Some Quick Audiobook Reviews…

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A quick round-up of six recent audiobook listens. Mostly, very good.

Featuring: Carrie Fisher, Frederick Forsyth, Anna Kendrick, Trevor Noah, Graham Norton, Nikki Sixx

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Review(ish): SERIOUSLY FUNNY — THE ENDLESSLY QUOTABLE TERRY PRATCHETT (Doubleday)

PratchettT-SeriouslyFunnyUKAn indispensable, but by no means exhaustive collection

‘I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.’

The most quotable writer of our time, Terry Pratchett’s unique brand of wit made him both a bestseller and an enduring, endearing source of modern wisdom. This collection is filled with his funniest and most memorable words about life, the universe and snoring.

How does one review a short book of quotations? I’m not going to include my favourites from the book, as that might defeat some of the purpose of other people picking it up. To be sure, the book is both funny and profound; clever and witty. It made me miss Pratchett (even though I never met him, but feel like I was getting to know him through interviews and 20+ years of reading his fiction). It certainly made me laugh. It made me wonder why there weren’t more quotations from Death. It made me want to read all of the Discworld novels again. It reminded me of how much I love his novels.

This is a must-have for all fans of Terry Pratchett. It may also inspire newbies to check out some of his work. (Start with Guards! Guards! — I’ve bought it for five different people, all of whom became avid Pratchett fans.)

Highly recommended. Seriously Funny is out now, published in the UK by Doubleday.

Feel free to share some of your favourite Pratchett quotations in the comments, if you like.

Guest Post: “From Funny Book to Fleshy Series: The Finn Fancy Evolution” by Randy Henderson

HendersonR-AuthorPicWriting a fantasy series is a strange and daunting process. Over the course of transforming a single book into a series, I personally realized that rather than planning a whole series in advance, there were some basic things I could include that would allow a series to create itself.

First, sometimes writers plan ahead. Sometimes, we make s#!te up as we go along. Often we do some combination of the two. This applies to books, but also to entire series I’ve learned.

For Finn Fancy, I didn’t plan to write a series. I wrote some chapters for fun, which got turned into a finished book because an editor expressed interest. That book got purchased as the first in a series. Did I have a series? Not really. I had a book. And a few one sentence concepts I’d written out after finishing that book for potential sequels. Continue reading

Review: ANGRY OPTIMIST by Lisa Rogak (St. Martin’s Griffin)

RogakL-AngryOptimistPBDisappointing, NYT-bestselling bio of Jon Stewart

Since his arrival at The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, Lisa Rogak follows his unlikely rise to stardom, from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling stand-up comic in New York, and on to the short-lived but acclaimed The Jon Stewart Show, before at last landing a job as host of a half-hour comedy show that at the time was still finding its footing amidst roiling internal drama.

Once there, Stewart transformed The Daily Show into one of the most influential news programs on television today. Drawing on interviews with current and former colleagues and with new material on his departure from The Daily Show, Angry Optimist reveals how Jon Stewart has come to wield incredible power in American politics and changed how the news is reported along the way.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is one of the most influential television series of the past couple of decades. Like many people, I first took notice when segments from Indecision 2000 went viral: the blend of hilarious satire and sharp observation was a winning combination. Despite the host’s denials, The Daily Show was a real force in American politics, often providing more news and media analysis than actual, professional news channels. Jon Stewart, however, has remained something of an enigma, however – fiercely private, most of us have only had the occasional magazine profile to inform us of what might make the host tick.

It was with great interest, therefore, that I started reading Angry Optimist. A quick read that, while entertaining, left me disappointed. Continue reading

Q&A with MELISSA PIMENTEL

PimentelM-AuthorPic2Although Love By The Book is a novel, the premise comes from an experiment that you conducted in your own life, that you turned into a blog called “Love by the Book.” What made you want to try this and how did you come up with the idea?

The idea came after a year of semi-successful dating in London. I’d come out of a serious relationship the year before (a marriage, in fact) so I wasn’t looking for anything remotely serious… and yet every time I tried to convey that to a guy, they seemed to think I was trying to trick them. It was getting annoying, so when the idea came to me to try these different dating guides – and effectively turn my love life into a science experiment – it instantly appealed. I’ve always thought that dating should be fun – when I was in college, I used to play a game called “wrong or funny” with my roommate in which we’d get ourselves in slightly awkward/controversial situations with guys and then ask each other if the situation was wrong or funny (the best ones were both) – so this felt like killing two birds with one stone: making a game out of dating and also (maybe, hopefully) learning something about male behavior along the way.

Why did you decide to write this as a novel and not as a memoir?

In truth, I ran out of material! The real-life experiment was going really well for a few months. It was fun (if exhausting) and the blog was starting to get some traction… but then lo and behold, I went on a first date with one of the test subjects and fell in love. It was sort of a double-edged sword: on the one hand, I was happy to have met the love of my life (we’re now engaged) but on the other, I was kind of annoyed that I had to give up the project. I actually tried to keep it going for the first month we were together, but it was getting too weird. An editor at Penguin who had been following the blog suggested a try to fictionalize it, and here we are! Continue reading