Weather = frightful. Audio books = delightful.

Old Man Winter has arrived at last, and with the chill comes an infinite amount of reasons to remain indoors. The snow falls and I think most of us either feel like building a snowman, drinking hot chocolate, or sleeping until Fair Lady Spring shows up so we have a different season to complain about.

Unfortunately the world at large does not seem to understand the joys of hibernation and thus we all have work to do. No doubt, like me, you will have to spend a decent amount of time taking some mode of transporation to and from your occupation before holing up in a cozy, warm corner of your home.

For the commute, the lazy days, and the stressful days that seems to follow holidays around, there are plenty of great audio books to listen to.

 A Christmas Promise by Anne Perry: I listened to this one tedious winter where I spent most of my time at work making CD labels. Out of sheer desperation and limited access to the audio book collection, I grabbed this off an unwrapped shelf and enjoyed it immensely despite not really thinking I’d want to listen to a Christmas mystery about two little girls, a donkey, a golden casket, and some weird man named Baltazar. Even if it was a Victorian mystery.

Truthfully, as mysteries go, this is not a very complicated one, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. All of Perry’s characters in all her novels are interesting and this is no exception. The details are amazing as well, and Terrence Hardiman does an excellent job with the many roles he plays. No small feat considering this book ‘s main protagonist is a thirteen year old girl named Gracie Phipps.

The Audrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian:

In the winter there is nothing quite like listening to a book that is basically about guys at sea babbling at one another while one discovers new species of animal life and other amuses himself with the shameless sharing of useless puns.

In all seriousness, there is more action in these books than they’re ever given credit for, but really these books are about the friendship between two very different men – Stephen Maturin, a somewhat prickly Irish surgeon who loves studying any aspect of nature when he’s not acting as a spy and Jack Aubrey, a very good-natured and genuine English Captain who is as awkward on land as he is remarkable at sea.

Listening to them in order would be beneficial because some plots do span several books and reccuring characters will make more sense if you do.

I would suggest looking for Simon Vance rather than Patrick Tull, but only if the Irish lilt Tull gives to Maturin’s dialogue and inner thoughts would annoy you. And it might seeing as there’s no indication at all that Stephen would have an accent. He is supposed to be a spy, after all.

 Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett: I can’t help feeling that I owe Nigel Planer a substantial debt of gratitude. I am fairly certain that f I hadn’t listened to this audio book and throughily enjoyed his performance, I never would have given the Discworld series a chance. That is quite seriously a depressing thought seeing as I own all of the books in said series and have read most of them.

How can I describe this book? I don’t know that I can do it justice. Picture the typical idea of a fantasy city being taken over by dragons. Now add a lot of satire, hilarity, characters vaguely resembling Clint Eastwood and Dudley Do-Right/the Mountie from Due South attempting to give a fig and do something about said dragons, and you’ll have a vague notion of what the book is. But only a vague one. This book has one of my favorite characters in it – Carrot, a human raised by dwarves who is hilariously genuine and amazingly heroic despite no one else wanting to be.

The Jeeves series by P. G. Wodehouse: I don’t think there is ever a good time not to listen to the strange escapades of Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves. If you want to laugh, relax, and be entertained by hours pick up any audio book and give it a try as the order you listen to these in will hardly matter much. 

Frederick Davidson is by far my favorite voice actor for these books, but Jonathan Cecil does a fine job as well.

 Soon I will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman: There are far too few superhero novels out there for my tastes, and I think it would be safe to blame Grossman for that since he wrote a fantastic book and no one else seems to have followed suit. I suspect that they are, like me, too afraid to give it a try. 

Still, whether or not you like comic books or superheroes, this is a great book about two different people who ultimately have two similar problems: each other. Fatale should have died after being hit by a car somewhere in South America, but now she’s a biomechanoid crimefighter in the states. There she works to try and prove herself to the Champions, the world’s most famous band of super heroes. Doctor Impossible should be spending all nine or more of his life sentences in a very secure prison cell in a federal detention facility, but he’s out and determined to take over the world once again. Robot armies, insect battalions, and airship attacks have all failed him, but this time he has a plan that will work.

In an incredibly smart and clever move, this audio book was given to two readers – J. Paul Boehmer for Doctor Impossible and Coleen Marlo for Fatale. Over all I found Boehmer’s performance to be the most enjoyable, but then of the two, Doctor Impossible is by far the more intriguing.

Over all, this audio book made many car rides infinitely more bearable for me, and by the end of it I think you too will be very sad and a little relieved that Doctor Impossible does not, in fact, exist.  

PS – Amazon currently has this audio book on sale for $9.95.

 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: The only thing better than a book about a quirky character is an audio book that does actual justice to said character’s quirkiness. Jayne Entwhistle does a truly outstanding job as eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, eccentric chemist with a love of poisions who is constantly thwarted by her obnoxious sisters as well as the inability of adults to take her seriously.

None of this, of course, would be possible without Alan Bradley’s superb writing and the absolute bizarre nature of the mystery taking place in his novel set in 1950s England. The morning after the de Luce family receives a dead bird with a stamp on its beak sitting on their doorstep, Flavia finds a dying man in their cucumber patch. Determined to find answers that may or may not clear her father’s name, Flavia uses her keen intelligence, curious fascination with science, and even the library.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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