📚 P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

20698530Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2

Description⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Laura Knight Keating
Length: 8h 59m
Published: Recorded Books⎮2015

5 ★ Audiobook⎮ Oh, y’all! I’m so sad that this series is over! I’m telling you, for the few days it took me to listen to it, this series was absolutely everything to me. I was so consumed. It’s just precious and so hilarious. This series is the audiobook equivalent of a “happy place” for me now. I think about it and get this exuberant feeling of joy in my chest and a goofy grin on my face. Great audiobooks do that to a person, you know.

I can’t even be mad with Jenny Han for not making it a trilogy because the way it ended was so… right. Although, I wouldn’t exactly discourage another installment…Maybe just a novella? Pretty please? The thought of an epilogue makes my heart flutter! But no, I respect Jenny Han’s decision to leave things as they are because you really shouldn’t mess with perfection. And that’s what P.S. I Still Love You was: Perfection. She had me there for a minute, though. Threatening to sink my ship and all. But this wasn’t that kind of story. P.S. I Still Love You is the kind of story that makes you just plain happy.

This series will always be special to me, like a first love. There really isn’t anything left to say that hasn’t already been covered in my review of the first installment or in the sugar-fueled gush session that happened on Goodreads last night when I finished it. I’m already working Han’s other stories into my audiobook budget (I ration my credits!), so you definitely haven’t seen the last of her on The Audiobookworm, that’s for sure! I just hope her other work is as utterly charming as this series.

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Narration reviewLaura Knight Keating‘s narration skills absolutely blew me away. Particularly, her ability to give each character an incredibly distinct voice. The voice distinction between characters was so significant that there were a couple of times I wondered if she was sharing narration duties with another voice actor. I also appreciate the tone she used to voice the 16-year-old protagonist, Lara Jean. It was youthful, upbeat, and innocent, without being juvenile, whiny, or annoying. A narrator really has to have a solid grasp on a character’s personality in order to convey it through voice alone. I felt that Laura Knight Keating excelled at accomplishing this feat, which instantly makes her one of my favorite narrators. As excellent as Jenny Han’s writing is, Keating’s narration brings so much more to the audiobook than could ever be available in written format. Final verdict, choose the audiobook! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback), Audiobooks.comAudiobooks Now and Audible

📚 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

15749186Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1

Description⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Laura Knight Keating
Length: 8h 22m
Published: Recorded Books⎮2014

5 ★ Audiobook⎮ This audiobook. This freaking audiobook. It’s 8 hours and 22 minutes of sheer and utter delight. Funny story, I accidentally listened to half of this story’s sequel (P.S. I Still Love You) before realizing that it wasn’t the first in the series. Normally, that would make me flip out. I hate listening to a series out of order. But you know what? It wasn’t a huge setback like I would have anticipated. It’s really a credit to Jenny Han’s writing ability that I was able to [inadvertently] jump into the middle of the story and not even notice for several hours.

Han has described this series as “two halves of a heart” and that’s exactly what it feels like. The two blend so seamlessly that I couldn’t tell the middle of the story from the beginning. Once I finally realized my mistake and started this⬆︎ story, I was able to get more details regarding the background of events that I heard in the first half of the sequel. Am I confusing you?

Suffice it to say that this series is so incredible that not even I could flub it up by hearing it out of order. Never have I ever wanted to give an audiobook more than five stars (on a five star scale) until this one. It’s just so cute! It’s fluffy without being obnoxious and had me giggling every five minutes. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something serious and thought-provoking, but other times I just want something that will make me smile. This is definitely the latter. It definitely fell under the category of “Daytime Listens” (something I can listen to during the day, without requiring much concentration). It was a super easy listen and I don’t think I’ve ever quite enjoyed something this much.

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Narration reviewLaura Knight Keating‘s narration skills absolutely blew me away. Particularly, her ability to give each character an incredibly distinct voice. The voice distinction between characters was so significant that there were a couple of times I wondered if she was sharing narration duties with another voice actor. I also appreciate the tone she used to voice the 16-year-old protagonist, Lara Jean. It was youthful, upbeat, and innocent, without being juvenile, whiny, or annoying. A narrator really has to have a solid grasp on a character’s personality in order to convey it through voice alone. I felt that Laura Knight Keating excelled at accomplishing this feat, which instantly makes her one of my favorite narrators. As excellent as Jenny Han’s writing is, Keating’s narration brings so much more to the audiobook than could ever be available in written format. Final verdict, choose the audiobook! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback), Audiobooks.com and Audible

Introducing the Listen Along Audiobook Club

There are so many regular ol’ book club groups out there, but what about us self-proclaimed “audiobook addicts”?

The Listen Along Audiobook Club is designed especially for avid audiobook listeners. It operates just like a normal book club, but with all the extra benefits that audiobook lovers regularly enjoy.

The primary genres featured include, but aren’t limited to, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, & Science Fiction.

You can officially join LAAC on Goodreads (and friend me, while you’re at it!) and [officially/unofficially] participate through The Audiobookworm’s other platforms, as well: here, Twitter, Tumblr.

*Please note that you don’t have to strictly be an audiobook listener to participate, but it is encouraged in order to foster audiobook-related discussion about the narration, etc. But again, it’s not mandatory. Booklovers of any format are always welcome!

 

Fantasy Face-off: Round One

September was a big YA Fantasy month for me and some audiobooks definitely stood out more than others (not always for positive reasons, though). I never wrote full reviews for any of these, so let’s see which audiobooks were left standing when the dust cleared!

[Ring announcer voice]

First in the ring, we have:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson vs. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Managed by (Narrator): Jennifer Ikeda⎮ Elizabeth Evans

Weighing in at (Length): 12h 9m ⎮ 12h 47m

Representing (Publisher): HarperCollins (2012) ⎮ Audible, Inc. (2013)

Knock Outs (Rating): 5★ ⎮ 3.5★

Post-Match Breakdown: Throne of Glass (ToG) was heavily favored to win this matchup, but never overlook an underdog. The Girl of Fire and Thorns (TGFT) was narrated by (in my opinion) an all-star voice actor, Jennifer Ikeda. Although Elizabeth Evans did a fine job of narrating Throne of Glass, Ikeda may be one of my favorite female narrators. Her voice is like warm honey and nearly lulled me to sleep on several occasions. I started these series in September and have since finished them both (well, as far as I can go with ToG). Throne of Glass is a longer series and starts out rather slowly, probably to build momentum for future installments, whereas The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a trilogy that comes out swinging. Celaena, the protagonist in the Throne of Glass series is constantly hailed as a “badass” and all that, but Elisa (TGFT) is hands-down one of my favorite female protagonists of all-time. In this first installment, she is insecure and overweight, not at all like her confident, mesmerizing sister and, more importantly, not at all like the typical YA female protagonist. Yet, as the story progresses, Elisa becomes her own type of badass. Her character transformation was humbling to witness. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like Celaena progressed much in this installment (or really in the entire series). The ToG series picks up around the middle of the second installment, but judging by this installment alone, The Girl of Fire and Thorns easily takes the prize.

Next up, is:

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows vs. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Managed by (Narrator): Katherine Taub ⎮ Kate Simses

Weighing in at (Length): 9h 14m ⎮ 9h 12m

Representing (Publisher): HarperCollins (2012) ⎮ HarperCollins (2011)

Knock Outs (Rating): 3.5★ ⎮ 3★

Post-Match Breakdown: Only half of a star separated these two contenders and, to be honest, I originally gave Incarnate three stars when I first heard it. Both of these ratings were no doubt heavily influenced by the narration. Try as I might to keep my feelings between authors and narrators separate, there is bound to be some overlapping when the two come together to create a complete audiobook experience. Neither of these narrators will ever be my favorites and I am not in a rush to hear either of them again anytime soon. The narration made it particularly difficult to finish Incarnate, but I still feel like that was the stronger story. Narration aside, Incarnate‘s plot interested me a fair bit more than Shatter Me. But I will give Shatter Me credit for having interesting sound effects. There was a “scritch” sound every time the protagonist scratched out something she was writing. There was an element of uniqueness to the Shatter Me audiobook experience that I feel translated well from the physical format.

To me, all books/audiobooks leave a certain flavor (opinion) with you after finishing it. With time, that flavor can either savor (improve), sour (turn bad), or stay the same. The thing that persuaded me to award Incarnate the winning half star was the fact that it has savored in my mind since hearing it four months ago. When I think back on it now, I find myself recalling the parts of the plot that really interested me and sort of glossing over the negatives. From what I remember, the narrator was my primary complaint, so I would still recommend choosing the book format over audiobook for Incarnate, as well as Shatter Me.  If I ever decide to continue on with either of these series, Shatter Me  may have a chance for a rematch, but in this round, I’m declaring Incarnate the winner (but barely).

And finally, the main event:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas vs. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Managed by (Narrator): Jennifer Ikeda ⎮ Kate Rudd

Weighing in at (Length): 16h 7m ⎮ 10h 56m

Representing (Publisher): Recorded Books (2015) ⎮ HarperCollins (2014)

Knock Outs (Rating): 5★ ⎮ 4★

Post-Match Breakdown: This match featured one of my already well-beloved narrators, Jennifer Ikeda, and an author I was on the fence about. As seen in a previous matchup, I had ambivalent feelings towards Sarah J. Maas based on the only previous exposure I had to her writing, the Throne of Glass series. I was unsure about whether or not to give her newest work A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) a shot, but seeing that Ikeda was the narrator persuaded me. I’m telling you, some narrators are so incredible that I am willing to risk 9-12 hours of potentially horrible story just to hear their voices again. Fortunately for me, ACOTAR turned out to be the farthest thing from horrible. I don’t think I gave many audiobooks five stars in 2015, but this one was well deserved. On the other side of the ring, Snow Like Ashes put up a very, very good fight and even pulled out some last minute trick moves in an attempt to claim the victory. There was a blindsiding punch towards the end of the story that I never saw coming. If you’ve read/listened to it, you know exactly which twist I’m talking about. Still, the comeback attempt wasn’t enough to compete with ACOTAR, which had a very balanced and well-paced attack. It also wasn’t enough to warrant 5 stars, but I still think 4 stars is a fair rating for this rookie (debut) installment. It has a promising world and, now that I know the kinds of punches Sara Raasch is capable of pulling, I’m eager to move on to the next installment (which is out now!). With a perfect score, A Court of Thorns and Roses is the heavyweight champion of this Fantasy Face-off! ♣︎

📚 Change by Chris Selna

22060994Available 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 Jan. 2016

Narrator: Ron Herczig
Length: 2h 19m
Publisher: Chris Selna⎮2015

4.5 ★ AudiobookChange is not the type of story that I have typically listened to in the past, so I was initially unsure of what to expect. The first thing that caught my attention before the listening experience even began was the length of the audiobook (less than 2.5 hours long). I’m used to listening to audiobooks that are anywhere from 8 to 22 hours long. I couldn’t imagine how an author could produce a literary journey in barely over two hours. Again, I went into this with a completely open-mind and no previous assumptions as to the direction this story would take. And let me tell you, I was entirely unprepared for the emotional effect Change would have on me.

The only thing I knew from the description was that it was about a man (Robert) who wakes up one day having been transformed into a bug. Yes, a bug. Sounds sort of sci-fi, no? It’s actually a modernized version of Franz Kafka’s early 20th century novella The Metamorphosis. I never had the opportunity to read The Metamorphosis in high school, but even if I had, I don’t think I would have given it proper appreciation. I generally try to review immediately upon completion oven audiobook, but this was a story that I had to “sit on” for a while after finishing in order to process my multitude of thoughts and emotions. The retelling was incredibly easy to comprehend and modernized in a way so that the average 21st century individual can not only understand its message, but relate to it, as well. I think that was the most surprising part. That the main character, who is a bug, is so relatable. Robert is never seen in the story in human form. He is an insect from the very beginning, yet he retains his core humanity which is what so endears him to the reader/listener. As a psychology student, the family dynamic in this story was extremely interesting from a more clinical view, as well. Even now, I don’t think the whole of this story’s message has registered with me yet and I doubt that Change is something I will be able to shake from my thoughts very soon. This is a story that will be with me for a while.

Narration review: The second most immediate thing that caught my attention about this audiobook (after the short length) was the narration. Now, don’t go thinking that I’m blowing smoke just because of the little disclaimer down below. I don’t play like that. If I don’t like something, I’ll say so (see previous reviews as proof). If you still don’t believe me, go to listen to a sample of his work. Ron Herczig is the real deal, y’all. I knew from the audio sample that this man was a true performer. And that’s exactly what this was, a performance. It actually feels like a disservice to call him a “narrator” because the term voice actor feels so much more accurate. I don’t think I have ever heard a narrator voice actor put so much emotion into an audiobook. His Boston accent alone had me hooked in the opening minutes (very Kennedy-esque) and constantly made me smile throughout. His voice was a pure joy to hear, even if the story was heartbreaking. I hope to be able to hear more of his work soon. ♣︎

 This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Ron Herczig, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Ron!

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback) and Audible

Series Review: The Maze Runner series

Installments (3+*):

The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure The Kill Order (0.5), The Maze Runner Files

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*New prequel installment (0.6) to be released on September 27, 2016

Individual ratings & information:

Title Rating Length Published Purchase Options
5 ★ 10h 50m Listening Library (2009) Audible, The Book Depository, Audiobooks.com
4 ★ 10h 22m Listening Library (2010) Audible, The Book Depository, Audiobooks.com
4.5 ★ 8h 55m Listening Library (2011) Audible, The Book Depository, Audiobooks.com
4.25 ★ 10h 2m Listening Library (2012) Audible, The Book Depository, Audiobooks.com
Recommended for lovers of:

The Hunger Games, Divergent, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Action, Fast-pacing, Conspiracies

Suggested age group: 14+

{I’m doing a compiled review for this series because I completed it before becoming a full-time reviewer.}

I’ve seen a lot of people DNF-ing this series and it totally befuddles me. This was one of the first audiobook series I ever completed (way back in 2014) and, although a lot of the details have slipped away from me, I clearly remember my level of enjoyment being sky high. This series is super fast-paced and really unique. I tend to burn out on dystopians pretty quickly because a) it’s mostly formulaic with little originality b) the author focuses too much on the dystopian setting and doesn’t devote enough time to character development c) I can’t make myself care about the welfare of the characters. I did not have any of those issues with this series. The setting (especially for the first two installments) was incredibly original. The intensity factor was amazing. I was completely invested in the well-being of the characters and each of them had very distinct personalities. The plot, the plot, THE PLOT. This plot was so addicting. It grabbed me from the beginning of the first installment and refused to let me go, so much so that I even did something I hardly ever do and listened to a 0.5 story (a mini-installment). I only do that for series that I am insanely invested in! After finishing The Death Cure, I wasn’t ready to let the incredible world that James Dashner created go, so I scrambled to get my hands on The Kill Order and enjoyed every single second of it. For some reason, it seemed to provide more closure than the ending of The Death Cure. I’ve just found out (via Dashner’s Twitter) that he will be releasing another prequel story The Fever Code, “the story of how the maze was built” this September. I am so excited to be jumping back into the world The Maze Runner. In preparation, I think I will finally see The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials movies that were released a while back and try to get my hands on The Maze Runner Files mini-installment to jog my memory!

Narration review: Mark Deakins

The fact that I can think of this audiobook series and instantly recall the narrator’s name (Mark Deakins) is probably a good sign, eh? I have been known to gravitate towards certain audiobooks based on narration alone and discovering that Deakins narrates part of Reawakened is definitely making me want to give it a higher priority placement in my TBR. ♣︎

Overall series rating:

4.5 (rating for The Kill Order not considered, since it wasn’t a full installment)

📚 Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

20983362Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Passenger #1

Description ⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 13h 28m
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2016

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮This was my first Alexandra Bracken story. I haven’t gotten to The Darkest Minds series yet, but reading Passenger encourages me to move it up on my TBR. I’m no stranger to time travel fiction. In fact, it kind of seems like that’s all I’ve been interested in lately. Bracken’s take on time travel was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It was a wee bit confusing and I’m still not sure I have completely grasped her concept of time and the rules of traveling through it, but I am intrigued enough by its uniqueness to carry-on.

Fondness for this audiobook sort of creeped up on me. I wasn’t immediately hooked, nor was I ever on the edge of my seat with excitement, but that is not its style. This story doesn’t need cheap thrills because it has quality. It has so much promise that I don’t blame Bracken for not giving away all of the goods at once.

Overall, I felt this was a very balanced story. There wasn’t a ton of action and it wasn’t super fast-paced, but I was never bored with it. There was so much to digest, that I came to appreciate the slower pace. It gave me time to develop genuine interest in the plot and tethered me to the welfare of the characters. By the end of the novel, I had developed pretty strong opinions on each of the characters (one way or the other), except the main character Etta. My indifference towards her began to worry me as the story progressed until Rose described her as “a blank slate” near the end of it. It dawned on me that Etta is probably supposed to be somewhat underdeveloped at this point in the story since it’s only the first installment (I had to keep reminding myself of that). This allows the author to develop Etta along the way and let future events in the series mold her further.

Although the romance in this story did have me swooning at times, I’m not in full “shipping mode” just yet. I won’t say it was “insta-love” (thank goodness) because it seems more like lust than love right now anyway. However, I can see how it could develop into a great romance in the coming installments. I am oh so grateful to Alexandra Bracken for not forcing a gag-worthy romance down our throats. I’m even more grateful to her for rejecting an all too common YA plot device, the love triangle.

Nicholas is a very well-developed character and I appreciate how the author uses his race both as means of propelling the “forbidden” angle of the romance forward (in earlier centuries) and using the social injustices done to him to give his character extreme depth. There is so much room for exploration on that front alone. Of the other characters, I am most interested to learn about Rose’s backstory. The tiny tease of her we were given at the very end only left me wanting more of her in future installments. Her sheer badass-ery makes me hope that Etta’s character will mirror it (at least somewhat). And, just spitballing here, I wouldn’t complain about a spinoff series or at least a novella from Rose’s POV…

Narration review: Saskia Maarleveld did an outstanding job narrating. Her character voices were so distinct that I never had any trouble distinguishing points-of-view. Her accents were also very enjoyable and not at all overdone. Just with this one story, she has proven herself to be a very diverse narrator and I am looking forward to hearing her again! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.comAudiobooks Now and Audible

📚 Series Review: The Robert Langdon series

rl-series

Installments (4): Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno

Recommended for lovers of: History, European history, Conspiracies, Mystery, Religious history, Symbols

Suggested age group: 17+

{I’m doing a compiled review for this series because I completed it before becoming a full-time reviewer.}

960 Individual rating: 5 
Although Angels & Demons is known as Robert Langdon #1 in the series, it was actually published 3 days after The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2). But don’t ask me why! I read this back in 2006 (and I do mean read, as in the physical version) after immediately finishing (and adoring) The Da Vinci Code, which was being hyped like crazy then. When I first picked up The Da Vinci Code, I had no idea it was part of a series. You can imagine my delight upon learning of this installment and eventually coming to love it even more than The Da Vinci Code. I’m usually a stickler about reading a series in order (it’s a serious pet peeve), but this series was written in such a way that each installment could almost be a standalone novel. I read it 10 years ago, so I won’t do a detailed review. But suffice it to say that even though #1 and #2 are both worthy of receiving these 5 stars, this one edges out The Da Vinci Code by just a nose hair.

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

968 Individual rating: 5 
As stated above, this was the book that started my obsession with the Robert Langdon series. I know it gets spit on a lot, but I really, really, enjoyed it. I can see how it might not be suited for those with serious religious affinities, but I’ve always viewed it as an alternate take on religious history. I would recommend it for someone who loves history, but it doesn’t take things too seriously and is able to see this for what is, a work of fiction. To my amateur eye, Brown really seemed to have done his history homework. There were no significant inaccuracies that really bugged me or kept me from being able to enjoy the overall plot. To this day, I have never read anything else like this and it remains one of my favorites.

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

6411961 Individual rating: 4 
By the time The Lost Symbol was released, I was an avid fan of Dan Brown. I had its release date marked on my calendar for months. For some reason, I just didn’t enjoy this installment quite as much as the previous two. Maybe it was because so much time had passed between my successive reading of installments #1 & 2. I guess I was expecting it to be sort of like the movie National Treasure, but better. It turned out that I wasn’t as captivated by the Freemason storyline as I should’ve been in order to fully enjoy the story. However, it’s still a good installment to the series and I can definitely see how someone more interested in the Freemasons and Founding Fathers would love this. It just wasn’t my favorite.

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

17212231 Individual rating: 5 
After being slightly disappointed in The Lost Symbol, I was worried that my interest in this series was waning. Years went by, I became exceedingly busy, and the release of Inferno somehow slipped under my radar. I stumbled across it in late 2014 and was excited to see that Brown decided to send Robert Langdon back to Italy, where my favorite of his books is set. This was the first of his books I’ve ever listened to on audiobook and while I was a little disappointed that Tom Hanks (who portrays Robert Langdon in two film adaptations) wasn’t narrating, Paul Michael did an excellent job. This installment takes place in another part of Italy than Angels & Demons and focuses on a mystery surrounding the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. When compared to the ratings on Goodreads, it seems that I always tend to enjoy Dan Brown more than the average person and this installment was no exception. It felt like the Dan Brown of old, the one that originally reeled me in with The Da Vinci Code in 2006! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

Overall series rating: 4.75 

📚 Series Review: The Raven Cycle

Installments (3*): The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue

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*Fourth and final installment to be released on April 26, 2016

Individual ratings:

The Raven Boys: 4 

The Dream Thieves: 4 

Blue Lily, Lily Blue: 4.5 

Recommended for lovers of: Southern Gothic, Paranormal, Mysticism, Psychics, Welsh Mythology

Suggested age group: 14+

{I’m doing a compiled review for this series because I completed it before becoming a full-time reviewer.}

I initially gave each of these installments four stars when I read them last August (2015). Looking back, I can remember why I gave The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves those ratings, but I can’t recall anything significant enough to detract a whole star from Blue Lily, Lily Blue. The first installment starts off a little slowly, but only to build the incredible setting. This is difficult to appreciate as a first-time listener (or reader) because the setting and context for this story are so unlike what is traditionally seen in the YA genre. The Dream Thieves changes perspective just a bit and focuses more on Ronan, which I’m sure delights his multitude of fans, but Ronan was never my favorite.

Overall, the second installment interested me slightly less than the first, but was still extremely enjoyable. The third (but not final!) installment was much more action-oriented and where the story really seemed to pick up momentum. I’ve decided to bump it to 4.5 stars because this really is one of my favorite series. Over time, the appeal of this series has greatly increased in my mind. The Raven Cycle is like molasses. It’s thick and slow and smooth and rich and completely worth the wait. It’s the good kind of slow. The kind that builds up over time and has more of an impact on you after already consumed. It’s the kind of slow that seeps into your soul and sticks to your ribs. The kind you can’t shake. The vivid imagery of the setting Stiefvater created has withstood the test of time and remains almost just as vivid in my mind today as it was in August. Her writing is so uniquely impassioned that I just can’t help but *Blanche Deveraux swoon*. I’m looking forward to the fourth installment almost as much as I’m looking forward to The Winds of Winter, which is to say one hell of a lot.

Narration review: The other point that really stands out to me is the narration. Kudos to M. Stiefvater (or whoever is responsible) for choosing Will Patton to narrate The Raven Cycle. Whenever I think about The Raven Cycle, I still hear his voice in my head. The writing and the narration are so perfectly paired that it was hard to separate them for review. I don’t think either one would be quite as powerful without the other. Based on voice narration alone, this is quite possibly my favorite narrated series.

Patton’s voice is so soothing, with a sleepy Southern drawl that fits the setting perfectly, without being overly twangy or playing up to stereotypes. Either this guy is really a Southerner or he is just a fantastic actor. He somehow manages to capture the essence of each of the characters individually, while maintaining the same overall reverent, but eerie tone that the story evokes. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the musical additions to the audiobook. If I remember correctly, the author herself composed, arranged, and performed all of the original music for this series, which did so much to set the “feel” of the story and imprint it in my soul. I cannot begin to tell you how much the voice narration and the original music enhanced my audiobook experience with this series. I can count on one hand the number of series that are so improved upon by voice narration that they are actually better than their physical forms. This is in the top three.  ♣︎

Overall series rating: 4.25 

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible (Kindle Box Set)

💬 Thursday Thoughts & Opinions: Are Audiobooks Right For You?

Are audiobooks right for you?

Pros:

Multitasking

This is my number one reason for being an audiobook addict. There is no way I could have read 15+ physical books last month. I just had too much going on. But with audiobooks, I can dedicate almost 75% of my day to completing a book. How? By listening in the car, while exercising, cooking, cleaning, etc. I play audiobooks the way most people play music. I always have it on. It takes me approximately 2 days to finish an audiobook, without ever sacrificing time for anything else.

Cost-effectiveness*

If done correctly, satisfying an audiobook habit can actually be more cost-efficient than feeding a regular book habit. This will be more true for rapid readers than occasional readers. Audiobook subscription services like Scribd offer ways to listen to audiobooks and read eBooks each month for a flat fee (Scribd=$8.99/mo). Amazon’s Audible is a more expensive choice (starting at $14.95/mo), but it regularly boasts sales and special offers. For more detailed info about how to get the most book for your buck, check out my post overviewing paid audiobook services here.

Less clutter

This one is pretty self explanatory and is particularly beneficial for those with smaller living spaces.

Accessibility

Can’t wait until morning to buy that sequel? If you have an Internet connection, then you have fingertip access to practically any book ever published and can be enjoying it in a matter of seconds.

Proper name/term pronunciation

For the most part, audiobook narrators pronounce character names and terms the way the author intended. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know that Chaol is pronounced Kay-all and not Kale. Bad example, but you get the gist. This may not matter to some people. But for pronunciation sticklers, like me, it’s a perk!

Characterization

To put it simply, narrators do voices. Some actually do them very well and it greatly enhances the listening experience.

Great for auditory learners

If you are an auditory learner, meaning you absorb and retain information better from hearing it, you will probably take to audiobooks like a fish to water. 

Great for those with visual or reading impairments

Also pretty self explanatory, but shouldn’t be overlooked.

Portability

There’s nothing wrong with taking a book everywhere you go, but isn’t it easier to take your phone?

Cons:

Less traditional

From what I understand, this is the biggest drawback for most readers. Some people simply enjoy the feel of a physical book in their hands. I admit that there is something nostalgic about perusing a bookstore for hours and leaving with a new treasure.

No physical collection/bookshelf

Likewise, most readers take pride in arranging (and constantly rearranging) their bookshelves.

Narrator Detractions

This is the biggest drawback for me, personally. Everyone has their preference, but for every great narrator you find, there are two horrible ones you must suffer through. I will say however that an annoying narrator has never caused me to be unable to complete an audiobook.

More expensive for occasional readers

If you only read one or two books a month, and audiobook subscription service may not be worth the cost.

Easier to zone out

This may just be me, but sometimes I will find myself completely “zoning out” (not listening) to an audiobook. That’s usually a cue that it’s time for a break.

Some books lose their “written effect”

Some books have a unique visual style that can lose its effect when read aloud. Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments, for example, is largely written as email correspondence between two coworkers. Although I am still enjoying listening to this audiobook, I can’t help but feel that I’m missing some of the author’s intended effect when writing it this way. On the flipside, I think some books are actually enhanced by narration. Books that deal with music or poetry (ex: The Beautiful Creatures series), tend to come to life when read aloud.

 

Are Audiobooks Right For You?
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