Summer Summary: July 2015

Wondering what this Summer Summary thing is all about? Here’s the context!

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In this third Summer Summary, I’ll cover what I read and listened to in July of 2015. As with first and second installments, rather than go in reading order, I’ll list the books in order from favorite to least favorite. Title links will take you to Goodreads, if you’d like more of a summary than I’ve given.

#1: Every Day by David Levithan (narrated by Alex McKenna)

Oh, I loved Every Day. The premise is that our narrator, known only as A, wakes up every morning in someone else’s body and life. It’s always a teenager, always geographically nearby, and A has to navigate that person’s life without screwing it up until A goes to sleep that night. The next day, it starts over again. Usually A doesn’t get involved in these others’ lives — that is, until that life belongs to Justin and A falls head-over-heels in love with Justin’s under-appreciated girlfriend, Rhiannon.

The story is so original and unexpected, the characters so absorbing (even as one of them changes appearance and circumstances on a daily basis), and the narration so good that I wanted Every Day to go on forever. And that about sums up my feelings toward it!

The Verdict: Excellent

#2: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (narrated by Kirby Heybourne and Ariadne Meyers)

All the Bright Places follows the unexpected friendship between popular-girl Violet and social-outcast Finch. Neither is in a particularly good place when they meet, and their relationship is anything but smooth. Somehow, though, they’re good for one another. I can’t say more without major spoilers, but I can tell you that it isn’t exactly a happy book.

I thought All the Bright Places was masterfully told. It’s heart-rending and fragile, full of sorrow and hope and love, and its two main characters are wonderfully three-dimensional. It’s the kind of book you can’t just walk away from when you’ve finished it — it lingers, even months later.

The Verdict: Excellent

#3: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (narrated by Robert Petkoff)

I was a little nervous to read Being Mortal after some of the reviews I’d seen. I thought it would be really hard to get through, the kind of book I’d have to force myself to read because I knew it would be good for me. Instead, the word that sticks in my mind when I think of Being Mortal is “comforting.”

Gawande believes there are some serious problems with the way we approach our own mortality. In Being Mortal, he lays those problems out and addresses them, offering research and alternatives as well as individual stories to explore each one. I’m so glad I listened to it. It’s left me feeling hopeful and reassured somehow, like there are ways of approaching the ends of our lives that go against our often scary or hopeless cultural norms.

The Verdict: Excellent

#4: Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren

I knew only a little about Jillian Lauren’s first memoir, Some Girls, when I picked up Everything You Ever Wanted for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, so I was coming to the latter fairly fresh. It chronicles the experiences and struggles of Lauren and her husband as they adopt and parent a little boy from Ethiopia.

My favorite part was the way Lauren uses language. It’s raw and immediate, precise and forceful without being overpowering. She has a way of shaping words to impart what she wants to say — something all authors must, to some extent, be able to do, but in Lauren’s case, she does so in a way I’ve never quite come across before.

She does not shy away from the tough parts of her experience, but she also doesn’t paint them in exaggeratedly lurid dramatics just to amp up the story. The whole memoir felt honest, real, candid. Overall, a well written, well balanced reminiscence worth reading.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#5: Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (narrated by Jesse Bernstein)

I loved Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, so of course I had to give Liar & Spy a shot. Georges (the “s” is silent) and his parents have just moved into a new Brooklyn apartment building. While down in the basement, he and his father see a sign about a spy club meeting, and Georges’ father encourages him to go. That’s how Georges meets Safer, a spy-obsessed, coffee-drinking introvert, and his little sister Candy. It’s also how he ends up spying on Mr. X, another building resident Safer is sure is up to no good.

Liar & Spy is a cute story. I think it’s perfect for its target age group. I didn’t like it as much as When You Reach Me, but I’m still glad I gave it a listen.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#6: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (narrated by the author)

I’m still not sure why, but I keep seeing Two Boys Kissing referred to as the follow-up to Every Day (reviewed above). Maybe that simply means the books were published chronologically and I misunderstood. I thought it was a sequel of some kind — which, as far as I can tell, it is not.

There are numerous interesting elements to Two Boys Kissing. It’s based on true events, for one; for another, it’s narrated by a Greek-style chorus of gay men who died during the AIDS epidemic. It flits around between several different, lightly intertwining stories. The two boys referenced in the title are Harry and Craig, ex-boyfriends (but still friends) who have decided to break the world record for longest kiss.

I did not love Two Boys Kissing the way I did Every Day. Part of that might have been because I expected the two books to be connected, but I don’t think that was the whole problem. It felt distant, somehow, and I never really felt like I got into it. Oh well.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#7: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (narrated by Kim Mai Guest)

Anna has been sent off to France to attend a boarding school, very much against her will. On her arrival, though, she makes a friend in her dorm, who pulls her into a group, and soon she’s feeling less like an outsider — and has fallen hard for one of the group’s members, Étienne St. Clair. The only problem is that he has a long-standing girlfriend (of course).

One of my literary pet peeves is when I know, beyond all uncertainty, how a story is going to turn out. It should never be that obvious — there should always be at least a shadow of doubt, the slightest chance that things might go in a completely different direction. Not so with Anna and the French Kiss. Honestly, I’d probably have enjoyed the book more a couple of years ago, but as I was listening, all I could think of was how much better it would have been had Rainbow Rowell written it! It wasn’t bad, exactly, but I wouldn’t call it good, either.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#8: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (narrated by Jim Dale)

Liesl & Po is written for a younger audience than Oliver’s other books. Liesl is a little girl who’s been locked away by her stepmother; Po is something like a ghost who can cross over from the Other Side. The two make one another’s acquaintance. Meanwhile, an alchemist’s apprentice makes a serious mix-up while carrying out an important delivery. The consequences and their own stories draw the three characters together on an adventure full of misunderstandings, close calls, good luck, and friendship.

It was cute enough. Rather unique, at least among the middle grade books I’ve read. I think my favorite part was the glimpses into the Other Side we get from Po. And Jim Dale is always a pleasure to listen to, so no complaints there!

The Verdict: Mediocre

#9: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (narrated by Kathleen McInerney)

In the Unlikely Event centers on a true historical event: three plane crashes that occurred in Elizabeth, NJ, in a five-month period in the early 1950s. The central character is Miri, who is fifteen when the accidents occur. We also hear from plenty of characters around her — friends, family, acquaintances, strangers — as the disasters’ ripples spread outward through the community.

My feelings toward this one were just lukewarm. I enjoy hearing about historical events, especially those I’ve never even heard of, and I thought it was interesting to use a large slice of the community to tell the story. I didn’t love that the whole book was in limited third person (though perhaps it had to be to work with all the narrators?) — that kind of writing usually leaves me missing a unique character voice. And overall, the book felt a little flat and juvenile…understandable, I suppose, since most of Judy Blume’s novels are written for young adults! I’m glad I listened to it, but wasn’t blown away.

The Verdict: Mediocre

Average for the month: a very high mediocre, bordering on enjoyable. I was extremely happy with my reading (ok…listening) this month. The three excellents more than made up for the books I didn’t love as much, and most of the mediocres were on the high end, closer to enjoyable than lacking.

Your Turn!

I’ve really been enjoying young adult stuff lately. Have you read (or listened to) anything spectacular that you’d recommend?

Summer Summary: June 2015

Wondering what this Summer Summary thing is all about? Here’s the context!

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In this second Summer Summary, I’ll cover what I read and listened to in June of 2015. As with the first installment, rather than go in reading order, I’ll list the books in order from favorite to least favorite. Title links will take you to Goodreads, if you’d like more of a summary than I’ve given.

#1: Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko (narrated by Kirby Heyborne)

I really enjoy this series, which follows a group of kids who live on Alcatraz in the 1930s, when the prison still functioned as such. Their parents are wardens and guards, and the country’s most infamous prisoners are part of daily life. Central to the series are its narrator, Moose, and his autistic sister Natalie.

Al Capone Does My Homework is the third in the series, featuring the same group of kids as the first two. Each incorporates some crisis on the island, an interaction with prisoners, group-of-kids dynamics, and something to do with Natalie and her family’s ongoing struggle to help her gain acceptance in their tiny community. Kirby Heyborne, who’s narrated the whole series so far, does an excellent job. Suffice it to say I’m looking forward to book number four, whenever it comes out!

(Here’s my review of the second book in the series, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, if you’re curious!)

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#2: Across the Universe by Beth Revis (narrated by Lauren Ambrose and Carlos Santos)

I’m not really sure I can summarize this one without spoilers, so I’ll let you check out Goodreads (link above) if you’d like to learn more. I sort of feel like I was the only person who didn’t read it when it came out, so perhaps a summary is unnecessary anyway!

I had mixed feelings about Across the Universe. I liked the premise, found it intriguing. Amy’s struggles and feelings seemed real, but Elder struck me as rather dense — though perhaps that’s understandable, given his situation. Something about the story felt slow and anticlimactic, like it should’ve been the early part of a longer novel. I didn’t realize until I went to write this mini review that there are additional books in the series, so perhaps I’d feel differently if I read them. Sadly, my library doesn’t have them as digital audiobooks, which is about all I’m doing these days. That’s ok, though…I’m not really chomping at the bit to find out what happens next.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#3: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (narrated by Juliet Stevenson)

Having only ever read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, I really had no idea what to expect going into The Signature of All Things. It was…different. I think that’s the best way I can describe it. It contained very little that struck me as literarily commonplace. The main character, Alma, is a botanist, and the novel is laden with botanical tidbits. The story follows Alma throughout most of her life — much longer than I’m used to in contemporary fiction. There were many places it could have ended, but it didn’t. Not that I found myself wishing it would; it was more that my expectations were broken over and over somehow.

Juliet Stevenson did a lovely job narrating. Her soft, proper voice fit Alma’s story nicely. I’m honestly not sure I’d have made it through the whole book in print, though I find myself unable to put my finger on exactly why. I think it might have to do with the story being mildly interesting on the intellectual front but doing very little for me in the way of emotional connection or arc.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#4: Elizabeth I by Margaret George (narrated by Kate Reading)

My first Margaret George experience (with Helen of Troy) left something to be desired. However, the idea of the kind of novels she writes (first-person fictionalized autobiographies of famous women from history) appeals to me, so I thought I’d give her another chance. Elizabeth I and I got on better, but I’m still not completely sold.

Elizabeth I is the story of — surprise! — Queen Elizabeth I. The novel begins when she’s already well into her reign, and only little bits of earlier happenings trickle through as the story progresses. At times I found her strong and interesting; at other times, stubborn or frustratingly dense. There were certainly moments when I lost patience, and, as with The Signature of All Things, I’m not sure I’d have made it through in print. The history and characters were interesting at points, but often the story dragged.

It’s possible that George was just being true to Elizabeth when she wrote this book. Is it fair to judge the novel if it accurately depicts what we know if its subject? Maybe, maybe not. Part of me feels like one of the author’s jobs in this kind of story is to shape an engaging story, which didn’t quite happen for me in Elizabeth I.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#5: The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner (narrated by the author)

I’ve had The Geography of Bliss on my TBR shelf for years. The subtitle is “One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World,” and for some reason that always intrigued me. When I discovered my library had the digital audiobook, I decided to take that approach rather than letting the print copy languish for who knows how many more years.

The book was fine. Weiner travels to and then writes about a variety of places with a reputation for happiness, exploring what’s so great about the way each location does what it does and trying out a few of its residents’ ways. I suppose it was interesting to hear about some of the factors affecting happiness, and Weiner is funny and engaging when relating his anecdotes, but the book didn’t leave much in the way of a lasting impression.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#6: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (narrated by the author)

Sometimes Neil Gaiman is too weird for me. Sometimes his stories work — as was the case with The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere — and sometimes I just sort of watch them go by, amused but too distant to really get into them. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the latter.

I do love it when Gaiman narrates his own stuff, though. I’m pretty sure that’ll always keep me listening to the end, no matter how bizarre the contents of what he’s reading might be!

The Verdict: Mediocre

#7: Blood & Beauty by Sarah Dunant (narrated by Edoardo Ballerini)

Sarah Dunant is one of those authors I’ve been meaning to read for a while. My library had this one as a digital audiobook, so I downloaded it. (Are you noticing a pattern in my book selection process yet??) It traces the story of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia and his family, beginning as he schemes his way into becoming Pope Alexander VI.

I didn’t like anyone in this book. I didn’t even find them interesting — just scheming, ruthless, and/or naive. No, I don’t need to like a book’s characters in order to enjoy the book itself, but they do need to intrigue me, even if that’s because I’m fascinated by how much I hate them. I think I was done with the Borgias before I’d even met them. It doesn’t help that the writing felt kind of distant, more chronological narration than compelling storytelling.

Why did I keep listening if Blood & Beauty and I were at such odds? Because sometimes it’s easier to stick with the audiobook you have than find something else to listen to!

The Verdict: Lacking

Average for the month: a solid mediocre, without much in the way of high points to redeem it. This was the month I traveled a lot and spent hours sewing together a baby quilt, though, so as long as an audiobook at least half held my attention (you’ll notice there are no print books on the list!), I was sufficiently happy.

Your Turn!

What have you read lately that didn’t quite line up with your hopes or expectations?

Summer Summary: March to May 2015

Wondering what this Summer Summary thing is all about? Here’s the context!

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In this first Summer Summary, I’ll cover what I read and listened to in March, April, and May of 2015. Rather than go in reading order, I’ll list them in order from favorite to least favorite. Title links will take you to Goodreads, if you’d like more of a summary than I’ve given.

#1: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

I fall more in love with Kingsolver’s writing with every book of hers I read. In addition to being my favorite from this three-month period, Prodigal Summer is also near the top of my list for 2015 overall. I actually reviewed this one in full before I disappeared.

The Verdict: Excellent

#2: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (narrated by John Lee)

If you can suspend your disbelief for the time it takes you to read this book, it’s a seriously fun ride. I listened to this one as part of my Classics Club challenge, and I reviewed it in full shortly thereafter.

The Verdict: Excellent

#3: The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino

Another Classics Club read that got a full review. One thing I love about Calvino (or what I’ve read of him so far) is how he so fully believes in his own quirky premises that you can’t help but go along with them.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#4: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (narrated by the author)

I read this memoir back in high school but remembered basically nothing about it. I knew I wanted to revisit it, so I put it on my Classics Club list. The version I listened to was read by the author, which (provided the author isn’t a terrible reader) always adds an extra dimension to memoirs for me.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the story of Angelou’s early life, tracing her path from the Deep South to St. Louis to San Francisco. It’s the kind of book that leaves an overall impression months after reading rather than specific events or characters. For me, that impression is of struggle, suffering, learning, growth, perseverance, love, and self-acceptance.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#5: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite)

This audiobook kept me company through much of April’s Readathon. The story is a little out there, but I don’t think it’s meant to be taken completely seriously. It’s fun, but with an edge of seriousness lurking beneath. I certainly enjoyed listening to it and was rather surprised by where the story ended up. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a fairly fast-paced read without being all plot, and I think it would make a good get-out-of-a-reading-slump book in particular.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#6: Driving the King by Ravi Howard (narrated by Adam Lazarre-White)

I received this audiobook through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program and quite enjoyed it. The reader was excellent, which always helps, but the story was good as well. It’s the fictional account of a man who went to jail for defending Nat King Cole during a mid-concert attack and how his life and Cole’s ended up intertwining.

The man — also named Nat (Weary) — is now Nat King Cole’s driver and bodyguard, and the pair is back in their hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, for a show Cole is determined to give — despite the fact that it was Montgomery where he was attacked all those years ago. As the hours before the concert tick down, we learn about Weary’s story, particularly surrounding the attack and the years that followed.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#7: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (narrated by Kristen Bell)

I never watched Veronica Mars (show or movie), nor did I know much about the story prior to picking up this spinoff series. A friend recommended it to me, and my library had it in downloadable format, and I was super nauseous and looking for distraction. I’m glad those three circumstances came together, because I actually enjoyed this quick, sassy mystery.

I don’t know how much of the series’ premise is based on the show and movie, but I’m guessing a fair amount. Veronica is working as a private eye in her father’s firm when a college student goes missing during the town of Neptune’s infamous spring break. Of course, it’s up to Veronica to get to the bottom of the story.

I was extremely pleased to find that it wasn’t at all hard to follow along, even though I’m sure there’s tons of backstory; in other words, you don’t need to have watched the show to enjoy the books. I also appreciated that The Thousand Dollar Tan Line isn’t gratuitously violent or graphic the way so many contemporary mysteries seem to be — one of the things that usually turns me off to mysteries. And while its subject is certainly serious, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously. I liked this one enough to listen to the second in the series a few months later!

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#8: Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland

I adored Gulland’s Josephine B. trilogy and had been meaning to read Mistress of the Sun for a while. It was good, but pales in comparison with the trilogy. See my full review for more.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#9: Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee

I’ve read two by Mukherjee now, and neither has blown me away. There are aspects of her writing I enjoy and others that aren’t so much my cup of tea. I wrote a proper review of this one, if you’re curious to hear more.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#10: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

I feel like Tales of the City is a book you just have to read if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are nine volumes total, published between 1978 and 2014, the first few of which were serialized in San Francisco newspapers before they were published in novel form, and you can kind of tell. The brief chapters read as vignettes, and while there are certainly story lines running throughout the novel, it doesn’t feel as cohesive as what I’m used to.

I didn’t really like any of the characters, and the story wasn’t gripping enough to keep me turning pages. What I did like was the glimpse of a past San Francisco. There were locations I recognized, and I always find that sort of element fun in a book. Worth the read, but only because of the geographical and mild historical elements.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#11: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

This was another LibraryThing Early Reviewers book. I wasn’t a huge fan. The premise sounded good (or I wouldn’t have requested it!), but the execution didn’t work for me. It even brought out my skeptical face, which you can see in my full review.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#12: Runaway by Alice Munro

I really feel like I’m supposed to like Alice Munro, but based on Runaway, I kind of don’t. I found the stories in this collection to be both absorbing and frustratingly incomplete, like each should have been a full novel but was inelegantly cut short or too aggressively compacted. Should I try something else by her? I’m cautious but willing if someone says I should. Otherwise, I have plenty of other books to read!

The Verdict: Lacking

Average for these three months: on the high end of mediocre. Meh. Though to be fair, the top two books on the list were good enough to keep me happy!

Your Turn!

What have you read lately that surprised or delighted you?

Summer Summary: The Setup

It’s been a while. Yet again. I got on a roll there, for a month or two, and then…nothing.

What happened? This did:

Pregnancy silhouette (

My husband and I are expecting our first little one next month! Which means the past seven months or so have looked something like this:


Felt SO INCREDIBLY NAUSEOUS that almost literally all I did was sleep, eat what I could, and lie on the couch trying to lose myself in fiction. (Might sound fun, in a way, but I would not suffer months’ worth of constant nausea for all the reading time in the world!) Discovered that forcing myself to review what I’d been reading worked as a distraction tactic, so did some of that.


Started to feel better. Sort of. Some days. Lots of out-of-town company, so little reading and (also thanks to the fact that I no longer needed distraction as badly) basically no blogging.


Mostly felt like a human being again. Yay! Which meant I could turn my attention to all the baby-related books I’d been meaning to read but couldn’t bring myself to even look at while the super-nausea reigned supreme. (I am someone who likes to Know About Things, so there were — and are — a LOT of these.) Also, spent a couple of weeks traveling. Too busy enjoying not feeling like crap 24/7 to worry about blogging.


Audiobooks and I became even more inseparable than we have been for the past few years. While baby books ruled my nightstand (and who wants to read reviews of those on a mostly fiction blog??) and my to-do list grew (and grew and grew), pleasure reading took over my headphones. On top of that, I realized I still have a baby quilt to finish and tons of knitting to do, which means even more audiobook time! I don’t see this setup changing in the next month.

Time to play catch-up!

Summer Summary Badge ( I have not been reviewing, I’ve certainly been reading (and listening) — and lots of those books have been the sorts of things I usually write about. And this time, rather than forget everything I’ve read while not blogging, I actually kept a list. Woo!

So over the next few weeks, I figured I’d play catch-up, posting short review blurbs of the books I read or listened to by month. I’m calling these posts Summer Summaries, even though — let’s be honest — I’m including, like, half the year here. I may then promptly fall off the face of the planet again…but at least my reading record will be up to date!

Stay tuned. In the meantime…

Your Turn!

How has your summer been? (Or winter, if you’re on the flip side of the planet.) What are you looking forward to in the months to come (reading or otherwise)?

Thoughts on “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas (Audiobook)

I bought myself a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo many years ago. I have no idea why I did so. (Turns out it was one of those sneaky abridged versions that doesn’t state anywhere obvious that half the book has been cut out, but that is beside the point.) As I clearly haven’t made any progress with the written version, I got excited when I discovered my library had the digital audiobook of Dumas’s classic tale — read by John Lee, whom I knew to be good. The thing is 47 hours long, though, and it seems I wasn’t the only one interested in the digital version, so I had to wait through a few rounds of holds to get through the whole book.

Good news: It was worth the wait! It’s also the second book I’ve finished from my Classics Club list.

About the Book:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (audiobook, reviewed on Erin Reads)

I honestly don’t know how to sum up this book without giving something away, so if you know nothing about it, plan to read it, and really hate spoilers of all kinds, maybe just skip this review. But really, I think the intricacies of the plot and the particulars of how each piece is accomplished are what make the novel what it is, far more than the overall arc of the story.

Still here? In that case…

Edmond Dantés, having just returned from a successful sea voyage, is on the verge of marrying the love of his life and being made captain of his own ship. Surrounded by the golden glow of happiness, he cannot imagine he has any enemies who would wish him harm. But there is one man who loves his betrothed and another who envies his place on the ship — and together, they set in motion a plan to remove the obstacle that is Edmond Dantés from their paths.

The rest of the book — of which there is a LOT — follows Edmond’s conviction, incarceration, escape, and (most of all) revenge.

My Thoughts:

When I mentioned in my March wrap-up that I’d started The Count of Monte Cristo, Care commented: “I adored ADORED it! Such a romp.” And I cannot think of a better way to describe this book.

It is madness. I can’t even put into words how much fun it is to grab this book by the horns and let it take you on its crazy, unpredictable ride.

To be fair — and this is a complaint I’ve seen in some reviews — it’s not entirely realistic. Every cog in the great machine of Edmond’s revenge turns flawlessly. Every scene and scheme goes the way he intends it to (with a single minor exception). Chance seems to smile endlessly upon him. The evil are punished, the good rewarded, and the irrelevant largely ignored — no exceptions. The plot and its characters can be a bit (ok, quite a bit) over the top.

But in my opinion, it’s a story worth suspending your disbelief for. The intricacies, the twists and turns, the chain of dominos Edmond spends years constructing, piece by piece, so that he can set off the chain reaction at precisely the moment of his choosing — it’s really fun. There are secret identities, startling connections, elaborate plots, and endless surprises. A few things are obvious or easy to figure out, but for the most part, you just have to keep going to find out how all the pieces fit together. And in the end, they do. It’s satisfying that way.

Yes, it’s long. Very long. But I do not understand how the book could possibly survive in abridged form (much less as a movie…though I have fond memories of the Wishbone version from my childhood…). It would have to be missing entire plot lines, and that would be very unfortunate.

John Lee did a commendable job narrating. It was one of those audiobooks that had me making up excuses to listen to just one more chapter. He had at least slightly different voices for the main characters (of which there are roughly a zillion) and accents for the foreigners, which always helps me keep people straight. His French pronunciations sounded way better than they would’ve in my head (thank goodness!). He doesn’t do women’s voices very well — but then, he doesn’t really try, so I have no complaints!

Sadly, nowhere can I find the translator for the edition I listened to. But whoever it was, s/he did an excellent job.

The Verdict: Excellent

The Count of Monte Cristo gets two thumbs up from me. It’s not the kind of book I usually go for, but it was so well executed that I couldn’t help but end up engrossed. Highly recommended.

If you do read it, go for the unabridged. It’s worth it. And I’d recommend going for the audio version, too!

Your Turn!

What’s the last book you read (or listened to) that kept you on the edge of your seat and surprised at every turn?