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December 2, 2012 / Leslie

Catching up on Audio Reviews

Only two years after rediscovering audiobooks (I had tried, failed to enjoy and abandoned the format back in the books-on-tape days), I’m closing in on 60 books listened to in 2012. Listening to audio on my mp3 player and in the car has doubled the amount of books I read. Choosing the right books and the right narrator make all the difference, but I won’t get on the audiobook soapbox and leave that for another time.

I’ve written about most of the audiobooks I’ve listened to this year but there are still a few waiting to be reviewed. I would like to be caught up on reviews at the end of the year so I’ve decided to do some quick reviews on the remaining books. Here are three I listened to from HarperAudio and a few thoughts:


The Uninvited Guests
by Sadie Jones
Narrated by Kate Reading

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publish Date: October 2, 2012
Format: Audio, 8 hours | 47 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 3½ of 5

From the publisher:
One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington’s twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor — and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.

A quirky, clever tale about an odd group of mostly unpleasant but well-developed characters, the story takes place over several days at the family’s manor house. This is a mystery as well as historical fiction and a bit of a ghost story too. I found it a little slow at the start but after the uninvited guests from the train crash arrived, the pace picked up. Towards the end there was a twist to the story and a finish I enjoyed. The audio was challenging at times because of the number of characters to keep track of but Kate Readings’ narration was pleasant and easy to listen to.


Some Remarks
by Neal Stephenson
Narrated by Jeff Cummings

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publish Date: August 7, 2012
Format: Audio, 11 hours | 36 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5

From the publisher:
This remarkable collection brings together previously published short writings, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a new essay (and an extremely short story) created specifically for this volume. Stephenson ponders a wealth of subjects, from movies and politics to David Foster Wallace and the Midwestern American College Town; video games to classics-based sci-fi; how geekdom has become cool and how science fiction has become mainstream (whether people admit it or not); the future of publishing and the origins of his novels.

Although not a huge follower of Neal Stephenson, I have read some of his work and am a big fan of science fiction. There is no question though that this book is directed at Stephenson’s fans. However, his writing is entertaining enough that some of the selections would appeal to a general audience and I did find most of the essays interesting.

The essay chronicling the hacker tourist and the laying of the longest fiber optic cable on earth was, at three and a half hours, a little too long, but techy folks will find it fascinating. A question and answer session was my favorite and I especially liked hearing his stories about other well known science fiction authors. Each essay is an independent topic or story, so jumping around works fine. The audio is easy to follow once you figure out what you are listening to, ie, lecture, essay, short story, etc.


The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine HoweThe House of Velvet and Glass
by Katherine Howe
Narrated by Heather Corrigan

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hyperion AudioBooks
Publish Date: April 10, 2012
Format: Audio, 16 hours | 26 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate – Difficult
Rating: 3½ of 5

From the publisher:
Boston, 1915: Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in a town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl seeks answers in the depths of a medium’s crystal ball.

I enjoyed the story which was richly layered with a mystical atmosphere and a connection to the Titanic. However, the execution could have been better as the plot was, at times, difficult to follow and felt a little too long. Audio was probably not the best choice for me because the plot jumps around a lot and shifts to several different time periods. I like to multitask when I listen and it was necessary to concentrate a little more than usual to know where we were when a chapter started. For listeners who find it easy to concentrate on the audio, this would be a viable choice; others might be better off with print. There is a twist at the end that I never saw coming making me glad I stuck with the book to the finish.

Source: Review copy.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Elizabeth / Dec 2 2012 2:01 pm

    The House of Velvet Glass sounds amazing, but I guess not that amazing with a 3.5 out of 5. I still think I would like it. 🙂 THANKS.

    If you haven’t stopped by my blog to see a review of THE SECRET KEEPER please do if you like.


    A review and E-book giveaway of MURDER TAKES TIME

    Silver’s Reviews


    • Leslie / Dec 2 2012 2:06 pm

      Three stars means I liked it but with a few reservations as in I thought it could have been better. I’m still recommending it although beware of the complexity of the audio.


      • Elizabeth / Dec 2 2012 2:17 pm

        Thank you for the clarification.


  2. WordsAndPeace / Dec 2 2012 5:59 pm

    I’m so far behind in my reviews, that I need to do a few similar posts before the end of the year. My recent bad experience with the audio A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar has taught me to check on audiofile for audio reviews before ever starting an audiobook. It can make it better than the printed book or just unbearable!


    • Leslie / Dec 2 2012 6:17 pm

      I check AudioBook Jukebox too for links to reviews if I’m not already familiar with the audio version.


      • WordsAndPeace / Dec 2 2012 6:29 pm

        I do too, but sometimes it’s too early for a new audio to have its review there. so far, I have always found it though on audiofile. Jen at Devourer of Books, is one of their reviewers, by the way, and I always trust her reviews


      • Leslie / Dec 2 2012 6:41 pm

        Ok, just thought I’d mention it in case you didn’t know. I check audiofile too and yes, I trust Jen’s reviews … and she usually listens to them before I get my hands on a copy.


  3. BermudaOnion / Dec 2 2012 7:54 pm

    You’ve become a pro at audiobooks in a short time. You should write up a post while you’re on you’re on your audio soapbox.


  4. sim@chapter1-take1 / Dec 2 2012 8:19 pm

    I agree with Kathy at Bermuda Onion! I’ve been curious about audio books but have yet to try them. I would think they would be distracting while driving. When do you listen to them? While folding laundry would work but how much laundry do I have?! Would love for you to get on your soapbox and let me know!


  5. diane / Dec 2 2012 8:37 pm

    I read the print version of Uninvited Guests and didn’t love it but enjoyed it. Thanks for the mini reviews; have a good week Les.


  6. nrlymrtl / Dec 9 2012 12:44 pm

    My husband really enjoys Neal Stephenson, so I might have to pick up this audio for him. I enjoyed his Cryptonomicon and Anathem, but given how long those works are I wonder how well he does at much shorter works.


    • Leslie / Dec 9 2012 1:44 pm

      I liked the non-fiction part more than the short fiction. There were only two pieces of fiction and they weren’t that memorable. Apparently most of this material has been published before so this is a sort of ‘greatest hits’ compilation although I don’t recall reading any of them previously. If your husband’s a fan he would probably enjoy most of them.


  7. stacybuckeye / Dec 9 2012 10:52 pm

    60 audiobooks? Holy smokes! I’m not even sure I’ve read 60 books this year (sad). With my last audiobook I’ve decided I can no longer listen to them in the car with Gage. Just not fair to a 2 year old!


    • Leslie / Dec 11 2012 6:42 pm

      Losing my job and having a lot more time to garden and work around the house is what’s responsible for the surge in audio time. In a way it’s been nice, but I do need to find a job soon!


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