Star-studded Audiobooks

Confession: I’ve only recently read To Kill a Mockingbird. I know, I know. It’s something I probably should have read in high school, but didn’t.

Second confession: I didn’t read it per se, but I did listen to it as an audiobook. While Harper Lee’s classic coming-of-age story of race and justice in a small southern town was compelling, the nuanced voice work of actress Sissy Spacek really pulled me into and through the story.

Audiobook fans know that the narrator of the book can make or break the reading/listening experience. Whether you’re new to audiobooks or a veteran listener, you pretty much can’t go wrong with any of these star-studded selections:

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, read by Reese Witherspoon. This is the long-awaited, controversial follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird. 

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, read by Colin Firth. That’s right, you too can have Colin Firth whisper in your ear as he reads this novel about a love triangle in World War II-era London.

If Homeland star Claire Danes is more to your liking, try The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham or The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Want something lighter? Try Heartburn by Nora Ephron, read by Meryl Streep.

For a pop culture romp of sci-fi fun, listen to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by the perfectly geeky Wil Wheaton.

If science is your thing, perhaps it’s time for The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli, ready by Benedict Cumberbatch.

If you can’t settle for just one celeb reader, give Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders a listen. It’s read by an ensemble cast of 166 stars!

What’s your dream audiobook? What celebrity reader and book title combo would be sure to entice you?

Jackaby or Waiting for Sequels

Well, shoot. You deserve an explanation for what you are about to read. I want you to know, dear reader, that I did not plan this. When I wrote my last post about how I wanted to approach my reading this year and featured some book titles that were of particular interest, I did not intend on reading one immediately afterward. So please do not hold me to this pace, as there is a very tempting cookbook I just spotted that is begging for the blogging treatment.

jackabyYou see, shortly after the last post was published, I found myself with some free time and a shiny new copy of Jackaby by William Ritter. R.F. Jackaby is a paranormal investigator living in New England in 1892. He’s quite smart and extremely observant, though his insight isn’t always appreciated by the local constabulary. While he goes through life helping those who need it and solving mysteries of a supernatural nature, he isn’t able to keep an assistant very long. In fact, the person who stays with him the longest is Douglas, though the reason he stays is because of an unfortunate magical accident that left him transformed into a duck. While this may sound like something out of Discword, I promise you it’s very different.

Soon Jackaby finds himself with yet another new assistant. Abigail Rook is still a teenager but is already a world adventurer, constantly traveling to new and exciting locales, though ending up on Jackaby’s doorstep was a potentially dangerous combination of a lot of bad luck and calculated risk. She’s out of money and needs both a job and a safe place to live. Jackaby solves both problems, as long as she doesn’t mind living with Douglas the duck and Jenny, a ghost who lives in the den.

This book focuses on how Abigail assists Jackaby in his investigation into a serial killer who they believe is inhuman. But what really grabbed my attention is the process Abigail goes through as she starts to realize that everything she thought she knew is wrong, and that there is a lot of crazy you-know-what going on right under her nose. The magical world is very real, and as Abigail learns more she also teaches Jackaby the benefits of real detective work: taking notes, interviewing witnesses, and generally staying out of the way of the police.

Jackaby himself is an odd combination of personality traits. He’s charming and witty like Doctor Who, but he’s also socially unaware like Benedict Cumberbatch’s take on Sherlock Holmes. Though I catch flack from my friends for not being a Whovian, I am fully versed in BC’s Sherlockian nonsense and I am desperate for new Sherlock episodes.

But even more than that, Jackaby helped delay my years-long craving for the sequel to Libba Bray’s The Diviners. I’ve read that the long-awaited sequel will be out this summer, but that’s a story I’ve heard in years past. However, those who loved The Diviners like I did will appreciate not just the supernatural aspect of Jackaby but also how fast-paced the story was.

IMG_20150203_183711I read Jackaby in two days, and got my husband to read it shortly afterward. Now we’re both craving the sequel. Which, I guess in the scheme of things, is a problem you want to have. I’m having a difficult time turning the book back in to the library, as I reported recently on Instagram and it became one of my most loved images. I can’t blame ’em. Jackaby goes with every outfit and reading taste. So what are you waiting for?