Ellen Kushner owes me gas money! I made the mistake of putting this on my ipod to listen to on my commute back from work and I got so wrapped up in the story that not only did I miss my exit, but I drove in large consecutive circles around my city for over an hour. So wrapped up was I that pulling over didn't even cross my mind, in fact the only thing that brought me back to reality was the dinging sound my gas tank makes when it got low. Then I made a bee line for home to go and grab my head phones since I didn't even want to waste time going to the gas station.
Kushner is a rare author who has been blessed with the ability to deftly and engangingly read from her own work, something most authors, as I'm sure audible members can attest to, are not not blessed with. The story is deft, courageous, adventurous, dark and erotic. Really there's nothing more that I can say about it that so many other have already articulated in a much better fashion that I.
All I can say is thank you so much to both Mr Gaiman and, debts not withstanding, to Mrs, Kushner for putting this out there. This is what books should always be like and seldom are. From now on I'll make sure to keep an eye out for whatever these two put out in the future.
GIANT GHOST CHICKEN.
Literally. There is a story in here about a GIANT GHOST CHICKEN that kills a dude's wife. Not a chicken monster or anything, just a giant evil chicken. The author legitimately wrote that story, sat back, looked at it, and patted himself on the back.
I can't. I just can't.
Every woman in the world is a witch.
And not a single man knows it.
At a small New England college professor Norman Saylor and his sensuous wife Tansy live a happy life. One day while idly riffling through some of her belongings he's shocked to find that she's secretly been practicing a form a witch craft behind his back. When he confronts her about it she begs him to let her continue, hinting that she might not be the only woman at the college dabbling in the black arts, and that her spells were only ever meant to help him. Despite protests, Norman forces Tansy to burn all her magical paraphernalia in an attempt to help her overcome what he dubs her "childish psychosis" about charms and magic. Reluctantly Tansy agrees, and as soon as the last charm of protection is fed into the fire, the trouble immediately begins.
There's a lot going on in this story that immediately drew me in. What "Conjure Wife" sometimes lacks in writing, it more than makes up for in theme. The world that Saylor and Tansy inhabit, despite what reader's instinct might other wise say, is instantly believable. You'd think that a world in which every woman in the world has been secretly pulling off spells for the past several thousand years would have something "off" about it, but the fiercely protective and spiteful world of witchcraft hierarchy possess a credible and organic feel to it. Even more so when you take into account that Leiber has chosen to set this particular tale in the already vindictive social world of professor's wives.
But more than all of this, what I found particularly interesting were the ideas of science and gender that Leiber was playing with throughout the book. "Conjure Wife" was written at an interesting time in our nation's history. The atomic bomb has gone off, two world wars had been fought and won, womans lib was coming in a huge wave. One gets the sense that in writing this, Leiber was really trying to write a rallying point for young career aged men to safely explore the inevitable anxieties such social upheavals would have created for the privileged "white male between 18 - 48" set.
And really, can you blame him? Science, and all of its thoroughly modern trappings that had been so lauded as a masculine ideal in the realm of study, had finally begun to lend itself to the creation of horrific weapons capable of destruction beyond imagining. What's more, it was all under man's control, and no heavenly retribution had yet come down from the sky for it. For the first time men were there own gods of destruction - this was shaky new territory at best. It must have seemed terribly cathartic for Leiber, himself an academic, to retreat into a fantasy world that was so dominated by the feminine primitive power.
But I'm digressing. Man I hate that.
The Conjure Wife had a lot more awesome than I expected it to. It's a book in the tradition of the early horror writers that used horror and scifi as a vehicle to explore social anxieties, but it does work remarkably well as an entertaining diversion from the usual witchy type books out there. Recommended.
There's thing thing I do whenever I'm watching a movie that takes place in the past. There will be this moment where there's an angry mob with a bunch of torches getting ready to do something - throw somebody out of town, or make a citizen's arrest, or just cause a general rumpus - and I always think "if only I was there! I would have stood up for justice! For truth! I would have showed these ignorant peasant folk their shame!"
Which is completely hooey.
I mean, in all reality I probably would have been right there in that crowd with them, brandishing my own torch in one hand and pitchfork in the other. But we all like to BELIEVE that we would have been different. We all like to imagine that we would have been the smarter, better looking, better dressed voice of reason in times gone by. SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD is the wish fulfillment equivalent of my movie watching experience. Matthew Corbett is a younger, less self assured kind of version of Sherlock Holmes if he had lived in colonial America rather than Victorian England. And of course it's only his incredibly astute eye that can save the incredibly sexy, smart, independent woman falsely accused of witchcraft who is also in possession of curves that kill and a heart made of gold.
What can I say? This one was just pure fun. It did take me awhile to get into this one though. I'm usually the type of reader that likes to go through and nitpick historical fiction, but I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty for turning my brain off and just letting this audiobook have at me. If you're looking for a fun easy read that will keep you occupied for some time to come, then I HIGHLY recommend this one to you. After all what more could you ask for - a great mystery, a little romance, adventure, danger of all sizes and shapes, pirates, Indians, lost treasure, circus performers and a great new character that will leave you wanting more in no time. There were moment were I was actually laughing out loud, and other still where I was biting my nails because I had no idea how the characters were going to get out of trouble this time. I've already purchased the next few books in the series and I'm loving them all. The fact that I'm even willing to put in all the time necessary to listen to these says volumes about how enjoyable these are. After all, they aren't exactly quick reads, and it takes a commitment to finish them.
Recommended for anyone looking for their next swashbuckling adventure.
Alright. So I want to start off by saying that I get what Eugenides is doing here. I really do. I understand the point he's making about how the modern idea of love is based in syncretism. How can we hold onto the idea of a one true love, of the big courtship, the candy and flowers and white wedding in the age of divorce? I understand what he's trying to say about the tenuous relevance Regency and Victorian era romance novels have in our own lives.
I get it. I'm not some boob shaking my fist at a bunch of egg heads because I'm just too stupid to be intellectually engaged by this story.
That being said this one didn't grab me, and if I hadn't been listening to it there's no way in heck I would have finished it.
At first I didn't think it was too bad. I was pulled in by the characters and the writing and the setting. This is a Eugenides novel after all, and there's never been any question that the man can write. His character building is in top form here. Eugenides has this uncanny ability to write female characters that makes me feel uneasy - he's one of the few male writers out there who has been paying attention. But for the first time what normally makes his books so much fun to read - his astute eye for interpersonal relationships, his knack for crafting details, his stories that are set in the here and the now of contemporary America - all converge to make this story what it is. A sack of boring.
Yeah, I get what the characters are going through is rough, but it's all stuff I've seen before. I knew where this was going to end up before it even began, and that's not because I'm some sort of great brain, I've just seen enough reality TV to know that there's nothing really special going on here. One of the reasons I love to read is because I feel like I get to see, and experience and feel things that I've never done or thought of before. But after fishing this book I felt like I could have sat on my front porch and watched all this happen. That's not exactly the feeling I like to be left with after putting in hours of effort. Also, the narrator does a TERRIBLE job of narrating female voices. He reminded me of the boys in middle school trying to effect the voices of love struck older sisters whenever their boyfriend came around. You know the voice.
I did really like parts of this though. And what I liked I really liked, but unfortunately there wasn't enough of them to make this an exciting read.
After all's been said and done I'll say that this is not the author at his best. But if you like his work and you're a completest, then I'll recommend it.
Oh gosh. I got so unbelievably excited when I saw that this was finally going to be available from Audible. When I was a teenager I was in LOVE with this movie. Who didn't secretly want a mom like Cher? But I was still pretty hesitant going into this - 80s cheesiness is one thing. The idea of "seeing" this in print was kind of scary. After all, what if the movie were better, or worse yet, what if the book hadn't held up over the years?
I'm here to tell you that the book and the movie are both equally good. This is a horse of a different color to be sure, but after listening to it I can honestly say that one doesn't eclipse the other. They're both basically their own thing. And as far as I'm concerned Charlotte's coming of age story is just as funny and touching now as it was when it was first written.
I can honestly say I wasn't expecting this book to be as fun as it was. There were moments when I was laughing out loud on my commute to work, and there were moments where I just wanted to sit and be still for a moment because Patty Dann made me remember what it was like to be young, when you felt so much and the world seemed so big. Charlotte is unique in the world of teen fiction. She's the type of character you can see evolving right before your eyes. I loved seeing how she learned to navigate the world around her
Over all this was a great listen. I got everything I wanted from it and then some. Recommended!
A big Thank You to the staff at Audible for making this happen!
I had no idea when I bought this that some genius had made the decision to add a background sound every few minutes to the narration. I could just picture some college kid they had paid in burritos in the sound booth, pressing various sound effect buttons and high fiving himself for his totally righteous editing skills.
But still! It's cheap and you could do worse.
Well, well, this was surprising. This year for Valentines Day, Audible got me an unexpected gift - the opportunity to be pretentious. Yes fellow Audible users I must confess that I am not the most sophisticated of people as my dear boyfriend will tell you. He's constantly lamenting over the fact that to me the Kraft singles slices make for just as tasty a cheese snack as the fancy stuff he keeps busting a bit of his paycheck on. "But it goes better with the wine honey!" he insists as I sit on the couch, Pabst in hand, watching him struggle with the cork opener. I'll be the first to admit I'm utterly useless.
But no more! Finally I can join him in the upper echelons of sophistication and gentry ever sense I got the opportunity to say, with sincerity, "so and so just doesn't have enough SHAKESPEAREAN training to pull this off." What an adult I've transformed into! Congratulations self, today you are a man.
So, lets talk about story first. There is nothing here that is new. To anybody. So let's not bother. My main problem with this though is that it's LITERALLY a story about a 13 year old girl and a sixteen year old boy. The boy's bummed because he's been shot down, so he goes to a party where he sees a new hot chick and they are instantly In Twu WUV!!!!
I knoooooow, I know. Don't bother telling me. "But the delicacy and intricacy of the language!" "You're missing all of the important points that Shakespeare is making about class differences, seeking to humanize the upper to the lower by showing they are not impervious to human folly!" "Can't you just appreciate it for the poetry it is and seek to reapply it to your general ideas of romance rather than attaching it to a bunch of prepubescent fools? Don't you think you're depriving yourself of something?" Well, I've struggles with all of these and the above is my story and I'm sticking to it. Every time some gorgeous line was uttered, some new height achieved in the expression of romantic poetry, all I could see in my head were the kids in my tenth grade class talking about how they were going to be couples forever! Stupid parents didn't understand! They knew what love was, why not get married now?!
Because you're thirteen and think faking your own death by way of a drug given to you by a grown man willing to marry a pair of tweens together for the poops and giggles is a good idea, that's why. Really, when you take away all the pretty word parts what you're left with is a romance about as exciting as the unsticky side of the band-aid.
Which gives me a great opportunity to return to my original complaint - the narration. What happened LA Theater Works?! Your production of The Importance of Being Earnest was so delightful. Is drama just not you're style? So while I hate to say it, while I readily admit to not being a connoisseur of thespian plays - I really think this cast was not the right one for this production. Flockhart might do fine in her usual productions, but Shakespeare she ain't suited for.
But you know what? NONE OF THIS MATTERS. And you know why? Because I got it for free. :)
I love ya.
The most memorable moment for me was when I reached the end and loved the whole thing so much I didn't even wait for my next monthly credit to buy the next book in the series.
I guess you could say that I'm something of a curmudgeon in that I generally just don't do fun very well. I'm that friend that sits with you in the theater and then complains after about how some small, insignificant detail that had no bearing on the plot, ruined the whole film for me because it ruined the authenticity of the time period, or what ever. Yes. I am THAT person. I'm aware of it though, and I try very, very, very hard not to let other people in on the fact that I am THAT person.
So needless to say that Sookie and I just didn't get along well in print form. I have trouble turning off my brain and just enjoying things (I blame med classes - they will suck the joy out of anything you once held dear and leave you a lifeless, overly serious shell). So every time I desperately needed to relax and tried to read these I just couldn't find a rhythm,. But then I went out on a limb and downloaded this instead.
What a difference!
Parker is SUCH a wonderful choice for this series. She totally and completely got me inside Sookie's head. She adds such a wonderful layer of texture to the atmosphere these characters and story arcs exude. This whole book is just so. darned. fun.
I can not recommend this series enough. For anyone who just wants something funny and totally absorbing to listen to and brighten your day on your commute or while you go about some chores, make no mistake about it - this is the book you've been looking for.
I got half way through this book and was so. intrigued. Here we had this utterly delectable little novel with a great premise, wonderful characters, and an completely unique perspective, and by the time I got right smack dab in the middle of it I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out what diabolical mystery it could all be building up to. And then I found out and all I could think was "oh, is that all? well I can tell where this is headed".
And the book rolled on. And it ended just like I thought it would (I really loved the closing lines though) which afforded me the opportunity to nod sagely to myself while listening to my ipod between classes and ruminate on the inadvisability of trying to predict plot twists. For a long time after I sat and mulled over why I thought it was that I didn't enjoy the latter half of this book as much as the former. I think its because I've just read, if at all possible, too much fantasy. If you know your tropes you can spot this one from a mile away.
But I still liked everything else about it. And obviously I am in the minority in my opinion about not being so hot on it. I don't mean to seem self congratulatory for having figured it out, that's not my intention. I was just hoping for something different. That being said I do not consider this to have been a waste of a credit - I still enjoyed the story, I'm still utterly fascinated by the characters and Ballerini did a fantastic job in bringing it all to life. Quibbles aside, I still recommend it.
In the end I think this book did what it was supposed to do - it introduced me to an author I never would have heard about otherwise, and it made me want to listen to his other works (I've added everything else he offers through Neil Gaiman Presents to my wish list). While this might not have been a strong entry into his cannon for me personally, I can tell he's someone whose work will appeal to me and I look foreword to listening to more first chance I get.
Recommend a book in the Wicked series? HAHAHAHA.
But why, you might be asking. Didn't I rate the book highly? Didn't I sit through every single one of the Wicked Years, gleefully bouncing up and down in my seat and clapping my hands like a three year old on a sugar rush? Why on earth would I forsake a recommendation on a series that has brought so much joy, so much food for thought, so much lasting pleasure into my life? Well, mostly for the same reason that I would never recommend full body tattoos or natto sushi. Namely, they're a commitment and a unique taste. And those types of books are ones that are rarely shareable. This is a huge monster of a book that requires more than just simple audience participation - it demands that you get on stage and join it in it's antics, and it screams for you to throw a few punches of your own into the mix as well.
Needless to say that if you got this far, if you read/listened to the other books in the series and actually LIKED them, as opposed to grudgingly reading them (which oddly enough, I think a fair number of this series do) , I think it's safe to say that you'll have a similar experience with this one. In a lot of ways I think that Out of Oz is a lot more similar to Wicked than most of its predecessors were.
I suppose I really can't add any more bits of wisdom other than that. The one good thing about Maguire's books is that if you read one you'll pretty much be able to gauge where you stand with all the others. Read Wicked and had mixed feelings? Well replace Wicked with Out of Oz and there's your magic answer. I don't think this is a book that someone should have to squander a credit on in the hopes that "this might be the one". If you haven't liked the series up until now, cut your losses and be done with it. If you do like these books then, yes, I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.
There is no one character - everything he narrates for this series in magical. As always I'm just floored at how wonderful John McDonough is. For me he is THE voice of the Wicked Years. I can't count the number of times I tried to read Wicked on my own way back in the day and failed for any number of reasons. But hearing these books read in his voice brought life into the characters and brought out subtleties in the plot that I never would have been able to construct on my own. Needless to say that while this book would have been fine in its own right, McDonough makes it a pure tour de force. So, that you John for making the commitment to this series.
For one thing the book in print or in audio is HUGE.
Second, Maguire's prose is so steeped in lyricism, in witticisms and allusions that I think it would be a disservice to plow through it without taking some breaks in between to let it all sink in and ponder what it is he's trying to convey to the reader. Plus there is so. damn. much. emotional hardship in this book. Maguire is an author that really likes to put his characters through the wringer, and here, more than any other book in the series, it shows. In fact, I would probably go so far as to say that the central focus in Out of Oz is the concept of the Happily Ever After - that the only After's that really last are the ones that we continually watch over and mend on our own.
Two of my favorite lines/passages :
“She wasn't afraid of doing good or of resisting evil. She was merely afraid she might not be able to tell the difference.”
“Maybe that's what growing up means, in the end - you go far enough in the direction of - somewhere - and you realize that you've neutered the capacity of the term home to mean anything. [...] We don't get an endless number of orbits away from the place where meaning first arises, that treasure-house of first experiences. What we learn, instead, is that our adventures secure us in our isolation. Experience revokes our licence to return to simpler times. Sooner or later, there's no place remotely like home.”
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