A 2013 Reading Challenge – Teresa’s Reading Corner’s Audio Book Challenge

audiobookchallengeSo I’ll admit it. I utterly FAILED at the audio book challenge this year (THANKS 1Q84). Seriously it took me almost 7 months to finish 1Q84. With that massive audio book out-of-the-way I’m attempting this challenge again!  Thanks to Teresa’s Reading Corner for hosting the challenge again this year!

I’m signing up at the lowest level, also known as “flirting.”  This means my goal is to listen to and review 6 audio books.  If you too would like to sign up for this challenge click here.

Happy listening!

#95 A Review of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Narrated by Alison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, and Mark Boyett

Last year I got addicted to audio books!  Simon Vance, the BEST audio book narrator in the world in my opinion, roped me in to the audio book world when I listened to him narrate The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  I find myself always picking audio books that are for long and complex novels.  Something about listening to complex novels vs. reading them makes them more approachable for me.  When I finished listening to The Millennium Trilogy I immediately began searching out my next audio book.  I was hearing a lot of mixed things about a book by Haruki Murakami, 1Q84.  The book was originally published as three novels in Japan and was translated and compiled as one book upon its release in the US.  When I read the plot summary I was immediately drawn into what I knew would be an intriguing journey.  That journey turned out to be more complex than I thought, and instead of summarizing the plot and trying to explain it myself, I’ve decided to let Goodreads do it for me:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

There is no question that Murakami is an awesomely talented writer.  He is able to weave several peoples’ lives across time and space with this completely unique storyline.  While the concept was awesome and unique, its execution fell flat for me.  I understand that it was originally published as three novels and translated and published as one, but even when taking that in to account a good 30% could have been cut out.  By the end of the book I wanted to rip my hair out with the constant repetition of dialogue.  One character would make a statement, “You’re being watched.”  The other person would respond, “I”m being watched?” To which the first person would again repeat, “You’re being watched.”  After 40+ hours of dialogue like that, I’m sure it’s easy to understand my frustration.

The narration of the novel by Alison Hiroto and Marc Vietor was well done.  I enjoyed their renditions and felt closer to both Aomame and Tengo as a result of it.  The only part of their narrations that threw me off a bit was their pronunciations of the names of characters/places present in both of their stories.  Vietor’s pronunciation of Aomame was different than Hiroto’s, which confused me slightly the first few times I heard it.  However, besides that snag, the different tones they each used to represent different characters helped alleviate any confusion when the dialogue were being read.

So, despite the lackluster ending and multiple plot holes left open I still enjoyed taking the journey with Aomame and Tengo.  I wouldn’t be opposed to trying another of Murakami’s novels, but I definitely won’t attempt another of his works at this length.

3 out of 5 Stars

This is my first completed review for the Audio Book Challenge

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Brilliance Audio (2011)
CD: 46 hours, 46 minuts
ISBN: 9781455830503

Winners Announced in the Boy In The Suitcase Giveaway!

The Boy in the SuitcaseTwo people have been chosen as the winners in the Boy In The Suitcase Giveaway!

Congratulations to: Lisa Garrett who left a comment on December 14th and Clenna Emery who let a comment on December 19th for being the lucky winners!!

Please contact me with your mailing address by Wednesday, December 28, 2011 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US only.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

#91 A Review of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium Trilogy Series #3)Kim and Todd here, back with another joint review for the third and final installment of The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson.  Once again we were able to listen to this work in audiobook format, with the impeccable Simon Vance as narrator.  As good as the last two books were, both of us were eager to jump in and see how this epic storyline played out, especially since the US film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is due out in theaters tomorrow!

Opening on the heels of the second book in the trilogy, we follow Lisbeth as she is airlifted to the hospital after surviving a brutal attack at the hands of her father and half-brother that left her buried alive with a gunshot wound.  Ironically, her father is two rooms away from her own hospital room, recovering from an axe wound inflicted by Salander.  What follows is a tale of murder, attempted cover ups, and the quest to tell the truth, no matter the cost.  Salander and Blomkvist again find themselves facing the threat of death as they attempt to clear their names once and for all.

Todd:  As the axiom goes, save the best for last.  I definitely think that Larsson did this for the trilogy, as he ties multiple story lines together that have arced over the entire thing and brought them to a more than satisfactory conclusion.  I can’t think of a better or more shocking literary ending than the courtroom finale that Giannini presents to the judge in Salander’s hearing.  I think this made the book for me.  I truly felt that Salander had never deserved any of the mistreatment in her life, and to see her vindicated at the end was awesome and fantastic.

Kim:  I definitely agree that the court hearing is what does it for this novel.  Listening to the audio had me literally on the edge of my seat, as I couldn’t skip forward and cheat to see a few pages ahead!  I had to stay listening in real-time, which killed me.  I will say that the very ending of the novel was slightly dissatisfactory, but upon doing more research I found that when Larsson died, he left behind a fourth manuscript.  This lead me to believe that this novel was actually just setting up another novel.

Todd:  It’s too bad that Larsson didn’t live to see the completion of that fourth novel, or for that matter the widespread success of his work as a whole.  Part of me thinks that he really wouldn’t have been affected by it, as evidenced in his attitude in his novels: he seemed to always want to look out for those who can’t help themselves, and wasn’t much for any kind of self-serving recognition.  This is what I think makes this novel in particular shine.  I can just tell that he wanted to make Salander’s justice a warning to all individuals who harm women; that what they’re doing won’t go unnoticed, and that every one who participates in these sadistic acts will eventually receive their just punishment.

Kim:  Another thing that I think makes these novels so awesome is how un-extraordinary the hero and heroine are.  Blomkvist is just an ordinary guy that uses the skills he has to do good in the world.  He’s a reporter that has a knack for finding out the truth, and wants to see those who benefit from doing the wrong things tried and arrested for their crimes.  Salander, on the other hand, is a woman who has just been beat down her whole life, and has continually found a way, using her own intelligence and quick thinking, to punish them.  She reminds me of a computer hacking vigilante.  She uses technology as far as she can, and then by blunt force makes sure her message is understood.  As an aside Simon Vance is the best audio narrator ever!  I want to listen to everything he’s ever narrated!

Todd:  I definitely agree with you on Mr. Vance there, I would totally want him to be the voice on my answering machine, how cool would that be?  Anyway, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a fantastic ending to an indescribable series.  If you haven’t already, pick this one up to close out what you already know to be a fantastic storyline that keeps getting better with every read.

Kim: 5 out of 5 Stars

Todd: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-first completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Random House Audio Publishing (2010)
CD: 20hrs 30min
ISBN:  9780739384190

#87 The Boy In The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis – Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY!

The Boy in the SuitcaseAudio-book fans listen up!! Reflections of a Book Addict is kicking off a five stop blog tour for AudioGO’s audio-book release of The Boy In The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.  With the Swedish crime novel kick Todd and I have been on, we jumped at the chance to listen and review the first novel in the Nina Borg chronicles.

I’m stealing the summary of the novel off of AudioGO’s website, because it saves me from revealing too much of the mystery!

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is trying to live a quiet life. The last thing her husband wants is for her to go running off on another dangerous mission to help illegal refugees. But when Nina’s estranged friend Karin leaves Nina a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station and begs her to take care of its contents, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous case yet. Because inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive. Nina’s natural instinct is to rescue the boy, but she knows the situation is risky. Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is hunting him down. When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy’s are in jeopardy, too.

Kim: Right from the get go this novel takes off like a bat out of hell.  A naked, drugged, three-year-old is found in a suitcase shoved in a locker in a train station.  How can you kick a novel off better than that?  Why is he there?  Who put him there?  You start listening to this novel and already have 1,000 questions running through your mind that make you all the more interested and invested in the plot.

Todd: Kaaberbøl and Friis create a wonderfully detailed cast of characters that they expound on to give the listener an amazingly good sense of the backgrounds of these individuals and what drives their actions and feelings.  I really enjoy when authors do this and I can really get a sense of what kind of person the character is in order to put them in context of the plot.

Kim: I definitely agree that the writing is top-notch.  I’ve often found that in these types of twisted crime novels, the writing has to be superb in order for the novel to work.  Without intelligent language, it would just fall flat.  Also, we can’t forget to give credit to Katherine Kellgren for a job well done in narrating this work.  You can tell that she put a lot of time and effort into making sure that words not in her native tongue were pronounced properly and accurately.  Narrators that take this extra step make the novel that much more realistic and gripping.

Todd: I have to echo Kim’s statements about the narrator.  Of course, I think it’s also a staple that the person be British, because who doesn’t love a calming British accent?  Anyway, if you happen to be a fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, this is definitely not a book to miss.  With thrilling accounts of murder and suspense that lurk in each chapter, you’ll find yourself glued to the spoken words, anxiously waiting to see what happens to The Boy in the Suitcase.

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Todd’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The Boy In The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
AudioGO (2011)
CD: 8hrs 40min
ISBN: 9781609986582

Blog Tour!

Jill over at AudioGO has been kind enough to offer us a clip of the first chapter of The Boy In the Suitcase.  You can find the remaining pieces of the first chapter at each stop on the blog tour.  (Info below)  Without further ado, here’s the beginning of chapter one…

To hear the remainder of chapter one (and for more giveaway chances) visit the rest of the blogs hosting the blog tour:

12/13/11 – The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

12/14/11 – Teresa’s Reading Corner

12/15/11 – The Literate Housewife 

12/16/11 – Devourer of Books

Our Giveaway

Two lucky winners will have the opportunity to win an audio-book version each of The Boy In the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Tuesday, December 20, 2011.  Winners will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday, December 21, 2011.  Giveaway open to residents of US only.  Good luck!

Special thanks to Jill at AudioGO for our review copy, and for including us on this fabulous blog tour!

A 2012 Reading Challenge – Audio Book Challenge

2012 Audio Book Challenge Hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner3rd reading challenge for 2012 will be……The Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner!  I’m still fairly new to the whole audio book game, so I’m signing up for the “flirting” level, which equates out to 6 audio books for the year.

If you’d like to sign up for this challenge, you can find all the details here!