Gather Round the Sound: Holiday Stories from Beloved Authors and Great Performers Across the Globe
Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Listened to: December 5, 2018
Length: 1 hour 12 minutes
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
Audible’s 2017 holiday collection includes:
Zip Code 12345
This mini-documentary centers around a peculiar holiday tradition at General Electric’s headquarters in Schenectady, NY. For two decades, GE has been receiving thousands of letters from kids – children who think they’re reaching Santa Claus. And every year, a handful of GE employees give up their December lunchbreaks to respond to each and every letter.
An Aussie Night Before Christmas, by Yvonne Morrison, performed by Magda Szubanksi
This rollicking rewrite of the famous old poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas gives the original version a hilarious Aussie twist. Magda Szubanski, Australia’s most trusted personality, caries this incredibly fun romp. Kangaroos pulling the sleigh, a beer for Santa, and all the over-the-top Australian lingo, it’s everything you’d expect.
The Music Coming from the House, by Paulo Coehlo, performed by Daniel Frances-Berenson
In this magical story from the author of The Alchemist – the master of the modern parable – a disguised king visits a poor village, and what he sees through the window of a house changes his life, and those of the occupants.
The Signal-man, by Charles Dickens, performed by Simon Callow, Dan Starkey, and John Banks
For literature lovers, the holiday season needs a little Dickens. We dug up a story of his that you may not be familiar with, originally published in the Christmas edition of a Victorian short story periodical. Of course, ghosts are involved in this 19th century work told by Simon Callow (Outlander) and Dan Starkey (Dr. Who).
A Very Improvised Holiday Musical
What would the holidays be without some carols? Vern, a New York City-based improv troupe, performs a few improvised holiday songs
Gather Round the Sound was free on Audible and there was a good reason for that: It really did not need to be made into a compilation of short stories/performances. This one was a big miss for me. The best short was Zip Code 12345: I really enjoyed it and wish it had been expanded. If this had been the whole ‘book’ that would have been fine with me!
Apparently I am not a Dickens fan as The Signal-man wasn’t for me. When it was over I had no idea what had happened. Maybe it was the narrators with their accents that ruined it for me. The ‘musical chapters’ were also subpar. They were meant to be funny and entertaining, but were far from that.
I cannot recommend this compilation: I say listen to the first chapter Zip Code 12345 and skip the rest. I hate saying this, but it just did not deliver.
Author: Carrie Fisher
Narrators: Carrie Fisher and Billie Lourd
Published: November 22, 2016
Audible: 5 hours 10 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened: February 28- March 5, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.
When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.
It was bittersweet to listen to the audiobook version of The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. She also narrated it and it was great to hear her voice again. In some ways it was eerie as she talks about her future death/obituary, and even her mother, and they are both no longer with us.
She talks about her experience with Star Wars and she never expected it to be what it became. She was 19 when she filmed it, so she was still a baby in some ways. I enjoyed hearing the stories she tells, and she relates them with enthusiasm. She was not a perfect person and you see that in the drug use she mentions and her affair with Harrison Ford. If you are looking for juicy details on that you are out of luck, she doesn’t spill them. Harrison was 34 and married when they had their affair. There is some foul language as well, but nothing extreme: This is someone’s life and no one is perfect.
Fisher found diary entries when she was filming Star Wars. Those are read by Billie Lourde. You see the feelings she had while she wrote those. The diary entries are not that long compared to the rest of the book, so for me it was more of a memoir than about her entries. I actually was not as interested in them as I was with the rest of the memoir.
If you are a fan of Star Wars in any way, I recommend The Princess Diarist.[Top]
Today Kim and I both review The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. We both listened to the Audible version which is masterfully narrated by Zachary Quinto. It is a short book, the narration is 2 hours and 18 minutes. Needless to say both Kim and I loved The Dispatcher!
Author: John Scalzi
Narrator: Zachary Quinto
Published: October 4, 2016
Audible: 2 hours 18 minutes
Book Description from Goodreads:
One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.
Zachary Quinto: Best known for his role as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot and the menacing, power-stealing serial killer, Sylar, in Heroes – brings his well-earned sci-fi credentials and simmering intensity to this audio-exclusive novella from master storyteller John Scalzi.
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
This was a short, simple mystery, with a doozy of a twist! I had never heard of anything like the dispatchers before. If a person is murdered, then 9 times out of 10, they’ll end up alive and well in their bed at home. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but I love it! And I’m totally crushing on Tony Valdez . . . it helps that he has Zachary Quinto’s voice. 😊 I liked that it was a short listen; the author didn’t detail every little thing in every room, conversations weren’t repeated, and the mystery was easily solved with some good, old detective work. It’s simple, enjoyable, and easy. I really enjoyed this audiobook!
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Dates Listened To: March 16-18, 2018
The Dispatcher has an interesting premise to it: If you die at the hands some someone else, 999 times out of 1000 you come back to life. If you die of natural causes you do not come back to life. It is a mystery why this started happening, but we do learn about the first person that this happened to. The Dispatcher is short at just 2 hours 18 minutes long. And it covers a lot in that short time period! I listened to the Audible version which was narrated by Zachary Quinto and I couldn’t help but picture him as Tony Valdez as the story progressed.
Tony is a Dispatcher, one who helps to bring people back. In other words, he murders them. We see several examples of Tony doing his job, which he has done for eight years. One of his dispatcher friends disappears and it is a race to find out what happened to him.
This is a novella that will make you think about many things: who could become a Dispatcher and how do they handle their job when there is that one chance out of 1000 that the person will not come back? What does someone experience when they die and then come back? There are also theological, ethical, and moral issues that surround this story and the novella brings those up as well.
I liked Tony’s character and hope that Scalzi will expand on him and write more. If this ever comes to life on film I hope they cast Quinto in the Tony Valdez role!
The Dispatcher is highly recommended.[Top]