Crossed by Ally Condie – Audiobook Review

Crossed by Ally Condie, narrated by Kate Simses and Jack Riccobono
Published in audio by Penguin Audio, published in print by Dutton Juvenile, imprints of Penguin

I previously reviewed the first audiobook in this series, Matched.

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky – taken by the Society to his certain death – only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander – who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart – change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Thoughts on the story:

So, the reason I used the publisher’s description here is that nothing much really happens during Crossed. Yes, Cassia searches out Ky in the border provinces, but even as they are both living much more difficult lives than they ever did in the heart of the Society, and yet it seems that nothing occurs. Basically the entire thing is a set up for the third book in the trilogy. What Crossed does have going for it, though, is that we learn a great deal about Ky’s history, and about just how deep the uprising against the Society really goes. This set up is promising for Condie’s next book, however.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Kate Simses is still a great casting call for Cassia. She is young-sounding enough to be convincing as a teenager, and conveys the teenage drama well without making it overly angsty. I was somewhat less impressed by Jack Riccobono. He is ever so slightly old-sounding for Ky and is a bit ridiculous when trying to give voice to Cassia during Ky’s sections. Simses does a much better job doing voices for the boys surrounding Cassia.

The sound effects in Crossed are not used as judiciously as they are in Matched. They are nearly absent in Crossed until a point near the end where music is used for no apparent reason. It is quite odd, really.

Overall:

I have to hope that the last book in this trilogy will be told exclusively from Cassia’s point of view, so that Kate Simses can narrate the entire audiobook. Other than this, Crossed was very much the transitional book for this series and, although it was not nearly as strong as Matched, it is setting up what will hopefully be a very interesting conclusion. If you liked Matched, you probably need to read this before the third book is released.

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

Iā€™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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Among Others by Jo Walton – Book Review

Among Others by Jo Walton
Published by Tor Books, an imprint of MacMillan

Once upon a time, Morwenna – known as Mori – did magic. She and her twin sister Mor played with fairies and closed down factories by simply each throwing a flower into a pond. Now Mori alone is in England with her all-but-unknown father and his three spinster sisters who, unsure of what to do with her, send her to a local boarding school. Here she doesn’t know anyone, and the fairies barely speak to her, it is not like Wales at all. Her loneliness is more than just being in a place without friends, though, it is also the memory of what she left behind, and what she will never quite be able to recover.

Among Others is an incredibly engaging book. What is perhaps most interesting, is the confluence of science fiction and fantasy. With Mori’s belief in her ability to do magic and her discussions with fairies, the story itself is absolutely fantasy – or, also plausibly, Mori’s disturbed childhood has caused her to live in a fantasy world, and she is an unreliable narrator of the things happening around her – but much of what informs her daily life is her love of science fiction novels.

Fans of classic science fiction – Among Others is set in the 1970s – will particularly enjoy Mori’s thoughts about what she is reading, and the scenes set in her science fiction book club at the library. The truly magical thing about Among Others, though, is the fact that Walton manages to so thoroughly infuse her book with science fiction without alienating those readers who don’t have much familiarity with the genre (and I would know, considering my experience with classic science fiction is limited to a single Heinlein novel read in high school).

Among Others is a lovely, complex coming of age novel, and one that I highly recommend.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

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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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Audiobook Thoughts (Sound Bytes)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, narrated by Simon Prebble
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio

Synopsis:

Yeah, I’m guessing most of you actually already know the basic idea behind A Christmas Carol.

Thoughts on the story:

I don’t know you guys, I mean, whoa, Dickens sure isn’t subtle about his MORAL. But on the other hand, even in the most fun adaptations, A Christmas Carol has a very obvious MORAL, so I was less bothered than I might otherwise have been, solely because I 100% expected it. That being said, I’m not sure I actually particularly enjoyed A Christmas Carol, I think it is much more entertaining with Muppets or animated Disney characters.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Simon Prebble is great, he gives a solid performance, and I have no qualms about recommending him.

Overall:

If you’re in the mood for A Christmas Carol, you could do much worse than this version, I think overall it is a bit easier to take in audio than in print.

If you want to hear more of my thoughts about A Christmas Carol, they were the subject of the latest What’s Old is New Classics Rip.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio*
Indiebound: Audio*

I will be on hiatus through the end of the year, please feel free to link up any audiobook reviews during that time. 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.

Tethered by Amy MacKinnon – Book Review

Tethered by Amy MacKinnon
Published by Broadway, an imprint of Random House

Three years ago, a young, unidentified girl was found sexually abused and dead, another body for Clara to prepare. Clara, who survived her own childhood only by the grace of a God she no longer believes in. The one place Clara was able to find solace as a child was in the funeral home where her mother’s wake was held, although she still had to hold herself at a remove from those around her to function, touching only the dead. When a young girl named Trecie begins hanging around the funeral home Clara’s first reaction is annoyance, which is quickly replaced by worry, when it becomes apparent that Trecie may be involved with the same people who murdered Precious Doe.

Tethered has some hallmarks of a mystery: the main character becomes involved to a certain degree with a law enforcement officer and tries to solve a crime before someone else gets hurt. What Amy MacKinnon has done with Tethered, though is so much more. She has created a beautiful literary and psychological novel with the interest value of an extremely compelling mystery. Clara’s character is particularly interesting. Her own childhood abuse gives her a rich, complicated persona, which lends depth to the storyline. Equally deep and deliciously complicated is MacKinnon’s writing.

I’ve often thought there’s something reptilian about Mike’s eyes. No, not the coldness, it’s more about the layers. There’s a certain ambiguous quality to them. Like an alligator before it slips underwater, hiding its intent beneath the transparent shield that covers the cornea, allowing the animal to see as it protects itself from harm. It’s the same with Mike.

Tethered is a beautiful, occasionally painful novel and an absolutely compelling read. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

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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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.
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