BOOK CLUB – Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Welcome to BOOK CLUB, which I run with co-conspirator Nicole from Linus’s Blanket. Today we will be chatting about Dare Me by Megan Abbott  which was released July 31st by Reagan Arthur Books. For those of you reading this post, please remember that this discussion is likely to contain spoilers.

Here is the publisher’s synopsis

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy’s best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they’re seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls — until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach’s golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as “top girl” — both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death — and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

Before we get started, here are some of the reviews of readers who will be participating today:

Between the Covers
Devourer of Books
Home Cooked Books
Linus’s Blanket
Nomad Reader

If you plan on participating in today’s BOOK CLUB, please consider subscribing to comments at the bottom of the page (please use the TOP subscription option). I will be updating this post with new questions and ideas over the course of the day.

Here we go…

  • First off, what were your general impressions of the book?
  • Is this a book you would have read had you not been reading it for a book club?
  • What did you think of Coach and her relationship with the girls? Why do you think she acted the way she did?
  • What did you think about the dynamic between Beth and Addy? Did you expect the revelation at the end about their relationship?
  • Any other thoughts/questions?
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Listen Up! – Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Friday, June 29th please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Find reviews? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

Here are some of my favorite audiobook resources:

Audiofile Magazine

I’m slightly biased, because I review for Audiofile Magazine, but I think they provide a really great audiobook resource. There is an actual, physical magazine that will introduce you to many audiobooks you might otherwise never have heard of. The magazine comes every other month, and a year’s subscription is under $20, or two years’ subscription costs less than $30. You can check out the reviews and some of the content for free online. When I’m considering getting an audiobook, I often go first to AudioFile to see what the reviewer there thought about it, to decide whether or not it is worth my time.

Audiobook Jukebox

Do you want to know what a bunch of bloggers think about an audiobook? Audiobook Jukebox is the place to find that out. You can add links to your reviews, and find links to other people’s reviews. A must-visit if you want to determine what the blogosphere’s consensus on an audiobook is.

Sound Bytes

Another one where I’m biased! If you want the audiobook camaraderie of Audiobook Week all year ’round, check out my Sound Bytes meme, started after Audiobook Week last year. Every Friday I review an audiobook (or occasionally have other audiobook-related content). I encourage other bloggers to review their audiobooks on Friday as well, but I welcome links to any and all audiobook reviews/content from that given week.

What are your favorite audiobook resources?

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What Makes a Good Narrator? – Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Monday June 25th please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Who are your favorite narrators and why? What do you look for in a narrator? Have a preference between male or female narrators?
Alternate suggestion: Narration preferences – single narrator, multiple narrators, full cast, etc.

What I Look for in a Narrator

  • The very most important thing to me is, does the narrator fit the audiobook? There are some narrators that are great, but just don’t really fit. For instance, Carolyn McCormick narrating the The Hunger Games series. She’s undoubtedly a talented narrator, but in my opinion she sounds way too old for a first person narrative from the point of view of a teenager, even though she does a wonderful job with the rest of the voices. I know not being cast well is not a narrator’s fault, but it makes a huge difference in my enjoyment of an audiobook
  • Expression: what exactly this means will depend on the book you’re listening to, but is the level of expression appropriate for the book? Do they avoid falling into melodrama? Do they provide enough emotion to make you invest in the story? If they are narrating nonfiction, do they sound interested in their subject matter?
  • Accents and vocal differentiation: Are any necessary accents believable? Can you tell one character from another?
  • Voice: Do I want to sit and listen to this person for 8-20 hours?

Some favorite narrators (a by-no-means exhaustive list):

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Mid-Week Meme – Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Wednesday June 27th please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Here’s something quick and easy for the middle of the week, just a short meme. Just copy and paste to your own post (and, you know, obviously change the answers so they’re yours and not mine).

Current/most recent audiobook:

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Simon Vance

Impressions:

This is definitely an audiobook you have to pay attention to, Mantel is a complex writer, but Vance seems to be a perfect fit as narrator, and I’m very much enjoying it.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

I have listened to a LOT of great audiobooks lately, but there are two that really stand out, and which I can’t seem to stop recommending. The first is A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, narrated by Lorna Raver, Mark Bramhall, and Nick Sullivan. The other is also a multi-narrator cast, May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy, narrated by John Keating, Barrie Krinik, Allyson Johnson, and Adam Lazarre White. I don’t necessarily have a preference for multi-narrator casts over single-narrator casts, but I think they have the ability to be all that much more impressive when done very well, and both of these were. Plus, both of these had incredibly engaging plots and wonderful writing. Win-win-win!

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

Two words: DAN STEVENS. Yes, that Dan Stevens, the one who plays Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. I’m often somewhat hesitant about narrators who are actors, but I’ve found that actors who have performed on stage, not simply in television and movies, tend to make absolutely phenomenal narrators and Stevens is no exception. I listened to him narrate Stef Penney’s The Invisible Ones and he was OMGAMAZING, bringing every single character vividly to life.

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has been in my TBL virtual pile ever since it was released, I’m not exactly sure how I haven’t listened yet – although maybe it was good to step back from the crazy hype this title received last fall. Jim Dale narrates, and he seems to be the perfect complement to Morgenstern’s magical story.

Your audio dream team (what book or author would you LOVE to see paired with a certain narrator, can already exist or not):

You know, I think the Best. Pairing. Ever. may have already been made, with Wil Wheaton narrating Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. 80s geek nostalgia plus 80s geek icon (who is even referenced in the text) = amazing.

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So You Want to Review Audiobooks… – Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Tuesday June 26th please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

Like regular book reviews, what is included in audiobook reviews varies from person to person. Some people, for instance, include release date and page number or audiobook length in their reviews. I am personally less interested in that information, so I don’t include it. I do like to know information about the publishers, both print and audio, because I find it tells me quite a lot about the book or audiobook, so I include imprint and publisher information for print editions, and for audiobooks I include all of this information, plus information on who published the audiobook. These pieces of information are definitely personal, and reasonable people can absolutely disagree on what should be included.

What I think is non-negotiable in an audiobook review, though, is some sort of information about the narrator and/or production. Who was the narrator? Did he or she fit the story? Were there studio noises that distracted you? Did the narration pull you farther into the story?

There are two reasons that this sort of information is important. First of all, other people who are considering the audiobook will want to know if the narrator and production were any good. The other reason is that an audio production can seriously influence how you feel about a book. An amazing production can elevate a mediocre book and a bad production can keep you from enjoying a great book. Even the people reading your review who will never listen to an audiobook need to know what you thought about the production, so that they can assess how the production influenced how you felt about the book itself.

Candace from Beth Fish Reads also has a great post about How to Write an Audiobook Review that you should check out if you feel that you need more pointers, or check out the responses of some of your fellow bloggers below.

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