Tag Archives: bianca amato

Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey

Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey (unabridged audiobook read by Bianca Amato; 9.25 hrs on 8 discs): Princess Rosalind is born with a dragon’s talon where her ring finger should be. This is a potentially devastating secret in a land often tormented by dragons. To hide her deformity, her mother makes her wear gloves at all times as she desperately searches for a cure. When Rosalind is taken by the dragon to become nursemaid to his children, everything changes. This was a pleasant fairy tale with plenty of action and sympathetic characters. I liked it as an adult, but I would have loved it as a child. It has all the makings of an excellent legend. Glad I picked this one up.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (unabridged audiobook read by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner; 15.75 hrs on 13 discs): Vida Winter, an author of Agatha Christie-level fame and popularity, is old and ailing and finally ready to tell the truth about her life after fifty years of telling each would-be biographer a different, obviously fabricated version of her childhood. She chooses Margaret Lea, a young woman with painful secrets of her own, to record the tale. Lea becomes entranced with the story, as did I. It is about twins, and ghosts, and madness, and love. The characters are at once repellent and oddly compelling. I would advise a strong stomach for parts, but by and large I absolutely loved this story. The ending was so satisfying I had a goofy grin on my face for quite a bit of the last couple chapters. My only confusion was that I couldn’t figure out what time period it was supposed to take place in. Lea uses pencil and paper to write, and relies on almanacs and handwritten letters to genealogists for her research. But cars and trains and telephones are commonplace items. Winter’s tale, which begins with the birth of her mother, spans nearly a century, but never once is there a single mention of either World War. No matter where you were in England at the time, surely the wars were something that impacted everyone. So that was a bit of a mystery, but quite a small one. I’ll have to keep an eye out for Setterfield’s next novel.

A note on the audio: Both readers were excellent. I listened to Amato Her Fearful Symmetry, which was also about twins and ghosts. Kind of an odd coincidence. (Evidently I also listened to Tanner read Atonement – I thought I recognized her voice!)

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (unabridged audiobook read by Bianca Amato; 14 hours on 12 discs): This is more or less the tale of a small apartment building overlooking an old London cemetery. On the top floor is Martin, a man with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder dealing with being housebound by his illness and the recent departure of his wife who moved away because she could no longer deal with living that way. On the bottom floor is Robert, a thirtysomething academic working on a definitive history of the cemetery for his thesis. In the middle was Robert’s lover Elspeth, who dies at the beginning of the book and leaves everything to her American twin nieces Julia and Valentina. Elspeth has never met the girls, and it’s worth noting that they are the daughters of Edie, Elspeth’s long-estranged twin sister. Shortly after her death, Elspeth is surprised to discover herself haunting her own flat, unable to leave. Most of the characters feel trapped in some fashion or another, and the ways they deal with it make up for the bulk of the story. I did not like the ending; I feel pretty unclear on what happened to Robert and I wish a little more had been said about Elspeth’s future. All the same, it was a reasonably interesting book, if not exactly what one might call exciting or even engrossing.

A note on the audio: Amato was fine, though sometimes her American accent came across a little strange to my native ears. Also, having a chapter titled “the end” on the last disc can be a little disconcerting to the listener, since many audiobook companies use those words to let you know the book has indeed ended!

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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