Audiobook Mini-reviews: So Much For That by Lionel Shriver; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; and Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Title: So Much For That
Author: Lionel Shriver
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Michael McConnohie, John Morgan, and Hilary Huber
First line: What do you pack for the rest of your life?

I loved both of Shriver’s previous novels – The Post-Birthday World and We Need to Talk About Kevin. She is wordy at times, but her words are so well put-together, her characters so detailed and real, that I like burying myself in her books, no matter how long. Unfortunately, I did not have the same experience with So Much for That. The premise was interesting: Shep Knacker is ready to run away from the US, from his job, from his family if they won’t come along, and move to a small island off the coast of Africa and exit the rat race, only to discover that his wife has cancer. Unfortunately, it read more like a political diatribe against the American economic and health care systems than a novel. While I agreed with many of the points being made, it was simply too politics-heavy to be more than mildly enjoyable. The audiobook readers were adequate, but nothing extraordinary.

Title: Inkspell
Author: Cornelia Funke
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Publisher: The Chicken House
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Brendan Fraser
First line: Twilight was gathering, and Orpheus still wasn’t here.

Can I just say that it is extremely cruel to have Brendan Fraser read this audiobook, but not Inkdeath, the final title in the trilogy? His voice – I could sing songs and write odes to his voice. No matter the character or accent, he was pitch-perfect. I loved the hours spent listening to this book. Of course, without the gorgeous story full of eccentric people, fantastical places, and oodles of book worship to hang his velvety voice upon, I would have been listening to beautiful sound with no substance. Fortunately, Funke delivers on this sequel to Inkheart. I really want to know what happens in the final installment in the series, but the audiobook is read by someone else. This is so, so wrong. I tried, I really did, but I couldn’t make it past the first twenty minutes. And I fell bad, because I’m sure in any other circumstances, the other gentleman would be a perfectly adequate reader, but I can’t listen to Mo, Dustfinger, Fahrid, Meggie, and Eleanor’s voices produced by anyone but Mr. Fraser. I will be reading book three in print.

Title: Black Swan Green
Author: David Mitchell
Genre: Contemporary fiction, coming-of-age novel, British fiction
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Kirby Heyborne
First line: Do not set foot in my office.

Each chapter of Black Swan Green represents a month in the thirteenth year of Jason Taylor’s life, a year full of all the frightful experiences that a boy of thirteen must suffer. Jason isn’t one of the most popular boys – or the least popular boys. When he is given the opportunity to become one of the “it” crowd, his conscience won’t let him do what needs to be done in order to be accepted. In the course of this year of his life, he writes poetry under an assumed name, worries about the obvious tension between his parents, fantasizes about the girls at school, falls into a gypsy camp, tries to overcome his stammer, and starts to become a person. In the course of listening to this book, Jason became one of my favorite young protagonists, and he was perfectly voiced by Kirby Heyborne.

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24 Responses to Audiobook Mini-reviews: So Much For That by Lionel Shriver; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; and Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

  1. heidenkind says:

    I’ve been looking for a new audiobook to try now that I’m finished with all the Harry Potters. Maybe I’ll go for Inkheart!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Tasha – just keep in mind that Fraser only reads book 2 – Inkspell. Book 1, Inkheart, is read by Lynn Redgrave, who also does an excellent job.

  2. irene says:

    Thanks for your wonderful reviews, I’m so tempted… the TBR pile grows again.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Irene- I know what you mean – mine grows exponentially every week – I think the books are procreating!

  3. My sister loved Inkspell, but I don’t think it’s for me. Black Swan Green sounds like it is, though.

  4. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I agree with you with regards to Shriver…I just want to roll around in her prose, it is so clever and entertaining. I perked up when I saw this book was coming out, but I held back because it DID sound like a political rant. I have to listen to my husband go on every night about the economy, so I really don’t need more help understanding! And I can totally sympathize with you on audio narrators. I mean, WHY would they do that? Did Fraser have a movie he was working on? Couldn’t they wait? Couldn’t they bribe him? Don’t blame you for reading it is print. My daughter loved this series by the way. She has been on me to read them, so it is good to know not to set myself up for misery on the audios.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – Lynn Redgrave does a good job reading book 1 in the Inkheart series, but she’s not as amazing as Fraser. It would be worth it to read the others and listen to book two, though, just to experience what the characters SHOULD sound like. 🙂

  5. Fyrefly says:

    I told you about Fraser! He’s so awesome! He also reads Funke’s Dragon Rider, if you want more. It’s too bad that you couldn’t get into Inkdeath, though. Allan Corduner (the guy who reads that one) also reads The Book Thief, which I loved, so even though I missed Fraser, I got along okay with Corduner.

    It’s been a while since I listened to Black Swan Green, but I remember really liking it – Kirby Heyborne’s good with teen male protagonist voices! He also voices Marcus in Little Brother, which is a similarly good match.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Fyrefly- I’ve already read Dragon Rider and Little Brother in print. 🙁 Maybe if I had waited longer to start Inkdeath, then Corduner wouldn’t have bothered me so much, but I dove right in and just couldn’t do it – the difference was too jarring. And yes, you did tell me – he is made of awesomeness! 🙂

  6. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12
    says:

    I listened to the first two Inkspell books and loved them! I have the third one in my car right now, but I haven’t started it. I had no idea Fraser didn’t read it. I’m so bummer now. He really was perfect for it. I loved Black Swan Green too!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – I know, it really was disappointing. Maybe the new reader won’t bother you as much as he did me. 🙂

  7. nomadreader (Carrie)
    Twitter: nomadreader
    says:

    I’m sorry to hear So Much for That didn’t work for you. There were times I felt the political overtook the narrative, but the ending left me triumphant, and I loved it. I’m looking forward to the Nicholls too!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Carrie – I did love the ending of So Much For That – that’s what earned it the three stars instead of two. 🙂

  8. lisamm says:

    Like you, I really enjoy Shriver’s prose, and loved We Need To Talk About Kevin (well, not sure love is the right word- but it was all-consuming). I have started So Much for That three (3) THREE! times and just can’t get into it. I read Carrie (nomadreader)’s comment above so maybe I need to push through to get to the end.

    I will have to get Black Swan Green- maybe later tonight on the Nook. It sounds great.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Lisa – I’m not sorry I read it, it just didn’t live up to the other two. And it did end very well. 🙂

  9. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    Weird. I thought I commented on this already. Hummm…. maybe I dreamed it. LOL.

    Anyway, IFraser’s reading: OMG he made me fall head over heels in love with Dustfinger. The third book was a disappointment in not only the new reader but also the plot. Get the print book and read it quickly to see what happens — I gave the audio of Inkdeath a C+ but probably should have made it a C or C-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Candace – yes, I have the print copy from the library and will be starting it soon, although I’m bummed to hear that the plot doesn’t hold up to the first two!

  10. Ash says:

    I’ve listened to a lot of audio recently! Inkspell sounds like a good one to check out next.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Ash – keep in mind Inkspell is book two – if you haven’t already, you’ll want to read or listen to Inkheart first. 🙂

  11. Kathleen says:

    I love these mini-reviews! I still need to read We Need to Talk About Kevin. That seems to be the one by the author that is a “must read”.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathleen- thanks! The mini-reviews help me catch up when I get behind. 🙂

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