Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple – Audiobook Review

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite
Published in audio by Hachette Audio, published in print by Little, Brown and Company

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Thoughts on the story:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is charmingly told, the story of a young girl and her missing mother. There is a series of improbable events that seem like they should be ridiculous, but which instead become a lovely story that will captivate readers. 

Thoughts on the audio production:

I may be the only one who feels this way, but I don’t totally love Kathleen Wilhoite as a narrator. She is talented and does pull off the voice of a young girl well, but – in a totally nitpicky way – I find her voice almost TOO little girl-like here, and it sorts of grates on my nerves. This is a totally subjective thing, objectively she’s good, but there’s just some quality in her voice that doesn’t thrill me.

Overall:

A good production and a wonderful book, but I didn’t love the audio as much as some others do.

For more information on this book, check out 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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Life after Life by Kate Atkinson – Audiobook Review

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, narrated by Fenella Woolgar
Published in audio by Hachette Audio, published in print by Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Hachette

I have previously reviewed Life after Life in print, but in case you need a refresher, here’s the synopsis I wrote:

It is 1910 and one of the snowiest nights in memory in England when Ursula Todd is born. Unfortunately, little Ursula is not long for this world, dying almost before her mother even realizes she has been born. Luckily for Ursula, she is born again, the same day to the same family, and this time with another result. So Ursula is born time and time again, as she succumbs to the perils of early 20th-cenutry life but is repeatedly granted another chance, as if her life is building towards some grand purpose.

When I first finished Life after Life I had pretty daydreams about how much I had loved it and hoped against hope that my editor at Audiofile Magazine would assign me the audio to review (SPOILER ALERT: she did). As the weeks passed after reading it, though, I began to grow worried about the audiobook. Life after Life is huge, and has the tendency to loop back in on itself. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried. I don’t know if it was Fenella Woolgar’s narration, the production as a whole, or the source material, but Life after Life actually translated to audio quite well. Of course, I did have the benefit of already having read it once, but that was at least two months before I listened to the audio, so while I’m sure it smoothed the way, I did not necessarily remember all the intricacies of the plot.

I do think a listener who had no idea what the book was about might still be hugely confused the first time Ursula dies and the whole thing starts again, but as long as you have the basic premise you’d might as well spend 15 hours listening to Fenella Woolgar’s lovely narration – particularly her smashingly good American, French, and German accents.

For more, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Source: Audiofile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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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Astray by Emma Donoghue – Audiobook Review

Astray by Emma Donoghue, narrated by Kristine Hvam, James Langton, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, and Dion Graham
Published in audio by Hachette Audio, published in print by Little, Brown and Company, both imprints of Hachette

Synopsis:

None of  the characters in Emma Donoghue’s Astray are homebodies. Perhaps some of them would like to be, but they are all being propelled in different directions, moving to, from, and throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Thoughts on the story:

It isn’t every author who can pull off a collection of stories that begins with a piece in the second person addressed to an elephant, but Emma Donoghue rocks it. Astray opens with a story about Jumbo the elephant’s sale to P.T. Barnum, from the perspective of his keeper. The characters in the rest of Donoghue’s stories are all human, but by opening with a story about an elephant she signals just how diverse the rest of her stories will be. Indeed, the genders, nationalities, and situations throughout the rest of Astray are exceptionally varied. There are Yukon gold miners, an American slave, a young middle class British woman forced to support her brother and child through prostitution.

Each of these stories actually has a basis in the historical record. After every account Donoghue explains the inspiration behind the story, where it came from and the facts behind what she wrote. The stories vary greatly in length, but besides the general subject matter, the one thing that all of the stories have in common is the fact that they are all incredibly compelling. Of course different situations will appeal more or less to different readers, but all of the stories are well-researched, well-told, and based on fascinating true stories.

Thoughts on the audio production:

The casting of Astray is just perfect. First of all, five absolutely fabulous narrators were chosen. All five have the ability to help the listener get lost in whatever story they are telling. Second of all, the pairing of narrators and stories is perfect; never once did I feel that a narrator didn’t fit a given story. I really appreciate that Hachette Audio decided to go big with five narrators. They could have simply had a male and a female, or even just had a single narrator, but they seem to have been determined to find the absolute best narrator for each story. Dion Graham, to the best of my recollection, only narrated a single story in Astray – and a short one at that. Robert Petkoff certainly could have narrated that story, even though he didn’t quite fit casting-wise. However, a decision was made to bring in a narrator who was a better fit, even if he would only be used for that one brief story. It is attention to detail like this that takes Astray from a good production to one that is really top-notch.

Overall:

Big thumbs up all around. The collection is wonderful and the narration equally fantastic. Do yourself a favor here and pick this up in either print or audio.

For more please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

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.

Source: Audiofile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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