Thursday, May 20, 2010

Audio "reads" for May/April

I totally blanked on doing an audiobook round-up for April, so this post will include both months. I actually accomplished a lot more of these than usual in the last couple of months, due to 2 road trips and lots of gardening (which is prime listening time!).

If you "read" and reviewed any audiobooks this month, make sure to head over to Abby (the) Librarian's blog on or before June 1st and let her know for AudioSynced, a monthly round-up of audiobooks from around the blogosphere. An awesome feature :)

I think I'll start off with the not-so-great listen of the month. I usually don't write "negative" reviews, but I love this series so much, that I need those out there to know that the audio is not necessarily the way to go.

So, Aaron and I drove to Chicago in early April for my nephew's baptism and on the way there and back I FINALLY convinced him to try out the Percy Jackson series, obviously starting with The Lightning Thief. I've been wanting Aaron to read it (he was a big Harry Potter fan) and I figured listening to it would be a great way for him to start out...and I could revisit Camp Halfblood along the way. Not a good plan.

The reader, Jesse Bernstein, did not do a good job. I'm being nice, because honestly, it can't possibly be all of his fault...someone was behind the scenes directing him as to how to say things right? But in all honesty, I was incredibly disappointed. The voices were pretty awful, namely Luke's. I cannot express how upset I was with Luke and the "surfer-dude" voice he was given. I specifically remember a passage where Luke was infuriated with Percy and was yelling at him and starting to give clues as to his connections with Hades and the specific word Riordan wrote in reference to Luke's voice was "shrill." And Bernstein speaks Luke's lines as if he were high on marijuana. Nothing shrill or angry or panicked about it.

Another issue was that everything seemed to move so slowly. I remember tearing through the pages when I read it the first time and I (and unfortunately Aaron) was pretty bored. So...I'm not a fan of this one at all.

Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
It's still a good story, so therefore, the 2.

The Lightning Thief
Rick Riordan, read by Jesse Bernstein
Middle Grade
Listening Library
June 2005
Borrowed from my local library

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg and narrator Molly Ringwald was my next listen and absolutely delightful. I loved quirky Margaret Rose and her even quirkier Uncles and I loved Ringwald as a narrator (I'm itching to find out if she's done more). Great pacing and a sweet ending.

I, unfortunately, can't think of a single middle grader that I would hand this to who would "get it." Konigsburg, to me at least, is one of those authors that adults want kids to love, because she smart and witty and an amazing writer, but the age group she writes for just doesn't dig it. Maybe that's just me. The writing is fantastic, but over the head of most 11/12 year olds. Again, maybe just me.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5
I'm slowly working my way through Konigsburg's work and loving it...but I guess I don't seem kids loving it as much.

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place
E.L. Konigsburg, read by Molly Ringwald
Middle Grade
Random House Audio
February 2004
Borrowed from my local library

And my absolute favorite for the month? Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and read by Bernadette Dunne. Oh gosh. How could I have waited this long to experience this book?? The writing was descriptive and thoughtful. And it was obvious the Golden had a background in Japanese studies, you could just tell in his methods of talking about different places, customs, foods, etc.

As a narrator, Dunne was one of the best I had ever heard. She did a fantastic job and had such a nice voice to listen to. I wanted to keep the story going, long after I got out of the car, as she kept me completely intrigued, no matter what was going on in the story. And this was a long one...18 discs!

Overall rating: 5 out of 5
A great one to listen to, since I didn't know the proper pronunciation of the Japanese words and names. Loved it!

Memoirs of a Geisha
Arthur Golden
Adult Fiction
Random House Audio
November 2005
Borrowed from my local library

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Shelley said...

I completely agree with you about the reader of Lightning Thief! I later read the book on my own and had a much better experience.

Peaceful Reader said...

I'm so disappointed to hear this about the audio of The Lightning Thief. Like a bad movie it can so turn readers away.

Janssen said...

Sometimes you wonder how they possible ended up with such a lousy narrator. Yuck.

Beth S. said...

I, too, hated the Lightning Thief audiobook.

The only E.L. Konigsburg book kids seem to really like is From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I agree with you on Bernadette Dunne as a narrator. I was completely enthralled with her performance in Memoirs of a Geisha. She also narrated The Devil Wears Prada which made that book much more bearable than it would have been otherwise.

Mama Librarian said...

I gotta say, I have some 4th and 5th grade girls who eat up E. L. Konigsburg. Pretty cool.

Amanda said...

Mama Librarian, I am so excited to hear you say that!!

Kathy (mommysreading) said...

Memoirs of a Geisha has been on my wish list for some time. My library doesn't have the audio though. After your review, I need to find a copy. Thank you