26 December 2014

Sound Recommendations: Year-End Blitz, Part I

This is part one of a year-end Sound Recommendations blitz. Come back Monday for part two.

The Silkworm by Robert GalbraithThe Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling) is the second installment in the Cormoran Strike series. The plot is particularly fun because it involves an author, a scandalous manuscript, infidelity, murder, and revenge. The foundations of the mystery are solidly built and the clues are well placed. As with any good series, however, this one gives us more than the current crime. Cormoran and his assistant, Robin, are sympathetic characters with a complicated relationship, and we learn more about each one's personal life. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with them, both together and separately. The unabridged audiobook (Hachette Audio, 17 hr, 22 min) was read by Robert Glenister, who also narrated the first book in the series. Glenister's performance is perfect for Galbraith's prose: he enhances the tension, has a good sense of pacing, creates consistent and believable characterizations, and helps listeners tell the difference between narrative prose, dialogue, and interior thoughts.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill LeporeWhen everyone was reading and talking about Jill Lepore's The Secret History of Wonder Woman, I thought I'd give it a try. Despite the title, the book is really about the early feminist movement as well as the secret life of William Moulton Marston, creator of the superhero. Based on primary sources, Lepore discusses, among other things, Marston's unconventional home life, his development of the lie detector, and his connection with Margaret Sanger and how all these experiences influenced Wonder Woman's character, deep history, and even her costume. Although I remained interested, I was not as wowed by the book as others. My bad reaction is almost entirely the result of the audiobook production (Random House Audio; 9 hr, 5 min). The unabridged edition is read by author Jill Lepore, who is way too dramatic, with almost comical characterizations (no pun intended). Unfortunately, she pretty much ruined her own book. If you have any interest in the women's rights movement or in comics, add this to your reading list--just be sure to pick up the print or eBook version.

City of Dark Magic by Magnus FlyteWhen I first started this blog, I often wrote about books I DNF'd (did not finish). Now I rarely do. But I picked up City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte based on some positive reviews from trusted bloggers when the book first came out (in 2012) and because it was an Indie Next pick. I bought the paperback but never got to it. Last month, I decided to try the audiobook. I'm so so sorry I wasted an Audible credit on this. The story had all the right elements for me: a bit of mystery, music, time travel, and a little paranormal. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, but I felt it was a little too . . . I don't know . . . commercial(?) for me. I like escape reading as much as the next person, but this book never drew me in. The audiobook (Penguin Audio; 13 hr, 33 min) was read by Natalie Gold. Although Gold's accents could have been more believable, her narration (the parts I heard) was at least adequate. Either I wasn't in the mood or this book wasn't for me.

On Immunity by Eula BissOne of my top nonfiction reads this year was Eula Biss's On Immunity, a collection of interlinked essays on inoculation. Based on thorough research and personal experience, Biss presents many perspectives on vaccination and protecting our children and society from disease. She examines the veracity of popular opinion, the individual's responsibility to society, medical evidence, research results, and historical facts. I liked the mix of sources, which included not only the expected medical journals but also parents, social commentators (Rachel Carson, Susan Sontag), and her father (a practicing physician). This is an extremely accessible and easy-to-read account of a controversial subject. The audiobook (HighBridge; 6 hr, 23 min), was read by Tamara Marston, who found that magical place where listeners forget that the narrator is not the author. She managed to maintain the personal, conversational tone of the book without detracting from the scholarship. For my full audiobook review, see AudioFile magazine.


Amanda 12/26/14, 8:40 AM  

I admit, I adored City of Dark Magic. It was such a ridiculously silly book that it was just fun to go along with. I didnt' listen to it on audio, though. I sometimes wonder how much audio performance affects whether or not we enjoy certain books.

Vasilly 12/26/14, 9:04 AM  

On Immunity is on my tbr list so maybe I'll listen to the audio version. It's said that Jill Lepore ruined the audio version of her book. Not every author should be a narrator.

JoAnn 12/26/14, 9:04 AM  

On Immunity is pretty close to the top of my audio wish list, so I'm glad to see it mentioned here. Looking forward to part two already...

bermudaonion 12/26/14, 9:04 AM  

Once again, I haven't read any of these books. My wish list has grown enormous.

Vicki 12/26/14, 12:55 PM  

I haven't read any of these. I love finding new books via other bloggers! On Immunity interests me the most. My husband and I talk about often about whether or not adults and children should get vaccines.

SuziQoregon 12/26/14, 1:59 PM  

Ugh - I hate it when poor narration ruins an otherwise good book. I'm interested in the Secret History of Wonder Woman but will definitely avoid the audio edition. Thanks!

rhapsodyinbooks 12/26/14, 2:06 PM  

I have the Galbraith on my end of year list too!

Belle Wong 12/26/14, 6:33 PM  

I'm listening to The Silkworm right now!

Shaina 12/27/14, 9:22 AM  

On Immunity was wonderful to mull over. Good tip on skipping the audio for Wonder Woman.

Anonymous,  12/27/14, 9:47 PM  

I have The Silkworm in my Audible account on my iPod, but haven't found time for it yet! I'm finishing up Huck Finn read by Elijah Wood (my 10th grader is reading it for English, so I'm trying to stay ahead of him). Then I have to decide between The Silkworm or the last of the Raven Boys series..... Decisions, decision!

Debbie 12/29/14, 3:41 PM  

I read The Silkworm first and then listened to the audio version. I agree that Robert Glenister did an outstanding job of bring the characters to light.

Daryl 12/30/14, 3:55 PM  

i want to want to read Rowling as Galbraith but i just can't .. silly i know but ...

Amy 1/2/15, 9:52 PM  

aw I enjoyed The Silkworm, too! I didn't read the audio, though.

Elizabeth 1/3/15, 1:42 PM  

I've seen On Immunity on several lists now - definitely need to pick this one up.

Leslie @ This is the Refrain 1/4/15, 4:58 PM  

On Immunity has been on my radar for a while now, so I'm glad to hear the audiobook is good! I'll definitely be using one of my upcoming credits for it.

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