Sunday, June 21, 2015

Landline Audiobook Review

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1427239327

Listening copy via public library

Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park is still crazy popular, and maybe one day it'll be in the library long enough for me to check it out. In the meantime, I listened to the audiobook of Landline.

Landline isn't YA, although an argument could be made that it's New Adult since a good portion happens in flashbacks when the main character, Georgie McCool, is in college.

The conceit of the story is that Georgie's marriage to college sweetheart Neal is at a crossroads, a road that could split off into either divorce or reconciliation. And Georgie is able to talk to Neal -- the actual Neal she knew in college -- on an old landline phone.

Given that conceit, the novel is largely made up of long phone conversations. There's humor and regret and hope in these conversations as the Today-Georgie talks to Then-Neal. She knows the mistakes that she'll make and maybe, just maybe, this is her chance to let Neal go before she makes them. But maybe, just maybe, this is her chance to make things right.

It's a what-if concept that's intriguing and kept me engaged. Georgie and Neal are well-developed, complex, flawed people. There are solid supporting characters, too. Rebecca Lowman does a fine job with the emotion and angst of the story. What I felt her narration lacked, though, was the humor. Lines that I know would have gotten a chuckle if I had read them fell flat as I listened. Georgie makes her living as a comedy writer, after all, and that wry, dry personality needed to come through more.

So depending on the experience that you want, you may wish to read the book over listening to the audio.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Book Review

Title: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Author: Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: October 8, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0738732510

288 pp.

Copy provided via publisher

I picked up a copy of this title (signed by the author!) at the ALA Annual Conference last year, and though it's taken me awhile to get to it on my TBR pile, I am absolutely in love in with it.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe, a high school senior who's looking forward to his post-high school life. He wants to put all the bullying and awfulness behind and start over in a new life. Because Gabe has spent the past 18 years as Elizabeth and now he's ready to transition.

His neighbor/friend/mentor John gets him a DJ gig on the local community radio station and a part-time job in an indie record store.  Gabe never thought transitioning would be easy, but his radio show becomes an underground hit. It's the one bright spot in his life, but he's scared he'll lose his fans if they found out about him.

Gabe's family basically ignores him, so he relies on his best friend, Paige, for support. Paige may just be into him, but he's kind of terrified to find out for sure in case he's wrong.

Then when he's finally outed and things turn violent, Gabe finds out who really stands with him.

Gabe's voice seems completely authentic, all the fears, hopes, insecurities, doubts, desires, and aspirations of any young person on the verge of a new life. There's humor, too, with Gabe's wit and charm.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is straight, but she did her homework. She spoke with trans teens as she worked on the novel and Beautiful Music for Ugly Children ended up winning a Stonewall Award. (Just a reminder than you don't have to be X to write X. Do your research and have respect for that world and you can write from any POV.)

I'd recommend Beautiful Music for Ugly Children to readers who enjoyed Beauty Queens by Libba Bray or Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Book Trailer:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Now That You're Here Book Review

Title: Now That You're Here
Author: Amy K. Nichols
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0385753890

304 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Here's another book in the current parallel universes mini-trend, Now That You're Here by Amy K. Nichols.

There's dual narration by Danny, a street artist in Phoenix who lands in his doppleganger's body after an explosion at a mall, and Eevee, a nerdy good girl who's trying to figure out a topic for the science fair.

The novel is a clever mix of science fiction and romance, as there's a slow burn of revelations and realizations about what's happened to Danny. The Danny that Eevee knows is a burnout, and the Eevee that Danny knows is a mysterious girl in a red dress.

The world-building of Danny's reality gives just enough subtle clues that it's different from Eevee's (and presumably our) world. This is the first of a series, and the second book seems bound for Danny's world.

Although the science behind Danny's jump between worlds may seem a little hinky, don't that bother you too much. It's more about the relationship than the science.

Danny and Eevee are both likable characters and it seems that the Danny of his world and the Eevee of our world are meant for each other, except for that whole parallel universe thing.

There are some good supporting characters, too, like Eevee's best friend Warren, who brings in some comic relief.

I'd recommend Now That You're Here to readers who enjoyed A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray or Dangerous by Shannon Hale.

Now That You're Here book trailer:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Free Audiobooks, People!

It's that time of the year again, when the good people at Sync offer a weekly selection of YA audiobooks paired with classic titles.

If you don't have OverDrive Media Console, you'll need to install if, but Sync offers a handy link to that on its website.

Check out this year's offerings:

May 7-14:  
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

May 14-21:  
  • Dodger by Terry Pratchett
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

May 21-28:  
  • X: A Novel by Ilyasha Shabazz & Kekla Magoon
  • Here in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers

May 28-June 4:  
  • The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz
  • Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

June 4-11:  
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

June 11-18:  
  • The Living by Matt de la Pena
  • The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

June 18-25:  
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  • Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold

June 25-July 2:  
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding

July 2-9:  
  • Echoes of an Angel by Aquanetta Gordon & Chris Macias
  • Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja

July 9-16:  
  • The Explorers Club by Nell Benjamin
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

July 16-23:  
  • Crows & Cards by Joseph Helgerson
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 

July 23-30:  
  • March by Geraldine Brooks 
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

July 30-August 6:
  • Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles by Tanya Lee Stone
  • John Ball's In the Heat of the Night by Matt Pelfrey

August 6-13:  
  • Under the War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott
  • The Old Brown Suitcase by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz

Happy listening!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Thousand Pieces of You Book Review

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0062278968

368 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is the first in her new Firebird series, a rollicking, action-packed novel about love and revenge across parallel universes.

Marguerite Caine is an artist in a family of scientists. And not just any scientists. Her parents are cutting edge physicists working on a project, Firebird, that will bridge the gap between parallel universes. But when Marguerite's father is killed in a highly suspicious accident, Marguerite uses Firebird to go after his presumed murderer.

The novel is a fun read as we see Marguerite navigate the different worlds she travels through, sometimes subtly different, sometimes tragically different. The science behind the project is purely fictional, but Marguerite's journey is what keeps the reader engaged.

Helping her on her journey is Theo, a student of her parents. Of course, Theo is the required cute boy. Except Marguerite had always been intrigued by Paul, her parents' research assistant. But Paul's the one she's chasing through the multiverse. She keeps meeting different iterations of him, and may just have fallen in love with one of them.

Lots of twisty, juicy story in this first installment. I'd recommend this to readers who enjoyed Cinder by Marissa Meyer or Dangerous by Shannon Hale.


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