Random House Audio: 5 FREE Audiobooks

April 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Random House Audio is offering five FREE audiobooks to promote their “Carshare Program.” One of the titles, Percy Jackson and The Sword Of Hades had been FREEly released previously, the rest should all be newly FREE. Start your HuffDuffing!

LISTENING LIBRARY - The Mercy Watson Collection Volume1 by Kate DiCamilloMercy Watson To The Rescue” from The Mercy Watson Collection Volume I
By Kate DiCamillo; Read by Ron McLarty
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2006
To Mr. & Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig–she’s a porcine wonder. And to the portly and good-natured Mercy, the Watson’s are an excellent source of buttered toast, no to mention that buttery-toast feeling she gets when she snuggles in to bed with them. This is not, however so good for the Watsons’ bed. BOOM! CRACK! Welcome to the wry and endearing world of Mercy Watson.

BOOKS ON TAPE - The Geometry Of Sisters by Luanne RiceThe Geometry Of Sisters
By Luanne Rice; Read by Bernadette Dunne and Jaclyn Gaines
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Hours 48 Minutes
Publisher: Books On Tape
Published: 2009
Set amid the opulent mansions on the Rhode Island coast, Newport Academy is a private high school like no other. In the wake of the unthinkable loss of her husband and eldest daughter, Maggie Shaw has come to the school to teach English–and to start a new life with the remnants of her shattered family, her two teenage children. But ghosts from her past await Maggie in Newport, especially the unresolved equations of her breach with her sister years ago. Once again, Luanne Rice exhibits her singular insight into the bonds among friends, lovers and families for which she is so acclaimed

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Demigod Files by Rick RiordanPercy Jackson And The Sword Of Hades” from The Demigod Files
By Rick Riordan; Read by Jesse Bernstein
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2009
Persephone calls Percy, Thalia and Nico, all the children of the Big Three, into the Underworld to retrieve Hades’s new sword from a demigod spy who stole it. The problem is that Hades’ keys, which let anyone out or into the Underworld, are in it. Persephone gives them a flower to track the half-blood. When all of the petals fall off, the sword thief has made it out of the Underworld. Percy, Nico and Thalia must retrieve the sword before time runs out. They catch the thief, Ethan Nakamura, but all the petals fall off because Ethan has raised the Titan Iapetus. Percy flings Iapetus into the river Lethe, a river that makes one forget their identity, during a fight. Although Percy also falls in, he stays dry because of his powers, being the son of Poseidon. Percy tells Iapetus that he is Bob and Iapetus believes him and is now harmless. When they return to Hades and Persephone with the sword, Hades is very unhappy about the sword and leaves in anger, threatening Persephone never to disobey him again. They later find out that Persephone requested the sword against Hades’s orders. Rick Riordan wrote this story for World Book Day 2009 it is set between the events of The Battle Of The Labyrinth and The Last Olympian (books 4 and 5 of the Percy Jackson series).

BANTAM DOUBLEDAY DELL AUDIO - Fraud: Unabridged Selections by David RakoffIncluding One Called Hell” from Fraud
By David Rakoff; Read by David Rakoff
1 |MP3| – Approx. 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED SELECTION]
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio
Published: 2001
Wherever he is, David Rakoff is a fish out of water. Whether impersonating Sigmund Freud in a department store window during the holidays, climbing an icy mountain in cheap loafers, playing an evil modeling agent on a daytime soap opera, or learning primitive survival skills in the wilds of New Jersey, Rakoff doesn’t belong. Nor does he try to. Still, he continually finds himself off in the far-flung hinterlands of our culture, notebook or microphone in hand, hoping to conjure that dyed-in-the-wool New York condescension. And Rakoff tries to be nasty; heaven knows nothing succeeds like the cheap sneer, but he can’t quite help noticing that these are actual human beings he’s writing about. In his attempts not to pull any punches, the most damaging blows, more often than not, land squarely on his own jaw – hilariously satirizing the writer, not the subject. And therein lies David Rakoff’s genius and his burgeoning appeal. The wry and the heartfelt join in his prose to resurrect that most neglected of literary virtues: wit.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Alibi Man by Tami HoagThe Alibi Man
By Tami Hoag; Read by Beth McDonald
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Hours 2 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2007
The Palm Beach elite go to great lengths to protect their own – and their own no longer includes Elena Estes. Once upon a time a child of wealth and privilege, Elena turned her back on that life and chose the life of an undercover cop, with the hunt for justice her personal passion. Then a tragic, haunting mistake ended her career. Now Elena exists on the fringes of her old life. But a shocking event is about to draw her back into the painful vortex she’s fought so hard to leave behind. First she finds a body – not just a victim, but a friend. As Elena delves into her dead friend’s secret life, she discovers ties to a group of powerful and wealthy Palm Beach bad boys…a group that includes Elena’s former fiancé. Finding her friend’s killer will put Elena at odds with her old life, with her new lover, and with herself. But she is determined to reveal the truth – a truth that will shock Palm Beach society to its core, and could very well get her killed.

[via Audiobook DJ]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect by Michael Reisman

October 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Simon Bloom The Octopus Effect by Michael ReismanSimon Bloom: The Octopus Effect
By Michael Reisman; Read by Nicholas Hormann
9.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9780739382387
Themes: / Science Fiction / YA / Science / biology /

|LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT|

As another chronicle begins Simon Bloom and his friends are thrust back into mortal peril. This time the gang heads to the Order of Biology’s headquarters. When the gang gets there they find an unexpected surprise – it’s underwater! Simon and his friends must prepare themselves for battle against the evil Sirabetta (unsure on spelling) who somehow has regained her memory. Simon and his friends face enemies from other orders and the Order of Biology’s domain itself!

One of the things I liked most about this story was the author’s use of humor for the oddest things. When something gross or funny is described in the book it is described by using words like “air ripping”, or “vacuum cleaner bag smell”. I think that it is brilliant.

The reader, Nicholas Hormann, makes the experience of listening to this book all the more interesting. The way he reads just makes me laugh, you have to listen to the book to know what I mean. He is excellent with accents. When he reads characters in the story like Flangello (again not sure about spelling) he speaks with a very good Italian accent. Nicholas is not the most emotional reader, but this fact does not detract from the story one bit.

I encourage everyone to listen to this audio book, providing that one has read the first book (Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper), otherwise one might not understand the book in its full context. I absolutely loved this audiobook and I am sure any person that enjoys science will feel the same way.

Posted by DanielsonKid

Review of The Magic Tree House Collection by Mary Pope Osborne

January 31, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Audiobook - The Magic Tree House Collection, read by Mary Pope OsbourneThe Magic Tree House Collection
By Mary Pope Osborne; Read by Mary Pope Osborne
5 CDs – 5 Hours 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2001
ISBN: 0807206121
Themes: / Fantasy / Children’s Fantasy / Time Travel / Magic / Dragons / Knights / Pirates / Prehistoric /

This delightful children’s fantasy series features Jack and Annie. They’re siblings that find a tree house full of books. By opening the books the children are transported across time and space. This collection contains the first eight books of this popular kids series. In each book the children find themselves going to a different place. The books contained in this audiobook are:

1. Dinosaurs Before Dark
2. The Knight at Dawn
3. Mummies in the Morning
4. Pirates Past Noon
5. Night of the Ninjas
6. Afternoon on the Amazon
7. Sunset of the Sabertooth
8. Midnight on the Moon

Each book’s setting contains the tropes you’d expect to find. So in Pirates Past Noon, for instance, you have pirates, sailing ships, booty and treasure maps. There are story arc’s that stretches over a number of the books. The first concerns—who is the owner of the Magic Tree House.

Mary Pope Osbourne does a wonderful job of narration. Her pacing is excellent and her voice characterization are right on the mark. She has a gentle, soothing voice that children will love.

If you know or have a young person, of about five to ten years old, that you want to turn on to audiobooks, this audio collection is a perfect introduction. For my eight year old, we used it as part of our bedtime story ritual. I’ve bought the books so we can read along some nights. Other nights we take turns reading the books out loud.

Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

September 30, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Fantasy Audiobooks - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
By J.K. Rowling; Read by Jim Dale
17 CDs – 19 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0307283658
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / Wizardry / Youth / Magical Creatures / School /

At this point, the Harry Potter universe has become so entrenched in our culture that it’s impossible to approach the newest installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, with anything like objectivity. Most readers already care so much about Harry and his associates that the reading experience has become less like enjoying a good novel and more like continuing the biography of a good friend or beloved celebrity. Which isn’t to say that The Half-Blood Prince isn’t a good novel; on the contrary, it ranks right up there with The Prisoner and Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire, and is a damn sight better than 2003’s gloomy and ultimately disappointing The Order of the Phoenix. For those of us who feel better when things are given in Star Wars terms, The Half-Blood Prince is most similar to The Empire Strikes Back; it advances and complicates our views about the series and its characters, while apparently moving backward from the hero’s inevitable triumph over the villain.

In The Half-Blood Prince, author J.K. Rowling maintains her own tradition of opening the novel without the titular hero in sight. In this case, the muggle Prime Minister of England is anxiously awaiting a visit from the Minister of Magic and reminiscing about their previous, mostly unpleasant, meetings. When Cornelius Fudge arrives, he brings news that the wizarding world is in an uproar; Lord Voldemort is apparently growing more and more powerful, Voldemort’s followers, the Death-Eaters are becoming more brazen in their attacks, and wizards, witches, and muggles are all at increasing risk of severe harm or death.

While Rowling never mentions real-world events in the books, the tone and situations of the two novels published since 9-11 indicate that the world inside her head is not completely insulated from the world outside. It’s telling of Rowling’s own views that the Ministry of Magic is, at best, ineffectual in dealing with these threats, and is often outright dangerous; in The Half-Blood Prince, the Ministry of Magic detains individuals it knows to be innocent, in order to give the appearance of making some progress against the enemy.

The initial expository scene, combined with a tantalizingly ambiguous revelation about one of the Hogwart’s professors, makes for such a dark opening that it’s an almost tangible relief when Harry finally makes an appearance. The likeable young wizard is now 16 years old, and Rowling has again taken pains to ensure that the novel has matured along with Harry. Passages dealing with the magical comeuppance of the Dursleys, the pointless ins and outs of Quidditch matches (why bother with anything but the snitch?), and the minutiae of wizard candy are fleeting and widely spaced, while more chapters are devoted to fairly violent magical battles (a faithful movie adaptation could very well garner an “R” rating), career counseling, and “snogging,” (making out, for those of us on the Yankee side of the pond).

Once the novel starts in earnest, Rowling doesn’t stray from Harry’s point of view, but she cheats somewhat by using the “pensive,” a magical device that allows Harry to explore the memories of others. The pensive is put to good use in the book, as its main function is to investigate the background of “He-who-must-not-be-named.” Readers who are hoping for a complicated, even sympathetic, take on Lord Voldemort (ala Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon) will be disappointed. It turns out that Voldemort is just plain bad, always has been, and apparently, always will be. More psychopath than sadist, Voldemort never hurts or kills just for enjoyment, his villainies are always means to an end. Voldemort’s particular brand of evil means that the guilt that might be expected to accompany these activities just isn’t there.

Other magical items are used less effectively in the story. An episode involving a bottle of “liquid luck”, called “felix felicis,” (the letters of which do not rearrange to spell deus ex machina) feels so contrived, requires a such a lengthy and complicated set-up, and requires Harry, Ron, and Hermione to act so outside their characters, that it’s one of the few times the book feels like something that somebody made up, rather than a description of actual events.

All told, however, the sixth installment in the Harry Potter series is excellent, and the unabridged recording of the novel makes for a very enjoyable listen. The folks at Listening Library made an inspired choice when they chose Jim Dale to read The Sorcerer’s Stone, and, five books, two Audie Awards, five Headphone Awards, three Grammy nominations and one actual Grammy later, his performance of The Half-Blood Prince is, to borrow a word from Harry, brilliant. Even without sound effects, music, or multiple actors, The Half-Blood Prince plays like a good BBC radio drama. Dale lends nuance and individuality to each of the characters, while his “normal,” narration voice is dignified, yet accessible. Dale also has an uncanny knack for interpreting speech adverbs; where Rowling writes “reprovingly,” or “reminiscently”, Dale puts reproach or reminiscence into the dialogue, so much so that very often the listener will be able to predict Rowling’s choice of adverb before Dale reads it. Maybe the highest compliment that can be paid to the audio book is that at no point is the reader reminded of the sub-par (but increasingly better) film adaptations of the books. While listeners who desire an experience closer to reading, with more neutral performances that allow for more personal interpretation, might resent having Dale’s vigorous interpretation thrust upon them, most listeners, particularly younger ones, will enjoy all 19 hours of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

May 27, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Fantasy Audiobooks - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
By J.K. Rowling, Read by Jim Dale
7 Cassettes – approx 12 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: February 2000
ISBN: 0807282316
THEMES: / Fantasy / Young Adult / Magic / School / Magical Creatures / Childhood /

The Harry Potter juggernaut is about to leave port once more. The film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is scheduled for release on June 4. I’ve got two kids myself, both Potter fans, so I thought I’d revisit this audiobook.

It was my pleasure to do so because the Harry Potter audiobooks (all five to date) represent one of the finest matches of reader to material that I have heard. Jim Dale is brilliant as… well, as everybody in this book. He reads with a nuanced energy and enthusiasm for the text, creating an audio experience that’s every bit as entertaining as any movie. More so, in fact, as the novel has a depth that the films simply can’t match.

The story? After extracting himself from yet another summer spent with the Dursleys, Harry discovers that a man named Sirius Black has escaped from the infamous Azkaban prison. Further, Potter finds out that Black is a friend of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (er… Voldemort), and therefore out to get him. Harry spends the school year trying to live normally at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while the adult teachers try to keep him protected. Flanked by his best friends (Ron and Hermione) he navigates the year, discovering things about himself along the way.

Not only has J.K. Rowling filled Hogwarts with interesting and funny characters, but she’s also added the witty details of the Wizarding world, which are endlessly entertaining. Harry and his friends grow up a little in each book – this is not the same Harry we met in the first book, and is not the same Harry we meet in books 4 and 5. This is what I think makes the book so appealing to adults as well as children – we enjoy experiencing Hogwarts as much as the kids, but with the added dimension of viewing childhood from afar.

A fun, engaging story. An excellent reader. Fabulous.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Asimov Science Fiction Tales

April 14, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Science Fiction Tales by Isaac AsimovAsimov Science Fiction Tales
By Isaac Asimov; Read by Isaac Asimov
2 Cassettes – 117 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 1985 – Out Of Print
ISBN: 0807234184
Themes: / Science Fiction / Poetry / Storytelling / Artificial Intelligence / Robots / Mathematics / Parallel Worlds /

Written and read by Isaac Asimov, Asimov Science Fiction Tales is a collection of four short stories and one poem, all from Asimov’s golden era, the 1950s. Though cover art is non-existent, the audiobook comes packaged in a heavy duty vinyl case that is extremely durable. This two cassette production from Listening Library is a repackaged selection of tales written and read by Asimov from the 1975 collection entitled Science Fiction Favorties: Isaac Asimov (ISBN 0807229288), which includes at least five other stories that are not included here.

Listening to Asimov Science Fiction Tales is like spending some quality time with the man himself. Asimov’s reading is informal. He introduces and comments on each of the tales both before and after the reading, placing them in context and revealing their origins. His comments are insightful and sometimes quite humourous. The stories themselves are some of his best, featuring familiar Asimov themes, some serious, others funny, all great listening.

Stories Included:
Introduction – Asimov extemperaneously expounds on the wonderfulness of good old fashioned reading.

I Just Make Them Up, See – A infamous Asimov limerick, this one attempts to answer the question “Where do you get the ideas for your stories?” It’s a silly poem and but it left me smiling.

Someday – The first of two stories in this collection that deals with “lost arts”. In a society that has forgotten the written word, two young boys upgrade an antique automated audiobook machine called a “bard” – giving it a new vocabulary so that it can tell modern stories. This is one of Asimov’s most perfectly constructed stories, a real winner.

The Feeling of Power – A far future society that has become completely dependent upon computers rediscovers the lost art of doing math by hand. Very clever and well concieved, this story has more to say about our own society than it did about the time in which it was written.

Satisfaction Guaranteed – Housewife Claire Belmont is startled to find her husband’s most recent aquistion, a human looking robot named “Tony”, is the latest gimmick in the ceaseless battle to keep up with the Joneses.

Living Space – The discovery of easy access to parallel universe Earths, ones where life never evolved, means that the ever expanding human population of the future needn’t worry about running out of living space. In fact, every family can have a whole planet to themselves! But some unforseen consequences of this discovery have got a few of the new homeowners worried. This is one of the best executed science fiction short stories ever written. Its premise entails a non-obvious problem that becomes clear only near the end of the tale. Highly recommended.

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