07 June 2012

Sound Recommendations: Six Mini Reviews

Did you know that June is Audiobook Month? Well it is. To help celebrate, here are mini reviews of six audiobooks I've listened to this year but haven't written about here. Here's my eclectic round-up, in no particular order.

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller. You will never, ever look at olive oil the same way again. This book completely changed my olive oil habits because it made me aware of the low quality of oils available on the world markets. If you live near a family oil producer, buy from them. If not, check the labels and the certifications, but don't hold your breath that you're getting anything good. After all, olive oil fraud has been common since biblical times. Narrator Peter Ganim does a fabulous job with the accents and reads with an engaging level of expression. (Dreamscape Media, 10 hr, 10 min)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Boo spent four years studying the residents of Annawadi, a shack-town slum outside Mumbai. Her book follows a handful of specific people and their families as they try to make a better life for themselves in one of the biggest cities in the world. Besides discussing the expected limited avenues for advancement, Boo also writes about family feuds, deaths, arrests, and illness. Unfortunately, the book doesn't translate well to audio. This is the result of the structure of the text and the poor performance by narrator Sunil Malhotra. (Random House Audio, ~ 8 hr; my full audio review is available at AudioFile magazine)

Missus by Ruth Park. Missus is the last written but first chronologically in a trilogy of books about the Darcys, Irish-Australians who live in the poorer sections of Sydney in the mid-1900s. This book begins in the 1920s and is set in the outback. It follows Hugh Darcy, a restless laborer, and Margaret Kilker, the small-town girl who falls in love with him. The novel excels in its descriptions of the countryside and life in Australia almost 100 years ago. Not particularly the best book I ever read, but I ended up rooting for the couple to get together. Narrator Kate Hood did a fine job, keeping me hooked to the story. (Bolinda, 7 hr, 31 min; my full audio review is available at AudioFile magazine)

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani. I love Trigiani's writing, and so I knew this book would be a hit with me. The novel was particularly intriguing because the story is loosely based on her own grandparents' life. I loved the descriptions of the Italian mountains, the sights and sounds of New York City in the early twentieth century, and small-town life in the upper Midwest. Trigiani's characterizations and eye to detail are evident here. The audiobook was read by Annabella Sciorra and then Adriana Trigiani herself. (Harper Audio, 18 hr, 19 min; my full audio review is available at AudioFile magazine)

The Lion Is In by Delia Ephron. This novel is a bit difficult to describe. Tracee is a runaway bride, and Lana is a recovering alcoholic. As the two friends high-tail it out of town, they come across Rita, who is walking along the side of the road. The three head out together, each one harboring a secret. When their car breaks down near a rural bar, they're forced to stay put until they can earn enough money for the repairs. They all get jobs at the tavern, which is also the home of a caged ex-circus lion named Marcel. Thanks to their special relationship with the lion, the three women begin to face their problems and find a future. Narrator Natasha Lyonne's fun characterizations work well with this quirky story. (Penguin audio, 7 hr 13 min; my full audio review will be published by AudioFile magazine)

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris. This short book consists of five Sookie Stackhouse short stories. They take place at different times in the Southern Vampire series, so it's probably best to wait to read these until you've read at least the first nine books (to avoid spoilers). The stories focus on many of the familiar characters in the Sookie books, including vampires Bill, Eric, and Pam; several of Sookie's relatives; and other citizens of Bon Temps, Louisiana. I'm hesitant to say much about the plots, because of spoilers, but the one about Eric was pretty funny, and I liked Sookie's Christmas gift in the holiday story. Narrator Johanna Parker did her usual excellent job. (Recorded Books, 3 hr, 35 min)

8 comments:

Sandy Nawrot 6/7/12, 6:17 AM  

I am immediately drawn to the olive oil audio. I spend money on my olive oil, but now I am wondering if I am buying crap! Going to have to get my hands on this one. And the Trigiani one.

Mary (Bookfan) 6/7/12, 6:49 AM  

I loved the print edition of The Shoemaker's Wife. I'm thinking I should try listening to one of Trigiani's novels - maybe the next one (soon, please!).

Daryl Edelstein 6/7/12, 11:04 AM  

of all these I think I am going to get Ephron's ..

JoAnn 6/7/12, 12:52 PM  

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is on my wish list, but I'll stick to print. Thanks for the advice!

Jenners 6/7/12, 12:54 PM  

Now you've got me wondering about olive oil...

Nise' 6/7/12, 7:50 PM  

I've got The Shoemaker's Wife on audio and look forward to listening.

Leslie 6/8/12, 10:05 AM  

I had no idea there was an audiobook on olive oil! This sounds like exactly the type of book I like to listen to while gardening.

I enjoyed The Shoemaker's Wife but I question the decision to use two narrators with such very different styles. It threw me for an hour or so. Still, I loved the book.

Robin McCormack 6/9/12, 2:53 PM  

The Lion Is In definitely sounds intriguing. Will add it to my wishlist. You'll be happy to know that audiobooks are growing on me and enjoying listening to them more and more.

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