03 April 2017

Sound Recommendations: 3 Great Audiobooks

Review: The One Inside by Sam ShepardSam Shepard's novel The One Inside (with a foreword by Patti Smith; Knopf) is definitely not for everyone. I am a big Shepard fan and have enjoyed his short stories and plays. His novel is mostly the musings of an aging actor, whose thoughts often take him to three women who were instrumental in his life (one from his childhood, his ex-wife, and a more recent questionable relationship) but also to his dogs, his father, and the desert southwest. There isn't much plot, but the language is sparse and vivid, often reminiscent of stage directions. I'm not quite sure what I think of the book as a whole, but it was interesting and different (mostly in a good way). The unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 4 hr, 31 min) was brilliantly read by Bill Pullman. His expression, emotional level, and pacing were a perfect match for the book, and I was especially impressed at his ability to emphasize the poetry of the prose. Patti Smith reads her own foreword. A highly recommended audiobook, but I'm not sure the book itself is for everyone. I'm also not crazy about the cover. For more on the audiobook, see my review at AudioFile magazine.

Review: Heir of Novron by Michael J. SullivanMichael J. Sullivan's Heir of Novron (Orbit) was a great ending to the Riyria Revelations trilogy. Sullivan got stronger as the series progressed, with more complex plotting and deeper history to his world. I really love the characters and could barely stop listening. The story has a lot of action plus betrayals, love, friendships, death, and a few twists. These books are (if I have my subgenres correct) high fantasy, and while there are elves, dwarves, and magic, the themes are universal: power struggles, prejudice, politics, organized religion vs. other beliefs, class differences, and war. I would be extra sad about finishing the trilogy, but Sullivan also wrote the Riyria Chronicles (three books and three novellas) and is publishing (at good clip) a new series, Legends of the First Empire. Many hours of great listening ahead! I was so taken with these books, I also bought them in print so I can reread sections and study the maps. The unabridged audiobook (Recorded Books; 31 hr, 49 min) was read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, who narrated the previous books. He is fabulous at characterizations, keeps the tension going, and brings just the right amount of drama -- and humor -- to his performance. I recommend this series.

Review: Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth StroutElizabeth Strout's Anything Is Possible (Random House) won't be published until later this month, but I've already listened to the audiobook. The book is billed as a novel, but is, as you might expect, really a series of linked stories that take us back to the same world as My Name Is Lucy Barton, which is small-town Illinois. The overriding themes are family -- marriage, parenthood, childhood, adulthood -- and the human experience, which includes love, insecurities, struggles, friendship, loss, and self-doubt. The smallest of encounters can change the course of a life, and no matter your circumstances, don't stop dreaming, because anything is, indeed, possible. You don't have to have read Lucy Barton to read Strout's newest. The two books don't make up a series or a continuation in a strict sense; and Anything Is Possible is a solid standalone. The unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 8 hr, 25 min) is sensitively read by Kimberly Farr. Farr's understated performance melts into the background, allowing the strength of Strout's writing take center stage. This is an audiobook you can get lost in. My full audiobook review will be available from AudioFile magazine, but here's the spoiler: put this on your wish list.


Harvee 4/3/17, 7:06 AM  

The Strout book does look interesting. I love a good story.

Vicki 4/3/17, 7:21 AM  

I'm looking forward to this book. I loved
My Name Is Lucy Barton.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 4/3/17, 7:35 AM  

I'm looking forward to Anything is Possible! Though I loved Lucy Barton, I read it so long ago that I don't remember the side characters, so am glad to hear it's a strong standalone.

bermudaonion 4/3/17, 9:00 AM  

I've got a couple of Strout's books and need to try one to see if I like her style.

Kathy Reads Fiction 4/3/17, 8:01 PM  

I still have Lucy Barton sitting on my shelf to read and am interested in Strout's upcoming book. I have got to stop pulling Lucy Barton back in the pile and start pushing it forward to read.

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf 4/4/17, 12:24 PM  

The last two sound great! Thanks for the recs:)

Daryl 4/4/17, 1:18 PM  

you always write such good reviews .. i can usually decide immediately if its my cuppa or not .. thanks!!!!!

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