audio book trip

We remembered the audio books this time. Natalya and I browsed the considerable audio book collection at the library and left with more hours of reading than the trip should need–just in case one of the narrators was awful, which has happened in the past. Perhaps as we listen to more audio books we will remember the good readers.

When N and I were perusing the three sections of audio books, I noticed Tonya Hurley’s Ghostgirl on the Teen Shelf and was tempted to pick it up. Maybe next time. Because I am familiar with the story or am tempted by the cover copy? No. The book is read aloud by Parker Posey–I mean, how fabulous is that? N didn’t know better and nixed the idea, but Sean agrees–next time.


We began with Faeries of Dreamdark : Blackbringer [unabridged] by Laini Taylor, read by Davina Porter. You may recall how I raved on this and its second book Silksinger. Davina Porter is a fantastic reader! I am going to remember her for future books. She changes her voice so seamlessly, so perfectly. I was immediately drawn in.

Just the same, we didn’t get too far into this very long reading because we were needing more overt humor over the chilling imagery of a terrible demon on the loose. (The Dreamdark series would be a fun RIP read.)

I picked up Skulduggery Pleasant because I thought it was funny, very Doctor Who-ish. Written by Derek Landy, this audio book version was read aloud by Rupert Degas. When I had read Skulduggery Pleasant I had had very definite sounds of Skulduggery and Stephanie (the two protagonists) in my head. In effect, they were David Tennant and Billie Piper (of Doctor Who). Imagine my distraction when the talented Mr. Degas presented two very different voices. His softened, lilting voice for the daring and sassy 12-year-old Stephanie Edgley sounded remarkably like Billy Boyd as Peregrine “Pippin” Took of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films.  I also felt that Skulduggery would have been a bit more animated, less like Brendan Gleeson suffering exhaustion and a scratchy throat. Fortunately, Sean and Natalya thought the reading was great and really enjoyed the six discs as it carried us across North Texas.

Except…there are musical/sound effect transitions between chapters here that we had come to mock, but were otherwise not amusing. Really, that they all start with weird music (minus Blackbringer) was startling and slightly icky.

The third book we listened to upon the return trip was Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl : The Eternity Code. Only Natalya and I have read the first book in the series. The Eternity Code, I believe, is the third book. Sean had a passing idea of who Artemis Fowl was.

The reader for this audio version is Nathaniel Parker. The reading was a wonderful experience and the flashes of Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane (as Rubeus Hagrid) were not too distracting. Actually it was kind of funny trying to picture the Hagrid figure as the dwarf Mulch Diggums.

I marvel over the voice memory for each character an audio-book reader can employ. I remember trying to assign each character a voice (as recommended by their description) when reading aloud to N when she was much smaller. I would forget and get them mixed up if there were more than 5 characters. N, however, always remembered how the voices were supposed to go. My greatest success is still Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

We would have liked to have gotten to Neil Gaiman’s Coraline as read by the author–except we are glad to have not been on the road that much longer. Neil Gaiman was our fail-safe. He softens his voice for the female characters, but does not reach for the falsetto like the previous two mentions. His alterations are more slight. And well, Sean and I adore his reading of The Graveyard Book. Gaiman will be sure to come along with us again.


How do you prefer your audio-books? Dramatic vocal changes between characters? Female or Male Narrator? Author over Actor? Musical entrances? Warnings that the disc is finished, a ‘would you please change it or you’ll be experiencing two full minutes of deja vu and forget where you’d left off’? Do you have fail-safe readers/series?

"review" · fiction · juvenile lit · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · Tales · wondermous

oh, how I love these…

{I opted for the short and sweet, fearing the gushing could go on and I would possibly overwhelm us both; so please excuse my understatements, if you would like clarity on a point, please, as always, comment.}

I picked Laini Taylor’s Dreamdark: Silksinger for the cover. I was scanning the shelf for something else when it caught my eye. Then of course I read the jacket and added it to the pile. It is 400-some pages, but the book is 7.64 x 5.80 x 1.45 in. And I hadn’t read a Fantasy of this sort in a while.

In a day or two’s time I started reading Silksinger and I was several pages in when I wondered if it was a Book 2, and if that book cover on the back inside jacket was book 1.  I stopped, went and got Blackbringer and read Book 1 first. And while you could read Book 2 and enjoy it, it’s better with the first first.

I will be commenting on them both together because the second book maintained the first book’s excellence (a rare claim, for which Taylor should be proud).

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

Illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007

(smallish, Hardback), 437 pages.


Dreamdark: Silksinger (book 2) by Laini Taylor

Illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009.

(smallish, Hardback), 445 pages.

Laini Taylor has a marvelous imagination. Even better, she’s a wonderful storyteller. I finished the first book and was euphoric. After the second book I knew the infatuation was actually love.  What do these books not do well?

I tried to rub the stars from my eyes. I let the stories sit a few days. Now sitting here, typing this post, I can only think a next book is too far in the offing. And also whether two more books on the Christmas list would overburden it.

Poppy Manygreen (Blackbringer, 71)

The things I really appreciated about the reads:

the illustrations (beautiful additions, though you can imagine what they look like, Laini is good with her own descriptions); Jumps straight in; a well-crafted world/lore; great characters/characterization—and their names; humor; the imagery; the language and the fact that I could read it, that I could pronounce the places, etc; pacing; action; a dose of sweet romance; affectionate relationships, family/friends; unflinching darkness; and yes, I was shocked and horrified in book one when….; and I teared-up in book two when….

Bellatrix (Blackbringer, 257)

I was concerned with: the obnoxious heroine possibility.

Though the 3rd person narrative is not limited, Magpie Windwitch is our protagonist in both.  She is quite incredible—almost dangerously so. You could see her unlimited potential, as the story allows for her to find the tools she needs to succeed from somewhere yet discovered inside of herself, from gifts bestowed, from dreams dreamed for her… And yet, she is charmingly young. Bless it, she has flaws, and she is fairly unpredictable (without disrupting the stories logic).  She also has the crows and Talon Rathersting to keep her humble. Taylor also dispenses awesomeness to other characters in the books, which is not often the case in other hero adventure stories.


My love for the Dreamdark books should equate with “everyone should read them!” But that isn’t actually the case. I was thinking about this. I think that a huge number of people aged 9 and up would be entertained by Taylor’s stories, however…

…If you don’t care for Fantasy, these are not an obvious choice; but if you wanted to try, these are upper-middle-grade, highly accessible and paced to move you along, dispensing back story along the way.

…if you are worried about competing/influential mythologies (however fictional in presentation) you will not care for this one, but you probably don’t read much Fantasy anyway.

…if you are tired of charming males in your reading, this should wait awhile.

…if you don’t care for diversity, you probably wouldn’t care for this one; but if you are…I would like to hear thoughts on how you think some of the faeries are portrayed after you’ve read it.

I haven’t tested this series on the daughter yet. She has her own pile of books (I think she has 4 going at once) and her writing, but I plan on having her give them a go…course if I owned them I wouldn’t have to renew them at the Library and I wouldn’t have to keep moving them to the top of her tower of TBRs…

 another book where the content and illustrations are equally lovely.  Jim Di Bartolo's blog.
Laini Taylor's homepage.