More Audiobook Adventures

I am now wishlisting books by narrator. I am officially addicted.

Highly recommended….

That would be “highly recommended” as in “read this NOW, dammit, your life is meaningless without this book.”

The Book Thief by Marcus ZusakThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Narrated by Allan Corduner

I avoided this for years because it’s told from Death’s point of view. I was a dumbass. It’s stunning. From start to finish. I can’t even begin to count how many times I nearly drove off the road trying to bookmark a “holy SHIT, that was good” passage.

It’s one of those books that uses language in an entirely unique way. I kept thinking the title should be “The Word Thief” instead, because Zusak somehow manages to turn seemingly simple words and phrases into characters in their own right. Just read the prologue in the sample, you’ll see what I mean.

The narration was perfect, especially Mama’s epic profanity. I can’t wait to see the movie, but I’m not sure it could live up to the audio experience.

Grade: A+

Goodreads | Audible

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Narrated by Jonathan Davis

I avoided this one because it sounded awfully pretentious. I was a dumbass. It’s enthralling. It’s one of the few “layered” literary thrillers that actually lives up to the hype, never getting bogged down in its own cleverness.

The world-building is flawless, Daniel’s coming-of-age character arc is spot-on and Fermin…. Oh, Fermin. You will never forget Fermin.

Grade: A

Goodreads | Audible

Recommended…

The Rose of WInslow Street by Elizabeth CamdenThe Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden

Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat

Camden is now one of my favorite inspie authors, and while this title isn’t as brilliant as Against the Tide, it’s got the character-driven story in a unique setting that pushes every one of my buttons.

Camden is really good at giving her characters compelling backstories that are gradually revealed throughout the story, creating believable spiritual conflicts that never devolve into any of my hated inspie tropes like Licensed to Judge, God Is My BFF or the ever-popular Magical Bible Verse.

Rosenblat is on my approved narrator list — anyone who can pull off Romanian accents like that is worth listening to again.

Grade: B

Goodreads | Audible

Can’t decide….

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer ChiaveriniMrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini

Narrated by Christina Moore

The narration was unintrusive and forgettable, but I’m frustrated by my frustration with this book because I can’t really define why it didn’t fully work for me.

Elizabeth is a sympathetic narrator, showing us how Mary Todd Lincoln came to be so misunderstood and reviled. But she was almost too sympathetic; so much of the focus is on Mrs. Lincoln and the world-shattering historical events, we never really get to know Elizabeth as a person beyond her observations of what’s going on around her.

I think the best way to describe my reaction is being cheated out of the real story — or at least the story I was anticipating.

Grade: C

Goodreads | Audible

The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahonThe Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

Narrated by Josephine Bailey

Again with the indefinable frustrations. I just never really connected with this book, most likely because I was expecting a coming-of-age story about a sheltered Victorian virgin becoming an army nurse. What I got was an angst-ridden love triangle with more than a tinge of melodrama.

It was unusual enough to be memorable, and I’m hoping the other McMahon titles in my TBR are worth reading.

Grade: C

Goodreads | Audible

Disappointed….

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine BrooksCaleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Narrated by Jennifer Ehle

Brooks’ People of the Book is one of my all-time favorites, and I assumed that her story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard — narrated by an notable actress — would be equally marvelous.  I’m wondering where my Book Anxiety went on this one.

The title is misleading — this is the story of Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of Caleb’s tutor, and it’s rather…odd.  It’s a disconcerting mix of narrative and journal entries that never really achieves cohesion, and the flat and over-enunciated retelling by Ehle felt more like a reading than a performance.

Grade: C-

Goodreads | Audible

Love's Pursuit by Siri MitchellLove’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell

Narrated by Ali Ahn

Mitchell is hit-or-miss for me, and this one from early in her backlist landed at the bottom of the “miss” pile.

The narration was serviceable, but the village full of unlikeable characters sniping at each other wasn’t entertaining enough to make me feel anything other than annoyance with the lifeless heroine.

Grade: C-

Goodreads | Audible

The White Princess by Philippa GregoryThe White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Narrated by Bianca Amato

I keep telling myself I’m giving up on Gregory, or at least this series, and this is another reminder why. As with The Kingmaker’s Daughter, the repetitive exposition killed my interest. I’ve read way too much Tudor history to put up with being hit over the head with things we’ve already been told, and shown, and told again.

And I know Richard III wasn’t really a mentally deficient hunchback, but I just cannot handle him as a love interest. Even in flashbacks. Especially with his niece, for god sake. Gross.

Grade: C-

Goodreads | Audible

3 thoughts on “More Audiobook Adventures

  1. Darlynne says:

    I tried so hard–twice–with THE BOOK THIEF audio book and it was Mama who drove me away more than anything. I can still hear her voice in my head and it’s not a pleasant experience. Maybe the movie will work for me in a way the spoken or written book couldn’t.

    • Kelly says:

      Heh – Mama sounded EXACTLY like the crabby old lady at my childhood church. Tiny little Swedish woman who rarely spoke, but when she did, it was an epic harangue of some sort. Terrifying and enthralling at the same time.

      I’m taking the kids to the movie this weekend – I’m really curious how Emily Watson is going to pull it off.

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