Posts Tagged ‘Audio book’

Splintered

A G Howard and Rebecca Gibel (Narrator)

splintered audiobookThis stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Puberty is a difficult time for any girl, your body is changing, you are under the influence of raging hormones and plagued by acne, bloating, cramps, the voices of bugs and plants…. Nope, me neither. For Alyssa, her transition into womanhood also heralds the onset of her families curse. Ever since the Alice Liddel scrabbled out of that rabbit hole her female decendents have be stricken with serious mental health problems and fixations with Wonderland.

Having grown up witnessing her mothers descent in to madness and her resulting treatment within an asylum, Alyssa has learnt to disguise her anxiety about her cruel birthright and ignore the incessant voices. But a shocking incident at the asylum forces Alyssa to reconsider everything she thought she knew about her mothers condition, and instead of hiding from her heritage, Alyssa actively seeks out answers

From the very first paragraph we learn that Alyssa is no wall flower, no bumbling ditzy girl next door. She is fierce, strong, and in the words of her father, level headed and together. Taking creative revenge on her multi-limbed and be-winged tormentors Alyssa isn’t one for sit around bemoaning the hand she has been dealt, hoping that someone will save her. Instead she takes action, throwing herself down the rabbit hole to face her fears and save her family.

It’s not unusual for a YA book to suffer from a glut of love interests, sparking many a team X verses team Y debate, with each group zealously defending their selected beau. Many times I have found myself rooting for a particular outcome or a particular coupling. With Splintered A G Howard has me completely torn, with no clear choice.

On the surface these men couldn’t be any more different in appearance, manners and temperament. Scratch the surface however and our good boy and bad have much more in common than initial appearances would lead us to believe. Both have dark pasts, history with Alyssa, and both see and accept Alyssa for who she truly is, even before she recognises it herself. They even share the same almost paternalistic, over protectiveness of Alyssa, although the motivation and the manifestation of this fault is uniquely their own.

I adored how A G Howard took a world familiar to many of us, and didn’t so much re-imagine the story but create a spin off series to complement the original. I loved layering my experience of Splintered over my knowledge of the original Alice story. Comparing my childhood memories of the books and Disney movie with the naive and innocent recollections of a traumatized young Alice Liddel. Then discovering, along with Alyssa, the darker, uglier truth of Wonderland and its inhabitants. Familiar and yet unique, I couldn’t help listening to just one more chapter, anxious to discover where Howard would take her story next, never foreseeing where the next twist or turn would redirect us.

The record quality was consistent with no skipping, repeats or weird changes in tone or volume. Narrator Rebecca Gibel did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life, capturing the creepiness and otherworldliness of the many supporting characters and performing the main characters consistently, each clearly defined by a unique voice, allowing the conversations to be followed without confusion. I particularly enjoyed the Billy Idol like British accent she created for Morpheus, it certainly added to his mischievous bad boy persona.

Verdict: A book as captivating as its stunning cover.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Audiogo
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Audiobook (unabridged)
Duration: 11 hrs 20mins
Genre: speculative fiction, fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author

The Hardback of Splintered was published in January 2013 by Amulet Books

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Altered

Jennifer Rush and Casey Holloway (Narrator)
AlteredWhen you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?
Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.
Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.
Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

I first came across Altered over the summer on a Waiting on Wednesday post written by fellow UK book blogger Lynsey (read her fantastic blog, Narratively Speaking here). The synopsis immediately captured my attention and I added Altered to my 2013 wish list. To be honest I forgot all about the book until perusing iTunes for my latest audiobook selection the striking cover caught my attention and tugged at my memory. Realising that I’d come across one of my wish list reads on audiobook, and that it was available almost two months before the UK hardback release, I immediately downloaded this intriguing debut.

Not only is the cover striking enough remind me of my intention to read Altered, almost five months after my initial interest, but it also represents the book perfectly. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the cover features a beautiful male torso but beyond the eye candy (some ladies like abs, I am definitely a back girl!), the positioning of “Sam” within the cover, facing away with his face only partially visible, hints and the mysterious nature of his character. The branches, which cover the majority of the cover, are representative of the tattoo which covers the majority of Sam’s back and plays a pivotal role in the storyline and the uncovering of Sam’s earlier life. Even the disjointed lettering, represents the Branch’s manipulation, the incompleteness of the characters through the loss of their memories and the puzzle the group will need to piece together.

I can’t go any further without confessing that I actually disliked the reader of this audiobook. I found her voice irritating with its unnatural, robotic like cadence. However that didn’t stop me being totally absorbed in the storyline and finishing it in less than 48hrs – the book is just that good.

Fully engaged from the very off by the intriguing set up described in the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to find out just why Anna’s dad had four boys in the basement and what plans the sinister sounding “Branch” had in store for them. The adrenaline fuelled cat and mouse chase, the unraveling of the characters mysterious past, unanticipated twists and a fledgling romance ensured that my attention was held until the very last second.

I enjoyed meeting all of Rush’s characters, not a difficult task when presented with four super hot, intelligent and protective boys, each with their own distinctive characters, but Anna was by far my favorite.

Initially unsure if we would get along, Anna appeared to be either especially naive or self-serving, never truly questioning the boys captivity and only considering their freedom in relation to her own romantic fantasies of Sam. As the story progressed I realised that home schooled and socially isolated Anna was just as much a prisoner of the lab as the boys. Finally free of the farmhouse and flung out in to the world, Anna’s character development truly begins.

Although I very much enjoyed the sci-fi elements of Altered, it was Anna’s naturalness and realism of reactions, which made the book for me. I began to bond with her character when her eyes are finally opened and she is horrified to discover just what the boys are truly capable of, she doesn’t just unquestioningly follow her crush’s pretty back out of the lab and away from the only life she has ever known. I loved that although physically inferior to these paragons of GM perfection, she determinedly holds her own, winded and sweaty, fighting along side them and running ten paces behind them.

The first of a series, I steeled myself for the inevitable agonizing, cliffhanger, but it never materialised. Instead, to my immense relief and satisfaction, Rush brought the story to a close beautifully, tying up this first installment, while leaving me keen to learn more about the sinister activities of the Branch , and spend more time with Anna and the boys.

Verdict: A fabulous, fast paced debut. I can’t wait for book two, although I think that I will pass on the audiobook in favor of pre-ordering the hardback.

The UK hardback of Altered will be published on the 28th of February by Little Brown Young Readers.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Hachette Audio/Audible.co.uk
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 7hrs 58 mins
Genre: Sci Fi, Mystery
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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Around the Table: Book Formats

AROUND THE TABLE: We love to get together as a team and discuss all manner of book related subjects.  On the 3rd Sunday of the month we take a transcript of one of these discussions or copy and paste a Facebook thread (which has been corrected for spelling and typos) and post it on our site. This month we are looking at different book formats.
Caroline: I’ve been thinking about my The Very Hungry Caterpillar review (here) about preferring the board book where preschoolers are concerned. Given the choice would always choose the board books for their sturdiness alone, although I also love how the thickness of the pages promotes independence in little ones.
Very Hungry CaterpillarLesley: I love board books. We have The Very Hungry Caterpillar in ‘board book’ format and the boys love poking their fingers through the holes and I love that they can really get to grips (literally!) with the book without fear of ripping it. We’ve had to say goodbye to a couple of books recently, because they’ve been damaged purely by enthusiasm!
Jane: We also have the Very Hungry Caterpillar board book which is a great format for a book that encourages lots of touching and handling! Some of our paperback pop up books are starting to look a little worse for wear whereas the board books seem to go on and on!
Karen: Board books are synonymous with ‘baby’ though. I do remember that first glow of pleasure when you see a child pick up a PB or HB and has the patience and dexterity to turn each page at a time. Because of the fragility of PB and HB books you’re more likely to try and instill greater care and respect with them than you do with board books.
Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6Helen: I go with you on the board books, they travel well too. We take them in the car and everything! Thinking of travelling, that’s one of the things I love most about the Kindle. Taking dozens of books on holiday and only having to pack one small device is fantastic! It fits into a small bag really well too, just in case I ever get a spare five minutes…..!
Lesley:  I agree with you Helen – it’s great to take as many books as I like on holiday without having to lug a bagful around with me. Mind you…having just returned from our hol’s I have to say I seemed to have less time than ever to get into a good read! But that aside… I really love the Kindle format. There will always be something very lovely about opening a new book for the first time – I love the smell and feel of a new book but there are just so many pluses to the Kindle that it’s my preferred format for reading for sure.
Jane: I have to say though that for me nothing beats a good old paperback… that feeling of opening the first page of a brand new book, the smell of the fresh type on new pages, not to mention trying to hold out on having a sneaky peek at the last page! Not having a Kindle I can’t make a comparison, although I can see obvious advantages to not lugging 3 or 4 books on holiday!
Caroline: Only 3 or 4 Jane?! I just LOVE books. The kindle is by far my favorite gadget. So much better than trying to read eBooks on your phone or computer, the electronic ink is amazing; when I first got it I was so absorbed that I kept trying to turn the page at the corner! I agree that for me there will always be a place for paper books. The major disadvantage of the kindle is that (in the UK) there isn’t a facility for book sharing.
Helen: Yeah, I agree, I could never give up books! Kindle is just sooo practical sometimes.
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)Caroline: I love owning books, part of that is the look of them on the shelf, although I confess that if I really love a book I will buy it in Hardback to keep. At one point I owned Twilight in paperback, hardback and audio book!
Presently I will look for a book I’m interested in and then buy it in its cheapest form whether that is paper, audio or kindle.
Karen: I am slowly bending towards the joys of a kindle but not quite there yet! Although I have not researched thoroughly, I just can’t see how they can ask the same RRP as paper books. I’m the same with movies and music and like you Caroline, will only purchase an electronic copy if cheaper than other formats and not something I’m likely to want to ‘treasure’ in a more tangible form. Audio books are not my thing at all sorry.
Caroline: When my children were small audio books were a godsend. Ava was an unsettled baby and so I spent many hours pounding the pavements, in an attempt to induce sleep, listening to audio books. Then when I was breastfeeding Seth they were a godsend to keep occupied at three in the morning! Now the kids are older and keeping me on my toes it’s not very practical for me to listen to audio books but I find them immensely helpful occupying the kids.
How to Be a Pirate (Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (How to Train Your Dragon))Karen: Up until recently, I never bought audio books and only used one gifted to us on a couple of occasions when feeling too lazy to read a bedtime book! I have bought How to be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell and narrated by the lovely David Tennant as thought it would be useful for car journeys?! It’s a little mature currently to keep my preschoolers interest but hope that in the future it will be a story the whole family will enjoy listening to when we do our numerous long journeys.
Caroline: We have a copy of Hairy Mcclary narrated by a very gorgeous, very Scottish David Tennant.  One for the mums?!

Helen: I love audio books too, listened to loads myself, but also great in the car for the kids! Makes a great change from nursery rhymes!

MatildaLesley: I’m not really into audio books, but I have got a set of Roald Dahl stories on CD and my son Jack has really enjoyed listening to them on his CD walkman. A few years back they were also enjoyed as a family on long car trips. I will save them for Josh and Sam and maybe look at getting others… but as I said, it’s not been my thing so much.
Jane: I must admit I’ve never tried audio books myself or with Morgan but after reading your comments about them I think it might be something I should try out – especially for those long car journeys! Something a bit different to listen to other than the usual ‘Are we there yet?’!!
Caroline: As far as this conversation is concerned I think that we are most definitely there!
What is your favourite book format? What is your opinion of eBooks V’s Paper books? Do you listen to audio books?
We would love to read your thoughts.
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