Mini-reviews: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen; Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan; Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier; and Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classic
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from YA Sync
Audiobook reader: Wanda McCaddon
Audiobook length: 11 hours and 9 minutes
First line: The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex.

I was always hesitant to try a classic on audio, simply because the language is so different. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as well, since I listen to audio while doing dishes, laundry, cooking, etc. I was so wrong! I absolutely loved listening to Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’s story read by the wonderful Wanda McCaddon. She was perfect, doing all of the voices, differing the women’s voices enough for me to know exactly who was speaking, and giving the men’s voices the right timbre without sounding weird. Now that I know Austen translates well on audio, I plan to do more rereads of her work this way.

Title: The Battle of the Labyrinth
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Children’s fantasy, middle grade fiction
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from personal library
First line: The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school.

I’m sure the Percy Jackson series is going to be remembered as one of our favorite read-aloud series of all time. The boys and I all love them: the humor, the characters, the action, the choices the characters are faced with. In Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, and Grover must go into the Labyrinth to find Deadalus and prevent him from giving their enemies a way to navigate into Half-Blood Camp. There are funny predicaments, gruesome monsters, and snappy dialogue – all of the things we have come to love about the series. As soon as we finished it, the boys were ready to dive right into the final book.

Title: Remarkable Creatures
Author: Tracey Chevalier
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC won in a giveaway at Literate Housewife (a couple years ago!)
First line: Lightning has struck me all my life.

This is another case of, “Why did I let this book sit on the shelf for so long?” I know that I enjoy Chevalier’s writing (I loved Burning Bright), but I guess I wasn’t convinced that a book about two spinster fossil collectors in the early 19th century would be interesting. I shouldn’t have doubted the skill of this author to thrust the reader into time and space so easily. I loved the characters of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, even though they both had prickles and eccentricities galore. The story of their friendship, and Mary’s remarkable influence on science, was a true delight.

Title: Anne of Ingleside
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Bantam Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: “How white the moonlight is tonight!” said Anne Blythe to herself, as she went up the walk of the Wright garden to Diana Wright’s front door, where little cherry-blossom petals were coming down on the salty, breeze-stirred air.

I know that many lovers of Anne-with-an-e believe that Anne loses some of her spirit and gumption in these later books in the series. In some ways, this is true, but as a mother myself, and a mother who has made the choice to stay home with my children full time, I understand why this changes her. But, in the end, she is still Anne, and while I don’t love this one as much as some of the other books in the series, I still thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent at Ingleside, witnessing Anne mothering her children through the ups and downs of life.

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6 Responses to Mini-reviews: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen; Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan; Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier; and Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

  1. Patti Smith
    Twitter: PattiRSmith

    I’ve been thinking about trying some classics on audio…I think many of them lend themselves to the slower pace of audio very easily. But, I would imagine that the narrator is even more important with classics than with a more fast-paced contemporary novel. Thanks for the recommendation!!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Patti – definitely! I found that, in the hands of a talented narrator, it was actually easier to pay attention and follow the story than in print.

  2. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I’ve never tried a classic on audio for the same reasons you mentioned. When I read a classic, it takes me a little while to adjust to the language so it’s slower at first. Your success has made me rethink things.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathy – there was something about hearing the words read aloud that made the meaning even clearer, if that makes any sense.

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