Wow! This one will take a while to sink in. Very unusual and I was captivated from the beginning.
Full review: What a weird little book! This one is ha...moreWow! This one will take a while to sink in. Very unusual and I was captivated from the beginning.
Full review: What a weird little book! This one is hard to describe beyond the paragraph up above. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book. This one just may be a little hard to market. The cover and short chapters make it appear to be a middle grade book, but the eff words and a gruesome murder scene pulls away from that audience. I almost put it in the same category as Wonder by Palacio. Both wonderful books, but to me adults will like the heart-felt stories better than kids. Regardless, this book deserves to be heard.
The storytelling is fantastic. I was mesmerized during the first opening chapters. I'm a sucker for a British accent (thanks to Robert Madge), but the words themselves were captivating. I was immediately sympathetic to Standish. He is more than just different, he is one of a kind and I don't mean that in a good way. His home life if bleak and his school life is downright frightening. I kept asking myself if any of this was really possible. Oy, sucked right in... The big secret and ending might just leave you a little teary. Highly recommend, 14+.(less)
Here I am again...a year late. Wait, two years this time! This audio is so good that it deserves a review ten years later. I was completely mesmerized...moreHere I am again...a year late. Wait, two years this time! This audio is so good that it deserves a review ten years later. I was completely mesmerized by the narrators voice. She had a giant range and played every character amazingly. This book has such an old feel - it took me forever to figure out what time period it was in. The language is so poetic and beautiful you just feel like you are in the Victorian Era (which you aren't). The story is original and there is so much mystery centered around everyone that you find yourself sitting in the garage listening to the end of the chapter then running in the house to read the next. Do yourself a favor and read again or for the first time on audio.(less)
Have you read The Wednesday Wars by Schmidt? If so, you will recognize Mr. Doug Swieteck. He is a sweet kid with a pretty crap home life. In this nove...moreHave you read The Wednesday Wars by Schmidt? If so, you will recognize Mr. Doug Swieteck. He is a sweet kid with a pretty crap home life. In this novel, Doug moves to a new town and he immediately realizes he doesn't have a whole lot to be cheery about in this crap town either. Doug can't escape his bullying brother who falls in love with the wrong crowd. He also can't escape his dad, abusive in every sense of the word. Listening to Doug put up with his brothers tactics and his fathers downright cruel remarks and despicable behavior was really uncomfortable. I was angry at everyone for a long time for not rescuing Doug from his family. Yes, Doug has a loving mother but she is caught up in the abusive cycle as well. Plus, this was the 1960s and people put up with a lot of crap they shouldn't have back then. Just when things go a little bit right for Doug something goes wrong. Over and over again. It was painful to think that there are real kids just like Doug. They are emotionally beaten down by the ones that should lift them up the most. Do kids come in my library who live like this? Would I recognize any of the signs of an abused kid? I sure hope I do.
Doug's two little saving graces are Lil Spicer and the library. Lil is a spitfire girl and possibly the first real friend Doug has ever known. Their friendship starts out a little rough, but it was endearing to hear. Gosh, I loved hearing that the library was the one place where nothing bad happens to Doug. There is an entire side story of a special book in the library that transforms Doug's life. He is beyond mesmerized with John James Audubon’s Birds of America and the illustrations turn Doug's life around - literally.
There really isn't much I didn't love about this book. I was drawn into the story via the characters from the first few minutes. I had to listen to the whole thing just to see what happened to Doug. I know there was a lot of buzz for this book and the Newbery and now I know why. Whew, amazing! 5 giant stars!(less)
There is a reason this book has earned six starred reviews. Or is it seven? You get my point - everyone loves this book, and you can count me in that...moreThere is a reason this book has earned six starred reviews. Or is it seven? You get my point - everyone loves this book, and you can count me in that crowd. Lucky is stuck in this crap rotation of getting picked on and then sucking it up, turning a blind eye to cruelty like his father has taught him. Over the years the bullying has gotten worse and this crap kid named Nader has been relentless in his teasing and 'boys will be boys' behavior. After a bad situation goes predictably worse, Lucky and his mom visit his uncle in Arizona and wait for things to cool down back home and for the wounds to heal. Lucky spends his days trying to blend into the wallpaper and his dream filled nights are spent with his presumed dead, POW grandfather. Lucky is determined to rescue his grandfather and be the hero he isn't in real life. When Lucky meets a seemingly perfect girl who has it all (she totally doesn't), he starts to gain confidence and find his way out of the bleak.
What I love most about ANTS are the flaws of the characters. Each character in this book is literally running and/or hiding from something. They are real people with real problems and are totally relatable. Lucky's mom swims in order to escape from her not so perfect marriage, Lucky's uncle hides behinds his bench press while his wife hides behind her gravy covered food, and Lucky runs to his dreams to be the man he wants to be. Even with the flaws, everyone has redeeming qualities. They are all just trying the best they can with the hand they've been dealt. I especially love Lucky's Aunt Jodi. She was the sometimes needed comedic break. She is pushy, preachy, and a total basket case at times, and I loved it! I honestly wondered many times if King knew someone like that in real life. Her one liners and insensitivity had to be based on someone. I also loved the late (to me), placement of neighbor Ginny. I think if she came along earlier when Lucky first arrived in Arizona things would have gone differently. Very quickly we learn of her not so peachy home life and her brave streak. I think if the two were introduced earlier in the story, Lucky would not have been ready to be brave as well.
The first time Lucky met his grandfather in his dreams I wasn't really sure what to think. I certainly felt for him as he tries to rescue him night after night. After a few dreams, we get to know who is grandfather was alive and I found myself wanting Lucky to slip out of reality to hear their conversations in the jungle. Yes, we meet some crazy war characters along the way, but their nightly storytelling was special to hear. The last conversation....tears, smiles, and more tears.
There is so much going on in this book and props to King for keeping everything sorted and beautifully balanced. A stand out audio, and I highly recommend!(less)
I've heard a lot of buzz about this book from librarians and book lovers. Some even say that it will be on a lot of awards lists, and lo and behold, i...moreI've heard a lot of buzz about this book from librarians and book lovers. Some even say that it will be on a lot of awards lists, and lo and behold, it's starting to look that way. Your heart just leaks love for Auggie. He was born with a deformity and you know his life isn't peaches and ice cream. It's easy to cheer him on as he braves school for the first time as a 5th grader. Predictably, Auggie meets some not so nice kids and while you want to wring their necks for the things they say, you hope that there will be some sort of learning experience in all this. Luckily, not all of Auggie's new classmates are meanies. There are a few bright gems and the whole time I was thinking that I hope to gosh that my kids would like them. They didn't fall in line with the others when they would pretend Auggie had "the plague." It was sad to read when the kids were mean to Auggie, but when the parents jumped on board...I was livid! I think it's important for kids to know that grown ups make mistakes too, but some of those scenes filled with hate were difficult to read.
I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of perspectives in this story. I thought it would be about Auggie and Auggie alone. We get to peek inside the mind of Auggie's adoring sister, Auggie's friends from school and in the end we hear from 6 voices. Pretty daring for a middle grade novel! Personally, I enjoyed this aspect of the story. I did not care for Auggie's voice read by Diana Steele. It was a voice that just grated on my nerves and was painful. Diana read for other characters and I really enjoyed those a lot. There was just something about that 10-year old voice that I couldn't get past. I choose to read the book version for Auggie's parts.
That aside, this book is so full of heart! With the multiple points of view, I can see this being a great read-aloud for classrooms. This book should start conversations with young readers. What would you do if you were in Auggie's shoes? How can you make a difference in someone's life? Auggie's story can provide so many teachable moments for kids about empathy and friendship. Great librarians think alike - this will be on a lot of award lists!(less)
I'm gearing up for the Austin Teen Book Festival and had to catch up with Carter's 2nd series - I'm a Gallagher Girls fan too! Even though I listened...moreI'm gearing up for the Austin Teen Book Festival and had to catch up with Carter's 2nd series - I'm a Gallagher Girls fan too! Even though I listened to Heist Society in 2010, it was easy to jump right back into the life of teen thief Katrina Bishop. This time around, she is a victim of a con (loved!), and vows to right the major wrong. Her eyes are set on the Cleopatra Emerald and that girl goes all over the world to steal the jewel. I loved the background of the Cleopatra Emerald - is that all fiction? - and her budding relationship with cutie-pie Hale really made the story fly by. I liked this one better than the first! Great series for a middle grader looking for a mystery and adventure....with smarts! (less)
Confession: I asked my library to buy this audio because it won the 2012 Odyssey Award for best audio book for children. By disc two, I could...more4.5 Stars
Confession: I asked my library to buy this audio because it won the 2012 Odyssey Award for best audio book for children. By disc two, I could tell why it was chosen for this esteemed award. Kirby Heyborne provides the voices for Rotters. You might recognize his voice from Cohn's and Levithan's Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Heyborne has a young and vulnerable voice that I found perfect for Joey. Joey lost his mother and when he goes to live with his estranged father, he feels more alone than ever. There is little dialogue for much of the book and we follow Joey as he grieves and tries to figure what role his father will play in his life. When Joey learns that his father is a grave digger, things get so very interesting. Heyborne completely switches gears and provides an all new raspy and raw voice for Harnett (father). When we meet other rotters from other parts of the county, again we are blessed with all new voices. I was truly impressed with Hayborne's versatility.
Rotters is a very emotional, dark, and twisted story, and it felt a little on the same lines as The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. (One of my faves from 2012) Although Rotters isn't as gruesome or terrifying, I really didn't know what else to compare it too. I was left with the same weird feeling in my stomach, and I felt like I read something that would stay with me for a long time. I immediately thought of people who I thought would love the story - I tried to remember the umpteenth million people I recommended Smith's book to. I explained the whole premise to my husband and his face continuously changed from almost horrified to complete curiosity. I think he even asked if this was meant to be a book for kids. I, of course, said hell yes! I hate to use the term "reluctant reader," but my word this book is perfect for a boy who wants more than the ordinary. Don't let the decomposed skeletons and the rotting flesh keep you mom/dad readers away. Yes, there are disgusting scenes, but Joey's heart and his changing family more than make up for the scenes where rats eat their way out of bodies. *wink* Because of gruesome scenes, language, and sexual content, I highly recommended for 15+. (less)
Well, that was really strange. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, but the last half was all over the place for me. I love sci-fi, but this...moreWell, that was really strange. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, but the last half was all over the place for me. I love sci-fi, but this one just didn't do it for me. (less)
The Flint Heart is a complex fairytale and takes us through several generations where a stone, the flint heart, sucks the goodness out of peo...more3.5 Stars
The Flint Heart is a complex fairytale and takes us through several generations where a stone, the flint heart, sucks the goodness out of people. The holder seeks power and wealth and in turn, grows a cold stone heart. I picked this up because of some accolades about the narrator, Ralph Lister. I do admit that his voice is absolutely brilliant and his English accent is coveted. He plays a wide variety of characters - faeries, children, kings, talking dogs - and all had a distinct voices. I was completely impressed with him and I don't think I would have enjoyed the story as much by simply reading. The story gets a little convoluted in places, but if you get lost...just pay attention to that magnificent British accent. This would be a fun family road trip read, but a few violent scenes might concern parents of little ones. 7+ (less)
Neal Shusterman is the Keynote Speaker for the Austin Teen Book Festival this year so I just had to listen to this one! I am a fan of his Everlost ser...moreNeal Shusterman is the Keynote Speaker for the Austin Teen Book Festival this year so I just had to listen to this one! I am a fan of his Everlost series and know how popular this one is in the library. I was not prepared for how dark and sophisticated this story would be. In short, kids between 13-18 can be unwound on their parents order. Their body parts are harvested and given to others. This story has many points of view, but the story of Lev, a tithe who always knew he would be unwound, was so intriguing to me. I was surprised that Lev's story, and others, got me thinking about all sorts of philosophical things. It takes ProLife and ProChoice to a whole new level of thinking. I can see this book discussed in a classroom with a mock debate. Totally compelling and the detailed scene of an unwinding was wicked awesome! 13+(less)
ou is the story of a boy who is quiet, misunderstood, and eventually at wits end. The beginning of this book sets us up for heartbreak by giving us a...moreou is the story of a boy who is quiet, misunderstood, and eventually at wits end. The beginning of this book sets us up for heartbreak by giving us a glimpse into how everything will end. The journey to that ending is a look into the life of just an average kid who is a bit restless and prone to finding trouble around every corner.
The book version is just over 200 pages. There isn't a lot of room to get off track. You has the right amount of teen angst, humor, conflict, and even mystery. We know Kyle finds himself in a situation with blood - lots of it. But, whose blood is it and how did a teen who travels down the road of mundane find himself in this situation? Told in the second-person narrative ("You run your finger down the list of homeroom assignments until you spot your name.") we get an insiders look into every emotion and thought process. It feels very intimate in this story and a welcome change from first and third person for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book. The narrator, David Baker, is one of the best voice actors for audio books in my opinion. He is behind Graceling (one of my all-time fave's) and several Nicholas Sparks novels. His hauntingly tender rendition of Kyle Chase is exceptional. Although he doesn't have a particularly young voice, his acting skills are superb. Baker, and Anthony Hopkins for that matter, could read the phone book and I would think it is genius.
A poignant story about the choices one makes and the consequences that follow. Mild language and references to sex. Recommended for 13+. This one is a top audio choice for me!(less)