Audiobook Week Giveaway – History Buffs

I want to make the audiobook love available to all readers, whether or not they are able to participate in Audiobook Week posts this week. To that end, some of our sponsored prizes are going towards giveaways, open regardless of participation.

I will be giving away an increasing number of audiobooks each day all week, each on a theme. Today’s theme: history buffs.

Atlantic by Simon Winchester, narrated by Simon Winchester (my review)
The Greater Journey
by David McCullough, narrated by Edward Herrmann  (McCullough and Herrmann discussing the book: video)
Unfamiliar Fishes
by Sarah Vowell, narrated by Sarah Vowell and others (my review)

These prizes are supplied and sent by Harper Audio and Simon & Schuster Audio and can only be shipped within the United States.

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Audiobook Week Mid-Week Meme

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Wednesday June 8th, 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/paste (and obviously change the answers to your own).

Current/most recent audiobook: I just finished A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant, narrated by Jan Maxwell and am now listening to Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace, narrated by Luis Moreno

Impressions: Well, my review of A Covert Affair is up today, so that you can read yourself, but I’m finding Leaving Van Gogh a little light ont he passion at the moment. Of course, it is still pretty early on, so it may just be ramping up, it definitely still has potential.

Current favorite audiobook: Faith by Jennifer Haigh. It was a stellar story paired with an equally stellar narrator (Therese Plummer). Seriously, you guys, it was completely amazing and I think you really, really, really, really, REALLY listen to it. It would be amazing in print too, yes, but Therese Plummer just made it phenomenal.

One narrator who always makes you choose audio over print: I’m not sure if anyone would ALWAYS make me choose audio over print, but I’m highly swayed if I see Cassandra Campbell, John Lee, Therese Plummer, Simon Prebble, Juliet Stevenson, Bahni Turpin, and/or Simon Vance.

Genre you most often choose to listen to: I consume a lot of my nonfiction in audio. I find that things like The Emperor of All Maladies work really well for me in audio, because I don’t have to worry about getting bogged down in technical specifics. If I just keep listening, I always figure out what is going on, but I am afraid if I got to them in print I would get frustrated with specifics and not get through it. At the complete other end of the spectrum, I also prefer

If given the choice, you will always choose audio when: I love, love, love mysteries in audio. Cozies I like in print, but the rest, give me audio every time.

If given the choice, you will always choose print when: If I know a book is going to jump around in time frequently I tend to prefer print, because I need the visual cues.

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A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant – Audiobook Review

A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the O.S.S. by Jennet Conant, narrated by Jan Maxwell

If you posted an audiobook review today, Wednesday June 8th, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Synopsis:

Julia Child is best known as a famous American chef cooking French food. Before she knew how to make the perfect omelet, though, she was a member of the O.S.S., an intelligence agency that was the precursor to the CIA. It was actually in this agency that she met her husband Paul, while both of them were serving in the Far East. It is that period of time, from their work in the O.S.S. through their courtship on which A Covert Affair focuses.

Thoughts on the story:

I must admit that I felt slightly misled by A Covert Affair. It purports to be the story of Paul and Julia during their time in the O.S.S., but having listened to it, that is not at all how I would classify it. In my opinion, A Covert Affair looks at the O.S.S. during the war, and its place in the McCarthyism that subsequently overtook the sanity of America. In order to avoid having a 3,000 page treatise on the agency, Conant uses the Childs as a way to frame the story she wanted to tell. The audiobook opens and closes with the Childs post-war, with Julia working on her cookbook and Paul called back to the United States so his loyalty can be questioned. In the course of the questioning, the name of their O.S.S. acquaintance Jane Foster came up over and over.

It is Jane’s story that seems to be the real heart of the book. Her life with the O.S.S. is much more closely examined, from the time she signed up, through her exploits taming wild animals, to an affair of hers and her post-war marriage. Always somewhat of a leftist, and not particularly discreet, it is no surprise that she came to the attention of HUAC during the years of the Red Scare.

A Covert Affair does then close again with the Childs and their shock at the things Jane Foster is accused of, but it seemed like they were a convenient way for Conant to sell the book, with the recent interest in all things Julia after the popularity of Julie and Julia. I admit to falling into this popularity trap, it is why I wanted to listen to A Covert Affair, and why I listened to My Life in France last year.

All that being said, however, once I got over the fact that I felt a little duped, I realized that Conant did have a very interesting story to tell. In fact, I think it is quite likely that Jane is a more interesting focus during the O.S.S. years than either Paul or Julie would be. In addition, the way the story concludes makes me glad I knew so much about Jane and made it begin to feel that I had been told the story of the Childs experience with the O.S.S., if not exactly their time there.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Jan Maxwell does a very good job with the narration of A Covert Affair. She is one of those no-nonsense narrators who avoid getting overly dramatic, but simply tells the story in front of her with poise – and with enough inflection to keep the story engaging.

Overall

I remain unconvinced that A Covert Affair‘s subtitle Julia Child and Paul Child in the O.S.S. is an accurate depiction of the contents of the book, but there is a very interesting story there that deserves an audience. If you are extremely interested in the history of US intelligence, pick this up in print so you can pore over the details. If you’re more interested in a sketch of the O.S.S. and the place of the Childs and their friends, pick it up in audio to keep the story moving engagingly. As long as you aren’t reading or listening solely for news of Julia and Paul, you won’t be disappointed.

Check out Simon & Schuster’s page to listen to a sample of the audio

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

Source: Simon & Schuster 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.
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Audiobook Week Giveaway – Thrillers

I want to make the audiobook love available to all readers, whether or not they are able to participate in Audiobook Week posts this week. To that end, some of our sponsored prizes are going towards giveaways, open regardless of participation.

I will be giving away an increasing number of audiobooks each day all week, each on a theme. Today’s theme: thrillers.

Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder, read by Holter Graham
Those in Peril
by Wilbur Smith, narrated by Rupert Degas

This prize is supplied and sent by Macmillan Audio and can be shipped within the United States and Canada.

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Sound Effects in Audiobooks – Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Tuesday June 7st, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Sound effects in audiobooks are a divisive topic.

There are audiobooks I have really adored that good friends have nearly dropped audiobooks, had them almost ruined by the addition of sound effects. Where do you come down on this issue?

Personally, I find that some, but not all, titles are enhanced by judicious use of sound effects. For example, in the above mentioned title, there were only three sound effects, although they were used multiple times :a train whistle, a violin song, and the wind. All three were major plot elements with thematic basis, and for me they enhanced the story. Similarly, the audiobook of Matched by Ally Condie occasionally used sound effects. In Matched the effects were used in a way that made me feel the other-future-ness of the storyline, which enhanced the book in a way the narrator – although talented – would not have been able to do.

I very much do not want sound effects in every audiobook I listen to, but for some titles, they work for me.

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