Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Proof of Forever

Audiobooks related to photography. From debut author and poet Lexa Hillyer comes the lyrical story of four seventeen-year-old friends who receive an unlikely chance to relive the perfect summer … and the devastating secret that could unravel it all. Elegant and evocative, Proof of Forever is one of those first novels that hooks you from the beginning and builds toward a stunning—and unexpected—end, calling to mind Gayle Forman and Ann Brashares.
Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe were once best friends. Now they barely speak. That is, until the fateful flash of a photo-booth camera transports them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed. Photos fade. Friendships dissolve. Summers end. But this one will change the girls forever … again. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Houdini in the Spirit World

Back in the early 20th Century a Boston spiritualist and medium named Margery was all the rage for creating seances that purportedly resurrected the voices of dead loved ones. She embraced some who tried to debunk her, even from Scientific American. None could do it until Houdini, the legendary escape artist and magician, took aim at her occult trickery. THE WITCH OF LIME STREET, by former screenwriter and astrologer David Jaher, tells the history of the era, and of Houdini, (including the multiple encounters that Margery had with those set on disproving her.) The golden age of the 1920s are the backdrop to this well told and interesting story, lending authenticity to the mood of an era which faded after Houdini died from peritonitis following being punched in the stomach by a man testing his strength. One of the most ironic elements is the inclusion of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, a skeptic who shouldn’t have believed in Margery, but did anyway for his own reasons. (Holmes the detective is known for his observational skills, but Doyle apparently was fooled by the skilled charlatan.) One of the prerequisites of the seances was that the room had to be dark, and Margery could be restrained but pulled off her feats anyway. Only Houdini, known to slip out of most any restraint put on him, saw through her. Narrator Simon Vance, with his artistocratic, accented delivery, is the perfect reader for this, and I recommend it to anyone familiar or unfamiliar with magic (including FOOL US magician Penn Jillette) for its slice of life (so to speak) unveiling of a momentous time in American history. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Audiobook Releases: Halloween Thoughts

Audiobooks have become like print books in several ways, but with distinct advantages. First, there are many, many new titles out each month. Not as many as print, but getting there. Until now, such has not been the case. Historically, print books published vastly more titles, and prior to any rare release of audio versions. Today, print books (especially hardcovers) are in a sales decline while audiobooks are rising in popularity. This is partly because, as Garrison Keillor once told me in an interview, "people are furiously busy." Ergo, they don't have time to drop everything and read. Most audiobooks now are published at the same time as print, and some books (like certain Stephen King stories) are ONLY on audio. Meanwhile, if you go to the library of today you may find that the stacks are empty of people, while the computer stations are full. So not only are indy bookstores closing, but libraries are turning into internet cafes (minus the food, although that may be coming) for the indigent and those without other access. Audio publishers are even now going back in time to pick up titles which were never published in audio, such as the classics of SF writer Jack Vance (see post under Science Fiction.) Since many audiobooks have PDF files on one of the disks in the case of non-fiction, so that you won't lose out on illustrations, you're not really missing anything. Plus audiobooks come in many formats from CD and Mp3-CD to download to iPhone and Android devices. Download is the go-to format for those on the move, who want quick assess and don't want to carry a player with them, other than a smart phone or iPod. Scary? Not really. Become an audiobook listener and you may be hooked, just like sports fans are...only smarter for the experience! 
Among the many titles out this month (and which you may download or purchase from Downpour on CD) include Janet Evanovich's The Scam, read by Scott Brick (both interviewed at this site); Ben Carson's A More Perfect Union, read by J.D. Jackson; The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, read by Paul Boehmer; A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin (a Game of Thrones prequel of novellas read by Harry Lloyd); Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber (yup, a new Christmas novel already, read by Allyson Ryan); Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein (a first scifi title collab for Sandford, read by Eric Conger); Objective Troy by Scott Shane (about Anwar al-Awlaki, Obama, and the rise of drone warfare, read by actor Fred Sanders); and The Diamond Caper by Peter Mayle, a French mystery read by Erik Davies. Looking for chilling? How about Marvel's Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl, read by Julia Whelan; or Debt by David Graeber, read by Grover Gardner; or Dead Boy by Laurel Gale, read by Robbie Daymond? 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life

Jason Hanson is an ex CIA officer who was on Shark Tank. His new book, out this month: When Jason Hanson joined the CIA in 2003, he never imagined that the same tactics he used as a CIA officer for counter intelligence, surveillance, and protecting agency personnel would prove to be essential in every day civilian life.

In addition to escaping handcuffs, picking locks, and spotting when someone is telling a lie, he can improvise a self-defense weapon, pack a perfect emergency kit, and disappear off the grid if necessary. He has also honed his “positive awareness”—a heightened sense of his surroundings that allows him to spot suspicious and potentially dangerous behavior—on the street, in a taxi, at the airport, when dining out, or in any other situation.

In his engaging and empowering book Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life, Jason shares this know-how with readers (and also narrates), revealing how to:
    •    prevent home invasions, carjackings, muggings, and other violent crimes;
    •    run counter-surveillance and avoid becoming a soft target;
    •    recognize common scams at home and abroad;
    •    become a human lie detector in any setting, including business negotiations; and
    •    gain peace of mind by being prepared for anything instead of uninformed or afraid. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Garrison Keillor's Last Hurrah

One of my fav author interviews was Garrison Keillor (read interview in links.) He's the closest writer we have to Mark Twain, and this next season is retiring from radio after more than 40 years. He is also a great natural storyteller with a gift for timing and tone, plus a voice to die for... BIO: Garrison Keillor is America’s favorite storyteller. The host of A Prairie Home Companion, he has captivated millions of listeners with his weekly News from Lake Wobegon monologues. A Prairie Home Companion is heard on hundreds of public radio stations, as well as America One, the Armed Forces Networks, Sirius Satellite Radio, and via a live audio webcast. Keillor is also the author of several books and a frequent contributor to national publications including Time, the New Yorker, and NatGeo, in addition to writing his own syndicated column. He has been awarded a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment of the Humanities. When not touring, he resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since A Prairie Home Companion first went on air on July 6, 1974, a steady stream of great musicians has crossed its stage: The Steele Sisters, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Peter Ostroushko, The Wailin Jennys, Robin and Linda Williams Iris DeMent, and Howard Levy, plus the radio detective Guy Noir, the Cowboys Dusty and Lefty, the librarian Ruth Harrison, Duane and his Mother, and the good people of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. An all-star roster of favorite performers joined to celebrate the anniversary on the lawn of Macalester College in St. Paul, a stone’s throw from the hall where the first broadcast was made. Some highlights from that show are presented here, interwoven with archival performances by Doc Watson, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Helen Schneyer, Chet Atkins, Bill Hinkley & Judy Larson, Soupy Schindler, and Tom Keith.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Secret History of Star Wars

THE SECRET HISTORY OF STAR WARS is the ultimate behind the scenes biography of George Lucas, an epic audiobook with much information even the most avid fan doesn’t know! Star Wars is one of the most important cultural phenomena of the Western world. The tale of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker has become modern myth, an epic tragedy of the corruption of a young man in love into darkness, the rise of evil, and the power of good triumphing in the end. But it didn’t start out that way. In this thorough account of one of cinema’s most lasting works, Michael Kaminski presents the true history of how Star Wars was written, from its beginnings as a science fiction fairy tale to its development over three decades into the epic we now know, chronicling the methods, techniques, thought processes, and struggles of its creator. For this unauthorized account, he has pored through over four hundred sources—from interviews to original scripts—to track how the most powerful modern epic in the world was created, expanded, and finalized into the tale an entire generation has grown up with. Michael Kaminski lives and works in Toronto as a camera technician in the film and television industry. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild. Josh Robert Thompson is a comedian, voice, and television actor known for his celebrity impressions and outrageous original characters. He is best recognized as the voice of Craig Ferguson’s robot skeleton sidekick, Geoff Peterson, on CBS’s The Late Late Show. As a voice actor, he has been featured on Disney Channel television shows and a number of popular video games that include Final Fantasy XIII and James Cameron’s Avatar