David Case the Voice of Hundreds of Audio Books

David Case
David Case

If you listen to audio books you have probably heard of David Case’s voice. I first heard his voice when he was reading Shogun one of my all time favorite books. When I started reading Jude the Obscure this week I heard a familiar voice so I looked up who the reader was and I saw that the reader was Frederick Davidson. Next, of course came the google search to see if I could find out who this person was. I was very sad to see his obituary listed on the LA Times  Seems he would not give up smoking cigarettes and died of throat cancer in 2005. He was nominated for a Grammy. He recorded over 700 audio books! So rest in peace Mr. Case and thank you for all the wonderful hours of audio!

Review: Lords of the Sith

Lords of the Sith
Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp is a great book for anyone wanted to read an action packed Star Wars novel, but for those who loved the 6th movie in the Star Wars films, this is even better.  It gives the blow-by-blow of an adventure that involves Darth Vader and the Emperor and there may be even a few references to the animated series Rebels in there for you fans.

Before we get to deep it is important to mention a few things.  First when Disney bought the Star Wars film franchise they said all the books that had been written before their purchase don’t count.  Now, these were wonderful books and I loved many of them.  So they DO COUNT, but the story line will not be followed by Disney in the new movies.  So, now that that has been said there is a huge vacuum that needs to be filled with new books and stories.  Some of these stories will be in Rebels, some will be in other movies that are off shoots from the movie that came out in December 2015.  Some of the stories will be told in books and graphic novels/comic books.

To learn what books are part of the “new cannon” the post-Disney story, the best place to look is Wookieepedia…get it?  Yeah.  Anyway, check the link to see what books to read if you want to fill in the gaps that the new movie left.  I read Dark Disciple in 2015.  This year I want to continue reading the story of Star Wars and the next book up was Lords of the Sith.

I enjoyed this book very much.  There is an action scene a little more than half-way through the book that was just amazing!  The foreshadowing to what fans already know lies a head is great.  I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to spoil it.  If you are a Star Wars fan and you read, the decision should already be made for you.  While there are no huge revelations made in the book the story is solid and if your a Vader fan you will not be disappointed!

By the way.  Paul S. Kemp, the author, is on twitter.  He was nice enough to retweet some of my comments as I read the book and I recommend following him to see what he is up to.

SPOILERS BELOW:

This is a good video review that IGN did, but it does have some slight spoilers in it.  If you like to go into a book without knowing anything about the story, don’t watch this.  Otherwise, enjoy.

Review: The Secret History

The Secret History
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Halfway through The Secret History by Donna Tartt I knew I was going to give this book a 5 out of 5.  It is a story about a handful of students that are taught by a special professor.  The professor only has this handful of students and teaches all but one or two of the students classes himself.  An oddity in college.  The story takes place in Vermont.  The students see them self as elite as does the professor and the professor helps them see only the best in themselves.

The students take things too far.  Further than you or I would think possible.  There are several places where Greek is spoken but you get the just of things so it’s okay.  It helps if you have read some of the Greek classics.  Just when you think the book is winding down, boom!  There is a surprise.  Great book!

I listened to the audio edition of the book.  It is read by Donna Tartt, the author.  I love it when the author does the audio book themselves.  You know they are reading it the way it is meant to be read.  They are putting emphasis in all the right places.  They do the voices of the characters as they should be and as they felt they would be.  Really it’s the best thing you can get if unable to read the print version.

This book is on the BBC 100 list that I have been referring to often in my writing on this blog.  So, I’m very glad I can put a line through another title.  I would recommend this book to my friends.  It is a great story and not slow by any means.

Reading More

Pile of Books
Ca. 115 and counting by Horst Gutmann

My goal of 100 books this year is a little daunting.  I know it is going to be difficult because I’ve tried before and failed.   Hannah Sander of the BBC has some tips that might help though in her article How could I read more books.  She discusses speed reading as one possible solution and as a matter of fact I took a speed reading course when I was still in high school.  It was listed at a local junior college and curious I signed up when my parents said they would pay.

I’m glad I took the class it was fun.  And for the first time someone taught me how to read a book.  I mean I already knew how to read of course, but the instructor, I forget his name, taught me how to begin.  He liked to read the book jacket, everything on it.  Then start in on the book, not skipping any introductions or preface.  Before the class I often skipped both.  He then taught us the basics of speed reading, but also stressed that we need to still maintain an understanding of what we had read.

We would read in groups of two to ourselves.  We did this for about 10-15 minutes.  We would then tell our partner how much we had read, lines or pages, then we would tell our partner what we had read.  At first I was going so fast that I didn’t have any idea what had happened in the passage I read.  As we kept at it I got better.  I don’t use everything I learned from that class and I have purposely slowed down my reading speed, because I want to enjoy the books I am reading.

An instructor mentioned in Sander’s article read 150 books last year.  Which I think is doable, but I wonder how much he enjoyed it and what the rest of his life is like.  His suggestion was to become bored as reading is a great way to pass the time.  I find this especially true when flying across country.  Here you find yourself in a seat hurtling trough the air in a tin can.  The seat so small you can barely move and you are discouraged from moving around the plane.  So you are basically a prisoner to this smelly, cramped seat for hours.  This for me is a place I can polish off books no problem.  Even when the book is slow, what else are you going to do?  Watch the horrible little tv?  Some planes still don’t have this, even in cross country flights.

Besides, I find there are very few tv shows or movies as good as a well selected book.  Lastly, the article suggest reading with the time you have.  If you only have 15 minutes, read.  You don’t have to set aside hours at a time to read.  I read while waiting for my daughter to finish in her dance class.  With three dance classes a week I have a lot of time to read.  I see the other parents staring at their phones, but who knows, maybe they are reading too.  After all, I have War and Peace on my phone.

100 Books in a Year

Stack Of Books
Stack Of Books by Indi Samarajiva

Now, I’ve never read 100 books in a year.  Well, I probably have, but I don’t count the books I read to my kids in good reads, so only 96 in a year a few years back.  So, when I saw Aliza Weinberger’s article, What happened when I tried to read 100 books in a year, I was intrigued.

I would have liked to see more reviews in the article.  All her ratings where listed but nothing too much about what she thought of the books.  Just a few little sentences here and there.  To me it was more about her journey reading 100 books and less about what it meant to her or why she was doing it, other than just to do it.

She does later say:

…this project wasn’t really about the number of books I could read. It was about finding books that made me feel what reading had always done for me: that connection, that sheer joy of reading a book that both entertains and moves me.

That was nice to see in there.  The worst part was all the little gifs and advertisements that popped up while I was trying to read the article.  I can’t take Mashable articles seriously with all this junk popping up while I’m trying to read a article that genuinely interest me.  Good content is not going to keep me on the site, if it is observed by all this other stuff.

I was going to read another article that Weinberger linked to on Mashable, but I gave up after having so much trouble loading the first article.  I hope they clean that site up, thy have some good content.

I don’t think I will have as rough a time reading my hundred as Weinberger did.  I know what I want to read, I have a TBR shelf of hundreds of books.  Getting through them all will be the tough part.  Wish me luck!

Review: Splendid Cities

Splendid Cities
Splendid Cities by Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick

This is one of those new adult coloring books that are very popular right now.  I received Splendid Cities by Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick.  My oldest daughter and I have been coloring a page together.  I took the right side and my daughter, 7 years-old, too the left side.

Splendid Cities Coloring
Splendid Cities Coloring

We had a great time coloring.  We only ran into one problem.  The center of the book, at the spine is hard to color, but I think this would be the same problem with any of these new coloring books.

Lost Ocean Cover
Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford

Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford is another one of these type of books.  I hope to get this one next, however, I’m not sure I’ll be doing that for a long time as Splendid Cities is a very large book and the coloring takes a long time because of all the detail.  It is calming.  I remember looking for adult coloring books long before this recent trend, say 8 years ago.  There really wasn’t anything on the market at that time.  I’m glad we have books like these now as it gives me something more challenging to color and I get to enjoy it with my daughter.

Lost Ocean Foldout Pages
Lost Ocean Foldout Pages

I’m not going to count this towards my 100 books read goal for the year, it is not reading after all.

Reading Shakespeare

Shakespeare the Complete Works

Shakespeare
Shakespeare

Below is a list of all the plays, at least the ones we know of that the Great Bard wrote.  I have a book with the complete works and this is the order it lists them.  I’m working very slowly through these.  I would like to finish all of these in 2016, but the chance of me completing these and the BBC 100 are low.

Progress: 9/46 or 20%

  1. Two Gentlemen of Verona
  2. The Taming of the Shrew
  3. 2 Henry VI – Part II
  4. 3 Henry VI – Part III
  5. 1 Henry VI – Part I
  6. Titus Andronicus
  7. Richard III
  8. Venus and Adonis
  9. The Rape of Lucrece
  10. Edward III
  11. The Comedy of Errors – August 10, 2014
  12. Love’s Labour’s Lost
  13. Love’s Labour’s Won
  14. Richard II
  15. Romeo and Juliet – January, 1998
  16. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – July 7, 2014
  17. King John
  18. The Merchant of Venice – July 30, 2014
  19. 1 Henry IV – Part I
  20. The Merry Wives of Windsor
  21. 2 Henry IV – Part II
  22. Much Ado About Nothing – August 28, 2014
  23. Henry V
  24. Julius Caesar – June 20, 2015
  25. As You Like It
  26. Hamlet – January 2013
  27. Twelfth Night
  28. Troilus and Cressida
  29. Sonnets and ‘A Lover’s Complaint’
  30. Poems
  31. Measure for Measure
  32. Othello
  33. King Lear
  34. The Life of Timon of Athens
  35. Macbeth – August 19, 2011
  36. Antony and Cleopatra
  37. All’s Well That Ends Well
  38. Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  39. Coriolanus
  40. The Winter’s Tale
  41. King Lear
  42. Cymbeline, King of Brition
  43. The Tempest – August 20, 2014
  44. Cardenio
  45. All is True
  46. The Two Nobile Kinsmen

Print Book Sales are Up!

Book Sales Up
Book Sales Up

Good news, according to Publisher’s Weekly the sales of print books are up.  Not dramatically, but still this is good news.  For the second year in a row sales are up.  2.8% over last year and the year before that it was up 2.4%.  Thats the right direction!

So, whats driving the growth? Independent and chain bookstores, as well as Amazon lead the growth with an increase of 5.4%, which offset a drop of 8.8% from mass retailers like Walmart.  Looks like people are turing away from buying their books at Target and increasingly buying at Amazon.

US Book Sales by Channel
US Book Sales by Channel

I have to say I love getting a view of these numbers.  As a reader and someone who wants to promote reading, this is great news.  The article at Publisher’s Weekly had some analysis and tables, but I think seeing these numbers graphed helps tell the story better.

Below is the sales broken out by Category.  We can see the fall in 2014 in Adult nonfiction and the increase again in 2015, although not quite to the point it was in 2013.  Thats a shame, I love nonfiction.  Fantastic to see Juvenile non fiction grow like this year over year.  A 11.7% increase year-over-year!

Books Sales by Category
Books Sales by Category

One more graph and then I’m done, promise.  I read all formats of books, print, audio, ebook, etc.  But here is the sales for the last 3 years broken out for your perusal.

US Print Book Sales by Format
US Print Book Sales by Format

I’m very happy to see hardcover sales up, this means, to me at least, that people are purchasing copies to keep and re-read.  They are building their libraries, hopefully, not just for themselves but for everyone in their family to enjoy.  Board books are up the most at 14.5% year-over-year.  This is very encouraging.  This means to me, that people are buying books to read to their very small children.  Start them young on a hobby (nay life choice) that will forever change them for the better!

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett

I think I know why I don’t read many graphic novels.  I don’t feel like I’ve really gained anything by reading them.  With non-fiction there is an obvious additional of knowledge gained.  With Fiction (at least good fiction) I come away feeling I have accomplished something and learned an interesting story.  With most graphic novels, I think I feel guilty.  Guilty that I’ve wasted my time reading something purely because it looks pretty.

Maus by Art Spiegelman
Maus by Art Spiegelman

Of course, with graphic novels like Maus, that is not the case.  That was a deep and serious work, that was by far my favorite graphic novel of all time.  However, with something like Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett, I don’t feel as though I am gaining any additional insight or learning from the story.  But I still enjoy it.

After this, I’m definitely going to take a break from graphic novels for a bit.  It may be time for some serious non-fiction to cleanse my palate so to speak.  I checked this out from the local library and saved $21!  Yeah!

Okay, so now that I am done with this, Im totally going to read more graphic novels.  Not only was the art awesome, the story was really good.  A little difficult to follow for me.  I find it hard to figure out the reading order of the word bubbles in comic books.  I guess I’m so used to the linear reading in regular books this throws me.

We are going to the library tomorrow, and I will be stoping at the graphic novel section again.  Even though my to read pile is dwarfing my house right now.  This gets 4 stars, because nothing can ever be better than Maus.