Snapper by Brian Kimberling – Audiobook Review

Snapper by Brian Kimberling, narrated by Macleod Andrews
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by TK

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Nathan Lochmueller studies birds, earning just enough money to live on. He drives a glitter-festooned truck, the Gypsy Moth, and he is in love with Lola, a woman so free-spirited and mysterious she can break a man’s heart with a sigh or a shrug. Around them swirls a remarkable cast of characters: the proprietor of Fast Eddie’s Burgers & Beer, the genius behind “Thong Thursdays”; Uncle Dart, a Texan who brings his swagger to Indiana with profound and nearly devastating results; a snapping turtle with a taste for thumbs; a German shepherd who howls backup vocals; and the very charismatic state of Indiana itself. And at the center of it all is Nathan, creeping through the forest to observe the birds he loves and coming to terms with the accidental turns his life has taken.

Thoughts on the story:

Snapper is a lovely, contemplative little novel. It basically consists of Nathan musing about Indiana: his childhood, his job studying birds, and the people that surround him (good, bad, and ugly). I’m not sure how much Snapper would appeal to those who have not spent considerable time in Indiana (although anyone who has clocked significant time in small towns might understand pretty well), but I was born there and still have family in the Indianapolis area, so Nathan’s mixed feelings about the state rang very true to me. With anecdotes ranging from humorous to heartfelt, I fell a little bit in love with Nathan and his Indiana.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Macleod Andrew is a new-to-me narrator, but in my opinion he does a great job with Snapper. This is one of those lovely first person performances where the narrator becomes the main character and you sort of forget that this is fiction and a bunch of people had to work to make it happen. Very good.

Overall:

One thing to note about Snapper is that it is the perfect length – just about 6 hours in audio. It cuts off exactly where it should

For more information, please see the publisher’s website.

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 Boleyn King by Laura Andersen – Book Review

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

What if Anne Boleyn had given Henry VIII the son he craved? She might never have been accused of treason and incest, she, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey might have kept their heads, and neither of Henry’s daughters might have ever become Queen.

It is against this backdrop of a history that never was that Laura Andersen places The Boleyn King. At 17, Henry IX, known to those close to him as William, is itching prove himself to his advisers and his country. Unfortunately, there are many who still dislike William’s mother, not least Protestantism she brought when Henry broke with the church to marry her – the Protestantism that William and England still practice. For many, Mary is still Henry’s rightful heir, and William, Elizabeth, and their two best friends have inadvertently uncovered what may be a plan to put Mary on William’s throne. Will they be able to unravel the plot in time to stop what is coming? 

The Boleyn King is a fun exercise in ‘what ifs.’ I wasn’t really expecting the thriller-esque plotline, but it was fun, engaging. And really, it makes sense: there is less open resentment for William than for the parade of queens that took the English throne after the death of Henry’s historical son, Edward, but the changes in English religious wife brought on by Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn leaves its scars on the populace regardless. Recommended.

For more information, check out the publisher’s page

Source: Publisher

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Inferno by Dan Brown – Audiobook Review

Inferno by Dan Brown, narrated by Paul Michael
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Doubleday Books, both imprints of Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

Thoughts on the story:

A classic Dan Brown, and, I believe, vastly superior to The Lost Symbol. Inferno has a pretty good pace, although it somehow manages to feel less high-stakes that DaVinci Code and a truly improbably number of things happen over the course of the day. And, of course, because the protagonist is Robert Langdon we hear about his damn tweed coat and Mickey Mouse watch a ridiculous number of times, the watch even though Langdon LOSES IT before the first scene. Despite its obvious problems, I enjoyed Inferno more than Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol. I think it was largely the literary and Italian Renaissance art themes that really made it for me. Although, I will note, that at least twice I figured out very obvious clues before our celebrated symbologist and art historian did, based on nothing more than what I remember from AP European history about 15 years ago. That was sort of ridiculous. And frustrating. No way these things should have puzzled Langdon, so I would be distracted by my frustration with him until he’d finally get it.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Audio is SO the way to go, here. Paul Michael is a new-to-me narrator and in another book I might not be blown away by his narration, but he totally worked for me to get inside Robert Langdon’s head. He seemed so much more like how I would have imagined Robert Langdon than Tom Hanks ever did. He was also surprisingly good at giving characters different voices, a skill I didn’t expect based on something in his voice. I think the main reason why this worked really well, though, is that Brown is more of a storyteller than a wordsmith. In audio I could mostly ignore the short chapters and the occasionally awkward or repetitive phrasing; I could just sit back and be washed into the story. And you know what? I ended up listening to the whole 17 hours of it in about 2 days, which for me is unprecedented, so yeah, the audio really worked here.

Overall:

Inferno would be a really great road trip audiobook this summer. Also recommended for yard work or the gym.

Learn more about this book at the publisher’s website.
Source: Review copy.

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 Smart One by Jennifer Close – Book Review

The Smart One by Jennifer Close
Published by Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Okay, so, I love Jennifer Close’s The Smart One. In fact, it was my Bloggers Recommend pick for April. First, a little about the book (from the publisher):

Weezy Coffey’s parents had always told her she was the smart one, while her sister was the pretty one. “Maureen will marry well,” their mother said, but instead it was Weezy who married well, to a kind man and good father. Weezy often wonders if she did this on purpose—thwarting expectations just to prove her parents wrong.

But now that Weezy’s own children are adults, they haven’t exactly been meeting her expectations either. Her oldest child, Martha, is thirty and living in her childhood bedroom after a spectacular career flameout. Martha now works at J.Crew, folding pants with whales embroidered on them and complaining bitterly about it. Weezy’s middle child, Claire, has broken up with her fiancé, canceled her wedding, and locked herself in her New York apartment—leaving Weezy to deal with the caterer and florist. And her youngest, Max, is dating a college classmate named Cleo, a girl so beautiful and confident she wears her swimsuit to family dinner, leaving other members of the Coffey household blushing and stammering into their plates.

As the Coffey children’s various missteps drive them back to their childhood home, Weezy suddenly finds her empty nest crowded and her children in full-scale regression. Martha is moping like a teenager, Claire is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours, and Max and Cleo are skulking around the basement, guarding a secret of their own. With radiant style and a generous spirit, The Smart One is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the place where we return when things go drastically awry: home.

And here’s what I had to say about it:

Weezy’s parents always said that she was “the smart one,” but it is hard to feel brilliant when all three of your adult children have returned to live at home. In her sophomore novel, Jennifer Close creates a vivid and realistic portrait of a not always functional, but still loving, family and explores both the parent–child relationship and adult sibling rivalries.
Jennifer Karsbaek, Devourer of Books
Pre-order now: Indiebound | Amazon

Editor’s Pick – I just love Close’s ability to insert laugh-out-loud moments in a book otherwise filled with some very serious life events. It is this balance that makes her work truly special. – Jen

A few additional thoughts:

  • As someone who also loved Close’s debut novel, Girls in White Dresses, one of the appeals of The Smart One for me was that it seemed to be the next step in adulthood. In Girls, everyone was pretty much young and single and out on her own. In The Smart One, Claire starts in this place, but ends up taking a step that many would consider backwards: moving back in with her parents.
  • Weezy’s mother is wonderful and horrible at the same time. She says some pretty terrible things, but she is totally the elderly relative that you either have in your own family or have met at a friend’s family dinners. She is so life-like that you can’t help but laugh in recognition.
  • If you read Girls in White Dresses, know that this is a bit more of a conventional style. The point of view switches from character to character, but in a more traditional way, less jumping around.

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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Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss – Audiobook Review

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, narrated by Scott Brick
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Random House

Synopsis (partial synopsis from the publisher):

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed—in a technique adapted from tobacco companies—to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users”—as the companies refer to their most ardent customers—are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

Thoughts on the story:

The one thing I’m really still stuck on from Salt, Sugar, Fat is the part where Coca Cola refers to people who consume a lot of its product as “heavy users.” The drug analogy continues throughout much of the book, as Moss explores our physiological and cultural addictions to  the titular ingredients. Moss does a fabulous job covering exactly how we got to where we are and just why it is so problematic. I was continually astounded by the prominence of Moss’s sources in the food industry; he clearly did his research and it is evident in the wealth of very well-presented information in the book. There was only one thing I did not love about Salt Sugar Fat, and that was how much my OCD self was bothered by the fact that  these building blocks of processed food are discussed in a different order than the title: sugar, fat, then salt instead of salt, sugar, then fat. It drove me a little crazy, particularly during section changes, but Moss’s astounding work still sucked me back in immediately

Thoughts on the audio production:

Scott Brick, I have finally listened to you! Besides Simon Vance, Scott Brick is the only audiobook narrator I know who has his very own superfan. Audible has close to 500 results for Scott Brick’s name, but despite the number of audiobooks I have listened to over the last few years, I have never heard him until now. Nonfiction narration is generally not what inspires superfandom, but Brick does a wonderful job with Salt Sugar Fat. Because Moss inserts himself in his research from time to time, the book often has an almost conversational quality (if you have conversations with REALLY SMART people who know an awful lot about nutrition and food science), and Brick translates this wonderfully straight into the listener’s ear. He does that thing where you forget that you are listening to a narrator speak someone else’s words and tricks you into believing that he is the author and he knows ALL THESE THINGS AND MORE. Really top-notch.

Overall:

General nonfiction caveats apply here: if you want to really study the material and be able to easily go back and reference things, you are probably best served either with print or a combination of print and audio. However, if you just want to be exposed to Moss’s research, the audio production of Salt Sugar Fat is wonderful and one I highly recommend.

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

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.

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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