Audiobook Review: Bury Me, by Tara Sivec, narrated by Stephanie Willis

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Bury Me
Author: Tara Sivec
Narrator: Stephanie Willis
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (Disclaimer)
Length: 11 hours 47 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp Audiobooks
Audible
GoodReads

Synopsis: 

I hear screams in my head. I see blood on my hands. When I look in the mirror, I see a stranger.

How is it that I can remember bits and pieces of my life, but nothing of any importance and nothing that makes any sense? Everything is twisted and nothing is right. I’m choking with every breath I take, suffocating on the unknown.

Two days ago, everything changed. Two days ago, the people I should trust the most became strangers in my convoluted head. The dreams I have can’t be real. The fleeting memories that whisper through my mind are scary and wrong…they have to be. If they aren’t, I have something much worse to fear than my fractured mind. I need to find out the truth, even if it destroys me.

I’ve been told my name is Ravenna Duskin. I’m 18 years old, and I live in a prison….

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Review: Jesus Christ.

This book is crazy.

So, we open on an 18-year-old girl who has suffered an injury and is experiencing memory loss. She’s told that her name is Raveena Duskin, that she lives in a prison (inactive, but a historical site and her parents provide tours), with her parents who love her, and she is a good girl. As she begins to remember more and more, she starts doubting everything they’ve told her.

This story is dark and full of unexpected twists. I kept thinking I had finally figured it out only to discover that, no, no I had not. Bury Me is an excellent psychological thriller, full of complicated characters – many of whom are absolutely unlikeable, but fascinating.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Stephanie Willis. And her performance was so creepy! Once I got into the story, I didn’t want to stop listening. Some of her voices are kind of screechy or whiny – but it makes sense within the story and I think those voice choices were good. The audiobook is only about 6 and a half hours long and it’s addictive enough that you might want to just listen to it non-stop.

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Audiobook Review: Nine Kinds of Naked

Nine Kinds of Naked
Author: Tony Vigorito
Narrator: Kristin Kalbli
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (Disclaimer)
Length: 11 hours 47 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp
GoodReads

Synopsis: Join cult favorite Tony Vigorito in his acclaimed, surreal whirlwind of a novel exploring chaos theory. A prisoner spins a playing card into a somersault, stirring a wind that becomes a tornado that takes off the roof of a church in nearby Normal, Illinois. Elizabeth Wildhack is born in that church and someday she will meet that prisoner, a man named Diablo, on the streets of New Orleans—where a hurricane-like Great White Spot hovers off the coast. But how is it all interconnected? And what does it have to do with a time-traveling serf and a secret society whose motto is “Walk away?”

REVIEW

I’ve been sitting on this review for awhile because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I knew going in that this book was pretty out-there and unusual. After the audiobook was finished, it was sent to Tom Robbins, who had this to say:

“Tony Vigorito has created that rarity…, a novel of ideas that also happens to be entertaining. And yes, fun. And like those maverick classics, Alice in Wonderland and Gargantua, Nine Kind of Naked is as fanciful and inventive in its form, its structure, as it is in its observations. Like Hesse’s ‘magic theater,’… it fed tasty crackers to all the hungry parrots in my mental aviary.” – Tom Robbins

So, I knew it was some kind of special. I expected humor and weirdness. And, those two things were there, but I didn’t expect this book to be so soothing.

Nine Kinds of Naked explores the butterfly effect, except the butterfly is actually the wind. A very strong wind. A tornado. Its effects reach across time and the lives touched by it intertwine. The quirky character are developed through their philosophical banter. Vigorito uses language beautifully and powerfully. The whole thing made me smile.

It may feel a bit random in the beginning, but the characters various story lines eventually come together brilliantly.

This audiobook was published by ListenUp Audiobooks, where I work. So, I got to hear the narrator auditions. One in particular stuck out as absolutely hilarious, but we decided that it was too funny. It worked for one scene, but might not be a really pleasant listen for nearly 12 hours. Before listening to this, I was still on the fence about our decision, but now I’m confident that Kristin was the right choice. The overall story was such an unexpected joy and her voice was a perfect fit. I loved her character voices, especially Diablo and Elizabeth. I loved listening to scenes with both of them.

I really love this audiobook. I didn’t work on it directly, but I’m proud that it came from ListenUp. We also published another of Vigorito’s audiobooks, Just a Couple of Days, which I haven’t listened to yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Audiobook Review: Red Queen

The Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Narrator: by Amanda Dolan
Publisher: Harper Collins
Length: 12 hrs, 40 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp
GoodReads

Synopsis: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

Review

Red Queen is the Hunger Games with some magic thrown in. If it were a little different from Hunger Games, it would have been awesome. But I’m loyal to Hunger Games and I kept comparing everything that happened in Red Queen to it, which was really detrimental to my opinion of Red Queen.

Moving on – In the world of Red Queen, there are two kinds of people – Reds & Silvers. Reds are those with red blood. They are your normal, average, human people. Silvers have, yep, silver blood. They are the ruling class, mostly because they have special gifts and abilities. For amusement and to remind the reds of their strength, the silvers often use their powers to fight each other to the death in an arena.

Mare is clever and a surviver. She pickpockets to keep her family afloat and ends up with a job in the palace, where she (and the world) discover that she, despite being Red, has powers, too. The ruling family launch a cover-up.

I feel like I’ve read this story before and this version of it didn’t leave me very impressed. However, I did like the way characters were developed and the twists in the plot. I liked the family dynamics explored, both in Mare’s family and the royal family.

I think I may have enjoyed this one more not in audio. The narrator, Amanda Dolan, did not work for me. The choices she made as far as character voices and pacing were mostly fine, but I just didn’t like listening to her voice. If I decide to read the sequel, I’ll opt for print.

I found this fan casting from She is Booked on Tumblr. I’d watch it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Recently Acquired Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Check out all of today’s participating blogs here.

About a month and a half ago, I acquired a lot of books.

Book Expo America day 1 haul. #bea2015

A post shared by Holly Bryant-Simpson (@hollishter) on

So, I’m going to be sifting through those for quite awhile. Right now I’m reading Illuminae and loving it.

I think next I’ll dive into either Girl Waits with Gun or Hunter.

I’m listening to Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro right now and will move to The Passion of Marie Romanov, by Laura Rose and Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng when I finish.

Finally, I borrowed Radi Os, by Ronald Johnson from a friend. It’s a book of poetry made by cutting away parts of Paradise Lost. It seems really cool and I’m excited to read it.

What books have you picked up recently?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read

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Hosted by The Broke & The Bookish

There are a lot of hyped books that I’m not interested in reading, but for today, I went with ones I do want to read.

1. An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir – I’ve seen this reviewed everywhere. One of my best friends has been talking about this book that he’s loving and I only realized a few days ago that this is the book to which he’s referring. So, that’s on my TBB (to be borrowed) list.

2. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

3. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon – I have this one on audio, but haven’t started it yet. I’m not afraid of long audiobooks, but I haven’t felt ready to commit yet.

4. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

5. An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay

6. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

7. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (just got the audiobook, so hopefully I’ll be checking it off my list soon).

8. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (on audio, narrated by Wil Wheaton, obviously)

9. None of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio

10.Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas – I don’t know if this one is one I’ll actually like or not, but I’ve seen it reviewed and recommended so much that I’ve got to try it out.

I just finished listening to The Martian, by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray and it lives up to all the hype. Review forthcoming.

What books have you seen hyped but haven’t read yet?

Audiobook Review: Binary Star

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Binary Star
Author: Sarah Gerard
Narrator: Sarah Gerard
Where I got it: ListenUp (my employer)
Length: 3 hours
Purchase: ListenUp | Audible
GoodReads
Synopsis: The language of the stars is the language of the body. Like a star, the anorexic burns fuel that isn’t replenished; she is held together by her own gravity.

With luminous, lyrical prose, Binary Star is an impassioned account of a young woman struggling with anorexia and her long-distance, alcoholic boyfriend. On a road-trip circumnavigating the United States, they stumble into a book on veganarchism, and believe they’ve found a direction.

Binary Star is an intense, fast-moving saga of two young lovers and the culture that keeps them sick (or at least inundated with quick-fix solutions); a society that sells diet pills, sleeping pills, magazines that profile celebrities who lose weight or too much weight or put on weight, and books that pimp diet secrets or recipes for success.
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Audiobook Review: Magonia

Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Narrator: Therese Plummer & Michael Crouch
Where I Got It: ListenUp
Audible | Amazon | GoodReads

Synopsis: Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong.

— I’m cutting the synopsis off here. I went into reading this without reading anything about it and I’m thankful for it. Just trust me, read it.

Review: 

This book is not like anything I’ve ever read. The closest comparison I can come up with is The Wizard of Oz. I’ve read others say it’s a combination of The Fault in Our Stars and Stardust, which is accurate and in all the right ways. My review of the story is being cut short because I want you to read it without being totally spoiled.

I picked it up because, after listening to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I wanted to listen to Michael Crouch more. In Magonia, he was a wonderful narrator again, but Therese Plummer really stole the show. Her narration was phenomenal. Her character voices were perfectly crafted and her voice expressed emotion and Aza’s inability to breathe. This audiobook definitely convinced me that I need to listen to more of her work, like immediately.