Thursday, November 10, 2011

Treasure Island

by Robert Louis Stevenson
illustrated by N.C. Wyeth
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1939 (orig. copyright 1911).

Young Jim Hawkins finds adventure when a "gentleman of fortune" stays at his father's inn, and the old pirate's compatriots come looking for him -- and a treasure map!

Treasure Island is the quintessential adventure tale: a daring hero, a treasure, and dastardly pirates. I had a few false starts trying to read it as a kid, but I drowned in the antiquated language due to a book that's a hundred years old set in the 1700s. But when I was without power for several days after the October Nor'easter, it was the perfect book to take me far and away from my circumstances. Partly because I knew much of the storyline (mostly, I admit, through watching Muppet Treasure Island as a kid), partly because Jim is clearly narrating events that happened before, there was never any doubt that our English heroes would make it through unscathed, but this true blue adventure tale is certainly entertaining.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Re-reading With Audiobooks

One of my favorite choices for audiobooks to read on my commute are rereads of books I've enjoyed. Since I know the story, if I miss something because I'm driving or thinking or woolgathering, it's not a big deal. Also, I can really tune into what a narrator brings to the story because I don't have to focus as much on the plot.

All this is leading up to say that I've really enjoyed listening/re-reading the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, read by Ralph Cosham. The latest I've completed is A Rule Against Murder, which I originally read last year.

A narrator, I think, can really make or break the audiobook. They may have a different interpretation of the characters and their voices, or what word to emphasize. Ralph Cosham, in my opinion, does a truly excellent job. Most of the voices are spot on; only one, Gabri's, is really dissonant with my imagination. Some of the funny moments are even funnier because of Cosham's reading. His narration truly adds to my experience "reading" the books.

Can I recommend a book twice? I will in this case, once for the books and again for the audiobooks. I'm trying to spread them out, but I'm sure over the next few months I'll be revisiting A Brutal Telling in the same way.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


by Cynthia Voigt
New York : Atheneum, 1985.

In a medievalesque village, times are hard and rumors are flying of unrest in the south. The Lords have all the wealth and are a law unto themselves, while most people are scrambling to pay their taxes and comforting each other with tales of Jackaroo, the masked man outside the law who helps the people, if the Lords won't. Gwyn, the Innkeeper's daughter, is better off than most and doesn't believe the old tales. But she's struggling to determine who she is, as she's nearly past marrying age and has precious few options if she chooses to remain single.

I read this story at least twice as a teen. I hadn't read much fantasy beyond the classics, such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, and I really loved it then, not really picking up on the tropes that the story includes - Lords and people, medieval setting, stew and ale get the picture. It's not a bad story, but it's very traditional fantasy that starts a bit slowly and almost reads like historical fiction because of the focus on politics and finances. When I was a teen, I focused on the adventure and Robin Hood-like character of Jackaroo, but on this reread it actually took much longer than I remembered to get to the more exciting elements. A few scenes stood out in my mind, but the details were fuzzy, so I enjoyed revisiting the story. I've passed on my copy - the library discard, the same copy I read as a teen - on to my sister to see if she enjoys it as much as I did at that age.