Wednesday, September 25, 2013

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (5)

 Well I just started my free trial of Audible. So far I’m pretty excited. Also, so far I haven’t paid for anything so that makes it extra exciting.

What is Audible?
Basically Audible is like Netflix, but for audiobooks. And you keep the book. And you only get (X) number amount (I chose one). So basically you’re just buying audiobooks at a steeply discounted rate because you’re signing on to buy one (or whatever you choose) a month.
I would think it was even cooler if it was more like Netflix/the library and you get one at a time. I realize that the library has this through OverDrive, but I’ve never gotten overdrive to work with audiobooks so either a) I’m an idiot or b) it’s a bad service. (Now I feel my bi-annual need to try it again.)
What I like about it is that you deal in terms of credits. So I’m signed up for one credit a month, 1 audiobook is 1 credit, so if it takes me a little over a month to listen to the audiobook, I still have my 1 saved up. If I don’t listen to audiobooks for a month after that, now I have 2, and then if it gets cold and I sit around knitting and binge-listening to audiobooks, I can blow through those two I have saved up.

Why are you such a geek, Jana?
I have a really hard time running. I get so bored. And I saw this little graphic about people who listen to audiobooks and it reminded me that I should try running with an audiobook. I figured I would probably like it because I loved running with Zombies, Run! but then I realized I was running out of episodes and stopped using it because I wanted to save it for an extra special run (read: I stopped running). So, naturally, the audiobook I chose was World War Z, in sticking with the running-from zombies theme.

I come here to read reviews, not have you try to sell me things
Right, right, sorry. World War Z is written as a history of the zombie war, with many short stories loosely strung together by the researcher, Max Brooks.
And I am loving this in audiobook style. I feel that this is the only way to read this book, actually. The full title is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. It is meant to be listened to. The voice actors are great, and there’s a teensy bit of soundtrack between chapters.

Normally, I have a hard time with the short story format (as you heard from my This is How You Lose Her review). I just can’t read a string of short stories the same way I can marathon-read a book. It feels weird dipping in and out of characters like that. So I’ll try and set up a system for how to read them, like at bedtime, but it generally falls apart if I haven’t finished it by the end of a week. What’s great about this is I have a system set up, I can listen to it while I’m running or in the car. Hopefully I will run often enough that this works, and the biggest problem is that when I’m done running I want to keep listening to it. And there are so many things you can do while listening to audiobooks! Cleaning! Cooking! All of these things I am pretty bad at doing because you can’t do them while your nose is shoved in a book.

It also helps keep me away from my major vice of sitting and reading the entirety of facebook, which I do a lot, but less when I have a good book to shove my nose into. You can’t read and listen at the same time, though lord knows I’ve tried.


What I really love about World War Z is that you get the adventure of zombies without that really horrifying apocalyptic moments that you get in most zombie movies. The “oh god, they’re going to win, we’re all going to die, and even if we live what’s the point since all we’re going to do for the rest of our miserable existence is keep fighting,” moment. I hate that moment. It is too depressing and stressful. This book is written after the zombie war, telling stories of the survivors. So the voices you hear are people who lived. They’ve seen some really horrifying things, so it’s still kind of terrifying and depressing (I was almost crying during one of my runs), but at least you know that your narrators have survived, and soon you will find out how the zombies were eradicated and humanity was rebuilt. Or whatever happened. I’m only ¼ of the way through the book. You’re right, I shouldn’t write a review on ¼ of a book. Sue me. 

UPDATE: Ok, I didn't actually post this before I finished the audiobook, but I liked what I wrote so I'm just going to post it anyway. All I have to add is that I wish I had binge-listened to it because whenever I "save" something and try not to burn through it even though I want to, I basically stop listening to it or reading it. Also I got OverDrive to work. The library app on my phone is my new best friend. Except if I try to check out an e-book it gives me the stupid non-kindle version which I can't read on my kindle which defeats the whole purpose. But audiobooks work fine. 

Yay! library your technology has caught up with the rest of the world. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Age of Miracles (4)

I’ve been writing a lot about abandoning books. I kept getting bored in the middle and wanting to put it down and move on to something else. This book was different. I found myself constantly wanting to read it but having no real clue as to why. It was cute and interesting but there was no real reason to call it spellbinding. Except one: it was pretty. There were so moments so beautiful that you wanted to live inside the book.

Except you really didn’t. The Age of Miracles premise is that, for reasons unknown, the rotation of the earth slowed. We didn’t gain minutes to the 24-hour day, we gained a whole half-hour. And then an hour, and after a few months the days were 50-hours long. That in itself is a reason to say “Why would I read this book? That makes no sense,” scientifically, no. What it does do is create a world in which 11-year-old Julia grows up.

It’s a quiet apocalypse, (unlike World War Z, which I’ve been listening to on runs and in the car) the world slowly gaining days. At first it seems as though everything can go on as it always did, except that sometimes it’s light when you should be sleeping and sometime’s it’s light during the daytime. Some people yell to the world that the end is near, but others just accept the new normal and continue with their lives: going to school or work, gardening, arguing amongst themselves. But as the daylight hours stretch, the earth begins to change, the days grow hotter and the nights grow colder. Can humanity survive? But more importantly, can Julia navigate puberty amidst this changing world, and will she ever get to go on a date with her neighbor?
If you like young adult novels, read it. If you like somber pretty tales, read it. If you want action, plot, fierce characters or hard sci-fi than this book is not for you.

Happy reading, friends. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Prayer for Owen Meany (5)

This is a post about big, scary, old books. You know the ones. They’ve been sitting on your shelf, slowly gathering dust, bought with good intentions, or to impress someone cute. Maybe you wanted to be just like Rory Gilmore or Hermione Granger and wanted to read everything, but found yourself liking the idea of reading the book a lot more than the book itself.

There is something so satisfying in being able to say “There, I’ve done it. I’ve finished.” And it is especially satisfying when it’s been a long time coming.

This was a long time coming. I started reading A Prayer for Owen Meany when I was called back to be in the play Book-It was performing. This was, oh, October 2011. I read as much as my character, Aunt Martha, was in, but then I got stuck. I got stuck amid the chapter our play was about. There was something about living that story for four hours a day that made me really not want to read them any more. Our Mary was even funnier. I could watch her tomorrow.

I tried again when the play was over. Still no. I put it down. And then I was in the remount the next year and I still hadn’t finished the book. How embarrassing…I re-read the chapters we were doing and finally got to dive into new material. Chapter Eight.

kind of like this...but don't tell John Irving I said that.
A Prayer for Owen Meany was beautiful. It was interesting. But the problem was, I knew what was going to happen. From the liberal hints of my castmates who had done their homework, and the liberal foreshadowing, it wasn’t a matter of what was going to happen, but how. And it was lovely, and so worth it and so satisfying, and surprisingly not depressing when I finally got there.

Once I was reading the book, I liked it. But when I wasn’t reading the book, I had more fun discussing episodes of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones. I enjoyed savoring the book. And I was well-versed enough in the basic themes and character that I didn’t get lost when I put it down. I had three chapters I could recite in my sleep. 
think of Mr & Mrs Eastman just like this
The novel follows Johnny Eastman (father unknown) and his relationship with is best friend Owen Meany.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was an instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
 It is an epic of a tale, following the boys from the age of 11 and told by present-day Johnny Eastman. Owen is the kind of best friend who knows exactly what his life's purpose is and who tries to help Johnny figure out a path of his own. Owen wants to know who Johnny's father is, but Johnny isn't sure he wants to know.

Owen knows exactly how he is going to die.

You know what? Just go read it. It took me two years to read all I can remember is the beginning and the end and some really funny parts in the middle. Hester the Molester...I don't even know what to say except I can't wait for you to meet Hester.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling (4.5)

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple of weeks (or perhaps watching television instead of reading book blogs), perhaps you didn’t hear: J.K. Rowling wrote a new book. It was published at the end of April under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Recently it was leaked via twitter that Jo wrote it, so now everyone has to read it.

I’ve heard speculation that Jo leaked it herself because it wasn’t doing well enough or whatever, but according to some of her statements, I don’t buy it. It sold rather well, and had two offers from television producers. If anything it seems as though it was inevitably going to come out because someone was going to want to meet the real Robert Galbraith.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a classic whodunit. Popular model Lula Landry plunges off her balcony to her death, everyone rules it a suicide, but her brother reopens the case by hiring detective Cormoran Strike. At some point you think just about everyone could have done it.

This was everything I could have asked for from a crime novel, with the exception that I could put it down. The detective, Cormoran Strike was interesting, yes, and unique, probably, though I’ve read very few crime novels.

I did not guess the villain, though I rarely ever do, so the final confrontation was a surprise, but I didn’t feel the danger. At no moment was I really afraid for anyone’s life. And in a thriller/mystery/whatever, I feel like I should have been.

I can’t blame Jo for all of this. Honestly, it might be that I’m really in the mood to read some love story and since this book didn’t have one, I just wasn’t that invested. It might have been that this is not really my genre. This could have been the best mystery novel written in a century and I might still not have loved it.
I’ll probably read the sequel. But I won't go to the midnight release.

I'm still upset HP is over. I will never love again