Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sound Bites: Audiobook Reviews - Everything Everything, Dreamology, The Way I used to Be


I'm not what you would call a huge fan of audio books but from time to time I do download one from my library's Overdrive app and enjoy a little entertainment during my daily commute. Over the past couple of months I listened to several audio books - more than I've listened to in the last few years. I'm a total purist when it comes to reading and while audio books can be fun, for me it's never as rich an experience as actually reading the physical book. Because of that, my thoughts are pretty brief so I'm combining all three reviews into one post.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon


Narrated by: Bahni Turpin, Robbie Daymond


Synopsis: My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically I'm allergic to the world. I don't leave my house, have not left my house in 17 years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.


But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean, and wearing all black - black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.


Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster.


WHAT I LIKED: When this first released last year and was all over the blogosphere I didn't have much interest in reading it. I downloaded it on a whim and I'm so glad I did. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected. Maddy was intelligent and funny and so without self-pity that I couldn't help but love her. Olly was charming and such a perfect foil for Maddy. Carla has to be one of my favorite secondary characters ever. I loved the way the story unfolded and even though I had begun to suspect the big twist, it didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of the story. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Unfortunately I wasn't a big fan of the narration. The narrator voice for Maddy made her come across as much younger, more little girl than 18 year old young adult. And I'm confused as to why there were two different voices for Olly - one for in person and one for their messaging. The messaging voice was so much better and the voice used for their face to face encounters was a little off-putting.

4/5 STARS

Dreamology by Lucy Keating


Narrated by: Erin Spencer


Synopsis:  For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams - and only her dreams. Because he doesn't exist.


But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He's stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn't a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn't as perfect as Alice always hoped.


Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?


WHAT I LIKED: I really liked the premise of dreaming of someone for years and then coming face to face with them in real life. Max had appeared in Alice's dreams since she was a little girl and their nightly escapades were sweet and funny and whimsical. Also, the secondary characters were excellent.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: As intriguing as the synopsis was, the story didn't really work for me. There wasn't a lot of focus on why it was happening (which, hello, isn't that the point?) and the story too often veered into cutesy/silliness. Overall, it felt very, very young, almost middle grade instead of YA.

2.5/5 STARS

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith


Narrated by: Rebekkah Ross


Synopsis: Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.


What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.


WHAT I LIKED: Eden. I loved this girl. She was young and sweet and a little naive. She was also wild and reckless and frustrating. The changes in Eden after being raped by her brother's best friend are heartbreaking. Her every thought and action was defined by that horrific act and it was so difficult to watch her struggle through the next 4 years. The storytelling was top-notch:  honest and emotional and impactful.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Nothing. Any minor quibbles I may have had were eclipsed by how powerfully good everything else was.

4/5 STARS

Are you a fan of audio books? Have you read any of these?

22 comments:

  1. SO glad you liked Everything Everything. I loved it so much. I thought Dreamology was cute. Definitely quick and fluffy. I have The Way I Used to Be and I need to get to it. Great reviews!!

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    1. Thanks Grace! Everything Everything was definitely a surprise. Such a unique story and I really loved Yoon's writing. And I definitely recommend The Way I Used to Be. So powerful and so good.

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  2. I've been getting more and more into audiobooks so I love your reviews! Sounds like I seriously need to read Everything Everything -- or I guess listen to it! ♥

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    1. Thanks Eva! I've actually been turning to audiobooks more, too, and it totally surprises me! I won't say I'm a total convert because I'm really particular about what I listen to on audio. Some books I will always insist on reading the physical book but I am enjoying some on audio. And Everything Everything is totally worth the read/listen!

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  3. Narration, narration, narration--this is why I have yet to find an audiobook that does it for me. Tanya, I don't think I can do it.

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    1. I get it, Jazmen. The narrator can totally make or break the entire experience. And, for me, an audiobook will *never* be as complete and immersive an experience as actually reading the book. But I find I am enjoying some of them.

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  4. Glad you enjoyed Everything, Everything- it's one of my favorites! Too bad that the narration was weird though! And I liked Dreamology- it was cute for me, but I DO get why it didn't work for a lot of other people. I usually don't like cutesy either, so it's odd that I liked that one! And I felt the same exact way about The Way I Used to Be- I can't even put my finger on WHY it was a 4 and not a 5... it just was?

    As for audiobooks, I can't. I tried a handful of times, but my mind just wanders wayyyy too much. I am not an auditory learner either, but I am very good visually, which is why I think I like reading so much! Great reviews!

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    1. I'm tempted to actually read Everything Everything for myself just so I can appreciate it without the narration. It really was such a well told story. And I heart Maddy + Olly a lot. :)

      I'm so glad you said that about The Way I Used to Be! There was just *something* that kept it from being 5 stars but it was still so, so good and so very powerful and moving.

      I totally get the visual over audible thing. Completely. I sometimes have to actively work at keeping myself focused on an audio book. I'm also *very* particular about what I choose to listen to on audio. For me it well never ever take the place of truly getting immersed in a book. So most books I insist on "really" reading... the right way. LOL

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  5. I AM SO GLAD YOU LISTENED TO EVERYTHING EVERYTHING! i needed someone to gush about this one with last month when i finished reading it! I have to say though, i must be slightly gullible sometimes because I did not see the big twist coming whatsoever! when they started hinting at it I couldn't believe it because I had so much faith in her mom!
    I'm glad you still liked it so much you gave it 4/5! I guarantee if you hadn't listened to it on audio and read it instead you would have liked it that much more. I feel you on the audiobooks though. sometimes theyre fun, but it's never near the same experience as actually reading the book. that's why i've taken some time off of listening to anything on audio.
    Emily @ www.rabbitholereviews.com

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    1. Bingo! An audio book can be enjoyable but it will never (for me) provide the same experience as actually reading the book. That's why I'm so picky about what I choose to listen to. Most books I want to actually READ. And I think you're right about Everything Everything - I probably would have loved it even more if I had just read the book. But it was still so good. I love Maddy + Olly. :)

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  6. Yeah girl, I agree. I'm not one to really go out and choose and audiobook although they are starting to get more and more popular this year as I've been seeing. WE'RE TWINNING right now because I'd rather read a book the generic way like you said. There's just something about reading a book and having it in my hands, being able to flip the pages and all aah, that makes me want to do it the traditional way. DOn't get me wrong though, an audiobook helps me to rad when I'm super busy with like cleaning and stuff but at the end of the day.... I NEED MY PHYSICAL CO!! Totally get where you're coming form girlie! <3

    Great discussion/book review post! :) XOXO!

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    1. Thanks Keionda! We totally think the same way about audio books. :) They can be enjoyable and come in handy - but they'll never ever take the place of actually holding a book in hand and reading it for yourself. "Real" books for the win!

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  7. Of all these I think The Way I Used to Be was my favorite. And I agree that at the wrong narrator can ruin an audiobook. I've been listening to podcasts lately and really should pick out some new audiobooks!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. The Way I Used to Be really surprised me, Jen. The narration was great but the story... I was just gripped by it. For whatever reason, I connected to this one in a way that I never did with Speak. Yes, it was a well-written and powerful book but I never felt truly emotionally invested. With TWIUTB I was all in.

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  8. I really struggle with audiobooks, unless I am in the car and can't move about I end up getting distracted. Dreamology was cute but I agree with your review and I am really curious about Everything, Everything.

    Great reviews! Sharon - Obsession with Books

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    1. Thanks Sharon! I'm with you, I really only listen to audiobooks on two occasions - when I'm in the car or when I'm sick. Otherwise I just can't remain focused.

      Everything Everything is so worth the read. I kind of wish now that I had read it instead of listened on audio. It really is a great story and Maddy is a memorable character.

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  9. I can't comment on the audiobooks, because I don't listen to those - I tried but I haven't yet mastered how to not lose focus and start to concentrate on something else - but I did read Everything, Everything. I rated E,E 4 stars, because I wasn't a huge fan of the outcome - for one, it was predictable, but also not why I went into the book. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good happy end, and this one made my heart sing- dramatic, much? - but I went into the book because I was interested in reading about a person, a young adult, with such a rare illness. I wanted to know how one can cope with this, if it is even possible, instead I got a twist that was just... not something, imo, that could ever happen in real life.
    The other novels I haven't read, but I heard very mixed things about Dreamology, so I took it down from my tbr - I read about the 'love triangle' in it and meh, way to ruin a cutesy romance. I can't wait to read The Way I Used To Be! :)
    Great mini-reviews! :)

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    1. I can totally see your issue(s) with Everything, Everything, Veronika. I don't want to put any spoilers in the comments but I can see how the twist could have invalidated everything up to that point for you. I still enjoyed reading about Maddy and how she dealt with things up until that point.

      Dreamology... yeah, meh. But I totally recommend The Way I Used to Be! If you get around to reading it I'll be excited to see what you think of it! :)

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  10. Even though you didn't give it a high rating, I want to try Dreamology. The premise just sounds too good to pass up. Great review, I also prefer reading because it takes longer to listen to an audiobook.

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    1. I hope you'll love Dreamology if you decide to give it a try, Josianne! (Love your name, by the way!) You're right, the premise sounds fantastic - it's definitely what initially pulled me in.

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  11. I love audio books. But I do go through phases when I'll listen to a few in a row and then not touch them for months. *shrugs*
    But a narrator can definitely ruin the book for me. And flip that coin and the narrator can make the book that much more enjoyable for me. ie: The Madman's Daughter.
    Everything Everything is a great book. Maddy really made it so.

    That's to bad about Dreamology. I thought the synopsis sounded awesome. Hmmm.... think I'll give it a pass now.

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    1. Yeah, I'm definitely finding that with audio books - the narrator can make the book even better, or ruin it. I just finished The Crown's Game on audio and that narrator's accents were so perfect - it was a total win.

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