of English aristocracy, has become one of the most famous female protagonists in 19th-century British literature. Betrayed by the two men in her life - Alec D’Urberville, her seducer/rapist and father of her fated child; and Angel, her intellectual and pious husband - Tess takes justice, and her own destiny, into her delicate hands. In telling her desperate and passionate story, Hardy brings Tess to life with an extraordinary vividness that makes her live in the heart of the reader long after the novel is concluded.

I decided to pick up this audio-book for my drive from Chicago to Atlanta. I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was. I had been dreading this book for a long time, but knew I was going to have to read it eventually if I ever wanted to complete the 1001 Books to Read Challenge.

This book was surprisingly modern. Tess is a strong female character. From the beginning she’s not afraid to do what is necessary for her family, even when her mother and father seem childish and much more naive than Tess. She takes responsibility for things that she feels are her fault and works extraordinarily hard throughout the entire novel. 

She can’t quite be classified as a feminist, as she accepts her lot and often feels as if it’s her fault. But she is stoic and strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas Hardy was a feminist of sorts. That of course, is solely based on this novel. 

Alec d’Urberville is immediately unlikable. This is (naturally) reinforced after he rapes Tess. The language that Hardy uses surrounding the rape is full of euphemisms. It probably took me about half of the book to solidly determine that she had been raped and not just seduced. 


Angel Clare starts out likable enough, wooing and insisting on Tess to take his hand in marriage, that is until he turns into a total hypocritical ass. He’s also nearly an atheist in a family of pious people. His choice to reject the faith of his father results in his loss of the opportunity for a university education – instead he decides to take up the lifestyle of a gentleman farmer, which puts Tess directly in his path. 

I was rather shocked by the ending. 

Narration was good, unremarkable.

#814 – 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010)

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Super Tuesday: John Adams

Posted 12 November, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Super Tuesday: John AdamsJohn Adams by David McCullough
Published by Simon and Schuster on December 11th 2012
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General
Pages: 752
Goodreads
four-stars

A huge bestseller in America, David McCullough's JOHN ADAMS tells the extraordinary story of the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot -- 'the colossus of independence', as Thomas Jefferson called him -- who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution and who rose to become the second President of the United States.Both a riveting portrait of an abundantly human man and a vivid evocation of his time, JOHN ADAMS has the sweep and vitality of a great novel, taking us from the Boston Massacre to Philadelphia in 1776 to the Versailles of Louis XVI, from Spain to Amsterdam to London, where Adams was the first American to stand before King George III as a representative of the new nation.This is history on a grand scale -- a book about politics and war, but also about human nature, love, faith, virtue, ambition, friendship and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.

This fits in nicely with Non-fiction November being hosted by Sophisticated Dorkiness and Regular Rumination. This week it’s Be/Ask/Become the expert. I’ve read widely on George Washington (personal hero) but I’m working on expanding that body of knowledge to other U.S. Presidents and Revolutionary War heroes. So, I bring you John Adams!

I hate that it’s an abridged edition – alas it was all the library had. I found the contrast between Washington (who will always be my hero) and Adams very interesting. The fact that Adams seems to have expressed many of the basic rights that were put into the Constitution long before the Constitution was ever written is amazing.

Also interesting is the contrast between Washington’s youthful desire (and many attempts) to be commissioned fully by the British Army (instead of just a colonial commission). Adams on the other hand turned down a lucrative royal appointment because he disagreed so vehemently with the British on taxation without representation.

This book was fantastic. I feel like Adams’ life and presidency are overshadowed with the likes of men like Washington, Madison, and Jefferson (ironically, all from Virginia). But Adams is truly one of the unsung heroes of the revolution. If Jefferson was the pen behind the ‘Declaration of Independence’ then Adams was the voice.

Narration was good. 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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