Mini Reviews: Audiobook Edition!

Mini Reviews

As I’ve now mentioned countless times, I really slacked on the bookish content in August. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I didn’t read anything (more about that in the monthly recap), but I astonishingly checked out TWO audiobooks. I’m notorious for struggling with audiobooks (I wrote a whole post about it, which you can find here), because I find it so tough to focus on just sound without having anything to visually focus on. However, I got some free Audible credits this month, so I want to talk to you about the books I checked out!

*links to Goodreads and Storygraph will be provided after the ratings!*

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdyPublisher description:
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

My Thoughts:

The internet just about exploded when Jennette McCurdy’s book I’m Glad My Mom Died released. I think, despite the title, a lot of people expected a tell-all book on her life in showbiz, but it’s truly so much more personal than that. Yes, there are mentions of shows and movies we know as well as some other behind the scenes stuff that surely didn’t always better her situation, but the focus is really on her relationship with her mom and how that affected her relationship with herself and her body.

“She wanted this. And I wanted her to have it. I wanted her to be happy. But now that I have it, I realize that she’s happy and I’m not. Her happiness came at the cost of mine. I feel robbed and exploited.”

I can see I’m Glad My Mom Died being very triggering for many readers out there and I would caution them to pick it up if they struggle with detailed accounts of eating disorders and parental abuse. I, for one, am glad I chose to listen to the audiobook, which is narrated by Jennette McCurdy herself, but it made the situation all the more severe in my mind. This was such a vulnerable and raw account of her life and I wish her nothing but healing and love moving forward. Still, I completely emphasized with her conflicted feelings and am just in awe of what all she dared to share. She seems to be on a good track now and I bet she’s making more cash with this book than the Nickelodeon hush money could have ever been.

“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms, they’re the most romanticized of anyone.”

CW: eating disorders, child abuse, emotional/physical abuse, death of parents, substance abuse

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Raw and emotional and brilliant.

Goodreads | Storygraph

Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin by Marieke Nijkamp (narrated by Robbie Daymond, Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien)

Critical Role: Vox Machina—Kith & Kin by Marieke NijkampPublisher description:
Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp, Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin will follow a brand-new story, featuring the cunning ranger Vex’ahlia and the conning rogue Vax’ildan (and, of course, Trinket) years before they meet Vox Machina. After leaving the unwelcoming refuge of Syngorn, the twins become entangled in a web spun by the Clasp, and for the first time Vex and Vax find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that threatens the home they have carried with each other for years.
This story lands in the canon timeline of Exandria before any of the events of both the home and livestreamed campaign and even prior to Vox Machina’s first meetings in Vox Machina Origins, our comic book series with Dark Horse Comics. Simply put, even if you’ve never met Vox Machina before, you can dive in right away and breathe in that fresh book scent without missing a beat. If you’ve already joined Vox Machina on any of their adventures, this novel grants a nostalgic return to these characters we love.

My Thoughts:

You know me, I haven’t shut up about Critical Role in MONTHS. I probably won’t shut up about it for a long time to come, because I really enjoy it with my whole being, but I’m not entirely sure I love it in all its iterations.

As the universe grows, the team of Critical Role seems to try and expand their way of telling the story of these fantastic characters in different media. We have comic books (which I’m yearning to get my hands on), games (the Mighty Nein Clue game is all I want for Christmas) and now also books/audiobooks. It makes sense, because the narration of Robbie Daymond with Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien voicing the twins again was all flawless. I adore their voices and will never not rejoice at hearing them in character, but the story itself? Unfortunately, it didn’t grasp me as much as some of their other content has.

Kith & Kin is part of Vex and Vax’ backstory and shows several crucial moments in their life. Now, I don’t know if it was the format, but it just sort of felt dragged out. Ultimately, w weren’t really telling the tale of the twins, who got separated in a conflict and ended up on opposing sides, but rather these NPCs we met along the way. There were several hooks to create an emotional connection, but I still felt like an outsider looking in rather than really invested. It’s a shame, because I love supporting all things Critical Role, but this was mostly just a joy because of the voice acting.

CW: violence, blood, slavery, racism, death of parent, grief

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! It wasn’t not interesting, just a bit too dragged out for my taste.

Goodreads | Storygraph


Have you listened to a good audiobook as of late? Let’s chat!

Mini Reviews: Daisy Jones & the Six, Taste: My Life through Food

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but there are two books I’d like to share some thoughts on, while I also believe that I don’t actually have enough to say to warrant separate full review posts. So, I’m bringing mini reviews back at the end of this year!

Click on the covers to get redirected to Goodreads!

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audiobook)

Daisy Jones & The SixYou all know I’m not a big audiobook person, in fact, I usually actively dislike them. I cannot focus on what is being said, I drift off and then loose the narrative thread entirely. Well, good thing full cast audiobooks that feel more like plays exist! Voiced by the likes of Jennifer Beals, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber and Benjamin Bratt, this story really had a life of its own as I listened to it and thankfully found myself enjoying it for the most part.

Taylor Jenkins Reid tried something new with this format and I think it worked really well. The reason I struggled with it though was entirely a me-problem. I, personally, don’t seek out and actively try to avoid stories that focus heavily on substance abuse and that was definitely a focus throughout Daisy Jones & the Six. Other than that, I could appreciate the different takes on love and like that it had a Mick Riva cameo (I’ve previously read Malibu Rising and am planing to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo next year, so I’m getting his story in reversed publishing order). However, while I don’t think characters have to be likable, I didn’t find myself connecting with anyone here. I was rather frustrated with a lot of them …

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Not my favorite TJR read so far.

Having said all of the above, I am so hyped for the limited run series that will release on Amazon Prime Video next year. In my humble opinion, Amazon is doing some really great work with adapting pre-existing properties, so I am quite optimistic. The set photos and BTS stuff from the cast does make it look like it will be hard to tell people apart at first (the guys all look alike), but I cannot wait what they’ll do for the songs. I expect some downright magic!

    

Taste: My Life through Food by Stanley Tucci

Taste: My Life through FoodEver since I can remember, I’ve been a huge Stanley Tucci fan. I knew some stuff about his personal life, but I didn’t go digging very deep. I just enjoy his work and the way he always makes his roles memorable, even if they aren’t always the biggest parts. I’m part of the Tucci Gang for sure (if you’ve never seen that SNL sketch, go remedy that right away here).

Some of you already know this, but I even own the Tucci Table cookbook, so it was a no-brainer that I wanted this mix of autobiography and formidable recipes in my life as well. It really was such a treat to find the book under my Christmas tree and then it was even more of a treat to devour it in the shortest amount of time.

In the words of Ruth Rogers, who is featured on the back cover: “This is a book I shall have in my kitchen, by the bed and in my suitcase.”

Stanley Tucci‘s love for food shines throughout this entire book, but I’ve also learned a lot about his life and more recent struggles. Things I personally had never heard of before, but that made my appreciation for him grow even fonder. Do not read this book hungry, but read it when you’re yearning for good food and conversation at a friend’s house or at a remarkable restaurant, which is so lacking these days, but something we all deserve.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! If you’r even remotely interested in Stanley Tucci and food, this book is for you.


So, are you interested in reading or listening to either of those? Let’s chat!

My First Experiences with Audiobooks!

When I was little, I used to love to listen to cassettes of fairy tales and little audioplays (not really something that was just narrated, but rather had an ensemble cast play different characters and such) as I was falling asleep. Those stories were often intentionally short, because I was a child and my attention span probably wasn’t the greatest to begin with, but they were also easy to follow in terms of story. Now, being much older (but not necessarily wiser), I thought it was time to try actual full length audiobooks.

There’s been a lot of discussion online about whether audiobooks should be considered real reading and that’s not even something I ever worried about. Of course, to me, if you have heard the story, it counts just as much as if you have read the words on the page. Also, it’s just a bit ableist if we are being honest, because not everyone can see and read words. So, this is not what this post is about at all.

This post is more about how I personally feel about audiobooks and why I think they do or don’t work for me. I found myself having two credits for free audiobooks on Audible and went with very different options to test my theory – one was a contemporary thriller (I wasn’t quite ready to dive into anything that was removed from reality) and the other was a non-fiction book by a British comedian. Here’s a bit more on those books:

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Something in the Water Something in the Water is a thriller that starts out with a seemingly regular woman burying a dead body in the first chapter and you subsequently find out how she got herself into that predicament.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while now, you know that I am not huge on thrillers or crime stories. However, I was a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of possible audiobooks, I wanted something new and as soon as I saw Catherine Steadman and that she narrated her own book, I just pressed the “buy” button. 

For those of you who don’t know, Catherine Steadman isn’t just an author, she is also an actress (currently starring as Eliza Gestalt in The Rook) and because I knew her and her voice, I was intrigued. With audiobooks, it’s important that you like the voice and intonation of the narrator. With Catherine, I knew that she would be great due to her acting abilities and that she was invested in the story too. Alas, I was not disappointed in her narrating skills. The story is another thing though …

I was so annoyed with the main character sometimes. It’s not that she was a bad person, but she made some really dumb decisions. Also, it’s pretty much a cautionary tale on what greed will get you. Anyway, my main issue though was that I simply couldn’t keep paying attention to the story and kept spacing out even if it was interesting. I learnt that I listened the most while I was walking around outside and didn’t do ANYTHING else, but had troubles as soon as I so much as glanced at my phone screen or attempted an activity that required as much as a single brain cell. So, I figured, maybe I needed something even more rooted in reality and turned towards non-fiction with my next book.

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster

James Acaster's Classic Scrapes

James Acaster is one of my favourite comedians. This doesn’t necessarily mean much, because that list is pretty long (I like to laugh, okay!?), but it made getting his audiobook an easy choice. He obviously also narrated the book himself, which is probably best, since it’s like him telling short stories that happened in his life. The foreword is by Josh Widdicombe, also a funny dude, so what’s not to like?

Well, I knew some of the stories from James’ stand up program and his various visits on panel shows. Also, I once again just really had trouble not getting distracted. So, if a comedian with a funny accent and funny stories couldn’t hold my attention? What did that say about me?

THE RESULT

I think in the end I just have to accept that maybe audiobooks aren’t for me. I have real troubles focusing on what’s being told to me and I learned that I just prefer having the words in front of me. There is a consideration of maybe reading along AS someone tells me story, but I don’t have the funds of buying an audiobook as well as an ebook or physical copy. I am not that rich! It was worth a shot and I do get people who enjoy audiobooks. It’s so much faster to get through a book, but I can honestly say that I did not retain as much information from what I read this way than I did when I read the actual letters myself.


What’s your take on audiobooks? Do you like them? Do you loathe them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!