Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Ballroom on Magnolia Street by Sharon Owens. Read by Caroline Winterson.

I'm looking forward to my Ireland trip and listening to audiobooks with Irish sounding narrators to get me in the mood. I've never heard of this author, but I was really reminded of Maeve Binchy.

The action centers around a ballroom in Belfast--it's the happening place to hang out for years. Couples meet there, fight there, and the owner, Hollywood Hogan, knows everyone in town. Two sisters, Kate and Shirley, are not doing well in the romance area, but end up meeting two men who just might be the men of their dreams.

I like books like this because all the stories are intertwined and everything ends up okay in the end. It's a relaxing read--just what I needed!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri, Performed by JD Jackson

I'm working my way through the 2012 Odyssey Awards, and this title won an honor. I understand why! The narrator's voice is deep, expressive, and somehow sounds just like a 12-year-old boy.

Cole's mom has had enough of him--he's skipping school and getting in trouble with the police. So she drives him from Detroit to Philadelphia and drops him off at his dad's. Cole has never seen his dad, and he isn't thrilled to be at his deadbeat dad's doorstep. And he doesn't know what to think about the HORSES. In buildings in urban Philly---what the heck? That's right--Cole's dad has a street of illegal stables full of horses saved from the slaughterhouse. Cole is resistant, but he realizes that his dad is a good person, as well as the other cowboys who dedicate their lives to take care of the horses. When the city threatens to bulldoze the stables, Cole and his new friends must try to save it, and his new family.

Recommended for tweens.

Rotters by Daniel Kraus, Read by Kirby Heyborne

Mr. Kraus, I applaud you, because you are one sick puppy! I had no idea your mind was so twisted when I was sitting next to you a few months ago!

This audiobook won the 2012 Odyssey Award, which means it's one darn good produced audiobook. I was thrilled when I received a copy for attending the Odyssey Award program in Anaheim last June, and can't wait to get some students to listen this Fall.

This book is disgusting. Gross. Yucky. The kind of audiobook where you do NOT want to be eating in your car because you might throw up. Seriously. And I don't have a weak stomach. I found myself thinking of Roach's Stiff--so many details about decomposing bodies, cadavers and corpses (including the difference between the two), and odors/fluids/colors. Ewwww.

But I should get back to the plot. Poor Joey's mom dies, leaving him to live with his absent father in Iowa. Thanks to a pretty (but incompetent) social worker, a cruel science teacher, and mean farm kids, Joey's life is horrible. He's bullied and ostracized, but it doesn't help that he doesn't take showers, has no food in the house/shack, and has a garbageman for a father.

Without giving away too many details, I'll tell you that Joey's life takes a turn for the worst--every time it's possible. But in with the dreariness and hopelessness comes redemption and hope. Thank God, because I wasn't sure how this book was going to turn out. The dark part of me was hoping for a YA title where there ISN'T the light at the end of the tunnel, but I guess that would freak out too many adults. :)

Thanks, Mr. Kraus, for writing a book for some of the teens in my school. This will gross them out and make them look at me with new respect!

FYI--Kirby Heyborne, the reader of this book, is a newly minted librarian idol. He won us over during the Odyssey presentation with his acting, grace, cuteness, and song. See his blog for the YouTube video of his song, pics, and other details about his encounter with thousands of librarians.