Top Ten Tuesday: All About Audio

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I’m back this week after my summer hiatus from blogging! Yesterday I posted a review to one of my new favorite series, and today I’m talking about my favorite audiobooks and podcasts for Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Tuesday: All About My Favorite Audiobooks & Podcasts

Audiobooks You Can Listen to For Free!
*because who doesn’t like free entertainment?

  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – Michael Crichton’s books are already hard to put down, but when you stumble upon a perfectly narrated audiobook version, you will spend the next 13 hours with your headphones on, visualizing mad scientists, man-eating dinosaurs, and genetic experiments gone wrong. This was me last summer. My favorite part about this audiobook: William Roberts’s voice is exactly like the one you would hear narrating an actual Jurassic Park ride.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – I had a Shakespeare professor in college who said that plays are meant to be read aloud, and I wholeheartedly agree with that, especially after listening to this table read of Oscar Wilde’s hilarious play. It’s short (under 2 hours) and I guarantee you will laugh out loud at least once.
  • War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells – The fact that Orson Wells turned this famous science fiction book into a panic-inducing radio broadcast speaks volumes about it’s value as an audiobook. This Librivox version is read by an older British gentleman, and I love the juxtaposition between his calm and proper voice and the chaotic alien invasion he’s narrating.

Favorite Narrators

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – I know I will probably shock and disappoint a lot of people when I say this was only an OK read for me. As much as I laughed at the nerdy banter and satiric writing, there was something that kept me from loving this book. BUT, I will have to say that I really appreciated hearing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy narrated by the author himself, Douglas Adams. I’m having a hard time finding a link to that particular version, but I checked it out from the library so I know it exists!
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – I know there are a lot of people who hate Anne Hathaway (which is crazy to me because my husband and I love her), but I really enjoyed her narration of The Princess Diaries audiobooks. She played Mia in the film versions, and listening to the audiobooks convinced me even more than she was perfect for the role of the awkward teenage princess. I’ve only listened to the first few books in this series, but my local library has the rest so I plan on finishing it sometime!
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These next two are recommendations from my husband (Matt), who listens to more audiobooks than I do!

  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King – Matt and I watched part of the Hulu 11.22.63 miniseries, but I was getting too creeped out by some of the characters, so we stopped and Matt downloaded the audiobook to listen to instead. It wasn’t his favorite book, but he did love the narration by Craig Wasson. He said hearing all the different accents really helped him visualize everything.
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  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – Matt actually listened to this audiobook in French (because it’s the epitome of French literature and when I asked him if he was listening to the English version he pretended to gag), but the narration must have been well done since he talked about this book for weeks after he finished it. Most of that praise probably goes to Victor Hugo himself, but I also know that an audiobook narrator has the power to make or break (or kill) a book.

Podcasts

  • Astonishing Legends – my favorite! I love to put in my headphones and listen to these podcasts when I’m cleaning or commuting to and from work. If you’re into mysterious and unexplainable happenings, this is a great podcast to binge listen to. Some of my favorite topics have been the Oak Island Money Pit, the Dyatlov Pass tragedy, The Knights of the Golden Circle conspiracy, and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
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  • Stuff You Missed in History Class – The name of this podcast pretty much says it all. Holly and Tracy talk about all sorts of interesting, mysterious, creepy, and legendary historical events and people, and each episode is relatively short (around 30 minutes) so it’s easy to listen to an episode while you’re cooking dinner or walking the dog. Some of my favorite episodes have been about early Danish monarchies and the Jelling Stones, The Great Vowel Shift, The Queen Victoria/Lady Hasting’s scandal, the disappearance of the Sodder children, and some other “history’s mysteries” episodes.
    Stuff You Missed in History Class
  • Rebel Force Radio – This is actually a podcast my husband listens to, but I’ve listened along to a few of them and I can totally see why he loves it so much. The few episodes I listened to were the Star Wars Oxygen podcasts where David Collins and Jimmy Mac analyzed John William’s soundtracks to all 7 of the Star Wars films. I was so impressed by how thoroughly they broke down and analyzed each track. I learned some really amazing facts about how the Star Wars scores add an incredible depth to the films.
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Top Ten Tuesday: Autumn Reads (plus some life updates!)

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Scroll down to see my belated Top Ten Tuesday list for “Autumn Reads,” but in the meantime here’s a little update about what has been going on in my life lately:

Please forgive me for my very long and unannounced hiatus! I meant to write a post about all of the changes in my life these past couple of months, but I never could seem to find time to pen them all out. For those of you who know me in real life, or if you converse with me regularly, you know that a little over a month ago my husband and I moved back to the U.S.

It had been long-expected for us and for our close friends and family (we bought plane tickets back in May), but we didn’t make any big announcements until shortly before the actual move. The reason I am just now writing on my blog about it is because I’ve been in a conundrum about its future. Obviously, the title An American in France is no longer appropriate, but my ties to France are still very strong considering my husband is French and we do plan on moving back there one day. But this gives me an opportunity to change not only the title of my blog but the theme as well. I’d love to still blog about French things, but I also enjoy blogging about books, so I am brainstorming new title options. For now, I will keep blogging on An American in France, and I will do my best to be more regular about posting (I really do miss blogging and reading all of your blogs as well!). If you are really talented with thinking of blog titles, please share with me your ideas in the comments below! I’d really appreciate any input :)

And now, the fun stuff! (yay for Top Ten lists!)

Top Ten Books I Plan To Read This Autumn

I actually made this list back at the start of autumn, so half of these I have already read, but they fit the category nonetheless.

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Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson – I read this novel in early September, actually, but it’s the perfect type of suspense novel to keep you interested this autumn. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading this book, and the end is so creepy it stayed on my mind for a couple of months after I finished it. There’s also a movie version with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong coming out on Halloween of all days! But, as always, read the book first :)

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares – This summer I went through a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants phase and read the entire series over the course of a few weeks. I had never read it before, and I had always thought the movies were pretty cheesy, but the series greatly blew my expectations. I loved each of the books, but this last one in particular, which is definitely NOT a young adult book like it’s predecessors, was my absolute favorite. If you’re familiar with the series, and even if you aren’t, this book will break your heart and then stitch it back up just when you think all hope is lost. It’s definitely a somber read, perfect for those grey autumn afternoons.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – I guess this book would be great to read during any season. It takes place during Christmas, but in California where it always feels like summer. And like Rainbow Rowell’s other novels, it deals with broken people, another autumn-appropriate theme. I read Rowell’s first novel, Attachments, earlier this year and so far it may just be my favorite book I’ve read all year. Landline has her same adult fiction style (which I prefer over her YA style), and you’ll be laughing, crying, and hoping for a happy ending.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall – Ok, this is probably more of a summer read, but it takes place during an entire school year so it does have some “Back to School” themes as well. The title of this novel fits perfectly. It’s a love story told through the eyes of 14 other people (including an animal and an inanimate object), and it’s totally swoon worthy. The main characters are awkward and loveable and will have you laughing and gushing as they trip and fall over themselves.

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Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins – Another set of books that I would normally save for the summer but which also fit the back to school theme (at least the first one does. I haven’t read the other two yet). I’ve heard so much about these books, and maybe that gave me too high expectations because I didn’t find Anna and the French Kiss as amazing as everyone said it was. So hopefully the next two are more intriguing.

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The Here and Now by Ann Brashares – I saw this beautiful book cover all over the bookstores in France this summer and since then I’ve been dying to read it (I’m a stickler for pretty book covers, another reason I loved A Little Something Different). It’s kinda science-fictiony, another type of book I like to read during this season.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – This book has been on my TBR list allllll year and I finally started it not too long ago. Most people know how this book goes so all I’m going to say is that I hope I finish reading it before Christmas ;)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Another book-to-screen story that I’d like to read before it leaves theaters. I’ve been on the hold-list at my library for about a month now…

There’s my TBR list for this autumn! Have you read any of these books yet? Oh, and if you have any spooky suspenseful book recommendations, please leave a comment for me! I’m looking for good Halloween reads :)

Top Ten (Thurs)day: Summer Reads

toptentuesdayThis post was meant for Tuesday, but I have been pretty busy this week between my job wrapping up, taking a day trip to Lyon (fun!), and watching 3 matches of the World Cup every night, so Top Ten Tuesday has become Top Ten Thursday for me this week :)

Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List:

 Here are the books that I’ve already started and hope to finish this summer :)

robinhoodThe Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle – I have always been a big Robin Hood fan, I even dressed up as Robin Hood once for a British-themed costume party, and last month we went and saw a Robin Hood musical that’s touring France at the moment (it was really cool!). So since then I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hood kick and I’m in the process of reading Howard Pyle’s version of my favorite legend :)

littlemenLittle Men by Louisa May Alcott – I read Little Women last month (review still on the way) and loved it! I knew the story since I grew up watching the 1994 film version, but the book was so much better. So after I finished it I started reading the sequel, Little Men, but I’m still in the beginning chapters. The reason for that is because I started the book below…

lesmisLes Misérables by Victor Hugo – About a month and a half ago I posted on Twitter about how Les Misérables was a book that had been on my TBR/Classics Club list for a while, but because it intimidated me so much I had been procrastinating on reading it. Well, someone else had been feeling a little similar to me, and so we decided to read it together this month :) I really had been wanting to read it in French, but this book is massive, and I am maybe 2% finished with it right now. We’ll see if I can persevere in le français, or if I’ll have to switch to English.

Books I want to start this summer! (Click on the titles for the Goodreads links)

heartandsoulHeart & Soul by Lee Strauss – Lee Strauss (sometimes Elle Strauss) is one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. I’ve read two of her other series, Clockwise (a YA time traveling series) and Perception (a YA futuristic sci-fi series), and loved them both. So last week when I saw she was giving out ARC copies of her new novel, Heart & Soul, in exchange for reviews, I jumped on board :) I hope to be reading this one within the next couple of days so check back for my thoughts!

ifistayIf I Stay by Gayle Forman – I recently saw the trailer for this upcoming book-made-film and instantly became intrigued. It looks like a major tear jerker, but I love stories that make me cry (it’s a powerful emotion) so I can’t wait to delve into this one.

secondchancesummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson – I’m in an online book club, and last week we read Morgan Matson’s most recent book Since You’ve Been Gone, and I fell in love with her writing style. That book had me laughing, sighing, and even holding back tears. So now her other novels Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour are now on my TBR list, SCS being a hopeful summer read since, you know, summer is in the title ;)

openroadsummerOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord – Another book with the word summer in the title, this book seems similar to Since You’ve Been Gone, and I’ve heard some good things about it, so I’m excited about reading it for myself. I’m thinking a Kindle download to keep me occupied on our 8 hour drive to the west of France next month.

journeyJourney to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne – Two French novels on my Summer TBR list! I plan on reading this one next month. For those of you who actually know me, you know that I have a lot of national pride for my two countries. I am glued to the television watching the Olympics and now the World Cup, cheering on the U.S. and France, and for both national holidays I like to celebrate by doing American and French things. Last year for Bastille Day I read Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days to celebrate. This year, my husband and I are going to read Journey to the Center of the Earth (hopefully in French!). We both love Verne’s novels, and the fact that my husband likes to read his books really says something since Matt doesn’t really like to read anything ;)

senseandsensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen –  I put this book on my previous Top Ten Tuesday post about Spring Reads, but I didn’t get a chance to read it. I read Northanger Abbey instead, since that was the only Austen novel I still hadn’t read. I haven’t picked up Sense and Sensibility since high school, though, so I think I’ll be reading it later this month when all the Austen in August events reappear :) In any case, every season is a good season to read Jane Austen.

northandsouthNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – I read this book for my Victorian Lit class in college, but after watching the miniseries a couple of years ago, I’ve been wanting to reread it (and then rewatch the miniseries because it’s so good). Also, knowing me, if I read any Jane Austen novel, I’ll immediately be stuck in a Regency/Victorian reading pit (a pit of lace and ribbons and chivalry, that is), and I’ll be looking for some more classic female masterpieces to read.

What are some books on your Summer To-Be-Read list? Do you have any other suggestions for my list?

Back to the Classics 2014 Reading Challenge

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I looooove challenges…they make things so much more fun! Even reading, which I already find such a thrill in :) I’m already participating in The Classics Club reading challenge, but I’ve found another challenge that I can combine with it to knock off some more novels. So, here is my tentative list for the Back to the Classics 2014 reading challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate:

  • A 20th Century Classic – Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904/1911) (finished 10/19/14 – review here)
  • A 19th Century Classic – Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847). My read along for this novel starts Sunday!! (finished 1/22/14 – review here)
  • A Classic by a Woman Author – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) (finished 4/9/14 – review here)
  • A Classic in Translation – Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862), which I plan on trying my hardest to read in French! Maybe I should get started on that novel right away… Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864). Les Mis was too long and I started reading this Verne classic instead, and in French too! (finished 12/28/14 – review here)
  • A Classic About War War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1898) (finished 11/21/14 – review here)
  • A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868), which I can’t believe I have never read before. (finished 5/24/14 – review here)

Optional Categories:

  • An American Classic – For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940), better get one of my dreaded Hemingway novels out of the way…perhaps I’ll enjoy it this time? I tried!! I decided to go with A Separate Peace by John Knowles (1959) instead (finished 12/19/14 – review here)
  • A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817), the only Austen novel I have yet to read! (finished 2/25/14 – review here)
  • A Historical Fiction Classic – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (1844) The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (1883) (finished 11/3/14 – review here)
  • A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series – North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855) (finished 12/14/14 – review here), I’m really excited about this one because it’ll give me an excuse to watch the mini-series for the…
  • Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4 – North and South, obviously :) (finished 12/14/14 – review here)

This is just a tentative list…I may just change the novels I read, or I might not even complete the optional categories. We shall see :)