Category: Books

Passion

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Most people I know are passionate about something.

Those things vary from person to person – even in intensity between those who share a passion for a specific thing.

As you might know, I love reading, film, TV, food, crafting among other things. I’m a long time Star Trek fan – 50 years worth. And, yes, that astounds me more than one might think it would.

Some folks love gardening, others are into sports. Some find politics a competitive sport, not me. Much too serious repercussions involved for me to think that way.

Food can be an interesting passion. Eating is a simple joy. I actually know a few folks who eat because they have to — and one or two of them have to be reminded (!!) to do so. For me, food is a way of expressing love, a communal process, an adventure of exploration.

Books and reading or audiobooks and listening take storytelling to a new level of art.

Film or television can be an amazing experience or a monumental waste of time, depending upon what is being watched. This relatively new ability to binge watch TV shows has brought about a new way of experiencing and exploring television. I admit I like it…usually. 🙂

Passion for anything is an amazing gift. It provides focus, food for thought, ability to grow and learn. If not for Science Fiction, I would have a much different understanding of what we take for granted today – computers, for example.

There is a sort of zen-like component to passions. Crafting, for example, requires a certain type of focus that lends itself to meditation and contemplation. Odd as it might seem, there is a reason so many people engage in certain activities – and it might surprise you to find that it isn’t the activity itself that draws them in.

Justin Scarred recently when to a convention that focused on comic books, characters, anime and the like. I remember my first convention many, many years ago. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but when I stepped out of the elevator and the first thing I saw was a storm trooper coming at me down the hallway, it changed my life.

There is something special about being among other people who share your passion. Not only does it offer the opportunity to share something you enjoy, but it opens up the world a bit and adds more to the experience.

Ever been to a quilters convention? Same thing, just different subject. 🙂

There will always be folks who don’t get it. No matter how hard you try to explain or expound on the topic. But for those of us who do, it can be a life changing experience that will provide a lifetime of opportunity, interest, excitement and pleasure.

Don’t be afraid to explore and find your passion – or several if you like. You’ll be glad you did!

The Accidental Alchemist Series

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Love that Gargoyle!

I actually started this series by listening to book 4; The Alchemist’s Illusion. I then went back and started in on the first 3.

I’ve read urban fantasy off and on for years and have heard about Nicholas Flammel in a variety of places (Harry Potter?). Gigi Pandian’s work focuses on an alchemist who has found a home in Portland, Oregon after many years on the road in her pick up truck and Airstream trailer.

I have to tell you that it was the gargoyle, Dorian, who really caught my attention – even though I did like the main character.

I should also tell you that I, too, have a gargoyle in residence. However, mine doesn’t converse, cook or scamper about (that I know of) at odd times of the day or night.

The first three books in the series explain a lot about alchemy, history and the intricacies of vegan food. I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there is nothing that says you can’t give it a try. The resolution to Dorian’s situation comes in book 3, but his story continues.

The reader does an amazing job and really helped me get into the stories. I enjoy all the characters – and each is well defined and presented. Portland, Oregon is becoming a character in itself.

If you are inclined, check out Gigi Pandian’s website HERE

Categories: Audiobooks Books

New Stuff

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Or, things you might find interesting. 🙂

Mobituaries by Mo Rocca

Mo is back with a new and interesting project. Mobituaries (mobituaries.com) is a collection of podcasts (and an upcoming book) about people who have caught his interest.

Note: The people could be real or not.

If you are one of us folks who find ourselves curious about … history, life stories, odds and ends, this might be right up your street.

There is an introduction to the podcast – and as of this writing the first episode – available on the website. Check it out!

Star Trek Discovery is Back!

I finally sat down to watch the first episode (I admit I was holding off just a bit) and loved it.

The production values are amazing, the story telling compelling and the addition of new characters intriguing. Tig Navarro is a treat – that’s all I’m going to say. 🙂

Good Trek makes your mind work and I loved observing mine as we maneuvered through the first episode story. It sets up the season well, introduces us to new(ish) characters and provides some needed touch base with old friends.

Lady Sherlock Book Series

I just finished book three in the series by Sherry Thomas. WOW!

It helps to know that I had recently been listening to the Stephen Fry read collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The comparison between the two works is amazing. Thomas really – and I mean REALLY – did her homework.

The series is best read in order. While you can expect some intricate plotting, the real gems in the work are the characters. I’m an audio reader and the narrator/reader is amazing. Check out the series at The Lady Sherlock Series.

That’s all for now – have fun!

Categories: Books Musings

Sherlock Holmes

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Like many people, I grew up with Sherlock Holmes.

Books, movies, television, radio, Holmes was everywhere.

I have owned the Complete Collection, watched the various Masterpiece series and the movies, listened to the Old Time Radio shows.  But recently I discovered a new way to enjoy the Master Detective.

Audio – or, more accurately, audiobooks.

Stephen Fry has narrated the Sherlock Holmes collection that can be found on Audible.com.  All 62 hours and 52 minutes.  Yep, 3 days plus of some amazing stories.  🙂

Granted you can get various versions of the entire collection;  Amazon has quite a variety of ebook and print versions.  I picked up the audible version on a whim, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience.

First, Mr. Fry does a wonderful job of introducing the listener not only to the series, but to the various works in the collection.  Second, his mastery of various voices used in the production is a joy – a good reader is a definite plus when listening to audio books.

The stories themselves are engrossing and entertaining.  I like to listen when I go to bed at the end of the day.  If I’m not careful, I can be up all night caught up in the story.  🙂

If you like a detective story that actually explains ‘who done it’, Sherlock Holmes is a great series to delve into.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did, actually, set the standard and the bar for what came next in the genre.

Whether you are new to Holmes or a long time fan, this version is well worth investigating.

Categories: Audiobooks Books

Inspector Ian Rutledge Series

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I first learned about this series when book #20 was released this year.  I added that book to my Audible wishlist and picked up book number one to see if the sample I had listened to was worth diving into.  It was.

The series is written by a mother/son writing team that goes by the name of Charles Todd.

The series is set in the years after World War I.  Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is a survivor (barely) with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) which exhibit itself in the manifestation of the spirit of one of the men who served under him in France.

The setting is one that I do not normally tend toward.  When I first thought about this series, I reminded myself that I enjoyed Downton Abbey which covered pretty much the same period and area of England. 

That seemed to provide a frame of reference that allowed me to slide into what is a typical British character driven mystery.  Think Masterpiece Mystery and you get the idea.

The characters are well developed and interesting.  Rutledge himself is quite a complicated mess – and that is without the inclusion of his shadow.  I have to think it difficult to deal with the public opinion of PTSD (negative) along with the reality of living with it (complicated).

The stories themselves are very well written.  I would tend to align them with Agatha Christie.  There is a similar complicated simplicity to them.  The stories themselves are not simple, there are some very complicated themes with characters that have many shades of grey.

I admit I listened to the first three in the series, then jumped to number twenty – in part to move forward with the series and in part to get #20 off my wishlist.  🙂  Totally worth it!

I would definitely recommend starting with #1 because it provides the groundwork you will need to understand Rutledge’s journey.  After that…  I am contemplating catching up before the next new one comes out.

Categories: Audiobooks Books

Exciting Times For The Bookshelf!

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I am a reader.  I am an audio book listener.  I love books of all sizes.  For all those reasons, there are two very distinctive times when it is exciting to be on or near my bookshelf.

First, when my Audible credits appear in my account and I can look for new books to listen to.

Second, when a favorite author publishes – or a book I’m interested in is published.

Genres

There was a time when I was pretty stuck in one or two genres.  Evolving to my Kindle sort of eliminated that.  I literally had the entire book store in my hand and could find whatever I wanted to read.  I never, ever, found that to be true going to any bookstore.

Expanding my genre choices exploded the envelope.  I could try different authors and subjects as I chose without hesitation.  I gravitate toward detective and fantasy fiction, with a side of science fiction.  I have a fondness for a particular author’s historical fiction.  All of those options gave me opportunities to try different writers (usually at the recommendation of the author I read) and see if they were intriguing enough to keep up with.

There is a catch with the ability to have the library in your pocket – having the library in your pocket.  🙂

You can get used to binge reading a series or an author until you have read all and … now what?

Tools

Why did I buy an ereader?  I’ve been asked this quite a lot.  My normal response is to say that my chiropractor prefers I not carry around a lot of weight on my shoulder.  This is usually after he has attempted to move my purse out of the way and finds he needs a hand trolley.

The fact of the matter is a little different.  But not too much.

Carrying around books – especially the door stops I tend to read – means carrying around a lot of extra weight.  There is also a logistical aspect – one has to dedicate an arm to carry whatever the book is or is not in.

As anyone who has attempted to pick up a quick meal with a lot of luggage knows, this isn’t always easy.

I love my Kindle, but it doesn’t fit in my pocket.

A few years back I was looking for a way to be able to listen to audio books and internet radio.  After a lot of searching, I decided upon an iPod – not an iPad – and discovered the flexibility of having my library in my pocket. 

The iPod was a perfect solution for me.  I could tuck it into one pocket, my wallet in another, and be able to grab a quick lunch and be able to read a bit without back strain or the threat of inadvertent avalanche.  If you are a hardcore reader, you will understand.

Audio Books?

I love being read to. 

I get that some people really love the feel and the smell of paper.  I don’t have the physical space to hold all the books I would own.  As my eyesight has evolved (or devolved) audio books allow me to keep up with my favorite authors.  For kids, they are great tools to introduce them to reading.  Really.

I’d love to hear from you about why and how and who you read.  Maybe we share a fondness for a particular author or character.  Let’s find out!

Categories: Audiobooks Books Musings

Mental Health Days and Why I Craft

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I recently came across a link to an article that got me to thinking about why I craft.  The article:  When A Woman Needed A Mental Health Day Off Work, Her Boss’ Response Shocked Everyone.

There is an old saying that if you do what you love, it isn’t work.  To a point, I would agree.  I’m like several of my friends and acquaintances, I enjoy the day to day processes of running an office.  That doesn’t mean that any of those projects, or jobs, is not work.

I have a passion for food and I love to cook.  Sometimes the act of cooking is more job than hobby, but not always.

I love reading, listening to music and watching film and television.  While I have a better than average knowledge of the behind the scenes functions of most of those activities, I have never had the pleasure of being employed in those industries.

Quilting is a new-ish addition to my life that encompasses my fondness for color, pattern and (believe it or not) geometry.  🙂

I do these things in varying degrees because it relieves stress, allows me to create something out of my own imagination and gives me an outlet to not think about the 9 to 5 day to day grind.

I think it can be looked at as mini-mental health days.

I know people who look at hobbies as stress replacements.  They are not so much into a hobby as a way to relax as a way to do something until they can do something else.  I don’t understand that, either.  🙂

I also know people who have no real understanding of, or use for, hobbies.  There’s work to be done, why waste your time?

I had a parent who worked hard most of his life.  He also spent a good amount of that time doing things he actually liked doing (hence the reminder of doing things you love not being work…)  But there came a time when he was no longer physically able to do the projects he loved.

As he had no hobbies, he was left with nothing to fill his time with.  And he ended up having a lot of time to fill.

My suggestion to you is the lesson I learned watching this parent deal with life.  It is all well and good to have things you love to do, but diversify a bit.  You never know when it will be in your best interest to spend time doing things you never thought you would.

If you are a hiker, what would you do if you broke a leg and couldn’t do that for a while?  If you had issues with your sight, how would you deal with not being able to read printed text?

You get the idea.  Work is a wonderful and productive way to spend time and earn a living.  It provides a great sense of self worth.  But work is not the end all or be all of a life.  It should be a part of the whole.  Find something that you are interested in and give it a try.  Doesn’t matter what.  Once you find a passion for something, you will notice that the world is a bit lighter, perspective a bit brighter and work is less, well, work.

Recently Read

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I love to read.  It began with comics from the funny pages and evolved to an appreciation for a variety of genres.  I’m also a devoted audio book fan.  I normally listen to audio books, but they can also be found in paper or on electronic file (i.e. Kindle).

Jim Butcher
The Dresden Files

Recently I picked up a new short story collection by Jim Butcher called Brief Cases that focus on Butcher’s Dresden Files series.  Harry Dresden, in case you haven’t met him yet, is a wizard in Chicago.  Actually, I believe, he is one of the wardens who protect that area of the continent.  But don’t quote me, check out the series.

Butcher has an easy style that draws you into the worlds he creates, beguiling you into thinking this was going to be one sort of trip until you realize (usually too late) that it is another.  His world building skills are amazing and his characters multidimensional.

Dresden’s world is populated by a wide variety of folks, Human and other.  Each has a specific reason or purpose for being there and each has an interesting tale to tell.  Brief Cases is a collection of old and new short stories that cover a wide time spread in the series and a few are told by some of the side characters.  For me, it added a bit more dimension to the series.

The Cinder Spires

I recently began going through my collection of audio books and came across the first book in a new Butcher series; the Cinder Spires.  The book, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, is in the steampunk genre; new to me.

Butcher is, as I may have mentioned before, a master at world building.  The Cinder Spires series is shaping up to be just as amazing and fun as the Dresden and Codex Alera series.

This book originally came out in 2015, and I’m pretty sure I have had my copy sitting on the cloud since then.  As it was my first foray into steampunk, it sat until I was ready to give it a try.  I’m glad I did.

As a fan of wind ships, sea stories, fantasy and the like, this one clicked quite a few boxes for me.  Add into it some sparkling storytelling and great characters, and you might see that it is worth the time to sit down with it.

I strongly recommend you check out Jim’s website as well as the books.  I doubt you will be disappointed.  Be warned, however, you could be setting yourself up for a wild ride.  Or many.  🙂

Categories: Audiobooks Books

The Pleasures of Audiobooks

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Or, I love being read to.

I have loved stories for as long as I can remember.  From my early encounters with the funny pages in the Sunday paper, to learning to put sounds to letters to form words and then using words to tell stories, to listening to my dad and his brothers tell stories, to sitting down and actually reading book.  Stories have always been a part of my life.

A few years ago I discovered audiobooks on cassette, then CD, then audiostream and I was off!

My local library started carrying a few titles, then a few more and then expanded the shelving.  If memory serves, it took me about a year to work my way through mysteries, historical novels, humor, fantasy and whatever else was on those shelves.  By then, I had moved on to monthly rental on CD and then on to Audible.

During that time I had a subscription to Audiofile magazine – which is a fantastic publication dedicated to all things audio.  It is filled with informative reviews and interviews covering every level of audio book; adult, young adult, child, you name it.

Why I Love Audiobooks

Beside the vision issue – mine can’t handle nearly what it used to – there is the pleasure of listening to a good story told by a person who can create and carry multiple characters without leaving the listener behind.

I own the Harry Potter books in paper and audio, then picked up the cloud versions when they were first available on Audible.  I wore out the cassettes and my CD player gave up the ghost, but the cloud versions are available not only on my iPod, but through the Audible player that works pretty much everywhere.

The ability to listen to Jim Dale tell Harry’s tale is amazing.  I have no idea how many times I’ve listened to the series, but each and every time I learn something new.  I discover something that I hadn’t noticed before.

I have a similar situation with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and the side series and short stories.

Distracting or Focusing?

Some folks find audiobooks distracting.  They can be.  I learned early on that I couldn’t listen to one while doing detail work with data.  They can also be focusing.  When you listen very carefully, your attention is focused on one or two things only.

Come to think of it, that may be the different side to the same coin.  🙂

I like to listen when I go to bed at night.  Yes, I do drop off after a while and the story could continue on, but that gives me a place to rewind to and start again.  More layers, more detail.

Of course, there is the problem of starting a Brand New Book and being up half the night because the story is so good I don’t want to drop off to sleep.

I can do handwork, or housework, or drive my car, while listening to a book.  This version of multitasking is actually productive.  Most of the time.  🙂

Equipment

Believe it or not, you don’t need a lot of equipment.  If you have pretty much any electronic device, you have the opportunity to listen to audiobooks.

I began using a cassette player, moved on to a CD player and then onto an iPod.  I currently listen on my Alexa device, but can use Audible’s players – which are free, by the way.

New Discoveries

I think that listening to audiobooks is similar to my experience with my first Kindle.  My reading world opened up and I began to discover new authors and more topics.

There was a time when I waited for one of my favorite authors to publish – and then waited until the next book came out.  I had a few authors that I looked forward to reading in my yearly rotation.  I didn’t have time or resources to look for new material.  Now, I have the ability to test out books and authors that pique my interest.  I find new folks and add new books to my list of potential reading/listening material.

I’ve found readers that handle various author’s works and I enjoying not only listening to the book, but listening to the reader.  There are some that are iconic (Jim Dale?) and beloved (DaVina Porter).  They are as much a part of the author’s story as the author him/herself.

As Summer revs up and we think about vacation traveling, picnics, car trips, beaches, and pretty much any other time to relax, why not consider a trip to the library to see what they offer in recorded books.  You might be surprised.

You won’t be alone!

Categories: Audiobooks

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