A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams – Audiobook Review

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams, narrated by Kathleen McInerney
Published in audio by Penguin Audio, published in print by Putnam Books, both imprints of Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

For Lily Dane, the summer of 1938 promises to be another quiet season at Seaview in Rhode Island. When the Greenwalds move into the old Burns house, though, Lily’s idyllic summer is shattered. Lily has a history with both of the Greenwalds, she and Nick Greenwald were an item seven years earlier, at the same time that his now-wife Budgie Burns was Lily’s best friend.

Thoughts on the story:

I really like the way that Williams structures A Hundred Summers, alternating between 1938 when the Greenwalds have invaded Lily’s quiet life in Seaview and 1931 when Lily, Budgie, and Nick were seniors in college and Lily and Nick fell in love. It helps maintain the narrative tension, as events in both time periods are being teased out, and the revelations of the past (1931) are generally arranged perfectly to reflect on the present (1938). There are some events that I saw coming a mile away, but Williams kept me interested in the process of how and why things happen, as well as the reaction of her characters when they learn hard truths. By the end, I was disappointed to leave Williams’s world.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Initially I was slightly confused by the jumping of the time periods in audio, but that’s mostly my fault because I don’t really pay close enough attention to dates at the beginning of chapters. I’m bad about it in both print and audio, but in audio I can’t go back and check easily, so it is more of an issue. Once I figured out the rhythm, though, it was easy to follow along. Kathleen McInerney does an absolutely fabulous job with the audio. Her voices are fabulous, particularly her voice for Budgie Burns, which was absolutely fabulous.

Overall:

A fun historical novel. I don’t think you can go wrong with this either way, but Kathleen McInerney’s expert narration adds so much that I would remiss not to urge you to listen.

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.

 

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets

This plugin requires intervention by this site’s administrator.

To display the widget for this post, please click here.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Audiobook Review

The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and narrated by Neil Gaiman
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by William Morrow, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with the protagonist, now an adult, returns to his childhood home and happens upon an old friend’s house, where he finds one of her older relatives. The longer the protagonist stays at Lettie Hempstock’s house, the more he behinds to remember his time with her. These memories are long buried, other more reasonable memories of the same time have taken their place, but the Hempstock farm brings back the truth of what happened when the protagonist was seven years old.

Thoughts on the story:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is so magical that it is scary. It begins as a simply charming story of  a sweet little boy, but strange things begin happening around him. When he tries, with his new, slightly older friend Lettie Hempstock to appease the spirit causing problems, he inadvertently creates a far larger problem. The story builds along very nicely. While I wouldn’t classify it as horror, there is one section that would nearly qualify as a supernatural horror, although it invokes more tension than outright fear, since we know the protagonist survives. The details about the Hempstocks are beautifully crafted, making this otherworldly family seem absolutely realistic. It is a short but utterly absorbing novel, if you have it in print you could probably easily read the whole thing in a single sitting.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Ah, Neil Gaiman is one of those few authors who really should narrate his own work. His narration is particularly effective since his protagonist seems to be approximately his own age in the framing pieces and his protagonist as a child is said to be loosely based on his own childhood (minus the magical creatures trying to kill him, I’m assuming). As such, his narration fits the novel beautifully and he is able to give his words a level of emotion that take them to the next level.

Overall:

The story in itself is fabulous, so I don’t think you can go wrong with The Ocean at the End of the Lane however you consume it, but Gaiman’s narration gives it that extra special something. If you can listen to this audiobook, please do.

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.

 

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets

This plugin requires intervention by this site’s administrator.

To display the widget for this post, please click here.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

Night Film by Marisha Pessl – Book Review

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Published by Random House

I can’t do this one justice, you guys. It is complex and crazy and omgwtfbbq1!1, so here’s the publisher’s description:

On a damp October night, beautiful, young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her death is ruled a suicide, but veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding her death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of Ashley’s father: cult horror film director Stanislas Cordova. Rumored to be shuttered away in a remote Adirondack estate, Cordova remains an enigma. Though much has been written about his unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. With the help of two strangers, McGrath is slowly drawn into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world as he pieces together the answers: What really happened to Ashley? Who is Cordova? And once we face our deepest fears-what lies on the other side?

The farther I get from this book, the more impressed I am. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it when I was reading it, but it is not every author who can write a book of over 600 pages and have it be such a tight storytelling experience. Scott is a sympathetic main character, and Ashley’s death is a great and believable motivating factor for the hunt that Scott and his compatriots embark upon. The whole thing is immaculately constructed, just a really well put together novel.

There is one odd thing, though, and that is the proliferation of phrases in italics. I couldn’t entirely figure out what the italics were representing, initially it seemed to perhaps be Scott’s internal monologue, but that didn’t seem to be the case. At the beginning it bothered me enough that I thought I might switch to audio, but I was concerned about how the audiobook would handle all the documents and other ephemera Scott collects during his investigation, which are presented as black and white illustrations. Eventually, though, Pessl’s storytelling took over (I read the last 1/3-1/2 of the book in a single sitting!) and I barely noticed the italics.

Night Film is a fabulous book and one that I think would likely be best enjoyed in printed due to the extensive illustrations that Pessl uses to tell her story.

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

 

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

Godiva by Nicole Galland – Book Review

Godiva by Nicole Galland
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins

The story of Lady Godiva riding through town naked to relieve her people’s unfair taxation has long been a part of popular mythology. Nicole Galland re-imagines this history and brings Godiva brilliantly to life. Her Godiva is a feisty woman, someone who is motivated not onlywere by her pride, but by loyalty to the people she loves and a strong sense of right and wrong.

I found Galland’s version of Godiva and her story to be very convincing. Both Godiva’s character and the plot itself are very well developed, so that the fact of her riding through town makes sense from both directions.

As always, Galland paints a vivid historical picture and provides a compelling view of the past.

Note: I began this book in audio and initially really enjoyed Emma Jayne Appleyard’s narration, and particularly getting to hear pronunciation of pre-Norman British names. About 1/3 of the way through there was a period of a few minutes where I could hear some mouth noises. As I had already abandoned another audiobook that day for excessive mouth noises, I had no patience to continue and switched to the print copy I already had. If the noise abates relatively quickly I think the audio would actually be the better choice because of the way Appleyard brought Godiva to life and for the aforementioned pronunciations.

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

 

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon – Book Review

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon
Published by Touchstone Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Rapunzel is happy living with her adopted mother in the forest. They help the women of the kingdom who are wronged by the men in their lives. Still, at times Rapunzel wishes to see the world beyond her home. One day as a group of men travels through the forest, Rapunzel sings out to one of them, calling him to her and causing him to fall in love with her. The man, it turns out, is the prince – and he is engaged, a fact Rapunzel only finds out after the two share a night of passion. Before long, the prince and his new wife have a daughter they have named Snow White. The prince’s marriage is not the end of the road for him and Rapunzel but it is Rapunzel and Snow White who truly have a dramatic future ahead of them.

So, this is a minor spoiler I suppose, but you can’t really discuss The Fairest of Them All without knowing this, so… Rapunzel eventually ends up at Snow’s stepmother. You know, the evil stepmother? Yeah, that’s RAPUNZEL and Turgeon’s main character. And you know what? It is a brilliant twist. Rapunzel is a hugely sympathetic main character and although her behavior towards Snow becomes traditionally malicious, Turgeon writes her fully enough that the reader can understand how Rapunzel got to that point.

An inventive and wonderful twist on a classic tale.

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

 

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013