Friday, August 23, 2013

I finally try out

Recently, there has been a huge surge in audiobook use. This is largely because of the easy access to the medium via smartphones and MP3 players and other devices (hooray technology!), and as a result, productions are getting better and better. For me, this is excellent news; I have been a long-time lover of audiobooks, ever since I would make the 6-hour drive to and from Ithaca during my college years. Back then my best (and really one of my only) audiobook friends was Bill Bryson, who is a wonderful narrator of his own works, but now I've expanded my use even more.

With a 40-minute commute to and from work, I don't know what I would do without my stories, and on my long training runs for my first half marathon (coming up in October), books help the time and the miles pass quickly. This is why I was excited to have the opportunity to try for free, after someone from their team reached out to me.
Audible is a subscription service available through that is expressly for audiobooks. You sign up for one of their plans, the most basic of which starts at $14.95/month, and in return you get one credit per month to spend on any audiobook available. One credit is usually equal to one audiobook, so basically you are paying the member fee for one book per month, plus you get member discounts on every other book. You can purchase however many books per month you want this way. I know that sometimes they have member sales and free titles for members, but as I only used the service for the free trial period, I haven't seen what those sales look like myself.

Audible has some other great perks that come with your membership. You can exchange any audiobook you buy, whether you pay for it in credits or with your credit card, for any other book if you don't like it, no questions asked (as a side note, this service disappears if you cancel your membership). There is also this mystical thing called Whispersync, which is super cool if you have a Kindle. Basically, if you are reading a Kindle book and are listening to the same audiobook, you can sync the two up so that if you put one version down, the other device will bring you right where you left off. Crazy new technology, I tell ya.

Once I bought my books using the credits I was given during my free trial, I just had to click "Download" to put them on my Mac and they automatically went to iTunes. I did have some trouble figuring out how to get them onto my iPod, since they didn't automatically sync with it, but after asking Twitter I figured it out (thanks Kimberly!). Turns out all I had to do was click and drag the files from iTunes to my iPod while the latter was connected to my computer. My first choice was Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan, which was very funny and worth listening to on audio.

I loved my experience with Audible, and their selection is huge. If I wasn't a librarian and didn't get all my audiobooks for free through my library and Overdrive, I would definitely consider becoming a member. As it stands, though, I am able to get most of the books I want without having to pay for them, and my budget doesn't have enough wiggle room right now to pay for a service like this. Maybe one day!

I would like to say, though, that canceling was extremely easy and no-hassle. The best part is, I get to keep the audiobooks I bought with my credit even after cancellation—they are still available on my account when I sign in. And if I decide one day to rejoin, I can use that same account. It's all attached to your Amazon account, so if you already have one of those, you don't even need to give a separate credit card.

Interested? You can try it out for free for one month! Just click here. You'll get one credit to use, no obligations. If you decide to keep it, it will charge your credit card after one month and give you another credit. If not, it's easy to cancel.

I know I sound like a long commercial, but I really did like the service, and I love audiobooks. I think it's wonderful that this medium has gained so much popularity, and as a result, more people are reading.

Disclaimer: sponsored this post by providing me with credits to try their service. This in no way affected my review, and any opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Things That Make Blogging Easier/Better

Another Tuesday, another Top Ten list. This week's topic: things that make blogging easier/better! Since I'm not the best blogger in the world, I might not make it to ten, but at least now I have access to a bunch of other ideas. Maybe I will stop slacking so much. Though you will see both of my choices from the original post over at The Broke and the Bookish, natch.

1. My nook. I love having an e-reader, not only for all the beautiful space it saves me, but for making it so easy to cart around over 100 books with me at all times. Too bad it feeds a nasty book-buying addiction, but hey, sacrifices. The good news: I don't spend money on e-books unless they are less than $3, $5 if it's a book I really want. I also like those Free Fridays B&N likes to do. As a result, I will never ever read all my e-books.

2. NetGalley and Edelweiss. Yes, these two sites are a Godsend for people who do not like paying for books and who don't like physical ARCs and galleys taking up valuable apartment space. Obviously, since I love and use my nook, this was the next step. The best part is, these are all books that haven't even been released yet. Win-win if I've ever heard one. Side note: I only just figured out how to get e-ARCs on Edelweiss (I KNOW) and I have to say, the selection is pretty awesome. Bonus points for me being a librarian and using "collection development" as a reason for reading ARCs, thus saving me from the pressure of feeling like I have to review every one. Because I definitely won't.

3. Blogger. Because there is no way I would be able to create a website from scratch and update it nearly as regularly (stop laughing) as I do now.

4. Goodreads. Ah, old reliable. How else would I have met all my online reading friends? It keeps all my books in order and organized, and I never would have even thought to start a blog if Jamie hadn't suggested we start a joint one on the College Students group three years ago.

5. The library. Remember how I was talking about not paying for books and saving space? Yeah, the library is awesome because I can take out e-books for my nook, physical books, audiobooks, and whatever other kinds of media I want really, for free. It helps that I'm a librarian, of course, and have all the know-how to find and get what I want. Side note: Ask your librarian if you want something and can't find it. They can most likely get it for you even if it's not in your library system.

6. Audiobooks. I get audiobooks from the library, thought I'd totally use Audible if I didn't have the library. Again, free. I love audiobooks. I love to listen to them during my 40-minute commute, while I run, and sometimes when I'm cooking. They are awesome and I get so much more reading done by listening than by actually sitting down to read, though I do a lot of that too. Side note: Did you know you can probably download e-audiobooks from your library's website?

7. Memes. Really, just Top Ten Tuesday. Because it gives me an excuse to post something without actually thinking about what I've read recently.

8. Bloglovin'. At the demise of Google Reader, I felt a little lost. But then I found Bloglovin', which changed my blogging world. It is SO MUCH EASIER to keep up with the blogs I follow, and I love it. (This is your cue to go click the button at the top of my page to follow me.)

9. Twitter. Because how else am I going to keep in touch with the reading world? Or really, the world at large for that matter. Yay Twitter!

That's really it for me at the moment. I know this kind of turned into an advertisement for libraries, but whatever, they are the best. Obviously no bias here. (Get your library card today!)

What things are on your top ten list? Head over to The Broke and the Bookish to share!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My review of audiobook "Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage is on The Broke and the Bookish

Title: Three Times Lucky
Author: Sheila Turnage
Publisher: Penguin Audio, 2012 (print available from Dial)
Narrator: Michal Friedman 

I really liked listening to this audiobook, the print version of which nabbed a Newbery Honor this year. Mo LoBeau, rising sixth grader and our narrator, finds herself and her small NC town of Tupelo Landing in the middle of a murder mystery that ends up being years in the making.

To see my full review, visit The Broke and the Bookish here.

Hint: I liked it! And the audio was really great.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book review: "The Madness Underneath" by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam, 2013

**Spoilers for The Name of the Star ahead! You've been warned.** 

After having been nearly killed by Alexander Newman, ghostly Jack the Ripper copycat and psychopathic ghost, Rory is getting therapy for the trauma. Unfortunately, she can't tell her therapist what really happened. Luckily, the Shades are able to pull some strings and get her sent back to Wexford, since they need her--her entire body is a terminus, and she's the only one left. Thus begins the second journey Rory takes into the ghostly world of London.

I really liked this book until the end. After the beginning in Bristol and Rory's clearly pending failure of all her courses, she goes on to more investigations with the Shades. About halfway through, maybe a little more, we are also introduced to a new set of characters who may or may not be trustworthy. We'll definitely be seeing more of them in the next book, however.

What bothered me about this book was not all the time spent on Rory's recovery, which some people didn't like, but how I felt like we were going in one direction and it just kind of... fizzled out. The first murder in the beginning hooked me, and I thought we'd be on that for a little while, but we just weren't. At book's end, I couldn't really piece together what the main plot was, so many different things were going on. There also wasn't a whole lot of ghost action.

And then we get to the ending. To avoid spoilers, I won't say more than I am completely disappointed with it and am not sure I want to bother reading the next book because of it. I probably will anyway, but still. I really have no idea how Johnson is going to make it work in the next book, but I'm guessing she has a plan, so I suppose we'll find out. I honestly can't see how I'll enjoy whatever resolution she'll come up with, however.

My expectations were high after having read The Name of the Star, but unfortunately they were not met by The Madness Underneath. I'm hoping the next book will redeem this one, but I'm having a hard time seeing how.

Disclosure: I took this book out from the library.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Books Set in Hawaii

I'm finally taking part in another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where I am also a contributor. It's been a while, and I'm pretty sure I've done a similar list of books set in Hawaii for The Broke and the Bookish, but whatever! It's really the only type of book I seek out. Without further ado, here are my top ten picks of books set in Hawaii, in no particular order.

1. Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble. This is the most recent of my Hawaii books, read just a couple weeks ago. Well-rounded characters and a thrilling mystery make for a great read.
2. Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis. I loved this first book in the Tiki Goddess mysteries. These mysteries are funny and set on the beautiful island of Kauai. Plus it has a hilarious group of characters, including the Hula Maidens, a slightly elderly and very mouthy group of hula dancers. The mystery aspect just adds to the fun, even though some people die.

3. Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport. This is the real deal stuff, if you want to learn about the less than idyllic side of paradise. This novel is a look at the most recent history of Hawaii told over seven generations of women. It's a hefty book, but well worth reading.
4. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. Narrative nonfiction at its best. This is about Hawaii's history, going back to Kamehameha I, up to its current state (pun intended). I learned so much about Hawaiian history and culture from this book, and Vowell's wry humor won me over right away.

5. The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. I found this audiobook at my library and checked it out on a whim. I'm really glad I did. From my perspective, I thought Chiaverini did a great job with showing the tensions between native Hawaiians and the United States, but in a gentle story of healing for one of the Elm Creek quilters spending a few months with a friend on the island of Maui. I learned a lot about the Hawaiian style of quilting too, not that I know anything about regular quilting. I now want to check out the rest of the series, mostly because Christina Moore did such a wonderful job narrating.

6. Calvin Coconut series by Graham Salisbury. Salisbury, as someone who grew up in Hawaii, knows how to express the contemporary Hawaiian culture and the vernacular speech. This series is a great way for kids and adults to see what living on the islands is about, how everyday things are different from the mainland, and the differences and similarities between growing up in Hawaii and wherever the reader is from.

7. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. This book was good, but I'm actually going to go ahead and say this is one instance where the movie is better. George Clooney was more likable as the character in the movie, since we didn't hear his inner monologue as we did in the book, and really, he is kind of a jerk. But the movie is lovely, and the visuals are stunning.

That's pretty much all I have right now. These aren't all the books I've read set in Hawaii, but I didn't bother putting ones on here that I didn't really like. Plus I know I have a lot of ground to cover! If anyone can think of others they've loved set in Hawaii let me know! I'm all for adding good books to my TBR list.
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