Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver – Audiobook Review

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, narrated by Jim Dale
Published in audio by TK, published in print by HarperCollins

Synopsis:

The death of her beloved father has left Liesl helpless in the clutches of a very evil stepmother. Instead of forcing her to clean house Cinderella-style, though, Liesl’s stepmother keeps her locked in the attic Bertha Rochester-style. Surprising as it may seem, the luckiest day in Liesl’s young life is when a ghost named Po shows up in her attic bedroom. No longer male or female, the prickly Po befriends Liesl, and is able to give her information about her father on the Other Side, information that makes Liesl determined to take action to change her lot in life and her father’s lot in the afterlife.

Thoughts on the story:

Lauren Oliver’s middle grade story Liesl & Po is very cute and sweet. Liesl and Po have an interesting friendship as they attempt to overcome the barrier between the living and the dead. Similarly charming is the ardent schoolboy crush that Will, the alchemist’s apprentice, has on Liesl. It may be slightly creepy that he watches through her window from the street, but before long it becomes clear that his is a noble (or at least shy and embarrassed) love. Perhaps the best thing about Liesl & Po, though, is that it failed to simply go exactly where I thought it would. Oliver kept the story fresh, and moving in new and more complex directions, which was both surprising and refreshing.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Jim Dale’s adult women all sounded very mannish in Liesl & Po, but they were simply supporting characters, so it wasn’t really a problem. Overall his voices were relatively good, and he certainly made for an engaging listening experience.

Overall:

An enjoyable audiobook and a good palate cleanser. Recommended.

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: 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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Come in and Cover Me by Gin Phillips – Book Review

Come In and Cover Me by Gin Phillips
Published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin

Ever since discovering the work of a potter and artist, Ren has been a star of the archaeological community – although she hasn’t told anyone that it was the ghost of the artist who led her to her find. Professionally, she is a rising star, but personally she is damaged. The death of Ren’s brother Scott when she was twelve, and the ensuing distane the occurred between Ren and her parents, has permanently scarred her, making her unable to meaningfully engage in any relationship. Now Ren has been called in on a new dig with a man named Silas who believes he has discovered her artist in another location. Working with Silas will push Ren both personally and professionally, as she struggles with her feelings for him, and struggles to explain to him that her hunches on site are actually the result of ghosts showing her the way.

The first fifty pages of Come In and Cover Me work beautifully to draw the reader in. What is going on with Ren? Is she really seeing her dead brother’s ghost? Who is this artist whose work she has found, and how are the two of them connected?

From there, though, the book falters a bit. Phillips is a strong writer, but Ren is very difficult to connect with. Something isn’t quite right with her response to her brother’s death, namely her inability to make peace with it more than twenty years later. Her alleged ability to see ghosts also functions to distance her from the reader. Part of the issue is the question of whether or not she is actually seeing the spirits of the deceased, Silas obviously doesn’t think so, and it is never particularly clear to the reader. It does seem at times that the ghosts are a manifestation of her unconscious, but that returns to the question of how precisely she became so damaged that she pushes away relationships and sees things which aren’t really there.

Although Ren is a difficult character, Phillips has put together and interesting book – the archaeology is particularly fascinating – and I am interested in reading her first book, and whatever she may write in the future.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

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 Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White – Book Review

The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin

This is the third book in the Tradd Street series. I previously reviewed the first two books, The House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare Street.

As Melanie continues renovations on her historic Tradd Street house, she finds herself confronted with yet another disturbing being. This time, though, the creature is not a ghost, but the thirteen-year-old daughter that Jack never knew he had. Newly motherless, Jack’s daughter Nola is going through a difficult time – one that is not helped when the dollhouse her grandmother buys her turns out to be haunted by malevolent spirits. Now Melanie and Jack have a new mystery to solve – if they can keep from either killing or jumping one another.

It has been two years since I read the first two books in this series, but I have fond enough memories of them that I jumped at the chance to review this book when it was offered to me. Looking back at my reviews, those memories don’t’ seem to have been distorted, I liked The House on Tradd Street fairly well, and really enjoyed The Girl on Legare Street. The Strangers on Montagu Street, however, is a huge disappointment.

I am no longer amused with the flirty will-they-won’t-they relationship between Jack and Melanie, at this point Melanie seems like more of an emotionally stunted thirteen-year-old than Nola does. I’m also sort of sick of the fakey-fake “I pretty much only eat donuts, but I’m so skinny!” characters, of which Melanie is a prime example. This sort of description adds nothing to the actual development of the character, and it is just eye-roll-inducing.

Perhaps if the ghost plot line had been novel or surprising in some way, The Strangers on Montagu Street might have been saved. Alas, the secret being hidden is obvious from half the book away, and Melanie (and Nola)’s experiences with the ghosts have much less emotional impact than in the other books. Although there was a ghost terrorizing Nola, Melanie seems too distracted to do much more than mention it as an aside, which does not help the reader buy into the fear and tension.

I think the last straw, though, is that it actually ended with a “to be continued.” This is obviously a series, and the ending very obviously leaves loose threads, there is no need to spell out the cliffhanger so bluntly. It smacked of emotional manipulation, and made me loathe to go any farther in the series.

If you want to read Karen White, pick up one of her standalone novels, or stop with the Tradd Street series after The Girl on Legare Street, you won’t miss much.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Author’s publicist.

* 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 Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor – Audiobook Review

 

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor, narrated by John Telfer
Published in audio by AudioGo

Synopsis:

For reasons that will quickly become apparent in the next section, I am going to use the publisher’s description for this one:

1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge: they say Jerusalem is haunted by Mrs. Whichcote’s ghost. Frank Oldershaw claims he saw her in the garden, where she drowned. Now he’s under the care of a physician. Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation and restore him to health, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts, an attack on the existence of ghostly phenomena. But his powers of reason have other challenges. Dreams of his dead wife and Elinor, the Master’s wife, haunt him. At the heart of it all is the mystery of what happened to Sylvia Whichcote in the claustrophobic confines of Jerusalem.

Thoughts on the story:

I had an incredibly difficult time following this story, unfortunately. There are an awful lot of threads, which do all eventually come together quite nicely, but I happened to listen to this during a time when I was sick for the better part of six weeks, foggy-brained and unable to concentrate, also unable to listen consistently. It seemed to be a very well put together story, certainly well-written, but it was more complex than my more addled brain could handle.

Thoughts on the audio production:

John Telfer was a fantastic choice to narrate The Anatomy of Ghosts. Even when my brain was fuzzy on the actual intricacies of the plot, it was quite happily enjoying Telfer’s wonderful narration. Audibly distinguishing between a large group of upper-class British men seems a difficult task, but one Telfer performed admirably. With another narrator I would have been even more totally lost than I was, but Telfer gave me a hint of what I was supposed to be following and kept me happy with his gorgeous voice even when I had no idea what was going on.

Overall:

Everyone else seemed to love this book and Telfer’s narration is fabulous, so don’t let my foggy-brained failure dissuade you, but give it a try in either print or audio. When you do, though, make sure you are able to give it adequate time and attention.

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

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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