Between my own writing and Inaccurate Realities I no longer have the time to fully review all of the books. But I still want to share so many stories with readers so mini-reviews are going to become more frequent. And this week I have an audiobook triple whammy!
Release Date: March 12 2013
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
“Life is full of stories. Or maybe life is only stories.”
After hearing Ruth Ozeki read in Toronto I knew I would have listen to the audiobook. She has the most fantastic voice. It’s energetic and also very soothing. Usually I can usually only listen to an audiobook for an hour or so at a time but with Ozeki narrating I easily doubled that. Her voice draws you in and makes you want to learn more.
A Tale for the Time Being is a tragic story that touches on a number of issues and themes but the one that stood out to me the most was that of suicide. It explored the idea of suicide from a variety of angles (from Japanese notions of honour, to the people who jumped out of the towers during 9/11) and provides a lot of food for thought. Nao’s story is an emotional one and at times hard to read. I loved the back and forth between her narration and Ruth’s. I could really relate to Ruth and her reactions to Nao’s story felt so authentic.
This is an incredible story of loss, of courage and of moving forward. There’s a reason A Tale for the Time Being is making all the “best of” lists. Ruth Ozeki has a way with words- both on the page and off.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow Books / HarperAudio
Length: 181 pages / 5 hours 48 minutes
Source: Purchased from Audible
Release Date: June 18 2013
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
“All monsters are scared. That’s why they’re monsters.”
Here is another fantastic example of an author who should always narrate his own work. It was sort of like listening to the Doctor mixed with Alan Rickman. Both creepy and almost melodic. Which is kind of the tone of this entire book. It was actually a lot creepier than I expected. From the description it sounded like a pleasant story about a young boy but since it’s Neil Gaiman I should have known better. In particular there’s this bit with a worm *shudders* If you’ve read it you know what I’m talking about – if you haven’t you’ll understand as soon as you get to it.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a very imaginative, creepy book. My only complaint is that it was too short. I wanted to go deeper and explore the characters more and the magic of the Hemstocks. It was still brilliantly told, I just didn’t want it to be over so quickly.
The Arrivals by Melissa Marr
Narrated by: Matt Burns
Publisher: William Morrow / Harper Audio
Length: 274 pages / 9 hours and 5 minutes
Genre: Western, Science Fiction
Source: Borrowed from the library
Release Date: July 2 2013
Chloe walks into a bar and blows five years of sobriety. When she wakes, she finds herself in an unfamiliar world, The Wasteland. She discovers people from all times and places have also arrived there: Kitty and Jack, a brother and sister from the Wild West; Edgar, a prohibition bootlegger; Francis, a one-time hippie; Melody, a mentally unbalanced 1950s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist. None know why they arrived there–or if there is way out of a world populated by monsters and filled with corruption.
Firefly fans – this one is for you. It’s that fantastic mix of science fiction and Western with a little time travel thrown in for good measure (so Doctor Who fans may want to check this out as well). The story focuses on a rag tag team of individuals who have all time travelled to the mysterious Wasteland from different periods of history – it’s a unique concept and one that grabs you right away, as you wonder where exactly they are and what brought them there. All the characters are interesting, but with so many players on the board it was hard to get to know any of them that well. That being said, I have to admit my favourite was Edgar, a prohibition era bootlegger. He was charming, sweet and brave. What more could you ask for?
Matt Burns did a good job narrating this story – particularly when he took on Jack’s Western drawl. At times I found it a bit too slow but once I sped it up to 1.25x speed my listening experience improved greatly.