all ages · Audible · Fantasy · SeriousSeriesLove

Magical Non-Fiction Friday: Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

I am sitting for my O.W.Ls this month through the OWL Readathon hosted by G at Book Roast and I am more excited than I can possibly explain. The universe must sense my excitement because the library delivered an audiobook version of Fantastic Beasts early last evening. This is just one more reason I never make it through a predetermined list of books – my wonderful library! I sat down with my illustrated copy of the book and listened to the audiobook simultaneously and had an amazing two hours of total immersion in the world of Fantastic Beasts.

fantasticbeastsThe audiobook is narrated by Eddie Redmayne in the very same clipped manner he gives to the sweet Newt Scamander he plays on film. However, unlike the shy film version of Newt, the audiobook personality is the knowledgable and excited Newt that we see, briefly, when he is talking about his fantastic beasts. Matched with the gorgeously illustrated Fantastic Beasts I sat like a child and listened to the whole book in one sitting.

If you have previously read this book, you know that it is filled with footnotes. Footnotes can be extremely annoying in audiobooks but this one has the most savvy and smooth use of auditory footnotes I have ever experienced. In addition there are animal sound effects that add that special little bit of interest to what is, basically, a fake non-fiction book. If you have a hard time with audiobooks or you are trying to get a child interested in the platform, this would be an amazing place to start. And, at only two hours long, it is easy to successfully complete the whole book.

If you have the opportunity to listen to the audiobook, I highly recommend it. And, if you already own a copy of this beautiful illustrated book or can use kindle unlimited to read along, it is a wonderful experience that I cannot recommend enough!

Tell me, please!

Have you ever listened to an audiobook while you simultaneous read one?


all ages · Audible · funny

Audible: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Two crouched children and a young woman stand between a line of trees in front of a stately home.

I did a ridiculous amount of driving this week and so I popped in an audiobook to make my travels less arduous. I had read The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood several years ago but I could not remember how it ended. Typically, even a bad audiobook is made easier for me to enjoy when I have already read the book. However, I was surprised to find how delightful this book was as an audiobook! Katherine Kellgren narrates the story in a clipped British accent and gives all of the characters their own voice.

If you are familiar with the story of The Incorrigibles then you know that giving a voice to the children is no easy feat. “The Incorrigibles,” as they are dubbed in this first book, are three children found in the woods of Ashton Place that have been raised by wolves. They are brought into the home of newlyweds, Lord Frederick and Lady Cornelia Ashton, neither of which want anything to do with the raising of the children. So, they hire Miss Penelope Lumley.

This is Miss Lumley’s first position as a professional governess having recently graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. Thankfully, she is no ordinary governess and seems to be uniquely suited for turning the children from wolves into proper people.

I remember the story as being cute. A large cast of characters is introduced in this first book in order to be used in later stories but there is still an active plot with action and great character development. Also, just as Lemony Snicket does in A Series of Unfortunate Events this this book utilizes functional defining. I could see where parents enjoying this story with children would appreciate this device but it always seemed to interrupt the story for me when employed by Snicket. However, in this book, the author seamlessly uses larger words in sentences and almost in a *wink wink* manner defines them for the audience without loosing the story’s momentum.

But, narrated, the story really comes alive. Especially since the narrator has to howl so much! When she does the voices of the children, softly talking to the governess with their odd and adorable little speech mannerisms I just fell in love with this story.

I was also happy to discover that you can search by narrator on and now I have over 100 books narrated by Katherine Kellgren to look forward to, including the rest of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series!

Have you ever experienced this, an audiobook that really brought a book to life?


The Spiderwick Cronicles: Book 1-5

I remember a time when I believed – no, I absolutely knew – that fairies lived in the world around me. I couldn’t see them but they were there. spiderwickToni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s book The Spiderwick Chronicles transported me back to this wonderful state of mind. The illustrations and the narrative are whimsical, innocent and fantastical. I adored these books.

Right before a long car trip I grabbed the audiobook at the library. As I have mentioned, I have a really hard time absorbing auditory information so sometimes I listen to the audio version of books I have already read. But this audiobook is narrated by Mark Hamill. Mark Hamill people. I adore him as an actor but as a voice actor he is unparalleled in his talent.

Hamill really breathes life into all the different characters of the Chronicles alive. You do not need to see the illustrations, they become three dimensional through his voice. I actually listened to this story on the way to my destination and on the way back home again. To this day, if you say “hobgoblin,” I hear it in his voice.

This is a fantastic story brought almost completely to life by the talents of Mark Hamill. Reading it is fun but listening to it is as close to living it as you can get.



Audible: Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss

I do not naturally excel at audible learning.  So, for me, a book on tape or audible story needs to be amazing.  It has to have all the markings of an incredible story and be read to me in a way that keeps me focused enough to follow along.  It is a high bar.  My two favorite types of audibles are:  (1) when the narrator does all different voices and accents or (2) when the author is also the narrator.

Recently, I requested Talk to the hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door by Lynne Truss from my local library.  

White book cover of Talk to the Hand with anthropomorphic raccoon showing the audience their hand.

Apparently, I requested the book on tape instead of the good ‘ol printed version.  (This happens to me often when I pair requesting things with a glass of wine.  Don’t judge.  My library system is amazing but it has a lot of boxes to check).  Usually, I curse my ineptitude and stick it right back in the return slot.  But, since this is narrated by the author I gave it a go.


I think I have already established my penchant for all things British and Lynne Truss is capital-B British.  Delightful dry British is peppered throughout the book along frequent British slang.  Now, the New York Times review saw the addition of “buffed, posh, tosser and lolly” as baffling to some readers but for me it made it all the more enjoyable.  Honestly, if the inclusion of the word “bloody” in the title doesn’t tip you off then that is probably your fault.

Similarly, you will see reviews for this book by people who consider themselves “younger” and thought that Ms. Truss was an “older” person picking on their generation.  To them I say, “Bugger off.”  She clearly states in the very beginning that if you straighten your arm and you have a little excess skin around the elbow, you are probably old enough to enjoy the book.  However, if your elbow skin springs into a flat plain (I’m paraphrasing here because, you know, listening to the book on tape means I cannot look it up) you are probably too young to understand her perspective.

Really though, I only had one small problems with my experience with this particular book on tape.  I wanted to go back and re-read certain parts.  She makes some really excellent points in this book about the turn modern society has taken in its regards to what is polite and what is rude.  I want to be able to quote her.  I also want to research some of the people she references in explaining the history of manners.  Unfortunately, those names are difficult for me to remember without looking at them in print.  This is an easy fix.  I’ll just buy my own copy of the printed book.