Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quickie Reviews: Audiobooks

Caleb's CrossingCaleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
I read this as an ebook last summer, but when I saw that that Jennifer Ehle (Elizbeth Bennett in BBC's Pride and Prejudice) was the narrator, I decided to give it a reread via audiobook. After getting over the fact that she, our Miss Bennett, is not actually English, I realized that her voice is extremely well suited for the period this novel is set in. Brooks takes the reader into life in Colonial Massachusetts with this well researched and well written novel.. Either in print or in audio, this is an excellent read. 4 stars

The PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Another historical fiction novel set partially in Massachuesetts, this time in World War II. The story follows three women- the postmistress and the wife of the town doctor in Cape Cod; and a radio broadcaster working in London during the Blitz. If you are interested in reading this book, go for the audio. This is written where the doctor and his wife may be listening to the radio broadcast coming in from London, and by the time the broadcast finished, the reader is now in London with the broadcaster. These radio elements really do well in the audiobook. low 4 stars

Lady Macbeth: A NovelLady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King
I enjoyed this novel based on the life of Lady Gruoch of Scotland, who went on to wed Macbeth, both of whom were inspiration for the characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth. This novel actually gave a little background for A Kingdom's Cost, which I read last year. That novel featured Isabella MacDuff, whose family had the right to crown the Kings of Scotland. In Lady Macbeth, we learn that the right of crowning was bestowed on Lady Gruoch and her descendants. The historical references, such as this and the ties with the Vikings I found informative. The author also made Lady Gruoch a bit of a more modern personality, which I enjoyed. She had an independent streak, but done in a way that fit the period. But for as long as the book is, some portions are covered at length, while others are quickly skimmed over, such as the period of her life after Macbeth's death. 4 stars

The Bonesetter's DaughterThe Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
This was my first Amy Tan book. The book started with Ruth talking over her job, her husband and his children from a previous relationship, and problems with both. Ruth next goes into the problems she has with her mother, Luling, who appears to be showing signs of dementia. While Ruth's dealings with her mother touched some buttons with me regarding my grandmother, this sort of relationship drama common in contemporary set novels is the reason I avoid the contemporary genre. But we next get taken into Ruth's mother's history: how her parents met; her childhood in China with the discovery of the Peking Man fossils; and World War II, leading to her imigration to San Francisco. I found the characters and story more interesting in the flashback portion of the novel. 3.5-4 stars

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
This book lived up to the hype. Well written, with good characters and interesting because it deals with tough subject matter. The novel is told from the perspective of a five year old boy who has never been outside of Room. It gives an unusual and 'clean' perspective to the events. But at times, Jack's naive five year old views and selfishness can be maddening (author's intent I believe). Each of the main parts are read by a different actors, who did a fine job on this reading. 4 stars

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I don't remember how I first heard about this, but somehow I ended up on an article either by Susan Cain, or referencing one by her, and I ended up on her website in the fall. I really liked what I read there, and was eagerly waiting the months until the January release of this book. I have always been really "shy", quiet, doesn't talk to strangers, or people kind of know. Never liked parties, even family ones. Listening to this, it just really resonated for me. She was describing me, perfectly. In reading this, I determined that I am more introverted than shy.4.5 stars

The Language of Flowers: A NovelThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I always had an interest in the Victorian period's interpretation of flower meanings, so I decided to give it a listen. I really enjoyed listening to this one. It has dual narratives. The story is told by the protagonist, a girl abandoned at infancy and who grew up in the foster care system: half is remembrance of her life around the age of 8-9; the other half when she emancipates from the foster care system at 18. Victoria's stubbornness is a little frustrating, but she bears her hard life as best she can. 4 stars

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Fallen by Lauren Kate
I mostly checked this out becuase it is set in Savannah, Georgia, so 1) It worked for Where are you reading? and 2) I went to school in Savannah. Unfortunately the novel is set in a boarding school with no off campus priveledges, so she didn't go mentioning much of the area. I was enjoying the first half- three quarters of the story, but once it reached the climactic events, the story felt rushed. Not just because the action picked up, but as compared to the pace of the beginning. Not a bad read, I'd consider continuing the series if I see it at the library. 3.5 stars

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu
I had been wanting to read Legend since I first saw the early reviews coming out. It was highly rated, and boy did it live up to the high expectations. A slightly post-apocalyptic dystopian set in Los Angeles, I could really see the world Lu created. It has both strong and smart male and female leads, was performed well. 4.5 stars

Finnikin Of The RockFinnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
This has been the best novel I have read so far this year. It is a young adult fantasy novel, more so for older teens (there is a scene with prostitutes, from what I remember offhand). The royal family of Lumatere has been murdered so that an imposter can assume the throne, and soon after a curse falls on the country, trapping some people within the borders, and some outside of them. For ten years, Finnikin and his mentor have wandered the other countries, keeping track of their people. Meeting Evanjalin, they start on a wild journey to search for the heir prince, who is rumored to have survived. Not only is the novel a great read, but the audiobook is fantastic as well. Jeffrey Cummings, who reads the novel, does a brilliant job of performing all of the characters. He really portrays the emotions of the characters very well. If you like the fantasy genre, you must check this one out. 5 stars

The Cat's TableThe Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
The audiobook of this is narrated by the author. His voice is very quiet, and nearly monotone. So much that I would find myself zoning out while listening to this in the car. I would also have to really crank up the volume, and I still had trouble hearing it over the car noise. The story is largely character driven, with the narrator recalling his voyage from southeast Asia to England as a young boy, and other events related to the people he met on the voyage. There's not much of a plot, as nothing very exciting happens aboard the ship. Listening to this, and my inability to get into The English Patient movie (based on another of his novels), I think this is not the author for me. This also reinforces my tendancy to not care much for character driven novels. 2.5 stars

1 comment:

The Reader's Refuge said...

I recently bought Legend -- I'm glad to know it's good! I'll have to check out Finnikin of the Rock. I enjoy fantasy, and I need a new audiobook to listen to. Thanks for sharing! :)