07 March 2016

Sound Recommendations: 3 Late Winter Novels

Review: Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (audiobook)I'm sure Julia Claiborne Johnson's Be Frank with Me would be great in print, but it is absolutely fabulous in audio. Basic plot & thoughts: A reclusive single-book author is forced to churn out another best-seller before her money runs out. Her New York editor sends Alice, a recent college graduate, to California to be her personal assistant and help out with her son, Frank, who has a form of Asperger syndrome. Alice rarely sees her boss, but becomes 9-year-old Frank's constant companion and gets to know the handyman/piano teacher as well. Much charm and mayhem ensues. Audio: In narrator Tavia Gilbert's expert hands, Frank is the runaway star of the audiobook (Harper Audio; 8 hr, 37 min). Her performance is completely brilliant, and you'll soon forget that there's only one narrator. Recommendation: Do not miss this audiobook; I see many awards in its future.

Review: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (audiobook)Even an admirable performance couldn't save Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night for me. Basic plot & thoughts: World-famous opera singer Lilliet Berne has a secret past that is getting more and more difficult to hide and a controlling ex-lover who is getting harder and harder to escape. The plot was almost painfully slow, and I didn't care enough about any of the characters to either hate or love them. The late-19th-century period details were lovely but not enough to keep me interested. On the other hand, opera buffs will probably like the parts that focus on composers, the life of a professional singer, and the operas themselves. Audio: Narrator Lisa Flanagan handled the many needed European accents with good skill, and her performance was expressive and engaging (Blackstone Audio; 19 hr, 6 min). Recommendation: Unless you are a true opera fan, I'd pass on this one.

Review: Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett (audiobook)I could barely bring myself to stop listening to Sonya Hartnett's brilliant Golden Boys. Basic plot & thoughts: This is a coming-of-age story set in a small Australian town in the early 1980s about two 12-year-olds--Freya Kiley from a large, struggling Catholic family, and Colt Jenson, the well-off new kid on the block--and their families and friends. There is so much to love about this disturbingly authentic look at what happens when adolescents begin to see their parents for who they really are, flaws and all. In particular, Harnett nails children's neighborhood friendships, the one's formed more by proximity than by true commonalities. The novel sheds light on a couple of tough issues and their effects on families. My only complaint is the ambiguous ending. Audio: I was impressed with narrator David Vatousios's ability to tap in to the characters' personalities and to keep the tension humming right to the end (Bolinda; 7 hr, 2 min). Recommendation: Highly recommended in either print or audio.

Note: My full audiobook reviews of these titles are available through AudioFile magazine.


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 3/7/16, 7:52 AM  

I read Be Frank With Me and liked it fine, but it didn't blow me out of the water or anything. However, I can only imagine Frank on audio and I bet that was amazing!!

I'm also passing on Queen of the Night...not a fan of opera and I hear it's a lot to get through...in print or audio.

Daryl 3/7/16, 8:06 AM  

not an opera fan but the other two sound swell ... thanks!!!!!

Katherine P 3/7/16, 8:37 AM  

Be Frank with Me sounds absolutely wonderful. I'll definitely try and find the audio. I've had The Queen of the Night on my TBR so that's too bad that's slow. It's a sizable book so that's always a worry. I'm not a true opera fan so I'll give it a pass. But I'll definitely have to look for Golden Boys.

JoAnn 3/7/16, 9:01 AM  

Be Frank with Me is already on my audio wish list, but I've just moved it to the top. Added Golden Boys, too. Thanks for the recommendations!

bermudaonion 3/7/16, 10:00 AM  

I should finish Be Frank With Me in print today and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Golden Boys sounds really good too.

rhapsodyinbooks 3/7/16, 10:41 AM  

For Be Frank With Me, did you look for another disk at the end? (ha ha)

Vicki 3/7/16, 11:49 AM  

I am not a fan of the opera, but the other two look interesting.

Kailana 3/7/16, 6:08 PM  

I wish I could get back into audiobooks. I just can't seem to get back in the routine. :(

Sue Jackson 3/7/16, 6:55 PM  

I've been hearing good things about Be Frank with Me but it sounds amazing on audio! Thanks for the heads up!


Book By Book

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/7/16, 9:31 PM  

What a rave review for Be Frank With Me. I'm sitting here looking at the book on my shelf, I will move it to the TBR shelf now.

Majanka Verstraete 3/8/16, 2:20 AM  

I thought The Queen of the Night was worth a try, but I think I'll skip it. Be Frank With Me sounds good though.

Majanka @ I Heart Reading

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