Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Celebrating Audiobook Month: The Witness by Nora Roberts & The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd & My Top 5




In celebration of Audiobook Month and 2014 being an awesome year of audio for me I wanted to share my Top 5 Audiobooks for 2014 so far. Narrators can make or break a story and I've experienced both this year ... thankfully way more exceptional narrations than not.   



Title: The Witness
Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: 16th April 2012
Time: 16hrs 18mins
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Book Source: own audio

Synopsis: Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever. 

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.


5 reasons The Witness made my Top 5

 1. Unputdownable - I was caught up from the first page to the last, I had my heart in my mouth anticipating the worst, hoping for the best. Schedule in significant blocks of time for this one because believe me you'll begrudge having to stop for anything. 

2. Julia Whelan gives one of the best narrations I've listened to this year, mesmerising. She elevates a terrific story to riveting new heights.

3. Nora Roberts at her best - characters you can't help but fall in love with and a protective community you want to be part of. Well-paced, complex plot, sweet romance ... sure there are flaws but the audio version amplified all the good making this a winner.

4. An unforgettable main character - Elizabeth/Abigail is an exceptionally smart, strong, fascinating heroine. Her cool reserve and logic is the perfect counterpart for Brooks Gleason's unguarded enthusiasm and emotion. 

5. Best dog ever - I love you Bert xx





Title: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Genre: Historical Fiction/Southern Fiction
Publication Date: 6th January 2014
Time: 13hrs 41mins
Narrator: Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye
Book Source: own audio

Synopsis: From the celebrated author of the international bestseller The Secret Life of Bees comes an extraordinary novel about two exceptional women.

Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah's eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins ... 

A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South in the nineteenth century, The Invention of Wings evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.


5 Reasons The Invention of Wings made my Top 5

1. History and truth - Sue Monk Kidd's powerful and sensitive blending of fact and fiction delves into the ugly roots of slavery and racism. The Grimké sisters grew up in a wealthy, slave-owning South Carolina family yet became significant abolitionists and social activists. The Invention of Wings is loosely based on Sarah Grimke's story and the narration alternates between Sarah and Hetty (Handful) the slave given to her on her 11th birthday. It's enlightening having both viewpoints. 

2. It's no secret Jenna Lamia is one of my favourite narrators ... she has southern down pat but Adepero Oduye is Handful. Sensitivity and empathy add another dimension to this powerfully narrated story. 


3. Charlotte, Handful's mother and the Grimke's seamstress, spends nights making quilts, and her own story quilt. Preserving her family's story was so touching it brought me to tears ... beauty amidst the pain and suffering. 


4. It's vivid, appalling, haunting and compelling. It's about strength, courage and the wings of change. I liked the Secret Life of Bees but The Invention of Wings is deeper, more complex, more moving, it's just ... more. 


5. Novels like this bear witness to our less-than-human history. You trust me don't you? It's a must-read.  





and rounding out my Top 5 Audiobooks in 2014:



The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
Narrator: Katie Scarfe
Katie Scarfe's narration is excellent, she makes Aliénor, Duchess of Aquitaine entirely accessible and 18+ hours of audio fly
See my review 



Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy 
Brilliant narration by Orlagh Cassidy; diverse personalities, distinct voices, 
accents and quirks captured perfectly.
See my review  


Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Narrators: Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
Beautifully narrated with such authenticity I felt like a participant rather than an observer. 


Check out more of my audiobook reads here. Do you have a favourite narrator? Audiobook recommendations? Don't be shy ... please share :)



29 comments:

  1. Excellent list! I have become a fan of Jenna Lamia's narration after listening to Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and now The Help. I agree that she is great with Southern accents. I will have to check out the audio for The Invention of Wings sometime. I read the print version and really liked it.

    Some other books that are great in audio: Girl in Translation by Kimberly Kwok, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and Little Princes by Conor Grennan.

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    1. Thanks Christina, I love getting recommendations. I enjoyed Eleanor & Park (I read it) but I'll check out Girl in Translation and Little Princes :)

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  2. Oops. GIrl in Translation is by Jean Kwok. Kimberly is the protagonist :)

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  3. This is a great list. That Nora Roberts one sounds really good! I haven't been able to listen to audio books for a few years and I miss it a lot.

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    1. I can understand that, I'd be lost without an audiobook now. Turns dull housework and exercise into a pleasure ... well almost lol

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  4. Lovely list and I am going to go through them carefully to see what I can get from somewhere. The invention of wings particularly caught my interest. I've always liked Chadwick and I did read something very similar to Orphan Train a while ago.

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    1. Mystica I'd just about guarantee you loving The Summer Queen, I can't wait for the sequel to come out, I think it's September/October

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    1. lol thanks for stopping by Julie :)

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  6. I'm about half way through The Witness. I'm loving it as well. Plus, I relate. If the person who gave birth to me was rich, beautiful and academically driven, I could have been Liz. Instead, I grew up poor and beaten down and didn't stand up for myself until I was in my late 20s. :( Anyways, it's a fantastic book, I'm loving it! My favorite narrators have been ~ Jim Dale, Wil Wheaton and Gildart Jackson. I talked about them in my More than Just Words post for Armchair BEA.

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    1. It adds another level to a story when you can relate so personally doesn't it. I thought Elizabeth's 'mother' was just as bad as the 'bad' guys ... cold hearted bitch!!

      Will pop over and check out your audio post. Thanks Karsyn

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  7. I have The Witness on Audio ( I love JW) and will listen to it! :)

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    1. Hope you love it as much as I did Felicia. Julia Whelan is also narrating The Collector, I'm listening to it now and enjoying it.

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  8. What a great post! You just added to my audio list! Later this week I will be putting up a post of the best audio recommendations, make sure you pop over to Minnesota and talk about these :)

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    1. YAY always happy to add to your list Sheila and I'll be over to check out that audio post for sure!

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    1. Yes you do B :) Do you listen to audiobooks? While you hike or ride?

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  10. Fantastic mini reviews and I so need to catch up on Nora. I adore her. I have the Collector to read.

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    1. Thanks Kimba. I'm listening to The Collector right now and enjoying it. Julia Whelan is doing a great job with narration once again.

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  11. I agree about The Witness - the excellent narration highlights the good points of the book. So I am sure my sister will enjoy The Collector knowing that Julia narrates that too.
    My bestie is Davinia Porter for her D Gabaldon novels. I love her accents! I like Susan Erikson, I have listen to her Key trilogy by Nora Roberts. I believe Theresa Plummer has done a very good narration of the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr - however I read all those rather than the audio.
    For some reason I dislike men reading books but I did love The Rosie Project read with the gorgeous Australian accent by Dan O'Grady.
    It is such a delight when a book is well narrated. At the moment the one I am listening to is okay, but the narrator doesn't do anything to differentiate characters, so well read but.... boring! It's not enhancing the book.
    Love this post, you have done a great job with it. A real pleasure to read.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn, I was considering getting In My Own Heart's Blood on audio but wasn't sure as I've read the rest. I like Susan Erickson too, her narration of Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah was absolutely exquisite. Have you read that one? The Rosie Project is on my wishlist so I'll think about the audio since you enjoyed it. Love getting recommendations ... thanks muchly :)

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    2. Oh yest, I forgot that she narrated Winter Garden, I loved that book and SE did a fab job with it.

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  12. I've only read a couple of Nora Roberts books but I just added The Witness to my audible wish list. It's a stand-alone book, right?
    I agree about While We Were Watching DA. I loved that audio. I'm going back to audible now to add the Chadwick book to my wish list! Thanks for all the great recs!

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    1. The Witness is definitely a standalone Mary ... hope you enjoy it and I have no doubt you'll love The Summer Queen!

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  13. I love this post! I've been trying to get into audiobooks but had no idea where to start. Your top five picks seem like a great place :)

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    1. I'd be lost without an audio each week Alise, it's turned exercise and housework into a pleasure ... well almost lol. Hope something I've mentioned appeals to you and gets you hooked on audio :)

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  14. It's been years since I read Roberts, but I'll see if my library has this audio!

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    1. Hope you manage to get your hands on it Stacy, I've listened to a few of her romantic suspense on audio, The Witness was the best IMHO lol

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  15. And the Summer Queen will round out the three credits I can at this point donate to my sister. I think I will be able in the future to get quite a few suggestions for her from your audio selections!!

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