Recommended Audiobooks – Audiobook Week Discussion

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

I know that I’m the one who picked this question, but I still think it is a very difficult one!

For people who were new to audiobooks, I would probably recommend “The Help,” because I think that is a fantastic introduction to audiobooks. The multi-voiced cast is fabulous, and I think their narration really adds to the story. I’d also definitely recommend the “Harry Potter” audios as a good way to ease into audiobooks. I listened to and loved the Jim Dale versions, but I know people are crazy about the Stephen Fry versions as well.

For those already acquainted with audiobooks, I would recommend the following audios that I have loved:

  • “America, America” by Ethan Canin, narrated by Robertson Dean
  • “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfeld, narrated by Ruthie Henshall and Lynn Redgrave
  • “So Cold the River” by Michael Kortya, narrated by Robert Petkoff
  • “Paper Towns” by John Green, narrated by Dan John Miller
  • “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson, narrated by Peter Altschuler
  • “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin
  • “Bad Things Happen” by Harry Dolan, narrated by Erik Davies
  • “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris

Added:

  • “The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters, narrated by Simon Vance

I’m also loving “Feed” by Mira Grant right now, which is narrated by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein, but I guess I can’t recommend it for sure until I finish.

What audiobooks do you recommend? I’m always happy to add to my wishlist!

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – Audiobook Review

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, narrated by Peter Altschuler

If you posted an audiobook review today, Friday June 25th, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Synopsis:

When Major Earnest Pettigrew’s brother passes away, he begins to evaluate his life. A widower, his only son living off in London and visiting infrequently, Major Pettigrew is a bit lonely, but somewhat annoyed by most of the women in his town. When Jasmina Ali, proprietor of the village shop, comes to check in on him, he strikes up first a conversation, then a friendship with her. Jasmina is witty and well-read, a perfect partner for Major Pettigrew. She is also a Muslim Pakistani woman, who isn’t always seen as an equal by some of the people in their small town.

Thoughts on the story:

“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a novel about knowing when to break with tradition and when to hold tight to it; a sweet but not saccharine story of family and love. The ending was perhaps too quick and easy, but I adored the story as a whole. It was just insanely charming, and I’m not really sure what to say about it beyond that.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Peter Altschuler was the absolutely perfect choice to narrate “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.” He had this perfect British accent and played the slightly stuffy and slightly sentimental Major perfectly.

Overall:

Lovely story, and even lovelier audiobook.

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

This review was done with a book borrowed from the library.
* 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.

Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan – Audiobook Review

Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan, narrated by Erik Davies

If you posted an audiobook review today, Thursday June 24th, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Synopsis:

The mysterious David Loogan comes to Ann Arbor, Michigan to lead a quiet life and recover from his past. Unfortunately, he gets drawn into a working relationship with Tom Kristoll, publisher of the literary magazine Grey Street, which is devoted entirely to mysteries, who makes him an editor of the magazine. Oh, and he also gets drawn into a more intimate sort of relationship with Tom’s wife.

In pretty much every Grey Street story the same formula appears: ‘plans go wrong, bad things happen, people die.’  When this same formula begins appearing in Loogan’s own life, things get messy.

Thoughts on the story:

Here’s where I admit that I listened to this back in JANUARY of 2010 and am just not writing the review in June. Oops. Clearly I can’t tell you anything really detailed about the plot, since it has been six months. But here’s what I can tell you: if this book hadn’t been spectacular, I wouldn’t be bothering to write ANYTHING about it 6 months later. I love, love, loved this. It was this fun sort of gritty crime drama that had the potential to be a little cheesy but totally wasn’t.

Thoughts on the audio production:

As much as I enjoyed the story, probably the thing I loved most about this audio was the narrator. Erik Davies has this sexy sort of gritty hardboiled voice that just kept me absolutely enthralled. He was absolutely perfect for the story.

Overall:

I highly recommend this, especially in audio!

Note: Mr. Linky doesn’t seem to be working properly today, please leave links in the comments

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 borrowed from the library.
* 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 Meme- Audiobook Week Discussion

If you wrote a post on this or any of my other discussion topics today, Wednesday June 23rd, 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).

Audiobook are you currently reading/you read most recently: Feed by Mira Grant

Impressions?: LOVE. Like, hope for terrible traffic jams so I can keep listening love it.

How long you’ve been listening to audiobooks: I’ve done a little listening on and off in the past, but I started really getting into audiobooks last January or so, so about 18 months.

First audiobook you ever listened to: First one was some listen/readalong thing when I was super little. A couple of years ago I downloaded a couple of books from Librivox: “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Little Princess”. My listening fizzled there, though, when I got to bad narrators, since all Librivox narrators are volunteers. At the beginning of my REAL audiobook listening, “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova was my first title, and I listened to it on a driving weekend away with my husband before our baby was born.

Favorite audiobook title: So difficult! For sheer amazing audiobook experience, probably “The Help.” I could probably listed 10 other ‘favorites,’ though.

Favorite narrator: Honestly, I’m not really sure. I have loved Erik Davies, Robert Petkoff, and Robertson Dean, though. There are lots of female narrators whose work I think is fabulous, but I really love me some sexy-voiced men.

How do you choose what to listen to versus read? Sheer luck, really. Usually it is based on what I’m trying to fit into my reading schedule that my library happens to have in audio. I try to avoid plots with non-linear chronological structure, though, because I find I don’t do well with them.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – Audiobook Review

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin

If you posted an audiobook review today, Wednesday June 23rd, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Synopsis:

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins to undergo treatment for cervical cancer. While she was there, her doctors took a biopsy of her tumor. Although Henrietta would die soon after her treatment, her cancer cells, called HeLa, lived on. Her cells were cultivated in the lab and are still being used to this day by researchers. Henrietta’s cells have been all over the world, but her family hasn’t been able to get much of anywhere outside of the slums of Baltimore. The HeLa cells helped cure polio, but Henrietta’s family doesn’t have health care.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is a combination of Henrietta’s story, the story of her family, and Rebecca Skloot’s own journey trying to uncover the story of Henrietta and the HeLa cells.

Thoughts on the story:

I am incredibly impressed with the way Rebecca Skloot wove this story together. I am a history major; although I read the occasional Discover magazine, I am certainly not a science person. Skloot managed to relate scientific information about the HeLa cells in a way that was easily understandable, but did not sound like she was talking down to me. She also managed to talk about what happened to Henrietta and her cells in a pretty balanced manner. Since Henrietta’s doctors didn’t get her consent for the biopsy – nor did they tell her family – her story is pretty controversial. Perhaps even more so because her cells have been so incredibly beneficial to researchers around the world. Honestly, I was not sure whether Skloot thought that what happened was a good or bad thing on balance, so thoroughly did she present both sides of the story.

I have seen a few reviewers mention that they were somewhat disturbed by the way that Skloot badgered Henrietta’s family until they finally agreed to meet with her, that she might have been using them in much the same way that the scientific community used them all those years. I have to admit, the thought occurred to me as well. Sure, she was trying to do the right thing, to tell HeLa’s story, but the doctors at Hopkins – and all the researchers who used HeLa cells afterwards – thought they were doing the right thing for the world by using the HeLa cells, consent or not. Skloot did form a foundation for Henrietta’s decendents and – eventually – were happy to have her story told, but it did make me uncomfortable for some time.

Overall, though, I’m really glad that I know Henrietta’s story and I do think that Skloot told it beautifully. It brought up so many issues of medical ethics that are fascinating and chilling to contemplate, I think it should be required reading. It would actually make a great book club book, because there is so much to discuss, which can’t be said for every science-based work of nonfiction.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Cassandra Campbell was a fantastic narrator. She became Rebecca Skloot to me to the point where I was really somewhat confused when I saw a television interview with Skloot and she didn’t sound the same as Campbell’s narration. I was somewhat worried I would be less able to follow the science in audio where I couldn’t easily go back and reread, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” also contains some sections narrated by Henrietta’s daughter Deborah Lacks. In this production, Bahni Turpin – one of the amazing narrators of “The Help” – narrated these sections, making it easier to feel that Deborah was really the one talking.

Overall:

Highly, highly recommended in either print or audio. The audio rendering was fabulous, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be any less fabulous in print.

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 borrowed from the library.
* 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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