Armchair Audies Wrap Up (And the Winner Is…

After watching from the sidelines last year, I decided to participate in the Armchair Audies this year. Basically, participants listen to a category of Audie (the award for audiobooks) nominees and decide which one should win. I joined Trish and Melanie as judges for the Solo Narration – Male category.

The nominees:

To me, Beautiful Ruins is by far the winner here. I’ve brought you the reviews for all of the nominees except The End of the Affair (one sentence review: this was my third reading of this book and, while I thought Colin Firth was good, I’d recommend the Michael Kitchen version).

This was a fun experience and I hope to participate again next year.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

The Little Stranger [Audiobook Review]

The Little StrangerTitle: The Little Stranger
Author: Sarah Waters
Narrator: Simon Vance
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 0143144804
Pages: 358
Audio: 15 hours
Year: 2009
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Source: Library
Rating: 2.5/5

My Thoughts:

Ever since Jennifer from The Literate Housewife started raving about him, I have wanted to experience an audiobook narrated by the great Simon Vance. I put a few on hold at the library and The Little Stranger was the first to arrive. Sarah Waters has also been on my list of authors to try and I generally love a good Gothic novel so I was excited to begin.

When Dr. Faraday returns to Hundreds Hall, where his mom once worked as a maid, he becomes endlessly entangled in the lives of the Ayres family. When things start to go wrong – Jib, their the calm dog, attacks a girl, objects move from their normal places, small fires start – Dr. Faraday tries everything to help the family.

Unfortunately, it was not the amazing experience I was hoping for. I thought Vance did a great job with the narration but the story was just too slow for me. It felt like lots of little things were always happening but I kept waiting for more. And at 15 hours, it was a lot of waiting. I can’t really put my finger on what it is that didn’t grab me but something was missing.

I know a lot of other people who loved this book so it may just be me. Have you read it? What did you think?

[Note: I am skipping the “Others’ Thoughts” and “Buy It Now” sections for audiobook week only. They will return soon.]


Join the fun and head on over to Devourer of Books for all of the Audiobook Week goodness.

Harry Potter and the Audiobook Adventure

Thoughts on listening to Harry Potter for the first time:

Jim Dale, will you please narrate my life?

This summer/fall, I listened to the entire Harry Potter series. It was kind of amazing.

I have read this series multiple times. I always enjoy it, but listening to the books made the series even more magical. It was so much fun taking this journey with Jim Dale. He provides wonderful voices and really illustrates some of the character traits I miss when I read it myself  and adds traits that are just perfect. (Hermione’s “Harryyyyy” and Draco’s drawl for instance). At times it was like reading the series for the first time.

If you’ve never listened to the series, give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Random thoughts on the series (kind of spoilery):

  • My favorite line in the whole series. Half-Blood Prince. Harry and Dumbledore leaving the cave. Dumbledore: “I am not worried, Harry. I am with you.”
  • The first time I read Deathly Hallows, I wasn’t terribly impressed. But the more I read it, the more I like it. And I’ve grown to love just how beautiful the story is at the end. From the time Harry dives into Snape’s memories, into the forest, and through King’s Cross. That is really just some good story telling.
  • But ugh, the epilogue. Can we please still pretend it doesn’t exist?
  • You can’t always think that hard about Harry Potter. Sure, it seems illogical that someone had to put Harry through the TriWizard Tournament just to get him to the graveyard. But what would Goblet of Fire be without it?
  • Dobby. Tear.
  • The angst in some of the middle books seems to get worse over time.
  • I love Harry Potter.

Suite Scarlett [GIVEAWAY!]

I meant to include a giveaway of Suite Scarlett with my review yesterday, but I guess my brain is still a little sleep-deprived.

While I did enjoy listening to Suite Scarlett, I doubt I’ll be listening to it again, so I thought I would end audiobook week by passing it on to one of my readers.

NOTE: Keep in mind that this is an MP3-CD.

As much as I love making you leave something interesting in the comments for contests, the google form makes my life much simpler. So IF YOU’D LIKE TO (it is not required), please tell me what your favorite audiobook is in the comments.

  • Open internationally (because I love you all!)
  • You must fill out the google form below to enter (only one entry per person)
  • The contest will run until midnight EDT on July 7, 2010.
  • I will use to pick a winner on July 8.

Suite Scarlett [Book Review]

Title: Suite Scarlett
Author: Maureen Johnson (narrated by Jeannie Stith)
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 1423381068
Pages: 384(12.5 hrs audio)
Year: 2009
Source: Publisher (provided at Book Blogger Convention)
Rating: 4/5

Summary (from Powell’s):

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. Her nineteen-year-old brother, Spencer, is an out of work actor facing a family deadline to get his career in order. Eighteen-year-old Lola has the delicate looks of a model, the practical nature of a nurse, and a wealthy society boyfriend. Eleven-year-old Marlene is the family terror with a tragic past.

When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

With Mrs. Amberson calling the shots, Spencer’s career to save, Lola’s love life to navigate around, and Marlene’s prying eyes everywhere, things won’t be easy. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deception.

The show, as they say, must always go on . . . .
My Thoughts:

I’d never read any of Maureen Johnson’s books before I went to the Book Blogger Convention. She opened the day with her keynote address and was simply HILARIOUS. After listening to her speak, I knew I had to remedy that asap. So when I saw that a copy of Suite Scarlett was generously given to each of us by Brilliance Audio, I made it my next audiobook (I also picked up another one of her books in print).

Suite Scarlett took me a little while to get into. At first I thought maybe I wasn’t liking it. But at some point, I found myself looking forward to getting in the car again or putting on my headphones as much as possible.  Suite Scarlett is full of quirky characters and I love me some quirky characters (Spencer was my favorite in this book). I think I can safely say that the book was more about the characters than about the story. The plot was interesting, but if you think about it, not that much really happened.

I will admit that I did get that fun first love feeling that you often experience when reading YA a few times, but then I also got a little annoyed with Scarlett’s decisions re: that first love (just like I often experience when reading YA).

Suite Scarlett was funny and entertaining. I’m excited to read some more of Johnson’s works, including the sequel, Scarlett Fever.

Other Reviews:

Don’t forget to head over over to Devourer of Books for more audiobook week reviews and discussions today!

Best Friends Forever [Book Review]

Title: Best Friends Forever
Author: Jennifer Weiner (narrated by Nicole Poole and James Colby)
Genre: Women’s Fiction
ISBN: 9780743294300
Pages: 384(12.5 hrs audio)
Year: 2009
Source: Library
Rating: 3/5

Summary (from IndieBound):

Addie Downs and Valerie Adler will be best friends forever. That’s what Addie believes after Valerie moves across the street when they’re both nine years old. But in the wake of betrayal during their teenage years, Val is swept into the popular crowd, while mousy, sullen Addie becomes her school’s scapegoat.

Flash-forward fifteen years. Valerie Adler has found a measure of fame and fortune working as the weathergirl at the local TV station. Addie Downs lives alone in her parents’ house in their small hometown of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, caring for a troubled brother and trying to meet Prince Charming on the Internet. She’s just returned from Bad Date #6 when she opens her door to find her long-gone best friend standing there, a terrified look on her face and blood on the sleeve of her coat. “Something horrible has happened,” Val tells Addie, “and you’re the only one who can help.”

My Thoughts:

First of all, can I just say that I think any title would have been better than Best Friends Forever. Except maybe the texting version of it. I will absolutely not read a book called simply BFF, ok?

I’ve read most of Jennifer Weiner’s other books. And I’ve enjoyed them all. I find them to be pretty smart “chick lit” – well-written with interesting plots and complicated characters. But this one fell a little flat for me. Perhaps it was a little unrealistic. Or maybe I just really didn’t care for one of the main characters (Valerie). I found myself enjoying the flashbacks to their childhood together but not really getting into the current story. So I didn’t necessarily dislike it, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. The narration in the audio was another highlight – I thought Nicole Poole especially did an excellent job.

I would recommend many other Jennifer Weiner books before I recommended this one, but it was a nice, light read if you’re in the mood for it. (Sorry, folks. Not that much else to say).

Note: if you are looking for this on audio, it is rather difficult to find the unabridged version online. But libraries appear to have it, so check there.

Other Reviews:

Don’t forget to head over over to Devourer of Books for more audiobook week reviews and discussions today!

I Heart Audiobooks

I am very tired after my nonstop weekend so here’s a pretty quick post about why I love audiobooks (because I WILL win one of Jen’s prizes :P).

I discovered audiobooks late. It really wasn’t until this year that I really got into them. Prior to this year, I had an internal debate about whether audiobooks “count” and whether I get the same thing out of them. I definitely think they count now, but I don’t think you get the exact same thing out of print and audio. And that’s not a bad thing – it’s just a different type of reading experience.

But the thing that sold me on audio? I can read SO MANY more books!

I can read when I am

  • driving;
  • cleaning;
  • getting ready in the morning;
  • working out;
  • shopping;
  • not feeling well;
  • and so many more places I’m sure.

There are millions of books in the world and I want to read as many of them as I can. Audiobooks allow me to maximize my reading time. There are other things I love about audio, but this is THE reason I read them. And yes, it counts as reading.

If you heart audiobooks as much as I do, you should definitely head over to Jen of Devourer of Books’ blog for Audiobook Week.

And now I am off to bed. And yes it is 8:30.