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The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Tao_of_Poohred_earphonesThe Tao of Pooh starts with a description of the vinegar tasters, which is an actual painting portraying the three great eastern thinkers, Confucius, the Buddha, and Laozi over a vat of vinegar. Each tasting the vinegar of “life,” Confucius finds it sour, the Buddha finds it bitter, but Laozi, the traditional founder of Taoism, finds it satisfying. Then the story unfolds backing up this analogy.

Hoff presents Winnie-the-Pooh and related others from A. A. Milne’s stories as characters that interact with him while he writes The Tao of Pooh, but also quotes excerpts of their tales from Milne’s actual books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, in order to exemplify his points. Hoff uses many of Milne’s characters to symbolize ideas that differ from or accentuate Taoist tenets. Winnie-the-Pooh himself, for example, personifies the principles of wei wu wei, the Taoist concept of “effortless doing,” and pu, the concept of being open to but unburdened by experience. In contrast, characters like Owl and Rabbit over-complicate problems, often over-thinking to the point of confusion, and Eeyore pessimistically complains and frets about existence, unable to just be. Hoff regards Pooh’s simpleminded nature, unsophisticated worldview and instinctive problem-solving methods as conveniently representative of the Taoist philosophical foundation. The book also incorporates translated excerpts from various prominent Taoist texts, from authors such as Laozi and Zhuangzi. (This material is from Wikipedia)

This book has been nominated in three Audie categories!

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Here is the wonderful review from AudioFile Magazine:

With his delicious British accent, Simon Vance is the perfect choice for this beguiling gem. His crisp diction offers clarity while maintaining a warmth that invites the listener to settle back and enjoy another–albeit grown-up–adventure with friends from A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood. But don’t dismiss this as a children’s story. Hoff’s text is ingenious as he uses these childhood icons and their tales to present Tao’s message of simplicity, tolerance, and peace. With his unerring sense of pacing, Vance delivers instructive passages in a conversational tone, then seamlessly becomes Pooh, Eeyore, Owl, and Rabbit. Hoff and Vance have created an audio classic, offering a unique and delightful experience that gently instructs as it entertains. M.O.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2013 Audies Winner © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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The Cold Commands by Richard K.Morgan

With The Steel Remains, award-winning science fiction writer Richard K.
Morgan turned his talents to sword and sorcery. The result: a genre-busting
masterwork hailed as a milestone in contemporary epic fantasy. Now Morgan
continues the riveting saga of Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a peerless warrior
whose love for other men has made him an outcast and pariah.
Only a select few have earned the right to call Gil friend. One is Egar, the
Dragonbane, a fierce Majak fighter who comes to respect a heart as savage and
loyal as his own. Another is Archeth, the last remaining daughter of an
otherworldly race called the Kiriath, who once used their advanced technology to
save the world from the dark magic of the Aldrain—only to depart for reasons as
mysterious as their arrival. Yet even Egar and Archeth have learned to fear the
doom that clings to their friend like a grim shadow . . . or the curse of a
bitter god.
Now one of the Kiriath’s uncanny machine intelligences has
fallen from orbit—with a message that humanity faces a grave new danger (or,
rather, an ancient one): a creature called the Illwrack Changeling, a boy raised
to manhood in the ghostly between-world realm of the Grey Places, home to the
Aldrain. A human raised as one of them—and, some say, the lover of one of their
greatest warriors—until, in a time lost to legend, he was vanquished. Wrapped in
sorcerous slumber, hidden away on an island that drifts between this world and
the Grey Places, the Illwrack Changeling is stirring. And when he wakes, the
Aldrain will rally to him and return in force—this time without the Kiriath to
stop them.
An expedition is outfitted for the long and arduous sea
journey to find the lost island of the Illwrack Changeling. Aboard are Gil,
Egar, and Archeth: each fleeing from ghosts of the past, each seeking redemption
in whatever lies ahead. But redemption doesn’t come cheap these days. Nor, for
that matter, does survival. Not even for Ringil Eskiath. Or anyone—god or
mortal—who would seek to use him as a pawn.

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The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan

From Publishers Weekly: Charlie Howard, the self-mocking narrator of Ewan’s Good Thief Guide series who’s both a mystery writer and smallscale thief, once again shows he’s not terribly good at either in his diverting third outing (after 2008’s The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris). Set largely in the fictional Fifty-Fifty hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nev., the book opens with Howard picking the pocket of Josh Masters, the casino’s resident magician. Armed with Masters’s wallet, Howard visits Masters’s suite (with a nice bit on breaking into the magician’s personal safe) only to discover what appears to be a dead body floating in the bath. The stakes rise when Masters disappears during his own magic show– during a trick using Howard’s literary agent, Victoria, as a volunteer–and the casino’s security men detain the pair. Those looking for suspense or intricate plotting will be disappointed, but fans of light comic capers will be rewarded. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Booklist: Ewan, whose earlier Good Thief guides have visited Paris and Amsterdam, continues on his merry way. Charlie Howard, the crime writer who moonlights as a thief (or maybe it’s the other way around), is in Sin City, planning to make off with healthy cache of casino chips belonging to a third-rate illusionist. But the dead body in the magician’s bathtub ain’t no illusion, and now Charlie has to pull off the toughest robbery of his career or face the consequences. The comic caper novel isn’t exactly something new (Donald Westlake was doing them 40 years ago, and he didn’t invent them, either), but Ewan, through a combination of engaging characterizations, suspenseful stories, and sharp writing, makes the Good Thief novels feel fresh and exciting. The comparison to Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series, also full of comedy and also starring a good-hearted thief, is entirely appropriate, though Ewan is no mere Block imitator. This novel will definitely appeal to fans of comic mysteries and caper novels. –David PittAF logo

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Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

Gabriel Allon, master art restorer and spy, returns in a spell binding new novel from the #1 New York Times best selling author Daniel Silva.
Gabriel Allon has been hailed as the most compelling creation since “Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond” (Rocky Mountain News), and “one of the most intriguing heroes of any thriller series” (Philadelphia Inquirer). A man with a deep appreciation for all that is beautiful, Gabriel is also an angel of vengeance who will stop at nothing to see justice done. Sometimes he must journey far in search of evil. And sometimes evil comes to him.
In a dangerous world, one extraordinary woman can mean the difference between life and death . . .
For Gabriel and his beautiful Venetian-born wife, Chiara, a pleasant weekend in London turns deadly when the newly retired operative spots a man exhibiting traits common to suicide bombers. But before Gabriel can prevent the attack, he is knocked to the pavement and can only watch as a scene from his nightmares unfolds.
Haunted by his failure to stop the massacre of innocents, Gabriel returns to his isolated cottage on the cliffs of Cornwall, until a summons brings him to Washington and he is drawn into a confrontation with the new face of global terror. At the center of the threat is an American-born cleric in Yemen to whom Allah has granted “a beautiful and seductive tongue.” A gifted deceiver, who was once a paid CIA asset, the mastermind is plotting a new wave of attacks.
Gabriel and his team devise a daring plan to destroy the network of death—from the inside—a gambit fraught with risk, both personal and professional. To succeed, Gabriel must reach into his violent past. A woman waits there—a reclusive Saudi heiress and art collector who can traverse the murky divide between Islam and the West. She is the daughter of an old enemy, a woman joined to Gabriel by a trail of blood. Together they form an unlikely and dangerous bond.
Set against the disparate worlds of art and intelligence, Portrait of a Spy moves swiftly from the corridors of power in Washington, to the glamorous auction houses of New York and London, to the unforgiving landscape of the Saudi desert. Featuring a climax that will leave readers haunted long after they turn the final page, this deeply entertaining story is also a breathtaking portrait of courage in the face of unspeakable evil—and Daniel Silva’s most extraordinary novel to date.

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The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi

The “quack” who saved a king… Featuring a star-studded cast of Academy Award® winners and nominees, The King’s Speech won the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award and is generating plenty of Oscar buzz. This official film tie-in is written by London Sunday Times journalist Peter Conradi and Mark Logue–grandson of Lionel Logue, one of the movie’s central characters. It’s the eve of World War II, and King Edward VIII has abdicated the throne of England to marry the woman he loves. Never has the nation needed a leader more. But the new monarch, George VI–father of today’s Queen Elizabeth II–is painfully shy and cursed with a terrible stammer. How can he inspire confidence in his countrymen when he cannot even speak to them? Help arrives in speech therapist Logue, who not only is a commoner, but Australian to boot. Will he be able to give King George his voice? The King’s Speech tells an inspiring tale of triumph over adversity and the unlikely friendship between a reluctant king and the charismatic subject who saved the throne.
From AudioFile Magazine: This stellar audio production of the book that preceded the Oscar-winning film THE KING’S SPEECH is a must-listen for historians, gossips, royalists, colonialists, and everyone else. The audio begins with something the book can’t offer—a recording of King George VI’s actual wartime speech. It’s an atmospheric introduction to the story of two different men who become essential to each other and to Britain. An extrovert Australian vocal coach who helped create modern speech therapy and a shy, stammering Duke transformed into a fine and fluent monarch—Simon Vance inhabits them subtly, shading character with accent, tone, and pace. He also propels the plot by reading with the verve of fiction while keeping his narration behind the words. A captivating and exemplary performance. A.C.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine

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Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is closely modelled on the 18h-century novels that Charles Dickens loved as a child, such as Robinson Crusoe, in which the fortunes of a hero shape the plot. The likeable young Nicholas, left penniless on the death of his father, sets off in search of better prospects. His meandering route to happiness includes work as a teacher at Dotheboys Hall, where the brutal Wackford Squeers ill-treats his impoverished pupils, and a spell as an actor with the absurdly melodramatic Crummles troupe. Nicholas’s many adventures give Dickens the freedom to follow the eccentricities of a vivid gallery of characters, exploring themes of class, love, and self-awareness with exuberant comedy and biting satire.

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The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

From AudioFile Magazine:
Simon Vance and Stieg Larsson are to blame for an exhausting 10 days in which I spent every spare daytime moment and most of each night listening to Lisbeth Salander outwit Swedish bad guys. Though I am groggy, I am grateful. This is a terrific finale to the worldwide bestselling Swedish series about the skinny, bisexual, socially hostile computer wizard Lizbeth Salander, ace reporter Mikael Blomkvist, and a host of nefarious criminals, bureaucrats, police, and politicians. The compulsively listenable Simon Vance personifies men, women, young, and old so well that one hesitates to interrupt their conversations by turning off the book. And he propels the narrative with fine timing and a seductive voice that leaves the listener satiated and happy. Get this book and start listening now. A.C.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2010
This book was nominated for an Audie in two categories – Distinguished Achievement in Production and Thriller/Suspense – it won in the latter of the two!

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Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher

Recorded May 2010 for release in June 2010 – Blackstone Audio

From the publisher:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT’S TIME TO REALLY MEET THE BEATLES.For John Lennon, a young, idealistic zombie guitarist with dreams of global domination, Liverpool seems the ideal place to form a band that could take over the world. In an inspired act, Lennon kills and reanimates local rocker Paul McCartney, kicking off an unstoppable partnership. With the addition of newly zombified guitarist George Harrison and drummer/Seventh Level Ninja Lord Ringo Starr, the Beatles soon cut a swath of bloody good music and bloody violent mayhem across Europe, America, and the entire planet.

In this searing oral history, discover how the Fab Four climbed to the Toppermost of the Poppermost while stealing the hearts, ears, and brains of smitten teenage girls. Learn the tale behind a spiritual journey that resulted in the dismemberment of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Marvel at the seemingly indestructible quartet’s survival of a fierce attack by Eighth Level Ninja Lord Yoko Ono. And find out how the boys escaped eternal death at the hands of England’s greatest zombie hunter, Mick Jagger.

Through all this, one mystery remains: Can the Beatles sublimate their hunger for gray matter, remain on top of the charts, and stay together for all eternity? After all, three of the Fab Four are zombies, and zombies live forever. . . .

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Audies History

Below, on this page and the next, are all the Audie nominations and finalists I have read since 2002.
If you want to go straight to particular years you can page down or go back to the drop down menu above and click on the individual years….
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2010 Audies – May 25th NYC

While there are four books listed here I suppose I should, more honestly, have put “two and two bits”! I read one of The Canterbury Tales (The Clerk) and the preamble or introduction to The Turn of the Screw. Kushiel’s Scion and The Midnight Charter are both solo narrations… keeping my fingers crossed.

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