Audiobook: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Collection

Verily a New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, The Jedi Doth Return
by Ian Doescher
Read by: Full cast
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: It’s Shakespearean English, but it’s also basically the movies. It’s in the humor section of the bookstore.

So, when I talked to my dad on his birthday, he gushed about these, especially on audio. And you know: he was right. They’re a LOT of fun, especially on audio.

The premise is thus: Doescher got approval from Lucasfilm to take the scripts (alas, they were the updated scripts so Jabba shows up in the first one) and then he worked them into a Shakespearean format: language, play structure (each book is 5 acts, which is a very Shakespearean thing), etc. It was actually kind of impressive! There were subtle differences: R2D2 didn’t just beep and whistle; he had asides where he commented on the action around him (Doescher said in the afterward to Jedi that R2D2 was the fool of the play, and I could see where he was going with that, though R2 had more lines in the first movie), and we got asides from pretty much all the characters. It felt a bit jarring at first with some of the characters (like, Han, for instance), but eventually, I became used to it and enjoyed it.

And it really was like listening to the movies. Doescher got rights to the music (yay!) and there were sound effects. And I know the movies well enough (I think it’s for those people who do know and love the movies) that I could picture what was going on while the play was going. (Though, I missed the “I love you!” “I know.” in Empire, but that’s because it wasn’t scripted.)

Oh: and stick around for the Afterwards. Doescher talks a bit about his methods and how he decided on different types of forms for each character (Yoda’s in haiku!), and a bit about the process working with Lucasfilms. It was an absolutely delightful book to listen to.

 

Advertisements

Class Mom

by Laurie Gelman
First sentence: “I click Send on my laptop, sit back in my chair, and grimace.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are a dozen or so f-bombs as well as a lot of other mild swearing. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

I picked this one up because I wanted something light an funny, and everyone at work told me this was, well, light and funny. And the premise – an older mom who had a child later in life is class mom of her son’s kindergarten class with all the politics that accompanies that — sounded pretty amusing.

But the execution, was, for me, less than amusing. Sure, the class emails were supposed to be funny, and sometimes they got a smile from me, but that’s about it. But most of the book surrounded Jen Dixon’s (the class mom of the title) overly dramatic life. Parents are really this petty? (Admittedly, I’m kind of out of the parenting little kids game now.) And truthfully, Jen’s life was a little, well, boring. (Real life often is!) Granted, I finished the book, so it wasn’t awful, but in the end I was kind of like… meh. It was okay. Nothing horrible, but nothing spectacular either.

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming

by Chris Harris, Illustrated by Lane Smith
First sentence: “A door.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: Oh, it’s SO silly. And no potty humor. It will be in the poetry section of the bookstore.
Release date: September 26, 2017

I loved Shel Silverstein’s poems when I was a kid. I would read Where the Sidewalk Ends over and over, giggling at all the silliness. And when my kids were little, I discovered Jack Prelutsky, with much the same result for them: we loved the ridiculous poems.

This book is this generations Silverstein and Prelutsky. I know that’s a HUGE statement to make, but that’s what it reminded me of. I picked it up late one night, not knowing what to expect. And ended up not only giggling madly, but sharing with both A and K all my favorite poems. And there were a lot of poems to share. From the “Alphabet Book (By the Laziest Artist in the World)” to (one of my personal favorites) “The Duel” and “Re-Verse” and “Trapped!” and  “L-O-V-E” and and… it was full of things to giggle over and share.

There were some sweet moments, too, like Harris’s observations on grownups in “Grown-ups Are Better (I)”, where he ends ” Grown-ups are better at most stuff, you see,/From tying a shoelace to chopping a tree./But children are gooder and grown-ups are badder/At just about all things that matter.” Or the (almost) final poem “Let’s Meet Right Here in Twenty-Five Years”.  And Lane Smith’s illustrations were perfect for this. Again, equal parts silly and ridiculous, but with a dash of wink-wink on the side.

There was really so much wonderful about this.

Audiobook: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

by Al Franken
Read by the author
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are six f-bombs in one chapter, mostly because there are two in the title of something Franken wrote and he said it three  times. It’s in the biography section of the bookstore.

I suppose, if you don’t know who Al Franken is, you probably won’t have any interest in this book. That said, I knew who he was, but wasn’t a huge fan.  But, I’d heard enough good about it that I decided to download the audio book.

Franken is in his second term as the junior senator from Minnesota, a former writer for Saturday Night Life, and a very, very smart writer. This book is basically a memoir of his time at SNL, his family life, his first election, and his thoughts on being in the Senate as a whole.

It’s a very smart book. And while it’s not always hilarious, it IS very funny. And insightful. Be aware that Franken is a Democrat, and so there’s definitely a partisan flavor to it (he blames Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and Mitch McConnell for the current state of politics), but he also recognizes a need to work together, and has some good things to say about many Republicans (just not Ted Cruz). It’s insightful, interesting, and incredibly engaging.

And on audio? Very delightful. I loved listening to Franken read his words (I often enjoy celebrity memoirs more in audio) and thought it was a definite value-added to the book. He kept me engaged in the book, and I looked forward to turning it on whenever I got in the car.

A very, very good read.

Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy

by Rick Riordan
First sentence: “When our dragon declared war on Indiana, I knew it was going to be a bad day.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: The Hidden Oracle
Content: There’s some dark undercurrents (but those will probably go over the heads of younger readers) and some violence. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

So, Apollo is off on a quest, this time to figure out what Big Bad (really: he’s the worst) Nero is up to, and to get to it and stop it before Nero gets too much power. Tagging along with Leo and Calypso, they head to Indianapolis, where they find a huge mess involving yet another evil Roman Emperor to stop, battle ostriches, and a kidnapped oracle. Not bad, all things considered, and yet Apollo manages to make things worse.

This one definitely has the feeling of a middle book (maybe because it is…). It’s not a bad book; Riordan knows how to pace an action-packed novel, and there’s enough pop culture references to nod and wink at the reader without it being overbearing. They sassy haiku are back (my favorite: Yeah we got the skills/Fake hexes and shooting feet/Teach you ’bout pancakes), which is always fun. Apollo is much less unlikable in this one (he has his moments, but they’re getting fewer) and Riordan seamlessly weaves in ancient myths and stories. It’s much like all the others: good, fun, enjoyable, but nothing that sticks with you for long.

Still, worth reading.

A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson
First sentence: “Not long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s a lot of swearing including multiple f-bombs. It’s in the Creative Non Fiction section of the bookstore.

I read this, I think, when it first came out. Or soon thereafter. I don’t remember. I do remember liking it, quite a bit. But, something prompted me to pull it off the shelf and give it a re-read. Just to see if it held up.

In 1996, soon after Bryson moved back to the US from the UK (for a bit; he’s moved back across the pond again), he stumbled upon the Appalachian Trail, and decided (kind of on a whim) that what he really needed to do was hike the length of it. His high school friend, Stephen Katz, volunteered to go with him, and with some preparation (of sorts), they were off. It’s very much a “we’re out of our depth” book — neither Katz nor Bryson are experienced hikers, and the AT isn’t just a stroll in the woods. But, Bryson makes it thoroughly entertaining. Interspersed with the history of the AT as well as general observations (some are obviously outdated) about the state of nature in America, this one is definitely quintessential Bill Bryson. (In fact, if you’ve not read his books, this is a good place to start.)

Which means: it’s thoughtful, entertaining, funny, and interesting. And I’m happy to say that it’s held up these past 20 years and is as good as I remembered.