Sunday, May 25, 2014

Once Audiobook Review

Title: Once
Author: Morris Gleitzman
Narrated by: Morris Gleitzman
Publisher: Bolinda Publishing
Publication Date: February 2, 2006

Listening copy via Sync

Once is the first in a series following Felix, a young Jewish boy, during World War II. But, of course, it's more than that.

Felix is living in a Catholic orphanage in Poland when the novel begins. His parents were booksellers and left him at the orphanage while they ... well, Felix isn't entirely sure about that. He makes up stories about how his parents are having adventures and trying to get back to him.

And he is positively, absolutely sure that they have sent him a sign that they are going to pick him up. Except that they don't. Instead, Nazi soldiers arrive at the orphanage and burn books that the nuns had been hiding. Now Felix is convinced that his parents are in danger because Nazis hate books so much. He runs away from the orphanage to save them.

As an adult, I know what Felix is heading into, even though he clearly doesn't. But that's really the beauty of the book. Morris Gleitzman captures Felix's innocence and his imagination and how he interprets the world around him.

Felix meets a girl named Zelda, whose parents had been killed, and eventually they are forced into the Polish ghettos. As he begins to realize that the stories he has created are all wrong, he also learns the power that storytelling can bring to those in pain.

The author's Australian accent initially put me off a bit, but then I got into the story and characters. He reads well, bringing the right emotions and tone to all the characters, from Felix and Zelda to the Nazi soldiers and the kindly dentist who protects Felix in the ghetto.

I'd recommend Once to readers who enjoyed Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Free YA Audiobooks! Yes, I Said Free.

The good people at Sync are at it again ... offering free YA audiobooks and pairing them with audiobooks of classic literature. A new pair is released once a week throughout summer.

Sign up and download free audiobooks all summer long. Sync will even send you a text or email reminder when the new audiobooks are available. Easy peasy, right? And, hells yeah, it's free!

This year's line up is pretty awesome:

May 15 – May 21
WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)

May 22 – May 28
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 29 – June 4
CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)

June 5 – June 11
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 12 – June 18
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)

June 19 – June 25
I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)

June 26 – July 2
FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)

July 3 – July 9
TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)

July 10 – July 16
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)

July 17 – July 23
THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 24 – July 30
HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)

July 31 – August 6
DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)

August 7 – August 13
LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

Happy listening!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales Book Review

Title: Rag & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales
Edited by: Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0316212946

368 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

This anthology of science fiction and fantasy tales is edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt. They challenged 10 other authors to create a short story based upon a classic story that influenced them. These authors included Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Carrie Ryan, and Rick Yancey.

As with any anthology, there are some hits and some misses. Neil Gaiman's fairy tale mash-up of Sleeping Beauty, "The Sleeper and the Spindle," and Melissa Marr's selkie interpretation of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, "Awakened," are among my favorites. I thought that these stories honored the originals while giving them completely original twists.

But you don't have to be familiar with the classic story to appreciate the interpretation. I never read Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, but Holly Black's "Millcara" is wonderfully creepy on its own.

Some of the other stories dragged on for me, whether or not I was familiar with the source material. I didn't feel a YA vibe for most of the stories since most of the protagonists are adults, but it's definitely worth recommending to older teens who are fans of featured authors.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jessica Darling's It List Book Review

Title: Jessica Darling's It List
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0316244992

240 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I haven't read the original Jessica Darling books, but this first in a prequel series is a sure-fire hit for tween girls.

Jessica Darling is about to start junior high when her older sister gives her list of things to do to be popular. Jessica wasn't worried about starting junior high until she reads the list because she has no idea how she's going to manage do any of it.

Further complicating matters is that Jessica's best friend has turned pretty over the summer and doesn't know it yet. But Jessica knows that is about to change and change everything about their friendship.

Jessica is tries her best to fit in, but often finds herself in the absolutely wrong place at the wrong time. Eventually she finds out that fitting in may not be as important and finding out who you really are.

Megan McCafferty writes with humor and honesty about the transition to junior high with new friends, new classes, and new rules.

I'd recommend Jessica Darling's It List to readers who enjoyed Smile by Rana Telgemeier or Peanut by Ayun Halliday.


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