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Audiobook Review – The Mountain Can Wait – Sarah Leipciger

23197320The Mountain Can Wait
Author: Sarah Leipciger
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Run Time: 8hrs, 1 min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
“Her face in the headlights flashed like a coin. She was an instant, the sulphuric flare of a match.”

Tragedy erupts in an instant. Lives are shattered irrevocably. A young man drives off into the night, leaving a girl injured, perhaps fatally so.

From that cliffhanger opening, Sarah Leipciger takes readers back and forward in time to tell the haunting story of one family’s unraveling in rural logging country where the land is still the economic backbone. Like the novels of Annie Proulx, this extraordinarily lyrical debut is rooted in richly detailed nature writing and sharply focused on small town mores and the particularities of regional culture.

Review:
As I started listening to The Mountain Can Wait, I realized early on that a key theme/echo through-out would be, ‘the mountain can give and the mountain can take’ and that is how I would describe this book by Leipciger in 10 words or less. From the description of the book, the reader (or in this case, listener) goes into it knowing that there is going to be an element of mystery (although not really suspense), but that there would be more of a focus on family ties and character interaction. Its actually kind of hard to describe without giving huge spoilers.

For me the most enjoyable part of the story (aside from the narration which is a whole separate beast) was seeing the representation of different cultures that the author managed to weave into the story. Having never been to Canada, and not growing up in the US, my knowledge of geography in the British Columbia/Saskatchewan area is basically nonexistent, as well as my knowledge of the indigenous people that live in the area. The relationship between the main character, Tom and his children (Curtis and Erin) seemed very distant and potentially almost neglectful at times – although it was written in a way to make the reader try to understand the hard life that loggers have – when they have to leave their families/homes for potentially weeks/months on end in order to earn money to survive and especially in the sense that they might not have support systems; or their lack of presence may cause issues with their support system (in this instance, Tom’s wife who disappeared prior to the book starting).

I really liked/appreciated how the author approached the writing – taking a certain event that occurred and then going back in time and working forward to the event; and even then continuing on until the story completion in the epilogue. While its a harder style to write than a true linear one and it needs the right kind of story to use the style, it was definitely suited for this book.

I will admit that if Robert Petkoff hadn’t been the narrator that I probably wouldn’t have picked it to read/review. There are some narrators that I will automatically gravitate to, no matter the style of book, or if its a genre of book I normally read or don’t read – and Robert Petkoff is one of those narrators. For me, the strength in this audiobook was that it was told predominantly from a male POV. At the same time, the cast of characters wasn’t necessarily as diverse as other books I have listened to and since the two main characters (Tom and Curtis) were family, it made for some similar voice intonations during the narration (although I would expect that if the book revolved around family, since it is often the case). While The Mountain Can Wait was 8hrs long, it flowed it a way that made it feel substantially shorter – which is always good for me when it comes to listening.

Overall, I was intrigued by Sarah Leipciger debut novel and I’m intrigued to see what she writes about in the future. I gave The Mountain Can Wait 3.5 stars for writing and the narration 4 stars with a solid performance by Robert Petkoff like always.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Sweetheart Deal – Polly Dugan

the sweetheart dealThe Sweetheart Deal
Author: Polly Dugan
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Kathleen McInerney, John Glouchevitch, Brad Abrell, Adam McArthur, Aaron Landon, John Salwin
Run Time: 9hrs 40min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
Leo has long joked that, in the event of his death, he wants his best friend Garrett, a lifelong bachelor, to marry his wife, Audrey. One drunken night, he goes so far as to make Garrett promise to do so. Then, twelve years later, Leo, a veteran firefighter, dies in a skiing accident.

As Audrey navigates her new role as widow and single parent, Garrett quits his job in Boston and buys a one-way ticket out west. Before long, Audrey’s feelings for Garrett become more than platonic, and Garrett finds himself falling for Audrey, her boys, and their life together in Portland. When Audrey finds out about the drunken pact from years ago, though, the harmless promise that brought Garrett into her world becomes the obstacle to his remaining in it.

Review:
I’m not sure what it was about this audiobook that caught my eye when I was looking at the available list. I think because I am a sucker for romances (I mean, look at what this blog reviews most of the time), I was curious to see how the author would handle an issue like death of a husband and the potential romance between his widow and best friend. Yes, it felt kind of sketchy to me, but I was intrigued. This is the first book i’ve read by Ms Dugan, but taking a look at the descriptor of her other book, it seems as though she likes tackling these difficult themes and ideas (her other book looks at two women dating the same man and the outcomes).

From the get-go, I was glad (as bad as that maybe sounds) as to how she handled the death of the husband – it was sudden and unexpected, not prolonged. Having seen how both types of deaths have been handled in my family, I would take the sudden/unexpected over the prolonged any day of the week (if I was forced to chose…which I hope I never am). I also found that she did a good job of capturing the different cycles of grief that people go through – how Audrey handled the death of Leo, compared to Garrett (his best friend) compared to Leo and Audrey’s son’s – each was individual and you could see that the author had done research into different methods of coping, dealing with grief etc. I know that Garrett just up and quitting his life in Boston (where he was an established professor) was drastic but I could see it as his way of coping.

i think for me the most appealing (if that is the right word) of this was that it took place over a period of time – it wasn’t like there was the death and then wham bam, Audrey had moved on. You could see (most definitely in her) how she progressed through the stages until she could be in a relationship with someone again. That being said, I still found the time period to be too fast, Audrey and Leo had been together for close to 20 years and so to have her move on in less than a year, just seemed too quick.

For me, the most enjoyable parts (for lack of a better phrase) was seeing Garrett interact with Audrey and her family. Seeing him try to fit into an established role and navigate what were potentially rough seas. I found that the author did a good job of making all the voices of her characters unique – not only because the audiobook used multiple ones, but because they were different. That being said, maybe it was because I was listening to the audiobooks, but the dialogue tags drove me nuts. I know its a probably a personal peeve, but a few times, it got very he/Garrett said or she/Audrey said in their conversations and seemed almost redundant to me.

For me, the book itself was brought to life by the narration. Honestly, I don’t know looking back, if it is a) a book I would have picked up without it being an audiobook and b) if I would have stuck with it, if was I just reading it. I thought that the use of multiple narrators (a different one to narrate each POV) worked well – although looking now, it strikes me as funny that there was really only one female POV in the book, compared to the 5 men. Maybe it was because the majority of the book was alternating between Audrey and Garrett’s POV’s, with the other ones playing a more minor role. All of the narrators were new to me and I was intrigued enough that I want to check out more work they have done in the future.

I thought all of the narrators, especially Kathleen McInerney, who was the narrator for Audrey’s POV were able to convey the different emotions/feels that were tied to parts of the story. You could hear the grief in her voice early on in the narration, the desolation of realizing that the life she knew was gone – but at the same time, as she began to move on with her life, you could hear the strength returning to her and a sense of purpose.

While I liked both the book and the narration, I gave them 3.5 stars each. I would recommend The Sweetheart Deal with readers who like women’s lit and potentially new love later in life type books.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Interview – Silk Jones

the interviewThe Interview
Author: Silk Jones
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Shoshana Franck
Run Time: 51 minutes
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
A laid off legal secretary with a curiosity about the B.D.S.M. lifestyle responds to an advertisement in a lifestyle magazine placed by a law firm seeking a “submissive legal assistant” and gets more than she bargained for. This short story is the kickoff to a series about a law firm that has quite a bit going on behind closed doors.

Review:
When the author of this book approached me for a review, I was intrigued about the premise, but skeptical about how well it would play out as an audiobook – mostly because of the length – for a book to be less than an hour in audio format, as a listener, I know that the book itself, is probably only about 30pgs. In general, I tend to not read/listen to novellas that are that short, because I rarely feel like it was worth it when the book is done. However, since it was approached as a prequel to a new series coming out and the description caught my eye, I decided to take a chance on the offer – and if nothing else, it made me commute home one night decently entertaining (sometimes I am glad its only me in the car on the commute – I can only imagine what someone else would say…).

Really when all was said and done, The Interview was much more of a vingette type novella rather than a story with a beginning/middle/end – meaning that it was limited to a very specific scene that occurred. However, since I knew that going in to the listen, I was intrigued to see how well one scene could be developed in a limited page count – so often in a full-length novel, a scene may be only 1-2 pgs (depending on what is going on), rather than the 20-30 that occurred in this novella. So it allowed Ms Jones to more fully develop the view of the characters and go more in depth into their thoughts/actions.

The narrator, Shoshana Franck, was new to me (I honestly don’t know if I have ever seen anything narrated by her before), but I was intrigued by her style – it seemed very conversational, which felt right for the writing style. I could tell that her male voices weren’t necessarily going to be a strength of hers, so I liked how she didn’t really try to voice one that way, but rather just used different emphasis on words.

I thought that while short, The Interview had a solid basis for a vignette style telling and I enjoyed the narrator – I’ll admit that I am curious to see what the author could do with a longer piece of writing and I’m pretty sure that I will check out more by the narrator in the future. Overall, I gave both the book and the narration 3 stars.

Buy Links
The Interview: Law Firm Erotica Book I (Kindle)
The Interview: Law Firm Erotica Book 1 (Audible, via Amazon)

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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The 2015 Audies – my thoughts on the winners…

audie-award

Last night in New York (as part of Book Expo America (BEA)), the Audio Publishers Association (APA) held their annual award ceremony – also known as the Audies – These awards recognize the achievement in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment. In previous years, I was able to freely stalk twitter during the event (thanks Xe Sands and others who provided running commentary) and while the event this year was live-streamed for those of us unable to attend, I was unable to watch. However, I do have some thoughts on who the various winners were (and a bit of a rant as well).

mandelaAudiobook of the Year: This is the biggie award, equivalent to the Best Picture at the Oscars. When I initially saw the nominations (that were released in April), I was unsure of which book I thought I would win, however, based on previous years, I figured Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please would be a heavy favorite to win. Personally, I’m not a fan of self-narrated audiobooks or comedian autobiographies, so I figured I was setting myself up for disappointment by hoping that another book won. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Mandela: An Audio History – narrated by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela declared to be the winner. Of all the books in the category, I figured that was the complete underdog to win and likely wouldn’t have picked it in a million years.

alphaErotica: Over the last few months, I listened to the majority of the books in this category – the only one that remains unfinished had the same two narrators as another book in the category – so I figured I had a good idea of how that one would play out and while the category in general was disappointing to me, I had picked Alpha (Jasinda Wilder) to win. It was not only the closest representative to the erotica genre in the category, but had the best narration – it was heads and shoulders above. While my review isn’t yet written – it should be up in the next week or so and I’m looking forward to listening to the next book(s) in the series.

girl of all giftsParanormal: I knew that this was going to be a tough category going in – after listening to (once again) all but one book in the nominations – the separation between the different books for narration/performance and writing was miniscule. Honestly, I can say that I would have been happy with any of the winners because it was an exceptionally strong category. But I will admit that I was a bit upset that my favorite narrator who had multiple nominations in the category didn’t win. While I really liked the winning book (The Girl with all the Gifts) and wasn’t surprised to see it win, I would have loved to have seen Damoren (Seth Skorkowsky; narrated by R.C. Bray) win – it was my favorite in the category (and audible even named it as a book to watch on one of their posts in the lead-up).

bridges madison countyRomance: This is where I rant – just so you are forewarned. In previous years, I have listened to and loved the romance category of the Audies – even last year when Nicholas Sparks was nominated for and won the romance audio of the year – admittedly, it was closer to a romance than any of his other books, but still not one by the industry definition of the word. But this year – in a multi-billion dollar a year industry (yes, romance brings in that much), that there were only FIVE nominations in the category (where others had 6) and that TWO of the nominations weren’t even romance by the industry standard (which is defined as a Happily Ever After/Happy For Now). Within the 5 nominations, there were only 3 true romance audiobooks and none of them won. The winner was (no drumroll) The Bridges of Madison County – now, I’ll readily admit, I haven’t read the book, but I saw the absolutely horrible movie that was made of it a while back – but any book that has a basic premise of cheating and having an affair center stage will NEVER be a romance. It may be literary fiction with some romantic elements, but it is NOT a romance. I just cringed when I not only saw the nominees, but which book was the ultimate winner. I have no idea how/if nominations for categories are even vetted for appropriateness – based on not only this one, but the erotica category, I have to believe that they are not.

I’m still looking at the various other category winners – so there may be an addendum to this post later on – you never know…

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Armchair Audies

 

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Audiobook Sync is here!!!

audiobook sync I LOVE this time of year because its when one of my favorite free online programs starts back up – have you heard about audiobook sync? If you haven’t, here is the skinny: Audiobook Sync is a program that is run for 14 weeks each summer (so from early May through middle of August) and presented/sponsored by Audiofile.

The idea is simple, each week, a new pair of audiobooks is available for FREE download (yes, you read that right – FREE). It is a newer release YA book that is paired with a classic novel with similar themes. Each pair is only available for download during their specific week, so if you miss out, you don’t get another chance and they are yours to keep. All you need is the free (are you sensing a theme here) Overdrive Program/App downloaded on your computer/Ipad/kindle fire etc.

The first pair of audiobooks for the 2015 is Beautiful Creatures (the YA novel), written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl; narrated by Kevin T. Collins, Eve Bianco, which has been paired with Rebecca, written by Daphne Du Maurier and narrated by Anna Massey (I’ll confess that Rebecca has been on my pile for years and I’ve never gotten to it, so maybe this will be the push I need…)

For more information, including books that will be available (and any geographic restrictions), click on the link below and enjoy!

Audiobook Sync: Young Adult Lit For Your Earbuds

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Reading Events

 

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Audiobook Review – Beauty from Pain – Georgia Cates

audies nominee erotica

beauty from painBeauty from Pain
Author: Georgia Cates
Series: #1 in the Beauty series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Bunny Warren, Robert Black
Run Time: 9 hrs, 9 mins
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
They agreed on three months…but their love knew no boundaries.

Jack McLachlan is a winemaking magnate and easily one of Australia’s most eligible bachelors. His success and wealth make him no stranger to the complications of romantic relationships and that’s why he goes to extreme measures to avoid the hassle. He prefers simplicity in the form of a beautiful female companion with no strings attached. He arranges relationships like business deals and they’re always the same. No long term relationships. No real names.

It’s his game and his rules. He’s content to play as usual, but when Laurelyn Prescott enters his life, his strategy must change because this player is like none he’s ever encountered. His world is turned on its head after he begins a three month affair with the beautiful American musician. Nothing goes according to plan and as he breaks more and more of his own rules for her, she’s exceptionally close to becoming something he never thought possible. His ultimate game changer.

Review:
I’ll admit it, i’m a sucker for a gorgeous cover and if I had been in the bookstore, Beauty from Pain (and its subsequent books) totally would have caught my eye. I love the black and white photography with the erotic looking cover, that still stays this side of being too much. But since I was listening to the audiobook, well, I did still gaze at the cover, but it didn’t affect my choice as much. I will admit that when I pick up a book that has been marketed as erotica/nominated in an erotica category for awards, I have certain expectations and unfortunately for me Beauty from Pain just didn’t live up to that. For me, erotica is about the sexual journey of the participants and while there were some spicy scenes in Beauty from Pain, it read more like a traditional romance to me. The only thing that really could potentially push it into the “erotica/erotica lite” category is that there really wasn’t a happily ever after which is required for a romance, but that being said, this was really the first in a series with a continuing storyline where I expect one to culminate at the end of book 3.

While the storyline was intriguing, I found the writing to be chunky in places with lots of redundant sentences. Maybe it was because I was listening to it, but weak writing is much more obvious to be when I’m listening to audiobooks, rather than when I’m reading. I think because I actually concentrate more in the audio, rather than reading where I tend to skim read. And maybe it is a small thing, but it got really annoying with the alternating point of views, that each chapter was titled who was speaking/thinking – I wish that had actually been left out, because I do think the voices were distinct enough that it was obvious the POV that the chapter was written from (also an minor irk, Laurelyn barely went by that name in the book, so it was disconcerting to hear that every time it was her point of view). In general, I didn’t mind Jack and Laurelyn’s story – I think it had potential to be really good, although there were some things that Jack did that just weren’t resolved for me. Certain things he was adamant about and then all of the sudden just changed his mind, no explanation (i mean, I’d expect that from a female, but not a male…well, you know what I mean – j/k) however, I spent the majority of the book hating the secondary characters. I wasn’t a fan of Laurelyn’s friend, or her friend’s brother (Ben) because he was a douchebag and the limited mention of Laurelyn’s mother made me go crazy, she was just so self-obessessed (and I have a feeling she is going to be significant in book 2, which I’m not looking forward to).

Both Bunny Warren and Robert Black were new narrators to me. I’ve found when listening to duo’s narrating books that I often really like one, and not so much the other; or find them both to be fairly middle of the road. In this instance, it was the former – I really liked Bunny’s narration – I found she did a great job of narrating Laurelyn’s POV – her voice was pleasant to listen to and I found myself sucked into those portions of the audiobook. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Robert Black’s narration. Maybe it had something to do with having grown up in Australia (for the first nearly two decades of my life), but the accent that he used for Jack just grated on me. Maybe that is how Australian’s sound to a complete outsider, but I don’t remember ever hearing them talk to like. I found it hard to listen to and distracting to the point that I struggled to listen to his portions of the audio. I almost wish I could have listened to Bunny’s stuff and read the male POV’s – it may have worked better for me. It also seemed like the author dug in and found all the random slang that aussies use – some frequently and other not so – I actually posted a question on facebook about one such phase because I had never heard of it in my life (apparently, Sanga is short for Sandwich, but not where I grew up). That made it hard for me.

I know that I will be finishing the series – because I want to see what happens between Laurelyn and Jack (and because book 3 in the series was also nominated for an audie award in the same category). But overall, I was disappointed – it didn’t live up to what I expected, based on the number of high rated reviews from Goodreads friends/ the fact that it was nominated for an award (even if the award was for narration). Both the story and the narration got 2.5 stars from me, but if Bunny had been the sole narrator, it would have been more like 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Armchair Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Suffer the Children – Craig DiLouie

Audies nominee paranormal

suffer the childrenSuffer the Children
Author: Craig DiLouie
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: R.C. Bray
Run Time: 11hrs 26min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod’s Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were…but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?

Review:
WARNING: Book contains scenes that may be nightmare inducing to parents of young children
It is very rare that I need to pause listening to a book mid-way through for a mental break, but Craig DiLouie’ Suffer the Children made me do just that. I’ll be upfront and say that horror is normally not a genre I would pick up, although there are some authors that I will stick my toes into that field just for them (and I guess the same could be said for narrators I enjoy). In fact, this book never would have crossed my reading/listening path, if it hadn’t been nominated for an audie in the Paranormal category but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to listen to it.

First things first, this isn’t your normal vampire fare (or how vampire fare has come to be written recently) – if I had to draw parallel’s it is much more like the old school dracula type vampire, rather than the new romance-y ones. There was nothing nice/romantic about these but that being said, there wasn’t anything really original about the vampires either. For me, the draw in the book was more the philosophical take on how far would you go – it reminded me a lot of the questions asked in the morality class I took in college – if you had to kill 5 or 1 which would you pick? what was the solution for the greater good. I don’t necessarily know if that was what DiLouie was trying to convey in the book (I have a feeling that it was), but that is where my mind went. The prevailing question – what would you do for just one more hour, one more day with your children? I’m not a parent and the idea of having to make that choice is just horrific to me, I can’t imagine who someone who is a parent and listening to this would react.

I will say that I wasn’t expecting the book as it did – although that ending kind of makes sense…it kind of makes me wonder what happens next…

R.C. Bray, once again, brought his skillful narration to the book and it was via this that I felt myself cringing in places and ending up having at least one nightmare during the course of listening. (BTW, tweeting that to an horror author will get you a huge thanks…lol). Having listened to Bray narrate several books in different sub-genres (sci-fi; urban fantasy and now paranormal/horror), its safe to say that he is going to be an auto-buy/listen in the future. Its hard to peg exactly how his narration worked – maybe the fact that I found myself physically cringing in places as I heard his narration of different parts or the fact that I was so invested in what happened to the different characters that hearing what happened to them made me sit in my car in shock for a good 20 minutes one day.

Both the book and the narration were a solid 4 stars for me and I know that I will be checking out more work by DiLouie in the future (even if his writing scares the beejeebers out of me at times). Hopefully with more narration by R.C. Bray in the future.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Armchair Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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