Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Audiobook Mini Reviews of July (So Far)

I'm not entirely sure how to review an audiobook. To me reviewing a regular print book is a lot less subjective because it's easier to evaluate the finer technical points of the writing when I'm seeing the words right in front of me than when I'm listening to them in the background (e.g. doing other work and reading at the same time :O). Or maybe I'm just uncomfortable reviewing audiobooks because I haven't listened to them much in the past. Either way, I thought I'd share some thoughts with y'all about the audiobooks I've read recently.

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein; read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell | Goodreads

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

Funny story: So Code Name Verity was released when I was still a newbie blogger, and I didn't know how to manage e-galleys. I read the first few pages, but wasn't entirely "feeling" the novel, so I thought I'd wait a little before returning to it. The galley expired. I had no idea what to do.

I'm glad that I didn't read the print. Code Name Verity starts off a little slowly and sometimes gets into the technical details of piloting planes, so I may have gotten bored while reading this via text only and I may have missed out on a great book because of that. To anyone who abandoned Code Name Verity for the same reason, you might want to try the audio. What makes the audio so great are the two narrators. They are perfectly voiced. When I read novels, I don't necessarily have a picture of what the characters sound like in my head -- sometimes I do, but I haven't found the right words to describe the characters. This is how I would imagine Maddie and Verity. The narrators do an amazing job portraying their emotions: Verity's desperation and exhaustion, and Maddie's amusement and cheerfulness; every little emotion, and not just those. Songs are included twice in the narrative, and both times I got shivers. They are not only amazing at voice these characters' emotions but also amazing at singing and eliciting a reaction in you.

Reading this audiobook, I understand why the book got such praise. The characterization is fantastic - even the villains, particularly the Nazi interrogator, get developed; the SS agent is believable and realistic without being any less scary or determined in his cause. The plot has plenty of twists. I liked the second half of the novel more because it gave me a code to understand the first half (and again, to anyone who got bored, maybe you can power through to the second half?). You also might not expect a WWII novel to have as much humor as CNV did (mostly because of the awesomeness that is the Maddie/Verity friendship). This is going down as one of my favorites of 2014, and I recommend all y'all try it, especially if, like me, you downloaded the audiobook via audiobooksync.

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson; read by Mandy Siegfried | Goodreads

From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, a major infraction in high-school society, so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence, making her all the more mute. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either; there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. Try as she might to avoid it, it won't go away, until there is a painful confrontation. Once that happens, she can't be silent, she must speak the truth.

In this powerful audiobook, an utterly believable, bitterly ironic heroine speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while learning that, although it's hard to speak up for yourself, keeping your mouth shut is worse.

What I liked the most about this audiobook is that the narrator never lets you forget how old Melinda is. I don't know if the narrator was doing a special voice or not, but listening to this, I was always reminded of Melinda, the ninth grader, trying to let her growing tree breathe after a terrible event had destroyed her (and it). It was impossible not to feel her pain and wonder why no one saw it too. Her silence was impressive, her narrative funny and bittersweet. Her confrontation wasn't exactly what I expected, but when I imagined what it would be like -- halfway into the book, 3/4 of the way in, etc. -- I shivered and had to pause the narration. I got goosebumps when Siegfried voiced the actual confrontation. If you've ever wanted to read a Laurie Halse Anderson novel but haven't had the time, try listening to the audio of this. Also highly recommended. This is a beautiful work of art, both voiced and written, and I can't wait to try more of Anderson's work.

Every Day - David Levithan; read by Alex McKenna | Goodreads

In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

I was a little less impressed with this audiobook if only because A is meant to be genderless, so I got stuck sometimes with Alex McKenna, who, when imitating boys, did a good job parodying the douchebags but wasn't necessarily good at conveying who I thought A was. Again, very subjective and also almost impossible for any narrator to succeed with that task. This book is quiet and very philosophical; if you were a fan of The Fault in Our Stars, you may very well like this novel given that both have that speculate-on-the-universe vibe and a central romantic plot. McKenna does do a good job conveying A's brief amusement, heartbreak, and philosophical tone, but there was something missing for me in her narrative. The writing was beautiful and many times I wished I could mark a quote somehow in the audiobook (someone should invent an audiobook reading app that allows you to bookmark certain sections, or at the very least update Overdrive so that it has that function, or one of y'all can let me know if that function already exists lol). I would recommend this one in print over audio for that reason alone.

All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill; read by Meredith Mitchell | Goodreads

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called "the doctor" while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James's life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Meredith Mitchell did an amazing job showing me how different All Our Yesterdays is in comparison to other science fiction novels. Where they can sometimes get boring with their dry writing styles, All Our Yesterdays is far from boring, infused with emotion thanks to both Terrill's writing and Mitchell's narration. Mitchell did a fantastic job portraying the Em/Marina divide and making the scenes come alive in my mind. I don't know that I would've enjoyed this book as much if I hadn't read it in audio, with Mitchell somehow activating my imagination in a way that few print novels do (I'm very rarely a visual reader, but here I was most certainly able to picture the action). If you're looking for a fast paced thriller, with a lot of action, somewhat of an explanation for time traveling and an interesting way of looking at character development, try out the All Our Yesterdays audio.

Currently Reading:

  • Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septys and read by: Emily Klein.
    • I read Out of the Easy and loved Septys's writing, how well she had created a 1950s NOLA world and atmosphere, so reading her "masterpiece," or at the very least her famous, famous debut is an interesting experience.
Upcoming audiobooks, which may get reviewed:
Upcoming reviews/review books:
Looking forward to reviews of any of the above? Will you try any of these audios?


  1. For never having reviewed an audiobook, I think you did so beautifully, Christina. I DLed Code Name Verity from SYNC and have been told how wonderful it is, but you have solidified my need to listen. I was expecting a completely sad story, but it definitely sounds like the whole package, plus great narrators. Can't go wrong. :) I haven't read Speak but I really enjoyed The Impossible Knife of Memory by the same author on audio. I think I'll pass on the audio for Every Day since I own a finished copy and it sounds like that would be the better way to go. I can promise you that, for me, the print version of All Our Yesterdays was just as harrowing and awesome as the audio. Read it last year, listened this year...dying for the sequel all over again. :P Also, if you use Audible, that app DOES allow you to bookmark and make notes during the course of the audiobook, just as you can on a Kindle. I haven't figured out a way to do this via the Overdrive app, but if and when I do, I'll let you know. That is a very handy feature, indeed.

    I'm excited for your listen and review of The Night Circus. I read that one and fell in love with the story and characters. And I've heard Jim Dale is a fantastic narrator, though I don't think I've actually listened to anything he's performed. Happy listening on your audiobook adventures!

  2. I've been wanting to read Code Name Verity. I think I even have a copy of the audiobook, but I haven't got around to listening to it. I'm not very fond of audiobooks, though. It can be hard for me to focus. I read the print version of Everyday and Speak, and I enjoyed both, but felt like Everyday could have been better! Great post! :)

  3. I think you did a pretty great job at reviewing the audiobooks. I still don't listen to that many of them (I'm a quick reader so it takes much more time and effort to listen to an audiobook than read a book). I'm glad you found some way to enjoy Code Name Verity, and Speak's narration sounds great. I'm not really into the "waking up in another body" storyline, but I might give Every Day a chance. I'm super excited to read All Our Yesterdays!

    Thanks for the reviews!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  4. I loved Code Name Verity, even though I had to concentrate quite a bit at the start. I fell into Rose Under Fire a lot easier. I'd be interested in trying the audio version soon, though. I think it's a good way of revisiting a favourite, and I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable with them now (I wasn't always a fan). And I'm glad you liked All Our Yesterdays! Oddly, I think it's the opposite for me - I'm not sure I'd like it as much on as an audio read - but definitely excited about the next book. :)

  5. There's no right way of reviewing audios imo :D But I always try to mention the narrator and since you do too, then that makes an audio review ;) Heh. "When I read novels, I don't necessarily have a picture of what the characters sound like in my head" Exactly! But with audios you either get the um. feeling if the character sounds right or not. I don't know how to explain it lol. I got CNV for free too from Audiosync and I can't wait to listen to it :) So happy you enjoyed the narrator, lovely! As for All Our Yesterdays, I have an ebook so I'm not sure if I'll read *ahem* listen to the audio,but I'm so glad you liked Mitchell's narratation. I love when the scenes come alive in your head and you see a movie basically and can imagine everything. Can't wait to read this one :) So happy you're on the train with us and listening to audiobooks :D

  6. I definitely think I enjoyed Code Name Verity more since I listened to the audiobook than I would have if I had read the actual book.

    In fact there are lots of audiobooks that I've enjoyed more than I would have if I read the print version. There aren't many books that I enjoyed less as an audiobook, but that's probably because I can tell pretty quickly if I will like the narrator. And if I don't, I stop listening to that book.

  7. Wow! Look at all these comments on Code Name Verity! I want to read it now too….

  8. Like you know I'm not an audiobook type (at least not at the moment), but I will keep in mind that Code name verity is a recommendation from you. I really like that there are two narrators :)

  9. It's definitely the whole package! Maddie sounds so happy and bright that just hearing her voice, it's sometimes hard to reconcile with the sadness, and yet I get the feeling that was just part of her personality. Even Verity's narrator has quite a bit of humor in her tone at some points. You told me about The Impossible Knife of Memory & I definitely added it to my list of req-audio :). Definitely the right way to go on Every Day! I hope you enjoy the All Our Yesterdays sequel!

    Hahaha, I used Audible a couple of times. I didn't notice that, but yeah!! Overdrive makers, why haven't you followed the Audible crew??

    I'm currently on part 4 of 11 with The Night Circus. I like the way Jim Dale narrates older people's accents. It sort of sounds like he's your grandfather telling you this marvelous story at a Christmas dinner. But I'm waiting for something to happen because I feel like I missed out on how all these characters will connect :O :O.

  10. I was like that. I find it hard to focus on them if I've got nothing else to do, but if you're walking, or folding laundry, or washing dishes, it's easy to do those tasks and listen at the same time. So hopefully you'll get to listen to and enjoy the audio of CNV :D.

  11. "I'm a quick reader so it takes much more time and effort to listen to an audiobook than read a book" -- definitely can identify with this. I imagine when winter comes and it's snowing, the effort of listening to the audio while walking isn't coming...

    If you give Every Day a chance, I hope you enjoy it :). Same with All Our Yesterdays and CNV and Speak!

  12. I'm actually curious about how Rose Under Fire compares. In reading CNV, I wonder if there were sneaky references to RUF, but I'm not sure yet. Maybe writing CNV inspired parts of RUF though. And anyway, yes!!! Try out the CNV audio :D. It *is* a good way of revisiting a favorite (have you tried the Raven Boys audio? Not going to lie - the audio versions of that series I think made me more in love with the books than the print alone). I wasn't always comfortable with audios either/a fan, but hopefully with more exposure you'll pick them up more readily? I can see that with All Our Yesterdays and more action oriented books - but who knows? Maybe this is your audio reticence speaking, Sam :P. I hope the AOY sequel works out for you!

  13. Hahah no right way to review ANY! book. I just don't feel comfortable yet. Like, how much should I go into it? I know there is no should, but what would convince me when reading an audio review? .... YESSSSS listen to CNV soon, Siiri! Let me know what you think of it -- go audiosync!! -- and also I hope you enjoy AOY on ebook :D. I've heard the same 'scenes come alive' bit from regular reviews too, so huzzah! Hopefully you'll enjoy :) :)

  14. It really is an amazing audio. It ranks probably #2 in my list. The Raven Boys series goes first, but CNV audio follows right after. I know I haven't read many audios, so it's a huge claim but... read CNV!! :D

  15. Yes! The CNV audio rocks, doesn't it?

    "that's probably because I can tell pretty quickly if I will like the narrator. And if I don't, I stop listening to that book." -- Also exactly what happened with me and Shatter Me. I thought that book would be well suited to spoken word, and tried the audio but had to return it before the first chapter was even finished.

    I think the process for print version DNFs is a lot harder, or I just feel guiltier about returning them? I don't know - what about you?

  16. I wasn't much of an audiobook person - maybe you'll become one one day and then you can pick up Code Name Verity and The Raven Boys :D :D

  17. I live in Canada so not winter is like the exception. :P

    & thanks!



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