Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vacation Reading Stack, Audiobook and E-Book Version (Part III)

Vacations on the Gulf of Mexico are truly like no other. Despite the fact that I've been many places in my life (within the continental U.S., anyway -- but that is about to change with my upcoming trip to Africa!), the beaches of the Gulf are special to me. It is where my family always vacationed when I was young. I first saw the ocean from Panama City Beach's Pinnacle Port resort. My family traveled there for many years before heading off on a series of less-successful (at least in our kids' minds) "educational" trips -- one to Washington, D.C. and Virginia, then another to Charleston. To be fair, we spent much more time at our condo on Isle of Palms than we did touring southern manses, but the antiquing and trips to the Historic Charleston City Market that we did do almost killed us as kids (or so we thought, anyway).

Nothing has been so relaxing as another week spent here with family. Although we are a bit further west than Panama City this time, we came as a big, sprawling extended family. In our condo, you have my parents, my fiance, his son, and me. In another beach house less than a block away: my paternal grandmother, my aunt, my two cousins (and spouses and children), and my other cousin's wife. As I have a stepson-to-be, but have no kids of my own yet, suffice it to say I was somewhat unprepared for what having so many kids along would mean. It has been a whirlwind of playing and swimming and beaching, with less time spent reading than I had anticipated.

However, audiobooks have been my reading saving grace. At the beach and pool, I can pop one side of my earphones in, start an audiobook, and still keep my eyes and (one) ear peeled for shrieks that require me to help. Monday and Tuesday I described the actual books I brought with me. Today, I want to tell you about the audiobooks and e-books. For all audiobooks, I use Audible's app for iPod/ iPhone. It is super easy, allows bookmarking, allows setting a timer for "sleep," and has many other user-friendly perks. For e-book reading, I have been using my new Samsung Galaxy Tab. Love it. No complaints at all. I can finally read PDF formatted books from NetGalley!

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner: I am about a third of the way through this audiobook, and I am loving it every bit as much as I've loved the other books in the D. D. Warren series. However, it's superbly creepy, and I can't listen to it before I go to sleep. If I do, I have nightmares. But it's excellent. Cosmo described it best in their intro to an interview with Gardner: "What is it about a creepy, murderous child that is just so freakin’ terrifying? Movies like The Omen, Orphan, and The Exorcist play on this fear, and so does best-selling author Lisa Gardner in her latest book, Live To Tell. The deeply troubled children in her story are mysteriously connected to several family annihilations (where one member of the family kills the entire family, and then commits suicide)." It is that creepy -- but also that good.

Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore: I tried to read this title several months ago (before its release) via NetGalley. However, this e-book was in PDF format rather than ePub, and at that time I had only my iPod touch to read e-books, which was near to impossible for PDFs. Now that I have the Samsung Galaxy, I have been able to download it again and give it another try. Although I have not liked it as much as Gore's first two novels (which I loved), I'm slowly getting into it a bit more. The Today Show interviewed Gore and has provided an excerpt of the novel.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: I read a preview of the e-book version several months ago, and was highly impressed. Again, that was before I owned an actual e-reader. I didn't purchase the whole e-book at the time, but I kept it on my to-read list. When Live to Tell proved too much for me at night, I decided to download the Audible version of Discovery specifically to listen to at bedtime. It is fabulous thus far, and despite its world of witches and vampires, not scary in the least.

The LA Times reviewed the book after its release back in February, saying: "A professor of history at USC, Harkness creates an entertaining world in her first novel, a place in which humans, witches, daemons and vampires peacefully coexist (well, most of the time) and even practice yoga together. . . . [The main vampire's] immortal life has made him one heck of a wine collector, and vamps have heartbeats and can sample food, although, he says, 'food tastes wrong to a vampire once it's been cooked to death.' On the matter of a mysterious book, though, Harkness stays true to the way books have been used in other tales of gothic adventure. [It] remains enigmatic, a symbol of knowledge as forbidden as an apple in Eden. The book shimmers under Diana's gaze, reminding us of an old lesson about the power of books that never goes out of style. 'A little book can hold a big secret,' the witch Agatha tells Diana, 'one that might change the world.'"

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