The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudcyz Lupescu – Audiobook Review

The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu, narrated by Xe Sands
Published in audio by Iambik Audio, published in print by Wolfsword Press

Synopsis:

From Iambik Audio:

In Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, Nadya Lysenko has built her life on a foundation of secrets. When she was sixteen, Nadya snuck out of her house in Western Ukraine to meet a fortuneteller in the woods. She never expected it to be the last time she would see her family. Decades later, Nadya continues to be haunted by the death of her parents and sisters. The myths and magic of her childhood are still a part of her reality: dreams unite friends across time and space, house spirits misplace keys and glasses, and a fortuneteller’s cards predict the future. Nadya’s beloved dead insist on being heard through dreams and whispers in the night. They want the truth to come out. Nadya needs to face her past and confront the secrets she buried. Too often the women of history have been silenced, but their stories have power-to reveal, to teach, and to transform. This is one such story.

Thoughts on the story:

Lupescu weaves together Nadya’s past and present in an almost seamless manner. It was fascinating seeing how her choices in the past affected her life in the present. The Silence of Trees was given additional depth by the addition of Ukrainian traditions, folklore, and superstition. These details make Nadya’s life and family come vividly to life.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Sands’s narration generally takes me a bit of time to get used to, because she has a much breathier style than most narrators I tend to listen to. Her sentences tend to drift off a bit, forcing the listener to really pay attention. I can see this bothering some people, but if you listen long enough to get the full force of emotion she puts into her narration you are likely to be hooked. Sands also does an amazing job with the different voices and accents in The Silence of Trees.

Overall:

The Silence of Trees is a multilayered story with equally complex narration. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Iambik Audiobooks

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

The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer – Book Review

The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

When art critic Daniel Lichtmann’s wife is found dead next to the equally lifeless body of an artist – one with whom Daniel had a somewhat antagonistic relationship, no less – it seems that Daniel’s life, too, is over. Depressed at the thought that Aleksandra, who was actually Daniel’s second wife, had had such an intimate affair with Benjamin Wind that she even died with him in a supposed suicide, Daniel is all but unable to function, and seems on the verge of losing his job. One might think that Daniel would at least be glad that Benjamin, the man who stole his wife, is dead or, if he is upset, that he might be upset at his inability to take his own revenge. Instead, Daniel almost mourns for the man as he does for his wife. It is lucky that he does so, though, because at Benjamin’s funeral Daniel meets a man claiming to be Benjamin’s grandfather. This man, Max, turns on its head everything that Daniel thought he knew about Benjamin and his relationship with Aleksandra by introducing Daniel to the secret past of Benjamin’s family.

To be completely honest, I was a bit concerned starting The Marriage Artist. Suicide, lust, and infidelity in the art world just didn’t seem like an appealing premise at the time I picked it up, but I also couldn’t put it off because the BOOK CLUB discussion was looming. What I found, though, was a haunting story of love, marriage, and the ever-present influence of the past. Daniel’s story is told in parallel with that of Josef Pick, a Viennese Jew whose story begins in the years before World War II, and who is famous for his creation of marriage contracts. Either of the stories might have been overwhelming on their own, for both are filled with longing and heartbreak, but the way they are woven together prevents either one from becoming overly depressing and builds anticipation for both stories.

The Marriage Artist is a masterful example of a dual time period narrative. The stories work together beautifully, each enhancing the other. In addition, Winer takes what could have been a depressing or unappealing story and set of characters, and works them together in such a way that they hold the reader’s interest with ease. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher for BOOK CLUB.
* 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 © 2011

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson – Audiobook Review

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, narrated by Kristine Ryan and Gerianne Raphael
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Harper, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

A whirlwind romance takes sensible Eve from her life in London doing French translations of boring, mundane things such as contracts to a lovely if somewhat decrepit old house in the South of France with a loving but secretive man named Dom. As summer fades, so too does the perfect live Eve imagined that the two of them were living together. She begins to question what happened in Dom’s first marriage that has made him the way he is today, and to feel a chill in the house around her that leads her to wonder if their lovely Genevriers is haunted.

As Eve’s story unfolds, so too does a story of her house’s recent past, centered around Benedicte, a young girl who once lived in Genevriers with her troubled family.

Thoughts on the story:

Initially the story of The Lantern unfolds slowly, it is well past the halfway mark before the reader has any idea what is meant by the title or how the stories of the two women will intersect. Luckily, the slower plot has Lawrenson’s lovely writing to fall back on. Aside from seducing the reader with beautiful language, Lawrenson is taking the first half of the book to fully develop Eve and Benedicte’s characters, as well as the secondary characters around them, giving the reader a stake in their lives when the tension begins to build in the second half the novel. And build it does. By the time I reached the halfway mark, I hesitated to leave the story, so drawn in was I; Lawrenson does a wonderful job building both investment and interest. And although I won’t spoil the ending, I will say that I found the wrap-up and explanations particularly satisfying.

Thoughts on the audio production:

As tends to be the case with books produced by Harper Audio, the audio production – and particularly the narration – was wonderfully done in The Lantern. Both Ryan and Raphael are talented narrators, but I was particularly impressed by Ryan. The character she was portraying, Eve, was a French-educated American women who at the beginning of the novel had been living in London for years, but who moved early in the book to the south of France. Certainly a narrator could have decided to work with only one or two of these linguistic heritages, but Ryan had me wondering if she had the exact same background as her character. At the base of her speech was a standard American accent, but there was a definite British inflection, with a French accent that rose and fell, depending on what exactly she was saying. It was absolutely perfectly done, more than just believable, she completely lived into her character.

Overall:

Although there is somewhat of a slow start, sticking with The Lantern is a decision that pays off completely. I am confident that Lawrenson’s lovely book would stand up quite well in print, but Ryan and Raphael’s masterful narration adds an extra degree of wonder that is well-worth experiencing.

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

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: .
* 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 © 2011

Sarah’s Key – Upcoming Film & Giveaway

Nearly three years ago I reviewed a very interesting piece of dual time period modern day/WWII historical fiction called Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Overall I enjoyed it, although I was a bit put off by some of the modern storyline, it was a bit fluffy at times and felt incongruous with the historical storyline. The historical storyline, however, I found completely poignant and heartbreaking, I still catch myself thinking about it from time to time.

Now Sarah’s Key is going to be a movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas (website | trailer). It follows American journalist Julia Jarmond whose article for a piece on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942 in France completely upends her entire world. I’m not even going to tell you about the historical part of the storyline, because I think it is best if you experience the specifics for yourself, if they are anything like the book (which they appear to be). I predict lots and lots of crying. I’m very interested to see what they do with this adaptation, if perhaps the chick lit feel of the modern day storyline will be toned down a little, which I think would only improve the story as a whole.

The movie studio producing Sarah’s Key, The Weinstein Company (twitter | facebook), is offering one lucky reader a copy of the novel as well as a movie poster. This giveaway is open internationally. Please enter on the form below by 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 21st.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly – Audiobook Review

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering
Published in audio by Listening Library; published in print by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House

If you posted an audiobook review today, Thursday June 9th, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Synopsis:

Andi should have everything going for her: well-to-do family, great school, brains, beauty, and musical talent. Somehow, though, none of that means anything since the death of her little brother, Truman; a death Andi witnessed and for which she blames herself. Andi is angry, at herself and at the way her parents fell apart after Truman’s death. Nearly flunking out of school and not particularly well liked by much of anyone but one friend and a guitar teacher, Andi is even considering suicide.

And then she gets dragged to Paris over Christmas break by her father, who has been appointed to do the DNA testing on a heart purported to be that of Louis XVII, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Furious at being dragged along by her father like a child, Andi is suddenly motivated to work on her senior project by the promise of a plane ticket home. At roughly the same time, she discovers a very old diary, written by a girl around the time of the French Revolution; a girl who, it seems, knew Louis XVII; a girl who was in political trouble.

Alexandrine’s story begins to exert the same, or even stronger, pull over Andi as a trip home, and Andi begins to lose her present troubles in those of the past.

Thoughts on the story:

Early on, Andi is very difficult to take. The reader truly wants to sympathize with her, after all, this girl witnessed the death of the brother she so dearly loved. The evidence is pretty clear that she wasn’t this horrible before Truman’s death. But really, Andi is horrible. She is rude, vindictive, and self-loathing, whiny, a difficult character to like. It isn’t until she gets to Paris that this begins to change. Donnelly has Andi on a very believable arc of growth, but that does require allowing her to continue to be awful just to the point where she strains the reader’s empathy. By the time Andi starts to grow, you are so relieved that you no longer have the unbearable urge to slap her, that you fall headlong into the book.

Perhaps the best part about Revolution is how Andi and Alexandrine’s storylines converged. Both are fascinating and engaging, and they mirror one another in not overly obvious ways – the parallels are clearly there, but Donnelly sees no need to beat her reader over the head with them. When the storylines come together, though, that is when Revolution becomes impossible to put down.

Thoughts on the audio production:

As I mentioned earlier this week, I often have trouble with the narrators of young adult books sounding too old. Emily Janice Card was probably just on the cusp of this for me. Certainly she didn’t sound quite like the seventeen year old that Andi is. After pondering it for the first 30 or 45 minutes, though, I decided she was analogous to the 30 year olds that play high schoolers in movies and sitcoms. Clearly most actual high school students don’t sound/look like that, but it is close enough that you can still suspend your disbelief.

If anything, Emma Bering sounded even older than Emily Janice Card, but for Alexandrine, that worked. Both Andi and Alexandrine had been through a lot in their lives, but in Andi’s case it turned her into a petulant child, while Alexandrine was forced to mature very quickly. With this characterization in mind, the different aged sounds of their voices worked perfectly, and the fact that Bering gave Card a voice to sound younger than worked very much in the favor of the audiobook, keeping everything reasonable for girls in their late teens.

Apart from possibly sounding slightly old, both women were amazing narrators, breathing life into their characters. I would not hesitate to listen to anything either of them narrated.

Overall

This was an amazingly well put together book. The amount of research required, as well as the necessity to create parallels between the girls that felt natural, could have resulted in an awkward info dump, but Jennifer Donnelly wrote an incredibly moving story that was expertly narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering. You can’t go wrong with Revolution in print or audio.

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

Source: 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.
Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011