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.

 

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets

This plugin requires intervention by this site’s administrator.

To display the widget for this post, please click here.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

The Good House by Ann Leary – Audiobook Review

The Good House by Ann Leary, narrated by Mary Beth Hurt
Published in audio by St. Martin’s Press, published in print by Macmillan Audio, both imprints of Macmillan.

Synopsis:

Hildy Goode is a big fish in the little bond of her small New England town. She’s an incredibly successful real estate agent and, as such, is one of the most most successful business women in the area. Well, all this was true until a few years ago, when Hildy’s daughters sent her to rehab. Now that Hildy is on the wagon (at least, sort 0f), much of the rest of her life seems to be falling off. Her business isn’t what it once was, and she feels distant from her neighbors, these people she has known her whole life.

What Hildy needs is someone who doesn’t who doesn’t know her past, and she finds that someone in Rebecca, a woman who is new in town. Rebecca is just as lonely and isolated as Hildy, but her friendship may not be as beneficial as Hildy imagines it will be.

Thoughts on the story:

Hildy and I are in very different places in our lives, and initially I had a difficult time connecting with her. She comes across – particularly in audio with Mary Beth Hurt’s narration – as brash and not a little acerbic. As the story progresses, however, it becomes increasingly clear that Hildy’s tough exterior is a protective shell around a very vulnerable interior. Once it became clear just how broken Hildy really is, it becomes much easier to empathize with her and I found myself more and more absorbed by Leary’s very realistic story and characters.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Mary Beth Hurt captures Hildy absolutely perfectly. She becomes Hildy so much that during the period where I found Hildy prickly and so disliked her, I found that Hurt’s narration to be exacerbating the issue, as she amplifies the personality Leary creates for Hildy. As Hildy becomes more vulnerable to the listener, however, Hurt reflects that as well. It is a really masterful performance from someone who clearly really understands the journey of the character to whom she is giving voice.

For more, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

In less able hands, I might have ended up abandoning a book like The Good House, because, on the surface, it does not appear as if it would really speak to me. However, both Leary and Hurt imbue the book with so much heart and reality that I ended up incredibly impressed by their work. Recommended.

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.

 

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets

This plugin requires intervention by this site’s administrator.

To display the widget for this post, please click here.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks – Audiobook Review

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks, narrated by Matthew Brown
Published in audio by Macmillan Audio, published in print by St. Martin’s Press, both imprints of Macmilllan

Synopsis:

Budo doesn’t know any other imaginary friends who are as old as he is. He’s been alive more than five years, when most imaginary friends don’t last even a single year, perhaps partly because his imaginer Max has Asperger’s Syndrome. It seems inevitable that one day Max will stop believing in Budo and then Budo will cease to exist, but until then Budo will continue to help and protect Max.

Or so he thinks.

It turns out, that there is really only so much Budo can do to help Max, particularly when Max doesn’t want to listen to him. Budo has always been somewhat leery of Max’s aide, Mrs. Patterson, but he has no idea just how dangerous she really is, until she kidnaps Max. Only Budo knows what happened to Max, and only Budo can save him. There’s just one little problem, though: nobody can hear or see Budo except Max and other imaginary friends.

Thoughts on the story:

I know some people will be hesitant reading a story told from the point-of-view of an imaginary friend, but Budo is an incredibly inventive and engaging main character. He’s particularly interesting for the way he is stuck between childhood and adulthood. Max imagined him looking incredibly human and having more knowledge than Max himself, but there are a number of situations where Max’s own literalism and lack of context clearly impede Budo’s understanding of situations. This dichotomy works well as Budo is not overly precocious which can grate on some readers. but his occasional misunderstandings serve to remind the reader or listener of the pair’s vulnerabilities.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Matthew Brown does a fabulous job narrating Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. Budo is somewhat ageless, so the fact that he does not sound like a child is not an issue. What he did bring believably to the story was an ability to be utterly convincing when Budo is experiencing wonder, sorrow, or confusion, each of which appear in the novel with some regularity. Brown’s characterizations are spot-on and, in my opinion, make the novel even stronger – perhaps particularly for readers who are somewhat skeptical of the premise.

Overall:

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is unlike anything I have read before and I absolutely loved it. So much so, in fact, that I listened to the entire 10 hour audiobook over the course of a single day because I just could not bear to put it down. Highly recommended.

A note: although the main character is an imaginary friend, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is absolutely geared towards an adult rather than child audience. There is some strong language and some scenes and concepts would likely be scary or confusing for young children.

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

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review 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: Publisher.
* 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.
Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2012

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Audiobook Review

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Simon Vance
Published in audio by Macmillan Audio, published in print by Henry Holt & Co, both imprints of Macmillan

Bring up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall.

Synopsis:

His attempt to marry Anne Boleyn irrevocably changed England, but now Henry VIII is growing disenchanted with his wife. Her one living child is another mere girl, like his child with his first wife, Katherine, and although Anne has conceived since she has failed to carry any more babies to term. In addition to feeling cheated in the return on his investment, Henry also finds himself increasingly intrigued by shy, quiet Jane Seymour. There is only one man who the king trusts to do his bidding and make sure that his ends are achieved: Thomas Cromwell.

Thoughts on the story:

In Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel continues telling the story of Cromwell and his machinations on behalf of Henry VIII. She clearly took to heart the criticisms of Wolf Hall, particularly that it is at times difficult to follow in the myriad of “he”s. In Bring up the Bodies, Mantel frequently clarifies when talking about Cromwell, the phrase “he, Cromwell” is sprinkled liberally throughout the text. It is actually present to the extent that it seems a bit overdone, almost as if she was attempting to prove a point about her choices in Wolf Hall. Bring up the Bodies is shorter and, in general, much more accessible than Wolf Hall while still being incredibly well-written.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Simon Vance was ON with his vocal differentiation and accents in Bring up the Bodies. I was initially put off by his voices for both Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but shortly after each of them first speak, Mantel describes their voices/accents and Vance’s interpretations match perfectly.  The audio format does bring out Mantel’s “he, Cromwell” more prominently to the point where it is almost annoying, but Vance’s appealing narration smooths over that minor textual irritation.

Overall:

As much as I enjoyed Wolf Hall, I found Bring up the Bodies to be even better. I highly recommend it in general, and even more highly recommend having Simon Vance whisper Mantel’s fascinating words and stories into your ears.

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

I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review 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: Personal.
* 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.
Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2012

A Bigamist’s Daughter by Alice McDermott – Audiobook Review

A Bigamist’s Daughter by Alice McDermott, narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Published in audio by Macmillan Audio, published in print by Picador, both imprints of Macmillan

If you reviewed an audiobook 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.

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Elizabeth Connelly, editor at a New York vanity press, sells the dream of publication (admittedly, to writers of questionable talent). Stories of true emotional depth rarely cross her desk. But when a young writer named Tupper Daniels walks in, bearing an unfinished novel, Elizabeth is drawn to both the novelist and his story—a lyrical tale about a man in love with more than one woman at once. Tupper’s manuscript unlocks memories of her own secretive father, who himself may have been a bigamist. As Elizabeth and Tupper search for the perfect dénouement, their affair, too, approaches a most unexpected and poignant coda.

Thoughts on the story:

I truly loved the fact that McDermott’s main character in A Bigamist’s Daugter was an editor at a vanity press. It does date the book a bit, since this is pre-ebook revolution, which makes sense as this is McDermott’s debut novel, written in 1982, recently re-released and recorded in audio. Elizabeth is a complex character, especially in relationship to her job. Her relationship with Tupper – and her memories of her father – is a bit odd, she is a rather emotionally stunted and closed off, which makes it a bit difficult to invest in their relationship, but she remains a fairly empathetic character. There is definitely some unevenness in this debut, but the concept itself will be intriguing enough for many readers to carry the novel.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Tavia Gilbert does a wonderful job narrating Elizabeth’s somewhat neurotic train of thought. A Bigamist’s Daughter often switches between present and past, and Gilbert generally keeps the listener following where McDermott is going. Gilbert also helps nurture the reader’s empathy for Elizabeth, she might have been more difficult to relate to in print without the sympathetic narration.

For more on the audio production, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

If you do choose to pick up A Bigamist’s Daughter, try it in audio and get the most out of it with Tavia Gilbert’s narration.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

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.
Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2012