Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore – Audiobook Review

Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore, narrated by Hillary Huber
Published in audio by Tantor Audio; published in print by Hyperion

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Synopsis:

Lost and unsure what she is doing with her life, Jiminy leaves law school in Chicago, and heads back to her grandmother Willa’s house in Mississippi. While there, she discovers that she is not the first Jiminy in the town. Her grandmother’s housekeeper, Lyn, had a daughter named Jiminy as well, a girl who was murdered with her father by members of the local arm of the Klan. Jiminy the current can’t let this case rest, and becomes determined to solve the cold case, stirring up long-buried trouble in the town in the process.

Thoughts on the story:

This plot has all the hallmarks of a story I would love. Somehow, though, it managed to be utterly unengaging. Part of the issue was that Gore simply introduced far too many characters, many of them unimportant, like Willa’s friend who likes guns and gaming consoles. She added little or nothing to this relatively slight book, and took up space that could have been better used to further develop the story of either of the Jiminys. The other issue was that none of the characters – the current Jiminy in particular – were particularly deeply drawn, leaving the whole thing feeling incredibly shallow, with no emotional investment on the part of the reader.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Hillary Huber is a highly competent narrator, and she certainly did the best with the mediocre material she was supplied. She brought Sweet Jiminy up to the point where it was fairly enjoyable, at least during the listening. It wasn’t until after I finished and reflected on the story that I realized just how mediocre it really is.

Overall

I really can’t particularly recommend this at all, but if you want or need to read it for some reason, I highly suggest you grab the audio so that Huber’s narration can improve your experience.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Audio/Print*

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.
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The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee – Audiobook Review

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, narrated by Stephen Hoye
Published in audio by Tantor Media, published in print by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Synopsis:

“The Emperor of All Maladies” is a sprawling and epic biography of cancer from its earliest mentions, through a rocky history full of misunderstandings, to the latest and greatest cancer drugs of the present.

Thoughts on the work:

Absolutely fascinating.

Almost 600 pages or 21 hours of a discourse on cancer sounds perhaps somewhat intimidating, but Mukherhjee has created a fairly comprehensive biography which can be easily grasped by laymen, but is still detailed. I cannot even begin to list all of the things I learned. The section which has stuck with me more than anything else is the discussion on carcinogens and how they actually cause cancer. My level of thought on that had always been limited more or less to ‘they do,’ without questioning the how. This is merely one example of how Mukherjee makes the reader examine what she thinks she really knows about cancer. I cannot think of a single section of “The Emperor of All Maladies” that failed to excite my interest and curiosity. Best of all, Mukherjee walks the line of intellectual and easily understandable with grace and ease.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I was not terribly fond of Hoye at the outset, but he grew on me throughout the 21 hours of this audiobook. Largely I think he just got out of the way of Mukherjee’s work, but I think that was really exactly what needed to be done. Please see my review for AudioFile Magazine for more details.

Overall:

I would absolutely recommend “The Emperor of All Maladies.” Whether you partake in print or audio should be determined by the purpose you have in reading it. If you are already a medical science-minded person and want to really get in depth with the details Mukherjee provides, that is often best served by print. However, if you are like me and are looking more for a comprehensible overview of cancer and the history of cancer, audio is a great choice to keep you from getting too caught up in technical jargon and still give a good, comprehensive overview.

Buy this book from:
Audible: Audio
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Amazon: 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.

How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson – Audiobook Review

How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson, narrated by Renee Raudman
Published in Audio by Tantor Audio
Published in Print by Plue, an imprint of Penguin

Synopsis:

Carley Wells doesn’t have a whole lot going for her. She’s heavy, not particularly good at school, and not exactly popular in rich and chic Fox Glen. Eager to make her shine for her 16th birthday: they are going to commission an author to write a novel to coordinate with her birthday party theme. The author, Bree McEnroy, has been tasked with writing a book that Carley will love, but as Carley doesn’t think much of books and reading, this may be a more difficult commission than Bree bargained for. Hunter Kay is another complicating factor. As Carley’s best friend and a huge fan of the written word he initially spends a good deal of time helping Bree and Carley’s creative process along, but it becomes increasingly apparent that Hunter’s use of alcohol and prescription drugs is a much bigger problem than he wants to let on – a revelation that has great impact on all of the people around him.

Thoughts on the story:

I am completely amazed that I didn’t absolutely hate each and every character. Everyone, with the exception of the author, Bree McEnroy, had entirely too much money for his or her own good, to the point where frivolous purchasing what the name of the game. I mean, for pete’s sake, Carley’s parents basically bought her a novelist in order to impress their friends and make her look better for colleges. What could be more ridiculous than that? Then there’s the fact that the only things most of the kids in Fox Glen seemed to care about were drugs and sex – maybe being popular and fitting in as well. Really, not much could sound less appealing to me.

And yet, Egan Gibson managed to humanize her main characters to a degree I would not expect, given their most prominent qualities. In fact, I was really impressed with how, not only did I not completely hate the characters, I actually felt sympathy for most of them. And that’s really saying something, because ‘poor little rich girl’ doesn’t usually elicit much sympathy from me. That, in my opinion, is an impressive quality in an author.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I very much enjoyed Renee Raudman’s work narrating “How to Buy a Love of Reading.” I thought that she was well cast in the part, and she gave both life and depth to her characters. And, praises be, she did not interpret them as whiny, as she might have most annoyingly done. Her narration certainly helped keep Egan Gibson’s characters in the realm of surprisingly sympathetic, instead of simply obnoxious spoiled brats.

Overall:

I was definitely nervous during the first part of this book that I was going to hate the characters so much that I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth introduced by Egan Gibson and the way that Raudman’s narration supported the story. Recommended.

Note: although the chief protagonist of the story is a high school girl, “How to Buy a Love of Reading” doesn’t come across as a YA book. I believe that adults, as well as older teens, would enjoy this story.

The audiobook has a similar cover design as the hardcover, but “How to Buy a Love of Reading” was recently released in paperback, with this new cover.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Audio
/Print*
Amazon: Audio
/Print*

This review was done with a book received from the Tantor audio.
* 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.