Trying Audiobooks Again

My experiences with audiobooks haven’t been great, but when I decided to get eye surgery, I knew I wanted to give it another try. The doctor said I’d probably be able to see right away, although a bit blurry, I always expect the worst, including a longer recovery time because my body is weird. How would I keep myself entertained if I couldn’t see? Audio. So I downloaded music onto my phone and thought about what else I could do. I looked through my extensive digital library and found a few bundles with audiobooks. Not ones I wanted to read, but I could try it out, right? I talked about it with my friend Aurelie, and she gave me a two-month free trials of Scribd (referral link – 60 days free trial).

What is Scribd?

This is not a sponsored post about Scribd but I want to include a short bit about Scribd. It’s a subscription service, much like Kindle Unlimited, and it includes ebooks and audiobooks for the same price. It doesn’t have the same selection as KU or Audible but there’s more than enough to choose from. Especially if you’ve never had a subscription service before. Even if you only listen to one audiobook per month, it might be worth the subscription since most audiobooks are more expensive than the monthly fee (€10,99).

My experience with audiobooks now

While I could see everything, I still needed to get used to my eyes and new vision again. Looking at the tv or laptop wasn’t the best idea, especially for a longer time. I needed to rest my eyes. So I sat back, wearing my new noise-cancelling earbuds, closed my eyes, and listened to the soothing voices of the narrators.

One of the tips experienced audiobook users have shared with me is that the narrator can make or break an audiobook. This is my experience too. Some were definitely better than others, making each character’s voice distinct, while others were more monotonous. So far, my favorites are Risa Mei (who nails the broken English of the aunties, and speaks Mandarin/Cantonese/Indonesia) and Julian Thomas. Kevin R. Free as ART was also great.

I also noticed I do better with shorter, novella-length books, than with longer ones. It might be an attention span thing (mine is incredibly short), but also patience. I want to know the end of the story and I can’t speed up the audio too fast otherwise I won’t be able to understand them. My eyes have been trained more (or well, until a month ago) and I can read more quickly if have or want to.

Overall, I’ve noticed I’m not as bad with audiobooks as I thought I’d be. Scribd gave me the freedom to try a lot of narrators, genres, and book-lengths. Below is a list of all the books I listened to. I’ll do full reviews of all the books I finished.

Audiobook I listened to

Dial A for Aunties by Jess Sutanto

Narrated by Risa Mei

Summary
What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

Narrated by Julian Thomas

Summary
P. Djeli Clark returns to the historical fantasy universe of “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, with the otherworldly adventure novella “The Haunting of Tram Car 015”.

Cairo, 1912:
The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities – handling a possessed tram car. Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman

Narrated by Stephanie Leonidas

Summary
Helena is about to embark on a most amazing journey.

Raised in a family of circus performers, she’s always dreamed of leading a more ordinary life. But when haunting music draws her into a strange and magical realm, one where anything can happen, her real life is stolen by a runaway from the other side. Helena must rescue the realm from chaos in order to win back her own not-so-ordinary life.

MirrorMask is a film written by Neil Gaiman and brought to life through by artist and director Dave McKean. This original novella is Helena’s tale in her own voice, written by Neil Gaiman and accompanied by original art by Dave McKean and images from the film.

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Narrated by Kevin R. Free

Summary
It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day

Narrated by Felicia Day

Summary
In Embrace Your Weird, New York Times bestselling author, producer, actress, TV writer, and award-winning web series creator, Felicia Day takes you on a journey to find, rekindle, or expand your creative passions.

Including Felicia’s personal stories and hard-won wisdom, Embrace Your Weird offers:

—Entertaining and revelatory exercises that empower you to be fearless, so you can rediscover the things that bring you joy, and crack your imagination wide open

—Unique techniques to vanquish enemies of creativity like: anxiety, fear, procrastination, perfectionism, criticism, and jealousy

—Tips to cultivate a creative community

—Space to explore and get your neurons firing

Whether you enjoy writing, baking, painting, podcasting, playing music, or have yet to uncover your favorite creative outlet, Embrace Your Weird will help you unlock the power of self-expression. Get motivated. Get creative. Get weird.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Narrated by Andy Serkis

Summary
This brand-new unabridged audiobook of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved The Hobbit will be coming to listeners everywhere this September, read by the BAFTA award-winning actor, director and author, Andy Serkis.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day, to whisk him away on a journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…

The prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Narrated by Cindy Kay

Summary
With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama ‘THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE’ is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

Narrates by Huw Parmenter and Sam Newton

Summary
A short novella based on the beloved characters from the graphic novel Heartstopper and Alice Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire, which was praised as ‘The Catcher in the Rye for the digital age’ by The Times.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Charlie: ‘I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.’

Nick: ‘Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.’

Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!

But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever….

The Merlin Conspiracy: Trick or Treason by Diana Wynne Jones

Narrated by Emilia Fox and David Tennant

Summary
Master fantasist Diana Wynne Jones–author of the Chrestomanci books, Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin, and many others–scores another winner in this absorbing tale of magic and courtly intrigue told in two voices. In the world called Islands of the Blest, Roddy is a young page who has grown up traveling with her family in the King’s Progress, a constant journey around the kingdom. Just after she and her younger friend Grundo spot a growing conspiracy to overthrow the King and change the balance of magic, they are whisked away to visit Roddy’s grim and silent grandfather; when they return the Progress has moved on without them. Meanwhile in another world, Nick Mallory, 14, blunders into a dreamlike adventure that leads him to the powerful wizard Romanov and involves him in Roddy’s mission to save the worlds from the upset planned by the conspiracy. The story moves through several precariously linked worlds in vividly imagined episodes told alternately by Roddy and Nick, as their journeys begin to mesh. Part of the fun for the reader is sorting out Roddy’s many wizardly relatives from the double perspective and clicking them into place in the plot. Wynne Jones’s many fans will pounce on this complex but fast-moving fantasy that features not only 34 characters, but a panther, a goat, a dragon, and an extremely charming elephant. (Ages 10 to 14)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Narrated by Neil Gaiman, Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Emilia Fox, Reece Shearsmith, Lenny Henry, and an ensemble cast

Summary
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and so much more.

But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

A deliciously dark masterwork by bestselling author Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by award-winning Dave McKean.

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