Category Archives: Audio Book Week

Audiobook Review: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Listening Length: 17 hours and 19 minutes
  • ISBN-10: 0307877221
  • Source: Personal copy

Reuben Golding is a young reporter on assignment with the San Francisco Observer, sent to Mendocino County to write about magnificent coastal mansion of Felix Nideck, a wealthy traveler who went missing years ago. Currently residing in the home is Nideck’s niece Merchent. The family has decided to put Nideck’s home on the market and hopes Reuben’s article will spark an interest in the property. While there Reuben falls for Merchent, contemplating buying the property himself with his inheritance. His plans are changed when two men break into the mansion. Reuben is spared when a creature appears from the shadows of the mansion and obliterate the would-be burglars.  Merchent, however, does not survive the attack.

Reuben awakes in the hospital, riddled with wounds. He’s heartbroken at the news of Merchent’s death and startled to learn that, in the hours preceding the break-in, Merchent signed over the house to him. The authorities are instantly suspicious; why would she do such a thing after knowing him for only a few hours? Not surprisingly, Reuben becomes one of the top suspects, especially after the 911 calls are examined. A deep, gravely voice is heard, “Murder…murder…” are the only words uttered. Reuben doesn’t remember much of the attack, only the large beast that seemingly saved his live. He shares this information with the police who instantly discount them, assuming he’s experiencing shock after the attack. The press catches wind of his claims, and soon stories about a “Man Wolf” appear in the headlines.

Reuben’s recovery is quick. Surprisingly quick, actually. With his recovery comes an evolution, of sorts. His body is stronger and larger, his hair is fuller. Additionally, his sense of hearing has increased dramatically. He can hear voices of patients on other floors, voices of those begging for their lives to end.

Always the baby of the family, affectionately referred to as Baby Boy, Little Boy, and Sunshine Boy by his family and girlfriend, Reuben’s family is shocked at his transformation, both physical and emotional. They are reluctant to allow him to accept the “gift” given to him by Merchent but Reuben doesn’t really give them a choice in the matter.

After his release, Reuben begins to notice a change in himself. His body reacts to the terrified cries of innocent victims. His body transforms into a man-beast, going on almost nightly “missions” in response to these cries for help. He retreats to the Mendocino mansion, desperate to hide from the police now on the hunt for this “Man Wolf.” It doesn’t seem to matter to them that the man wolf only harms those that are attempting to harm others; they simply won’t put up with its vigilante behavior.

Reuben, conflicted with his new ability, calls upon his brother, a priest, for help. This begins a heavy exploration of good vs. evil. Can a man of God condone this sort of behavior? Can one of God’s children be forgiven for this act? That’s not to say this aspect of the storyline is pervasive, but definitely a key element to the storyline.

Running parallel to this exploration of good vs. evil is Reuben’s acceptance of what he now refers to as a gift, the wolf gift. It is here that Rice puts a completely new spin on the werewolf myth. In her mind, this gift was passed on through heredity, only small numbers of those outside the family granted this power. Unlike other werewolf stories, these creatures don’t only come out at a full moon, but can control when they shift. Additionally, they are unable to bring harm to the innocent, only those that have the scent of evil about them.

The Wolf Gift is Anne Rice at her finest, reminiscent of the distinctive style found in her Mayfair Witch and Vampire Chronicles series. Rice doesn’t simply regurgitate old legends but recreates her own, complete with an explanation as to the genesis of the legend. Additionally, the protagonist she creates in Reuben is a sympathetic one. While he has the form of a monster, he retains the soul of a human being. He’s conflicted with his new gift and must come to understand it, appreciate it, in order to thrive in his new state.

A note on the audio production:

The Wolf Gift is narrated by Ron McLarty, known for his narration of David Baldacci’s King & Maxwell series, among others. McLarty was successful in his ability to vacillate between the voice of the Man Wolf and of Reuben himself, keeping the sensitive human side of this character while not downplaying the magnitude of the wolf’s character. He has a gravely-tone to his voice, perfectly skilled at making this transition from human to monster.

Long-time fans of Rice’s work will recognize the familiar themes of love, self-discovery, and transformation. All in all, The Wolf Gift is a refreshing reunion with the classic Anne Rice many of us have grown to know and love. Those looking for an elaborately developed, truly unique and educated spin on the werewolf legend will be handsomely rewarded after reading this novel.  I particularly recommend the audio production due to the pure page count of this novel. The narrator takes this book to a completely new level, one that I do not think would be attained by simply reading the print version. Highly, highly recommended.

Day Three of Audio Book Week: Audio Book Meme

For today’s post, we’re asked to complete the following meme.  If you are participating, be sure to visit Jen at Devourer of Books and add your link to Mr. Linky.  You’ll be entered to win one of dozens of great audio books!

Audiobook are you currently reading/you read most recently: Bad Luck and Trouble: A Reacher Novel (Jack Reacher Novels) by Lee Child

Impressions?: LOVE it.  I’ve loved all of the Reacher audio books thus far!

How long you’ve been listening to audiobooks: Three years

First audiobook you ever listened to: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, Deathly Hallows was about to come out and I wanted to do a quick reread of the Half Blood Prince.  I didn’t have time to read the print copy, but I did have time to listen to the audio.

Favorite audiobook title: There’s no way I can name just one title.  I love the Reacher series and the Harry Potter series. The narrator in each do stellar jobs.

Favorite narrator: Jim Dale and Dick Hill are my favorites. Both have voices that suite the books they are narrating. Dick Hill is the perfect Reacher and Jim Dale excelled at portraying the voices of the characters within the Harry Potter books.

How do you choose what to listen to versus read? I found I tend to catch up with series via audio. It’s not very often that I listen to a stand-alone, unless someone has recommended it specifically.  I do plan on listening to the audio of Matterhorn since I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Day Two of Audio Book Week: How to Write Audio Book Reviews


Today’s discussion post from Jen at Devourer of Books asks us to discuss how to write audio book reviews.  Personally, I’ve only reviewed one series of audio books, Lee Child’s Reacher series.  The main format of the review is the same.  I give a summary of the book followed by my review or evaluation.  When it comes to reviewing an audio, I do discuss the narrator, whether his/her voice added or took anything away from the book.  Narrator’s play a very key role; they can make or break the listening experience.

One example: I listened to A Long Stone’s Throw by Alphie McCourt. The author himself was also the narrator. LOVED the book, didn’t like the audio.  Why? McCourt’s voice didn’t really pull me into the book.  There was no excitement or emotion, and the audio seemed to drag on. However, when I read the book, I was interested immediatly and read it in a matter of days.

On the other side of the coin, I think Dick Hill is the perfect narrator for the Reacher books.  His voice IS Reacher.  It’s strong, a bit scratchy, and exactly what I envision Reacher sounds like. It really makes the listening experience positive for me.

So what do you think? Should audio books be reviewed in the same manner as print books? Be sure to link your post to Jen’s blog and you’ll be entered to win one of several fantastic audio books!

Kicking Off Audio Book Week: Why Audio Books?


Jen from Devourer of Books is hosting an audio book week this week!  Each day, there is a discussion topic.  Today’s topic: Why audiobooks?

I have a 35 minute commute to work each day. Living in the DC metro area, traffic is very stressful.  I used to listen to the radio on my commute, but why would I want to listen about constant traffic updates when I’m stuck in traffic?  Around the same time, the latest Harry Potter book was due to be released.  I wanted to reread the previous book so I’d be all caught up, but I knew with my busy family life that wasn’t going to happen. So I went to my library and checked out the audio book instead.  I figured I’d be able to finish the audio within a week, just in time for the release of the next book.

My world changed when I put in the first CD.  I was instantly taken into a new world, a relaxing, calming oasis away from my crazy, traffic-ridden commute. First off, the narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks, Jim Dale, is phenomenal.  He mimics the voices of the characters so well.  His voice for Hagrid is spot-on! After listening to that audiobook, I decided to go back to listen to them all.  It was like Jim was sitting in the seat next to me, reading to me as I drove.

That was a few years ago now.  I listen to an audio book whenever I’m driving, and that’s pretty often. I constantly find myself sitting in my car, outside my house or outside work, refusing to go in because I don’t want to stop listening.  I’ve been able to catch up with several book series. Right now I’m listening to Lee Child’s Reacher series. I started just a few months ago and I’m already wrapping up book ten.  I listened to Marsden’s Tomorrow series. 

I now look forward to my commute each day.  Call me crazy..crazy about audiobooks!

Do you listen to audios? Why or why not?

Be sure to check out Jen’s blog this week.  Find out about the daily post topics and the dozens of giveaways Jen has planned! Most importantly, celebrate audio books!