Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant – Audiobook Review

Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family – in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia – in order to succeed.

Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest – though increasingly unstable – weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.

Thoughts on the story:

The Borgias rival the Tudors as one of the most dramatic families of the European Renaissance. Dunant approaches the family with a very literary and somewhat reserved bent. In the early pages of Blood and Beauty I worried that I would have a difficult time getting into the book because Dunant keeps the reader very distant from her characters. I need not have worried, though. Dunant tells the story of the Borgias beautifully and with such reality and tension that even knowing the history and where all of their lives were headed, I was completely rapt.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Edoardo Ballerini. You guys. He’s fabulous. Like, he’s just really fabulous. I’ve got a serious audio crush on him now. Every part of his performance is masterful.

Overall:

Amazing. The book, the audio edition, all of it. Read it or, even better, listen.

For more information, see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks 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.

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Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis – Audiobook Review

Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Knopf, both imprints of Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. While the thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire, the British were dispatching the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic to crush the rebellion in the cradle. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them. In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other.

Thoughts on the story:

I am seriously impressed by Revolutionary Summer. It is a relatively brief book, just about seven hours in audio, but Ellis conveys a lot of information – including much that is glossed over in most accounts – in a very clear manner. He intertwines both the political and the military happenings of that summer, showing readers how they interrelate and influence one another. It is well-organized and informative, really a top-notch history.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Rudnicki has a wonderfully resonant voice and presents Revolutionary Summer clearly, adding just the right amount of audible interest.

Overall:

A wonderful audiobook and a wonderful look at American history. A great listen for 4th of July weekend.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks 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.

 

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The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark – Book Review

The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

Since Callie was little, a strange man has always visited her in her dreams. A prince, she once believed him to be. Perhaps it was this nightly visitor that inspired her love of fairy tales and Gothic literature, even the subject of her best-selling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. Thanks to her book, Callie has gotten a position at Fairwick College’s folklore department. With her new job and the new house she’s bought, the man who used to haunt her dreams is back. This time, though, the dreams are graphic, and starting to suck Callie’s energy away from her. Callie is, it appears, being haunted not by simple dreams, but by an incubus, and he’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick.

Callie’s midnight romps with her incubus get to be a bit much towards the beginning of the book, but once she starts to realize that something strange is going on and trying to figure out exactly what that is, it picks up. By the time I was about a third of the way through the book, I was thoroughly entranced (heehee) by the magic and academia. The Demon Lover reminds me somewhat of A Discovery of Witches, but with a slightly different bent.

Altogether a great start to a trilogy. 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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Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas – Audiobook Review

Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas, narrated by Bernadette Sullivan
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Crown Books, both imprints of Random House

If you’re participating in Audiobook Week don’t forget to link up your reviews to the review linky.

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Confessions of a Sociopath takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes the tick and what that means for the rest of humanity.   Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, it unveils these men and women who are “hiding in plain sight” for the very first time.

Confessions of a Sociopath is part confessional memoir, part primer for the wary. Drawn from Thomas’ own experiences; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and current and historical scientific literature, it reveals just how different – and yet often very similar – sociopaths are from the rest of the world. The book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy and is both the memoir of a high-functioning, law-abiding (well, mostly) sociopath and a roadmap – right from the source – for dealing with the sociopath in your life, be it a boss, sibling, parent, spouse, child, neighbor, colleague or friend.

Thoughts on the story:

At times M.E.’s story seems to contradict itself and I would be reminded that the narrator of this book self-identifies as a sociopath and wonder just how much I could trust her. Looking back now, I am not certain whether M.E. is a consciously unreliable narrator or if her lack of trust-worthiness has more to do with with a certain amount of self-delusion that is connected with her condition.

I found the first third of Confessions of a Sociopath to be the most interesting part, particularly the discussion of the lack of recognition of risk and all of the rotten food M.E. has eaten because the threat of food poisoning is not a deterrent. I was also interested in M.E.’s childhood and fairly incredulous when she describes it as not having been so bad, when it pretty clearly sounds terrible to me.

There is a point towards the end where the narrative begins to drag, particularly as M.E. begins to talk about all of her romantic conquests; that section goes on much longer than I was able to maintain interest. Of course, by that time I was pretty well invested in the book, so it wasn’t too big of a problem.

audiobookweekbutton zpsdb6e126c picture Thoughts on the audio production:

Bernadette Sullivan’s narration in Confessions of a Sociopath is not a delivery that would work in most audiobooks, but her dispassionate (although not without vocal interest) patter accentuates Thomas’s own style of writing and makes you truly believe you are listening to a sociopath tell you her story.

Overall:

Confessions of a Sociopath is a highly engaging – if at times very disturbing – audiobook. Recommended

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

 

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The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan – Book Review

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Published by Knopf, an imprint of Random House

In 1947, Frances Gerety needs just one more thing for the advertising campaign she’s working on. Just a signature line for the De Beers account. Hastily, in the middle of the night and desperate for sleep, Frances jots down a short phrase: A Diamond is Forever. Gerety’s story, that of a woman who is single by choice and helps create the “tradition” of the diamond engagement ring is set against the story of three different families with three very different relationships.

The Engagements is a beautifully written exploration of love, marriage, and the association diamonds now have with both of those things. All four sets of lives – Gerety and the three families – feel incredibly realistic, showcasing many of the difficulties of marriage, as well as the unique nature of any individual marriage.

I loved The Engagements. Loved it! I started reading it at a time when I only had a few minutes to read it each day and that made it a little difficult to get into, what with the four rotating story lines. Once I cleared some time and sat down with The Engagements, I flew through it and didn’t want to put it down for anything. When you take time with it, the characters come alive, their stories and their joys and pains engulf you.

The Engagements is absolutely wonderful. Very highly recommended.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

 

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