RSS

Tag Archives: audiobook

Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (with audiobook and book club notes)

Memoirs of an Imaginary FriendMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

My 2013 reading year is off to an amazing start in January with this book that really captured my imagination.

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Budo is Max’s imaginary friend. But though only Max can see him, he is real. He and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they’re gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends – four years – because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. But Max is perfectly happy if everything is just kept the way it is, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Unfortunately, something out of the ordinary is going to happen – and then he’ll need Budo more than ever…

I loved this book and its world of imaginary friends. That world is what makes this book sparkle and shine.

The realistic portrayal of a little boy who isn’t like the other kids his age (probably somewhere on the autism spectrum) is the strength of this book. The portrayal was respectful, but most of all real.

The plot (and the adventures that Max and Budo have (and bad things do happen in the book)) keep it compelling, and provide a way to show the characters. This would have been enough to carry the book on its own, but it doesn’t have to.

I’ve been debating what more to say about the book, but I think I’ll just leave it at that.

I will say that this book captured my imagination because in part due to my daughter’s incredible world of imaginary friends, which I wrote about earlier.  As I mentioned there, her imaginary friends had friends that were not her friends.  After reading this book, I will forever envision them as the imaginary friends of other children around us.  (Her imaginary friends also had imaginary friends.  And those  had imaginary friends as well).  I’m hoping all those imaginary friends are together now, somewhere.

Audio Notes:

Sound Bytes @ Devourer of Books

For more audiobook reviews, check out Sound Bytes.

Narrator: Matthew Brown did an excellent job with the narration.  I tossed around whether I would have liked the narrator to sound more like a child (the book is told from the perspective of the imaginary friend of a third grader, who may be a little older than him, but not much).  I decided that it wasn’t necessary.

Production:  No issues.  The audiobook  features a wonderful interview with the author and one of the characters in the book, who is a real person.

Print vs. Audio?  I loved the audio, but I think I would have loved it in print as well.  Read whichever is more convenient, with a slight nod toward audio on this one.

Book Club Notes:

book clubI read this book for book club after suggesting it to the group, so I was really hoping everyone would like it.  Everyone that read it did enjoy it, I’m happy to say.  One member had trouble suspending disbelief on the imaginary friend acting on their own, but most people had no trouble with that in regards to the book, although I’m probably the only one prepared to believe it in real life!

More importantly for book club, we had a good discussion, much of which revolved around the portrayal of Max and how he reacted to the world and the world reacted to him.  Out of the six people that read the book, two are parents of a boy with issues not exactly like Max’s but with enough in common to add to their appreciation of his portrayal, and one teaches children like Max.  They confirmed my opinion that the character is very well thought out.

I would absolutely recommend this book for book club reading and discussion.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2013 in books, reviews

 

Tags: , , , ,

Review: The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James (audiobook)

Cover: The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa JamesMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed it, but I think many romance readers will like it even more than I did.

Summary via Goodreads:

How can she dare to imagine he loves her…when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess ?

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke’s passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime…until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding; it’s scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that for a man with the soul of a pirate, All’s Fair in Love—or War.

You see, pirates simply don’t appeal to me. If there ever was a pirate that would, I’m sure it would be this one. He has a sense of morality, and he sounds attractive enough (and during his time away as pirate, he grew several inches in every direction. That’s right, he even grew taller). I just like my guys nerdier, I guess.

I very much enjoyed the first part of the novel, as their friendship is set up, as each character is introduced, and as the “Ugly Duckling” connection is made clear.

Even the beginning of the marriage, the reasons for it, and the clear picture they are both too young for it, played well for me.

The reasons for their separation, and what they both did worked as well (as part of the story.  Not as something I’d want to experience). It all worked right up until the whole pirate thing.

I did enjoy Theo’s journey, particularly when taken with a bit of fairy tale shine on it. Everything that happened had its roots in who she was at the beginning of the book. No magic wands were employed, she was simply able to become the beautiful swan she’d always been– not by becoming a conventional beauty, but by developing her own style.

But James? Well, I think there are many readers that will enjoy his journey far more than I did.

As always with Eloisa James, the writing was fantastic.  As usual, I’ll look forward to her next book.

Audio Notes

Sound Bytes @ Devourer of Books

For more audiobook reviews, check out Sound Bytes.

Narrator: Susan Duerden had a very pleasant voice that fit the story very well.  She did a great job with the book.

Production: No issues, no extras.

Print vs. Audio: I do think that Susan Duerden’s narration adds to the fairy tale feel of the book.  However, it has the same potential issue for me as most romance audiobooks do– I feel very strange listening to the sexy scenes in public.  There are only a few in this particular book, and the timing worked out fine for me this time.  That’s the only hesitation I have in recommending audio as the best way to consume this particular book.

I received this book for review from the publisher.  Thank you, Harper Audio!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 28, 2012 in books, reviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Cover: Lets Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson(With audiobook and book club discussion notes)

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Not as much as I love the author’s blog, but close. What comes through both places is how wacky the author is, but also how many challenges (internal and external) she has to face.

Synopsis via Goodreads:

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments-the ones we want to pretend never happened-are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.

In talking to my book club about the book, I suspect that already knowing Jenny through her blog really helped me at the beginning of the book. I came in already invested in Jenny’s life, and I had some idea where this collection of odd anecdotes were taking me. I think I would have enjoyed them even if I didn’t, but I’ll never know for sure.

It really is when Jenny hits adulthood that the book hits its stride. I’d have to say that starts with the chapter on drugs. I have no personal experience to compare it to, but I felt like I was experiencing her very own reality.

From there, it was a bumpy but engrossing ride. I really liked the balance between the funny stories and those that showed the other dimensions of her character, the echos of the past she had left behind in the future she built for herself.  I like stories like her telling how she and her HR coworkers dealt with men who e-mail photos of a certain part of their anatomy.  I liked the look at how a person can keep going, even after completely breaking.

If swearing bothers you, avoid this book. If you aren’t sure about the humor, read a couple of her blog posts (http://thebloggess.com/). If they don’t appeal to you, give this book a miss. If they have you rolling with laughter, rush out to pick it up.

Audiobook Notes

Narrator: Jenny Lawson narrates the book herself, and it is hard to imagine it any other way.  She has an interesting voice, and brings her own personality to the reading.   She does have a very definite accent (Southern/Texan), and some interesting pronunciations, but for me, that just added to the charm.

Production: With the author as the narrator, all things are possible.  She makes minor changes (referring to “this audiobook” rather than “this book”, and works footnotes into her reading), she sings the chapter titles, and generally makes it into an almost conversational experience.  The downside is that you don’t get the photos, the proof that these things really did happen.  Luckily, the author has loaded them on-line.

Print vs. Audio? I loved Let’s Pretend This Never Happened in audio, and would strongly recommend this format for this book.

Book Club Notes

I’m the one that suggested this book for our group to discuss, even though I wasn’t sure everyone would enjoy it.  Still, I was expecting that most people would, and was quite surprised when pretty much no one had finished the book (although there were some reasons involving timing of the meeting that impacted that), and that pretty much everyone else had trouble with the first section of the reading, although several people found it improved for them once they got past the author’s childhood.

Out of the 5 of us at the meeting, one had barely started, two were less than halfway through, one was close to finishing, and I’d finished and even re-listened to parts of it.  This made discussion difficult, particularly since I think that the childhood sections are most interesting in how they influence her as an adult, and we simply didn’t have enough of us that had reached that point.

I still think this could be a good book club selection, but I can’t give any evidence to support that based on our meeting.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Book Club, books, L, reviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Review: A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James (audiobook)

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This one didn’t work all that well for me. Eloisa James is an excellent writer, but I just didn’t like the characters, and I didn’t find their antics entertaining.

Summary via Goodreads.com:

It is whispered behind the fans of London’s dowagers and in the corners of fashionable ballrooms that scandal follows willfully wild Lady Beatrix Lennox wherever she goes.

Three years before, the debutante created a sensation by being found in a distinctly compromising position. Now, the ton has branded her as unmarriageable, her family has called her a vixen, and Beatrix sees no reason not to go after what — and who — she wishes.

And she wants Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, the handsome Earl of Spade. Beatrix, with her brazen suggestions and irresistibly sensuous allure, couldn’t be more different from the earl’s ideal future bride. Yet Beatrix brings out a wildness in the earl he has tried to deny far too long. Still, he’s not about to play love’s game by Lady Beatrix’s rules. She may be used to being on top in affairs of the heart, but that will soon change.

I’ll start out by saying this: The complexity of the relationships in this book were fun to follow– there was a lot going on, and the intricacies were well constructed. I loved Arabella, even if I didn’t agree with, well pretty much anything she did. I hated Esme’s mother exactly as much as was intended. The writing was fantastic, as I expect from Eloisa James.

I love character-driven books. In particular, that’s what i enjoy about romance novels– the ones I enjoy give me a chance to explore the world of another person. For this to work for me I have to like or identify with the character. In a different sort of book, I can deal with an unpleasant heroine, but not in a romance.

As you can guess, I didn’t like the main characters here.

I was almost completely neutral on the only real male character, Stephen Fairfax-Lacey. I didn’t hate the other characters. They’d have been entertaining enough secondary characters, if I’d had a main character I could relate to. In fact, if you like a little more edge to your romance heroines, you might well love this one.

But Beatrix uses her sexuality as a weapon, and pursues an encounter that will undermine a friendship. Esme orders away the man she loves, and then pouts because he actually goes. She undercuts the arrangements she made with a friend to salvage her own pride. And so on.

In the end, I’m certain it isn’t a bad book, just one that didn’t completely work for me. In the ways it didn’t follow the usual structure of a romance novel, it may not appeal to some, where others may appreciate the way that it breaks out of the usual patterns.

Audio Notes

Sound Bytes @ Devourer of Books

For more audiobook reviews, check out Sound Bytes.

Narrator: Justine Eyre was the narrator for this book.  I think she did a good job, but since I didn’t like the characters, it made it hard to like her.

Production: No problems, no extras

Print vs. Audio?  I suspect I personally would have done better in print with this one, although not by much.  I can distance myself from characters I don’t like better when they aren’t in my head.  Depending on where I am when I am listening, I can find the steamy scenes… awkward, and they are much harder to skim through (and this was a very steamy read).  But there aren’t any problems with the audio production that would lead me to recommend against it, just know your own tastes.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 25, 2012 in books, reviews

 

Tags: , , , ,

Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (audiobook)

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’m really enjoying this series of fairy tale romances with historical clothing on.

What I liked best was the playful tone of When Beauty Tamed the Beast, never entirely taking itself seriously. There were nods to the fairy tale, there were nods to the norms of historical fiction. None of these nods got in the way of the story or (more important in a romance) the characters.

The characters were entertaining, and both had more to them than a quick glance would see.

In this volume, the “Beast” is an extremely talented young doctor with a damaged (and painful) leg, a terrible temper and no desire to obey the usual rules of society (a character that will feel familiar to many TV viewers).

“Beauty”, on the other hand, reminds me more of Fiona in Shrek– certainly, her outside has everything that society deems desirable. That is, right up until the moment a small lapse in judgement leaves society believing she is pregnant. Luckily, she isn’t merely a beautiful face (and body). She’s got a sharp mind and, when pushed, a tongue to match.

A marriage between them seems to be the answer to both of their parents’ concerns, and so Linnet is off to meet Piers in his remote home…

There is one steamy scene, and other references to such activities without the same level of detail.

I hope there are more of these on the way!

Audio Notes

Sound Bytes @ Devourer of Books

For more audiobook reviews, check out Sound Bytes

Narrator: Susan Duerden gave a wonderful performance, giving a touch of magic to the proceedings.  Some of the secondary character voices worked better than others, but the primary characters and (particularly) the general narration were very good.

Production: No issues, no extras.  Well, I did have one minor issue, but I’m fairly certain that his was particular to the review download, and won’t be an issue in the final version!

Print vs. Audio?  Although I was charmed by the audio productions, I suspect I would equally have enjoyed this book in print.  When listening to audio, I do appreciate some restraint as to the quantity of really steamy scenes, as they generally seem to arise at highly disconcerting times, and can be difficult to skim through in audio.  That was a plus for this book over other romances, but I think this one would be good in whatever format is more convenient.

Thank you to Harper Audio for providing me this audiobook to listen to and review!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 18, 2011 in books, reviews, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Review: Hit Man by Lawrence Block (Audiobook)

Hit Man (Keller, #1)My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought that these tales of the life of a hit man would be so much fun? Certainly, my (very limited) experience with Lawrence Block didn’t set my expectations in the right direction.

Summary via Goodreads.com:

Keller is an assassin – he is paid by the job and works for a mysterious man who nominates hits and passes on commissions from elsewhere. Keller goes in, does the job, gets out: usually at a few hours’ notice . . . Often Keller’s work takes him out of New York to other cities, to pretty provincial towns that almost tempt him into moving to the woods and the lakeshores. Almost but not quite.

But then one job goes wrong in a way Keller has never imagined and it leaves him with a big problem. Finding himself with an orphan on his hands, Keller’s job begins to interfere with his carefully guarded life. And once you let someone in to your life, they tend to want to know what you do when you’re away. And killing for a living, lucrative though it is, just doesn’t find favour with some folks.

Keller is a hit man, but this career leaves him with a lot of time on his hands. The rather unique way he ends up with a dog, his new hobby of stamp collecting, the unexpected side effects of an impromptu rescue of a drowning boy… These stories are interwoven with reports of his job tasks, which are handled in a very matter-of-fact, just-another-day-on-the-job manner. He has workplace challenges, since the repercussions of a mistake in the details of an assignment are fairly significant.

Keller is an interesting guy. The book isn’t terribly deep, but it is textured. It’s intellectually engaging as well as entertaining, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Audiobook Notes

Sound Bytes @ Devourer of Books

For more audiobook reviews, check out Sound Bytes

Narrator:  Robert Forster’s calm delivery was perfect for this story.  He just made Keller and his life feel so normal!

Production:  No issues, no extras.

Audio vs. Print?  My feeling is that I enjoyed this even more as an audio book.  I can’t give a solid reason why, but I think that Robert Forster’s reading of the book gave it a little more of a feeling of everyday life, allowing the contrast between the normalcy of Keller’s life and the unreality of his job to really shine through.  In the end, I’d say to read it in whatever format is more convenient for you.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 28, 2011 in books, reviews

 

Tags: , , , ,

Review: In Pursuit of Miss Eliza Cynster by Stephanie Laurens (audiobook)

In Pursuit of Miss Eliza Cynster: A Cynster NovelMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

So much of this book was wildly improbable, but somehow this didn’t bother me, because I was having so much fun with it. It was a tremendous adventure, with kidnapping, rescue, running, escaping, and long, lonely nights in hiding.

Summary via Goodreads.com:

The pleasure of your company is requested at the wedding of Miss Eliza Cynster . . . but not until she’s rescued from a daring abduction by the most unexpected of heroes!

Brazenly kidnapped from her sister Heather’s engagement ball, Eliza Cynster is spirited north to Edinburgh. Desperate and deter-mined to escape, she seizes upon the first possible champion who happens along— gentleman scholar Jeremy Carling.

Villains and rescues are a far cry from Jeremy’s expertise, yet he cannot abandon a damsel in distress. But danger lurks and hurdles abound in their race to escape the mysterious laird, until a final confrontation on a windswept cliff reveals what their future life could hold—if both are bold enough to seize and own the unexpected love they now share.

I loved the two main characters and their journeys (physical and personal).

Eliza was a somewhat reserved young lady, and the only way in which she doesn’t appear to be the paragon of what a young woman in society should be is her failure to be married at age 24. She’s decided she won’t marry until she finds her hero, and her hero is nowhere to be found in her usual circles.

Jeremy is a quiet scholar (and I’m a sucker for a brainy guy) who has recently realized he’d like more than intellectual conversation in his life.

Both of them get to discover that they are capable of more than they imagined.

As much as I liked the heroes, I also enjoyed the villains– two of them. One is a basically nice guy, if you can overlook his habit of kidnapping young women. The other is a pushed over the edge psychopath. Both do a good job with the chasing and pursuing side of the adventure.

The romance was pleasantly steamy (very steamy), and the couple was all around well suited. I really enjoyed reading this book, my first with this author.

(One last comment– I did indeed come in mid-series here. Certainly the outcome of at least one previous book was fairly thoroughly spoiled for me, but I rarely enter a romance novel without complete certainty as to how it will end, even if I’ve never heard of the book or author before. I’m not sure if certain villainous motives would have been clearer if I’d read some of the earlier books, but I am sure that any confusion there didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.)

Audiobook Notes

Sound Bytes @ Devourer of Books

For more audiobook reviews, check out Sound Bytes

Narrator:I enjoyed the narration by Matthew Brenher.  I’m used to listening to romance novels with female narrators, so I was mildly apprehensive when I first heard the male voice.  It wasn’t a problem, and since there were more male viewpoints than female ones in this book, the choice made sense.

Production: No issues, no extras.  A solid production.

Audio vs. Print:  Whichever is more convenient is probably fine.  I suspect I would have enjoyed the print version just as much, but the audio is truly delightful.

I received my copy of In Pursuit of Miss Eliza Cynster from the publisher for review.  Thank you, Harper Audio!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 21, 2011 in books, reviews

 

Tags: , , , ,