Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Performed by Nicola Barber

Rory is a teen who is thrilled at the prospect of going to a London boarding school. It's just like all the books she's read! Separate boys and girls dorms, hard classes, and the freedom to drink a pint or two at the local pub. But things take a dark twist when she is a witness to a murder. Even scarier is that the murderer is imitating Jack the Ripper's killings from years ago--right down to the location. Rory's life gets complicated--a new roommate, a romantic interest, and some strange new friends. I believe this is Johnson's first attempt at supernatural and I enjoyed it in a fluffy way. This book won't leave you on the edge of your seat, but I enjoyed the voices of the narrator and will probably listen to the next book in the Shades of London series.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, Read by Carrington MacDuffie and Samantha Quan

Oddly written, but I still wanted to hear how it ended. This novel loosely tells us what happened to Japanese women who came to America to be brides. We don't get to know any of the characters personally--rather their story is told in 3rd person. For example, "One is married to a short man who farms. One is married to a thin man who works in a laundry." Those aren't the exact words she used, but the entire book is written in that format. Of course, the women are told their lives in America will be dreamy, but most of them end up working in the fields of California and married to old men who look nothing like their picture.  Eventually the stories focus on their children who are trying to improve their lifestyles, but the tale ends with the Japanese being taken to camps. We never hear what life was like in the camp--just what the locals remember of when the Japanese Americans disappeared. Interesting way to tell a story, but I would have preferred following the lives of a few women.

Chime by Franny Billingsley, Read by Susan Duerden

Yet another audiobook I didn't want to finish. I made it to Disk 3, and then started to look longingly to the other audiobooks in my basket in the passenger seat. And I moved on.

Why? Because of the annoying repetitiveness.  I liked Briony, the main character who is a witch. But, really, how many times do I need to be told that she can't let people know she's a witch because she doesn't want to hang? I felt like I was told that information about ten times. I also didn't like sentences were repeated with additional information at the end. Since this is audio, I can't go back and find what I mean, but here is an example of the type of writing that annoyed me....

I am a car.
I am a car that is red.
I am a car that is red that is parked in the south lot.

When I'm listening to a book in the car, this is really, really annoying because I can't skim it, like I would if I were reading it in the print version.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham

There has been a lot of fuss about this novel--a Printz Honor award winner and an Odyssey Honor award winner, so I wanted to take a listen. Honestly, it moved a bit slowly for me and I'm usually a lover of horse stories. I think I read almost everything Dick Francis wrote back in the day and grew up reading the Black Stallion and Black Beauty books.

Puck is trying to save her family's house by winning the annual Scorpio races. She's a good horse rider, but the problem is the (insert strange name of horses here). The problem with listening to audio is that I have no idea how to spell new words! But these horses are evil--they're fast, vicious, and like to eat other horses and people. So trying to rein them in is dangerous. However, the riders take the risk for the money and the pride. Sean Kendrick is used to winning the races--he's the great (insert name of evil horse) trainer. He and Puck team up--part love interest, part trying to survive.

The audiobook was great except for the voice of the mean horse owner. I really hate when I have to turn the volume down in the car for different characters--and his voice was so loud and grating that I had to turn it down several notches!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A student of mine said I should read this, and I'm glad I took his advice! It's a sweet read--like The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Help.

Auggie is about to start the first day of 5th grade and he's more than a little nervous. He's been homeschooled because he's a little abnormal. He was born with a genetic issue that led to multiple surgeries and people constantly staring at him. I couldn't help but think of the old movie Mask as I read the descriptions of what Auggie looked like.  Told through Auggie and the people around him, this is the story of his first year at a prep school in New York.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Performed by Various Narrators

I don't usually blog about books I don't finish, but I'm going to this time. I listened to this audiobook until Disk 6 (out of 10) and I just couldn't take it anymore.

I loved the parts about the young boy, Oskar, and his trouble dealing with the death of his father on 9/11. Oskar is cute and odd. But then there were points-of-view from people I didn't care about....and too much of them. I need to see the movie and see if it sticks with Oskar's story.  Now, I know I sound like a young kid with a short attention span, but I didn't want to wait and see how the stories came together at the end.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Ahhh, these are the kind of books that give hope to this aging divorced lady.  :)

Hadley is 17 and suffering through airports and long plane rides to London to see the marriage of her dad and his British woman. Hadley isn't thrilled at all--she's claustrophobic, has never met the girlfriend, and resents her dad for moving to England and divorcing her mother. But Oliver, her plane seatmate, makes everything seem better. She falls in love--hard. So hard that she's willing to leave her dad's wedding in order to find Oliver again when she finds out something important about him.

This is one heck of a cross-Atlantic love story! And, um, if some Brit wants to sit next to me on my next flight, I'll be fine with it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski, Translated by Judith Pattinson

Along the same vein as Ready Player One, this is a book about a gaming experience that takes over your real life. Nick is a teenager in London and all of his friends begin playing this mysterious game. But no one is supposed to be talking about it. It's scary how the game KNOWS things about you--why? how? And why is the game giving you real-life tasks to complete?

If you're into gaming at all, take a look at this fast-paced thriller! It's been translated into 23 languages already!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards, Book #2 in The Lacey Chronicles

It wasn't until a few chapters in that I discovered there was a Book 1, but, no worries! You don't need to read the first book to understand what's going on.

Lady Jane Rievaulx is a widow. At age 18. Her elderly husband has recently died and now she must fend off his sons and her father to stay independent. That is difficult to do in England in 1583. She becomes a lady's maid to Queen Elizabeth, but still isn't free to love who she wants.

This is historical romance--big skirts and all! Plenty of love, intrigue, and humor to keep you reading.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Final Four by Paul Volponi

Just a little late for March Madness! Two teams are meeting in the Final Four--powerhouse Michigan State and tiny Troy University. Chapters are from different players points-of-view. Michigan State's freshman phenom is playing one year and heading to the NBA and has the attitude to match his skill. But his teammate Michael Jordan (try living up to THAT name!) tells his side, too. For Troy, Crispin Rice is a delivery boy dating the cute cheerleader named Helen. When he proposes after a win in the tournament, their romance takes the national spotlight. Troy's star, Roko Bacic, is a Croatian who moved to the States during high school to escape the war. He's a sweetheart who you'll root for.

All four players tell their stories and describe how they got to be basketball players in the Final Four. Along the way, you'll read about an awesome basketball game--quadruple overtime? Really?

This is the best basketball book (okay, the only) I've read since Rebound last year.

Friday, April 6, 2012

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

The cover and title alone of this one will draw in teen readers, won't it? And they won't be disappointed. Jazz is a teenage boy trying to live a normal life. But that's difficult when your dad is in prison for murdering lots of people--his dad is a famous serial killer. Jazz isn't normal either--his dad raised him. So Jazz knows how to manipulate others, how to commit crimes, and how to be the perfect murderer. But he doesn't want to be------right? Jazz has quite the internal dialogue with his EVIL side about whether or not it wants to show itself. As much as the social worker and sheriff and his girlfriend try to help, Jazz still thinks he has something to prove. So when dead bodies start showing up in town again, he wants to help solve the case. He knows serial killers--he was raised by one. Jazz wants redemption, and possibly this is the way to get it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Daughter of Winter by Pat Lowery Collins, Performed by Kate Rudd

Addie is a twelve-year-old who has to learn how to be by herself. Her dad left weeks ago for the gold fields, leaving her behind with her mother and little brother. But soon after he leaves, her family becomes sick and Addie has to take care of them herself. She does the best that she can, but they don't make it. Addie is terrified. It's 1849 and she isn't sure how long she can fool the neighbors into thinking her ma is still alive. She doesn't want to be shipped away somewhere else though--what will happen if her pa returns and she isn't there? And so Addie is determined to make it on her own. An old Wampanoag woman helps her, and Addie soon realizes that there is much more to her heritage than she realizes. Nokummus isn't just an old lady--she's an elderly lady who has the answers to questions that Addie doesn't even know she has.

I had to listen to this because the main character's name is Addie! It's a sweet historical read, even if parts are a bit unbelievable.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Riding Out the Storm by Sis Deans

The entire book is a Greyhound bus ride, but there's plenty of stories to keep you interested! Zach is riding with his Grandpa to see his brother Derek, and, as you read, you find out more and more about Derek. Zach is only in 8th grade, but is fascinated by the sophomore girl sitting next to him on the bus. Zach calls her "Purplehead" and the two swap life stories. She's pierced and painted black, and he's a basketball star, yet they get along just fine. It's a sweet, gentle read.