Stories for the road – very short book reviews

When you road trip as much as Ryan and I have been this summer, it’s a good idea to download some great books. After all, about 15 minutes into summer road trip number two, you’ve ran out of stuff to talk about with your significant other.

I thought I’d share what we’ve been listening to on the road around Colorado. We use the Audible app for Droid (and this is NOT a paid advertisement!). There are different types of plans, but we pay a monthly fee that gives us credit towards one book. We buy more than one book per month, since Ryan likes to listen while he works, and I like to listen when I’m driving or working out. Once you purchase a book it’s available in your Audible library online and available through the app on your phone.

So without further ado, here are some of our favorite Audible books from our many road trips. I love books and I love writing about books, so this is a bit longer than a normal blog post, so feel free to scroll until something catches your eye.

Game of Thrones book coverGame of Thrones – Books 1 through 5

We’ve been listening to the “Game of Thrones” series by George R.R. Martin and narrated by Roy Dotrice for a really, really long time. We finally finished the last book earlier this year. It was a sad moment because Martin is currently working on books 6 and 7, so we now wait with the bated breath for “the rest of the story.”

The best part? Roy Dotrice is a wonderful narrator. He has made these books come alive for me, and although I have enjoyed the HBO interpretation of the series thus far, it will always be the version Mr. Dotrice put in my head that will remain special to me.

The worst part? Even the biggest fans of Martin have to admit that sometimes he goes on and on for just a bit too long. There are parts of these books that are laborious, but that’s why listening to it makes it so much easier – your eyes don’t get tired.

Hannibal & Me book coverHannibal & Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success & Failure

Ryan listened to this one first, but during several recent road trips I’d listen to parts of it while he was sleeping. I listened to most of it on my daily walk at the lake. We both really loved this book and I’ve been telling everyone I know to read it. I even wrote a short book review of it for The Armory, A Shared Workspace’s blog and you can read it here.

The best part? This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Also, the narrator, Sean Runnette, is very, very good.

The worst part? Nothing.. Read it (or listen to it).

Mr. Pettigrews last stand book coverMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand

This is Helen Simonson’s first book, and it reads like a charming British comedy film complete with eclectic characters and dry English wit. Major Ernest Pettigrew is a proper and upstanding widower whose uncomplicated life becomes quite complicated when he befriends the lovely village shop lady, Mrs. Jasmina Ali.

This was a random download by Ryan, but we thoroughly enjoyed the book and I can’t wait until Simonson writes a second one. She has the gift.

The best part? You will be charmed.

The worst part? The story is a little slow at times, but you just have to sit back and enjoy the ambiance.

Several Books by Neil Gaiman

I’ve been going through a bit of a Gaiman phase. You see, I want to be Neil Gaiman when I grow up, but that’s a blog post for another day and another blog.

The ocean at the end of the laneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane – Gaiman

I don’t know where Neil Gaiman comes up with these stories, and if I knew I’d go to that well and start drawing up water too. This is the story of a little boy who has some rather frightening and exhilarating adventures after meeting the neighbors at the end of the lane. But one wonders if what is happening to the boy is real, or if he is merely entering into a fantasy world to escape a troubled home.

the graveyard bookThe Graveyard Book – Gaiman

This is the story about a boy who is raised by ghosts in a British graveyard. I love everything about “The Graveyard Book.” Someday I want to write a tale as good as this one.

American gods audio bookAmerican Gods – Gaiman

I just finished Gaiman’s “American Gods” while on a road trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. First published in 2001, it received all sorts of critical acclaim and won many awards. I’m not sure I would have stuck with it if I wasn’t a Gaiman fan, but I did stick with it and I liked it – sort of. It’s weird. Really, really weird. Weirder than most of Gaiman’s books and they are all a bit odd.

I am, however, overjoyed that HBO is considering making a mini-series of “American Gods,” because with all the colorful characters and surreal, drug-trip-like scenes, I think it will make a mind-blowing television show.

The best part? Neil Gaiman can write a darn good story. It’s even better when he narrates them for Audible. He’s not only a fantastic writer, but a fantastic story teller. He narrates both “The Ocean” and “The Graveyard.” “American Gods” is read by an entire cast of narrators, which makes it even more interesting to listen to via Audible.

The worst part? Did I mention that “American Gods” is weird? If you can handle weird, than you’ll enjoy it. If weird isn’t your bag, then it probably isn’t for you.

Other Good Stuff

We’ve listened to other books on Audible as well, but this blog post is getting too long, so I think I’ll just leave you with one more book series that I’ve listened to this spring and summer. It’s the Peter Grant Series by Ben Aaronovitch. I read the first 3 books in the series, and now just discovered that the 4th, “Broken Homes,” is available.

Ben Aaronovitch Peter Grant Book Series

The Peter Grant Series is very British – think Gaiman with a bit of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy mixed in.The series follows detective Peter Grant, who works in a secret department of the Metropolitan Police; the department that deals with things like ghosts, goblins, evil magicians and gods. It can be laugh-out-loud funny, and it has become one of my favorite book series of all time.

So there you have it – some of my picks for stories for the road.

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