Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie – Audiobook Review

Close My Eyes by Sophie Mckenzie, narrated by Marisa Calin
Published in audio by Macmillan Audio, published in print by St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Gone Girl meets Before I Go to Sleep in Sophie McKenzie’s Close My Eyes, a riveting psychological thriller about a grieving mother who finds out years after her daughter’s death that her child may still be alive

When Geniver Loxley lost her daughter at birth eight years ago, her world stopped… and never fully started again. Mothers with strollers still make her flinch; her love of writing has turned into a half-hearted teaching career; and she and her husband, Art, have slipped into the kind of rut that seems inescapable.

But then a stranger shows up on their doorstep, telling Gen the very thing she’s always wanted to hear: that her daughter Beth was not stillborn, but was taken away as a healthy infant and is still out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. It’s insane, unbelievable. But why would anyone make that up? A fissure suddenly opens up in Gen’s carefully reconstructed life, letting in a flood of unanswerable questions. Where is Beth now? Why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or is it something more sinister? And who can she trust to help her?

Thoughts on the story:

So, when you read the description of Close My Eyes, or perhaps even more so after you read it and meditate on what exactly happens, it seems sort of far-fetched. There are a lot of moving pieces here and they could easy be ridiculous. McKenzie does a good job keeping everything together and more or less believable – at least while you’re caught up in her story. And she does keep you caught up. I was particularly invested in the relationship between Gen and Art and how much he appears to be gaslighting her. My increasing frustration and fury at Art served to pull me completely into Gen’s story.

Thoughts on the audio production:

It took me some time to get used to Calin’s narration, something about her voice or accent grated on my nerves a bit. However, as I got lost in McKenzie’s story, I also managed to fall into Calin’s narration. She gets the emotion of Gen down very well, making for an emotionally authentic listen.

Overall:

Recommended.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Hey guys, I don’t have an audiobook review this week, so I changed the date on this one to today and you can leave this week’s reviews here, too.

 

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Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant – Audiobook Review

Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family – in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia – in order to succeed.

Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest – though increasingly unstable – weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.

Thoughts on the story:

The Borgias rival the Tudors as one of the most dramatic families of the European Renaissance. Dunant approaches the family with a very literary and somewhat reserved bent. In the early pages of Blood and Beauty I worried that I would have a difficult time getting into the book because Dunant keeps the reader very distant from her characters. I need not have worried, though. Dunant tells the story of the Borgias beautifully and with such reality and tension that even knowing the history and where all of their lives were headed, I was completely rapt.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Edoardo Ballerini. You guys. He’s fabulous. Like, he’s just really fabulous. I’ve got a serious audio crush on him now. Every part of his performance is masterful.

Overall:

Amazing. The book, the audio edition, all of it. Read it or, even better, listen.

For more information, see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

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Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister – Audiobook Review

Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister, narrated by Angela Brazil
Published in audio by AudioGO; published in print by Putnam, an imprint of Penguin

Synopsis:

On paper, Violet Epps has no problem expressing forceful opinions – she has to do it for her job as a movie critic, and she does it well. In her personal life, however, Violet is more of a retiring wallflower, unable to stand up for herself. At this rate she’s never going to be considered a fit guardian for her recently-orphaned niece. Until she has dinner at the Algonquin Hotel. While there, Violet channels renowned wit Dorothy Parker, whose ghost doesn’t stay at the Algonquin, but follows her home, trying to help her learn to stand up for herself.

Thoughts on the story:

Farewell, Dorothy Parker is a fun story of growth and self-discovery. Dorothy Parker is a nice addition, she is someone I think most people only know about vaguely, and learning more about her in this way is quite interesting.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I absolutely adored Angela Brazil’s narration in Frances and Bernard. She’s so emotive and her voice is perfect for the epistolary narrative. I had a much more difficult time with her narration in Farewell, Dorothy Parker. Brazil used a virtually identical style in Farewell, Dorothy Parker to the one in Frances and Bernard, which works fairly well for dialogue, but there is way too much emotion here in general and it becomes somewhat annoying, detracting from the listening experience.

Overall:

I really wish the audiobook had worked better for me here, because I think then I might have enjoyed the entire experience much more than I did.

For more, see my review for Audiofile Magazine.
Source: Audiofile Magazine

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis – Audiobook Review

Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Knopf, both imprints of Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. While the thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire, the British were dispatching the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic to crush the rebellion in the cradle. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them. In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other.

Thoughts on the story:

I am seriously impressed by Revolutionary Summer. It is a relatively brief book, just about seven hours in audio, but Ellis conveys a lot of information – including much that is glossed over in most accounts – in a very clear manner. He intertwines both the political and the military happenings of that summer, showing readers how they interrelate and influence one another. It is well-organized and informative, really a top-notch history.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Rudnicki has a wonderfully resonant voice and presents Revolutionary Summer clearly, adding just the right amount of audible interest.

Overall:

A wonderful audiobook and a wonderful look at American history. A great listen for 4th of July weekend.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory – Audiobook Review

Stormbringers: Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory, narrated by Nicola Barber
Published in audio by Simon & Schuster Audio, published in print by Simon Pulse, both imprints of Simon & Schuster

I previously reviewed the first book in the Order of Darkness trilogy, Changeling.

Synopsis:

Luca and Isolde have a growing relationship and are happy that they will be able to continue traveling together for the foreseeable future. Their plans are halted, however, when a young man named Johann arrives in town leading a veritable army of children who claim to be on a crusade, sent by God. Johann has been prophesying, but when one of his prophecies comes true in an unexpected manner, Luca, Isolde, and the rest of their party find themselves in mortal danger.

Thoughts on the story:

In Stormbringers, Gregory does a great job telling a new complete story as well as forwarding the stories of Luca and Isolde, their relationship, and the lives as a whole. I am most intrigued to continue learning about this order Luca finds himself working for; I am fairly certain that I know where Gregory is going with this, and I think it has wonderful potential. If anything, I find myself looking forward to the third book in the trilogy even more than I looked forward to this one.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Initially I was disappointed that Charlie Cox was not selected to narrate Stormbringers after narrating the first book in the series, Changeling. I had fond memories of his narration and the switch from a male to a female narrator is kind of a big difference. However, with a third person point of view and a cast very nearly equally split between male and female characters, the gender of the narrator does not really matter here, and once I got used to Nicola Barber being the voice of Stormbringers I actually found her quite good. One thing Barber really excels at is bringing out the humor in the secondary characters, two of whom can be really quite funny. She is good overall, though, and by the end I was pleased by Cox’s replacement, even if I’m not sure why he was replaced.

Overall:

I am really loving this series, particularly in audio. I can’t wait until the next one comes out! Highly recommended.

For more, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: publisher.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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