📚 Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

23569428Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Blood of Gods and Royals #1

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Jennifer Grace, Graham Halstead
Length: 16h 34m
Publisher: Recorded Books⎮2015

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ Man, oh man. I don’t know where Eleanor Herman has been for the last few years (probably somewhere with her elegant cat), but I sure have missed her! I read her juicy tales of royal scandals several years ago (Sex with Kings & Sex with the Queen) and enjoyed them so much that I didn’t even mind the odd stares I got while reading them in public. Herman kind of dropped off my radar after that until I noticed her name start popping up online again attached to Legacy of Kings. As soon I connected the dots and realized that she was the same author whose work I so enjoyed reading nearly 7 years ago, I knew I had to get my hands on Legacy of Kings.

You may not know, because I don’t think I have ever mentioned it here, but I ? reading about royalty. Like, ???. So much. From reading this synopsis, I could tell that this story would be very different from my previous experiences with Herman. For one thing, this is fiction. For another, Legacy of Kings focuses on a time in royal history which I am not accustomed to reading. But I shelved it anyway and decided to save it for a time when I was feeling rather adventurous. I figured I had a pretty high chance of enjoying it because a) I’ve enjoyed Eleanor Herman’s previous work, b) I love reading about royalty, and c) I’m also really interested in greek history/mythology and ancient civilizations. With that kind of combination, this really would’ve had to have been a stinker to disappoint me.

Because I haven’t read anything exactly like Legacy of Kings before, it took me about a third of the way through the book to get my bearings. Most of what made that so difficult in the beginning were the multiple POVs. If I recall correctly there were six different POV characters. After the first 30% or so, I was finally able to keep the POV characters straight. Having multiple narrators helped with that tremendously!  By the halfway point, I had already formed pretty good opinions about which characters I preferred. In particular, I was really pleased with how Katerina was written. I found her to be the type of quick, clever female character that I tend to gravitate towards and I much preferred her to Zofia, who seemed more like your typical YA lovesick female trope (but thankfully, there wasn’t much of her). I thought the plot was very well-developed and set the stage nicely for future installments, while maintaining an exciting pace and keeping my interest in this installment. I adored the historical background and found that it has renewed my interest in Greek mythology and history in a way that no book has been able to do so since Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed series.

My complaints are few and mostly have to do with minor historical inaccuracies/modernizations (the use of words such as “acne” and “farting”, for example). I did not find this is overly juvenile at all and would definitely question a YA label (maybe? I’m not sure. The lines are very blurred.), but I guess I felt the writing had been “watered down” some to reach a broader audience (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and lost a little bit its historical feel. I shouldn’t complain about that though, because it made the story incredibly easy to follow, even during the daytime while multitasking.

I have a feeling that this is one of those stories that will slowly eat away at me a little more each day until the second installment is released. Eleanor Herman offered an advanced copy of Empire of Dust (the sequel) to her twitter followers today and I was so tempted to apply for it. If it had been the audiobook format she was offering, I probably would have sold my soul to get it early. Imagine that. Me, the Audiobookworm, almost offering to voluntarily read a physical book. The horror! The desperation! I’m just saying, I wouldn’t consider doing that for just any book, you know?

Narration review: As I said above, the dual narration provided by Jennifer Grace and Graham Halstead enhanced my listening experience tremendously. The narrators were never put in a position where they had to narrate a primary character of another sex, so each narrator was able to showcase his or her best voicing skills. I don’t recall ever having trouble distinguishing between character voices. Both the narrators’ voices had pleasant tones and neither one overshadowed the written material, but brought it to life very nicely. ♣︎

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📚 Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

19090384Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Innkeeper Chronicles #1

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Renée Raudman
Length: 7h 55m
Publisher: Ilona Andrews, Inc.⎮2014

3.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ This is going to be an extremely subjective review and my intention is not to deter anyone from giving this audiobook a chance. I do feel that it is a quality piece of work with some wonderful attributes. If intense paranormal fiction with all the trimmings is your kind of thing, then Clean Sweep will be perfect for you! It’s got witches, werewolves, vampires, and lots of alien critters. It’s basically the literary version of the television show Supernatural. If I had known that going in, odds are that I never would have started this. I have tried (and failed) to get into Supernatural on numerous occasions, but it’s just not for me.

I think I must prefer my paranormal fiction to stick to two (or less) types of supernatural species instead of throwing in the whole lot of the paranormal universe in a package deal. If Clean Sweep had stuck with just specializing in witches (like I was expecting it to), I’m sure I would have enjoyed it much more. But no, Andrews had to throw in werewolves, and then vampires, and then a whole host of obscure alien creatures (which is where I lost interest). I’m not ready to rule out alien fiction altogether, but I haven’t had much luck with it so far. I will say that I preferred this story so much more than other comparable paranormal fiction. Namely, the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Unlike Obsidian, I was actually able to finish this audiobook. Clean Sweep was a much less juvenile story and this one installment far surpassed anything I have ever experienced from Armentrout. If you are a fan of hers, I seriously encourage you to give this series a shot. The writing is so much better, the protagonist is very likable, and the plot isn’t centered around a romance. And this story never gave me the impression that it was written for someone younger than me.

Aside from the basic plot premise not being “my cup of tea”, I was a bit disturbed by a couple of points. Firstly, Clean Sweep opens with the protagonist investigating a string of gruesome dog murders in her neighborhood. For some people, that may not bother them at all. However, animal abuse is extremely difficult for me to tolerate in literature (and life). My motto is “kill the character, save the dog”. No apologies. So obviously, this bit of the story struck me the wrong way. The second thing was that I found the writing in some scenes to be a little graphic in contrast to the overall feel of the story. The writing was very descriptive, which was generally a positive thing, but it sometimes came off a teensy bit scifi horror-ish. Maybe I’ve gone soft from reading so much YA, but I wasn’t prepared for that type of gore in this particular story. Coincidentally, that is also one of the primary problems I had when watching Supernatural. But it’s not anything that would deter me from continuing on with the series.

However, my general lack of interest in the story is. Unless one day I suddenly become majorly interested in all things alien/paranormal, I don’t think I would particularly gain anything from listening to the rest of the series. I don’t feel bad about having listened to this installment, especially because it was only 7 hours long, but I don’t exactly feel like it was time well spent for me either. But I must emphasize that I do think a great number of you would feel very differently, especially if you already know you are attracted to this type of genre. I would recommend this to someone in a heartbeat if I felt that it was their “thing” because it is extremely well-written, witty, the characters are refreshing, and it has a great plot. I’m just not into aliens. It’s that simple.

Narration review: If I didn’t know better, I would swear this audiobook was narrated by Dolly Parton herself. Raudman’s voice has a warm, velvety tone that I absolutely loved. Her “Texan” accent definitely added to the story’s atmosphere, but did sound a little overdone. However, it didn’t bother me as much as I initially thought it would and I actually came to enjoy it as the story went on. I have listened to a sample of another narration she did without the accent and preferred it much more. Her voice really is pleasing to the ear. It’s a shame that her considerable repertoire doesn’t include more titles that immediately appeal to me, because I would definitely love to hear more of her. ♣︎

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📚 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Andieh

18798983Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

The Wrath and the Dawn #1

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Ariana Delawari
Length: 10h 38
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2015

4.75 ★ Audiobook⎮ Renée Andieh’s writing was so beautiful that it almost took my breath away several times. Her imagery was so vivid and her characters so dynamic. Shahrzad is the type of the female protagonist that I yearn for. I don’t even know what to say about The Wrath and the Dawn, except that it entranced me from the beginning. It is supposed to be a retelling of Arabian Nights (which I’ve never read) and the setting reminded me so much of Disney’s Aladdin (which is one of the stories in Arabian Nights.

I’m aware that a lot of people take issue with the romance, but for me, that was the best part of the story. In fact, I could have done without the other POV chapters entirely. I felt that the love triangle was weak and unnecessary. Honestly, I didn’t want anything other than Shahrzad and Khalid (and maybe some Jahlal, which would have made a better triangle). I don’t give two flips about Tariq and Raheem. I can already tell you that by the time the sequel comes out in May, probably the only thing I will remember (or care about) is the Shahrzad/Khalid pairing and that is more than enough to make me lunge for it. And although I can sort of see the problematic aspects, they didn’t even register with me while I was enjoying the story.

I think the key is to remember that this story is based off of stories popular during the Islamic Golden Age (roughly 8th century). Obviously there going to be plenty of things that 21st-centurians and Westerners don’t agree with. But for me, that was part of the beauty of it. Being able to become totally immersed in another time and culture’s way of thinking was an exhilarating experience. It’s not supposed to be exactly like other YA stories. I think most of those complaining about the “problematic” romance might possibly be looking at this from the wrong angle.

Oh, and did I mention the writing? It was the most gorgeous writing I’ve seen in months (unlike that of this review-not my best). I’ve seen a couple other reviews in which readers were left speechless by the beauty of Andieh’s storytelling. I guess it is just something you will have to experience for yourself because I can’t quite find the words to describe it justly. Maybe, breathtaking? That’s close enough.

Narration review: Unfortunately, I did not find the voice narration nearly as enjoyable as the story itself. The narration for The Wrath and the Dawn was sub par, in my opinion. Although Ariana Delawari had a pleasant voice and provided excellent articulation and pronunciation, her tonal range was practically nonexistent. It was almost impossible to distinguish between characters throughout the entire audiobook, which made for an extremely frustrating listening experience. This narrator seemed to make no effort to provide any kind of distinction between dialogue and prose, much less between characters. Her voice was flat and unenthused. Considering that the narrator brings nothing more than proper pronunciation to the audiobook experience, combined with the fact that there apparently was a glossary provided in the back of the physical book (or eBook), I cannot help but recommend that format over the audiobook. ♣︎

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🔎 Monday Discovery: 11.22.63 on Hulu

 

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It’s funny the things you discover by accident. Like today when I logged onto my Hulu account, just casually trying to find an unseen episode of Seinfeld, and discovered that one of my all-time favorite standalone novels has been turned into a Hulu original television show. 11/22/63 is special to me for several reasons: It was the first audiobook I ever listened to, my first time travel story, and also my first Stephen King novel. I know it’s said that “you never forget your first” and I don’t see any reason why that can’t apply to audiobooks! Especially if it was a really, really great experience. If you follow this blog even a little, then you’ve probably picked up on my slight obsession with time travel. 11/22/63 is the story of a high school equivalency teacher that travels back to the 60s in order to prevent JFK’s assassination. Obviously, it won’t be easy and he soon learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed. Call this story science-fiction, historical fiction, or whatever you want. I just call it brilliant.

James Franco plays the main character Jake Epping in Hulu’s version of King’s work and it’s directed by the amazing J.J. Abrams, whose efforts have turned out other favorites like Alias and Lost. The first episode premiered today (Happy Presidents’ Day!) and ran for almost an hour and a half.

As you can see from the trailer, it’s probably not suitable for anyone younger than 17 or so. I mean, it’s Stephen King. While watching it, I had to adjust my expectations a little. Although I’ll take a television adaptation over a movie one any day, it is still difficult to capture everything about a book on screen. 11/22/63 was one of the longest audiobooks I’ve ever listened to (over 30 hours) and a lot of material will undoubtedly be cut in order to pack the primary plot line into 8 episodes. This type of adaptation is definitely risky because Stephen King’s “moneymaking skills”, if you will, lie in his ability to build worlds and develop characters so vivid that it is as if they’ve been plucked from your very own reality. That type of authenticity cannot be rushed and it’s what I felt the pilot lacked. Now, I know most pilot episodes are awkward and stiff, probably because they are trying to lay a foundation and keep the viewer’s interest at the same time. So I’m not too worried at this point. Anyone who has read 11/22/63 has an excellent chance of adoring this show, because we already know it’s going to be good. What I’m worried about is the average viewer who has no idea what to expect. I can see how this pilot could be a little disconcerting to that type of viewer because they were not allowed to comfortably wade in the shallow waters as the readers were before the real action began. I cannot say with complete certainty that those wrinkles will be ironed out in future episodes (because I haven’t seen them), but there is a very good chance that our patience will be rewarded, given the combination of Franco’s acting and Abrams’ producing skills. I would still suggest reading the book first, though. Another episode doesn’t premier until next Monday night (Feb. 22nd), giving you plenty of time to sink your teeth into the novel. Or, better yet, the audiobook! Craig Wasson does an incredible job narrating and you could probably get through it much faster on audio. If you were looking for an excuse to give 11/22/63 a try, this is the perfect opportunity! ♣︎

📚 The Siren by Kiera Cass

25944385Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Arielle DeLisle
Length: 7h
Publisher: HarperCollins⎮2016

3.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ Something about the way Kiera Cass writes reminds me of sugary frosting. The writing style of this novel was very similar to that of The Selection series, it was light, fluffy, and filled with pretty flourishes of imagery. The difference, I was disappointed to realize, was that there was little more to The Siren than fluffy prettiness.

At least with The Selection there was something substantive underneath the frosting. Listening to The Siren was like eating a bowl of frosting. It tastes great going down, but doesn’t fill you up like a real meal would. Furthermore, you’ll probably feel sick from ingesting so much sugary sweetness. Food analogy aside, I’m sure you get my point.

The Siren lasted exactly 7 hours, which is very, very short for any audiobook, especially a standalone novel. Most YA audiobooks last between 8-12 hours, with some going as long as 14-16. Standalone novels can last upwards of 20 hours. I was surprised to make it to the halfway point of this audiobook (3.5 hours) and discover that the plot hadn’t really picked up any sort of momentum yet. That’s when I realized I was in trouble. Up until that point, I was enjoying the frivolity of the story, thinking that the serious plot stuff would come later on. But… it never really did.

Simply put, The Siren lacks any kind of depth. It was a quick, superficial story that didn’t take me long to get through and didn’t require much thought at all on the part of the listener. Even towards the end, it maintained its fairytale vibe and the plot became increasingly predictable. I will say that the basic premise for the story was a very original idea and the only other thing I can compare it to is Disney’s The Little Mermaid (and the myths from which that originates).

There is also a serious case of “insta-love”, which makes perfect sense to me given the obvious lack of depth in the entire story. I thought the individual characters were developed well enough, but never lived up to their full potential. I found myself disliking each of them at some point in the story, usually for being foolish and vapid.

Overall, this story’s development was just too insipid and shallow to be stimulating enough for me. It is fairly unremarkable and I doubt I will ever think about it again after this review, except to maybe lament what could have been. If only there had been a little cake underneath all of that frosting, I’m sure I would have come away much more satisfied.

Narration review: Arielle DeLisle provided delightful narration that fit the feel of the story perfectly. I was pleased with her tonal range and character distinction abilities. Her voice was very pleasant to hear and I felt she was an excellent choice for narrator of this story. Plus, I got a little chuckle out the fact that a woman named Arielle was narrating a story about a character who was basically a mermaid (or close enough). ♣︎

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📢 Audiobook Sale Alert: The Chronos Files series is currently on sale for $5.24 each on Audible! Good price, great series ?

Runs until 2/15 at 11:59pm PST

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Reviews: Timebound, Time’s Edge, Time’s Divide

Plus, the entire Romance genre is 50% off!

📚 Time’s Divide by Rysa Walker

time-s-divide-the-chronos-files-book-3-by-rysa-walkerAvailable purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

The Chronos Files #3

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Kate Rudd
Length: 13h 27m
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2015

4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ I’ll say upfront that Time’s Divide was not my favorite in the trilogy, but I still overwhelmingly recommend it. At first glance, this could seem like your typical YA “teenage girl saves the world” trope, with a love triangle thrown in for good measure. But the devil is in the details, or in this case, the deliciousness is in the details, because that’s what makes this series stand out among all of the other time travel tales. It’s not so much about what the author does, but how she does it that makes me love this series.

Take the love triangle for example, typical love triangles usually wind up with two sides of it riding off into the sunset. But not this one. Without giving too much away, I think this was the most original solution to a love triangle that I have read to date and one that I definitely did not see coming. I think that’s what I like most about this series: I never saw much of anything coming. I hate predictable and formulaic plots. I’ve even sworn off certain authors because that’s all they seem to know how to write. Rysa Walker’s ability to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout this entire series has earned my lifelong loyalty as a reader (listener), especially now that I have learned she lives a mere hour or so away from me. I’ll for sure be keeping an eye out for local signings! How exciting would that be?!

Maybe it was because I went on a Netflix-style binging spree with this series and listened to them back to back, but all three installments felt like one continuous book. I detracted .25 of a star becauseTime’s Divide lacked something I really loved in the other two, a strong historical backdrop. The whole Houdini thing didn’t really entice me as much as 1893 Chicago or 1938 Georgia. Time’s Divide focused more on untangling the knot that the first two installments created and spent more time in the present (or relative present) than in the past. It also saw Kate develop a sizable “heroine complex”. I wish I could say that I came to really love her by the end of the series. I liked her enough to root for her, but that was it. To me, she was a likable character, but not lovable.

I was, however, quite fond of several other characters. This series reminds me quite a bit of The Immortal Descendants series that I so raved about last month. With that series, I was crazy about the main character, but not so sold on the romance (which I felt it could have survived without). In this series, it’s the opposite. I honestly felt that the love triangle strengthened the overall plot and further endeared me to some of the characters. And although she might not have ended up with the side of the triangle that I was hoping for, I don’t feel completely robbed on that front (just read the book, you’ll understand). It’s very 10th Doctor Who-ish.

I think my slight disappointment with Time’s Divide was mainly centered around the Cyrist/5th Column plot taking center stage. It’s all too political conspiracy-esque. I think I preferred that plotline to be less influential in the overall story, more like it was in the first two installments. My head is still trying to process everything that happened in Time’s Divide. I found it harder to follow along with than the other two, which is partially to be expected since everything culminated in this finale. Somehow, I just can’t feel like everything was resolved and tied up with a pretty bow. Maybe that is on purpose because there is a short novella that takes place after the events of this installment, but from another character’s perspective. Or maybe my mind has just been scrambled like Prudence’s from so much temporal whiplash.

As far as time travel stories go, the concepts presented here were some of the most unique and intriguing that I’ve encountered. For the most part, I found it surprisingly easy to grasp and run with. The fast-pace complemented the exciting plot and kept my interest extremely well. As a genealogy buff, the familial element of the story was super attractive to me as well. I loved that it wasn’t just Kate fighting some random crazy time traveling old guy, but that the crazy time traveling old guy was her grandfather. And also that the reader was shown generations of families through time. In one chapter, Kate may have saved the lives of someone in the 19th century and in the next chapter she has dinner with their great-grandchildren in the 21st (loose example). Something about that is just so exciting to me!

Another point I really appreciated about this series was its maturity level. Sure, it has a 17-year-old protagonist, but nothing else about this series screams YA to me. There were several cheeky situations and comments (mostly from Kiernan), but nothing overtly sexual happened because, honestly, who has time to “get busy” when you’re supposed to be saving the world from your crazy grandpa? Although some adult themes were hinted at (which I, as an adult, appreciated), I still think the series is appropriate for ages 16+. I also say this because there was semi-graphic violence throughout the series including an attempted sexual assault scene in Time’s Edge. It was nothing too terrible from my perspective (although I did have to stop listening at night for a while during Time’s Edge), but it maybe triggering?to some.

So if you couldn’t tell, I’m totally crazy about this series and would definitely recommend it to those who love fast-paced time travel adventure stories. This definitely has to be one of my favorite time travel series! I think I started having withdrawals before I even finished it. I’m so in love with this series that I broke one of my cardinal rules and spent a whopping three audiobook credits (that I was saving for upcoming releases) on the three Chronos Files novellas. Usually, I refuse to spend credits on novellas at all, but approximately eight hours after finishing Time’s Divide,  my resolve broke down. It only took five minutes of listening to Time’s Echo for me to know I made the right decision. I’m going to try to pace myself with these novellas, however. My hope is that by the time I finish them, I will have found a new series to obsess over and help cure my Chronos Files hangover!

Narration review: Kate Rudd did a great job narrating this series. I always enjoy her work! I wish her tonal range was just a little bit larger when voicing male characters to provide greater distinction, but that’s a minor complaint. I imagine it’s probably difficult for female narrators to distinctly voice so many male characters (and vice versa) and it wasn’t anything that detracted from the performance in a major way. I still thoroughly enjoyed her narration and will absolutely be listening to her again in the future. I especially appreciated the accent she voiced Kiernan with because it brought his character to life in such a vivid way. ♣︎

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📚 Time’s Edge by Rysa Walker

22066090Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

The Chronos Files #2

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Kate Rudd
Length: 13h 27m
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2014

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ Holy moly. Is Rysa Walker the queen of cliffhangers, or what? Discovering the series has derailed so much in my life this week already and now it seems I’ll be forced to finish the next installment before I can even think of getting anything else accomplished. I usually experience a bit of a slump with second installments, but nope. Not with this one. It’s true that the plot of Time’s Edge required a bit more concentration on my part, just because the story is constantly progressing and interweaving. But I kept up with it surprisingly well, especially considering that the pace never slowed.

Time’s Edge also seemed a bit less “dumpy” with information overloads, probably because most of that was taken care of in Timebound. At this point, the reader is almost as up-to-date and the main character. Kate actually annoyed me a little more in Time’s Edge. In the last book, her constant dismissal of her own intuition and of obviously suspicious activity was somewhat more tolerable and even understandable, given how new she was to a paranormal lifestyle. However, now that she is in the thick of it, her gullibleness (is that a word?) borders on blatant ignorance. Needless to say, that is not something that endears her to me.

I prefer both of her beaus to her at this point. All throughout Timebound. and even after almost 75 percent of this one, I had no idea which of them I wanted her to be with. But after witnessing the effects of book one’s major cliffhanger, I think it’s safe to say that one of those relationships is not what it used to be (which is a shame because I guess I was sort of leaning towards him). Love triangles are always more interesting to me when the author makes it difficult for me to pick a side. I’m giving this installment the same rating as the first because it did not let me down one single bit. Rysa Walker could have easily watered Time’s Edge down and used it as a “bridge” between the first and last, but thankfully she did not. It had so many of the things that I loved about Timebound., but with a varying historical backdrop. In my experience, it is rare for a second installment to be just as strong as the first.

?Trigger warning: There are some semi-graphic violence scenes, including attempted sexual assault of a minor.

Narration review: I’m still enjoying Kate Rudd’s narration abilities. In this installment, she really exercised her accent distinction capabilities as she voiced many Southern characters. As a Southerner myself, I appreciate their drawls not being comically overdone (as so many narrators are quick to do). I am noticing, however, that it is just a bit difficult for me to discern between her male voices (those without distinguishable accents). Kate’s dad and boyfriend, for example, sound basically the same to me. I’ve noticed that I have to pay closer attention to who is speaking during those scenes. She does a much better job of providing distinct voices for the female characters. This isn’t a huge complaint at all and it’s not something I remember having a problem with while listening to the other audiobooks she has narrated. So who knows, it could be a “me problem”. ♣︎

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📚 Timebound by Rysa Walker

18108877Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

The Chronos Files #1

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Kate Rudd
Length: 12h 7m
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2013

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮ I picked up this audiobook during one of Audible’s $4.95 sales. I didn’t necessarily choose it because I’ve seen a lot of great reviews or heard a ton of hype about it, because I haven’t. And I was aware that my friend Dana only gave this 3.25 stars when she read it. But because of Audible’s awesome return policy, I decided to give it a shot anyway since I’m such a sucker for time travel. Timebound is the perfect example of why readers/listeners should ultimately make their own decisions about what to read and not solely rely on other people’s reviews. Dana and I usually have aligning opinions on most things, but we saw Timebound very differently. It is also great example of a shot in the dark that completely paid off. To me, there are few things more rewarding than taking a risk on an audiobook and having it pay off.

I’m a self-proclaimed “mood reader”, meaning that my moods and whims can greatly determine my choice of audiobook and my audiobook experience. I’ve finally learned to quit fighting these whims and listen to whatever my gut tells me at the moment. That usually means a spontaneous and constantly fluctuating TBR. After finishing Me Before You, I wasn’t emotionally ready to begin the sequel, so I decided to go in a completely different direction with Timebound. I liked it immediately, probably because it hit the ground running. There was no dawdling in the beginning and the pace hardly slowed throughout the entirety. This is the first time travel story I can remember that didn’t once compare Time to some sort of body of water.

Timebound has some very unique characteristics and I found the plot easy enough to understand and follow. More than that, I also found it incredibly intriguing and quickly became invested in it. I formed strong attachments to the characters and came to care about their well-being. This book consisted of a lot of action, with periodic unloadings of information that Dana saw as “dumpy” (dumping a ton of info onto the reader at once), but I didn’t mind that so much. I saw it more like “debriefing” than “dumping”, since these episodes usually happened after something very eventful. It’s true that most authors prefer to let important pieces of plot information be revealed more slowly (and subtly) throughout the plot, but I actually appreciated not being made to wait to get the whole story. This allowed me to focus on what was unfolding at the time. I think that this story’s fast pace calls for it in order to not overwhelm the reader during action scenes.

However, there were a couple points that bugged me a bit, like how quickly and easily both Charlene & Trey (I don’t know how to spell their names. #AudiobookProblems) were to accept Kate’s bizarre story of time travel. Those scenes required a little more suspension of disbelief and I felt they should have been more drawn out to be believable. Subtlety may not be one of this author’s strongest points, but she did a lot of other things exceedingly well. I really enjoyed how she used well-known historical events, like The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, as a backdrop for the action in the story.

I also liked the inclusion of a corrupt cult-like religion run by power-hungry time travelers. That was a nice (and unexpected) addition to the plot. I’ve already learned that this author has a penchant for throwing wild curve balls. I found this story thrilling in an “edge of my seat” kind of way and I bought the second and third installments before even finishing the first.

Narration review: I was delighted to see that Kate Rudd is the narrator for this series and that is actually what tipped me in favor of purchasing this audiobook. I have heard Rudd’s performances before in The Fault in Our Stars and Snow Like Ashes. She is always pleasant to hear and I think she was a great choice to voice the protagonist of this series, also named Kate. If this main character had been voiced by someone else, there is a chance I wouldn’t have cared for her quite as much. There were a few times that I was on the fence about liking Kate (the character) due to her questionable decision-making and accute heroine complex. I think a less enjoyable narrator (one with a whiny or annoying voice) could have sent me over the edge into actively disliking the character. Choice of narrator is that important! Rudd has a considerable narration repertoire, so I encourage you to check it out! ♣︎

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📚 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

15507958Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Me Before You #1

Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2016

Narrator: Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott, Owen Lindsay
Length: 14h 40m
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2012

❤Buddy Listen with Dana!

5 ★ Audiobook⎮ I feel sort of rotten putting a “numerical label of worth” (rating) on this particular piece because it had such an indescribable effect on me. I will admit that the main thing that motivated me to start Me Before You was learning through the movie trailer that it contained a character with a severe disability (quadriplegia). I’m sure that could be a major turn off for others because disability isn’t something that is often spoken about in the open, much less written about!

There has been a major push recently for authors to write more diverse books and I could make the argument that disability should be a primary topic in that discussion because it is something that affects all orientations, races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. It is indeed the largest minority on the planet. I’m not trying to take anything away from other minorities, but disability is frequently glossed over in those discussions and deserves to be addressed.

Speaking of “glossing over”, I was fully expecting the more realistic aspects of Will’s disability to go unmentioned completely or be merely hinted at in a “fade to black” way. I give Jojo Moyes so much respect and admiration for not romanticizing the disability. Given that Me Before You is technically classified as a romance novel, she could have very easily done so. But I am so glad she didn’t. She wrote about Will’s physical discomfort, the daily medical issues he faced, and his frustrations at being stripped of his dignity and free will. She described his hesitance to eat in public (or even go in public) because of the reactions he got from other people and the physical barriers that prevented him from enjoying public events. She showcased how difficult it is for the caregiver/family member to watch a loved one with a disability endure all of this and be able to do very little about it. Most of all, she shined a bright spotlight on the way society still (indirectly) shuns those with disabilities. The characters in this story were more than characters to me because I know that there are millions of people experiencing these same obstacles right now (literally, millions). This story needed to be told. 

Slightly Spoiler-y ⬇︎

I think the thing I love most about Me Before You is that we hear from almost everyone’s point-of-view except Will’s. His story is told exclusively through the perspectives of those around him. It’s possible I’m reading too much into this, but I think this could have been Moyes’ subtle way of making the point that Will’s voice largely went unheard after his paralysis. As he said, everyone thought they knew what was best for him, but no one ever actually listened to him. Thus, the reader never gets to listen to him either. I’ve seen reviews that complained about this, but I think it’s a powerful way to make Will’s point. I’ve also seen some readers/listeners lower this book’s rating based on their dissatisfaction with the way it ended. Those readers were likely looking for a swoon-worthy romance where Will and Louisa live happily ever after. Some of them may have even been expecting Will to eventually walk again. Not to sound snarky, but those people really should have watched a Disney film instead. Jojo Moyes’ book was more realistic than that. I have so much respect for Moyes for not sending Will and Louisa off into the sunset together and tying everything up with a pretty ribbon (therefore potentially dishonoring the genuine struggles and sacrifices of those with disabilities).

What Will wanted more than anything was the power to take his life into his own hands. This is something that the non-disabled often take for granted. He wanted to make a choice for himself and for it to be honored. Ultimately, he wanted that even more than he wanted Louisa. This didn’t please many readers because it’s not the choice they wanted Will to make. But that’s the point! Will’s decision wasn’t about what anyone else wanted, readers included. I think part of the point Moyes was trying to make was that we should respect someone’s decision, even if we wholeheartedly do not agree with it. The other part was that everyone has the right to make their own choices in life. Just because someone’s physical abilities have been taken away does not give others the right to take away their free will. My point is: It’s not pretty, but it’s real. To me, that’s worth a lot more.

Narration review: According to Audible, this audiobook had six narrators, although I only remember hearing five. It was told from the perspective of Louisa, Camilla, Nathan, Stephen, and Katrina (and possibly a sixth I’m forgetting). This audiobook perfectly exemplified how to do multiple POVs correctly: Few, far between, and with multiple narrators for maximum character distinction. Aside from Louisa, we only heard from the other character POVs once each, so there wasn’t a lot of flip-flopping to cause confusion. Having multiple narrators, although probably expensive, goes a long way toward ensuring the listener doesn’t confuse character voices. Each of the narrators did a wonderful job of inserting an appropriate amount of emotion into their performances. Well done! ♣︎

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